NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE
The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Tom Briese

Sen. Tom Briese

District 41

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at tbriese@leg.ne.gov

Welcome

January 3rd, 2017

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 41st legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact my staff and me about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Tom Briese

By the time you read this, the legislature will have debated the governor’s tax relief proposal, LB 947. And hopefully, we will have debated a version of my LB 1084 as an amendment to another bill.

The approaches of 947 and 1084 are drastically different. LB 947 provides corporate income tax relief phased in over five years. It also provides for a refundable income tax credit based on the 2% of property taxes paid on ag land, and 1% paid on residential property, although many versions and amendments have been proposed. These amounts increase annually, with the ag refund growing by another 2% each year, to reach 20% in 10 years. The residential portion increases another 1% per year for five years, then grows at 2% per year until reaching 20% in thirteen years. However, residential credits are subject to a maximum of $25 dollars per home the first year, and growing to a maximum of $500 after thirteen years.

The amended version of LB 1084 raises the sales tax rate and cigarette taxes, reinstates the alternative minimum tax, repeals the personal property tax exemption, and places a surtax on high incomes. The revenue raised is then used to restore the remaining one year of cuts to K-12 education contained in last year’s LB 409, to fund a 30% allocated income tax similar to that found in the original TEEOSA formula, to fund $500 per student aid to all school districts, to fund an additional $80 million to special education reimbursement, and to further fund the property tax credit fund.

LB 1084 will also place a two year property tax asking cap on local school districts, and will call for a comprehensive study of how K-12 funding in Nebraska is structured.

As the legislature compares the proposals, I have asked my colleagues several questions. First, which proposal provides immediate and substantial property tax relief, and which proposal defers relief to many years down the road? Second, which proposal identifies how it is to be funded, and which proposal leaves it up to future leaders and future generations of Nebraskans to ensure it is paid for? Third, which proposal places limits on local taxing authorities to help ensure long term property tax relief, and which proposal does nothing to control property tax growth across the state?

For me, the answers to the above questions point in favor of LB 1084.

If you need to get in touch, the best way is to call my office and speak with my staff (or leave a message if you call over the lunch hour) at (402) 471-2631. My legislative website is news.legislature.ne.gov/dist41/ and my facebook page is at facebook.com/SenatorTomBriese. Lastly, be sure to sign up to my office’s mailing list to receive updates over the summer about town halls and events I will be holding near you. Sign up at: http://eepurl.com/dlRS6n

Dear neighbor,

While the road to property tax is still a narrow one, much will happen in the legislature in the week between the deadline for this column and its publication. But there is more going on in the body which is worth addressing.

My legislative bill 256 passed the legislature last week, and is currently headed to the Governor for his signature. That bill will allow our towns, cities, and villages to address vacant properties with ordinances to encourage making those properties available for new workforce housing. The bill is permissive legislation, which means that no community has to enact anything, only that they may, if necessary for their constituents. Lincoln and Omaha both already have similar ordinances they enacted years ago under their respective home rule charters. This bill will offer another valuable tool in the toolbox of economic developers in rural Nebraska.

The legislature also began last week to discuss the mid-biennium budget adjustments, as recommended by the Governor and amended by the Appropriations committee. There was lengthy and contentious discussion regarding LB 944, one of the three budget bills that prohibits Title X funds from going to an organization that performs or suggests abortion services. This bill was discussed for six hours and then was voted to advance to select file. This was the latest night that I have experienced on the floor of the legislature, as we adjourned around 11:30 PM.

I want to let you know that the registration for the Unicameral Youth Legislature is now available. This is a four day program for students who are interested in the legislative process. Each student is considered a senator who brings bills, listens to committee hearings, and practices debate in the historic Warner Chamber. There are scholarships available to cover costs. Please visit https://nebraskalegislature.gov/education/unicamyouth.php for more information.

Lastly, I’d like to remind you that my office is accepting applications for a temporary administrative assistant over the summer. If you know someone who would be interested in this, please pass the word along to them! Inquiries can be sent directly to me at tbriese@leg.ne.gov, using the subject line “Assistant.” If you have questions on this, or any other issues pertaining to your Legislature and state government, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office at (402)471-2631.

Sen. Tom Briese invites students to youth legislature

High school students are invited to take on the role of state senators at the Unicameral Youth Legislature June 10-13. At the State Capitol, student senators will sponsor bills, conduct committee hearings, debate legislation and discover the unique process of the nation’s only unicameral.

The Unicameral Youth Legislature gives behind-the-scenes access to students who have an interest in public office, government, politics, law, public policy, debate or public speaking. Students will learn about the inner workings of the Legislature directly from senators and staff.

Registrants are encouraged to apply for a Greg Adams Civic Scholarship award, which covers the full cost of admission. Applicants must submit a short essay. Other scholarships are also available.

The Office of the Clerk of the Nebraska Legislature coordinates the Unicameral Youth Legislature. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Extension 4-H Youth Development Office coordinates housing and recreational activities as part of the Big Red Summer Camps program.

To learn more about the program, go to www.NebraskaLegislature.gov/uyl or call (402) 471-2788. The deadline for registration is May 15.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Heidi Uhing
Nebraska Legislature
Unicameral Information Office
(402) 471-2788
huhing@leg.ne.gov

The last two weeks in the legislature saw a flurry of activity. The deadline passed for designating priority bills, and three of my bills were designated as priorities. But first, let me explain what that means.

In a short 60-day session like the one we are in this year, four to six hundred bills can be introduced. Even accounting for the number of bills which are never advanced out of committee, there can be upwards of three hundred bills placed on general file, eligible for debate by the whole body. Obviously, between procedural motions, long debates, and filibusters, the requirement to hold three separate rounds of debate and voting in order to pass a bill is not possible to meet for every bill. This makes prioritization, especially in a short session, almost the only way a bill has a chance.

Each senator may designate one bill as his or her personal priority, which I did for my own LB 1084. The senator need not prioritize one of his or her own bills, and in fact this year Speaker Scheer designated my LB 845 as his personal priority bill. Each of the 14 standing committees, plus the Executive Board and Performance Audit Committee may designate two priority bills, and the State-Tribal Relations Committee gets one. The Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee designated my LB 1015 as one of their priority bills. Finally, the speaker may designate up to 25 bills as Speaker Priority bills.

For those of you keeping track at home, we’re now up to 107 priority bills, and during some years, not even all priority bills get the chance to be heard. However, I am deeply grateful to Speaker Scheer and the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee for giving a fighting chance to two pieces of common-sense legislation designed to protect Nebraskans.

LB 845 would protect parents with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of their disability in circumstances in which they would face losing custody of their children. My staff and I spent much of the last year working with many good people in the disability rights community in Nebraska, and I hope to see that work pay off.

LB 1015 would prevent the unauthorized disclosure of a person’s private medical information when he or she has been involved in a workplace accident.

I have several other bills which still have a chance at passage, and I will explain the circumstances surrounding those bills in a future column.

Lastly, I’d like to remind you that my office is accepting applications for a temporary administrative assistant over the summer. If you know someone who would be interested in this, please pass the word along to them! Inquiries can be sent directly to me at tbriese@leg.ne.gov, using the subject line “Assistant.” If you have questions on this, or any other issues pertaining to your Legislature and state government, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office at (402)471-2631.

It’s been two weeks since my last column, and I’d like to be able to tell you that your Nebraska Legislature has advanced many of the dozens of bills representing common-sense legislation which will benefit all Nebraskans. But unfortunately, that did not happen. The last couple of weeks have seen floor debate bogged down in lengthy filibusters over only a handful of issues. However, off of the floor, my staff and I have been at work preparing to get good bills to the floor which have the right policy pieces to benefit life for all Nebraskans, and gain the support of a majority of senators.

I had another two of my bills in hearings over the last two weeks, and another to be heard this week. After a bill’s hearing, the next step is to work with my colleagues in the various committees. Together, we craft changes to the bills which will make sure that they are voted out of committee and presented for the consideration of the whole body as the best they can be.

The hearings for my bills so far went very well, in my opinion. There was excellent testimony for many of them from a wide range of folks from all across Nebraska. There were even some of you, my constituents in the 41st District, who made the drive down to Lincoln to let your voices be heard on some bills. I want to sincerely thank those of you who follow the legislative process, who keep in touch with my staff on issues important to you, and especially who come down to testify on bills. For me, and for my colleagues, there is no testimony in a hearing more important than that of everyday Nebraskans who are simply there representing themselves, their families, and their communities.

Finally, I’d like to bring your attention to an opportunity for someone from the 41st District, perhaps a young person attending college in Lincoln, but that’s not necessary. My office will be accepting applications for the next couple of months for a temporary Administrative Assistant to work with us over the summer months. Organizational skills are a must, and a knowledge of the district and an interest in policy are a major plus. The pay is competitive, and the temporary job has the potential to lead to permanent employment. If you know someone who would be interested in this, please pass the word along to them! Inquiries can be sent directly to me at tbriese@leg.ne.gov, using the subject line “Assistant.” If you have questions on this, or any other issues pertaining to your Legislature and state government, please do not hesitate to get in touch with my office at (402)471-2631.

BiWeekly Column, February 9, 2018

February 15th, 2018

Last week, the governor presented his tax relief bill to the Revenue Committee. Sponsored by Papillion Senator Jim Smith, it would permanently and immediately cut the top income tax rates for individuals and corporations. It would also stair step property tax relief to be implemented over the next 13 years. It funds this relief by eliminating the property tax credit fund and with unspecified future state revenue. I have my concerns about that approach, but I understand that the proposal is still being adjusted.

This week, I will present my education funding/property tax relief bill, LB 1084, to the Revenue Committee. LB 1084 will provide immediate and substantial property tax relief, specify funding sources for that relief, reaffirm our commitment to funding education, provide soft property tax asking caps to help ensure lasting property tax relief, and it will call for a comprehensive study of K-12 funding in Nebraska. Many of the components are still in play, and I anticipate changes to some of the details I describe below.

Instead of kicking the can down the road, LB 1084 would generate revenue to pay for property tax relief from a variety of sources. It would sunset several sales tax exemptions and eliminate various exclusions. It would increase the sales tax rate by ½ cent, and raise the cigarette tax to mirror the national average. It would reinstate the alternative minimum tax and eliminate income tax loopholes commonly known as the Subchapter S exclusion and the Special Capital Gains exclusion. It would impose a modest surtax on our very highest income earners. It would sunset the New Markets Job Growth Investment Act and the personal property tax exemption. It would also direct internet sales tax revenue to property tax relief.

With this revenue, the bill would reinstate the 20% allocated income tax to our schools, and replace the TEEOSA cuts of last year’s LB 409. It would then nearly quadruple the amount in the Property Tax Credit Fund.

All of the above would be accompanied by a limit on K-12 property tax asking increases equal to the higher of 2.5%, the rate of inflation, student growth, poverty growth, or ELP growth. The allowable property tax asking would also be lowered by any amount other revenue sources increase, or increased if those sources fall off. These limits could be surpassed by a 75% vote of the school board, or a public vote.

Finally, LB 1084 would call for a comprehensive study of school finance in Nebraska.

I believe that LB 1084 is the responsible approach to property tax relief. It can help us to alleviate the inequities in our school funding structure, and our tax structure itself.

Finally, my office will have an opportunity coming up this summer for someone who is interested in the workings of the Legislature and would like to start down a path in policy in Nebraska. Please keep an eye out for further details in my upcoming columns.
If you need to get in touch, the best way is to call my office and speak with my staff (or leave a message if you call over the lunch hour) at (402) 471-2631. My legislative website is news.legislature.ne.gov/dist41/ and my facebook page is at facebook.com/SenatorTomBriese

Press Release on LB 1084

January 18th, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Office of Senator Tom Briese, (402)471-2631

Senator Briese Introduces Property Tax Relief Proposal

Lincoln, NE – Senator Tom Briese of Albion announced today that he has introduced a bill that will put Nebraska on a path to reducing over-reliance on property taxes and adequately funding education in the state. Briese said, “This bill represents the culmination of a broad-based, bipartisan effort consisting of education groups and property tax interests including agricultural, residential, and commercial property taxpayers. The bill will provide the property tax relief that all hard-working Nebraskans deserve, while at the same time protecting the ability of our schools to prepare our young folks for the jobs and careers of the 21st century.”

Briese went on to say that his bill would provide immediate property tax relief, would identify the sources of revenue to fund the relief, and would provide soft caps to taxing authority to ensure long term property tax relief while protecting education. Noting Census Bureau data suggesting Nebraska is 49th in the country in the percentage of K-12 education funded with state dollars, Briese said, “For far too long, our state has relied too heavily on property taxes to fund our schools. Its time the state stepped up and funded its share of K-12.”

Finally, Briese stressed the significance of the various stakeholders and senators he anticipates backing his proposal. “Sustainable tax reform which protects education must travel a collaborative, bipartisan path. And I believe that path exists,” he said. He also stated, “Because of the many stakeholders involved, the bill was a product of much negotiation, and most likely adjustments to it will continue.” Finally, Briese noted, “I believe that Nebraskans deserve a fair and balanced tax structure. But I also recognize there is nothing we do that is more important than how we educate our children. This bill affirms both of those principles.”

Last week was the start of the second session of the 105th legislature, and my second session as your State Senator. The first ten working days of session are the only time when bills can be introduced, and last week was almost exclusively the introduction of bills. Between day one, Wednesday, and day three, Friday, nearly two hundred bills were introduced. Several bills have already gotten attention, and no doubt you’ve seen or heard about some of them in this paper, on your local news channel, or on social media. The next step for most of the bills will be referencing to a committee by a group of senators elected from within the body. This group sends bills to the committees tasked with dealing with the areas of law those bills concern: so the roads bills are sent to my colleagues and me on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and the tax bills are sent to our colleagues on the Revenue Committee. I am serving again this year on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and on the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee, as well as the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, a special committee. In fact, all of the senators are serving on the same committees as last year, with the exception of Senator Theresa Thibodeau, a new appointee by the Governor to replace former Senator Joni Craighead.

I am looking forward to this session, which will be composed of 60 working days lasting from January 3rd to April 18th of this year. The legislative session this year will be dominated at some point by discussion of finances: the state government is staring down the barrel of a $200 million shortfall, and calls for tax relief from citizens are at an all-time high. I will be introducing a major proposal to provide the property tax relief that the people of District 41 (and hundreds of thousands of others across the state) need for our economy to thrive. It will also include a comprehensive look at how we can take the burden of education funding off of property taxes while still giving our children the kind of quality education they will need to make Nebraska a leader for the whole of the 21st century.

I also have a bill which will be a low-cost way for the state to investigate whether our Beginning Farmer Tax Credit needs to be adjusted to encourage young people to come into the business of agriculture. I believe that programs like this are needed now more than ever. The average age of a farmer in America is now close to 60 years old, and it’s been rising every year. Our older farmers deserve to have the freedom to retire when they choose to, not before or after they are ready. But with population shifts to the cities in rural states like Nebraska, and land and equipment prices representing significant barriers to entry, young people just getting started in life are either too far from farms and ranches to consider a move, or don’t have necessary financial capital to start farming.

If you need to get in touch, the best way is to call my office and speak with my staff (or leave a message if you call over the lunch hour) at (402) 471-2631. My legislative website is news.legislature.ne.gov/dist41/ and my facebook page is at facebook.com/SenatorTomBriese

Dear Neighbor,

The 2018 legislative session is only a few weeks away. It will begin on January 3rd, and will run until mid-April. I would like to take this time to give you some of my thoughts on the upcoming session, and to give you the opportunity to send me some of your thoughts.

During the 2017 session, much less was done in the legislature than many Nebraskans -myself included- had hoped. Several weeks at the beginning were slowed down by a contentious debate over the rules, and a number of controversial bills held up progress as they were each subjected to a filibuster. A budget shortfall of nearly a billion dollars meant that many state programs saw smaller increases in funding than they had been expecting, and a small number experienced cuts. In 2018, I believe that we will all anticipate some deja vu, as projected revenues have not yet begun to move upward again. This will mean another session of limited funds for new programs, and more time spent revising the budget.

I also know that property taxes will be a major issue once more. I will introduce bills addressing the burden of property taxes that our farmers and ranchers have struggled under for years, and which is now also shared by many of our friends in town. I am certain that other senators will also bring bills to tackle the issues of property taxes. Additionally, those who pressed hard last year for state income tax breaks will certainly keep up their efforts. I am hopeful, however, that a reasonable compromise can be reached, by which Nebraskans of all stripes can see the tax relief which will be the most beneficial to their communities, businesses, and families.

I’d also like to hear about what matters to you. As a favor to me, I ask that you take a short 5-minute survey on what life is like where you live, how you feel about some government services, and what issues matter the most to you. You can find the survey at surveymonkey.com/R/Briese2017 or by visiting my legislative website or facebook page and clicking on the link to the survey. I will take the feedback you give me extremely seriously, and I will use your thoughts to inform how I vote in the Legislature next year. I intend to make this a yearly way by which I can hear from all of you.

Finally, while I will continue to submit columns to this paper every two weeks during the legislative session, I’d like to invite you to sign up for my newsletter mailing list at eepurl.com/c-m87j. The link will also be available on my legislative website and Facebook page. I plan to use this to reach out to you in the future when the most important topics come up. I also encourage you to let your friends and neighbors know about both the survey and the newsletter.

Thank you so much for taking the time to give me your feedback, and for trusting me to represent the very finest people in our state.

 

2017 Voter Poll

November 6th, 2017

I’d like to know how the people of District 41 feel about some local and government services, and ask you send me a comment. I’m conducting a survey before the 2018 session begins. I encourage you to take the survey, and to tell your friends about it! The link is at https://surveymonkey.com/r/Briese2017

Sen. Tom Briese

District 41
Room #1120
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2631
Email: tbriese@leg.ne.gov
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