Schumacher

Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus

Behold the new city.

It's far from reality now. But the most forward-thinking senator in the Nebraska Legislature asked aloud Wednesday, why not?

Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus presented his proposal (LR269CA) at a Judiciary Committee hearing, "an avant-garde approach to the new global economy" he's been daydreaming publicly about for several years now.

In the more than seven years he's been in the Legislature, he's come to the conclusion that Nebraska is "going nowhere fast," he said, because it lacks critical mass.

This idea, tempting major enterprises that might be attracted by the prospect of no city or state taxes and no local or state regulations, would provide the kind of spunk that ignites the minds of young people who can make it work, he said.

Schumacher's resolution would delegate complete or partial sovereignty for up to 99 years to a 36-square-mile area with a density of 10 people per square mile.

The area identified in western Nebraska has potential access to:

  • A gigawatt of electric power generation and transmission facilities and Tier 1 fiber-optic connectivity;
  • Doorstep accessibility to locally produced organic grains and meats and unlimited potable water drawn from the largest aquifer on the planet;
  • Railroad rights of way and a triangle of economic power bordered by Interstates 25, 76 and 80;
  • A bullet train speeding to and from a major international airport and the Rocky Mountains.

"What if we put all those forces together?" he said. "And the forces that we put together are the forces of the future? We ride the wave, rather than try to stand in the way of the wave."

It would take a huge investment from a multinational corporation that would be attracted by self-government, self-taxation and self-regulation, he said.

The resolution doesn't explain the who, what, when, where and how of creating this future city because of the requirement to stick to a single subject on amendments to the Nebraska Constitution, he said. That would be up to the Legislature if the people voted their approval of the idea.

Schumacher said he brought the resolution because he wants a discussion in the Legislature about the "real situation that our state is in," he said.

No proponents showed up at the hearing, but several opponents did, two of them representatives of Gambling with the Good Life who were concerned about the vagueness of the resolution and worried that Schumacher's city of the future would include expanded gambling.

Another opponent, Loretta Fairchild, said the committee should beware of simple solutions to complex problems.

"We're nowhere near ready to bring this forward until you look at the complexities in this," she said.

To Sen. Bob Krist's question of whether the city could be accomplished without turning over sovereignty, Schumacher said probably not.

If he were a billionaire investor, he said, he would want enough control to build his own vision.

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