Senator Tom Carlson-District 38
March 20, 2013
We have passed the half way point of this long, 90 day session. Hearings are winding down and all day debate will begin next week. Morning debate so far has dealt with housekeeping bills and a few others that have been advanced by committees.
LB 613 has been the focus of debate for 8 hours the past three mornings. The bill provides authority to form The Tax Modernization Commission to consider possibilities for any appropriate changes to Nebraska tax policy. Points of the study could include: How to make our tax system fair for all and what must be true for our systems to be competitive with other states?
It should be simple, understandable, easy to follow, have good stability and not be prone to unpredictable fluctuations. It should provide adequate revenue to fund critical state services and
properly address the inter-relationships of various revenue sources within the state system.
A report of the commission findings is due by December 15, 2013. I believe it is imperative that any new tax system be completely fair with agriculture, our number one industry. It should also be fair with manufacturing, through which new businesses and jobs are created.
Senators and Committees, as well as the Speaker, have designated this session’s Priority Bills. Each senator chooses one, each committee chooses two bills, and the speaker chooses 25 bills. The priority designation does not guarantee a bill will be debated, but it does put it ahead of those without priority status.
As mentioned before in this column, my priority bill for this session is LB 517, to create the Water Sustainability Task Force. The task force would be made up of 28 members from across the state who represent all major interests in the proper management of our ground and surface water resources. Representing all water interests and areas of the state is critical to ensure fair and balanced water funding, which focuses on both water quantity and water quality.
The task force’s challenges will be to bring together all work that has been done in the past ten years, evaluate projects that have been proposed, include possible new projects, and evaluate and prioritize order for completion of projects, along with accurate cost estimates. All of those factors must be put together in an organized, believable 20 year strategic plan for water policy in Nebraska. The plan is due to the Governor and legislature by January 31, 2014. I hope to present the plan to the Legislature, through LB 516, in 2014 and request 20-year funding. Remember, water is our most valuable and precious natural resource.
The Business and Labor Committee has chosen LB 476 as a committee priority, which I also introduced. That bill would modify the provisions of the InterNE program to allow more flexibility for businesses, educational institutions, and students.
This intern program is managed through the Department of Economic Development to provide quality professional and technical internships for college age students. The program has been in place for nearly two years with good success. However, to attract more businesses and students, the bill would increase the number of students eligible for internships and eliminate weekly and hourly requirements. Businesses are reimbursed for the cost of the programs.