A state senator from Grand Island has failed in his attempt to keep the state veterans home from moving to Kearney.
Senator Mike Gloor originally introduced a bill to prevent moving the home from leaving Grand Island, along with any similar future moves statewide, but it was voted down.
A new version of the bill (LB-935) passed in committee this week. It would require the Unicameral, not the governor, approve any future moves of major state facilities.
Gloor says it prevents pitting cities against one another in the bidding process, like what happened with the Central Nebraska Veterans Home.
“That’s really not economic development, it’s pouring water from one bucket into another without any net gain in jobs or economy for the state and it leaves a hole in another community,” Gloor says. “We’ll have a chance to talk about this being an inappropriate model when it comes to moving around state programs and services.”
The first bill would have been retroactive and applied to any state facility moves that were okayed after January 1st of 2013. That would have included the governor’s plan, announced last July, for the proposed new veterans home in Kearney. The new bill does not include the retroactive move.
The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee advanced the bill to the full legislature this week with a 5-3 vote.
“I’m pleased it’s out,” Gloor says. “I’ve been working it pretty hard ever since I’ve gotten down here so I’m pleased we have it out but obviously disappointed that the look-back provision that affected the Grand Island veterans home is out of it.”
The veterans home has been in Grand Island for 127 years.
The bill would require a legislative review of any proposal to move a state service or agency from one community to another if the cost was $15-million or more.
By Jeniffer Berry, KHAS, Hastings