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This column covers legislative days 79 through 82.
The last full week of this year’s legislative session was very eventful. After a recess day on the 20th, we worked late into the night Tuesday and Wednesday, adjourning around 11:45 pm Wednesday. Though these were long days, I’m happy we worked so late. Nebraskans throughout the state expect us to work long and hard, passing sensible laws that advance their opportunity to live the American dream and laws that steward taxpayer resources well. When we conclude the session next week I hope to say we have given it our best this session.
We debated a number of major proposals last week, including LB 657 to adopt the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act. This bill was introduced by Senator Wayne of Omaha and prioritized by Senator Brandt of Plymouth. No opponents testified in the bill’s public hearing and it was supported widely during floor debate. I’ve received many phone calls and emails from constituents in the district who support industrial hemp as a new crop for our farmers and see it as an opportunity to expand agricultural capacity in the state. I was happy to support the bill on the floor.
Another bill supported widely by senators was LB 519 introduced by Senator Slama of District 1. This bill extends the statute of limitations for those who commit the offense of labor or sex trafficking or benefit from labor or sex trafficking. Awareness of human trafficking in Nebraska has increased over the past few years as efforts like this bill are discussed more. With I-80 running right through the heart of the state, Nebraska is used by traffickers to transport victims across the country. Omaha and Grand Island are two of the biggest hubs for traffickers in Nebraska. By extending the statute of limitations on traffickers we are better prepared to bring them to justice.
Many have asked about property tax relief. Senators were successful in securing an additional $51 million in property tax relief by allocating $275 million to the property tax relief credit fund after that allotment was initially allocated elsewhere in the budget. This comes after no additional money being directed towards the fund last year. , LB 289, the major proposal to provide property tax relief and change how public schools are funded, did not receive enough votes to come back to the agenda for debate this year. I’ve said it throughout the session and before while I was walking the district and talking to voters – Nebraskans need meaningful property tax relief. Though the increases to the credit fund do accomplish some level of relief, it is not sufficient for the challenges that our ag producers are facing. Nebraska can support its public schools sufficiently, providing education for our children, while also providing meaningful property tax relief. I’ve committed to studying this problem closely throughout the interim and plan to introduce a bill of my own next year. Due to the way our public schools are funding, meaningful property tax relief can only happen if we make changes to how our schools are funded.
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