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Things are moving fast in the Legislature and we’re in the home stretch. With less than 10 days left this session we have a lot to get done. Last week one of the Natural Resource Committee’s priority bills was heard on General File. LB 1008 is a “Christmas tree bill”, which means the committee has rolled multiple bills together into one. LB 1008 contains bills to raise liquidated damages on poachers for certain game violations, raise the per diem for Oil and Gas commissioners, give the Power Review Board authority to assess a fine, extend the state’s scrap tire program, and also resolves a problem for public power. Typically these bills are non-controversial and gives us the chance to address some smaller issues.
On Thursday of last week, LB 1008 was heard on General File, this bill contains an amendment that will allow public power in Nebraska to withhold competitive or proprietary information related to generating costs that would give an advantage to competitors who also produce electricity. There was some opposition to this bill by a small number of senators who have concerns with this portion of the committee amendment to LB 1008. Those who oppose the bill have an axe to grind with public power.
The public power language was amended into LB 1008 in response to a Nebraska Supreme Court case, Aksamit Resource Mgmt v. Nebraska Pub. Power Dist., which was issued on Friday, February 23, 2018. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court, stating that the public power entity did not prove that the release of information would serve no public purpose. The court liberally construed the meaning of “public purpose” and that, absent a statute clarifying how competing policy interests should be balanced, a policy debate on fossil and renewable fuels was serving a public purpose.
There were several maneuvers used by opponents to try to stall the bill. During the three hours of debate on LB 1008, little time was spent discussing the merits of the bill due to procedural rules challenges and motions to split up the bill into separate parts. We will have another three hours of debate on the bill this week before a motion can be made to end the filibuster. If this bill should fail to pass it will have a detrimental effect on all Nebraska ratepayers. I am hopeful it will be advanced to the next stage of debate by the time you read this.
I enjoyed seeing yet another high school this last week, Southwest High School out of Bartley brought over 25 students to come visit and explore the capitol. I look forward to seeing another group of fourth graders on April 9th. Please as always feel free to stop by my office whenever you are in Lincoln. It is always nice to see my constituents and friends.
I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.