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Dan Hughes

Sen. Dan Hughes

District 44

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Two weeks ago, I mentioned that each standing committee may designate two bills as committee priority bills. This session, the Natural Resources Committee chose LB 632, the bill I wrote about in my last article, and also LB 858 as their committee priority bills. LB 858 was brought to me by the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, better known as MEAN. This bill reorganizes, updates, and simplifies the basic governance of MEAN, which has remained largely unchanged since 1981. Since it was designated a committee priority bill, the committee amended three additional bills into it. The bills added by the committee amendment are LB’s 367, 855, and 856.  LB 367 extends the termination date of the Nebraska Litter Reduction and Recycling Act from October 30, 2020, to September 30, 2025, and it strikes language which allows transfers from the Nebraska Litter Reduction and Recycling Fund to the General Fund at the discretion/direction of the Legislature. LB 855 eliminates legislative confirmation for members appointed to the Niobrara Council. Lastly, LB 856 extends the sunset date for the Petroleum Release Remedial Action Act from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2024. LB 858 is currently on final reading. 

Unfortunately, two of the bills in LB 858 have sunset dates and therefore are time sensitive. The Legislature’s suspension had put these bills into a time crunch, and they must go into law as soon as they are passed so as not to interrupt the programs they authorize. In order to do this, we will need to pull the entire bill back to select file and amend it to include an emergency clause, which will allow it to be enacted as soon as it is signed by the governor. This will ensure there will be no disruption to the funds that are administered by these bills.

Another bill I introduced this year, LB 899, was designated by Senator Moser from Columbus as his personal priority bill. The bill amends Section 70-625 to give public power districts in Nebraska the authority to develop biofuels to help offset greenhouse gas emissions. This bill came out of the Natural Resources Committee on a 8-0 vote and is currently on select file. 

In addition to committee and personal priority bills, the Speaker can designate up to twenty-five Speaker Priority Bills. This year, the Speaker chose LB 803, a bill I introduced, to be one of these twenty-five bills. This bill would create a checkoff program for pulse crops. Creating a checkoff for these crops will provide additional funds for their production, research, and market promotion. Pulse crops include a variety of peas, lentils, chickpeas, faba beans, and lupine. These crops have been grown in Nebraska for quite a few years and are gaining popularity with farmers as an alternative crop. After I introduced the bill, there was some discussion if the program should instead be named the “Dry Pea and Lentil Commission” because “pulse” is a broad classification of the legume family, and Nebraska already has a Dry Bean Commission. Changing the name of the checkoff would reduce confusion. I plan to offer an amendment to make this change.

 

Sen. Dan Hughes

District 44
Room 2108
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2805
Email: dhughes@leg.ne.gov
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