Jupiter aligned with Mars following the Legislature’s four-day recess. With committee hearings in the rearview mirror, the agenda moved to all-day floor debate. And just when no-one was looking, a 49-senator GROUP HUG broke out (followed by the checking of pockets). All seemed right in Unicameral Land.
The mood was unusually collegial and collaborative. Legislation was flying from General File to Select File as fast as those creepy Wizard of Oz flying monkeys flew after poor Dorothy. Committee priority bills, stuffed with up to ten other bills, advanced with little or no discussion. Heck, even opposing viewpoints were debated on the issues, not ideology. Is this kind of comradery sustainable? No. The hurt from Bloody Day One has not been forgiven.
Monday is Day 59 of 90. Expect tensions to pique in a couple weeks when everything turns to money. Sen. Smith, chair of the Revenue Committee, captains the leaky ship “Tax Relief.” as tax revenues continue to fall. Yet, Captain Smith is laying a course that appears to lower both income and property taxes. To reach port he must first navigate the deadly rapids of angry property taxpayer opinion.
Senator Stinner, chair of the Appropriations Committee, has no option but to balance the state budget in the face of those declining revenues. Nebraska’s Economic Forecasting Advisory Board meets April 26 to crystal ball a fiscal projection for the upcoming biennium. Miracles, slight-of-hand and painful budget cuts are all on the table when the proposed budget hits prime time April 21. No kumbaya moments for Smith and Stinner this year.
Four bills on our Tracking Sheet are Prioritized:
- LB 44 (Watermeier) General File. Requires Internet sellers to collect and remit Nebraska sales tax.
- LB 144 (Friesen) In Committee. Change agricultural and horticultural adjusted valuations for calculating state aid to schools.
- LB 173 (Morfeld) General File. Prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.
- LB 276 (Albrecht) Moved to Select File. Change provisions relating to hybrid seed corn definition and labeling.