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Tim Gragert

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40

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The Legislature passed nearly 100 bills during the first three days of this past week. We will now recess for several days, thereby giving the Legislature the opportunity to override any potential governor veto prior to adjourning sine die. Governor Ricketts has five days (not counting Sunday) to either sign or veto the bills. He also has the option to let the legislation become law without his signature.

Bills passed include all five bills that I introduced this year, in addition to one carry-over bill from last year. My bills dealt with the removal of the 10-year limitation on tuition assistance for members of the National Guard; common sense changes in the child labor law and the short-time compensation program; the authorization of funds in the College Savings plan to be used for loan payments; the creation of a Producer Learning Community dedicated to improve soil and water quality; the addition of a donor registration question on annual applications for hunting and fishing permits; and the requirement for a public hearing on the fate of the library, if a township form of government is discontinued.

Other bills passed include:

LB 1023 contains the STAR WARs recommendations, proposing an addition to the Weigand Marina at the Lewis and Clark State Recreational Area, a new event center and lodge at Niobrara State Park, and a new boat launch near the Village of Niobrara. This bill also includes funding for the initial steps of a possible lake between Omaha and Lincoln.

LB 1015 gives the Department of Natural Resources the authority to develop, construct, manage, and operate the Perkins County Canal Project, under the South Platte River Compact. The Governor recommended $500 million to fund this effort to secure Nebraska’s water supply from being diverted for projects initiated in Colorado. However, the Legislature only appropriated $53.5 million to contract with a firm to determine the cost of a canal, the conceivable amount of water that could be diverted, the timeline of permitting, and the potential drinking water benefits.

LB 809 authorizes the Department of Environment and Energy to enter into agreements to provide grants and loan forgiveness to certain public water systems and municipalities for drinking water and wastewater treatment projects. The agreements may cover up to 75% of the eligible project cost, up from the current 50% match.

LB 1024 allocates $335 million of federal ARPA funds, along with some cash reserve funds, and general funds for economic recovery and incentive measures, in an effort to rejuvenate areas in North and South Omaha, as well as other areas of the state with high concentrations of low-income residents.

Currently in Nebraska, to obtain a concealed carry permit, an applicant must undergo a criminal background check, pay a $100 fee, and complete an approved handgun training and safety course. Under LB 773, also referred to as constitutional carry, persons wanting to carry a concealed weapon would no longer need to get a permit. LB 773 was successfully pulled from the Judiciary Committee and overcame a filibuster during the first stage of debate. However, the cloture motion to end the filibuster at the second stage of debate fell two votes short, meaning the bill was pulled from the agenda and will not be debated again this year. Prior to the cloture vote, an amendment aimed at gaining the Omaha Police Department’s support for the bill by allowing them to retain their gun registration requirement failed on a 13-29 vote. Senator Tom Brewer, the primary sponsor of LB 773, vowed that he will be back next year with similar legislation.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die on Wednesday, April 20th. During the last week of this legislative session, I can be reached at tgragert@leg.ne.gov. My mailing address is District #40, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509 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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