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This column covers legislative days 63 through 66.
I hope you’re all enjoying the Spring weather, the return of green grass, and the budding and blooming of the trees as we approach the end of April and move into May. Friday, April 26th was recognized as Arbor Day, a day to recognize and support the planting of trees. The first Arbor Day originated in Nebraska City in 1872 and it’s estimated that 1 million trees were planted on that day. Although Arbor Day is recognized as a state holiday, the legislature was still in session, passing bills on final reading, advancing them to the governor for his signature.
The Education, Retirement, and Revenue Committees held a joint hearing for property tax relief on Wednesday, April 24th. The hearing began at 4:00 pm and lasted well into the night. In all, 60 testifiers voiced their support, opposition, or neutral testimony on LB 289 introduced by Senator Linehan. LB 289 has become the primary focus for property tax relief this session, though it and other property tax relief proposals are still held in the Revenue Committee. There has been much discussion amongst senators and in the media about the bill’s intent to raise sales taxes and eliminate sales tax exemptions. Any bill brought out of committee must deliver meaningful and substantial tax relief for Nebraskans. If the Revenue Committee members cannot agree on a bill to do that, it is unlikely that whatever proposal advances will receive enough support on the floor to pass. Though I do not serve on any of the committees involved in the hearing, I watched the entire hearing on NETV. I have decided to withhold judgment on the bill until final changes are made and the language is presented to the full legislature for consideration.
On Thursday, April 25th the legislature debated a bill that would eliminate the death penalty in Nebraska. After hours of debate, the bill received 17 of the 25 votes needed to move to the next round of debate. This bill comes just a few years after Nebraska voters overwhelmingly supported the death penalty in the 2016 elections. In Cuming, Burt, and Washington counties, voters chose to uphold the death penalty by margins of 70%, 72%, and 73%, respectively. I stood with the vast majority of District 16 and 25 other senators who voted to keep the death penalty as an option for justice in Nebraska.
If you have questions or comments, please contact the District 16 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