Broadband Bill Advances, New Senator Appointed 

It is a policy priority of Nebraska Farm Bureau to expand rural connectivity to secure high-speed, high-quality internet access statewide. This week, senators pushed forward a NEFB supported bill that would better coordinate efforts to expand rural broadband. Senators advanced to Final Reading LB683, a broadband package from the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, which creates a new Nebraska Broadband Office. We are encouraged by the increased importance the governor has placed on getting broadband to every home and business in Nebraska.

Looming on the horizon is the budget discussion which senators are expected to address in May. The governor has stated that he does not want the state’s budget to grow by more than 1.5%. He also has an ambitious tax relief package that is our priority, and several high-ticket items in his proposed budget. Then, there are a myriad of measures with price tags coming out of committee in the form of omnibus bills (aka Christmas Trees with many ornaments). And the number of dollars leftover to work with has decreased the further into the session we have gone. The official amount of money that the Appropriations Committee and the body will have to work with will be released by the forecasting board at the end of this month. In the meantime, we must approach all proposals with great discernment as there is a lot of money at stake. 

The week closed out with Sen. Suzanne Geist resigning to focus her time and energy on her campaign to be the next mayor of Lincoln. Carolyn Bosn, an attorney from Lincoln, was named as the next senator for District 25 by Governor Pillen Friday. Sen. Bosn was born and raised in Columbus with roots in agriculture including commercializing anhydrous ammonia and center pivot systems. Sen. Bosn worked with Lieutenant Governor Joe Kelly in the Lancaster County Attorney’s office. We look forward to working with her and you can read the statement of President Mark McHargue here. Sen. Geist served as chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. The vote for the new chair will take place next week after Sen. Bosn is sworn in.

We hope you all have an amazing Easter weekend with family, friends, and fellowship. Please continue to let us know what is on your mind.

Biden Vetoes Congressional WOTUS Repeal Resolution 

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue this week commented on President Biden’s decision to veto the Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution that would have overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s overreaching Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The CRA was a bipartisan, bicameral effort by Congress to halt implementation of the flawed rule.  

“Time and again efforts to expand the regulatory reach of the Clean Water Act have been rejected by Congress, courts, farmers and ranchers, and anyone who turns the earth with a shovel. President Biden’s tone-deaf rejection of a bipartisan resolution passed through both Houses of Congress is not surprising yet extremely disappointing. It is our hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will send the Biden administration a clear and direct message to go back to the drawing board on a new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that respects private property rights and states regulatory authority.” 

“Nebraska farmers and ranchers appreciate the steadfast support of Senators Fischer, and Ricketts as well as Congressmen Flood, Bacon, and Smith.” 

The Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval passed in the Senate with bipartisan support by a vote of 53-43 and passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support by a vote of 227-198. 

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