Speaker, Jim Scheer, believes COVID-19 cases in Lincoln and Nebraska have peaked. He intends to resume the 2020 legislative session on July 20 and adjourn Sine Die, August 13.
Many state senators fall into the susceptible old coot category, and they certainly don’t need another reason to worry about dying from the COVID. That is why Speaker Scheer, the Clerk, and the Executive Board Chairman will implement these precautions based on recommendations by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Public Health Department:
- COVID-19 tests offered to senators
- Temperature checks before entering the Norris Chamber.
- Glass doors locked between the Rotunda and the Norris Chamber.
- No media in the Norris Chamber.
- No notes from lobbyists.
- Further distancing for senators in the Norris Chamber.
- Plexiglass shields on senator desks
- Senators encouraged to wear masks.
- Clean the Chamber each night.
- Precautions for lobbyists are yet to be discussed. Ahem.
Several senators wish to change the Rules of the Legislature so they might participate and vote from home via video conference. If the rule change is approved, vote by Barcalounger may become the new normal.
The Speaker intends to focus the remainder of the session on the budget and priority bills. You may recall that March, April, and May tax revenues were in the tank, while year to date tax receipts are right on projections. That picture may become more clear by July 20 when income taxes deferred from April 15 to July 15 will come due.
Property tax relief, business incentives, and expanding the University of Nebraska Medical Center remain top priorities. Scaled-down versions of property tax relief and business incentives bills are possible. A $300 million appropriation to UNMC’s expansion will be paid over time.
Senator priority bills that negatively impact the budget stand to face a good old fashioned Weezer! What’s a Weezer? Remember the band? How about their 2001 song Knock-down Drag-out? Can you recall 2001? Welcome to the world of old coots.
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