With the start of all-day floor debate, state legislators have selected their priority bills, which normally means bills will at least get on the floor for discussion.
Senator Tyson Larson, of O’Neill, has selected LB-229, originally introduced by Senator Deb Fischer, of Valentine, as his priority bill.
The bill transfers $7-million out of the environmental trust every year for 10 years to a water resource fund and most of it, about 70%, would go directly to the Platte River Water Recovery Program.
Larson says the state has to make a commitment to protect its water rights. Nebraska signed a compact with Wyoming and Colorado and the state has to restore the Platte River’s water levels to the 1997 level by 2020, or Nebraska will face significant trouble with federal compliance.
Larson says while it’s a lot of money now, it could cost the state much more if those transfers are put off.
While it’s $77-million over the next decade to come into compliance, if it’s not done, it could cost $300-to-400-million dollars later. A number of environmental and conservation groups oppose the transfer of money from the environment fund.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton