Long as God Can Grow It
Like a house guest who overstays his welcome, Acrimony languished in the George Norris Chamber for the legislative session’s final three days. Short tempers and sensitive feelings don’t make for good lawmaking, but senators completed the Speaker’s agenda.
Despite distractions from COVID and the economic downturn, senators stepped up to provide more property tax relief to Nebraskans, and a substantial economic development incentive package for businesses. Bravo senators!
Custom has it that each senator who will not return next year shall be lavished with praise by a colleague on the Legislature floor. Custom also has it that each outgoing senator is afforded time to sing his/her praises. The standard five-minute time limit was sorely missed.
The Governor vetoed LB 1060 after the Legislature adjourned for the year (pocket veto). The bill would add hair texture and protective hairstyles (such as braids, locks, and twists) to the definition of race. Governor Ricketts said LB 1060 is not a race issue and would inhibit employers from establishing safe grooming standards. He identified food handlers and machinery operators.
Wasn’t hair already a thing? For everyone? In the ’60s? Employers grumbled, and parents convulsed because their children looked like unkempt crazy hippies. Adults discriminated. Kids grew up. They all got over it.
- Congratulations, Speaker Jim Scheer, for successfully hearing cats.
- In 2021, the retired military can exclude half of their benefit pay from state income tax.
- Must be 21 to use and purchase tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or alternative nicotine products.
- Columbus Day is now also Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
- Encouraged expansion of broadband internet service in underserved and unserved areas.
- Created a state Commission on African American Affairs.
- Two members of the Legislature must be present at an execution.
That’s it for the year folk.
Approved by the Governor
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.
Some Provisions Amended Into LB 1107
LB1107 (Scheer) Creates a new business tax incentive program, the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.
- Requires the state to provide matching funds for a potential academic hospital and all-hazards disaster response facility at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
- Provides a refundable income tax credit that would be based on the amount an eligible taxpayer paid in property taxes to their school district during the previous year. For calendar year 2020, the total amount of credits would be $125 million. For the following three years, that amount could increase based on growth in the state’s net tax receipts and the level of its cash reserve. The credit cap would be $375 million for 2024. For each year after that, the total amount of credits would be $375 million plus an allowable growth percentage equal to the growth in real property value.
- Ensures that the state’s cash reserve could not drop below $500 million after any transfer of funds to the new program, Linehan said.
- 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.
- Retains the state’s annual $275 contribution to the Property Tax Credit Fund and sets this amount as the fund minimum. Distribution to property taxpayers is based on the value of their property.
- Year 1: Creates another $125 million Property Tax Credit Fund. Distribution to taxpayers would be based on property taxes paid.
- Year 2: Adds new tax revenue that exceeds 3.5% growth in the state budget (up to $125 million) to the new PTCF.
- Year 3: Any unappropriated revenue from the prior year that exceeds 3.5% growth (up to $125 million), carries over to the next year.
- The goal is to grow the Property Tax Credit Fund to $650 million.
- Potential revenue from the racetrack gambling ballot initiative would add to the fund.
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.
LB974 (Linehan) MONITOR
- 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 others.
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