NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Tyson Larson

Sen. Tyson Larson

District 40

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Keystone XL Pipeline

September 19th, 2011

In recent weeks, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline has received considerable attention throughout Nebraska and District 40.

In the eastern part of district 40, there has been positive feedback from the first Keystone pipeline construction due to increased economic activity. However, the fragility of the Sandhills and the great importance of the groundwater supply make the proposed route for the new Keystone XL pipeline a different matter, even with the added regulations in LB629, which was passed last session and signed by Governor Heineman. LB629, introduced by Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, adopted the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act. The regulations contained in LB629 will work towards ensuring that an oil company will have to fix any ongoing or future land restoration issues. Two other bills requiring more regulation are also pending in the Natural Resources Committee and will be addressed in the upcoming session. While I do not sit on the Natural Resources Committee, I am discussing the issues surrounding the pipeline with my colleagues and am working with them to address the concerns of my constituents.

I have serious concerns about the proposed route of the pipeline and agree with Governor Heineman’s stance. Governor Heineman recently stated that he opposed the route through the Sandhills and encouraged the United States Department of State to deny Transcanada’s permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. Currently, the U.S. Department of State is undergoing a public comment period on the pipeline and is holding public meetings in Lincoln on September 27 and in Atkinson on September 29. I encourage you to attend one of these meetings if possible.

The U.S. Department of State has announced that a decision on the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline will not be forthcoming until the end of the year. However, the Legislature has time to act before that decision takes place. After careful consideration and discussion with constituents and my colleagues in the Legislature, a special session is needed to address concerns with the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. While I am wary of spending money on a special session, I recognize that further regulation is necessary, and such regulation should be passed prior to the decision by the U.S. Department of State on the permits. Due to my concerns about the pipeline route, I would support a special session to further discuss the regulations needed to ensure the pipeline does not cause harm to our State.

Senator Tyson Larson
District 40

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Legislature debated LB22, which would adopt the Mandate Opt-Out and Insurance Coverage Clarification Act. Under LB22, introduced by Senator Beau McCoy of Omaha, Nebraska will not allow health insurance plans that cover abortions to participate in health insurance exchanges. LB22 also seeks to prohibit private health insurance sold in Nebraska from providing coverage for an elective abortion except through an optional rider that is paid for solely by the insured. After much discussion, the bill was advanced to select file. As a strong supporter of pro-life legislation, this bill is an important step in preserving life by making it more cumbersome to have an abortion in our state.

The Judiciary Committee held hearings on many controversial bills. LB276, introduced by Senator Brenda Council of Omaha, would seek to eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment. I oppose this legislation and believe that the people of Nebraska should have the opportunity to punish offenders of the most heinous crimes with a sentence of death.

The Judiciary Committee also heard testimony of several bills related to immigration concerns. LB48, introduced by Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont, pertains to local law enforcement officers’ responsibilities in checking immigration status as well as making it a state crime to be employed without legal authorization to work in the United States. LB569, introduced by Senator Colby Coash of Lincoln, would require all employers in the state to use E-verify when hiring new employees. Senators Brenda Council of Omaha and Tony Fulton of Lincoln introduced resolutions urging action by federal government and local law enforcement agencies, respectively. Dealing with illegal immigration has been a challenge for state governments, and I support stricter state laws to address these challenges. Specifically, E-verify is a low cost system that is already required for new public employees and could be extended to a broader range of employers.

The Agriculture Committee and the General Affairs Committee have both concluded their public hearings and will be making final determinations about which bills to advance to the floor. The Legislature passed several bills this week that I strongly support, including LB383, eliminating state aid to cities and counties, and LB81, disallowing cities from enacting a wheel tax on nonresidents.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Dear Residents of the 40th District,

The Revenue Committee held a hearing this week on LB253, which I introduced to eliminate the tax credit available to the wind energy generation facility in Knox County. The tax credit, passed by the legislature last year in LB1048, meant that Knox County and other political subdivisions, including the Bloomfield School District, would not be able to collect any taxes on the wind farm for several years because the wind company would be able to credit previously paid taxes towards the current tax due. Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue also introduced legislation, LB360, to clarify the tax consequences of wind farms in Knox County and the rest of Nebraska. These two bills directly affect District 40, and I am diligently working to find a legislative solution to this issue.

In addition, the Judiciary Committee held more hearings this week on bills relating to firearms. LB298 amends some of Nebraska’s use of force and self-defense statutes to strengthen and simplify when a resident of Nebraska can use force to defend themselves, others, or their property. This bill is important for preservation of a person’s right to use force to protect oneself, and I am very supportive of this legislation.

The Legislature debated two important bills relating to tax policy in Nebraska. LB383, which eliminates state aid to counties and cities, was debated once again on select file and advanced by the Legislature. In addition, LB165, introduced by Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine, addresses the use of occupation taxes. With proposed amendments, LB165 limits imposition of existing occupation taxes to telecommunications services and establishes a maximum rate of 6.25% rate for occupation taxes on telecommunication services. I am fully supportive of managing the budget concerns with which we are currently faced, but I am also concerned with the rising reliance on additional fees and taxes. If we truly intend to focus our efforts on fiscal responsibility, raising these other fees and taxes cannot be the answer, and as such, I support the limitations proposed in LB165.

Please feel free to contact my office with your questions and comments at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Sen. Tyson Larson

District 40
Room #1019
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2801
Email: tlarson@leg.ne.gov
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