LINCOLN — A legislative proposal to allow higher speed limits on Nebraska highways and Interstates made it through the starting gate this week.
The Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee voted 7-1 Monday to advance the speed limit bill. Because it has been designated a priority by State Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, Legislative Bill 1009 will almost certainly receive first-round debate before the session ends in April.
The bill gives the Department of Transportation authority to raise speed limits by 5 mph on many stretches of rural highways, four-lane expressways and Interstate 80. It was introduced by Sen. John Murante of Gretna with strong support from Gov. Pete Ricketts. They argue it will allow businesses to operate more efficiently.
The bill is opposed by safety advocates, who say it will lead to more crashes, injuries and deaths. Representatives of the trucking industry also oppose it, saying it will lead to unsafe speed differentials between their speed-restricted semitrailers and other vehicles.
Voting to advance the measure were Sens. Murante, Hughes, Curt Friesen of Henderson, Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, Tom Briese of Albion, Suzanne Geist and Mike Hilgers, both of Lincoln. Voting against was Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion.