Nevada Farm Bureau Newsletter For Jan. 25, 2019
Farm Bureau Economist Offer Their Crystal Ball Outlook Summary For 2019
During the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) 100th year annual meeting an information conference featuring the organization’s economic team offered their perspective on the developments taking shape. This link provides that overview. Their report covered the full scope of agricultural economic details, putting trade and tariffs into the context of their outlook for major commodity sectors.
Congressman Amodei Receives Friend Of Farm Bureau Award
Nevada’s 2nd District Congressman Mark Amodei recently received the “Friend of Farm Bureau” Award for the 115 Session of Congress. The award is presented on the basis of support of favorable votes on legislation in the two years of the Congressional Session. The procedure for consideration is based on notifying members of Congress through a letter regarding the position that Farm Bureau has taken on a bill that will be coming up for a vote. Congressman Amodei’s voting aligned with Farm Bureau’s positions over 90 percent of the time on the key votes. This isn’t the first time Congressman Amodei has been awarded this recognition. He also earned the award in each of the sessions he has served in Congress (112, 113 and 114 sessions).
Quest Commentary On Southern Nevada Water Pipeline
Kyle Roerink, Executive Director for the Great Basin Water Network, recently wrote and shared this commentary article, which has also been published in the Review Journal. Nevada Farm Bureau is a member of the Great Basin Water Network and is involved with the on-going process of protecting rural water interests from major water resources being transferred to the Las Vegas Valley. His article is entitled… “Governor Steve Sisolak has an opportunity on state water policy”
The 2018 election cycle was unlike any other for water politics in Nevada.
The top candidates for governor wisely denounced the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plan to build a 300-mile, $15.5 billion pipeline to siphon 58 billion gallons of water annually from the heart of the Great Basin in rural eastern Nevada to Las Vegas.
The announcements — from Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and his opponent, Republican Adam Laxalt — signified a watershed moment in Nevada politics. Opposition to the pipeline project, which at one time had the unquestioning support of the state’s political elites, was the go-to choice on the gubernatorial campaign trail in this election cycle.
The election may be over, but the battle over the pipeline continues, as our drought-stricken aquifers and reservoirs shrink. Sisolak, who served on the water authority board during his time as a Clark County commissioner, is no stranger to the acrimony associated with Nevada water law.
Historically speaking, Sisolak’s opposition to the pipeline puts him in good company. The late Gov. Mike O’Callaghan, who was out of office when the authority first started implementing its plans for an eastern Nevada water grab, used his bully pulpit as the executive editor of the Las Vegas Sun to condemn the project in 1989 and then again shortly before he died in 2004.
Seven years later, the Bureau of Land Management concluded that the pipeline would destroy 305 springs, 112 miles of streams, 8,000 acres of wetlands and 191,000 acres of shrubland habitat. The implications of that study are damning. Great Basin National Park, as well as multiple national forest lands, national wildlife refuges and sacred indigenous cultural sites in the region, would be seriously harmed. At least 20 threatened or endangered species would be imperiled. Businesses — from ranchers and farmers to restaurant owners and recreational outfitters — would be jeopardized.
We know something must be done. Climate change has shrunk the Colorado River’s flow by 15 percent during the past 100 years. Nearly one-third of Nevada’s 256 groundwater basins have more appropriated rights to water than water that is actually available. Our state’s population and business community — with their inherent thirst for water — continue to increase.
But with great controversy comes great opportunity. As governor, Sisolak can ensure the pipeline is recognized once and for all as the mirage it always has been and that the Southern Nevada Water Authority shifts its efforts to truly viable and sustainable projects.
For starters, the governor recently selected Tim Wilson as a temporary replacement for the state’s top water regulator, retiring State Engineer Jason King. As Sisolak searches for a long-term regulator, he must keep this in mind: The new state engineer will make decisions on the pipeline and other issues that will have long-lasting effects. All candidates for the position must be willing to deny the authority water rights applications for the pipeline project because they would harm senior rights holders and cause grave damage to the environment in violation of Nevada law.
Next, the governor must be ready to oppose and potentially veto any legislation that would fundamentally alter sound, long-standing bedrock principles of Nevada water law and facilitate the pipeline along with other unsustainable water grabs. Assembly Bill 30, which would encourage and continue irresponsible over-appropriation of water, is a bill that must go by the wayside this upcoming session in order to protect the tenets of Nevada water law that have served this state for more than a century.
Lastly, Sisolak must continue to advocate for desalination. Whether he calls upon the Legislature or orders his administration to take action, the state must investigate the potential for collaborative, solar-powered desalination projects with California and Mexico to reduce the burden on the Colorado River and provide additional water for Southern Nevada.
Prudent, holistic and sustainable water resource management will uphold our principles and protect the rights of current and future residents. In this case, it also would ensure that an incoming governor keeps his campaign promise.
Farm Bureau Supported Tax Legislation For Health Insurance Is Introduced In U.S. Senate
Two bills to deal with the Health Insurance Tax have been introduced in the U.S. Senate. S. 80, a bipartisan proposal, calls for the permanent repeal of the HIT Tax and is sponsored by Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, Krysten Sinema of Arizona and Cory Gardner of Colorado.
S. 172 is also a bipartisan proposal and seeks to extend the current exemption to fiscal years 2020 and 202. This bill is introduced with the sponsorship of Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Doug Jones of Alabama, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Krysten Sinema of Arizona
Most farmers and ranchers and other small businesses cannot self-insure because they do not have a large enough pool of employees. Instead, they purchase health insurance for themselves, their families and their employees on the fully insured market. The Health Insurance Tax (HIT), enacted as part of the Affordable Care, is levied on health insurance companies who operate in the fully insured marketplace and is directly passed on to individuals and small businesses who purchase their own insurance.
The current moratorium covers the collection of the HIT Tax during 2019 but the HIT will collectively add an estimated $16 billion to the cost of coverage for individuals, small businesses, families and Medicare Advantage seniors in 2020. This works out to an average $500 in added health insurance premiums per family.
A copy of the letter of support for S. 80, by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall is attached here and might provide you with a start for your own communication with Nevada’s two Senators, seeking them to sign on as co-sponsors. This link will provide you with the portal for communicating with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and this link will provide you with the opportunity to email Dara Cohen, Senator Jacky Rosen’s chief of staff. The current email system for Senator Rosen has not been put in place at this writing.
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