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February 8, 2013 Legislative Update
Dear Residents of District 40,
This has been a busy week for both my office and the Legislature as a whole. Four of the bills I introduced had hearings, including LB354, which is a bill that would restructure the Nebraska Corn Board. Right now, the Corn Board is a state agency. Its board members are appointed by the Governor and the participation in its checkoff program is mandatory. LB354 would allow for the Corn Board’s board members to be elected by corn growers and would provide a refund option for those who have to pay the half-cent assessment to the state. This bill will give the Corn Board additional accountability to its members and will allow it to operate more efficiently. Everyone who testified at the hearing supported this bill and I hope to have it advance to the floor for further debate.
Another one of my bills, LB246, had a hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. LB246 would create an inmate copayment program. An inmate would have to pay $10 for any self-initiated, non-emergency visit to a health care provider. This would help deter inmates from abusing the free health care services they receive while incarcerated in a state or county correctional facility. Thirty-eight states and the federal government already have inmate copayment programs and I believe Nebraska should follow the fiscally responsible models these programs have set across the country. Sheriff Matchett of Holt County brought this idea to me and came to help support the bill at the hearing. It generated some interesting discussion and will be up for a vote in the Judiciary Committee soon.
There were two hearings held this week on LB405 and LB406, which are the two bills that put forth the Governor’s proposed tax policy. Those bills would eliminate the individual and corporate income tax and would also eliminate certain sales tax exemptions. On Wednesday, the Revenue Committee’s hearing lasted for nine and a half hours, during which they listened to both proponents and opponents to the Governor’s tax plan. Many of you have called and emailed me with your concerns about these bills. I share your concerns and I will work to ensure that agricultural interests and the interests of our district are thoroughly contemplated when discussing this issue.
Next week there will be a hearing on LB57, which is a bill I introduced to give additional oversight to the Nebraska Environmental Trust over its projects. LB57 requires that the Nebraska Environmental Trust approve the use of its funds to buy and sell real property acquired by Environmental Trust grant recipients. The Nebraska Environmental Trust would also have to approve any transfer of property purchased with the Trust’s funds to the federal government and provide a sum of money to the county to make up for any lost property tax income. I look forward to the hearing on this bill in front of the Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.
I enjoy hearing your comments or feedback on issues that are important to the people of Legislative District 40. Please feel welcome to call, write, or visit the office that is here to represent and serve you at (402) 471-2801 or a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Tyson Larson