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Tim Gragert

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40

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The Legislature gave the budget bills second-round approval this past week, making only minor adjustments. After the budget is passed, the speaker plans to schedule taxation and spending measures. The session is more than two-thirds complete, but we still have many significant issues to discuss.

As introduced, LB 406 focused on flood-control infrastructure projects along the lower Platte River. Senator Mike McDonnell, the primary sponsor of LB 406, has offered an amendment to strike the original provisions of LB 406 and replace it with a measure creating the Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability Special Committee. I worked with Senator McDonnell, Speaker Mike Hilgers, Senator Dan Hughes, and Senator Mike Flood on the amendment.  The special committee will focus on three areas of the state – along the Platte River from Columbus to Plattsmouth, the Lake McConaughy region of Keith County, and the portion of Knox County that lies north of Highway 12. The special committee, made up of the speaker and two senators from each congressional district, will hold hearings and request information from state, county, and city agencies. The committee is authorized to enter into contracts for consulting, engineering, and development studies. Two million dollars would be appropriated to carry out these provisions.

In addition to studying how to protect property along the lower Platte River and provide for public infrastructure in the Lake McConaughy region, the studies would also focus on the socioeconomic conditions, recreational and tourism opportunities, and public investment necessary to enhance economic development and to catalyze private investment in Northern Knox County, including the Lewis and Clark Lake and Niobrara State Park. The studies, which are to be completed by the end of the year, will evaluate the outcomes and the economic benefits of proposed development and improvements to residents, the local region, and state tourism.

When Senator Flood and I first discussed this vision for Northeast Nebraska, I jumped on board. Our area was hit hard by the flood two years ago and then suffered with the rest of the state through the pandemic. However, Nebraskans are resilient and hardships tend to bring out the best in people, generating great examples of residents working together to rebuild their communities.

Having lived in Northeast Nebraska my entire life, I can vouch for the beauty of the area. As an avid fisherman, I can also attest to amazing fishing opportunities. I believe Northeast Nebraska has a lot to offer, but there is the potential to offer a great deal more with creative thinking and planning. This area is underdeveloped and underused, but could attract more visitors and tourism to the area with the right investments, which would enhance the economies of our local communities.

The public hearing on the amendment to LB 406 will be held on Tuesday, April 20 at noon before the Natural Resources Committee, of which I am a member. Senator Mike Hilgers has designated LB 406 as a speaker priority bill, meaning that if the amendment is adopted by the committee and the bill advanced to the floor of the Legislature, it will be debated by the entire body. I am excited and hopeful that this could be the first step of some major investment in economic development for Northeast Nebraska.

I would like to encourage any high school student with an interest in government, law, leadership, or public speaking to register for the 2021 Unicameral Youth Legislature. It will be held on June 13-16, 2021 at the Nebraska State Capitol. The Unicameral Youth Legislature is a four-day legislative simulation in which high school students take on the role of lawmakers. Student senators sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation, and discover the unique process of our nation’s only unicameral. Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. More information can be found at: www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl.

Again I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts on the legislation before us. I can be reached at District #40, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE  68509. My email address is tgragert@leg.ne.gov and my telephone number is (402) 471-2801.

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40
Room 11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2801
Email: tgragert@leg.ne.gov
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