This year I introduced Legislative Resolution 40 to ask the legislature to request that the U.S. Forest Service reconsider its original decision not to pay a proportionate share of the replacement costs of fences destroyed by wildfires between private and public lands in Dawes and Sioux Counties in Nebraska. LR 40 had a public hearing before the Natural Resources Committee.
It advanced to the floor on a vote of 8-0.
The federal government stated it does not have funds to replace fences destroyed by wildfires between private and public lands in Dawes and Sioux counties in Nebraska. Last year, these fires in the northern Nebraska Panhandle areas burned over 202,000 acres.
Approximately 2,200 miles of fence lines, valued at about $1,220,000, were burned, resulting in emergency movement and/or sale of cattle.
The U.S. Forest Service’s stance is that the fence lines are “owned” by the landowners, since the US Forest Service is only required to have “boundary markers.” This contradicted earlier stances by the Forest Service that claimed co-ownership of the fences, allowing the service to require certain construction standards.
It is traditional for owners of adjacent lands to share replacement costs of common fences, but the affected private landowners have already been devastated by drought and forced to liquidate approximately 40 percent of their livestock.
Adjacent landowners, already devastated by drought and fire, will be hard pressed to secure funds for their half of replacement cost, and it will be a significant hardship for them to pay the entire cost.
On May 31, the legislature adopted LR 40 to demonstrate its support of efforts to maintain a partnership with the federal government on the issue of good stewardship of federal land in the state of Nebraska.
LB 517, by Holdrege Sen. Tom Carlson, was passed last month to create a task force to consider the long-term sustainability of state water resources.
The Water Funding Task Force consists of the members of the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission and 11 additional members to be appointed by the governor.
The Task Force also includes, as nonvoting, ex officio members, the director of the Department of Natural Resources or his or her designee, the chairperson of the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee or his or her designee, and five additional members of the legislature appointed by the Executive Board.
I was appointed to serve on the new task force. I believe my appointment is important because Legislative District 43 includes more than 20 percent of the state.
The district has land in six of the state's Natural Resources Districts, includes several rivers, and sits over the deepest portions of the High Plains Aquifer.
The district also has a significant stake in the long-term plan for Nebraska's water management.
LB 517 allocates $1 million for research, data collection and production of a final report, which the task force will submit to the legislature by Dec. 31. The report will identify water resources programs, and projects and activities in need of funding to meet the long-term statewide goals of water sustainability, efficiency and productivity.
Passage of LB 6 will move our state's problem gambling services from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Revenue.
LB 6 will reinstate original legislative intent by empowering a new nine-member autonomous commission to oversee services for problem gamblers and their families. By July 1, the governor will appoint members with the following qualifications:
• one with medical or mental health expertise,
• one with banking or finance expertise,
• one with legal expertise, one from education,
• one with data analysis expertise,
• two consumers of problem gambling services and
• two members of the public at-large.
To apply, go to www.governor.nebraska.gov or you may call my office and talk to my Legislative Aide Sherrie Geier. Sherrie has worked with the issue of problem gambling for 13 years and, since last spring, has assisted the bill's introducer Sen. Bob Krist with this policy change.
As always, I value your input, and welcome phone calls, emails and personal visits from you.
Sen. Al Davis, State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509. (402) 471-2628. Email firstname.lastname@example.org