Senator Tom Carlson-District 38
Sine Die 2013
This is the last day of our long 90-day session. We will adjourn today Sine Die, meaning with no future date to convene. We will convene next January, but today we leave with no mention of that date.
I am pleased that the water legislation I prioritized for this session was passed by the legislature with a vote of 45-0. The Governor signed the bill yesterday.
LB 517 creates the Water Funding Task Force. The companion bill, 517 A, allocates $1 million for research, data collection, and production of a final report to be submitted to the Legislature by December 31. The task force shall consist of the members of the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission and 11 additional members appointed by the Governor.
The Director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, I, as Chair of the legislative Natural Resources Committee, and Senators Christensen, Davis, Watermeier, Schilz, and Kolowski, appointed by the Legislature’s Executive Board, shall serve as non-voting members of the task force.
Governor Heineman will appoint members of the task force in the next 30 days, which will be housed in the Dept of Natural Resources. The task force shall identify water resources programs, projects, and activities in need of funding to meet the long-term statewide goals of water sustainability, efficiency, and productivity.
The final report shall include recommendations and ways to identify, assist, and carry out programs, projects, and activities in need of funding. Recommendations for legislation to carry out specific targets in the bill may be included.
Water sustainability involves the concept of, on average, using no more water than our annual average supply provides. In my view, water sustainability over the entire state is the most important consideration we can address. When we attain water sustainability we will have secured financial sustainability as well.
Another piece of legislation affecting all Nebraskans is the Tax Modernization committee, which will review and recommend updates to the state’s tax code. The committee’s focus will be on gathering information, not changing the code. Fairness, competitiveness, simplicity, stability, and adequacy are some of the items to be evaluated. This committee’s first report must be delivered to the Legislature and the Governor by December 15th and a final report is due by November, 2014.
Margo and I look forward to our annual visits to the District 38 communities. We enjoy senior center lunches, parades, and other activities highlighting the diversity and good work of our constituents. This will be my last regular newsletter for the session but I will report to you from time to time as the Water Funding Task Force meets and on other legislative news.