The 2015 session of the Nebraska Legislature saw a number of bills introduced on behalf of Bold Nebraska and its supporters, and collaboration with a range of partner organizations on other bills. There were a few historic wins, and defeat on several issues that we’ll continue to work on next year.
LB 473: No eminent domain for private gain
Sen. Ernie Chambers introduced LB 473, to remove the right of oil pipeline companies to invoke eminent domain to take a landowner’s property.
- Bold Nebraska sponsored a chartered bus that brought more than 60 landowners to Lincoln to attend the public hearing and speak in support of the bill; supporters outnumbered opponents (12-1).
- Bold Nebraska delivered a petition signed by nearly 12,000 supporters to the Judiciary Committee.
- LB 473 was ultimately withdrawn by Sen. Chambers to make adjustments, and may be introduced again next year.
LB 664: Public disclosure of fracking waste chemicals
Sen. Ernie Chambers introduced LB 664, which would compel public disclosure of fracking waste chemicals in Nebraska.
- The bill garnered a supermajority (37-6) of votes to suspend the Legislature’s rules and allow its introduction, propelled by momentum generated by organizing around the NOGCC hearing process and testimony on LB 512.
- Supporters testifying in support of the bill vastly outnumbered opponents (10-1) both at the Capitol in Lincoln, and via a videoconference link in Scottsbluff.
- Bold Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club submitted written testimony collected from more than 260 Nebraskans that was delivered to the Natural Resources Committee.
- LB 664 will be incorporated into a Legislative Study on fracking waste and the NOGCC during the summer of 2015.
Nebraska Oil & Gas Commission: Fracking wastewater well permit
Bold Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club partnered to organize opposition to an out-of-state company’s permit application with the NOGCC to export fracking wastewater into an old oil well in Western Nebraska.
- Bold Nebraska and NE Sierra Club responded to inquiries from landowners and concerned citizens in western Nebraska by launching a petition signed by nearly 9,000 supporters calling for NOGCC to reject the fracking wastewater well permit.
- Bold organized opponents of the fracking well to testify at the fracking well permit hearing (nearly 50 testified), and recorded the proceedings on video for online distribution — which turned out to be the only public record of the hearing.
- Video captured by Bold of James Osborne’s “Would you drink it?” fracking waste demonstration during his testimony is viewed nearly 2 million times on YouTube.
- Bold Nebraska and NE Sierra Club filed a complaint with the Attorney General alleging the NOGCC’s hearing violated public meeting laws. The complaint was ultimately rejected.
- The NOGCC voted 2-0 to approve the fracking well permit. Landowners have filed an appeal that is currently pending.
LB 512 (LR 154) / LR 247: Dissolve the Oil & Gas Commission
Sen. John Stinner introduced LB 512, which eventually became a referendum on the Oil & Gas Commission and proposed fracking wastewater well permit in Sioux County. The bill spawned LR 154, a study into the authority of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and its role in decisions regarding the disposal of wastewater.
Sen. Ken Haar introduced LR 247, a study to investigate the process of eliminating the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
- After the Nebraska Oil & Gas Commission conducted a hearing that barred public comments and input from State Senators, the coalition opposed to fracking waste grew to include nine senators and the issue dominated debate during an unrelated Legislature vote to approve a new nominee to the Commission on April 14.
- Bold Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club partnered on a letter to state senators signed by over 1,300 Nebraskans that urged a moratorium on fracking wastewater in the state.
- Following the Oil & Gas Commission’s vote to approve the controversial fracking well, despite calls from senators to put off their vote, momentum in the Legislature grew to 37 senators who supported the introduction of Sen. Chambers’ bill to compel disclosure of fracking waste chemicals.
- Senators Stinner and Haar also introduced LR 154 and LR 247, legislative studies scheduled for the summer of 2015 that will review the Commission’s authority and explore the possible dissolution of the Nebraska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.
LB 176: Packer ownership of livestock operations
Sen. Ken Schilz introduced LB 176, which would enable meatpacking companies to own hog farms in Nebraska.
- Bold Nebraska partnered with Nebraska Farmers Union to organize opposition to the bill.
- Launched an online campaign urging citizens to contact their state senators.
- LB 176 was defeated.
LB 423: Renewable energy tax credits
Senator Jeremy Nordquist introduced LB 423, which would provide a tax credit for producers of renewable electric energy and reform renewable energy tax credit calculations for community-based energy development projects.
- Bold Nebraska worked with allies at Nebraska Sierra Club, Nebraska Farmers Union and local renewable energy advocates on a campaign to support LB 423, and called on supporters to contact state senators.
- Despite strong support from environmental advocates, the bill was defeated.
LB 586, LB 648, LB 647: LGBT Equality Agenda
Senators Adam Morfeld, Sara Howard and Jeremy Nordquist introduced bills aimed at extending workplace protections to the LGBT community, removing discriminatory limitations on the rights of same-sex couples and other unmarried pairs to adopt children or become foster parents, and eliminating discrimination towards gay and lesbian foster parents regardless of relationship status.
- Bold Nebraska partnered with ACLU of Nebraska to jointly promote the ACLU’s petition advocating for the trio of bills; Bold generated nearly 1,000 signatures on the ACLU’s petition.
- Bold supported the ACLU of Nebraska’s lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in Nebraska, as well as fundraising and a statewide informational tour about the lawsuit.
- The Legislature failed to pass the Equality Agenda bills; the ACLU’s marriage equality lawsuit is still pending.
*OTHER DIRECT ACTIONS*
Rep. Brad Ashford: Vote NO on Keystone XL; Vote NO on TPP & Fast-Track
Bold Nebraska targeted Rep. Ashford over his vote in favor of a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline with a rally and protest outside his Omaha offices. Bold also collaborated with labor unions (Nebraska AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, Alliance for Retired Americans), Nebraska Sierra Club and Nebraska Farmers Union on a series of protests and actions against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Fast-Track Authority.
- Bold Nebraska delivered a petition signed by over 3,500 citizens urging Ashford to vote no on Keystone XL.
- Bold Nebraska organized a protest at Ashford’s Omaha office attended by over 60 people; constituents met with Ashford’s staff and voiced complaints.
- Rep. Ashford sided with Big Oil and voted twice in favor of Keystone XL.
- Bold Nebraska joined Nebraska AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, Alliance of Retired Americans, Nebraska Sierra Club and Nebraska Farmers Union for a three-week series of Thursday rallies outside Rep. Ashford’s office, urging him to opposed TPP & Fast-Track.
- Bold Nebraska hosted “Politics & Pints,” a meetup in Omaha featuring local speakers from AFL-CIO, CWA and Sierra Club who spoke out against TPP, and urged citizens to contact Rep. Ashford about his vote.
- The House is expected to vote soon on TPP & Fast-Track.
Lancaster County Board & Planning Department: Support Hallam Wind Project
After Lancaster and Gage counties proposed restrictive regulations on utility scale wind farms that would effectively eliminate any and all wind farms in the area, Bold Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club engaged the public to generate support for the clean energy project.
- Bold Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club partnered on a letter signed by nearly 1,000 Nebraskans in support of more clean wind energy in Nebraska.
- Bold will organize and drive citizens to attend a public hearing in August on the proposed new regulations.