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The Legislature is coming to Scottsbluff for your participation. You are invited to hear and provide testimony about LB 512. This is the bill introduced in response to citizen concerns about the application before the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission to allow the disposal of waste water and fracking water from Colorado and Wyoming in a dry well in Nebraska. By using technology, the Legislature is making the public hearing accessible to people in western Nebraska.
LB 512 provides for a fee of 20 cents per barrel to be imposed on all “produced water” from outside our borders. The fee will be primarily utilized to monitor wells and to repair our roads. However, your testimony is needed as to the need to provide additional statutory tools, overall concerns for water quality or additional funding to the Oil and Gas Commission to regulate saline water and fracking water that is produced in the oil and gas extraction process. You can be a part of the legislative process.
The interactive video connection to the public hearing in Lincoln for public input will be available on March 11, 2015, starting at 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time, at the Educational Service Unit Number 13, at 4215 Avenue I, Conference Room C in Scottsbluff. You will be given the opportunity to provide information in support of additional regulation or taxation, in opposition to additional action, and in a neutral capacity to provide background information.
If a large number of testifiers are present, testimony of each person may be limited to three minutes. If you do not wish to testify but have a position, a sign-in sheet will be available to express your position.
I look forward to the public’s input and the opportunity to objectively look at the facts before taking any action, if necessary. I want to thank everyone for taking the time to assist us, as legislators, to make informed decisions. If you wish to see and listen to the testimony in your own home, you may do so on the Legislature’s web site by video streaming. The web address is nebraskalegislature.gov. A copy of the draft bill is available on this same site.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, in the afternoons, my fellow members and I are in the process of public hearings on the State’s $8.7 billion preliminary budget. During these hearings, the Committee gathers information, agencies defend their proposed budgets and answer questions. The Committee will also listen to testimony on appropriations bills introduced the first 10 days of the session. The Committee’s preliminary budget mirrors the Governor’s budget request except for the following:
The Governor requested $60 million be added each year to the state’s property tax credit relief fund for a total of $400 million for two years. The Committee agreed to increase the fund by $45 million for each year.
The Committee used some of the funds in the state’s cash reserve fund, or rainy day fund, for onetime items. It proposed using $5.4 million for the Republican River lawsuit settlement and $17 million in federal fines levied on the Department of Health and Human Services over several years of improperly claimed federal funds.
The Committee is recommending spending more than the Governor proposed on such items as state aid to schools, public assistance, and state employees’ salaries. It did not recommend funding the use of county jails to house the state’s excess of prison inmates, and proposed less for Medicaid, mostly for lower Hepatitis C treatment costs.
Another key difference includes a $14 million addition to fund juvenile justice issues, which the
Governor failed to fully fund, and a recommendation for more programming and mental health treatment for prison inmates. The proposed general fund spending represents a 3.2 percent increase during the 2015-17 fiscal years, which is $31.85 million more than the Governor’s proposed total spending of over $8.7 billion.
The Revenue Forecasting Board met on February 27 and made a relatively small downward adjustment of $9.7 million for the next two years to the projected revenues for the next year. The reduction puts the projections in line with the historical average growth of revenues. The projections made by this Committee at their next meeting in April will be used as the final ones for the next two year budget.
As always I would appreciate any thoughts and inputs you might have bills before the Legislature. My contact information is: Senator John Stinner, District 48, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, Phone (402) 471-2802. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org