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The Legislature has met for 14 of the 60 days of the Second Session of the 105th Legislature. Legislation acted on so far that may interest you are:
LB368: eliminate helmet requirement for motorcycle riders. It again failed cloture vote on a filibuster. The frustrating aspect is that the sponsors have had commitments from senators but in a fit of “get even”, some change their votes at the last minute. I supported the bill for reasons of personal responsibility “freedom” and the fact that states around us do not have helmet laws means that we lose some tourist dollars as bikers avoid the state.
LB81: to raise the fee for the 3-year handgun purchase permits you apply for at the sheriff’s office from $5 to $25. It failed. I spoke against it; it was a tax increase but more importantly, it was a further restriction on our Second Amendment rights. Because of the discussion on the floor, I believe an attempt in the future will be to made to make it a lifetime permit—only voided when you are convicted of a felony or you no longer reside in the state.
LB377: relating to obsolete classifications of school districts. It advanced to select file. Coming out of our Education Committee, it is a good example of what we call a cleanup bill. Public school law references 6 classes related to enrollment, this classification is for academics, not to be confused with the more familiar sports activity classes. Two of those classes no longer exist and one only has 18 districts. For example, our laws still reference K-8 and high-school only schools; due to the actions of the Legislature in the past, forcing consolidation of those schools, they no longer exist. Many of the bills you see pass through the legislature, with little debate, are similar cleanup bills.
LB39: create a state law to duplicate existing federal and international law banning sale and trade of ivory. I spoke against it. I agree with efforts to stop the slaughter of elephants and rhinoceroses to harvest their ivory, but creating a “feel good” state law dealing with trade of that ivory that could burden local law enforcement would be redundant. It failed.
Other legislation to watch for:
LB758: Senator Hughes’ attempt to alleviate Lincoln and Dundy County residents’ concerns on the loss of local property taxes from the NRD’s N-CORPE and Rock Creek river-flow augmentation projects. It will allow the NRDs involved to VOLUNTARILY pay-in-lieu of taxes to the taxing entities affected. Our State Constitution wisely forbids taxation on government property, it is foolish for the government to tax one individual and then turn around and pay taxes to another public entity (double taxation). I would prefer the land is instead put back on the tax-rolls. There is one aspect of the bill I am in complete agreement with and is critical to Lincoln County. Since N-CORPE has been, for the past 5 years, paying property taxes on the 19,500 acres in their project, the courts may rule that the Lincoln County public entities involved may have to pay back those taxes to N-CORPE. 758 includes a grandfather clause in it that would eliminate that fear. I applaud Senator Hughes for his efforts and I have co-signed his bill.
LB1123: my bill to clarify the NRD’s ability to sell land associated with river-flow augmentation projects while reserving the groundwater rights associated with the land. N-CORPE has already sold 313 acres, where they did what 1123 would authenticate. By making the legislation specific to NRD augmentation projects, it will eliminate concerns that out of state interest will come in and take our water. The reality is, the way N-CORPE came into existence, it created an exception to common law that opened a Pandora’s Box on water groundwater transfers; LB1123 will close it. The language of the bill mirrors Senator Hughes’ 758 definition of who the law applies to: NRDs involved in augmentation projects. The two bills work well together. I view 1123 as an economic development, tax-cut, support small government and common-sense bill all rolled into one. The public hearing on 1123 will be on February 14th, after it is voted out of committee, it will become my priority bill.