The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nebraska Unicameral has completed 59 of the 60 days of the session, the last part of a two year biennium. This final week of work was mainly focused on final reading and passage of bills.
We will now be in recess for the next five days. This allows the Governor the time allotted by law to sign or veto any of the bills passed and sent to his desk. Should he veto a bill, that leaves one last day for a senator to move to override the veto. If that happens, we will take up those motions on our 60th day, which is April 20.
Major legislation in this 107th Legislature included a tax rate reduction / tax credit package, distribution of the unprecedented $1.04 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and passing a budget that has had to account for a variety of factors.
My position on the Appropriations Committee the past four years made me keenly aware of the need to balance the needs and wants of our citizens. It is safe to say we all have recommendations for what the state should provide to us as tax paying citizens, while at the same time wanting our taxes to be as low as possible. I am firmly in that camp as well. It really is a balancing act to produce a balanced budget, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my work on the Committee.
As I have covered in this update in recent weeks, it took multiple efforts to get a tax package across the finish line. LB 873 became the vehicle for reducing income tax rates. This will occur over several years, and will reduce the top individual rate from 6.84% to 5.84% by tax year 2027. This bill also included provisions to eliminate state tax on social security and insure a refundable state income tax credit does not fall below its current amount of $548 million, first enacted in 2020. On the revenue side of this issue, the state general fund will be reduced by $115.5 million in the next fiscal year, and that amount is estimated to reach a reduction of $948 million by FY2027-28. This bill was signed into law on Wednesday by the Governor.
The ARPA funds coming into Nebraska were distributed through LB1014. Federal guidelines for these dollars included use for mitigating the effects of the pandemic, providing premium pay for essential works, and funding water, sewer, broadband and infrastructure projects. Physical and mental health services, care providers for those with developmental disabilities and non profits working with food assistance are some of the recipients. Workforce housing and shovel ready construction projects will also benefit from this federal program.
Some high profile legislation dealt with the proposed lake between Lincoln and Omaha, and the canal project to insure water flow into Nebraska from Colorado. Another measure will devote federal funds to qualified census tracts where poverty has become critical. This same bill also supports innovation hubs, airport business parks, affordable housing and some tourism projects, all designed to improve economic conditions.
Looking back at the work done by the Legislature since convening in January, there have been a number of very important issues discussed on the floor. Some were passed into law and others failed to advance. Such has been the case in every Legislature since 1867. We have to remember that every measure can be adjusted, if it doesn’t work out as well as we hoped; and any bill can be reintroduced if it didn’t succeed the first time. Or a second time, or more for that matter.
With that in mind, I commend the senators who have completed their terms in service to the state and will not return to the Legislature next year. They are: Sen. Friesen, Henderson; Sen. Gragert, Creighton; Sen. Matt Hansen, Lincoln; Sen. Hilkemann, Omaha; Sen. Hughes, Venango; Sen. Kolterman, Seward; Sen. Lindstrom, Omaha; Sen. McCollister, Omaha; Sen. Morfeld, Lincoln; Sen. Pansing Brooks, Lincoln; Sen. Stinner, Gering; and Sen. Williams, Gothenburg. Of these thirteen senators, eight of them chaired a committee. They will be missed for their valuable ‘institutional knowledge’.
I count it an honor to represent you in the Nebraska Legislature. If you have concerns, ideas for legislation, or questions about bills and laws, please contact me. The office is always available throughout the interim. email@example.com 402 471-2620 www.nebraskalegislature.gov PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604