State lawmakers have moved closer to ending Nebraska’s participation in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact, in three years.
The Unicameral has given preliminary approval to LB 317, which would end participation in the compact working to bring high-speed passenger rail service to the Midwest.
But not for three years.
Supporters of the bill complain the state pays $15,000 a year in dues to the compact and receives nothing for it.
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, who attended a meeting of compact states last year, says there’s a reason Nebraska doesn’t see any benefit from it.
“Every other state that’s participating sends their leadership from their department of transportation there,” Nordquist tells colleagues during legislative floor debate. “They’re coordinating across state agencies and across the region and Nebraska has said, ‘We’re not going to show up.’”
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins supports the move to leave the compact.
“There’s nothing tougher to kill than a government program,” Bloomfield asserts. “The only thing that comes close is our involvement in a multi-government program that does us no good. We’ve been trying to choke this turkey for the last five years that I’ve been here.”
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion, had wanted to end participation immediately. He says the extension of three years gives supporters of the compact time to prove its worth.
The Unicameral would have to vote to return Nebraska to the compact.