Tag Archives: Unicameral

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two months after President Donald Trump signed a law to legalize hemp, Nebraska lawmakers and state agency officials are working together to help farmers get a piece of the market.

Lawmakers heard public input Tuesday on a bill that would allow farmers to grow and harvest hemp in Nebraska. Many have eyed it as a way to diversify their crops, but the state hasn’t developed a way to license and regulate it.

Sen. Justin Wayne, of Omaha, tells the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee he introduced it because he believes farmers and businesses are missing the opportunity.

On his monthly radio call-in show, Gov. Pete Ricketts says his administration is working with Wayne. Ricketts has previously said his hands were tied because hemp had been classified as an illegal and dangerous drug.

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Board of Directors met this week in Lincoln for their annual legislative meeting. NC’s six policy committees brought attention to bills and resolutions recently introduced in the Nebraska Legislature that are of interest to Nebraska beef producers.

Under close review and in accordance with NC Policy, the Board of Directors considered and took positions on nearly 90 pieces of legislation and choose three bills as priorities for this legislative session.

Once again, NC board members went into this legislative meeting acknowledging the immediate need for property tax relief and reform in the State. Nebraska Cattlemen chose to support and prioritize LB 497 by Senator Curt Friesen. The bill is the product of much work and discussion during the interim with senators and agricultural interest groups who have heard the outcry for property tax relief from constituents and members. LB 497 contains many provisions to address the inequity in school funding statewide and the over reliance on property tax dollars. NC policy aligns with provisions of the bill and the association looks forward to working with the Legislature to pass reform in 2019.

After much discussion about agricultural challenges across the country, NC took a position to support and prioritize LB 227, introduced by Senator Dan Hughes. The bill would strengthen existing nuisance protections for Nebraska agriculture operations under the Nebraska “Right to Farm Act”. Nebraska Cattlemen worked directly with Senator Hughes to add new terminology regarding changes to agricultural operations while still following all local zoning laws and regulatory permitting requirements. NC strongly believes this bill is important for livestock expansion and economic development in Nebraska and will continue to work with Senator Hughes on the bill’s progression.

Lastly, NC choose to support and prioritize LB 660 by Senator Tom Brewer. This bill will change the provisions relating to the executive director and chief investigator of the Nebraska Brand Committee. NC has worked with the Nebraska Brand Committee to clarify duties of staff in the best interest of the Nebraska cattle industry.

“We had a great discussion this year on numerous bills and issues that we face as an industry. As in years past, property tax relief is at the top of the list and something our organization continues to be passionate about. We will continue to work diligently with the Legislature and Governor Pete Ricketts to help fix this issue for all Nebraskans and encourage action to implementing a definitive plan” said Ken Herz, Chairman of NC Legislative Committee.

(LINCOLN, NE) – Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) are honored to announce Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts will kick off the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts 2019 Legislative Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska on Tuesday, January 29th at 8:30 am.  The two-day conference provides an opportunity for NRD leaders, elected officials and many partners from both the public and private sectors to discuss natural resources management policy.   The conference will also provide the more than 400 attendees an opportunity to learn how Nebraska’s NRDs have worked with farmers and ranchers, state and federal agencies, and members of the public to protect Nebraska’s natural resources and the economy.   Media is invited to attend the conference.

Tuesday, January 29th will feature Governor Ricketts and discussion of proposed legislation of interest to Nebraska’s NRDs.   At the Tuesday evening Senators Reception, local NRD leaders are provided an opportunity to meet with their state senators.   Wednesday, January 30th will feature many training and breakout sessions for attendees. A draft agenda is attached.

Many Nebraska senators will be attending the conference, including the Reception. All events are being held at Embassy Suites-Lincoln at 1040 P St, Lincoln, NE. You can find parking in the parking garage at the corner of Q St. and 11th St in downtown Lincoln.

A few important topics that affect all Nebraskans include:

  • Lower Platte South Natural Resources District will highlight how their efforts to bring together state and federal agencies, as well as partners from the private sector, led to a historic delisting for E. coli on Lincoln’s Antelope Creek. They will showcase how collaboration led to unique projects being implemented by both public and private entities, ultimately leading to improved water quality. (Tues. Jan. 29, 2019, 9:00 am – 9:45 am, Room: Regents AB)

  • Lower Loup NRD and JEO Consulting will highlight efforts by the Lower Loup NRD to utilize partnerships between several state and federal partners to make numerous improvements and expand recreational opportunities for the public at Davis Creek Recreation Area.  They will showcase how the hundreds of NRD projects designed and managed for protecting life and property from flooding, can also offer expanded opportunities for public recreational use, while still serving their primary purposes.  (Wed., Jan. 30, 2019, 9:20 am – 10:05 am, Room: Regents C)

  • Nebraska’s NRDs work with teachers, FFA advisors and education partners statewide to provide programs that engage Nebraska’s youth in outdoor natural resources education.  Leaders of these NRD education programs will be on hand to demonstrate new programs that are being developed to expand interest and increase engagement of students across the state.    (Wed. Jan. 30, 2019, 9:20 am – 10:05 am, Room: Chancellor 2/3)

  • Protecting soil health is a priority for Nebraska’s NRDs.  In partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), NRDs offer a variety of cost-share and demonstration programs to assist farmers and ranchers across the state.  NRCS will be on hand to highlight recent results collected from one of the soil health programs currently underway.  The presentation will showcase how EQIP funded Demonstration Farms are providing results that will assist producers in working to accomplish the goals of protecting soil health, improving water quality and  maximizing agricultural productivity.   (Wed. Jan 30, 2019, 10:20 am – 11:05 am, Room: Regents C)

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Dustin Wilcox with NARD. Cell: 402-533-9530 Email: dwilcox@nrdnet.org

Taxes, livestock issues, and working to improve broadband across Nebraska will be at the center of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s efforts during the 2019 legislative session.

“Fixing Nebraska’s overreliance on property taxes, which has made us one of the highest property tax states in the nation, is our top priority,” said Bruce Rieker, Nebraska Farm Bureau vice president of governmental relations, Dec. 14.

“We’ve been working through the interim, engaging with all the parties who are critical to getting a legislative package together that can include property tax relief. It will take a collaborative effort to get the 33 votes needed to get something passed this session. That’s our focus,” said Rieker.

According to Rieker, Nebraska Farm Bureau will also be working on other tax issues, including a permanent fix to ensure Nebraska farmers and ranchers don’t pay more in personal property taxes as a result of federal tax law changes.

“Last year we were able to pass a temporary fix to ensure changes to the federal tax code on section 1031 like-kind exchanges didn’t result in a personal property tax increase for farmers and ranchers. In short, we made sure the trade-in value of a used piece of equipment was given credit on the valuation of a new piece of equipment,” said Rieker. “We’ll be working to make that a permanent fix this session.”
Livestock issues will also be a priority, according to Ansley Mick, Nebraska Farm Bureau director of NEFB-PAC and state governmental relations.

“We’ll be working to make updates to Nebraska’s laws to make sure they respect the property rights of farmers and ranchers. Agriculture is continuing to change, and farmers and ranchers need the flexibility to change their operations to stay relevant whether that’s using advancements in technology or changing the makeup of their operation, such as adding livestock,” said Mick. “We’ve seen actions in other states where there have been efforts to undermine those abilities. We want to make sure our laws are sound in that area.”

Mick says there will also be considerable discussion this session about the future of state business incentives, including those for agriculture.

“Livestock production and agriculture processing is at the heart of what we do in Nebraska. It’s important any new business incentive package recognized the importance of our beef, dairy, pork, and growing poultry industry as a part of the next generation of state business incentives,” said Mick.

Last session, state senators passed legislation creating the Nebraska Broadband Task Force to look for ways to improve high-speed internet connection across the state. Efforts in that area are expected to continue in 2019.

“The key will be to more accurately and adequately map broadband availability across Nebraska, so we can make sure the Broadband Task Force is able to make solid recommendations to state and federal policymakers. The task force is required to report back to the legislature in November of 2019,” said Mick.

Rieker says he’s looking forward to a productive legislative session, recognizing there will be new leadership on some key committees, as well as several new faces in the legislative body in 2019.

“We’re here to look out for our members and implement their policy positions. That’s why it’s so important Farm Bureau has a daily presence at the State Capitol,” said Rieker.

Nebraska lawmakers will return to Lincoln to kick-off the 2019 legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 9. This year marks the first session of the 106th Legislature. Lawmakers will work through a 90-day session slated to end the first week of June.

State senators will also be charged with electing leadership positions that will carry through the 2019 and 2020 sessions, including Speaker of the Legislature and committee chair positions. Eight committees are guaranteed to have new leadership, as the previous chairs are no longer serving in the legislature due to term-limits or legislative turnover. Those committees include the Agriculture; General Affairs; Government, Military and Veterans Affairs; Health and Human Services; Judiciary; and Revenue Committees.

In addition to new leadership, the body will also have several new faces. Thirteen of the 49-member legislature will be new, several of which received the Nebraska Farm Bureau – PAC, “Friend of Agriculture” designation in the general election. Among those are Myron Dorn of Adams in Dist. 30, Ben Hansen of Blair in Dist. 16, Tom Brandt of Plymouth in Dist. 32, Dave Murman of Glenvil in Dist. 38, and Tim Gragert of Creighton in Dist. 40.

Other new faces will include Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha in Dist. 6, Megan Hunt of Omaha in Dist. 8, Wendy DeBoer of Bennington in Dist. 10, Steve Lathrop of Omaha in Dist. 12, John Arch of La Vista in Dist. 14, and Mike Moser of Columbus in Dist. 22.

The election of Dist. 1 Sen. Dan Watermeier to the Public Service Commission and Dist. 49 Sen. John Murante to Nebraska State Treasurer in the middle of their legislative terms will require replacements for those two seats. Gov. Pete Ricketts has appointed Julie Slama from Peru, to the Dist. 1 seat. Andrew La Grone, an attorney and small business owner from Gretna has been appointed to the Dist. 49 seat.

View 2019 Legislative Calendar