61-403. Department of Natural Resources; powers and duties; legislative intent; contract proposals; selection of land; conflict-of-interest provisions.

(1) The Department of Natural Resources is granted all power necessary to carry out the purposes of the Jobs and Economic Development Initiative Act, including, but not limited to, the power to:

(a) Purchase, sell, or lease land;

(b) Enter into contracts, including, but not limited to, contracts relating to the provision of construction services, management services, legal services, auditor services, and other consulting services or advice as the department may require in the performance of its duties; and

(c) Enter into agreements with natural resources districts to accomplish the purposes of the act. In any such agreement, a natural resources district may use the full powers granted to it by law.

(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that the department engage private parties and entities to construct and develop the lake and enter into contracts or public-private partnerships that the department deems advantageous to the construction and development of the lake, and land adjacent thereto, and to advance the purposes of the act.

(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department shall give preference to:

(a) Contract proposals relating to the development or management of the lake from a Nebraska nonprofit corporation whose board of directors include at least four directors who are appointed by the Governor with the approval of a majority of the Legislature, one representative of the Game and Parks Commission who is a nonvoting, ex officio member of such board of directors, and one member of the Legislature who is appointed by the Executive Board of the Legislative Council and who is a nonvoting, ex officio member of such board of directors. All such directors must agree to be bound by the conflict-of-interest provisions in sections 49-1493 to 49-14,104. Any such nonprofit corporation shall be bound by the Open Meetings Act and sections 84-712 to 84-712.09 and shall publicly let contracts valued in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars; and

(b) Contract proposals which provide for a public-private partnership with the state in constructing, developing, or managing the lake.

(4) The department is granted authority to select the land upon which the lake will be built. In making such selection, the following shall apply:

(a) The land shall be located in or near a county having a population of at least one hundred thousand but not more than three hundred thousand inhabitants and within the flood plain or floodway of the Platte River;

(b) Preference shall be given to locations that were materially underwater when the Platte River flooded in 2019;

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the lake be at least three thousand six hundred surface acres in size;

(d) No dam shall be constructed on the main channel of the Platte River in order to construct the lake; and

(e) No city or village, or any part thereof, shall be flooded in order to construct the lake.

(5) The department is granted authority to designate the land selected for the lake under subsection (4) of this section, and land near or adjacent thereto, as the Lake Development District.

(6) The department may, in the performance of its duties, seek input and advice from any natural resources district that encompasses any of the area included in the Lake Development District.

(7) It is the intent of the Legislature that the department engage local stakeholders as the department carries out its duties under this section.

(8) The land selected for the lake shall be owned by the state, and the department shall ensure that the general public has complete access to the lake. No private entity involved in the constructing, developing, or managing of the lake shall designate any portion of the lake for exclusively private use. Nothing in this subsection shall preclude reasonable limitations on the number of people using the lake, a marina, or any other access point so long as such limitation does not restrict access to a designated class of private parties.

(9) Neither the Director of Natural Resources nor any employee of the Department of Natural Resources shall have a financial interest, either personally or through an immediate family member, in any purchase, sale, or lease of real property relating to the construction or development of the lake or in any contract entered into by the department relating to the construction, development, or management of the lake. For purposes of this subsection, immediate family member means a spouse, child, sibling, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.

Source:Laws 2022, LB1023, ยง 3.
Effective Date: April 19, 2022

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