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This column covers legislative days 35 through 38.
This week the legislature was especially active. We began the week debating a bill requiring online sellers of goods to collect and remit sales tax and ended the week by passing 33 bills on final reading, including a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate slavery or involuntary servitude. The legislature adjourned Thursday and will reconvene on Tuesday after a long weekend for senators.
LB 384, introduced by Sen. McCollister of Omaha, has been widely accepted by the business community in Nebraska. In fact, there were no opponents of the bill at its public hearing on January 31st. Online retailers with gross revenue of $100,000 a year or over 200 separate transactions would be affected by the bill. As our country’s economy has shifted, so has Nebraska’s. This shift has placed brick-and-mortar retailers at a disadvantage, as they are required to collect sales tax at the point of the sale, but until now, online retailers could essentially choose not to collect those taxes and face little consequence. I want to emphasize that this is not a tax increase. These taxes were already required to be collected by physical stores, this bill simply ensures there is no special treatment given to online retailers.
Heard in the Agriculture Committee this week was LB 304 introduced by Sen. Crawford of Bellevue. The bill helps entrepreneurs or families looking for some extra income by allowing the sale of homemade food products to the public. Currently, many individuals and families are kept out of the marketplace by excessive regulation and inspection requirements. I’ve heard from many constituents about how the bill would bring a little more joy and financial breathing room to their families. I’ve now cosigned the bill and look forward to it passing.
One of the bills passed on Final Reading this week was LB 103, introduced by Sen. Linehan of Omaha. We’re now starting to see small steps towards progress in the fight for property tax relief – and this bill is one of those steps. LB 103 requires political subdivisions to hold public hearings to set their property tax request levies. A hearing is required any time the subdivision would receive property tax dollars in excess of the prior year due to property valuation increases. This change ensures that political subdivisions will not increase property taxes without any input from the public.
LB 103 passed 47-0 with an emergency clause, meaning it was immediately signed by the speaker, presented to the governor, and will take effect as soon as the governor signs it. This is a meaningful step in the right direction towards transparency and tax relief. The legislature’s quick action on this bill makes me optimistic that more progress will be coming as the session rolls on.
As always, you’re welcome to contact my office at (402)-471-2728 to speak with my Administrative Assistant, Ellie Stangl; or my Legislative Aide, Jacob Campbell. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow along with the session please visit nebraskalegislature.gov or you may watch the live stream when available at netnebraska.org