Senators started full day floor debate this week, with several bills of interest to agriculture getting floor time. Check out details on key bills below and click HERE for an updated version of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s complete Bill Summary.
LB 803 (Pulse Crop Checkoff)
Legislation to establish a state checkoff program for pulse crops in Nebraska is headed for a second round of legislative floor debate following first round approval this week. LB 803 establishes a checkoff program for pulse crops like dry peas, lentils, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, faba beans, and lupine. The bill sets and initial checkoff rate of one percent of the net market value of pulse crops sold. Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the bill introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango. LB 803 was designated by the Speaker of the Legislature as a priority bill.
LB 899 (Alternative Energy)
A bill authorizing public power districts to engage in the development and sale of biofuels and biofuel byproducts that help offset greenhouse gas emissions was given first round approval by state lawmakers this week. LB 899 was introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango and prioritized by Sen. Mike Moser of Columbus. Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the bill given the potential for partnerships between public power and agriculture interests in this area. The bill does not put public power districts in a position to compete against Nebraska’s ethanol industry.
LB 931 (Overweight Permits)
A Nebraska Farm Bureau backed bill to modify state law regarding overweight exemptions for the transport of grain or other seasonally harvested products advanced to second round floor debate this week on a 41-0 vote. LB 931 was introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings at the request of Nebraska Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups. Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango designated the bill as his priority bill for the session. During first round debate senators adopted a Transportation Committee amendment to the bill. Currently, state law allows for certain agricultural loads to exceed the maximum weight limit by up to 15 percent when transporting grain or other seasonally harvested agriculture commodities within a 70-mile radius of a designated origin point, provided the hauler carries documentation of origin and destination. LB 931 modifies state law by further clarifying when such allowances could occur as well as updates law providing an exemption for haulers from having to obtain a permit to utilize the overweight exemption. With the adoption of the committee amendment, LB 931 specifically clarifies the overweight exemption would apply to the hauling of commodities from “farm storage” to market or factory.
Sen. Brandt’s LB 996 to encourage the Public Service Commission to collect broadband availability data to supplement federal data, advanced from Select File, as did LB 344, the Ag Committee priority bill which updates NDA’s duties in carrying out control of disease outbreaks including authority to issue quarantines, regulate animal movement, require testing, treatment or euthanasia, and inspections. Both bills are supported by NEFB.
LB 1152 (Industrial Hemp)
A bill to ensure Nebraska’s laws and regulations governing industrial hemp are compliant with United States Department of Agriculture regulations is making its way through the Legislature. Lawmakers advanced LB 1152 to second round debate this week. The bill was introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings and designated an Agriculture Committee priority bill. Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the measure. Its likely there could be some minor tweaks to the bill during second round floor debate, specifically related to research. Today, institutions of higher education, namely the University of Nebraska and Doane University, are operating under hemp rules established in the 2014 Farm Bill, which are subject to sunset. Those institutions need a new framework to continue research or will be required to apply and pay for a state permit.