LINCOLN — Levi Lippencott says he has no use for tin foil hats or conspiracy theories.
But in a public hearing Wednesday before the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, Lippencott said he genuinely believes that a U.N. resolution called Agenda 21 represents a threat to private property ownership.
He pointed to a government's willingness to use eminent domain for economic development purposes as just one example.
“Read up on it,” said Lippencott, 27, of La Vista. “The state has the gun, and they will use it.”
Based on a vocal and overflow crowd that showed up to support a bill prohibiting Agenda 21 recommendations in Nebraska, Lippencott was far from alone.
But speaking of foil, that was precisely the role State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha assumed as he questioned some of the proponents.
“If a group of people in black uniforms rappels down from noiseless black helicopters and tells you to get off your land, then call 911,” Chambers said.
The policy at the center of the lively discussion is a plan for sustainable land use developed by the U.N. in 1992.
Although the United States joined 178 countries that voted for its adoption, Agenda 21 is not legally binding in this country.
Some, however, view the plan as an insidious infringement on personal property rights, land development and economic growth that pushes a radical environmental agenda. Tea Party groups, the Republican Party and conservative radio host Glenn Beck have all sounded alarm bells about Agenda 21.
Such opponents say it's easy to find Agenda 21-creep in this country.
For example, Omaha and Lincoln formerly belonged to an international sustainable land-development group that stemmed from the U.N. and is linked to Agenda 21.
Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion said he introduced the bill to protect Nebraska's sovereignty and individual freedoms.
“If laws are going to be made, they're going to be made by us,” he said.
When Chambers pressed Kintner on whether he really thought Agenda 21 would result in property seizures, a chorus in the audience replied, “Yes.”
Their response prompted a warning from the committee chairman to listen silently or be escorted out. A state trooper stood in the room throughout the hearing.
During the subsequent grilling, Chambers repeatedly asked Kintner whether he believed a nonbinding U.N. resolution could supersede the U.S. and Nebraska Constitutions.
He also asked he if were aware of all of the nongovernmental organizations sanctioned by the U.N.
When Kintner said he was not aware of all such organizations, Chambers suggested the first-term senator should have done more homework.
“That's the kind of legislation you bring to this Legislature,” he said. Although most testimony Wednesday was in support of the bill, several did speak against it.
Among the opponents was Robert Haller of Lincoln, a member of UNA-USA Nebraska, which supports U.N. goals on peacekeeping and human development.
Those rallying against Agenda 21 are peddling myth and fear, he said.
“The State of Nebraska should not be in the business of buying into that fantasy,” he said.
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