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As a legislative body, we have introduced an additional 482 bills in this session. The last day of bill introduction was January 23rd. Bill hearings will continue in committees until the last week of February. I would like to discuss a few more bills that I have introduced, all of which will have hearings before the Natural Resource Committee.
LB 859 changes qualifications for Game and Parks commissioners. Currently, guidelines state that three commissioners need to have agricultural interests. In an attempt to make the commission more responsive to landowners, I’m looking to change that to three commissioners who derive a substantial portion of their income from agricultural production.
LB 860 will change the boundaries of the Game and Parks districts. Currently, the Game and Parks commissioners represent eight districts that are set up based on population with the ninth district at large. My bill bases the representation on the geographic area instead because the Game and Parks Commission manages land and wildlife, not people.
LB 863 limits land ownership by the Game and Parks Commission. The bill is scheduled for a hearing this coming Thursday, January 30th. This bill has generated a great deal of response. Last fall, during the interim hearings in Scottsbluff and McCook, the committee heard input from individuals who shared concerns about different sites specifically around western Nebraska but certainly not limited to that area of parks and properties. Some of the concerns mentioned were the obvious lack of maintenance, responsibilities such as weeds not being mowed, building structures in disrepair, and fences not being maintained. LB 863 will put a stop on property acquisition until they can catch up and maintain the properties that they currently own and manage.
LB 1071 creates a fund to pay landowners for crop damage from the state’s wildlife. I am hoping to create a three-million-dollar fund. The source for the funding would come from an increase or surcharge on hunting fees or possibly an application fee on each license. Three million dollars is a big number, but the amount of damage that is being done by the state’s wildlife is considerable. This bill is a result of the interim hearings in Scottsbluff and McCook. We heard from landowners who were able to document the damage being done to their properties. Some of them provided drone footage and aerial photos, and also explained how they used yield maps to document the loss of production due to deer, elk, and antelope on their properties. This legislation is proposed in order to give the landowner a way to recoup some of those losses.
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.