Municipal energy bill amended, advanced

Lawmakers advanced a bill from general file Feb. 20 that updates governance of the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska.

Sen. Dan Hughes
Sen. Dan Hughes

LB858, introduced by Venango Sen. Dan Hughes, would reorganize, simplify and streamline MEAN’s governing document, the Municipal Financing Act. Hughes said MEAN was created in 1981 to generate, transmit and distribute wholesale electric power and energy.

MEAN currently serves 69 communities in four states, he said, and is facing new opportunities and challenges.

“It’s governing law has not been updated for almost 40 years and this bill contains updates, improvements and housekeeping changes to help modernize MEAN’s governance model,” Hughes said.

Among other provisions, the bill would specify how a municipality may terminate participation in an agency, make a variety of changes to board of director qualifications and specify that construction, maintenance or remodeling of an agency’s headquarters is not a “power project.”

A Natural Resources Committee amendment, adopted 33-0, added provisions of three additional bills:
• LB367, also introduced by Hughes, which would extend the sunset date of the Nebraska Litter Reduction and Recycling Fund to Sept. 30, 2025, and eliminate fund transfer language;
• LB855, introduced by Columbus Sen. Mike Moser, which would remove the legislative confirmation process for the appointment of board members to the Niobrara Council; and
• LB856, also introduced by Moser, which would extend the sunset date for the Petroleum Release Remedial Action Cash Fund from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2024.

“Each of these bills was overwhelmingly supported and unanimously approved by the committee,” Hughes said.

Following adoption of the committee amendment, senators advanced LB858 to select file on a 41-0 vote.

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