The second session of the One-Hundred and Fourth Legislature is underway and we are busy debating bills that carried over from the 2015 session and introducing new legislation for consideration this year. The second session of the two-year legislative biennium is only 60 days compared to the longer, 90-day first session and while there isn’t as much time to consider legislation, there are still significant issues facing the state that warrant thoughtful deliberation.
Given the time constraints, each senator will be concentrating much of his or her efforts on bills he or she believes should be enacted sooner than later in order to have the greatest positive impact. For me, that bill will be LB 960, the Transportation Innovation Act. Nebraska’s transportation infrastructure is critical to the welfare of our state and its citizens. A safe and functional transportation system is essential to move our children to school and our workers to jobs and our products to market. For the past several years, we have been putting most of our concentration on simply maintaining our existing roads. A statewide expressway system initiated and promised 30 years ago has yet to be completed and Nebraska ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to deficient bridges.
LB 960 would establish a Transportation Infrastructure Bank to provide funding to accelerate completion of the expressway system and create a county bridge match program to promote the repair and replacement of deficient bridges. In addition, the bill would establish an economic opportunity program within the Nebraska Department of Roads to provide funding for transportation projects that will result in new businesses and expansion of existing businesses. Initial funding for the Infrastructure bank will come from the state’s cash reserve and the bank will be replenished by funds currently flowing to the Department Roads. LB 960 is a collaborative effort between the Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee and Governor Pete Ricketts. I am pleased to have the opportunity to sponsor this ground-breaking legislation and moving it forward.
Other measures I have introduced this session include the following:
LB 739 – eliminate the common levy imposed on members of the Learning Community;
LB 812 – exempt custom software used by businesses from the sales tax, bringing Nebraska in line with most states in the country;
LB 912 – require individuals labeled as inactive voters to provide identification prior to voting;
LB 913 – allow for the adoption of the Business Rapid Response to State Declared Disasters Act;
LB 938 – allow for the adoption of the 911 Service System Act to modernize our emergency system; and
LB 977 – provide axel weight exemptions for agriculture vehicles and machinery.
While many of the measures I have introduced are a necessary responsibility for me as chairman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, I will still be actively involved in a number of issues. In particular, I will continue to push for tax relief for all Nebraskans. Last year, I introduced LB 357, which cuts both individual and business income tax rates and increases funding to the Property Tax Relief fund. LB 357 is currently being held by the Revenue Committee and I am diligently working to advance the measure to the full Legislature for consideration. I look forward to the work ahead and to serving my constituents as we decide the policies of importance to Nebraska.