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On January 4th, the 108th Nebraska Legislature convened for its first regular session. This
legislative session is in full swing, and we are nearly through the bill introduction period!
One of my bills introduced this session is LB 213, a major economic development bill for
District 1 and all of rural Nebraska. This bill targets villages and cities of the second class, which
include any community or city under 5,000 residents. This bill makes 2 changes: lowers the
match from .5:1 to .25:1 for Rural Workforce Housing and expands the Mainstreet Revitalization
Act specifically for communities under 5,000 residents.
Rural Workforce Housing provides grants for the construction of workforce housing. Right now,
RWHF grants require 50% of the RWHF award in matching funds such as dollars contributed by
individuals, businesses, political subdivisions, etc. into a single investment fund administered by
the eligible nonprofit development organization. With this change, this match would be lowered
to 25% for communities under 5,000 residents. With this bill, Nebraskans in smaller rural
communities will be put on a more level playing field with the larger communities that are able
to reach the percentage of matching funds easier.
Additionally, the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act, which without the
passage of LB 213, this program would cease to exist this year. LB 213 would create a credit
against Nebraska income tax for investment in the rehabilitation of historic buildings or
buildings that contribute to a historic district. State historic tax credits have been shown to be
effective at promoting both economic growth and historic preservation in small communities.
Such credits are available in more than 30 states, most notably in the states bordering Nebraska.
Both parts of LB 213 were inspired by my summer tour of every community in District 1. Every
village and town had at least a handful of highly-motivated people who wanted to grow and
improve their hometown. I pointed them toward our current rural development programs, but
these programs are built to serve larger cities in rural areas with a full-time economic
development director and strong private investment. Our smallest towns most in need of these
programs are constantly left out because they don’t have the private money for a match or they
can’t take time off their full-time job for an application that is going to a larger town anyway. I’m
working to fix this with LB 213.
As your State Senator, I am committed to crafting and supporting bills that help promote the
economic development of rural communities in Southeast Nebraska. With this said, I am also
working on crafting legislation that seeks to address rural clean water accessibility and cut more
unfunded mandates. Stay tuned!
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.
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