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The 2013 session is well underway, with 655 bills introduced for consideration by the Legislature. The Legislature has been meeting on the floor in the mornings, while afternoons are occupied with committee assignments. March 21 is the last day for committee hearings, and the Legislature will then begin full-day floor debate.
Among the 655 bills, were two bills introduced on the behalf of Governor Heineman that would have significantly reformed the way Nebraska collects taxes. Last month, Governor Heineman pulled the legislation, instead ordering a study of the state’s tax system over the next year. I’m disappointed the 2013 session will not bring a solution for comprehensive tax reform in Nebraska, but I’m encouraged by the prospect of the study. As an employer, I see first-hand the burden personal income taxes place on our families, and I believe Nebraska needs to be more competitive with respect to taxes.
On February 26, my Learning Community bill was heard before the Education Committee. While there have been multiple bills brought before the Legislature to address the Learning Community, including one to eliminate it (LB 178, which I co-sponsored), LB 585 addresses its deficiencies without calling for its elimination. Instead, the bill reduces the size of its government, reduces transportation costs, and reduces levy authority, saving taxpayers money. I believe this bill is an acceptable compromise and has a reasonable chance of being debated by the full Legislature this session.
I’m pleased that LB 225 is awaiting Final Reading before the Legislature. LB 225 requires all newborns in the state to be screened for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD). CCHD is one of the leading causes of newborn morbidity and death, and early detection is key to getting infants with CCHD the care that is necessary. I generally do not support government mandates, but requiring screening for CCHD will save the state money in the long run and, most importantly, will save lives.
Much work has been done already this session, and I anticipate more accomplishments in the next several weeks. I continue to appreciate your emails and phone calls as the Legislature takes on the issues that matter to you.