Bill seeks to fund Nebraska tribal water projects through grant program

Feb. 15, 2024, 6 p.m. ·

Kate Wolfe introduces State Sen. Jane Raybould’s bill to the Natural Resources Committee at a hearing Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Brian Beach/Nebraska Public Media News)

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State Sen. Jane Raybould introduced a bill to allocate state funds to water and sewer systems for tribal communities.

Raybould’s LB1383 would establish Nebraska Tribal Community Assistance Program.

The program would be funded through an initial transfer of $10,000,000 from the Intern Nebraska Cash Fund and provide at least one grant per year — up to $2,000,000 — to tribal water and sewer projects.

At this Thursday’s hearing, Raybould’s aide, Kate Wolfe, said the intern fund has been underutilized.

“Senator Raybould wholeheartedly supports the Intern Nebraska program but feels that when Nebraskans have lived for four years without clean drinking water like our citizens on the Santee Sioux reservation have, we should leave no stone unturned,” Wolfe said.

Judi gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, testified in favor of the bill and responded to a question about federal funding for the project.

“Sometimes I always feel like it’s a little bit unfair when I get asked these questions about ‘Can’t the tribes just get this from the federal government?’ Well, the state gets a lot of money from the federal government,” she said.

A total of four proponents testified in favor of the bill, with none in opposition.