As we finish this week, we have 11 legislative days remaining for the ninety day session. The present week has brought the budget bills forwarded by the Appropriations Committee to final reading which will probably occur next Monday.
The first two days of the this week were taken up by debate on the death penalty. The bill would have changed the penalty of death to a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The bill failed to receive the 33 votes necessary for cloture to cease debate. It appears that if the vote on athe bill itself had taken a majority of the 49 Senators would have supported repeal. Personally, I still support the death penalty, but I do believe it will likely be repealed in the next few years.
Legislative Bill 634 introduced by Senator Davis of Hyannis passed select file and will be up for final reading next week. The bill will fund forest fire prevention and control, partly by providing the availability and use of a firefighting aircraft. The bill will also provide fire prevention in areas of the state that have over growth of cedar trees by providing state matching funds to property owners who thin these trees. I believe that the western half or more of the state has a greater risk of forest fires this summer than probably it has ever faced before. This is caused in part by the overgrowth of cedar trees in pastures and canyons in the state.
Another bill of interest to me was L.B. 308, introduced by Senator Schumacher, which would eliminate a portion of the state income tax know as the alternative minimum tax. Since I have spent a fair amount of my time over the past 50 years doing tax work and tax preparation, I have a working knowledge of some of the unfairness of the alternative minimum tax as it is applied to Nebraskans. Some people who have sold farm land in Nebraska have paid several thousand dollars above the maximum income tax rate. This is because taxes on their capital gains, which were already taxed at the state’s highest rates, became subject to the additional rate of the alternative minimum tax. I think that this portion of the tax should be eliminated. Unfortunately there have been several amendment proposed to L.B. 308, which may make it difficult to get it passed.
I look forward to receiving your input and the voicing of your concerns as we address these issues and many others. Please contact me at my Lincoln office in the State Capital, District 36, Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509. My phone number is (402) 471-2642. My email address is email@example.com.