Another important issue is agriculture. Agriculture is critical to the economic vitality of the state and to the 24th district. As we expand and diversify our economy, we cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of agriculture and agriculture related businesses. Keeping property taxes down, encouraging livestock production, eliminating unnecessary regulatory barriers, further encouraging the ethanol industry in the state, and managing water use in such a way that we preserve the resource while at the same time not forgetting the importance of irrigation to the economic well being of the 24th District are all important issues that need to be addressed.
The 2007 session by some was labeled the water session. The legislature tried to respond to on going drought conditions in most parts of the state, particularly in the southwest and lower Republican River basin with the passage of LB 701. The bill was controversial largely because of its funding mechanisms. The bill was designed to meet some of the water compact demands of Kansas, retain local control, and help local producers make production decisions. Using corn check off dollars as part of 701 funding was controversial and I believe inappropriate. Recently, there has been adequate rain in the basin; however, Kansas remains determined to force Nebraska to shut off wells which could have catastrophic effects. I believe the local NRD's are critical to implementing water policy. They can best understand and therefore represent the geography of a given area and its constituents. Also during the 2007 session the legislature did pass legislation to create incentives for bio diesel production and we continue to watch the growth of the ethanol industry. Property taxes remain a source of contention for most Nebraskans; however, federal 1031 exchanges and overall reevaluations of property have made higher property taxes for 24th district ag producers even more problematic. The 2007 tax reduction package credited back to counties approximately $83.00/$100,000 of value. The credits are to be passed on to property owners. Unfortunately, the $83.00 credit only scratches the surface. I believe the way in which we value land for tax purposes needs to be thoroughly examined. During the 2008 session there was a bill debated that intended to try to gain back some of the restrictions on corporate farming that the court had taken away from Nebraska. I voted against the bill because I was very concerned that in our efforts to restrict corporate farming we were not only going to be found unconstitutional again but we were also putting restrictions on the very people we were hoping to protect, Nebraska's young ag producers.