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During my last address I stated that I was encouraged that Speaker Scheer took control after hours of directionless debate on tax relief by directing the major sponsors’ of tax relief bills to meet with him in his office on Saturday to see if they find some common ground. Unfortunately, the talks broke down with no comprise being reached. Therefore Speaker was not willing to bring the tax relief bills to the floor on Monday for debate as promised.
I along with twelve other Senators feel that this outcome is simply unacceptable. The good people of Nebraska deserve property tax relief and they deserve it now! Therefore the thirteen Senators of a like-mind sent a letter to the Secretary of State requesting a Special Session for the sole purpose of addressing property tax relief. The Secretary of State will now send a letter to the remaining thirty-six Senators informing them of the request for a special session. If a Senator agrees with a need for a special session to address property tax relief, he or she, has ten days to respond to the Secretary of State. Senators who do not believe that we need a special session to address property tax relief, need not respond to the Secretary of State. If by the ten day deadline, the Secretary of State receives an additional twenty letters from the Senators in the affirmative for a special session, the Secretary of State will notify the Governor that the Legislature, by their vote of thirty-three plus, are requesting the call for a special session. The Governor, as required by statute, SHALL call for special session within five days. If a special session is called, we as a legislature would reconvene by the end of this month
The call for a special session to address property tax relief in no way minimizes my support for the property tax relief ballot initiative. I fully support the ballot initiative. I further encourage you to go to WWW.YESTOPROPERTYTAXRELIEF.COM , again that is WWW.YESTOPROPERTYTAXRELIEF.COM to learn more about the ballot initiative and how to volunteer to help with the petition drive.
We did however, pass legislation that will cause your property taxes to go up. Supported by the Bankers Associations, who reported record banking profits last year, LB496 – workforce housing bill allows Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to cover construction cost on residential housing. The bill was one of the few bills this session which survived a filibuster effort by property tax relief proponents. TIF, by statute, was intended to be limited to blighted and substandard properties that already exists, not for development of new properties. TIF in the past has been limited to shifting property tax dollars intended for schools and other local county taxing entities to pay for public costs of city infrastructure. LB496 will allow bankers and real estate speculators to recoup as much 30% of their cost over 15 years. When taxes paid by citizens living in TIF’ed housing are not going towards schools and public safety, you will pay more! The Governor could veto LB496 and stop this tax shift.
Although the session has essentially ended for the year, my work is just beginning for the next biennium session. During the interim session I will be working closely with my staff and visiting with constituents throughout District #33 to draft legislation for January. I encourage you to reach out to my staff with any suggestions you may have on possible legislation ideas. Additionally, I have been selected by the Chairman of the Executive Committee to serve on a special interim committee to study possible improvements and changes to the standing committee system. The results of this committee’s recommendations could have significant impact on the standing committees. These standing committees are committees that hear testimony from you the “Second House.” I look forward to lending my skills and knowledge to this special committee.