Gang of Eight
As Governor Ricketts and local health departments begin to relax restrictions on social interaction tomorrow, some legislators are eager to wrap-up this legislative session. We know that Speaker Scheer intends to drop the hammer when he does reconvene the body and work those grossly underpaid government servants six days a week. Early money is on late June.
Speaker Scheer has assembled his very own Gang of Eight. He chose senators from the Appropriations and Revenue Committees to craft a way to yes on this session’s three most pressing issues: property tax relief, business incentives (ImagiNE Act), and the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s expansion (NExT). Kudos, Mr. Speaker.
Revenue Committee members are Senators Linehan (Elkhorn / Chair), Briese (Albion), Crawford (Bellevue), and Kolterman (Seward). Appropriations Committee members include Senators Stinner (Gering / Chair), McDonnell (Omaha), Bolz (Lincoln), and Dorn (Adams). To a person, these senators are pragmatic and able negotiators. They face a heavy lift.
- Significant property tax relief has eluded homeowners, commercial businesses, and farmers for a decade. Through the years, minor increases in the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund have turned few heads as significant relief means reducing all property taxes in the range of $250-$500 million a year. K-12 education has a vested interest in keeping property taxes a stable funding source for schools, and they have the ear of many senators.
- The annual $125 million ImagiNE Act stalled last year because several issues were not defined, including an annual cap on spending and a constitutional question regarding the violation of the separation of powers provision. As the matter stands, senators who would rather have lower property taxes than business incentives have stalled the bill.
- A $300 million one-time funding initiative for the UNMC’s NExT expansion project is the least controversial issue of the three. Senators generally support the bill. However, given the unexpected COVID-19 drain on federal funds, the question must be asked, “How committed is the federal government to funding its share of the NExT project?”
God speed, Gang of Eight!
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