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Local View: Nebraskans need to know

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State Sen. Bruce Bostelman, chair of the Natural Resources Committee, introduced Legislative Resolution 355 on March 23. The purpose of this interim study was to examine and review Chapter 70 of the Nebraska statutes relating to power districts and corporations.

Specifically, the review would cover statutes relating to electric generation and transmission, governing the approval and decommissioning of electric generation facilities, governing the Nebraska Power Review Board and adherence by public power suppliers to the laws and policies of the state.

The scope of this resolution was extremely broad with few details in its wording to inform the public about its intent. The session concluded seven months ago and there has still been no posted information about a public hearing on the resolution and, again, few leads about the direction the committee may have taken.

Public power affects every household in the state of Nebraska. Therefore every ratepayer has an interest in this interim study and what Sen. Bostelman intended when he introduced LR355.

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Unfortunately, the Natural Resources Committee seems to have proposed an interim study to be conducted within the confines of the committee only, but any bill has ramifications for the entire state. This is poor public policy and not the way the Legislature has operated in the past.

Public power has served the people of Nebraska well for many years. We have the benefit of electric service that is low-cost, reliable and the envy of other states.

Publicly elected boards that govern our power districts have chosen to establish goals to move from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable sources. It is important to support them against legislative efforts to halt this progress.

Furthermore, concerned Nebraskans opposed LB1046, legislation that was introduced by Bostelman to drastically change the makeup of boards of directors of public power districts. LB1046 would reduce the peoples’ power to elect their representative directors and hand it to the governor to appoint directors. Fortunately, LB1046 did not advance after it was heard.

Apparently, the Natural Resources Committee has chosen to conduct the LR355 study without a public hearing as the year comes to a close. Obsolete language is often repealed in other legislative resolutions without fanfare or controversy, a necessary tool to adapt language to current situations.

However, if significant changes have been proposed, these must be revealed in a timely manner so that the "second house" -- the public which so many senators cite regularly -- can also be informed. Please don’t keep Nebraskans in the dark.

Sherry Miller represents the League of Women Voters of Nebraska. Also signing on to this column were Al Davis of the Sierra Club of Nebraska and Jennifer Glazer of the Citizens Climate Lobby.

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