The Iron Chancellor
Dead guy, Otto von Bismarck said, “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” Quaint. We can all agree that Otto was not a handsome man, but he was blessed with a truly enormous set of eyebrows.
And what does Otto have to do with the legislative process in the Unicameral? Perhaps, he embodies “those senators” who seek recognition, affirmation, a camera or headline. Anyone come to mind?
Fortunately, the Nebraska Legislature is packed with standup citizen representatives. Ideologically, they may have differences, but their eyebrows are in the right place.
Segue to property taxes. Own a home? WalletHub says we have the 45th highest residential property tax in the country. Ag land property taxes? Otto says, “Wir sind die Nummer Eins!” Property tax relief was the TOP issue on the campaign trail. Yet, business groups continue to push for lower income taxes and business incentives, while funding for education continues to increase.
Examples of agricultural land property tax increases from 2007 to 2017: Washington County +267%; Cass +244%; Saunders +243% and Lancaster +254%. Property tax increases on residential property are high, but not even in Otto’s Empire as Ag land: Sarpy +46%; Madison +35%; Buffalo +55%; Dawes +41% and Lancaster +34%. Can you blame farmers and homeowners for feeling oppressed? Oppressed may have just crossed the Ottoman Line.
Three bills (LB314, LB497 and LB677) are genuine attempts to reduce the burden on property owners. They will be introduced in the Revenue Committee on Valentine’s Day. The introducers are not about making headlines, or Medisterpølser. Refreshingly, they simply want fair tax policy.
Committee hearings this week:
- LB227 (Agriculture) Redefines terms and changes determination of a public or private nuisance under the Nebraska Right to Farm Act.
- LB371 (Transportation & Telecommunications) Expands provisions for ATV’s and UTV’s regarding controlled access highways and licensure for operators.
- LR5CA (Education) Constitutional amendment to limit the percentage of funding for schools that comes from property taxes. No more than 33% shall come from property taxes.
- LB182 (Revenue) A school board of any school district may impose a local option income surtax for property tax reduction; or building construction, remodeling, and site acquisition.
- LB276 (Revenue) Changes provisions relating to the taxation of income from certain small business corporations and limited liability companies.