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Unicameral Gives Final OK To Nearly 100 Bills Including First Steps Toward Building Colorado Canal

       Nebraska lawmakers were busy Tuesday as they gave final approval to nearly 100 bills before the current 60-day session ends. Only 2 days remain with the last set aside for next Wednesday to consider any vetoes by Gov Pete Ricketts.

    Among the bills getting the ok was one to build a canal in Colorado to divert water out of the South Platte River, a project steeped in fears about the Denver area’s growing water consumption. 

        The measure passed 42-4 vote with Gov Pete Ricketts guaranteed to sign the bill since the project and legislation were his idea, but that doesn’t mean the canal estimated to cost $500-million dollars will actually be built.

       The bill provides $53.5-million dollar to start planning and do feasibility studies. A future legislature, possibly as soon as next year, would need to approve construction funds. Nebraska can build the canal under a 1923 agreement.

     Also passing was LB 1023, which has $200-million dollars for tourism enhancements ranging from new boat marinas at Lewis and Clark Lake and Lake McConaughy and a new lodge at Niobrara State Park. 

      It also has $20-million dollars for the early planning and permit process for a new 4,000-acre recreational lake on the Platte River southwest of Gretna. 

     Like the Perkins County Canal, construction of the proposed 30-foot deep lake would be funded by a future legislature if the early planning shows it to be feasible.

      Another bill getting final approval was LB 1241, which makes it easier for law enforcement officers certified in other states to transfer their certification to work in Nebraska. It also has money for hiring and retention bonuses for officers.

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