The 2023 legislative session in Nebraska kicked off on January 4th and over 750 bills were introduced.
We'll also be working with the Natural Resources Committee and Appropriations Committee to shape the funding for trail maintenance and are on the lookout for any legislation that could benefit or adversely impact biking and walking.
Here are the bills we have our eyes on:
LB738 - Changes to E-Bike Classifications
Our Stance: For
This bill will change the statewide classifications separating pedal-assist e-bikes from mini-motorbikes. Why is this necessary? Decision makers at every level, from the local BMX track managers to cities, the state Game and Parks, need this clarification to manage their facilities better. We want to ensure legitimate, safe pedal-assist bikes don't get lumped into the same bucket as mini-motorbikes when facilities are choosing what type of bikes can have access.
Update: (3/20): LB 738 has been voted out of committee. The next step is waiting for it to be scheduled for general file and that schedule is not released yet.
LB645 - Prioritizes Increases to State Roadway Traffic Capacity
Our Stance: Against
Increased road capacities are often dangerous for all road users, including drivers, walkers, construction workers, bike riders, and more. Further, the cascading effects of ongoing maintenance costs creates additional and permanent financial burden.
The bill's language prioritizes the value of goods and the movement of traffic over the well-being of Nebraskans by stating project priorities will be determined by the "volume of local average daily traffic and the value of goods transported" and entirely removes the consideration of the "well-being of Nebraskans".
This is particularly concerning for communities with state roads intersecting their towns.
Update (3/20): LB 645 has not yet been voted out of committee.
LB134 - Keeps Utility Poles Off Sidewalks
Our Stance: For
In the 2019 - 2020 session, a bill was introduced around utility poles, but didn't take into account the impact on right-of-way accessibility. Remember the pole in the middle of the sidewalk in Omaha? This bill requires all utility poles to comply with ADA standards.
Upcoming Hearing: Tuesday, February 21st - 1:30 PM - Room 1113
Update (3/20): LB 134 has not yet been voted out of committee.
LB39 - Requires Disability Impact Statements
Our Stance: For (Read full statement)
This bill would require disability impact statements in certain legislation and allow for cooperation with subject matter experts, state agencies, political subdivisions, and accredited academic institutions. Not only are we a proponent for policy supporting the mobility of disabled citizens, but it would also enable BWN to weigh in on bills that could put pedestrian accessibility at risk (like utility poles on sidewalks from 2022).
LB 121 - Repeal the Trail Development Assistance Act
Bike Walk Nebraska has twice been assured by a Legislative Aide that LB121 is a shell bill for other purposes and will not move forward with the language in its current form. We are trusting that this information is accurate and has been provided in good faith.
Bike Walk Nebraska would oppose any bill that would decrease trail funding, eliminate any mechanism that would facilitate trail funding or impair the ability of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to maintain the trails under its purview. As advocates for safe biking and walking in Nebraska we are obligated to state that it would be extremely concerning if LB121 is amended to include any language of this kind, which would understandably lead us to believe we had been deliberately misled.
Update (3/20): LB 121 has not yet been voted out of committee.