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It’s that point in the legislative session when only bills with priority status make the agenda. The deadline for selecting priority bills was Friday, February 21. Every senator is authorized to select one bill as his/her personal priority bill. Committees are allowed to select two bills and the Speaker of the Legislature can designate up to 25 bills as speaker priority bills. Since committees are limited in the number of bills that they can select, they tend to incorporate a number of other bills into the committee amendments when the bill is advanced and prioritized.
As I mentioned last week, I selected LB 770 as my personal priority bill. It allows disabled veterans to qualify for a free lifetime park permit. LB 770 was given second round approval this past week and is now ready for Final Reading.
Some of the other bills that have been designated as a priority include the following:
LB 147, introduced by North Platte Senator Mike Groene, amends the Student Discipline Act, to allow teachers to use reasonable physical intervention in certain situations.
LB 627, introduced by Lincoln Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of prohibited types of discrimination.
LB 720, introduced by Seward Senator Mark Kolterman, creates the ImagiNE Nebraska Act to replace the Nebraska Advantage Act, which provides tax incentives for businesses that meet specified investment and employment criteria.
LB 814, introduced by Lincoln Senator Suzanne Geist, prohibits the performance of dismemberment abortion.
LB 962, introduced by Omaha Senator Megan Hunt, creates the Nebraska Fair Pay to Play Act, which would allow college athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness rights, or athletic reputation and permits them to sign with a licensed agent.
LB 1202, introduced by Elkhorn Senator Lou Ann Linehan, creates the Opportunity Scholarships Act, authorizing tax credits for contributions to organizations that provide scholarships for students to attend private schools.
Three pieces of legislation designated as a priority relate to property tax relief:
LB 974, introduced by the Revenue Committee, would lower the valuation of property and add a foundation factor to the school finance formula.
LB 1073, introduced by Bennington Senator Wendy DeBoer, would lower the valuation of agricultural land, as well as decrease the local effort rate and add basic funding aid to the school funding formula.
LR 300 CA, introduced by Bayard Senator Steve Erdman, would prohibit all forms of taxation other than a consumption tax, which would apply to all new goods and services.
Of the three pieces of legislation that dealt with property tax relief, only LB 974 has been advanced to the floor of the Legislature. Under LB 974, agricultural land would be reduced from 75% to 55% and residential and commercial real estate from 100% to 87% of actual value for school taxing purposes. Foundation aid would be phased in and by the third year, 15% of state sales and income tax receipts would be allocated to school districts on a per pupil basis. The allocation is estimated at $2,416 per student. Beginning with fiscal year 2023, schools would be guaranteed that 15% of their basic funding needs would come from state sources. Limits on school spending would be tied to the Consumer Price Index.
Senators began debating LB 974 this past week and reached the three hour mark, where the sponsor of the legislation, Revenue Chair Senator Lou Ann Linehan, must show the speaker that she has the necessary 33 votes for the bill to be placed on the agenda again. Schools, both large and small, have expressed concern with LB 974. Their concern is that the funding isn’t sustainable and that they would not be able to make up for the loss in property tax revenue. Senator Linehan pledged to work with school districts in an effort to reach a compromise.
As the Legislature discusses priority bills, I encourage you to inform me of your opinion on them. I can be reached at District #40, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509. My telephone number is (402) 471-2801 and my email address is email@example.com.