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We hit the ground running during week two of legislative session. On Monday we started to debate general file carry-over bills from last session. During the second session of a biennium, bills can be “carried-over from the last session and debated. However any bills that are not passed during this session will be indefinitely postponed. In simpler terms, the bill is now dead. If a Senator such as my self wants to bring back a bill, the Senator will have to resubmit the bill the following year and go through the entire process again as if it was a new bill. The bill will have to be referenced to a committee, have a hearing, be voted out of committee and then placed on general file. The success of a bill in the past does not always guarantee future success. Committee make-up of members can change as well as social and political climates of the day.
One such bill that has gone through this process several times is the “helmet bill.” Over the years this bill has come to floor in many different forms. This year it was LB368 which sought to change helmet provisions, change passenger age limits, and require eye protection for operators of motorcycles and mopeds. The bill was brought by Senator John Lowe. The bill was unable get the necessary thirty-three votes to evoke cloture and end debate last session. The bill saw new life this year when Senator Bob Krist made it his priority for this year. When a Senator designates a bill as a priority bill, it “jumps the line” and it is called to floor over other non-priority bills. Therefore LB368 was debated on Monday and then again on Wednesday. Once again, the bill was unable to gain the necessary thirty-three votes to evoke cloture. The bill will most likely not be brought back to floor this year. So if a Senator wants to present a helmet bill next year, he or she will have to start all over again.
Wednesday was also the day the Governor presented his State of the State address to the Legislature and the people of Nebraska. Governor Ricketts plan is one of several tax relief plans being proposed this session. I have been posting links to these bills on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SenatorHalloran/) so you can read these for yourself. Through discussions with my fellow Senators I have heard that there may be additional tax relief related bills to be presented this session. I encourage you to share your thoughts with my office on these different proposals.
I fully support tax relief and reform in Nebraska. The federal government in Washington, D.C., has struggled to reach solutions that will unleash a new era of American economic growth, many state governments have forged ahead in meeting their particular fiscal and economic challenges. Many of our surrounding States that have adopted pro-growth policies have seen their economies grow. Many of the more successful, economically growing states have found that competitive tax policies are the key towards viable growth. Nebraska’s focus should be on pro-growth policies. One of the goals of implementing pro-growth tax policies is to first stop the out migration of citizens. Citizens are increasingly “voting with their feet” and moving to states with better economic outlooks. This underpins the fact that taxes absolutely bear a relationship to the economic health of our state. Nebraska is a small population state and can be easily influenced by people leaving our state to due to our burdensome taxes.
Governor Pete Ricketts, in his State of the State address, declared his interest in reducing both income taxes and property taxes. His proposal is dependent upon economic growth, with tax reductions triggered incrementally when economic growth occurs. I personally believe that without first reducing taxes, economic growth will be sluggish. My preference for tax relief would be to focus on property tax relief. As your representative, I have heard from constituent after constituent that property taxes are unreasonably high, and there has been a loud cry for property tax relief. I have not heard this same concern for income tax relief.
Here are some facts regarding Nebraska’s property taxes.
I am looking forward to a healthy tax reform debate on the floor of the legislature. It is my sincerest hope that we as a body can come together and pass meaningful tax relief this session for the good people of Nebraska.