A bill introduced by State Sen. John Stinner, of Gering, which would reinstate the 3 cent levy authority for fully or over-appropriated natural resources districts, was heard before the Legislature’s Revenue Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
Fully and over-appropriated natural resources districts, such as the North Platte NRD, are districts directed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources to undertake additional groundwater responsibilities, including retiring production acres and rolling out buyback programs in order to reduce groundwater consumption to comply with the state’s mandates. The Nebraska Legislature originally designated fully and over-appropriated NRDs under LB 962, and subsequently created a levy authority, LB 1226, in 2006 in order to help fund the requirements. While those groundwater management mandates still remain under LB 962, the levy authority that paid for them was sunset last year. LB 89, a bill that would have extended the levy period to fiscal year 2025-26, was introduced in both the 2017 and 2018 sessions, but died after filibuster.
North Platte NRD General Manager John Berge said in a phone interview Wednesday that he was one of three people who testified in favor of restoring the levy authority during the hearing. He said there were no opponents.