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Legislative Bill 824, also known as “the Wind Bill,” passed through the Legislature and was presented to the Governor on April 13. The bill was quite controversial throughout its pendency in the Unicameral, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain the reasoning for my votes on the bill.
While I support the potential for wind development and am not opposed to its implementation in the State of Nebraska, I opposed LB824 because I believe that, without federal subsidies, it is not currently a cost-effective model for power generation in our State. Senator Kuehn, during his comments on the bill during the last stages of debate, summarized my thoughts very well. To paraphrase, he stated that the free market should govern which technologies are used in our society. The use of cellular technology did not replace landline telephones because of government intervention. Rather, the market determined the fate of the technologies. Likewise, the market should determine those technologies that generate our power. By incentivizing and subsidizing one particular technology or method over another, the government is picking winners and losers. This goes against my fundamental belief that the public should decide which products they want to use.
Additionally, the public power system in Nebraska has had a long history of providing reliable power at low costs. Many wind power advocates state that the price of coal is going up, which is driving up our power costs. First, for the increase in coal prices, our power prices have not risen to the same degree. Second, coal prices have risen because the current administration has decided to incentivize alternative energy technology at the expense of those forms that have stood the test of time. It is not the government’s role to tell people what technologies they must buy and utilize. Therefore, I voted against the bill.
Another bill that received a fair amount of controversy was LB580, which creates the Independent Redistricting Citizen’s Advisory Commission. This commission will consist of nine Nebraska residents who are registered voters and who, at the time of appointment, have not changed political party affiliation within the previous 24 months. Each of the three legislative caucuses will appoint three people to serve on the commission, which will be initiated in 2021.
The Legislature has been charged with the task of drawing boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Legislature, the Public Service Commission, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, and the state Board of Education. The boundaries are changed every 10 years after the decennial census is released. The newly created commission will assist with the redistricting process in the future.
LB580 was filibustered on Final Reading. Debate ensued for two hours, the time limit for which a bill must receive full and fair debate during Final Reading before cloture – ceasing debate and voting on the bill – may be invoked. The cloture vote prevailed on a 35-11 vote, and the bill then passed 29-15. LB580 was also presented to the Governor on April 13.
I supported LB580 because, as a senator elected to a nonpartisan body, I believe a nonpartisan method of drawing governmental boundaries is sensible. There were some comments from opponents of the bill that it would take away the Legislature’s authority on redistricting. This is not the case. Any and all redistricting plans must be approved by the Unicameral through the normal Legislative process. Essentially, after the commission delivers its plans to the Executive Board of the Legislature, the chairperson of the Executive Board will introduce a bill for each redistricting plan. Those bills will be placed directly on General File to be voted on by the body. If any of the bills fail, new plans must be prepared.
This process, I believe, will not only remove partisanship from the redistricting process, it will aid the Legislature in gathering information and recommendations for defining governmental boundaries.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Joe and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address your concerns, thoughts, and needs. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.