Rounding out the 2014 legislative session

By: Jenn Hatcher
jhatcher@klkntv.com

(Lincoln,
Neb.) Today, Gov. Dave Heineman
signed LB 1098 into law which aims to address water management, water quality
and flood control issues. The Governor was joined by State Sen. Tom Carlson of
Holdrege, who introduced the bill in the 2014 Legislative Session, and State
Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, who has been a legislative advocate on water
issues.

“This is noteworthy water legislation pertaining to Nebraska's long-term water
utilization and planning,” said Gov. Heineman. “Water is one of Nebraska's most
important natural resources and this bill reflects our emphasis on water
sustainability and water management.”

The bill creates the Water Sustainability Fund which will be
used to contribute to multiple water supply management goals, assess flood
control, increase efficiency of water usage, enhance water quality and comply
with interstate compacts and other agreements.

“This is the most significant bill for agriculture and
livestock production in my eight years in the legislature,” said Sen. Tom
Carlson of Holdrege. “I want to thank the Governor for signing the bill, the
legislature for the 48-0 vote, and the task force and Senators on that task
force in an advisory capacity that worked so hard to put LB 1098 together.”

 

“Basin-wide planning will provide groundwater and surface
water users the opportunity to find positive solutions within the Republican River Basin,” said State Sen. Christensen.

This bill would also expand the Natural Resources
Commission, from 16 to 27 members. Currently, three members are appointed by
the governor and 13 are elected to represent river basins across Nebraska. The commission
will include a diversity of water users in our state, including groundwater and
surface water irrigators, public power districts and wildlife conservation
groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.

Gov. Heineman added, “Preserving
and managing our water resources is important to Nebraskans, especially those
who work in our number one industry – agriculture.” 

Tomorrow, Gov. Dave Heineman will deliver his 2014 Sine Die
Address to the Nebraska Legislature, marking the closing of the second session
of the 103rd Legislative Session. Today, previewing his address, Gov. Heineman
is highlighting a good legislative session for Nebraska taxpayers, noting meaningful,
responsible and sustainable tax relief. 

“We are providing $412 million of tax relief to Nebraskans
over the next five years which is meaningful, responsible and sustainable tax
relief,” said Gov. Heineman. “We've indexed Nebraska's individual income tax brackets
for inflation. We've begun the process of exempting social security income and
military retirement income from taxation. We have helped farmers and ranchers
by eliminating the sales tax on repair parts for ag machinery and equipment.”

The Governor
shared that tax relief of $412 million will be provided to Nebraskans over the
next five years. He also discussed other important actions of the session,
including noteworthy legislation on water sustainability, developing a
long-term prison strategy, and the rejection of Medicaid expansion and roads
bonding.

Gov. Heineman said, “We've expanded Nebraska's homestead exemption program so
that more Nebraskans will qualify. We've provided homeowners, farmers, ranchers
and small businesses additional direct property tax relief by increasing the
Property Tax Credit Program by $25 million and we need to do even more in the
future.”

 

The state will address water management and water quality
issues through new water law. “We've also addressed the water sustainability
issue with noteworthy legislation that preserves our water supply for
generations to come. This legislation is aimed at planning for better future
water use in our state.”

Gov. Heineman addressed the issue of prison capacity. “We
will be working with the Council of State Governments to develop a pathway to a
long-term prison strategy.”

Gov. Heineman commended the Legislature for rejecting Obamacare's
Medicaid expansion. “We prioritized future education funding by rejecting
Obamacare's Medicaid expansion program.”

Regarding roads bonding, Gov. Heineman said, “I believe it's
important to maintain a pay-as-you-go, debt-free roads construction program.”