Hearings held for bills addressing rake incident, landowner deer issues

Thursday, January 24, 2019

This week three of my bills will be heard by their respective committees. First up is LB 143 in the Judiciary Committee. This is a bill I introduced in response to an incident that occurred in Red Willow County. A member of the crew working on a road became frustrated with the speed of traffic that was traveling past them while working, and in attempt to slow the traffic down slid a rake in front of an oncoming vehicle. This was very dangerous and fortunately, no one was hurt, but as it turns out the law is very vague about charging someone for this type of action. LB 143 will allow a misdemeanor charge to be filed for such an action if there was no damage as a result. If damage occurs, to either property or to persons, additional more severe penalties would be called for.

The other bills of mine that will be heard in the Natural Resources Committee are LB 126 and LB 127. Both of these bills deal with landowners and deer hunting. Second only to complaints about property taxes, deer population and the damage they cause is next on the list of complaints I hear most about from the 44th District. From the damage to crops and the damage caused by collisions on the roads, I receive many calls and emails wanting me to do something about our deer population in southwest Nebraska. I have visited with Nebraska Game and Parks officials multiple times about these problems and have had very little response to our concerns. LB 126 and LB 127 have gotten their attention. Both of these bills address issues coming from the landowner point of view on this issue. I have no illusions that either of these bills will pass as written, but this will be a good starting point to begin the discussions with Game and Parks about how they intend to manage the wildlife populations, especially in southwest Nebraska. The landowners are the ones footing the bill for feeding the entire deer population all year long and suffering the damage to fences, haystacks, grain bags, and trees. I am hopeful that as a result of this hearing, Nebraska Game and Parks will be a little more sympathetic to the losses that landowners face and we will be able to find ways to offer assistance or compensation to affected landowners. In doing some rough calculations it is costing landowners close to $50 million per year just to feed the deer in the state of Nebraska. If you add elk, pronghorns, and turkeys that number goes even higher.

I am anticipating a few residents from the 44th District will be traveling to Lincoln to testify in favor of my bills that are up before the Legislature this week. I appreciate any time someone from the 44th District comes to Lincoln and takes the time to stop by and see me at the Capitol.

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