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On Wednesday, the Natural Resources Committee held a special hearing for Amendment 2191 to LB 822. LB 822 is a bill to clean up language in statute that relates to the Department of Natural Resources. AM 2191, introduced by Senator Hughes, adds language to exempt the public power industry from being required to disclose proprietary or commercial information which if released would give an advantage to business competitors. Nebraska is in a unique situation because we are the only state in which all electrical producers are publically owned, rather than sold by private companies. Private companies are still able to sell power in Nebraska, meaning public power districts must operate as a business and remain competitive in the market. Because of this, a recent court decision on a public records’ request ordered the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) to release proprietary cost information that would hurt NPPD’s ability to stay competitive against other power companies. Following the hearing, fellow committee members and I decided on a final amendment, AM 2292, that clarifies that only competitive information would be eligible for exemption from public records requests. LB 822 with AM 2292 was amended into LB 1008, which is one of Natural Resource’s priority bills. I supported both amendments and allowing NPPD and other public power districts to withhold proprietary information.
This week, the budget was released by the Revenue Committee. This year we will be addressing another budget shortfall, totaling over $120 million, resulting in across-the-board cuts to departments. We will start debate on Tuesday, March 13th, and it is expected to bring disagreements among senators. Some issues to pay attention to are cuts to higher education and Title X provisions that would ensure that abortion providers do not receive federal family-planning funds. I unquestionably support passing provisions in the budget that cut Title X funds to abortion providers and will vote in support of that provision. I am looking forward to hearing debate on the many other provisions of the bill and making the best decision for Nebraskans while maintaining a balanced budget.
As the budget currently stands, the proposal would leave lawmakers with a little over $500,000 to spend on new proposals, meaning it would be near impossible to pass legislation this session with a fiscal note. Once we debate and pass a budget, the Legislature will send the bill to Governor Ricketts who has the ability to approve or line item veto provisions of the bill. The Legislature may vote to sustain or override any of the Governor’s vetoes before the budget is finalized. The detailed budget book is available at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/ and can be found under “Recent Legislative Information”.
Live coverage of the full session of the Unicameral is also available at www.netnebraska.org/capitol
I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me at 402-471-2716, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to write me at:
Senator Joni Albrecht
State Capitol, Room 2010
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604
I take into consideration every letter, email, and phone call my office receives when I consider legislation. I truly value your input and suggestions on the issues before the Legislature. It is of great importance that I hear from you in order to do my job.
I look forward to hearing from you!