I firmly believe that taxing Social Security Income places an added undue hardship on retirees living on a fixed income, and encourages people with the money to do so to flee the state, taking with them their spending dollars which are invaluable to driving our economic success.
The Legislature, however, is not a thing easily swayed. And so, the Social Security Income Tax has yet to be repealed. That does not mean my conviction to do so has lessened. If anything, it has only increased.
There are many reasons for this, and they are all rooted in my conservative conviction that our economy can only thrive when productivity and achievement are rewarded rather than punished.
Kiplinger’s Magazine, a publisher of business forecasts and personal finance advice, produced a telling infographic to this point. The graphic displays Nebraska, along with a bundle of 10 states including New York and California, as one of the least tax friendly states to retirees in the union. You can view the tax map here.
Punishing people who have achieved throughout their lives by taxing their Social Security Income is ludicrous. These people didn’t work their whole lives just to give that productivity back to the state, and many retirees are voting it out every year with their feet. They are leaving our state for places where they know their Social Security Income won’t be taxed. With only a few states that have the gall to tax Social Security Income, they have a lot of options.
It’s been a nice summer, but now fall is upon us and the temperatures are dropping. Taxes however, rarely seem to follow suit.
The citizens of central and West Omaha were given a stark reminder of this fact of life back in April, when their property valuations went up by 7%.
To be fair, property values were lowered by 8% in most of Northeast Omaha. But people in Omaha still understandably want an explanation as to why this happened.
On the surface the reason for the increase seems relatively simple. The county received funding requests from its subdivisions and set its levy to cover expenses. With the levy set, they divided the cost equally between all property owners.
That’s a simple enough explanation of how the tax rate was set, but that still leaves the increase in property value which then translated into higher property taxes for residents.
The raises in property value were a result of variations between the area’s assessment sales ratio as compiled by the state, and the assessment sales ratio the state mandates an area must fall into by statute. Nebraska law requires residential, industrial and commercial valuations to be within 92% to 100% of the market value. The Tax Equalization & Review Commission (TERC), found that the West Omaha properties in question were at 89% of market value and so mandated a 7% raise in property valuations by the county.
In Nebraska, the county is responsible for any increase or decrease in the levy which then dictates what the tax rate is. County board members are elected officials, so citizens who feel that the levy is unreasonable or unfair have the right to vote them out.
The county is legally obligated to inform property owners via a card in the mail whenever property taxes change. If citizens effected by a tax increase feel the increase is onerous or unfair, they have the right to appeal (follow the link for instructions on the appeals process.)
I introduced an interim study, LR555, to clarify the process and procedures used in such appeals before TERC. I will post an update once the study is complete.
As chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Committee I am aware that the issues effecting Whiteclay, Nebraska have been an ongoing concern in our state for some time.
With that in mind, I recently traveled with fellow State Senators Cook, Baker, and Pansing Brooks to Whiteclay and observed the challenges facing that community to gain a better understanding of how to confront them. This trip coincided with the goals of interim study LR 567 proposed by Senator Pansing Brooks in March of 2016. KETV was kind enough to document the trip. You can view the video here.
We are calling for a package of measures that we think will make an impact on the area. They are listed below:
Following these steps, we believe Whiteclay can move forward to a better future. Senator Pansing Brooks has already made progress towards economic relief in Whiteclay by negotiating with Viaero Wireless and convincing them to erect a tower which will allow cellphone service and internet access to the area.
By creating an environment with access to addiction treatment, law enforcement and economic opportunity, we will be taking positive steps to uplift and empower the community and its neighbors.
As many of you may already know, I will be one of three Nebraska delegates to a simulated Article V convention in Williamsburg, Virginia Sept. 21-23. Senators Ebke and Friesen will also be in attendance.
An Article V convention is so named because in Article V of the Constitution of the United States of America the process for amendment of the Constitution from the state level is laid out. Below is the specific language from Article V:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
As stated in the language of the Constitution, two-thirds (34) of the states must participate in a convention of states before proposed amendments can be considered for ratification by the states.
As such, this convention will only be a simulation. I will be serving on the Fiscal Restraints Committee. We will discuss theoretical amendments on how to curtail out of control spending in Washington. I look forward to working with my fellow legislators from across the country and coming back with great ideas to better serve the constituents of District 18 and the state of Nebraska.
Sen. Brett Lindstrom
Happy Spring District 18!
Wow, these last five months have flown by really fast! With a shortened session and large number of important issues to address in the Legislature, it has already come and gone. There were a number of bills that I successfully passed this year, so I’d like to share some of the things I was able to accomplish.
In total, 10 of my bills were either passed or amended into other bills and passed, all of which were met with the Governor’s support. There were two bills this year that stood out to me as some of the most important: LB750 and LB906. LB750 has been called the “Whistleblower Bill,” which ensures that the identity of medical professionals such as nurses and dental hygienists are kept confidential when they report unethical or illegal behavior. LB906 supports our brave men and women in blue, giving them tuition waivers of up to 30% so that they may advance their careers and stay on the top of their field.
I’m proud to have sponsored LB1017 as well, which addresses the “brain drain” that our great state has faced. This bill encourages businesses to hire interns at any stage in college, and even gives the opportunity for students returning home for the summer to pick up an internship, or for students attending neighboring colleges like Iowa Western in Council Bluffs to do so.
Last year I brought LB385, which protects renters if they face threats of bodily harm or hazards to their health from their neighbors. The bill was passed this year, allowing landowners and property managers to ensure the safety of all their residents.
I also brought some technical bills under the Banking, Commerce & Insurance Committee: LB751, 771, and 819. The bills focus on oversight and corporate governance for the banking & finance sectors in Nebraska’s economy. These bills are essential to ensure that the institutions handling Nebraskans’ hard earned money act in the most responsible way possible and are able to interact in an environment that lets them remain competitive in today’s market.
In addition to the banking & finance bills, I was also able to pass LB783 and LB897. LB783 simplifies the fleet registration process for public power utilities, who have a large amount of administrative work to do for each of their vehicles. LB897 will help stabilize input prices for public power utilities to ensure that they consistently provide the lowest cost electricity rates possible.
For all our wine connoisseurs, beer lovers, and liquor maestros out there, LB748 allows you to order direct from online retailers more of the spirits and drinks you love. As always, please drink responsibly!
A lot has occurred the past few months and I am proud to say that I have been part of an effort to improve the lives of the citizens of District 18. Nebraskans understand the value of hard work and small steps towards large goals. The bills I have passed over the course of the 2016 session are all part of my effort to represent you well. I look forward to serving you for the next 6 years, and would love to hear from you.
Senator Brett Lindstrom
Greetings District 18!
It’s quite amazing how fast the last couple months have gone by! Nebraska weather has gone from winter to spring, and back to winter again. I hope you are all keeping warm and sticking to your new years’ resolutions!
A lot has been happening here in the Legislature. Two of my bills were signed into law by the Governor this week- LB751 & 771, which were both cleanup bills relating to the banking industry. I’ve also brought back my bill to exempt citizens from state tax on Social Security benefits- LB749. This bill has some significant changes from my LB165 bill last year. In an attempt to address some of the concerns from this year’s budget shortfall, LB749 would put citizens’ tax exemptions into a “tiered system,” with those receiving under $75,000 a year in benefits a full exemption from the state tax.
I’ve also brought LB906 to the Legislature this year, which would provide tuition assistance to police officers, who are in constant need of new training and educational advancement to stay up to date with modern law enforcement practice. Another one of my bills which has garnered some attention, LB750, also called the “Whistleblower” bill, would provide protections to nurses who report unethical or illegal conduct by medical professionals. Already, nurses are required by their Hippocratic Oath as well as Nebraska state law to report any conduct which could put their patients’ lives in jeopardy.
There have been some big issues debated in the Legislature, such as Sen. Tyson Larson’s LR26CA, which was a Constitutional amendment that would be put to a ballot for the citizens to decide. This Constitutional amendment would have lowered the minimum age to run for public office in Nebraska to 18. Although the bill failed to get enough votes to advance, there was rigorous debate on both sides with lots of good discussion. A bill which gained wide approval and was signed into law was LB471, introduced last year by my colleague Sen. Sara Howard. This bill would help combat the opioid epidemic in Nebraska by requiring providers and prescribers to participate in a database used to prevent this epidemic.
There will be some big issues expected to come up in the following month, such as LB891 by Sen. Lydia Brasch called the “Down Syndrome Diagnosis and Info Act.” This bill will provide parents with crucial information on what to do if their baby is born at risk of Down Syndrome. Another big bill which is expected to garner a lot of debate is Sen. Dan Hughes’ “Anti-Hazing” bill, LB710, which would discourage fraternity organizations from engaging in inappropriate conduct as a part of their hazing practices.
There are lots of issues to debate and little time to do so, so the Legislature will be quite busy over the next month. Public hearings are expected to be finished by next week, and we will get into some late-night discussion on these issues. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact my office at 402-471-2618 or e-mail me at email@example.com. My door is always open. I look forward to hearing from you.
All the best,
Sen. Brett Lindstrom
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