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On March 2nd, I will introduce LB 537 in front of the Health and Human Services Committee. LB 537 would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to screen any applicant for and recipient of cash assistance benefits if they have reasonable suspicion that a person is using illegal drugs. If the drug test yields a positive result the recipient will become ineligible to receive cash assistance for up to 12 months or until they have completed a substance abuse treatment program and a job skills program. Upon completion of these programs the recipient will then again be eligible to receive cash assistance benefits. Under LB 537, if an individual has a minor child who is still eligible for benefits they may appoint a protective payee to receive payments for the child’s benefit. I am having ongoing conversations with parties that are interested in this bill to work out some concerns that they have, this bill will have an amendment but at this time I am not sure what the final draft will look like. The reason behind LB 537 is not to punish individuals but to provide treatment for those who have substance abuse problems.
With committee hearings in the Natural Resources Committee winding down, I have noticed that issues pertaining to electricity, power generation and power distribution seem to be hot topics this year. We have heard multiple bills dealing with renewable energy, public power, and net metering. The Natural Resources Committee will be finished with bill hearings on March 2nd.
There are two bills of high interest to the oil and gas industry which is very prevalent in the 44th district. The first is LB 535 that I introduced in the Revenue Committee. This bill would reduce the amount of redundant paperwork that is required to be filed with the register of deeds for oil, gas, and mineral leases. The second bill, LB 533, will be introduced in the Natural Resources Committee by Senator Vargas of Omaha on March 2nd. LB 533 deals with making changes relating to injection wells. It requires proof of liability insurance in an amount of not less than 5 million dollars for injection wells or waste water disposal wells. It would also restrict these wells in an area where the depth of the drinking water aquifer begins less than 50 feet below the surface of the ground or the Nebraska Sandhills.