|Christensen makes water transfer bill his priority bill for the session|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 16 February 2012 22:12|
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Senator Mark Christensen of Imperial wants to make sure the state can benefit from flood waters by being able to transfer the water across river basins.
That’s why he prioritized his bill, LB 653, which would allow unappropriated water to be transferred across river basin.
Christensen said he’s been working on this bill for the past six years and it made it out of committee this week on a 7-1 vote.
While the bill concentrates on flood stage conditions, any unappropriated or excess water could be transferred, even when the rivers are not in flood stage.
He said he wants to make sure Nebraska makes best use of the extra water that eventually just flows out of the state.
When the Platte River Basin finds itself in flood stage, the most likely transfer would occur from the Platte into the Republican River Basin.
Existing irrigations canal systems currently fed by the Platte could be used to deliver the water into the Republican Basin.
The water transferred into the Republican Basin could help the state maintain compliance with the 2002 compact settlement with Kansas over Republican River flows.
Christensen said it makes no sense to let flood waters flow out of the state when it can be put to use in other parts of the state. A transfer could also help alleviate some flood pressure along affected rivers.
LB 950 also gets priority
Another of Christensen’s bills got priority status as the Natural Resources Committee named LB 950 their priority bill. The bill was introduced by Christensen. Sen. Tom Carlson and Sen. Chris Langemeier.
The bill would create a revolving loan fund for water projects in the state.
It would be funded with money being repaid to the state by natural resource districts in the Republican Basin.
The state lent the districts the money to pay for the purchase of surface water during the drought to keep the state in compliance with Kansas and the compact settlement.
Christensen said the NRDs still owe the state about $7.2 million of the $8.7 million borrowed. When repaid, those funds would be placed into the water resources cash fund to help fund water issues around the state.
Christensen said it won’t be long before funds will be needed in the Platte River Basin and this is one way to provide it. He added he wants to see the reserve as a revolving loan fund so that money used from the fund would eventually have to be paid back.
The hearing on the bill was held Wednesday, Feb. 15.
Term limits, wage increase
Senators advanced two legislative resolutions to the floor which could set up another statewide vote on raising senators salaries and extending term limits.
Christensen said the Executive board engaged in some valuable discussion about the two measures.
For many years, the salaries for state senators has been set at $12,000 per year. Nebraskans have rejected several attempts to raise it.
The resolution coming from the Exec board set a proposed salary of $22,500 annually. It was originally proposed at $32,000 but was reduced in an effort to get it to the floor.
On term limits, the Exec Board forwarded a proposal that would allow state senators to serve three four-year terms before being term-limited out of office. Presently, the limit is set at two four-year terms.
Christensen said he doesn’t know whether either measure can get the needed 30 votes to put the issue to the voters.
He expects the wage proposal to face the most opposition. In addition, he said senators don’t think either will pass if they both appear on the same ballot.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 22:15|