Ban on Ethanol From Treated Seed, Landlord-Tenant Bills Advance

March 25, 2021, 6:20 p.m. ·

Sen. Bruce Bostelman speaks Thursday (NET screenshot)

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Lawmakers advanced bills Thursday dealing with banning manufacture of ethanol from treated seeds if the byproducts can't be used by cattle or on farmland, and other measures dealing with landlord-tenant law. William Padmore of NET News talked to legislative reporter Fred Knapp about these and another measure involving bare knuckle boxing.

Padmore: What is new in the legislature today?

Knapp: Well, today they had passed a bill that has to do with ethanol. Sen. Bruce Bostelman said his proposal, LB507, would prohibit the use of treated seed corn in the production of ethanol if the resulting byproduct, which is commonly known as wet cake or distillers grain, is unsafe for livestock consumption or land application.

This bill stems from that situation in the AltEn ethanol plant near Mead, which used seed treated with fungicides and insecticides to make ethanol and let the byproducts sit in huge piles on the site.

People who live nearby have complained about foul smells and health threats, and Senator Megan Hunt says the situation's affected other species as well.

Hunt: Colonies of bees have died. Birds have died, there's wildlife all over the area that's died.

Knapp: The state's now suing AltEn for pollution. Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Energy says it tested six public wells, near the site and didn't detect any contaminants. Senator Tom Brandt, who farms, corn himself supported the ban on using treated corn or other grains.

Brandt: Ethanol is vital to Nebraska. Forty percent of our corn crop goes into ethanol in the state, most of the components coming out of that are used in the state. It's unfortunate that we had a bad actor in the industry.

Knapp: And the bill advanced 43 to nothing.

Padmore: So what else happened today?

Knapp: Well it was a day for what they call “Christmas tree bills,” as Sen. Wendy DeBoer said.

DeBoer: I would give you a little background on the process we took to assemble the bill because I know sometimes people get a little concerned about how Christmas trees are put together.

Knapp: “Christmas tree bill” is legislative speak for a bill to which other bills are attached, like Christmas tree ornaments. In this case it was a bunch of landlord-tenant bills, one makes it easier for the victims of domestic violence to get out of leases. Right now, it requires that you have contacted the police or gotten a protection order. This (new bill) means you can contact a women's shelter or other domestic violence nonprofit and that qualifies as a reason to be able to break the lease. And there was also a separate bill, a landlord who wants to enter a property for repair or inspection has to give 24 hours written notice and the notice has to be taped to the apartment door, not just the main door to the building.

And then there was another bill requiring more reporting on evictions, etc. That's why they're it's called a “Christmas tree” although DeBoer suggested calling it something else.

DeBoer: In order to be more seasonally appropriate I think we should call it an Easter basket, rather than a Christmas tree.

Padmore: I want to bring to your attention a bill that I have found interest in. Now I will admit that I do not know much about this bill, other than the preliminary information but this is LB70. And what it would do it would authorize State Athletic Commission to regulate professional kickboxing and professional bare knuckle boxing.

I don't know if you've done any research into Bare Knuckle boxing, I myself have been researching images, since figuring out about this bill, and you know that old black and white picture of the pugilist with his hands up there level. It's like that. But what that picture is missing is the blood and viscera, that comes from the contact of bare knuckle boxing. For whatever reason, this got unanimous approval in the General Affairs Committee for advancement. This is being sponsored or introduced by Senator Justin Wayne of Omaha, and it's also being introduced (endorsed) by a company called Dynasty Combat Sports. There's a story in there, Fred, I need to know more, I need to know who Dynasty Combat Sports is, I need to know why Justin Wayne has taken this up as an issue and I need to get in the ring.

Knapp: Now that you have alerted me to that I'll be keeping an eye on it as well. I did look up, and the last major heavyweight bare knuckle championship was between John L Sullivan and Jake Kilrain on July 8, 1889, but the sport is apparently having a worldwide resurgence.