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In our last full week of session, two of my bills received final passage: LB 519, which cracks down on human trafficking, and LB 593, my priority bill, which protects family farms from Medicaid liens. There was also debate on two major bills, LB 720, a business incentives package, and LB 183, which was originally intended to serve as property tax relief. My position on LB 183 will be the subject of next week’s column; this week, however, I’d like to share my opposition to LB 720’s advancement.
As some of you may know, the Nebraska Advantage Act expires in 2020. This is a tax incentive program to encourage businesses to relocate and grow in Nebraska. Its proposed replacement, ImagiNE Nebraska, was offered this year as LB 720.
I supported this bill in the first stage of floor debate, since it seemed that it could be a vehicle for property tax relief. In the end, that deal fell through, and I voted against LB 720’s advancement for a simple reason: I refuse to prioritize corporate incentives over property tax relief. The people of District 1 have spoken loud and clear throughout session: outrageously high property taxes, not corporate incentives, are the biggest threats to our local businesses. Enough senators joined me in a stand for property taxes to kill LB 720 for this year.
The corporate incentives program provides rural senators a huge bargaining chip with our urban counterparts while we are negotiating for property tax relief during the interim. In years past, we have not had a way to bring urban senators to the table. Combining a business incentives program with property tax relief ensures that everyone in the Legislature has a strong interest in getting behind the final product.
My vote against LB 720 drew some criticism from special interest groups who could have benefitted from the bill’s passage this year. However, I didn’t come to the Legislature to curry favor for special interests; I came here to fight for District 1. The rural senators have to stick together to force our issues to be addressed by the urban majority in the Legislature. On LB 720’s vote, that’s exactly what we accomplished.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.