By Russ Karpisek
This week we continued debating senator and committee priority bills.
We debated a bill on a subject close to my heart this week, LB305, a bill to create a state meat and poultry inspection program. Having owned and operated Karpisek’s Market for nearly 20 years, I feel strongly that this bill fails to address any real issue, and doesn’t provide the economic development that is claimed by the bill’s introducer. I believe the only thing that LB305 may accomplish would be horse slaughter in the state. Although I am not opposed to that, it is not clear that it is even possible because of federal regulations, not to mention the cost to implement a state meat inspection program. I cast the only opposing vote on the bill, and it advanced from first-round debate.
The Legislature also debated a controversial measure that would affect the distribution of the Environmental Trust Cash Fund. LB229 would transfer these funds to the Water Resources Cash Fund for use in water conservation projects. There was significant opposition during the hearing on this bill, as many people feel these funds are needed for the environmental trust and should only be used for that specific purpose. After a lengthy discussion and a major compromise, the bill advanced to second-round debate.
At the end of the week the body debated and advanced a bill by Sen. Council, LB200, that proposes the creation of a financing program to stimulate grocery stores and other types of food sourcing establishments in what are referred to as “food deserts.” In many rural and urban parts of the state, fresh and healthy foods are not available. Although I support this concept, I am wary of funding large businesses that are not good for locally-owned, main street businesses in small town Nebraska.
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