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The One Hundred Sixth Legislature’s second session kicked off last week on Wednesday. This week we will begin floor debate on a few of the carryover bills from last year which range from abortion to property tax relief. Governor Ricketts’ State of the State Address will commence at 9:00 am MT/10:00 CT this Wednesday.
As of Monday, January 13th I have introduced nine bills. A few of the bills I have introduced include giving landowners ownership of groundwater and creating funds for pulse crop growers. I have also introduced legislation that will bring changes to provisions relating to the length of term and appointment of game and parks commission members and one that prohibits possession by minors of tobacco, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or alternative products.
I would like to expand on a few bills I have introduced. LB 802 was brought to me by the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Farm Bureau. In essence, the bill reaffirms that the amount of groundwater one may pump is directly related to the amount of overlying land one owns. There have been a few Supreme Court rulings stating its justification. In the 2018 case Upper Republican Nat. Res. Dist. v. Dundy Cty. Bd. of Equalization, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled, “We find no reason to treat underground uses – in this case, the use of the aquifer, wells and pipeline system – differently from any other use of the property. As the NRD points out, use of the groundwater is a derivative right immediately dependent on ownership of the surface over it.” This bill simply reaffirms this ruling and ties land ownership to groundwater pumping rights.
Another bill I have introduced is LB 803 which addresses pulse crop growers of the state who would like a checkoff program to generate funds for research and to market promotional efforts. Pulse crops include dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils just to name the more prominent ones. These crops have been grown in Nebraska for quite a few years now and are gaining popularity with farmers as an alternative crop. We have grown dry peas on our farm for the last 4 or 5 years and it looks like it is a crop that certainly has some promise throughout the state.
The last bill I will cover this week is LB 858. This bill was brought to me by MEAN. The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, which is the not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy created in 1981. This bill does not make any significant changes to MEAN, it updates and streamlines some of the statutes that have not been changed in almost 40 years. In the 44th District, we have a number of communities that receive services from MEAN.
As always, I am interested in hearing from my constituents on any of the topics that come before the Legislature. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give my office a call at 402-471-2805.