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As we finish up the month of April and soon shift to May, floor debate over important issues have consumed our state legislature. At the moment, we are focusing on state budget issues and personal priority bills. The state constitution requires the legislature to pass a state budget every two years and I am determined to find ways that would help move our state forward in a fiscally responsible manner.
My priority bill, LB 644, is scheduled to go before the legislature for continued debate. Our office has been tirelessly working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and with numerous interested associations across the state to help make this bill better. Currently, there are additional amendments attached to LB 644 that will be heard during the next round of debate to help incorporate this bill into local subdivision’s procedures in a less burdensome manner. The efforts to advance the promotion of transparency in property taxes continues and I look forward to further discussions.
Recently, we spent all day discussing and debating Senator Briese’s bill, LB 408. This bill would limit the annual increase in property taxes for all political subdivisions to three percent. If passed, a much-needed cap on levy increases for political subdivisions would help control government spending. I supported this bill because the people of Nebraska are demanding property tax relief and we, as a body, need to answer that call. Unfortunately, LB 408 did not pass. While this is frustrating for me, I am hoping that the members of the legislature will be able to put differences aside and come together for property tax relief before the end of the session.
Lastly, Senator Halloran introduced LR 14, a resolution for the convention of states. As a co-sponsor, I support this resolution. Washington D.C. is out of control and Senator Halloran’s introduction of this resolution is a step in the right direction. Fourteen states have passed a convention of states resolution already and constitutionally, thirty-four are needed. Senator Halloran looked to make Nebraska the fifteenth.
The convention of states would bring state legislatures together with the purpose of creating checks and balances for the federal government by proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The amendments would then be sent to be considered by each state individually. If thirty-eight state legislatures, or two thirds of the states, vote for the amendments, the Constitution will be amended. The resolution limits these amendments to the following topics: limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, term limits for Congress and other government officials, and adding fiscal restraints.
At the forefront of calling for a convention of states is the rising problem of national debt. Federal government spending is unchecked and is a threat to our economy. Kentucky Congressman Tom Massie states that, “roughly 25% of all of the debt accumulated in the United States has been incurred in the last twelve months”. For this reason, I support Senator Halloran’s LR 14 to call for a convention of states.
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