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Week 14 of the 2nd session of the 105th Legislature consisted of legislative days 53 through 56.
All of us in the District 16 office at the Capitol hope you enjoyed a wonderful Easter weekend. We returned to business on Tuesday, April 3 and took the final step of passing the Appropriations Committee’s budget on Final Reading, advancing it to the Governor to sign. I believe we enacted a relatively simple budget. It is rare for the Governor not to exercise the line-item veto to delete or reduce individual spending items. It speaks to the agreement between the Legislature and the Governor on the need for spending restraint that Governor Ricketts signed the budget intact.
Also on Tuesday, LB 947, a property and income tax relief bill brought by Sen. Smith on behalf of the Governor, timed out after three hours of debate and encountering a filibuster by certain senators who oppose the bill. Property tax relief, specifically addressing the disproportionate rise in ag land taxes, is an issue I have worked on my entire time in service to District 16. Passing LB 947 is a necessary and responsible step toward bringing tax relief to Nebraskans and creating the conditions needed for growth and financial stability. Without raising taxes, LB 947 calls for an initial 12% tax credit for ag land owners, increasing the credits 2% each year up to 30% by 2031. Future legislators have the ability to introduce legislation that offers more immediate property tax relief once our economy improves and the cash reserve is rebuilt.
Over the weekend a group of six senators met to discuss their various proposals for property tax relief, attempting to come to an agreement on how to implement a plan. Those talks fell short of such agreement. The senators had too many differences in how to incorporate revenue generation, school funding changes, or revenue growth into their property tax solution.
We did advance a number of bills including a bill to keep information regarding firearm registration and possession private, a bill to create a definition and provisions for bottle clubs, and a bill to replace the statues representing Nebraska in the United States Capitol. Statues of William Jennings Bryan and J. Sterling Morton would be replaced with statues of Willa Cather and Chief Standing Bear.
Debate on Wednesday and Thursday centered on only a few bills. LB 389 would permit wireless providers to utilize public spaces for placement and installation of small cell wireless facilities. These facilities would provide much needed 5G capabilities to rural areas through cost-effective means. Small cell wireless facilities can be easily deployed and require minimal infrastructure investment as they utilize existing infrastructure in the cities and villages they are placed in. The bill failed to move on to the next round of debate.
Also of note were a few bills central to our participation in the democratic process of the United States government. A constitutional amendment introduced by Senator Murante to require voter identification, a bill to permit the use of electronic poll books, and a bill relating to a potential convention of states were all debated on the floor Thursday. These bills all relate to a civic process that our nation is less and less familiar with and less and less involved in as the years go by. I believe that we, the people, will always hold the power and ability to right wrongs we see in our systems of government. That is why my priority bill to change provisions relating to committees on Americanism and require a civics test in our schools is so very important
In constituent news, I was happy to sit down with a group of FFA students from District 16 for breakfast Friday. It was great to see and speak with so many students invested in the future of agriculture from our district.
Please contact me; my Administrative Aide, Courtney McClellen; my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell; or the Agriculture Committee Research Analyst, Rick Leonard, with questions or concerns at (402) 471-2728, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit my office, Room 1022, in the Capitol. If you would like to follow the Legislature online please visit netnebraska.org and click on the “Live & On Demand” button or simply follow this link http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government