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This column covers legislative days 83 and 84.
The final day of the 2019 legislative session came to a close on Friday, May 31st. Originally scheduled for 90 days, the session ended early and comprised of 84 days total. Of note was the passage of LB 209 on Final Reading Thursday, May 30th. This bill would require information be given to patients seeking an abortion in Nebraska on how to find medical assistance to support a viable pregnancy after taking the first of two pills required for a medication abortion. Passing this bill was a long and hard fight, but one that was well worth it. By passing the bill we ensure that women who begin a medication abortion and change their mind during the process are able to find the necessary medical assistance to maintain a viable pregnancy. Throughout the session, we heard so many heart-wrenching stories from women who wish they would have had information like this – now they will be given the opportunity to avoid something they may regret.
Before adjourning, we took up a motion to override a Gubernatorial veto of Senator Wayne’s LB 492. This bill creates a Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority with the ability to levy property tax. The RMTA, a new body of government, gives Omaha and the surrounding area the authority to levy property taxes in order to provide public transit expansion. Though the bill is limited to the Omaha area, those in urban areas have not been immune to rising property taxes. Omaha citizens are in need of public transport, but it is inappropriate to continue raising property taxes to pay for additional bodies of government. We must provide property tax relief, rather than create new programs and services that worsen the problem. That’s why I voted to sustain the Governor’s veto.
My first session as your senator was very educational. I was a bit disappointed that we adjourned early when we could have, and should have, worked the remaining six days in the session debating and discussing property tax, even if that debate continues into the next session. Though we did accomplish much, of the 739 bills introduced 294 were passed, I gained some perspective for the next few years. As a body, we could be more productive with our time during the session. Too much time is spent discussing hurt feelings and not enough time is spent discussing sound policy required to help the citizens of Nebraska. Senators must work together to provide solutions rather than focusing on our differences. We were successful in providing $102 million more in property tax relief this biennium through the property tax credit relief fund but our ag producers need even more substantial relief. After this session, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and intend to work on a property tax/school funding bill over the interim providing a solution to the reliance on property taxes for school funding.
This will be my final column for the session, but I may write from time to time as issues arise during the interim. 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