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Tim Gragert

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40

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The Speaker of the Legislature has announced that senators will complete their work a few days early, adjourning sine die on May 27th rather than June 10th. This is partially due to the many late nights that were worked in order to complete our business and knowing that we will be meeting again in a couple months.

Every ten years, the Legislature must complete the redistricting process to reflect population changes after the U.S. Census is complete. Due to the pandemic, states didn’t get the census data in March, as they typically do. The data should be available by mid-August, forcing the Legislature to meet in a special session this fall to redraw the governmental district boundary lines.

This past week, seventy-three bills were read on Final Reading and passed into law. The following are some of the bills that passed.

LB 2 reduces the value of agricultural land from 75% to 50% of its actual value for school bond issues. This legislation seeks to more evenly balance the responsibility for paying for school bonds amongst farmers and residential homeowners.

LB 51 increases certification and training standards for law enforcement officers. The Crime Commission is directed to post information on its website regarding law enforcement officers who have their certification revoked or have been convicted of a serious crime.

LB 64 phases out the taxation of all social security income over a 10-year period. The 50% exemption over the first 5 years is spelled out in statute. The increase to 100% over the next 5 years is included in intent language, allowing a future Legislature to revisit the issue to determine if there is sufficient revenue at that time.

LB 324 allows for herd-share arrangements with a producer prior to slaughter, in an effort to make it easier for consumers to purchase individual packages of meat directly from the producer or processor.

LB 387 will exempt 100% of military retirement from state income taxes. This bill was introduced at the request of the governor and I selected it as my priority bill.

LB 388 authorizes the Public Service Commission to issue $20 million in grants annually to increase access to high speed broadband across the state. Unserved and underserved areas will be prioritized.

LB 396 adopts the Nebraska farm-to-school program. Administered by the Nebraska Department of Education, the program encourages schools to use locally and regionally produced or minimally processed food in an effort to improve child nutrition and strengthen the farm economy. The program may also include activities to provide students with hands-on learning opportunities.

LB 406 creates the Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability Special Committee of the Legislature. The committee is authorized to hire a consultant to study three areas of the state, including northern Knox County. The study will look at the socioeconomic conditions, recreational and tourism opportunities, and public investment necessary to enhance economic development in our area.

LB 644 requires counties, cities, school districts, and community colleges to send a brightly colored postcard to affected property taxpayers notifying them of a joint public hearing if they propose to increase their property tax request by more than the allowable growth percentage. The allowable growth percentage is set at 2% plus real growth.

Senators discussed but did not vote on LB 542, which would have authorized the State Highway Commission to issue up to $400 million in bonds over the next six years to speed up the completion of Nebraska’s expressway system. One-third of the state’s 600-mile expressway plan to link major cities with four-lane expressways remains unfinished more than 30 years after it was approved by the Legislature. The cost of the project continues to increase due to inflation and rising construction costs. Segments waiting to be completed include Fremont to Columbus and Fremont to Norfolk.

It was decided to hold LB 542 until next year, but retain its priority status. This would allow the Legislature to have a better idea of what will happen with the infrastructure bill in U.S. Congress that could send a significant amount of funding to states to improve highways. Furthermore, it was recently announced that the Department of Transportation has received bids on expanding Highway 275 between West Point and Scribner into a four-lane system.

As we finish this legislative session, I still encourage you to contact me. I can be reached at District #40, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE  68509. My email address is tgragert@leg.ne.gov and my telephone number is (402) 471-2801.

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40
Room 11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2801
Email: tgragert@leg.ne.gov
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