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Much of last week was spent debating property taxes, which continue to be one of the most aggressively debated issues in the Legislature year after year. Though each year we make some progress, Nebraska continues to rank as one of the highest taxed states with regard to property taxes, especially when compared to neighboring states. Specifically, the Legislature debated LB986, Senator Briese’s priority bill. This bill creates the School District Property Tax Limitation Act, which would limit the property tax request for a school district by prohibiting school districts from raising property taxes beyond the greatest of a few metrics, including 2.5% or the inflation rate. However, this limit could be exceeded by either a 75% or more vote of the school board, or by 60% or more vote of the people.
Three of my bills had hearings in the Natural Resources Committee last week which I would like to highlight. LB1045 would allow high level employees of public power districts to run for the board of directors of any district. Currently, they would be prevented from running unless they resign or take a leave of absence. This change would allow these individuals who have much industry knowledge, to serve the public without giving up their employment.
LB1074 creates the surface water irrigation infrastructure fund. Last session, I introduced LR117 which, over the interim, surveyed Nebraska’s irrigation districts to determine the condition, cost, and status of surface water projects and infrastructure in the state. The findings from this survey showed that many irrigation districts in central and western Nebraska have aging and deterioration problems with some of their critical infrastructure. Some of these systems are close to 100 years old. This funding would ensure our farmers continue to have access to essential water.
LB1102 creates two new tools to protect Nebraska’s environment. First, the bill ensures that the responsible parties, rather than Nebraska taxpayers, are held accountable for clean up in the case of a spill that may require remediation. The bill also authorizes the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) director to issue cease and desist orders if the director finds a situation that presents substantial harm in order to quickly end the situation.
Two bills relating to Nebraska Game and Parks were also heard in the natural resources committee. LB803 introduced by Senator Hughes includes grandchildren in the definition of immediate family for limited landowner permits for deer, antelope, wild turkey, and elk. LB1082, introduced by Senator Gragert, would require applications for hunting and fishing permits to include a question asking if the applicant wishes to register as an organ donor.
I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or email@example.com.