Elimination of boards and commissions advanced

Senators voted to advance a bill from general file Feb. 7 that would eliminate certain boards and commissions.

The boards and commissions selected for elimination under LB78, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery, either had not met in the last four years or had no significant accomplishments to report.

Avery said the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee set a low bar for the boards and commissions to clear.

“We did not make any judgments about the value of these boards,” he said. “If they are not meeting and do not have any accomplishments to report, there’s little reason to justify continuation.”

The following boards and commissions would be eliminated:
• the Affirmative Action Committee;
• the State Airline Authority;
• the Athletic Advisory Committee;
• the Livestock Advisory Committee;
• the Private Postsecondary Career Schools Advisory Council;
• the Riparian Vegetation Management Task Force; and
• the Rural Development Commission.

A committee amendment, adopted on a 36-0 vote, retained the Private Postsecondary Career Schools Advisory Council and the Riparian Vegetation Management Task Force, removing them from the list of boards to be eliminated. It also added the Economic Development Commission to the list to be eliminated, at the request of state Economic Development director Catherine Lang.

An amendment to the committee amendment, proposed Feb. 6 by Scottsbluff Sen. John Harms, and approved 25-12, removed the State Airline Authority from the list. Harms said the Airline Authority was essential to economic development in rural Nebraska.

“This is absolutely critical for rural Nebraska,” he said. “There is no connection from western Nebraska to Lincoln and Omaha.”

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers disagreed with the vote and filed a motion to reconsider the vote. “I hear all kind of talk about reducing the size of government,” he said, adding that the board has not had a commissioner or board members for over 20 years.

Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh supported the motion to reconsider, saying that eliminating the board is the right decision for right now.

“This is not a rural versus urban issue,” he said. “If it ever comes back into needed existence, I’m sure the Legislature will oblige.”

The motion was approved 25-13, but Harms withdrew his amendment Feb. 7. Senators then advanced the bill to select file on a 37-0 vote.

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