Update: Gloor's State Services Relocation Bill Stalls in Committee
Both sides are speaking out after a decision from the legislature Wednesday may have squashed hopes of keeping the veterans home in Grand Island.
Senator Mike Gloor's LB935 stalled in committee.
It would require state agencies to submit their relocation proposals costing $15 million or more to the legislature.
The vote by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee was 3 to 4 after the group changed the bill so it applied to future projects, not the controversial veterans home.
"It's really sad to hear because the veterans' voices once again were neglected," said Hall County Veterans Service Officer Don Shuda. "It didn't allow for the veterans, nor the employees, nor the members of the veterans home to have their voice heard."
"I think the people in Kearney really did a great job of testifying and think that committee, in its infinite wisdom, saw our points of view," said Senator Galen Hadley, of Kearney.
Both Shuda and Hadley testified at the hearing on LB935.
Senator Mike Gloor, the bill's author, plans to work with the committee to bring the bill up for a vote again.
If that happens, Gloor's office said it would likely happen during executive session Thursday or next week.
"You never say never in the legislature, but I think this community has spoken," said Hadley. "I think that it's the last we'll hear from it in the Legislature and now Kearney can focus on getting the funding from the federal government to get the project moving forward."
But, Grand Island leaders say they'll do the same.
"The alternate proposal group still meets. We'll plan another meeting next week and move forward," said Shuda.
A question remains at the heart of this debate and it was asked at the committee hearing last week. Why did no one speak up when the process began?
"We trusted John Hilgert, state director of Veterans Affairs. He said that the Grand Island Veterans Home would be built in Grand Island," said Shuda. "How can you not trust a statement from a state director?"
In July, Gov. Dave Heineman announced that the state would build a new, $121 million Central Nebraska Veterans Home in Kearney. The home has been in Grand Island for nearly 127 years.