Death & Taxes
Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and change. You can’t avoid change, it’s mandatory. Progress however is optional.” – Unknown
Sen. Chambers introduced LB44, his latest attempt to abolished the death penalty. In 2015, the senator passed legislation, then overrode the Governor’s veto, to repeal capital punishment. That victory was short-lived as Nebraska voters overwhelmingly restored the death sentence in 2016.
LB44 floor debate was mundane and the death of LB44 was apparent from the opening filibuster speech. Democrats eventually accounted for all 17 votes to repeal. Three more party members were conveniently absent during roll call. Not to imply that state senators seeking reelection have ever ducked a tough vote.
Nebraska property taxes are Top 5 in the nation. Go Big Red! Fortunately, this Revenue Committee is actually serious about helping property owners. Time is at a premium in this session, so Chairwoman Linehan pulled an Izzy Mandelbaum (“It’s go time!”) and convened three committees (Revenue, Retirement and Education) for the Mother Of All Hearings. The house was a rockin’ for six and one-half hours as 16 senators engaged fifty testifiers (most opposed) about the merits of the Linehan/Grone Plan. Meanwhile, scads of caring and compassionate special interest supporters sat eagerly in the hearing room in their skinny pants and silly socks wearing Save Our (insert cause) lapel pins.
The Linehan/Groene plan is complicated. Generally it would shift more of the responsibility for funding K-12 education away from property taxes and onto new revenue from expanded sales taxes. Some testifiers suggested that local government could reduce spending. School superintendents recorded their names for in-school indoctrination. There is no easy answer, but the right people are working on a reasonable solution.
It’s time to adjust your ride height. The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board met for the final time this session. These are the folks who predict Nebraska’s economic outlook. They say that state tax revenue will increase by $55 million from now to June 30, 2021. Weirdly, $45 million will be collected by June 30 of this year. For the next two years (7/1/19 to 6/30/21) the increase is only $10 million. Wish there was something clever to say about that.
Wednesday is the 70th day of this 90-day session. It’s the deadline for the Appropriations Committee to submit a budget proposal to the Legislature. The Legislature must pass a balanced budget by Day 80, or all members will be relegated to wearing skinny jeans and silly socks.
NeABA Bills in Play
- LB184 (Friesen) Creates the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act for the next generation of wireless communications – 5G
- LB303 (Lindstrom) Would transfer $51 million each year from the General Fund to the Property Tax Credit Fund
- LB227 (Hughes) Nuisance bill. If a farming operation existed prior to changes in surrounding land use remains unchanged a farm or warehouse could retain right-to-farm protections for changes to the farming operation or public grain warehouse operations. A farm or warehouse shall not be found to be a nuisance if reasonable measures are employed to minimize dust, odors, etc. and the farm or grain warehouse complies with applicable laws and regulations, including zoning; and there is no significant change in the operation, the farm or warehouse has been in operation more than 1 year and was not a nuisance when it began.
Approved by the Governor
- LB243 (Gragert) Creates the Healthy Soils Task Force to develop a comprehensive healthy soils initiative, and an action plan to carry out the initiative using specified standards as measures to assess improved soil health. With the assistance from outside resources, the task force shall examine how to provide farmers with research, education, technical assistance, and demonstration projects; examine options for financial incentives to improve soil health; and examine the contribution of livestock to soil health. The task force is to create a timeline to improve soil health within 5 years after completion of the action plan. The task force shall submit its action plan, as well as their findings and recommendations, by January 1, 2021. There are two slots on the committee for agribusiness members.
- LB284 (McCollister) Internet sales tax collection bill requires remote sellers (those without a physical presence in the state) and/or “marketplace facilitators” to collect and remit sales tax beginning July 1, 2019 if their gross revenue from sales into the state exceed $100,000, and sales into the state exceed 200 or more separate transaction in the same time period.
- LB320 (Albrecht) Brings provisions of the Pesticide Act into alignment with revisions to the Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule, which establishes standards for state programs to certify persons applying restricted use pesticides (RUPs), training/competency to be demonstrated by applicators to obtain certification and licensure, and related record keeping. The revisions increase Federal applicator certification program standards, enhance pesticide safety training and standards for supervision of noncertified applicators, and establish a minimum age requirement for noncertified applicators using RUPs under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. States have until March, 2020 to submit to EPA revised certification plans that comply with the updated rule requirements.