For most of this past week I have been in Washington DC with representatives from NREA's member-systems participating in the NRECA Legislative Rally. Unfortunately both the House and Senate were in recess so we were not able to meet directly with our Congressional delegation. All was not lost...we had very productive meetings with key staff members in each of Nebraska's Senate and House offices.
Key issues that we discussed were:
1. Preserving Tax Exempt Financing and ask the Nebraska Delegation to oppose changing a necessary funding tool that has been in place for the last 200 years.
2. Asking our Congressional delegation to oppose the efforts to designate Coal Combustion Residuals (Coal Ash) as a hazardous material and remind the members of the beneficial recycling of the leftover product from coal generation.
3. Ask our Congressional Delegation to support the $4 billion in funding for the Rural Utility Service (RUS) Loan Program, but oppose the efforts to to limit the loan program and prohibit RUS loans for distribution and transmission development. We reminded our Delegation that the RUS Loan Program actually generated revenue for the federal government!
4. Ask our Congressional Delegation to oppose efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to regulate pole attachments for Electric Cooperatives and Rural Public Power Districts.
5. Ask our Congressional Delegation to direct the Department of Energy to allow for long-term waivers from the energy efficiency standards for electric resistance water heaters that are used in demand response (load control) programs.
We left beautiful 70 degree weather to return to Nebraska in a snowstorm!
Yesterday (May 1) the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 154, NREA's bill to add utility vehicles to the "move over" law. The vote passed unanimously with the members that were present. Now the bill will move over to the Governor's desk and await his signature. The bill will officially become law three months following the end of the session. We very much appreciate the efforts of Senator Dubas to bring this bill forward.
The legislative dam has started to break, but we still have many controversial issues to discuss. When the Nebraska Legislature returns from their long weekend off they will begin the state budget General File discussion. Seven budget bills are on the agenda early for Tuesday, May 7. Following the budget discussion will be the continuation of the debate on school financing. I'm making no predictions at this point if they have a chance to move that far on Tuesday.
While things are moving along at a bit quicker pace, it is apparent that some Senator Priority Bills will not be heard this year. There are 18 days left to complete their business and enough work to keep them busy for months!
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