Nebraska needs to plan ahead and prepare for the effects of climate change, Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln said Monday.
Pansing Brooks has authored a bill (LB283) that would direct the University of Nebraska to develop "an evidence-based, data-driven, strategic action plan" that would provide methods of adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
"So much is at stake in Nebraska," she told members of the Legislature's Executive Board, not only in terms of the impact on people but also in "the new stresses and risks" posed for the state's soil and water resources and its agricultural economy.
"We must plan ahead to respond appropriately," Pansing Brooks said.
The plan would be submitted to the governor and the Legislature by Dec. 15, 2020.
The proposal attracted a wide range of support from Nebraskans who testified at its public hearing while garnering opposition testimony from a number of people who objected to tapping into the state's waste-reduction and recycling incentive fund to provide up to $250,000 to finance the study.
Pansing Brooks said she would be open to seeking a different source of funding that would avoid tapping into the state tax-supported general fund.
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Former Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, who told the senators he is preparing for heart surgery, suggested that climate change represents "global heart disease."
A number of speakers said they were supporting action to combat climate change in the interest of their grandchildren.
Earlier, the board heard brief remarks from Millard school teacher Thomas Whisennand supporting a bill prompted by his 26 fourth-grade students that would designate corn as Nebraska's state vegetable.
"It was their idea," Whisennand told the committee with a number of his students looking on.
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn introduced the bill (LB105) after visiting Reagan Elementary School and talking with the students.
Nebraska does not have a designated state vegetable.
There was no opposition to the proposal.