Committee Holds Hearing on NCORPE Bills

Committee Holds Hearing on NCORPE Bills

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Committee holds hearings on NCORPE bills

Hughes' Views

Last week NCORPE was in the spotlight again. Senator Groene of North Platte introduced two bills that were heard in the Natural Resources Committee. 

LB 1123 and 1124 both deal with the NCORPE project in Lincoln County but could also affect the Rock Creek Project in Dundy County. 

During the hearing, Sen.Groene asked the committee to not take any action on LB 1124 because provisions in LB 758 address the concerns that led to LB 1124. 

However, LB 1123 drew a lot of interest and we had several people testify both in favor of and in opposition to the bill.

LB 1123 would allow the sale of the NCORPE land to private owners. Currently, the land is owned by the NCORPE group, which is a government entity made up of four natural resources districts. 

Landowners for a Common Purpose, a Lincoln County group, would like the land to be held by private citizens.

One testifier in the neutral position, Professor Anthony Schutz—a law professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law, explained to the committee some of the legal issues with the bill that could cause problems with Nebraska’s compliance with the Republican River Compact. Sen. Groene, in his opening, offered an amendment that would completely replace the original drafted language of the bill. 

However, the language in the amendment still did not fix the concerns of those opposed to the bill.

LB 758 passed Monday from Select File on to Final Reading on a 47-0 vote, despite efforts by Sen. Ernie Chambers to kill or hold up the bill. Ironically, Chambers was among the senators voting to advance it. 

Submitted testimony

I would like to share that the rules and procedures for submitting letters for the record have changed. 

If you were planning to testify on a bill and are unable to attend but wish to have a written position letter included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the time frame has changed. 

The letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee clerk) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Tuesday teleconference

Senators had until Wednesday to chose their priority bills. Hughes said he hasn’t picked his priority bill yet.

Since the hearing on Groene’s LB 1123, he’s submitted more amendments to the bill. When asked if he thought Groene would make it his priority bill, Hughes said it’s risky to prioritize a bill that hasn’t even made it out of committee yet.

Committees have until Feb. 20 to select their two priority bills. The Natural Resources Committee had already prioritized LB 758. 

Hughes said the committee may amend several bills into one bill, vote it out of committee and prioritize it 

Hughes said he’s been receiving lots of communications from people concerned about cuts to the university system.

The senator said the university is the third largest recipient of state dollars, behind K-12 education and Health and Human Services. 

According to a story in the Lincoln Journal-Star, the university gets about 13 percent of the state’s general fund. 

The university meet with the Appropriations Committee Wednesday. 

Among the bills Hughes has pending is LB 1080, which he introduced on behalf of the Game & Parks Commission. 

The bill seeks to allow three new conservation license plates for sandhill cranes, trout and bighorn sheep. 

The success of the mountain lion plate has generated significant dollars for conservation efforts and G&P feels people will support the other plates. 

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.

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