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UPDATE: Eminent Domain Bill Introduced in Legislature, Hearing Announced

On January 11, 2013, District 34 Senator Annette Dubas introduced LB152, which deals with eminent domain in our state.  The simple 2-page bill, though never specifically mentioning pipelines, could have huge implications when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline and TransCanada.  

The hearing for LB 152 will be held on Wednesday, January 30th, at 1:30 PM in Room 113 at the State Capitol. If you can not join us in-person, you can watch the hearing live on NET’s website.

The common-sense bill would require:

  1. Complete and accurate information regarding the purpose of the condemnation to be given to landowners.  This would prevent TransCanada from telling landowners their tarsands oil pipeline would be carrying conventional crude, a misleading statement that has been challenged in a Texas court.
  2. All permits to be in place, including a present plan and public purpose.  This would prevent TransCanada from repeating their past bad actions when they threatened Nebraska landowners with eminent domain condemnation, telling landowners to sign an easement or TransCanada would take their land for nothing, before they had a Presidential permit to build their pipeline.
  3. Entitlement to injuctive relief, attorney’s fees, and damages for landowners abused by violation of #2 above.  This gives the law “teeth” and enacts punishment on bad actors, which is a needed element when dealing with companies like TransCanada, who has a history of using their power and money to strong-arm landowners

Unlike last year’s LB1161 proposed by TransCanada-loving Sen. Jim Smith (and which is being challenged in court by a citizen lawsuit), LB152 would not allow TransCanada to have immediate eminent domain powers upon approval of a pipeline route through Nebraska.  We are confident that Gov. Heineman will stand by his word to keep the pipeline from crossing a significant portion of the aquifer and deny the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route, but if he approves the route, under current law, TransCanada would have immediate powers of eminent domain and could begin to bully landowners once again, without a Presidential permit to build their pipeline.

We at Bold Nebraska support LB152.  It is exactly the kind of common-sense legislation that our lawmakers should have enacted long ago that would have prevented the bullying many Nebraska landowners have endured at the hands of TransCanada’s land agents.  We say better late than never, and applaud Sen. Dubas for her work.  In addition to attending the hearing and providing testimony, lease let her know you feel the same, and let members of the Judiciary Committee know that you support the bill.

LB 1152 Hearing Date: Wednesday, January 30th, at 1:30 PM in Room 113 at the State Capitol.

Bill Sponsor:
Sen. Annette Dubas: Phone: (402) 471-2630, Email: adubas@leg.ne.gov

Judiciary Committee:

Sen. Brad Ashford (Chair): Phone: (402) 471-2622, Email: bashford@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Ernie Chambers: Phone: (402) 471-2612

Sen. Mark Christensen: Phone: (402) 471-2805, Email:mchristensen@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Colby Coash: Phone: (402) 471-2632, Email: ccoash@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Al Davis: Phone: (402) 471-2628, Email: adavis@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Steve Lathrop: Phone: (402) 471-2623, Email: slathrop@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Amanda McGill: Phone: (402) 471-2610, Email: amcgill@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Les Sieler: Phone: (402) 471-2712, Email: lseiler@leg.ne.gov

Some testifying tips:

1) Remember, you are the expert.  Your experience and your opinions are necessary in order for lawmakers to know what to do.  As a citizen, you are part of the “second house” of the legislature.  Don’t be intimidated by the senators across the table.  They work for you!

2) Keep it short and to the point.  You will only have 3 minutes to testify.  Stick to 2 or 3 main points and deliver them with clarity and feeling.  Make it memorable to the senators and to those listening and watching in the room. 

3) Bring back-up information.  Any sources you cite in your testimony can be submitted for the record and can provide information to the senators.  Make sure your written testimony has your name, address and contact information, and bring 10 copies for the committee if you can.

It would be great if we could get as many landowners as possible, especially those who have had experience with TransCanada’s threats of eminent domain in the past, to testify tomorrow.  Even if all you do is say, “I’m a landowner and I support this bill.” 

We need to send a clear message to our lawmakers that we expect them to stand with us for our rights.

The Bold Nebraska office (1246 Washington) and the Farmers Union office (1305 Plum) will be open and available before the hearing for folks to touch base, relax, use the internet or do last-minute edits to testimony.

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