NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Steve Erdman

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at serdman@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 47th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Steve Erdman

Straight Talk From Steve…
April 16th, 2021

My priority bill for this year has made its way out of committee and onto General File. LR 11CA is my resolution for a constitutional amendment to repeal the State income tax, the property tax, the State sales tax and the inheritance tax and to replace these taxes with a consumption tax. Last week Speaker Hilgers announced that he would begin floor debates on taxation bills beginning the week of April 26. LR 11CA will likely be put on the agenda sometime that week.

We have been making great progress in advancing the EPIC Consumption Tax. For instance, last week the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) endorsed the EPIC Consumption Tax, sending out an email to all of their members encouraging them to visit the website at www.EPICconsumptiontax.org and to make private donations to our organization known as the Consumption Tax Institute. I am very excited to have ICON on board and I look forward to other agricultural organizations joining our effort.

Although times continue to be rough for farmers and ranchers, these are very exciting times in which we live. We are on the cusp of completely transforming the way we collect taxes in our state and we are about to move Nebraska to the front of the line among the most tax friendly states in America. Once enacted, I believe the EPIC Consumption tax will promote economic growth and prosperity never seen before in the history of our state. When other states see how the EPIC Consumption Tax has transformed Nebraska’s economy, I believe they will want to follow our lead by introducing similar legislation in their own states.

As I said above, times continue to be rough for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. Nevertheless, let us be thankful for the precipitation we have already received this year and let us pray that it comes again during the hot summer months when we will need it most, but know that there is real hope for the future of farming and ranching to prosper again in Nebraska.

I’m thankful that we live in that part of the country which sees variations in the seasons. I believe the best season of all is spring. Why spring? By the time spring arrives we are tired of the cold, the wind and the inconveniences winter brings. Spring is a time for new beginnings.

Spring is the season agricultural folks most look forward to. Livestock producers are caring for their new arrivals and planting season is just around the corner. However, with the enthusiasm and anticipation of a new year, we often become distracted and find ourselves in dangerous situations. As you head out to plant or care for your livestock please be careful. Agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs In America. We are counting on you to provide what we eat and what we wear.

Thank you to all who provide support services to Nebraska’s greatest industry: Agriculture!

Straight Talk From Steve…
April 8th, 2021

Imagine taking your car to an auto mechanic for repairs and receiving an estimate for parts and labor totaling $100, but when you return to pick up your car the mechanic hands you a bill for $200! Good automotive mechanics know better than to deviate from an estimate without first getting permission from the owner of the car. Getting permission is just the morally right thing to do. In some states, such as Illinois, mechanics are even required by law to get permission whenever the repairs exceed more than 10 percent of the original estimate. Well, what about the government? Shouldn’t the government get permission before they raise your taxes?

Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair, Nebraska introduced a bill this year which requires local units of government to do just that. LB 644, which is known as the Property Tax Request Act, requires that a postcard be mailed to all of the landowners of a political subdivision whenever that political subdivision intends to raise taxes higher than they were the previous year. I call that: Transparency.

In addition, the Property Tax Request Act requires political subdivisions to hold public hearings in order to justify raising property taxes. Just like an auto mechanic who works on your car, shouldn’t a hike in your property taxes be justified? Well, the Property Tax Request Act alleviates that problem to a degree by holding those with tax asking authority accountable to the taxpayers.

The Property Tax Request Act even goes one step further. The Act requires political subdivisions to pass a resolution or an ordinance in order to raise property taxes higher than the previous year’s taxes. This is important because it forces elected officials to go on record for raising your taxes. Taxpayers need to know precisely who it is who is responsible for raising their property taxes. By requiring a resolution or an ordinance, the mystery of who has been raising your property taxes will finally be made known.

Legislation which promotes more transparency in government is always a good thing. When is transparency ever a bad thing in government? Taxpayers have a right to hold their elected officials accountable, and the Property Tax Request Act facilitates that process.

The Property Tax Request Act shifts the balance of power slightly back in favor of the taxpayer, and government officials generally do not like that. For this reason organizations which promote property tax relief, smaller government, and greater transparency in government, such as the Platte Institute and Americans for Prosperity, testified in favor of this bill at the public hearing. Conversely, the lobbyists who typically fight against property tax relief, smaller government, and greater transparency in government testified against this bill at the public hearing.

The bottom line is that the Property Tax Request Act is a good bill. So, when it came up on the floor for debate last week, I supported it, and I am delighted to report that this bill has advanced to Select File. Sen. Hansen is working to make this bill even better by amending it. His amendment will answer some of the objections that were raised against the bill during the floor debate. It is always good to make a good bill even better.

Straight Talk From Steve…
April 1st, 2021

Last week my priority bill for this year was voted out of committee. The Revenue Committee voted 6-2 to advance LR11CA to General File. LR11CA is my resolution for a constitutional amendment to repeal the State income tax, the State sales tax, the property tax, and the inheritance tax, and to replace all of these taxes with a consumption tax.

The consumption tax would tax all services and new goods. Used goods would never be taxed. The consumption tax only taxes an item once, then it is yours to keep.

In January of this year the Beacon Hill Institute ran the numbers for me and determined that we would be able to implement the consumption tax at a rate of 9.8 percent. These numbers are currently being confirmed by the economist, Steven Moore of FreedomWorks and Art Laffer of Laffer & Assoc. However, by using the smartcard method I believe we could implement the consumption tax at an even lower rate. Let me explain.

Under the consumption tax every legal resident living in Nebraska would receive a monthly allowance. The monthly allowance pays the full consumption tax for citizens according to their filing status up to the federal poverty level. The purpose of the monthly allowance is to offset consumption taxes paid on necessities.

The original consumption tax model that I proposed resulted in the State having to raise a total of $11 billion. We need $9.5 billion to run the State, and we would need an additional $1.5 billion to fund the monthly allowance, for a grand total of $11 billion.

The original model that I proposed also required the State to deposit the monthly allowance directly into the bank accounts of every qualifying person or family. For example, every family of four would get $213 deposited directly into their family’s bank account each month in order to cover their consumption taxes up to the poverty level.

One idea that I’ve been exploring is the smartcard method of paying taxes. A smartcard is a plastic card with a built-in microprocessor used for financial transactions. The smart card method would replace depositing cash into individual bank accounts. Under the smartcard method the Department of Revenue would credit the monthly allowance virtually onto a smartcard. The smartcard would then be used at the cash register to pay for the consumption tax. If someone purchased $20.00 in consumable goods, their out-of-pocket expense would be only $20.00. The $1.96 in consumption taxes would be deducted from the balance on the smartcard, and this process would continue with future purchases until the monthly balance runs out.

The advantage of using the smartcard method is that it would eliminate the need for the State to collect an additional $1.5 billion in additional revenues to pay for the consumption tax. Because the monthly allowance would be distributed virtually on the smartcard, there would be no need to collect an additional $1.5 billion in tax revenues.

If the State could avoid collecting and redistributing $1.5 billion in revenues to pay for the monthly allowances, the consumption tax rate would be substantially lower than 9.8 percent. Because the State would only have to generate $9.5 billion in revenues, the new rate for the consumption tax would be estimated to be as low as 8.45 percent!

Once you factor the monthly allowance into the equation, you get what I like to call the effective consumption tax rate. Factoring in the monthly allowance leads to a much lower effective rate. For a family of four who spends $65,000 on services and new goods, their effective consumption tax rate would five percent. Imagine paying five percent on services and new goods, but never having to any other taxes!

Smart Cards at Rs 75/piece | Smart Cards | ID: 4393207712

Straight Talk From Steve…
March 26th, 2021

 

The most important principle of communism is the abolition of private property. When Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto back in 1847 they declared the first principle of communism to be the “abolition of land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.” Today we are seeing this principle being implemented in a very large way.

On January 27, 2021 President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14008, which is known as the Tackling the Climate Change Crisis at Home and Abroad order. Section 216 of this Executive Order directs the Secretary of the Interior to develop a program conserving at least 30 percent of all lands and waterways in the United States by the year 2030. Hence, this program is known today as the 30 X 30 program.

The President of the United States intends to raise your property taxes. The 30 X 30 program intends to preserve 680 million acres of land in the United States in its natural state; thus, preventing anyone from ever using these lands and their resources. Converting land from private ownership to federal lands entails taking these lands off of the property tax rolls. This would automatically result in a higher property tax burden for those already owning private lands.

Making these kinds of enormous land grabs will have devastating consequences for our economy in Nebraska. Many industries operating within our state’s borders depend upon our state’s natural resources, and these resources are now being put in jeopardy. These land grabs will surely affect our ability to raise crops, graze livestock, drill for oil, mine for minerals, and pump water from the Aquifer. In fact, it will even affect our ability to enjoy outdoor recreational activities, such as boating, fishing and hunting.

By passing this Executive Order President Joe Biden has revealed his bias against private ownership of land. Designating lands as federal preserves does not guarantee their preservation. Federal lands are often more susceptible to wildfires, insect infestations, and even disease. God gave us this land to manage, and private owners usually do a much better job of managing the land than does the federal government.

The President lacks constitutional and statutory authority to implement the 30 X 30 program. Executive Order 14008 never references the United States Constitution or any other federal statute which grants this kind of power to the executive branch of the federal government. Instead, these are matters which would be better left to Congress and the states, rather than by a Presidential Executive Order. By issuing an Executive Order, no debate on this issue has ever taken place.

The time for us to act is now. Morrill County recently adopted a resolution opposing Executive Order 14008, which includes a statement opposing the designation of county lands as “wilderness, wilderness study areas, wildlife preserves, and open space,” a statement supporting Nebraska’s water rights system, and a statement directing the 30 X 30 program to only take lands from willing landowners coupled with just compensation for the land at fair market value. I would like to encourage other counties in Nebraska to write similar resolutions.

President Joe Biden’s Executive Order undermines one of the most foundational principles of our American republic, namely the principle of private property. For this reason, our Founding Fathers wisely stated in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution that no citizen shall ever “be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

Straight Talk From Steve…
March 19th, 2021

Sometimes life in the State Legislatures is like searching for gold only to die without anything to show for your efforts. Last week a bill came up in the Legislature that several State Senator believe is a bad bill. The bill was LB88, a bill designed to protect student journalists. Believing that we could muster enough votes to kill the bill, we set out to filibuster the bill. Filibustering a bill on General File requires the opponents of the bill to talk for eight hours, and that is exactly what we did. We talked for eight long hours only to lose by one vote at the end of the debate. LB88 advanced to Select File.

So, why would so many Senators waste eight long hours of their lives trying to kill a bill only to lose the vote in the end? This does not happen unless those opposing the bill care passionately about defeating the bill. There are many reasons why this bill stirs the passions of conservative Senators like me, so today I would like to explain what some of those reasons are.

First, LB88 allows student journalists to make decisions about the “advertising content” of the school newspaper. This means that student journalists would have the freedom to allow anyone to advertise in the school newspaper. Many parents, for example, would object to allowing Planned Parenthood to advertise in the local high school newspaper, but under LB88 nobody would be able to stop them. While we are at it, how would you feel if the KKK ran an ad in your student’s high school newspaper? For this reason, school teachers and administrators need to have some control over what gets printed.

Second, LB88 confuses freedom of speech with freedom of the press. The bill states explicitly that “a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and freedom of the press in school-sponsored media.” When it comes to publishing a newspaper, freedom of the press applies, but not freedom of speech. The reason is that school newspapers are not public forums. Freedom of speech would only apply if the student newspaper was declared to be a public forum. Well, that’s exactly what LB88 attempts to do.

LB88 changes school newspapers to public forums. The bill states explicitly that, “All school-sponsored media are deemed to be public forums.” By making this most important fundamental change, the door to free speech is flung wide open. This makes the high school newspaper no different than Facebook or Twitter, where students can say anything they want.

High school students are just that – they are students, not journalists. In order to become a morally responsible journalist, they must be taught, and that process usually begins in high school. LB88 would effectively turn the tables on educators, making it impossible for them to teach what good journalism looks like.

Finally, LB88 would put an end to many high school newspapers. Here’s why: Minors cannot be sued, but school districts and educators can be sued. Once we allow high school students to write like they do on Facebook and Twitter, schools will be sued. Consequently, LB88 presents a whole new set of liability threats to school boards. No school board in their right mind would allow a high school newspaper to go to print with this kind of a liability threat looming over them. For this reason, I believe LB88 would necessarily lead to the death of the high school newspaper. Because I care passionately about keeping high school newspapers active and alive, I participated in the filibuster and voted against LB88.

Straight Talk From Steve…
March 12th, 2021

By now many of you have heard about the new sex education standards being proposed to the Nebraska Department of Education. These new standards would teach children as young as five years-old about gender identity and same gender families.

These new standards are not the result of any piece of legislation in the Unicameral. Instead, the 60 page draft of proposed changes to the State’s health education curriculum came from a team of so called “education experts,” otherwise known as LGBTQ activists.

This team of education experts never bothered to survey the general public or to measure the pulse of Nebraska before imposing these kinds of progressive standards on our educational system. Had they done so, and actually cared about the results, they never would have drafted such a controversial proposal.

The nature of the sex education portion of these new health education standards is divisive at best. To be sure, divisiveness is exactly what these education experts were aiming for. To the contrary, the primary goal of a committee or team of this kind should have been to find common ground. Instead, their proposal imposes a radical left-wing agenda upon a very large traditionalist segment of our society, who reject the ideas contained in the proposal.

Just to be clear, I oppose the human growth and development section of these new health education standards. These are standards which encourage children to question their own sexual orientation and which promote several categories of gender identities as a matter of self-expression as opposed to teaching children to accept their own God-given biological sex.
The primary duty for educating children resides with parents, not the State. Although the State of Nebraska has a constitutional obligation to “provide for the free instruction in the common schools,” that obligation does not usurp the fundamental right of parents to raise their children as they see fit.

The proper role of public education is to assist parents in the task of educating their children. When educators view their role this way, they no longer seek to override the desires and convictions of parents with their own ulterior agenda. Unfortunately, far too many educators view themselves as experts charged with the primary task of educating children regardless of the beliefs, desires and convictions of parents.

The State of Nebraska has no moral obligation to teach sexuality to children, and teaching sexuality to children may very well be out of bounds. We must never forget that it is a fundamental characteristic of communist countries to take children from their parents at an early age and indoctrinate them with propaganda which runs contrary to the convictions of their parents. This kind of educational Statism has no place in a free country.

Because parents bear the primary responsibility for educating their children and because parents in general remain divided on these kinds of sexuality issues, common sense would suggest that we should either leave the human growth and development section of the curriculum unchanged or just abolish it altogether.

Straight Talk From Steve…
March 5th, 2021

 

Our National Motto, “In God We Trust,” plays a very rich role in American history. The motto first appeared in the fourth stanza of our National Anthem, “The Star Bangled Banner” back when Francis Scott Key first wrote the lyrics to the song on September 14, 1814 following the War of 1812. That line in the song says, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’”

The phrase first occurred on minted coins back in 1864, but it did not appear on paper money until President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law as our National Motto on July 30, 1956. Since then, Congress has reaffirmed the phrase, “In God We Trust” as our National Motto in 2002 and again in 2011, where the House of Representatives affirmed it by a vote of 396-9 and encouraged states to post in public buildings and in public schools.

The National Motto is not being displayed or taught in our public schools. For this reason, I introduced LB 36 this year. This bill requires public schools to display our National Motto in a prominent place or in every classroom, and it requires the Nebraska State Attorney General to defend any school board, any school administrator, or any school teacher against a lawsuit for displaying the National Motto.

The National Motto plays a significant role in our nation’s history and heritage and it needs to be taught to our school children. Unfortunately, atheist groups, who don’t approve of the motto, stand ready to sue any school which tries to post the National Motto or any teacher who tries to teach it to students. Many of our smaller, rural school districts simply cannot afford a lawsuit of this nature, so that is why I wrote the bill in such a way that the Attorney General would be obligated to represent the defendant.

My bill is patterned after the Virginia law. Virginia passed a bill requiring their public schools to post the National Motto which was signed into law on May 17, 2002. The Loudoun County School Board in Virginia was promptly sued after they posted the National Motto in their schools. However, the Virginia Attorney General represented the school just as the law said, and the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the law. Every time atheists have filed a lawsuit against our National Motto they have lost in court.

The National Motto is neither a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment nor is it an endorsement of religion. The title ‘God’ may simply refer to a Supreme Being without identifying with any particular religion. Some have argued that it is part of America’s civil religion. But, no court that has acknowledged the existence of a civil religion in America has ever found its activities to be in violation of the First Amendment. Instead, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the National Motto is constitutional largely because it is ceremonial and nonsectarian.

Currently, 19 states have laws on the books requiring public schools to display our National Motto. I believe it is time for Nebraska to do the same. Once this bill becomes a law in Nebraska private donors will have the opportunity to defray the costs of the posters or plaques. It is my sincere hope that no school should ever have to shoulder the cost of displaying our National Motto.

Straight Talk From Steve…
February 26th, 2021

 

The second amendment to the United States Constitution says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” That this right cannot be infringed upon means that no government entity may pass legislation encroaching upon this right, yet that is precisely what so many in the anti-gun lobby want legislators to do.

Today there is an all-out assault on our most basic fundamental rights, especially those contained in the Bill of Rights. Unless these rights and freedoms are vigorously defended, a police state will likely ensue. These rights and liberties were articulated in the Bill of Rights by our Founding Fathers for the very purpose of thwarting this kind of tyranny.

For these reasons, I have decided to co-sponsor two bills this year which protect our second amendment rights. Last week I co-signed LB 188 and LB 173. These two bills will help ensure that Nebraskans will be able to enjoy their second amendment rights for many years yet to come.

LB 188 is the Second Amendment Preservation Act. The bill prohibits anyone working for a state agency or a political subdivision to knowingly or willingly enforce any federal law, executive order, rule or regulation regarding firearms, accessories, and ammunition unless it already exists under Nebraska State law. LB 188 would essentially make Nebraska a second amendment sanctuary state.

The United States Supreme Court has already recognized the right of the states to pass this kind of legislation. In Printz v. United States (1997) the ruling of the high court included these words, “The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring states to address particular problems, nor command the State’s officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.” So, we already know that this bill has constitutional muster.

LB 173 further protects the right of Nebraskans to keep and bear arms. LB 173 protects law abiding gun owners while transporting firearms to a location where they can be lawfully discharged. The bill simply states that the firearm be enclosed in a case, and it defines a case as a hard or soft-sided box, container, receptacle designed for storing firearms, or the manufacture’s original packaging.

In order to show you why this legislation is needed, consider what happens under our current laws. Currently, it is lawful to purchase a firearm, but it is illegal to transport that firearm home from the store in the manufacture’s original packaging. Anyone who purchases a firearm at a sporting goods store and transports that gun home in the manufacturer’s original packaging runs the risk of having that firearm confiscated by police for no other reason than that it was not being properly encased.

LB 173 changes the law so that firearms may be transported by law abiding citizens without getting unduly harassed by police officers or game wardens. Firearms still have to be unloaded during transport and they still have to be encased. LB 173 simply loosens the definition of what constitutes a gun case.

We must never forget that the original purpose of the second amendment was to keep the government subordinate to the people. James Madison provided the original wording for the second amendment, and in Federalist Paper 46, he said to the adversaries of our Constitution, “These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone…” The government exists to serve the American people, not the other way around. Protecting the rights and liberties contained in our Constitution is the highest duty of a legislator. May we never forget this most basic and foundational principle of our American republic.

Straight Talk From Steve…
February 19th, 2021

If it is true that every cowboy sings a sad, sad song, then in Nebraska they all sing the same sad song about protesting their property valuation. Protesting property values in Nebraska is like turning a lump of coal into a diamond. If you squeeze the same lump of coal in your hand all the days of your life, all you will end up with is a dirty hand, and if you protest your property valuation every year, all you will end up with is a pile of filing fee receipts. Getting a decision on a property valuation appeal takes too long.

For this reason I introduced LB613 this year. LB613 is a bill that would limit the time that the Tax Equalization and Review Commission has to render a decision on one’s property valuation appeal. The bill says that a hearing must be held within six months after the filing date of the appeal and a decision must be reached within nine months of the date of the appeal; otherwise, the decision defaults in favor of the property owner and a refund must be returned to the property owner within the next 30 days.

Last week a hearing was held at the State Capitol on LB613. Everyone who testified in favor of the bill sang the same sad, sad song about how long it took for the Tax Equalization and Review Commission to render a decision on their case. One individual who testified advised younger generations not to bother with filing appeals because it takes too long. He went so far as to say, “It’s a waste of your time.” Testimonials such as these aptly demonstrate why we have a big problem with property valuations in Nebraska.

The idea for this bill came to me from Brenda Bickford, a resident of Lincoln, who has filed several appeals to the Tax Equalization and Review Commission. Brenda is still waiting to get notice of a hearing for an appeal that she filed back in 2019. Brenda filed another appeal in 2020 and is filing a third appeal this year. No one should ever have to wait three years in order to get a hearing on an appeal filed three years ago.

The fundamental problem lies with how properties get assessed. As Brenda Bickford found out, there is no formula that assessors use to value properties objectively. If there was such a formula, property owners would be able to assess their own properties. Instead, the process of selecting which properties to include in an array for valuing a particular parcel is often subjectively determined by county assessors.

Because the method of assessing properties lends itself to this kind of subjectivity, it has resulted in a flood of cases for the Tax Equalization and Review Commission. To be fair, the Tax Equalization and Review Commission is not properly staffed to deal with the number of cases that are now flooding the system.

LB613 will incentivize county assessors to valuate properties more fairly. Once LB613 becomes law, county assessors won’t want to over-burden the system any longer with appeals. If they do, the system will default in favor of the property owner, which is the way it ought to be.

It is my sincere hope that by introducing this bill justice will be restored to the appeals process. In America we are supposed to value a fair and speedy trial. That’s what the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees for criminal cases. Why should property valuation appeals be any different? Unfortunately, fairness and timeliness have been missing from our property valuation system far too long. So the time has come to fix the way we protest our property values, and when we do, our cowboys in Nebraska may change their tune and begin to sing a glad, glad song.

Straight Talk From Steve…
February 15th, 2021

Every bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature gets a fiscal note attached to it. Fiscal notes are usually boring and not much fun to read. Fiscal notes are usually written by budgetary experts working for relevant state agencies and are supposed to explain what kind of fiscal impact the bill would have on the State budget. Usually, fiscal notes are carefully calculated and accurately tell state legislators how much money a bill would cost to the State once it becomes a law. However, fiscal notes are not always written with care and precision. Such was the case last week when I received the fiscal note for my bill, LB468, a bill to compensate landowners for damages caused to their property by wildlife.

LB468 seeks to clarify the meaning of Article 1, Section 21 of the Nebraska State Constitution which says, “The property of no person shall be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation therfor.” The bill clarifies this section of the constitution by requiring the Game and Parks Commission to reimburse landowners for damages caused to their property by wildlife.

The fiscal note on this bill made some very outrageous claims. Some of them were in my favor, while others were grossly distorted facts. For instance, one of the more outlandish claims that the Game and Parks Commission made in the fiscal note was that only 11 mountain lions have caused damages to property over the past 3 years with average losses of only $684 per year. According to the Game and Parks Commission mountain lions only feed on goats and chickens.

Most surprisingly, though, was how the Game and Parks Commission estimated the damages caused to private property by wildlife. In the fiscal note, the Game and Parks Commission had to admit that 75 percent of all landowners in Nebraska suffer damages to their property that are caused by wildlife. This is a point that I have tried to hammer home to them for years, but they have stubbornly refused to admit until now. The mere fact that 75 percent of all landowners suffer damages to their property caused by wildlife ought to be sufficient evidence to make wildlife management the number one priority for the Game and Parks Commission, but it is not. Instead, they prefer to keep growing the herds of antelope, deer and elk.

The most outlandish claim made by the Game and Parks Commission in their fiscal note for LB468 was their estimate for how much it would cost the State of Nebraska to reimburse all of these landowners with property damages caused by wildlife. Their estimate totaled more than $117 million! Once you pick yourself up from the floor and begin reading again, let me simply tell you that this number is wrong.

The figure of $117 million is wrong because the fiscal analyst working for the Game and Parks Commission never bothered to read my companion bill to LB468. At the same time I introduced LB468 on the floor of the Legislature, I also introduced LB469, which is an Appropriations bill stipulating how the State would go about reimbursing these landowners.

According to my companion bill, LB469, the Game and Parks Commission would use $10 million from their Wildlife Conservation fund to reimburse landowners on a pro rata basis. In other words, the $10 million would be spread out among all those filing for property damages throughout the calendar year and paid out on February 1 of the following year. So, the Game and Parks Commission missed the actual number of what it would cost the State of Nebraska to reimburse landowners by $107 million!

I am sad to report how this kind of careless work by the Game and Parks Commission has caused me to question nearly everything they do.

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47
Room 1124
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2616
Email: serdman@leg.ne.gov
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