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LB72 tightens up the law against transferring wealth to heirs so an individual can qualify for Medicaid reimbursements. We have all heard stories where recipients transfer property to their children so they can have their assisted living and medical cost paid for by the taxpayer. This bill makes it harder to do that; I voted for it.
LB423 allows tax credits for renewable energy. Unlike other states, Nebraska has a publicly owned electric power system and it has served us well. I do not agree with injecting expensive non-reliable sources of electricity – that on their own are not economically feasible – into our grid. Many citizens pay more for utility bills than taxes. This governmental effort to encourage conversion to so called “green energy” will drive up electrical rates to those who can least afford it. Someday, alternative electricity sources may become competitive in the free market. Until then, I see no reason to litter the aesthetic view of our horizons in rural Nebraska with inefficient windmills. The estimated cost to the taxpayer is unpredictable – ranging from $4 million to $26 million annually over the next 4 years. LB423 passed General File. I will continue to attempt to defeat it, or render it less harmful through amendments.
LB330, requested by the Liquor Control Commission, changes liquor laws. Retirement and nursing homes will be able to apply for liquor licenses, and licenses will be allowed within 150 feet of a church, if the church agrees. I supported an adopted amendment that outlawed powdered alcohol in Nebraska. LB330 passed General File.
LB629 sets up regulations allowing Lyft and Uber, which are Transportation Network Companies, to operate legally in Nebraska. The entity responsible for insurance coverage for property damage to private vehicles contracted by the Taxi service was an issue that was being negotiated. I support this new, low-cost competition to existing Taxi companies and public transportation.
LB360 makes changes to the Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act. LB360 gives the Department of Agriculture the ability to better police puppy mills and boarding kennels. It passed General File; I voted for it.
LB317 repeals the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact; a compact that, years ago, people thought was a good idea. We have been paying dues greater than $15,000 annually with nothing to show for it, except that a few senators get a free trip to attend a convention every summer. We voted to withdraw from the compact after a compromise was reached to stay in the compact for three more years with those senators who believe you should take a train instead of driving your car.
On the schedule this week for Select File is LB419 (sales tax exemption for zoos), LB414 (Woodmen of the World property tax exemption), and LB599 (minimum wage bill that applies to high school students).
This week’s General File agenda
LB175 adopts the Livestock Growth Act. I am still looking at it.
LB325 changes levy provisions for rural and suburban fire protection districts. Some counties are levying a fire protection tax without passing it on to volunteer fire districts, and that needs to be corrected.
LB329 adopts the Nebraska Agritourism Promotion Act. The bill reduces some of the liability concerns for tourist-friendly landowners. I support this legislation. The Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys was the only opposition.
LB643 adopts the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act. The Judiciary Committee has improved it with an amendment to replicate Minnesota’s medical cannabis law, which limits the products to cannabis oil and liquid medicinal forms. The amendment also limits clinical sites to eight and allows for only two licensed producers in the entire state of Nebraska. This bill would be a lot easier to support if there was scientific evidence that the treatment was universally effective. The debate will be long, and I will certainly be listening closely; though I am still skeptical.
We start debate on the budget this Thursday. However, for those of us who are not on the Appropriations Committee, we do not get a copy of the budget until Tuesday, which seems like a strange way to decide on our state’s budget, but this is government. I plan on asking more than only a few questions.