If you are looking for something to do this summer I would encourage you to consider participating in the 2014 Nebraska Passport Program. The program, organized by the Nebraska Tourism Commission encourages the exploration of Nebraska by collecting stamps from the participating attractions to earn prizes.
This year there are 80 attractions on ten different themed tours: Home Grown Nebraska, Fork in the Road, Without Walls, Sips and Suds, Rare Finds, Can’t Get Enough, Patchwork Passion, Hit the Snooze, How We Move and Stars and Stripes. The grand prize is a 60” plasma TV. For more information go to http://www.nebraskapassport.com/.
One of the 80 places to visit is Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area, a popular place during the summer months. Whether you are visiting Lake McConaughy or one of the other many lakes in the state it is important to remember that current state law requires that anyone born after December 31, 1985 must complete a boating safety course before operating a motorboat or personal watercraft. I would also remind you that individuals must be at least 14 years of age to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft. While this may be an inconvenience it is intended to be for your safety as well as the safety of those around you. (I did not support this bill when it was passed.)
To find a list of boating safety courses offered or for information regarding the test out option, go to www.BoatSafeNebraska.org.
In legislative news, on June 9th the United States House of Representatives adopted the Walberg Amendment to the 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.
The amendment was offered by Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) along with a few others. The amendment eliminates a provision in the 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations act that would have allowed the Secretary of Transportation to once again discuss motorcycle safety initiatives with state legislators.
In 1998 Congress made it illegal for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to lobby state legislatures. Prior to this law NHTSA spent tens of thousands of dollars traveling to states when those states were debating the helmet law.
I am pleased this amendment to the bill was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, which advanced the bill on June 10th. The issue of motorcycle helmets, like many other issues, is best decided at the state level. The money that NHTSA would waste traveling from state to state to lobby would be better spent on other issues, or better still, not spent at all.