If water issues in the Republican River Basin are important to you, a newly created task force wants to hear from you.
The Nebraska Legislature passed on final approval this week a bill that creates the Republican River Basin Water Sustainability Task Force. Introduced by Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, the task force will include 22 voting members appointed by the governor, who will study sustainable water use in the basin, including ways to maintain compliance with the interstate compact and avoiding water short years. The task force will present a final report to the Legislature in two years.
Sen. Mark Christensen said this morning at the McCook Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Conference call that those interested in serving on this task force should submit their names as soon as possible to himself, Sen. Carlson or Sen. Chris Langameier. The names will be forwarded to the governor for consideration.
The task force will comprise residents from a cross section in the basin.
This will include eight representatives from natural resources districts; four representatives from irrigation districts; two representatives from an agriculture-related business;, one representative each from the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Game and Parks Commission, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources, and one representative each from a school district, a city, county and public power district.
Christensen also spoke this morning on the status of a bill that would provide funding for training/vocational programs at the Nebraska Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp in McCook.
The bill passed second round approval and would create the Nebraska Crime Victim Fund. The fund would be created by a $1 court fine for each convicted misdemeanor or felony, along with federal funds. Of the fund, 75 percent would go to the Victims Compensation Fund and 25 percent for re-entry programs.
Negotiations have been going on to retain in the bill funds for the welding program and other future vocational programs at the WEC, Christensen said.
Christensen also spoke briefly on the recent ruling from Red Willow County District Court concerning the refund of property taxes. The NRDs in the Republican River Basin has asked for a declaratory judgement as to how to refund $2.5 million in property taxes that were collected in 2007 but later declared illegal by the Nebraska Supreme Court. The case was dismissed by District Court Judge David Urbom, who cited that no judicial controversy existed for a declaratory judgement and that only the state legislation or constitution could refund the taxes.
When asked why a specific bill was not created by lawmakers to address the refund, Christensen that would be considered special legislation that would benefit only certain individuals, which could be legally challenged.