Tragically, two coronavirus-related deaths have occurred in Nebraska. One each in Douglas and Hall Counties. More than 100 confirmed cases are reported statewide. According to the latest US Census Bureau, approximately 1,934,306 Nebraskans have not tested for or contracted COVID-19. Let’s keep it that way!
The Legislature convened last week to pass LB 1198 that includes an $83.6 million appropriation from the cash reserve to fight this pandemic. The debate was blessedly brief, which was difficult for a few senators of the chatty persuasion.
- $38.2M – local health departments for protective gear and supplies
- $25M – unobligated funds for unforeseen future needs
- $13M – staffing at veterans’ homes and state DHHS care facilities
- $4M – staffing and overtime for DHHS Division of Public Health
- $3.01M – UNMC lab equipment, personnel, software/programming, and COVID-19 testing
- $344k – statewide communication system for response efforts
Speaker Scheer suspended the legislative session, with sixteen legislative days remaining. He will determine when it’s safe to reconvene. Have no doubt the Legislature will resume this year to pass the budget, and many priority bills already staged for debate.
The most significant would be property tax relief. The original package, LB 947, was jelly on a canned ham. When opened five weeks ago, most schools and their senators rejected it because of the taste. That ham has been aging in a seasoned Tupperware Vent & Serve and will be amended into LB 1106. Who knows if the aging process is enough to garner 33 votes.
The Speaker is holding LB 720, the ImagiNE Act business incentive bill on Select File since last year, waiting for a resolution to property tax relief. The current Nebraska Advantage Act expires on December 31. A $300 million bill for UNMC (LB 1084) will be amended into LB 720 when the time is right, so COVID-19 or not; LB 720 will be debated this year.
Now wash your hands, keep your distance and be wary of those Zoom Bombers.
LB803 (Hughes) MONITOR – SPEAKER PRIORITY BILL
- Creates a new promotional checkoff program for pulse crops, including dry peas, lentils, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, faba beans, and lupine. The bill also expands a waiver of a distance limitation for overweight/oversize vehicles transporting crops to include pulse crops.
LB1084 (Kolterman / MONITOR)
- The Nebraska Transformational Project Act would provide $300 million in state funding to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for their NExT Project. Before receiving $300 million, UNMC must show the economic impact to Nebraska is at least $2.7 billion during the planning and construction period and at least $4.9 billion over ten years.
- NExT Project has two components: a state of the art academic medical center facility and a federal all-hazard disaster response military and civilian partnership.
LB1159 (Stinner) SUPPORT
- Extends the initial training period for a noncertified pesticide applicator from 60 to 120 days prior to obtaining an initial commercial or noncommercial applicator license. The bill also authorizes unlimited exam attempts for the noncertified applicator during that training period.
Held In Committee
LB919 (Wayne / MONITOR)
- Hemp cultivator, processor-handler, and broker license and renewal applications shall only be denied if they are incomplete or deficient, including for nonpayment of the required application and registration fees, or if the applicant does not meet minimum qualifications.
LB946 (Briese / MONITOR)
- The bill lowers the sales tax rate and eliminates exemptions on services. Service includes all activities that are engaged in for other persons for a consideration and that involve predominantly the performance of a service as distinguished from selling or leasing tangible personal property.
Failed to Advance
LB974 (Linehan) MONITOR – REVENUE COMMITTEE PRIORITY BILL
- A complex property tax reduction and school funding bill. As amended by AM2433, the bill would reduce property taxes as a significant source of funding for K-12 education. Unless expressly exempt:
- Real property would be valued at 95% of actual value for the tax year 2020, 91% in the tax year 2021, and 86% in 2022 and after that.
- Agricultural and horticultural land would be valued at 65% of actual value in the tax year 2020, for purposes of taxes levied by a school district and 75% of actual value for taxes levied by other political subdivisions.
- Agricultural and horticultural land would be valued at 60% of actual value in the tax year 2021, for purposes of taxes levied by a school district and 75% of actual value for taxes levied by other political subdivisions.
- Agricultural and horticultural land would be valued at 55% of actual value in the tax year 2022, and each tax year after that, for purposes of taxes levied by a school district and 75% of actual value for taxes levied by other