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Tim Gragert

Sen. Tim Gragert

District 40

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The Legislature spent four hours this past week debating LB 906 which focuses on employer vaccine mandates. As amended by Health and Human Services Committee amendments, LB 906 would apply to businesses with one or more employees but would only pertain to the COVID-19 vaccine. LB 906 clarifies that if an employer requires employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, an exemption to the mandate is allowed for a medical reason, accompanied by a signed statement from their health care practitioner, or for a religious reason, based on the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. The employer may require employees granted an exemption to be tested periodically for COVID-19 and wear personal protective equipment, both at the employer’s expense. An amendment was adopted clarifying that federal law supersedes state law. This was necessary after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal vaccine mandate last month for health care providers that participate in the federal Medicare or Medicaid programs.

An amendment was offered to LB 906 that would have stricken the authority of employers to require the unvaccinated to undergo periodic testing and wear PPE. Initially, the sponsor of the bill, Senator Ben Hansen, supported this amendment. However, the committee amendments represented a compromise, allowing several entities to withdraw their opposition to the bill. When the amendment threatened to unravel this compromise, Senator Hansen withdrew his support for the amendment, after which the amendment failed. The cloture motion to end debate and allow for a vote on the advancement of the bill was successful on a 38-3 vote and LB 906 advanced to Final Reading on a 36-2 vote.

Debate began this week on LB 939, which proposes to reduce the top individual income tax rate from 6.84% to 5.84% over a three-year period. The Revenue Committee amendments add the provisions of LB 938, which reduce the top rate of the corporate income tax to 5.84% as well. Last year, legislation was passed to reduce the top corporate income tax rate from 7.81% to 6.84%. Under the amended version of LB 939, the top corporate income tax rate would be reduced further and faster than what was previously enacted. By fiscal year 2025/26, it is estimated that the tax cuts would reduce state revenue by approximately $400 million.

The sponsor of LB 939, Revenue Committee chair Senator Lou Ann Linehan, said that because state revenues have grown far greater than predicted, it is time to return the excess to taxpayers. Furthermore, LB 939 would make Nebraska more competitive with other states, when contending for businesses and residents. Much of the debate centered on whether the Legislature will be able to afford this tax cut in future years and whether it primarily benefits the wealthy.

The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce presented data showing that our current income tax system provides relatively low tax burdens for lower income taxpayers, but that middle-income and above taxpayers have some of the highest income tax rates in the Midwest. They urged Nebraska to modernize our outdated tax system and be more competitive in today’s environment, when trying to attract new residents, talent, jobs, and entrepreneurs. Whereas, the Open Sky Policy Institute distributed information showing that approximately 83% of the corporate income tax cut would flow to out-of-state taxpayers and that 84% of the personal income tax cut would go to the highest earning 20% of Nebraskans.

As the Legislature debates tax policy and other issues, I encourage you to inform me of your thoughts and opinions. I can be reached at tgragert@leg.ne.gov. My mailing address is District #40, P.O. Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509 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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