NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
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Sen. Tyson Larson

Sen. Tyson Larson

District 40

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The Legislature has adjourned for the session after meeting last week to address four bills, which were vetoed by Governor Heineman. LB1020, which would create a grant program for school health centers, did not garner enough votes to override the veto. Unfortunately, such was also the case for LB806, my priority bill which would have allowed wagering on historic horseraces. I am disappointed that LB806 was one vote short of becoming law over the Governor’s objections, and I will continue to work to save the horseracing industry in Nebraska.

Two major bills, LB357 and LB599, both received enough votes to become law. LB599 provides prenatal care to expectant mothers who are not currently eligible for Medicaid, specifically women who do not have legal status in the United States and women who are confined in the state’s prison system. In considering how to vote on LB599, I viewed this as a pro-life issue versus an illegal immigration issue. My record on both of these issues has been well documented. The past two years on the Judiciary committee and on the floor of the Legislature, I have been one of the most pro-life members of the Legislature. I have also made it clear that Nebraska cannot become a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants. I heard from many constituents who regarded each of these issues as the more important issue in this legislation. This was a very difficult vote for me, and in the end, I decided to vote against overriding the Governor’s veto because I felt that the state simply should not be providing taxpayer funded benefits to persons who are not legally present in the United States. I understand the benefits of providing prenatal care, but felt that taxpayer dollars should not be used to do so in this instance. Nebraska cannot afford to become a sanctuary state, especially with our neighboring states deciding not to provide similar services.

LB357 allows an increase of 0.5% in the local option sales tax following a vote of the people, which means that the local sales tax could not exceed 2% in addition to the state sales tax. I voted for this legislation, both when originally passed by the Legislature, and also on the motion to override Governor Heineman’s veto. This bill will give cities and small towns more funding options, especially for larger projects, and yet, most importantly, reserves the decision on the increase to the people. The people of the municipality make the ultimate determination, and this allows for greater local control of funding mechanisms.

The Legislature accomplished many important goals this session, and I appreciate the opportunity to represent the residents of District 40 in Lincoln. I will be spending time during the interim working on legislation for next session. If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.


Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

The Legislature spent considerable time on final reading and took votes on the passage of many bills that I support. The following bills all passed. LB670 bans the compounds used to make bath salts, which result in effects similar to methamphetamines, LSD, and PCP when taken. LB933 changes some provisions related to truancy in schools by allowing the school to evaluate whether further action is needed before a case of a student who misses more than 20 days of school is referred to the county attorney. LB845 strengthens the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act by adding provisions relating to seeding and requiring the reclamation activities be completed within 30 days of backfill. LB209 allows for a delay and a repayment plan for local government entities for large tax credits to businesses authorized by state law. LB804 provides a justification for the use of force defense in certain civil actions for assault or wrongful death. LB970 reduces the tax burden for middle class voters. LB721, my bill changing the definition of police animal, and LB806, my priority bill allowing for historic horseracing through instant racing terminals, both passed as well.

Another significant bill that passed this week was LB825, which proposes changes to the ACCESS Nebraska system. The Legislature debated this bill significantly prior to its passage on Thursday, April 5. LB825 requires existing offices of the Department of Health and Human Services throughout the state to provide in person services to individuals receiving public benefits. LB825 also allows individual caseworkers to be assigned to certain cases and allows DHHS to contract with community based organizations with trained staff people to assist individuals with questions regarding public benefits. For quite some time now, I have had constituents regularly contacting my office to discuss frustrations with the ACCESS system and the lack of any personal service to address concerns or questions about filing or benefits. LB825 is a step towards improving the ACCESS system, which is much needed throughout the state.

LB996, which changes the rules relating to compulsory attendance for students under the age of 18, also passed. However, I voted against this bill because I felt the changes were unjustified and believe that the process for allowing a student to withdraw did not need to be more complicated.

The Legislature will soon adjourn for the session. At this point, there are only three days remaining, and those days will likely be occupied with final votes on a few remaining bills and addressing any potential vetoes by Governor Heineman.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

This week the Legislature spent long hours debating numerous important bills as this session nears its end. LB970, the tax cut bill, was again advanced and will now be placed on final reading for a determinative vote. I voted for advancement of this bill. The Legislature also passed the various budget bills and have sent them to Governor Heineman for approval. I voted against these bills because I feel it is important to be fiscally responsible regarding the tax cuts provided in LB970. As a supporter of the tax cut, I could not vote for the budget bills that called for increased spending by the state. Voting for spending increases this year only leads to more drastic cuts next year with LB970 in place.

Another bill regarding taxes, LB745, introduced by Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine, was also advanced after a compromise amendment was adopted. LB745, as amended, would limit a city’s ability to levy a new occupation tax on its residents without a vote of the people, if such tax revenue received under the tax would exceed certain amounts that vary depending upon the size of the municipality. A city may also modify the rate of an existing occupation tax relating to a specific project without a vote of the people. LB745 allows for more accountability of local officials when they implement occupation taxes and places some authority in the hands of the taxpayer when additional taxes are proposed.

LB806, allowing instant racing terminals for wagering on historic horseraces, was also advanced to final reading after extensive debate. An amendment to LB806 during this debate would allow the licenses issued for instant racing terminals to expire after four years unless the there is an increase in the number of days for live horseraces or an increase in the purse offered at the racetrack compared to 2011.

The Legislature also spent time considering LB239, introduced by Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont. LB239 would require valid photo identification to be presented at which time an individual casts a ballot in an election in Nebraska. Persons who cannot display a photo id would be allowed to vote provisionally until such time as their identity and registration could be confirmed. The primary goal of this bill is to ensure voter identity and to prevent cases of voter fraud, which have become commonplace in other states. This bill has been debated extensively, but no vote has yet been taken. While I support this bill and planned to vote to advance it, there were not enough votes to stop a filibuster by those who opposed the legislation, and the bill has been taken off of the agenda at this time. With the end of session looming and other bills that need to be taken up, LB239 may not make it back on the agenda, and this issue will then need to be taken up again in the future.

LB1057, introduced by Senator Tom Carlson of Holdredge, was debated and advanced to final reading. LB1057 increases the corn checkoff from one quarter cent to one half cent. I introduced an amendment to include a refund option in LB1057, similarly to numerous large corn producing states and even a checkoff in Nebraska, the dry edible bean checkoff. This amendment would have allowed producers to have an opportunity to decide whether to participate in the increased checkoff. However, my colleagues did not adopt this amendment. I will continue to work to allow producers to have more control over their checkoff funds and their investment in the Nebraska Corn Board.

I would also like to bring a great program to the attention of high school students in District 40. Nebraska 4-H & University of Nebraska Extension will be hosting the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 10-13, 2012. If you have an interest in government, politics, leadership, or public speaking, I would strongly urge you to apply for this program. The application deadline is May 15, 2012. Please visit http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/education/unicamyouth.php for more information.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Two significant bills made progress this week. LB806, my priority bill, which allows for instant racing terminals at racetracks for wagering on historic horse races in Nebraska has advanced to the second round of debate after extensive discussion and a close vote. This bill is positive for the horseracing industry as well as our agricultural sector, and I look forward to the next round of debate.

LB721, which redefines the term police animal to include animals owned by cities and counties, was advanced on Consent Calendar last Thursday morning by a vote of 36-0. I brought this bill on behalf of the police and sheriff’s departments in my district to protect their considerable investment in police dogs because these dogs should be protected just as those used by the State Patrol.

The Legislature also debated and advanced LB970, which is the tax cut proposed by Governor Heineman. The Legislature made changes to the bill again and reduced the fiscal impact from the original amendment proposed by the Revenue Committee, which I discussed in my update last week. The fiscal impact this year will be small, but this tax cut in the rates for individual income taxpayers will cost just shy of $100 million during the next biennium. The Legislature felt that it was important to try to give some of their hard-earned dollars back to the taxpayer.

The Legislature also debated the budget bills and made some changes to accommodate the tax cuts in LB970. The budget bills have been placed on final reading and will soon be before the body for a final vote. LB970, the tax cut bill, faces another round of debate before it will be placed on final reading.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Last week, the Legislature took up serious debate of the budget adjustments proposed by the Appropriations Committee. LB970, which is the tax cut proposed by Governor Heineman, has been advanced by the Revenue Committee with some changes. The Revenue Committee amendment would not change corporate income tax rates and inheritance tax provisions, but would decrease the individual income tax rate. The cost of this individual income tax cut is estimated to be $148 million over the next three years. The tax cut would not create significant budgetary concerns this year, with a cost of approximately $9 million. However, during the next two year budget cycle, nearly $140 million in revenue would be lost, which results in a larger budget shortfall for that budget cycle. Beginning in the fourth year of implementation, the loss of revenue would reach $125 million per year. The Legislature will continue debating the budget bills as well as the possibility of incorporating this tax cut this week.

The Legislature also debated and advanced LB824, introduced by Senator Russ Karpisek of Wilbur, which defines the term “flavored malt beverage” under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act. This term had not previously been defined, and as a result, there was ambiguity as to how these beverages were taxed. While the products had been taxed as beer for quite some time, the Supreme Court recently upheld a Department of Revenue ruling finding these products should be taxed as distilled liquor. I support LB824 because it clarifies that flavored malt beverages should be taxed at the same rate as beer. Many opponents have tried to classify this as an alcohol issue, but I support this bill because I feel it is a tax issue. The tax rate for these beverages should not be changed. This bill does not make flavored malt beverages cheaper, and I do not believe it will encourage underage drinking. However, allowing flavored malt beverages to be taxed as distilled liquor will result in an increase in taxes on these products, and I cannot support a tax increase of that type.

LB799, introduced by Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, was also debated and advanced. LB799 changes the criminal provisions relating to negligent child abuse to clarify that negligent child abuse resulting in death is a Class II felony, negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury is a Class III felony, and negligent child abuse not resulting in serious bodily injury or death is a Class I misdemeanor. Current law does not include different penalties relating specifically to the level of harm to the child in cases of negligent child abuse. These new classifications mirror the statutes for child abuse that is committed knowingly and intentionally and will provide more charging options in child abuse cases. I support this legislation as well and hope that it will work to more adequately deal with future cases of child abuse.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Last week, the Legislature once again debated and advanced several bills relating to child welfare reform. These bills have now been advanced to final reading and will soon be placed on final reading for a determining vote by the Legislature. Thus far, these bills, which return case management to the state among many other things that I discussed last week in my update, have had overwhelming support in the Legislature. I also support these bills and believe they are a step in the right direction. The Legislature also debated and advanced LB998, introduced by Senator Bob Krist of Omaha, which creates the Foster Care Review Office to replace the current State Foster Care Review Board. The Foster Care Review Office will be led by an Advisory Committee of 5 persons, who will be appointed by the Governor and approved by the Legislature. The Advisory Committee will report to the courts, the Legislature, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and make policy recommendations for the betterment of the foster care system.

The Legislature passed many bills on Thursday, March 8. One of these, LB790, introduced by Senator Colby Coash of Lincoln, transfers one county court judgeship from district 5 (Merrick, Platte, Colfax, Boone, Nance, Hamilton, Polk, York, Butler, Seward, Saunders) to district 3 (Lancaster County). I voted against this bill and have strongly opposed the bill since its introduction. This bill, among others each year, propose to take services away from rural areas of Nebraska and instead provide more services to urban areas, like Lincoln or Omaha. I am concerned that this chipping away of rural services over time has led to many difficulties and will continue to do so for the residents of District 40 and other rural districts. I will oppose legislation like this because the trend must stop.

During this upcoming week, we will be discussing the budget adjustments for this year’s expenses. Preliminary reports have been released by the Appropriations Committee and can be accessed on the Legislature’s website, nebraskalegislature.gov. In the preliminary report, the Appropriations Committee found that increased tax revenue will allow an increase of $17 million to the child welfare reform process, $7.2 million to state aid to schools, $9.7 million  to put 1.5% of the 2.5% cut last year back in Medicaid provider rates, $6.1 million for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources veterinary diagnostic center, and $4 million to fund services to persons on the developmental disability waiting list. The additional funding for the veterinary diagnostic center will continue each year at the same amount for a total of ten years. The Appropriations Committee has also recommended some appropriations from the Cash Reserve to fund capital improvements at Chadron and Peru State Colleges, the University of Nebraska at Kearney for a new nursing and allied health professions college, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center for a new cancer research facility. We will be discussing all of these changes in depth to determine if these are the optimal expenditures for our state.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Last week, several bills that I support were passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor’s office for his signature. LB216 allows for specialty license plates for motor vehicles of any age that are being collected, preserved, restored, or maintained by the owner as a leisure pursuit and not used for general transportation of persons or cargo. LB427 includes provisions for commercial dog and cat breeders relating to licensing of breeders, the required veterinary care and disease control plan, and space in regard to primary enclosures and exercise areas. LB612 increases the statute of limitations for plaintiffs suffering injury from sexual assault as a child to 12 years after the individual’s 21st birthday. LB470 requires city or village approval of the personnel policies of public libraries, reading rooms, art galleries, or museums to address concerns with the city being liable for an employment decision made by a library or museum board. LB677 adds a new criminal charge specifically for assault in the first, second, and third degrees against a health care professional who is assaulted while on duty at a hospital or health clinic. These bills all include important statutory changes, and I voted to pass each of these.

The Legislature also took on several bills related to Nebraska’s child welfare system. Five bills, LB821, LB1160, LB949, LB820, and LB961, were discussed in turn and each advanced to the second round of debate. Collectively, these bills would accomplish the following: transfer case management of child welfare cases to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and away from the private lead agencies that have handled case management for the preceding two years; create the position of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare to investigate and audit the system; create a commission to further evaluate the problems of the child welfare system; place limits on case loads for each case worker with DHHS; develop and implement a web-based, statewide automated child welfare information system to integrate child welfare information into one system; engage a nationally recognized evaluator to provide an evaluation of the Nebraska child welfare system; increase pay for foster parents; and establish the child welfare system as a separate budget program. These changes seek to improve our broken and inefficient child welfare system and provide much needed accountability by DHHS in regard to case management as well as the cost to the taxpayers of the state.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

The Legislative Committees have completed the public hearings for the bills introduced this session, and beginning February 27, the Legislature will begin full day debate of bills that have been advanced.

After debate, the Legislature has advanced LB209, introduced by Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue. LB209 will allow a delay of a city sales tax refund pursuant to the Nebraska Advantage Act or the Employment and Investment Growth Act and will allow for deduction in equal monthly installments over a period of one year if the refunds exceed 25% or the city’s sales and use tax receipts from the previous year. LB209 is an important bill, which provides cities with planning tools to deal with large tax refunds under our economic development laws. For example, the city of Wakefield has recently had to issue a large tax refund, and if LB209 was in place, this could be paid in monthly installments beginning at a later time to help Wakefield and other cities like it adequately budget for the city’s needs. I strongly support this legislation.

The Legislature also advanced LB830, introduced by Senator Galen Hadley of Kearney, which provides a sales and use tax exemption for biochips, which are used for genotyping, analysis of gene expression, and protein profiling in plants, livestock, pets, and research organisms. Biochips are often considered an agricultural input and are very useful tools in identifying plant and animal diseases. This tax exemption will promote development of this business in Nebraska, align Nebraska with other states in how this type of business is taxed, and be beneficial to agriculture.

Another bill that was extensively debated was LR358CA, introduced by Senator Tom Carlson of Holdredge. If passed by the Legislature, LR358CA would place a question on the upcoming November ballot for voters to decide if Nebraska’s term limit law should be changed. LR358CA amends Article III, section 12, of the Nebraska Constitution, pertaining to term limits for members of our state Unicameral. The amendment would allow members to serve three consecutive four-year terms instead of two consecutive four-year terms. Because it is a proposed constitutional change, voters would make the ultimate determination on the adoption of this provision.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

The Legislature is at the halfway point for this session, and this past week, priority bills were chosen by the senators and the standing committees. Speaker Flood will also soon be determining the twenty five speaker priority bills for this session. Debate by the Legislature will likely only address prioritized legislation from this point forward. I prioritized LB806, which was introduced by Senator Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha. LB806 will allow Nebraska licensed horse racing premises the ability to install and operate Instant Racing Terminals for wagering on historic horse races. LB806 benefits the horse racing industry in Nebraska, which is a very important industry for agriculture and rural areas. Promoting the horse racing industry provides for more jobs and revenue throughout the state. I strongly support this bill and look forward to debate by the full Legislature. For a full listing of the bills that have been chosen as senator or committee priorities, please visit the Legislature’s website: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/session/priority.php.

LB686, introduced by Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala, was debated and advanced. As amended, LB686 allows persons with a doctorate degree with an emphasis in reproductive physiology from an accredited college or university and can show proof of valid professional liability insurance to perform embryos transfers on bovine animals. Allowing additional persons with appropriate training will encourage bovine embryo transfers to be more available to our beef producers in the state, and I support passage of this bill.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

The Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on LB857, a bill I introduced to ensure more accountability for Nebraska Environmental Trust grant funds that are used for purchases of real estate. LB857 works to address concerns about revolving grant funds where groups are able to sell real property they purchased with grant funds and reinvest in additional property with the revenue generated by the sale. In addition, LB857 would address Environmental Trust grants being used for purchases of real estate where the land is subsequently sold or donated to the federal government for management. I have been diligently working with the members of the Natural Resources Committee and groups who have previously applied for Environmental Trust grants to properly address these concerns, and I am confident that an agreement can be reached that does so.

The Transportation Committee held a public hearing on LB1095, a bill I introduced to offer Beef State license plates as a specialty plate available to all Nebraskans. These license plates would show our appreciation for agriculture and the beef industry, and like many of you, I look forward to having a Beef State license plate on my vehicle.

The Legislature debated and advanced several bills this week. LB1118, introduced by Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, provides tax incentives under the Nebraska Advantage Act for large data center projects, which will encourage business growth in Nebraska. LR40CA, introduced by Senator Pete Pirsch of Omaha, was also advanced. LR40CA would propose a constitutional amendment to protect the right to hunt and fish in Nebraska, subject to personal property rights as well as wildlife conservation and management that preserve the right to hunt and fish. In light of increasing attacks on sportsmen by various animal rights groups, this amendment would protect traditional recreation activities that are so important to our state’s heritage.

If you have any questions regarding legislation or any other issue, please contact my office at (402) 471-2801 or tlarson@leg.ne.gov.

Best Wishes,

Senator Tyson Larson

Sen. Tyson Larson

District 40
Room #1019
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2801
Email: tlarson@leg.ne.gov
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