Update on Legislative Special Session

By Kate Sullivan

District #41 State Senator

As you no doubt know, the special legislative session to deal with pipelines is in full swing, but details about how the session unfolds can literally change in a matter of minutes, making this session one of the most remarkable on record.

On Monday afternoon, November 14, the Legislature is poised to begin debate on one of the five pipeline bills that were introduced.  But as I said, things can change in a minute.  As I write this I have just received word that the State Department has announced that it will put off a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until early 2013.  Not only that, the State Department has determined that it needs to undertake an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes in Nebraska that would avoid the Sand Hills.

What does this mean for the special session?  At this point, I don’t know, but the possible delay on the Keystone XL permit application by the State Department will certainly enter into our discussion come Monday.  We also know we now have a bill before us.  LB 4 was amended and advanced by the Natural Resources Committee late Wednesday.

As introduced, LB 4 requires application to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a route certificate to construct a pipeline; a public hearing must be held within 30 days; the Governor appoints a panel chaired by the Lieutenant Governor to review route certificate applications; the panel makes a recommendation to the Governor within 60 days of the application; and the Governor has 30 days to accept or reject the panel’s recommendation.

The committee amendment clarifies the provisions including the requirement that a route certificate and any other required Nebraska or federal permit must be obtained before eminent domain may be used  to acquire land for an oil pipeline.

My office continues to receive many phone calls and e-mails on the issue. As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, subsidized call centers are also actively contacting citizens.  We have received numerous calls that were clearly generated by a third party, most of which came after regular business hours.

It’s been my practice to send letters to constituents confirming their call and to let them know their message was received and recorded.  Today I had a call from a constituent who had received one of those confirmation letters from me.  However, nobody in their household had placed a call in support of the pipeline.  Someone else had called and used the constituent’s name without their permission.  Not only had they not placed the call, they did not support the pipeline and they wanted me to correct my records.

If you receive a letter from me confirming your position on the pipeline issue but you did not place the call or your position differs, please let me know.  It’s important that I have an accurate account of constituent positions on issues.  Your opinion is important.  That’s what I want to know.  I’m just sorry that some organizations feel they must be intentionally deceitful or employ these types of tactics to support their viewpoints.

If you have questions regarding this newsletter, legislation or state issues, please call my legislative office at (402) 471-2631.  There is Voicemail on my phone so if you get the recording, please leave a message and I’ll get back to you.  You may also write to me c/o P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE  68509 or email me at: ksullivan@leg.ne.gof.

If you write or email, please include your full name and mailing address.