E-15 proposal expanded, advanced to final round

A bill intended to increase consumer access to E-15 in Nebraska cleared the second round of debate May 9 after lawmakers amended it to include two other measures heard by the Agriculture Committee this session.

Sen. Myron Dorn
Sen. Myron Dorn

As introduced by Sen. Myron Dorn of Adams, LB562 would, with some exceptions, require motor fuel retail dealers in Nebraska to advertise and sell E-15 — which the bill defines as gasoline with more than 10 percent but no more than 15 percent by volume of ethanol — from at least 50 percent of their qualifying dispensers, beginning in 2024.

An Agriculture Committee amendment, adopted 41-0, replaced the bill with a modified version of the original proposal. Under the amendment, the 50 percent requirement would apply if a retail dealer builds a new retail motor fuel site or replaces more than 80 percent of the motor fuel storage and dispensing infrastructure at an existing site.

A site that has only one dispenser or sells an average of 300,000 gallons of gasoline per year or less would be exempt from the requirement if it files a statement with the state Department of Agriculture.

If the 2027 statewide ethanol blend rate — the average percentage of ethanol contained in each gallon of motor fuel sold — is below 14 percent, the amendment would require each retail dealer to advertise and sell E-15 from at least one qualifying dispenser at each site, beginning in 2028, unless the site:
• has been issued a waiver because its infrastructure is not compatible with E-15 and the cost to replace it would exceed $15,000;
• has motor fuel storage tanks made of certain materials or installed before certain dates; or
• qualifies as a small retail motor fuel site.

The committee amendment also would increase a state income tax credit for retail dealers from 5 cents to 8 cents for each gallon of E-15 sold during 2024. The credit would be 9 cents per gallon in 2025, 8 cents per gallon in 2026, 7 cents per gallon in 2027 and 5 cents per gallon in 2028. It also would increase the annual limit on credits from $4 million to $5 million for those years.

Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, chairperson of the Agriculture Committee, said the committee amendment is a compromise intended to increase consumer access to E-15 while minimizing the burden on gas stations as they make the transition.

Lincoln Sen. Jane Raybould introduced an amendment that would require the department to give a retail dealer 90 days to comply with the bill’s requirements if the department denies its application for a waiver.

The amendment failed on a vote of 7-27.

Plymouth Sen. Tom Brandt introduced an amendment, adopted 38-0, to include provisions of his LB116. He said the proposal is intended to help more farmers and ranchers qualify for benefits under the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act, which provides tax exemptions and credits for beginning farmers and livestock producers and for owners of certain agricultural assets who rent those assets to them.

Among other changes, the amendment would repeal a minimum acreage requirement and extend the deadline for applications under the act from Dec. 31, 2025, to Dec. 31, 2027.

Under the amendment, a farmer or livestock producer could qualify for the program if they have a net worth of no more than $750,000, an increase from the current $200,000. They also would have to be of legal age to enter into and be legally responsible for a binding contract or lease.

In addition, Brandt’s proposal would require the Beginning Farmer Board to exclude any pension, retirement or other deferred benefit accounts owned by a beginning farmer or livestock producer, or a spouse or dependent, when determining net worth.

Under the amendment, no more than $5 million in refundable state income tax credits could be granted to owners of agricultural assets each year.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn introduced an amendment, adopted 38-0, that instead would cap the credits at $2 million each year.

Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas introduced an amendment to include provisions of his LB740, which he said are intended to simplify the permitting process for food trucks.

The amendment, adopted 40-0, would allow a political subdivision acting as a regulatory authority to enter into an interlocal agreement with other public agencies to grant and provide reciprocity for local licensing of food trucks.

It also would require cities of the first or second class to participate in a registry to be maintained by the state Department of Agriculture that would record the municipal ordinances regulating food trucks. The department would make the registry available to the public on its website.

Cities would provide certain information for the registry, including a sample copy of any form that is required to operate a food truck in the city and an electronic record of ordinances regulating food trucks. Cities that do not regulate food trucks would be required to submit a statement to that effect for publication on the registry.

Finally, the measure would require the department to create a guidance document for food truck operators that describes applicable permit requirements.

After adoption of the amendments, senators advanced LB562 to final reading by voice vote.

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