|Legislative session coming to an end|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00|
Letter Back Home
By Sen. Mark Christensen
The 2014 Legislative Session is all but wrapped up, except for the 60th Day today (Thursday) April 17. Today, the Legislature will finish up bills on Final Reading and deal with any potential overrides.
This week in the letter, I would like to touch on the final version of LB 1098 that addresses water issues in the state.
LB 1098 passed the Legislature with a 48-0-1 vote on Final Reading. Before it was passed, the compromise on LB 1074 was amended into the bill, including several other bills.
The compromise amendment, AM 2783, ended up requiring a basin-wide plan for a river basin with three or more natural resources districts (NRDs) with integrated management plans, which includes the Republican River Basin.
The NRDs will have three years to develop a basin-wide plan and no more than 30 years to complete it and meet a sustainable balance between uses and sources.
I believe this plan will be a good thing moving into the future. Requiring all parties to work together should have a positive impact for the Republican River Basin.
As always in compromises, not everything is what each party wanted. The compromise came late in the session and not all the technical issues got handled to everyone’s satisfaction, but will most likely be addressed next session.
LB 1098’s original sections expand the membership on the Natural Resources Commission, creates the Water Sustainability Fund and guidelines for the eligibility and use of the funds.
These guidelines will provide priorities and limits on certain types of projects like Omaha’s combined sewer project.
Like I said earlier, other related water bills were amended to LB 1098; three of those bills were mine. LB 686 was added which changed the irrigation certification date from March 1 to June 1 in order to opt out of the occupation tax due to non-irrigation for the calendar year. In addition, LB 710 was added which requires a public hearing prior to a NRD entering to a ground water augmentation project.
Finally, LB 723 was added and requires county assessors, when using the comparable sales approach for valuation of irrigated cropland, to consider the availability of water and its source, along with whether federal, state, or local government actions have affected the sale of the land.
This will only be required when the information is available from a government source.
I believe these bills will provide additional information to taxpayers and more flexibility for surface water irrigators who have had their water drastically lowered or taken in 2013 and 2014.
LB 390 on Final Reading
In a call Tuesday, Christensen said his priority bill, LB 390, got a 42-0 vote late last week to advance to Final Reading and will be voted on today. His bill is one of 10 on Final Reading.
LB 390 would remove the power under the Emergency Act, that allows the Governor to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing or transportation of firearms.
In addition, the bill would clarify that the current state and federal laws regulating firearms and ammunition would still be applied.
The governor or any political subdivision would not be able to expand or tighten their regulation of firearms and ammunition and hinder the lawful possession, sale or transportation of firearms and ammunition during a declared emergency.
Christensen said he expects the bill to pass. Then it will be up to the governor as to whether or not he signs it.
He said he also tacked on several of his insurance-related bills to LB 700, which is also on Final Reading.
When asked about possible veto override attempts on any bills, Christensen said he wasn’t aware of any yet as of Tuesday.