Capitol Digest reporters photo xcapitoldigest capitoldigest

From left, World-Herald legislative reporters Martha Stoddard, Paul Hammel and Aaron Hegarty.

The World-Herald’s Statehouse reporters round up news highlights from the Legislature and state government into the Capitol Digest — a daily briefing for the political newshound with a busy schedule.

Bonding authority. A bill allowing the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District to keep using bonds for flood-control projects overcame a legislative filibuster Thursday.

Lawmakers voted 36-9 for a debate-ending cloture motion, then advanced Legislative Bill 177 to the final stage of consideration.

The measure, introduced by State Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha, would extend the Papio-Missouri River NRD’s bonding authority for five years, until 2024. The metro-area NRD is the only one in the state allowed to issue bonds.

State lawmakers originally granted that authority for 10 years, starting in 2009. That authority is set to expire at the end of this year. The NRD has issued $70 million in bonds over the past decade for six projects; eight more projects are in the queue.

Under LB 177, property tax levies needed to pay off the bonds would have to fit within the state-mandated 4.5-cent levy limit for NRDs. However, opponents argued that the measure would mean higher property taxes for district residents.

NRD-built reservoirs and levees were critical in keeping floods at bay along Papillion Creek while the Western Sarpy Clear Creek Levee project along the Platte River helped contain the flooding around Omaha well fields.

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Right to Farm. A compromise was struck Thursday on a once-controversial proposal that some said would have precluded a rural neighbor from ever filing a nuisance lawsuit against a neighboring farm that created a nuisance of dust, odor or flies.

Lawmakers gave second-round approval to LB 227 after adopting a compromise crafted by Sen. Steve Lathrop and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango.

Under the compromise, the Right to Farm Act would still protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits from neighbors who just moved into the vicinity.

But it would also put a two-year deadline on such lawsuits in the event that a farming operation expands. The two-year clock would begin running at the point the expansion created physical discomfort for a neighbor.

Hughes said the amended bill gives livestock producers some certainty about potential legal action, yet keeps them responsible for running an operation that doesn’t create a nuisance.

Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-473-9583.

Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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