|Hughes up to six bills this session|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Friday, 29 January 2016 16:07|
Editor’s Note: Senator. Hughes holds a weekly tele-conference with constituents each Tuesday morning during the session. Locations for the tele-conferences include Midwest Electric in Grant, the Imperial city council chambers and Southwest Public Power in Palisade. The phone-in tele-conferences start at 7 a.m. MT each Tuesday and are open to the public.
By Sen. Dan Hughes
Two weeks ago, you read about the first three bills I introduced during this session. Shortly after, I introduced my next three bills, for a total of six. Wednesday, Jan. 20 was the 10th day of this session and the last day for senators to introduce bills. Some senators introduced more bills than I; some fewer. I am happy with the set of legislation which I have put forth on behalf of District 44 in 2016.
Here is a short summary of my last three bills this session:
• LB 820 would allow Nebraskans to participate in pools based on events in nature. The impetus for this bill stems from a community in Nenana, Alaska which organizes a pool based on the day, hour and minute the ice on the Tanana River at Nenana will break up.
Residents and visitors from around the world buy tickets, and the person or group with the closest guess receives a share of the money from ticket sales. The organization which runs the pool is a non-profit, and every year the event generates hundreds of thousands of dollars for many groups in the Nenana community, including public schools, senior centers and libraries.
LB 820 would allow for a similar event to be organized in Nebraska.
A hearing on the bill was held Monday, with Ted Tietjen of Grant testifying in favor the bill.
• LB 860 would allow cities and villages to include grants and loans under their economic development program, as long as the grants and loans support the construction or rehabilitation of housing which is included in a workforce housing plan.
A town which has a lack of housing, and no room for new workers to expand the workforce of the town, could issue loans and grants to remedy the situation as part of the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act, also known as LB 840. The program gives the town special authority to use tax dollars to improve their economy.
This bill will offer another vital tool to communities in Nebraska which face housing shortages that hamper the community’s ability to attract new businesses, or keep existing businesses from expanding. Currently, six cities and villages in the 44th District take advantage of this program.
• LR 394 CA would propose an amendment to the Nebraska Constitution for the November ballot, changing which government entities must be included in Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Currently, City Councils have the sole decision-making power, but this amendment would allow other taxing bodies, like school districts, to have their tax revenues exempted from a TIF pledge. Such taxing bodies may see increased expenditures as a result of the TIF-funded redevelopment program, but wouldn’t see increased revenue for upwards of fifteen years if they don’t opt out.
During his weekly teleconference Tuesday, Hughes said some minor changes may be needed to LB 820 but said it could make it out of committee.
He said those opposed to gambling of any kind in Nebraska testified against the bill. Hughes expected that, he said.
Hughes said proponents of wind energy are trying “to do a quarterback sneak on renewable energy.”
He said they want to be able to flood the market with their generation, without any regard for energy production when they can’t produce energy.
Hughes said he looks at reliability first, in the form of Nebraska’s public power generating plants, versus the cost of energy from renewable sources that can assure production.
With the exception of the ban against flying lanterns, Hughes said every bill thus far has faced a filibuster by some faction in the body.
He explained many of these bills are carryover bills from last year’s session and have been prioritized by their sponsors.
The speaker changed the rules, limiting debate on a bill to six hours versus eight before a vote to end debate can occur.
Even with the change, Hughes said debate is chewing through the session, which is already one-fourth complete.
Plus, he doesn’t expect the situation to change going forward.