Creating Solutions Together

Smarts and Insurgents

Last week’s floor debate was mostly noise. Not to be critical of all noise. Just the chest-thumping, nose-twerking, bruised-ego kind of adult noise that entertains political wonks on public television and does little to move policy forward.

Think about it as a school bus of fourth graders. Speaker Scheer is a seasoned bus driver. Not much phases him and he is very good at keeping the bus (loaded with kids and bills) between the broken white line and the ditch.

Behind him are the Smarts. These are the kids who patiently sit in the front of the bus with their teachers. Hands folded, eyes wide, discussing their futures. Or, at least fifth grade. Smarts are apple-polishers! The Legislature has fourteen Standing Committee Smarts (Chairs) who have learned their craft and earned the right to manage the flow of bills from committees to the bus driver.

Now, look over your shoulder. Insurgents! Thirty-four of them. They have little to do, so they are bored and loud. They are disruptive. Those with beards have been there since 2013. Most aspire to be a Smart, and in 2021, a few will actually move to the front of the bus. Until then, they are Insurgents who turn up the noise, while pulling gum from their hair and licking the bus windows.

Eleven Insurgents are “News”. Nationwide, there are unwritten bus rules for News. 1) keep your mouth shut; 2) pay attention, 3) watch for flying objects. Several News missed that bulletin and simply pop up to tell us all about their feelings. Feelings! Like the bus driver, Smarts, Knuckleheads and other News care about feelings? These are Insurgents for life.

Anyway, last week was a dud. This week may be more of the same. Monday is Day 55. Rumor has it, Smart Lou Ann Linehan, chair of the Revenue Committee, will kick out her plan(s) for tax relief and funding the budget by April 15. Contrary to news reports and flyers in coffee shops, sales tax on food is not on her list.

The Appropriations Committee received good news. March tax receipts were up and preliminary costs for statewide disaster recovery may be less that first thought.

The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board meets April 25 to stick their wet fingers in the air and predict state revenues for the next biennium. A week later, the Appropriations Committee will deliver their proposed budget to the body.

But, these are only rumors heard in the back of the bus.

NeABA Bills In Play

General File

  • 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.

Select File

  • 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.

Final Reading

  • 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.

Approved by the Governor

  • 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.


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