WAYNE – Several bills were recently highlighted during a weekly update from District 17 Senator Joni Albrecht.
According to a release, spring is upon as after a mild Nebraska winter as Senator Albrecht addresses her weekly update.
From the DMV and State Patrol Bill, elimination of concealed handgun permit, bills in final reading, the South Platte River Canal project as well as lake development and water recreation were all highlighted.
Senator Albrecht was pleased to introduce LB720 on behalf of the Nebraska State Patrol and the Department of Motor Vehicles. This bill would adopt the most recent version of federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2022. Maintaining alignment between federal regulations, state statutes and operational activities ensures Nebraska remains compliant with federal requirements and is eligible to receive 100% of their allotment of federal highway funds. The bill passed to Select File with 35 votes.
LB773 was introduced by Gordon Senator Tom Brewer and would eliminate Nebraska’s permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun (was placed on general file March 8 after a pull motion). This would prohibit counties, cities and villages from regulating the ownership, possession and transportation of a concealed handgun. Under the bill, registration and training requirements for concealed handguns no longer would be required. Individuals who currently are prohibited from possessing or carrying a gun still would be prohibited from doing so under the bill.
Carrying a concealed handgun while under the influence of alcohol also would remain illegal. Concealed handguns would remain prohibited in schools, certain government premises and private businesses that have such rules in place. The bill advanced to Select File.
Four bills were also updated on their final reading. They included Unemployment Benefits (LB 567); Diabetes (LB 698); Pharmacy Benefit Manager (LB 767) and County Surveyors (LB 791).
Lawmakers then gave first-round approval earlier this month (March 9) to a proposal to build a canal that would divert the South Platte River water from Colorado to Nebraska under a 1923 interstate compact. The compact entitles Nebraska to 120 cubic feet of water per second during the summer. Nebraska also has a right to 500 cubic feet of water per second during the non-irrigation season but only if they build a canal to divert it from the river in Colorado to a reservoir system in Nebraska.
Lincoln Senator Mike Hilgers, who introduced LB1015 on behalf of Governor Pete Ricketts, said “Nebraska has received those winter flows for the past century, but Colorado now is seeking to capture as much of that water as possible to support rapid population growth along the Front Range.”
The bill would authorize the state Department of Natural Resources to develop, construct, manage and operate the canal and its associated storage facilities, called the Perkins County Canal Project, under the terms of the compact. It also would authorize the department to use eminent domain to acquire land and resolve any legal disputes that arise because of the project.
Senator Albrecht said, “I gave the bill my green light because I believe that Nebraska could make up for reduced Platte River flows only by releasing water from Lake McConaughy, which would affect irrigation, hydropower generation and municipal water supplies. If we don’t assert our rights, less water will cross the state line in the future.”
Speaker Hilgers introduced LB 1023 which would create the Lake Development and Water Recreating Enhancement Act based upon recommendations by the S.T.A.R.W.A.R.S. Task force created by LB406 in the 2021 session of the Legislature.
The Act directs the Department of Natural Resources and the Game and Parks commission to oversee construction and management for certain projects These include a reservoir in between Lincoln and Omaha near Sarpy County, projects at Lake McConaughy as well as projects in Niobrara State Recreation Area and Lewis and Clark Lake.
On behalf of the state, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Game and Parks Commission will each manage the construction and development of certain aspects of the projects in a way that encourages public-private partnerships, donations and investments.
Senator Albrecht added, “coming from the farming industry, I look for wants and needs and the greater good for the state of Nebraska. I may see our water resources very differently than someone from the city. I believe water is a commodity. It is highly essential to the backbone of survival in the agricultural community. Without sufficient water our livestock and production suffer significantly. This bill would take some farm families who have lived on their land for generations, completely out of production for the purpose of recreation. That does not make sense to me. I also have real caution about the projected cost in years to come. All that being said, I gave LB1023 a red, no vote.”
If you have any comments or concerns, contact District 17 Senator Joni Albrecht at 402-471-2716 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.