2014 Unicameral Report Card

The Nebraska League of Conservation Voters and Nebraska Conservation Education Fund work to hold Nebraska's elected officials accountable. One of the ways in which we do that is to educate the public about key pieces of legislation that would impact our priority issues--what the legislation said, who championed the bill, and where the votes fell. Our 2014 Report Card identifies bills important to conservation that made their way through the 2014 Unicameral. The Report Card does not include pieces of legislation that did not get a vote on the floor. Following the 2014 Report Card, you will see a list of bills voted on in the 2013 Session that address our issues. 

 

LB 402: Would change qualifications for CBED projects so that more CBED projects would qualify for state tax incentives. LB402 would also expand C-BED to include renewable energy projects that use biomass or landfill gas.
 
Introduced by Senator Mello
Senators Davis, Dubas, and Schilz added their names as co-sponsors
Senator Davis made it his priority bill
 
Statement of Intent: The current Community-Based Energy Development (C-BED) statute provides a sales tax exemption on the equipment and supplies used to construct a private wind energy project, but only if at least 33% of the revenues from the project for the first 20 years flow to Nebraska residents or limited liability companies comprised entirely of Nebraska residents. Since these statutes were adopted in 2007, only one utility-scale wind project has utilized them.
LB402 would amend the C-BED law to allow more wind projects to qualify for the sales tax exemption by doing the following:
  1. Expanding the definition of “payments to the local community” to include payments for products manufactured in Nebraska or by Nebraska companies, and services provided by Nebraska companies
  2. Reducing the qualifying percentage threshold from 33% to 25%
  3. Loosening corporate restrictions by allowing corporations domiciled in Nebraska to meet the definition of “qualified owner”
 
 
Key Vote: Passage on Final Reading
 
Voting in the Affirmative: 43
Adams, Conrad, Harr, McCoy, Schumacher, Ashford, Cook, Howard, McGill, Seiler, Avery, Crawford, Johnson, Mello, Smith, Bolz, Dubas, Karpisek, Murante, Sullivan, Brasch, Garrett, Kintner, Nelson, Wallman, Campbell, Gloor, Kolowski, Nordquist, Watermeier, Carlson, Haar, Krist, Pirsch, Wightman, Christensen, Hadley, Larson, Scheer, Coash, Hansen, Lathrop, Schilz
 
Voting in the Negative: 0
 
Present and not voting: 1
Bloomfield
 
Excused and not voting: 5
Chambers, Davis, Harms, Janssen, Lautenbaugh

 

LB 671: Would eliminate hunting season for mountain lions
 
Introduced by Senator Chambers
Senator Chambers made it his Priority Bill
 
Statement of Intent: The following constitutes the reasons for this bill and the purposes which are sought to be accomplished thereby:
 
Legislative Bill 671 repeals sections 37-472 and 37-473 which permit the Game and Parks Commission to establish hunting seasons for mountain lions.
 
The stricken matter on page 3 will be reinstated by an amendment submitted to the Committee.
 
The bill was drafted so that the green copy (for convenience) contains the provisions of existing law detailing the circumstances under which a mountain lion may be killed legally.
 
These provisions provide adequate safeguards which mollify any justification for “sport” and “trophy” hunting – which is designed to be a revenue-raiser.
 
Commission Deputy Director Tom McCoy noted that “there have been no confirmed reports of mountain lions preying on livestock or pets in Nebraska” and “no one has been attacked.” (Omaha World-Herald, 1/19/14)
 
In the area(s) where hunting is allowed, the mountain lion population is estimated by the Commission to range from 15 to 22 of the great cats.
 
 
Key Vote: Override Veto on LB671
 
Voting in the affirmative, 28:
Adams, Chambers, Dubas, Kolowski, Schumacher, Ashford, Christensen, Haar, Krist, Smith, Avery, Coash, Hadley, Lathrop, Wallman, Bloomfield, Conrad, Harr, McGill, Wightman, Bolz, Cook, Howard, Mello, Campbell, Crawford, Johnson, Nordquist
 
Voting in the negative, 21:
Brasch, Hansen, Larson, Pirsch, Watermeier, Carlson, Harms, Lautenbaugh, Scheer, Davis, Janssen, McCoy, Schilz, Garrett, Karpisek, Murante, Seiler, Gloor, Kintner, Nelson, Sullivan
 
Not voting, 0.

 

 

LB 965: Would allow consideration of both costs and benefits and provide definitions of the kinds of items that may be considered in the electric generation decision-making process
 
Introduced by Senator Haar
Senator Haar made it his Priority Bill
 
Statement of Intent: LB965 adds additional requirements to the public purpose of the public power system. The bill requires public power to analyze the true costs/benefits of electricity generation. The bill defines costs as costs of generation, current and projected fuel costs, cost of regulatory compliance, shorter-term and long-term energy portfolio risks, environmental impacts including the cost of climate change, public health impacts including costs related to energy production, water usage costs, and the fiscal impact of customer-owner dollars sent out of state, and compare these costs to benefits including, economic benefits to the state or community, efficient use of resources, portfolio diversification, and beneficial impacts to water or other environmental resources.
 
The bill requires public power to consider how the above factors affect customer-owners in Nebraska and provides a definition for customer-owner. For projects greater than 50 million dollars the Nebraska Power Review Board determines whether the criteria have been met.
 
  • The Natural Resources Committee amended the bill to take out considerations for environmental or health impacts, and changing the language to limit considerations to the costs and benefits explicitly listed. It also took out Haar’s requirement that the Nebraska Power Review Board determine whether the criteria has been met for projects greater than 50 million dollars.
 
 
 
Key Vote: Haar’s Amendment 2562
 
  • Haar’s Amendment would have resulted in keeping language about looking at both costs and benefits (but not including environmental and health impacts), as well as that the Nebraska Power Review Board would have to determine whether the criteria had been met for projects greater than 50 million dollars.
 
Voting in the affirmative, 20:
Ashford, Carlson, Crawford, Howard, Mello, Avery, Chambers, Davis, Kolowski, Nordquist, Bolz Conrad, Dubas, Lathrop, Sullivan, Brasch, Cook, Harms, McGill, Wallman
 
Voting in the negative, 19:
Adams, Garrett, Johnson, Murante, Smith, Bloomfield, Hadley, Kintner, Nelson, Watermeier,
Campbell, Hansen, Larson, Schilz, Wightman, Coash, Janssen, McCoy, Seiler
 
Present and not voting, 7:
Christensen, Haar, Krist, Schumacher, Gloor, Harr, Scheer
 
Excused and not voting, 3:
Karpisek, Lautenbaugh, Pirsch
 

 

LB 1115: Would provide for a study of transmission, in order to determine the viability of sending electricity out of Nebraska, particularly to the west
 
Introduced by Senator Davis
Speaker Adams made it his Priority Bill
 
Statement of Intent: LB1115 would appropriate $200,000 from the General Fund to the Power Review Board to provide funds for a study of existing and future state, regional and national transmission infrastructure and policy to serve Nebraska electric consumers, utilities and private generation facilities in Nebraska seeking to export electricity out of the state.
The study provided for in LB1115 would receive input from a working group including five members of the Legislature appointed by the Executive Board and other interested parties.
 
The Power Review Board would present the results of the study to the Legislature and the Governor on or before December 15, 2014.
 
 
 
Key Vote: Passage on Final Reading with Emergency Clause
 
Voting in the affirmative, 47:
Adams, Cook, Harr, Lautenbaugh, Schumacher, Ashford, Crawford, Howard, McCoy, Seiler,
Avery, Davis, Janssen, McGill, Smith, Bloomfield, Dubas, Johnson, Mello, Sullivan, Bolz, Garrett, Karpisek, Murante, Wallman, Brasch, Gloor, Kintner, Nelson, Watermeier, Campbell, Haar, Kolowski, Nordquist, Wightman, Carlson, Hadley, Krist, Pirsch, Christensen, Hansen, Larson, Scheer, Conrad, Harms, Lathrop, Schilz
 
Voting in the negative: 0
 
Present and not voting: 1
Coash
 
Excused and not voting; 1
Chambers

 

2013 Legislative Session

 

LB 57: Would restrict the subsequent sale of land purchased using an Environmental Trust grant, and require that if the land is transferred to a federal agency the entity have a plan to give to the county funds to pay future property taxes
 
Introduced by Senator Larson
Senator Larson made it his Priority Bill
 
Statement of Intent: LB57 would require the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to approve any purchase of real property made using NET funds given to a grant recipient either to purchase real property directly or through the use of a revolving fund. It would also require the NET board to approve the first subsequent sale of any real property purchased by a grant recipient using NET funds. The NET board would not have to approve any purchase or sale of real property made by a grant recipient using funds provided solely by a grant recipient.
 
If a grant recipient uses NET funds to purchase real property and ever subsequently seeks to transfer that property to a federal land management agency, LB57 also requires that the NET board approve that transfer. If the NET board approves the transfer, the NET board will be required to approve an amount of funds equal to the amount for which that real property was valued for purposes of taxation the year prior to be placed in a trust fund established and administered by the county in which the property is located.
 
 
Key Vote: Advancement of the Bill to Enrollment & Review
 
  • There were several attempts by Chambers and Haar to kill the bill, which all failed. Those who voted to kill the bill voted against advancement to enrollment and review. This vote gives us the most information on the senators because it was the one where the most were present and voting.
 
 
Voting in the affirmative, 27:
Bloomfield, Hadley, Larson, Price, Wallman, Brasch, Hansen, Lautenbaugh, Scheer, Watermeier, Carlson, Janssen, McCoy, Schilz, Wightman, Christensen, Johnson, Murante, Schumacher, Davis, Karpisek, Nelson, Seiler, Gloor, Kintner, Pirsch, Smith
 
Voting in the negative, 17:
Ashford, Coash, Dubas, Kolowski, Sullivan, Avery, Conrad, Haar, Krist, Bolz, Cook, Harms, McGill, Chambers, Crawford, Harr, Nordquist,
 
Present and not voting, 3:
Adams, Campbell, Howard
 
Excused and not voting, 2:
Lathrop, Mello

 

LB 583: Was enacted in 2013 to expand the membership and responsibilities of Nebraska's Climate Assessment Committee to include climate change strategies. The Committee failed to produce the report on climate change the Legislature asked for, and now the University of Nebraska is assembling a report on climate change impacts on Nebraska.
 
Introduced by Senator Haar
Senator Haar made it his Priority Bill
 
Statement of Intent: LB583 adds a member of the High Plains Regional Climate Center to the Climate Assessment Response Committee.
 
LB 583 also requires the Climate Assessment Response Committee to report to the Governor the impacts of climate change on Nebraska and facilitate communication between stakeholders to address climate change impacts and response strategies.
 
Finally, LB 583 will require a long term strategic report by September 1, 2014 to the Governor and Legislature on how Nebraska should prepare for climate change.
 
  • McCoy amended the bill to add the word “cyclical” before climate change, resulting in human impacts on climate change not being included in the study. The amendment adopted with  26 ayes, 0 nays, 18 present and not voting, and 5 excused and not voting
 
 
Key Vote: Final Reading
 
Voting in the affirmative: 32
Adams, Ashford, Bolz, Campbell, Carlson, Chambers, Conrad, Cook, Crawford, Davis, Dubas, Gloor, Haar, Hadley, Hansen, Harms, Harr, Howard, Johnson, Karpisek, Kolowski, Krist, Lathrop, McGill, Mello, Nordquist, Scheer, Schumacher, Smith, Sullivan, Wallman, Wightman
 
Voting in the Negative: 12
Bloomfield, Coash, Larson, Murante, Brasch, Janssen, Lautenbaugh, Nelson, Christensen, Kintner, McCoy, Pirsch
 
Present and not voting: 1
Schilz
 
Excused and not voting: 4
Avery, Price, Seiler, Watermeier

 

LB 104: would provide a sales tax rebate under the Nebraska Advantage Act for investments in wind, solar, or other renewable energy, but it does not appear public power utilities would get a similar rebate.
 
Introduced by Senator Lathrop
Senator Lathrop made it his Priority Bill
Senators Mello, Nordquist, Dubas, Hadley added their names as co-sponsors
 
Statement of Intent: The purpose of LB104 is to amend the Nebraska Advantage Act by adding a Tier 7 which would apply to investments in renewable energy. Two options would be created within Tier 7: projects with $75 million or more in investment for renewable energy projects, and projects with less than $75 million in investment. Under LB104, companies with qualifying projects would be eligible to receive partial or full refunds of their sales tax based on the level of investment in the project, the source of their capital investment for the project, and the level of ownership by Nebraska residents of the project.
 
 
Key Vote: Smith Amendment
 
  • Smith’s amendment would have narrowed the definition of renewable energy projects that would qualify.
 
Voting in the affirmative, 14:
Avery, Hansen, Kintner, Murante, Smith, Bloomfield, Janssen, Lautenbaugh, Nelson, Watermeier, Brasch, Johnson, McCoy, Schilz
 
Voting in the negative, 23:
Ashford, Cook, Karpisek, McGill, Sullivan, Bolz, Dubas, Kolowski, Nordquist, Wallman,
Campbell, Haar, Krist, Scheer, Wightman, Chambers, Hadley, Larson, Schumacher, Conrad, Harms, Lathrop, Seiler
 
Present and not voting, 9:
Adams, Christensen, Davis, Howard, Price, Carlson, Crawford, Harr, Pirsch,
 
Excused and not voting, 3:
Coash, Gloor, Mello