Voting delegates from Nebraska's 23 natural resources districts met recently in Lincoln to review water and natural resources bills introduced in the current Nebraska Legislature. Their action came as part of the annual Nebraska Association of Resources Districts' legislative conference.
The following are several bills supported by the NRDs:
LB 940, introduced by State Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala. It would create the Water Sustainability Fund into which would be transferred $50 from the state's Cash Reserve. The fund could only be used to fund programs, projects and activities identified by the Water Funding Task Force that met throughout 2013. The money could not be used for other new capital projects.
LB 1046, introduced by State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege. It, too, calls for creation of the Water Sustainability Fund to be administered by the state's Natural Resources Commission. The fund is for "water sustainability projects throughout the state." According to the bill, on Oct. 1, 2015, the state treasurer "shall transfer $50 million from the state's General Fund" to the Water Sustainability Fund.
LB 1098, also sponsored by Carlson. This measure expands the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission to 27 members, as recommended last December by the Water Funding Task Force. Twenty-seven is the number of members that served on that task force. The bill explains how the members would be chosen.
LB 890, sponsored by State Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton. The bill proposes several changes to Nebraska's eminent domain laws. A key provision is creation of a pamphlet, in printed or electronic format, describing a private property owner's rights related to an agency proposing to acquire private property for a public purpose. The NARD voted to support the provision to develop the pamphlet.
LB 896, sponsored by Carlson. The bill would update the Nebraska Erosion and Sediment Control Act, passed more than 20 years ago. The bill would update that law by adding "sheet and rill erosion" and "ephemeral gully erosion" to the language. Additionally, the proposal would require appropriate state agencies to develop and coordinate a comprehensive state erosion and sediment control program to reduce soil erosion in Nebraska to tolerable levels, and it would require at least four public hearings or meetings to get input from Nebraskans in different parts of the state. Another provision of the bill would give power to Nebraska's NRDs to petition the district court for a cease and desist order on an owner or operator if the NRD determines that the erosion is the result of an activity not normally associated with tillage, seeding or cultivation of farmland and "the immediate discontinuance of such activity is necessary to reduce or eliminate damage to neighboring property."