Natural resources omnibus bill approved

Lawmakers passed a bill April 12 containing several measures heard by the Natural Resources Committee this session.

Sen. Mike Moser
Sen. Mike Moser

LB809, introduced by Sen. Mike Moser of Columbus, authorizes the state Department of Environment and Energy to use the Drinking Water Facilities Loan Fund to buy or refinance the debt obligation of any municipality for a public water supply system if the debt was incurred and construction began after July 1, 1993.

Under Moser’s proposal, the department also may enter into agreements to provide grants and loan forgiveness to certain public water systems and municipalities for drinking water and wastewater treatment projects. The agreements may cover up to 75 percent of the eligible project cost, an increase from 50 percent under current law.

LB809 authorizes the department to enter into similar agreements concurrent with loans to public water systems for certain lead service line replacement projects.

The bill includes the provisions of LB803, introduced by Venango Sen. Dan Hughes, under which grandchildren, stepgrandchildren and their spouses are considered immediate family members for purposes of limited hunting permits issued to qualifying landowners.

It also increases from four to eight the number of qualifying landowner permits to hunt deer in the three days immediately preceding the opening day of firearm deer hunting season. Six of those permits may be issued to individuals younger than 19.

Also included are the provisions of LB924, introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, which allow first class cities to apply for grants to cover the cost of deconstructing abandoned buildings.

Finally, provisions of LB978, also introduced by Hughes, authorize the state Department of Environment and Energy to assume authority for prohibiting or abating the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. under section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act.

LB809 authorizes the department to administer a permitting program, collect fees, receive and initiate complaints, hold hearings and institute legal proceedings in the name of the state.

The bill passed on a vote of 46-0.

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