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At the end of last week, Speaker Jim Scheer expressed his disappointment in a lack of substantive debate on property tax relief during this session. In a last ditch effort to develop a compromise, Speaker Scheer met with Senators over the weekend. I very much appreciate Speaker Scheer’s leadership and his attempt to construct a workable solution. In the end, the group of seven Senators were unable to craft a responsible tax reform proposal that we could debate. I am frustrated their efforts were unsuccessful.
On Thursday, I received a letter from Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale asking if I would join other senators in requesting a special session for the purpose of adopting legislation to reduce property taxes. This was in response to a petition for a special session signed by 13 of my colleagues, which is permitted by the Legislature’s Rules and Nebraska Statutes. It requires 33 of the 49 senators to initiate a special session. The deadline to respond to Secretary Gale is Monday, April 23rd.
While I strongly support reducing property taxes, it must be done responsibly. The Legislature would not be able to accomplish this goal during a special session due to limitations in the law. During a special session, the Legislature may only address the objective provided in the petition, which was “reduction of property taxes.” We would not be able to discuss any other matters, including budget adjustments, effects on local government or alternative revenue sources to offset reductions in property tax revenues. It would be impossible to provide property tax relief without discussing and addressing the ramifications it would have on Nebraska. For this reason, I will not be joining the call for a special session.
Last Wednesday, we concluded day 59 of this 60-day short session. The 60th and final day will be Wednesday, April 18th. It will be a busy day with 25 bills on the Final Reading agenda. The Legislature will also have the opportunity to override any veto issued by Governor Ricketts.
Looking ahead at the interim – the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature’s Office four-day legislative simulation, the Unicameral Youth Legislature (UYL), is scheduled for June 10-13. It offers high school students a hands-on opportunity to experience the legislative process. The UYL meets in the Warner Chamber and provides an in-depth learning experience using our process, rules and bills, with the support of legislative staff.
The UYL is jointly sponsored by the Clerk’s Office, 4-H and the University of Nebraska Big Red Summer Camps program. The camp is generously supported by senator donations for student scholarships. Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. The registration deadline is May 15th. If you or any young Nebraskan you know are interested in participating in the UYL, please visit www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/UYL or contact the Unicameral Information Office at (402) 471-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is email@example.com, and the office phone number is (402) 471-2756. Todd and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance.