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Another week has flown by at the Legislature with the completion of Day 77 on May 7. There are only 13 session days left, with many major issues remaining on the agenda such as the budget, prison and corrections reform, and property tax relief.
The budget advanced through second round of debate on Wednesday. While much of the debate on the budget may occur during final reading and after line-item vetoes by the Governor, some concerns have been raised. For instance, there was extended discussion regarding an $8 million appropriation to Creighton University for the construction of a dental clinic. The debate focused on whether public tax dollars should be solely disbursed for this private institution. The appropriation was amended to provide eligibility for funding to the University of Nebraska’s dental college as well.
A recent announcement by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board was good news. It was anticipated the Forecasting Board would announce a shortfall in projected tax revenues requiring budget cuts, but instead the Board announced a $12 million increase. Thankfully, the additional revenues were allotted for further property tax relief within the budget.
While the decision to provide increased property tax relief was a prudent move, I remain disappointed by the passage of LB610. LB610 hikes the motor vehicle gas tax by six cents over the next four years. LB610 was advanced to the Governor who immediately vetoed the bill. LB610 needs thirty votes to override the Governor’s veto.
Recently, a few bills I introduced made progress through the legislative process. LB570 expands the authority of cities, villages, and counties to permit the usage of golf car vehicles within their jurisdictions, subject to specific safety requirements.
Additionally, LB569 and LB571 were amended into LB449. LB569 modifies certain provisions of the Business Innovation Act and gives the Department of Economic Development greater flexibility to fund several programs supporting development of Nebraska-based technology and innovation in both rural and urban communities. LB571 provides the Tourism Commission with the discretionary authority to establish highway tourism signage for significant tourism attractions at the request and funding of local, private or public entities. LB449 recently passed final reading and has been presented to the Governor for his signature to become law.
Our office continues monitoring developments in the recent, abrupt decision by Deseret Health Group to close the Logan Valley Manor in Lyons. We are working closely with Senator Al Davis (District 43), whose district has another of Deseret’s nursing homes, Governor Ricketts, Director Phillips of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and other private groups and individuals. On May 8, I stopped by the home in Lyons to speak with staff concerning needs of both residents and staff. Currently only 7 residents await placement to a different facility. All residents continue being well cared for. Residents, family, community and the state are grateful to the wonderful, caring staff who are yet to be paid during the past month. Actions are underway by the Attorney General’s Office to secure funds for wages due to the staff.
Finally, a special thanks to Pastor Coral Parmenter and Reverend Les Parmenter from the Wisner-West Point area who served as Chaplains of the Day, offering beautiful and eloquent prayers over the Legislature and our great State.
As always, please contact me, administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402) 471-2728 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,
Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16