NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Mike Jacobson

Sen. Mike Jacobson

District 42

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I want to continue to discuss the anatomy of “economic development” and how our entire legislative district can benefit from taking a visionary approach to growing great jobs, which in turn, grows our tax base and our communities.

In 2002, I had just ended my term as chairman of the North Platte Area Development Corporation (prior to merging with the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce).  We had just been contacted by Wal-Mart regarding their need for a new Food Distribution Center. Wal-Mart had limited their search to North Platte, Nebraska, and a town in eastern Wyoming.  After reviewing possible sites to locate, Wal-Mart chose their current site, however, we were required to acquire and deed to them the site as part of the proposal to bring them to North Platte.  As chairman of the North Platte Community Development Authority, we worked with the Development Corporation to apply for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to generate the funds to purchase the Wal-Mart Food Distribution Center (DC) site and the adjacent land to the west.

TIF captures the “increase” in property taxes that are generated from the improvements created from the new project.  The projected revenues from this income stream is monetized in to a bond that can be used to cover some of the land and infrastructure costs to build the project.  Once the bond is repaid, or 15-years have passed (whichever comes first), the newly created tax base goes to the taxing authorities from that point forward.  The original tax base always stays in place just as they were.

In the case of the DC project, the $3 million bond was issued on March 2, 2002 and was fully repaid on November 6, 2012.  The initial tax assessed value of the land was approximately $180,000 and was generating $4,000 in annual property taxes.  After the project was built, the tax assessed value rose to just under $19 million increasing the property tax to just over $400,000/year.  The $4,000 continued to go to the taxing authorities, and the balance went to repay the bond.  The gross property tax payment was paid by the DC.

Over the 10-year bond, the property value rose to almost $26 million, taking the annual property tax to just $547,000/year.  Since the bond was repaid in 2012, all of the new tax base has gone to the taxing authorities.  However, in addition to the significant growth in tax base, here are some of the additional benefits of attracting this company to North Platte.

Today, the company employs over 600 workers who travel from up to a 75 mile radius of North Platte to work a schedule that they choose.  The average hourly worker makes just over $47,000 annually plus incentives and benefits.  Their annual payroll exceeds $35 million per year.  There are over 240 trucks arriving inbound seven days per week, and approximately 190 trucks out bound.  The center serves stores in a 10-state area.

As an added benefit, the DC regularly has loads of perishable food that does not meet the DC specifications.  This could be “close dated” products, or products with slight imperfections.  These products are rejected for retail sale, but donated to the Heartland Food Bank and the area food pantries including the Salvation Army.  The dog and cat food products are donated to the Humane Society.  Any food that does not meet quality standards is discarded.

In addition to the direct employment generated by the DC, there has been significant new business generated from the DC project.  The funding not only allowed for the purchase of the property where the DC is currently located, but also provide funding to purchase the adjacent land west that became the new “Twin Rivers Industrial Park”, and install some of the public infrastructure.  This development has led to the new UPS facility, the new Miller/Coors warehouse facility, and the creation of several new attractive warehouse buildings that can be available for immediate use by a new company wanting to locate to this area.  A second truck stop located in the SE quadrant of the Newberry and I-80, and the addition of the Inland Truck Parts repair center just north of the DC are also benefits of the DC development.  These new businesses would not have happened without the DC locating in North Platte.

Another benefit of the DC, is their job structure.  Hourly employees can literally create their own work schedule to accommodate their lifestyle.  If you are farmer or rancher looking for a second job that fits around your schedule, you can work days or nights, one day, or 7 days.  You can also work on a seasonal basis.  These types of job features help bring and keep quality workers to District 42 and allow them the space to raise families or support other businesses in our communities.

The DC is another example of a business that has made their home in North Platte, but has had a significant impact throughout the region.  Continuing this growth will help reverse the out-migration of our population base, grow our schools, improve our retail offerings, and strengthen our tax bases.

Constituents can reach Senator Mike Jacobson at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. Our door is always open!

This past Monday marked the passage of another Memorial Day. Although many see this weekend as the beginning of summer and the first opportunity to break out the barbeque grills, it is important to remember the significance of this holiday and the sacrifices made by so many to allow us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Memorial Day dates back to June 3, 1861, when the first Civil War grave was decorated with flowers in Warrenton, Virginia. At that time, Memorial Day was known as “Decoration Day” and “Northern states” started decorating the graves of fallen soldiers at certain times of the year. Communal potlucks for decorating volunteers were also common in the post-Civil War era, held by various church groups who sponsored the decoration of the soldiers’ cemeteries.

After World War I, Decoration Day began to be observed in all states in honor of those who had died in all U.S. wars and its name was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day. Since 1971, Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday in May. Memorial Day continues to be a holiday of special importance to those who have served in the American military, and family members who grieve for their lost loved ones (Gold Star families). Once a year, this holiday allows them to honor those who have died fighting wars in the name of their country. This is why the quote “All Gave Some, Some Gave All” is frequently used in relation to the holiday.

Although some see this holiday as the beginning of summer, make no mistake about it, this is a holiday that is first and foremost about sacrifice, bravery and valor and the remembrance of those who exhibited all of those traits to preserve the American way of life.

I was honored to spend Memorial Day at various celebrations throughout District 42. Wallace welcomed me to their service at Morning View Cemetery, which dates back to 1892. Wallace American Legion Post 213 hosted the service and a delicious community hamburger and hot dog feed following the celebration. My wife and daughter are members of the American Legion Auxiliary, so it is always special for me to support American Legion events.

Next, I joined Gov. Pete Ricketts at the Fort McPherson National Cemetery south of Maxwell. It was dedicated in 1873 and is the final resting place for soldiers who fought in the Indian Wars, the Civil War, World Wars I and II and more recent conflicts. The cemetery is enclosed by wrought-iron fencing with large vehicular gates supported by stone piers, all constructed in 1941. A white marble monument marks the mass grave of 28 soldiers killed in an 1854 encounter with the Sioux at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory. Fort McPherson National Cemetery is the also the final resting place for four recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, given for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity and the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Finally, I attended the ceremony at the North Platte 20th Century Veterans Memorial. Here, bronze statutes memorialize Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard veterans, as well as the volunteers of the North Platte Canteen. The five major conflicts of the 20th century, World War I, World War II, Korea War, Vietnam War and Gulf War, are depicted in a 15-foot-tall brick bas-relief mural.

It was truly a humbling experience to spend Memorial Day visiting the grave sites of our brave men and women who served. I am honored to have many veterans in my own family, including my father and father-in-law, who are no longer with us. I would challenge us all to live our lives in such a way that honors the sacrifice of those who died for us.

Thank you to all veterans and for those who died for our freedom!

Constituents can reach Senator Mike Jacobson at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. Our door is always open.

As a farm kid and current farmer, I can tell you there is a special feeling every farmer and rancher has when they are out in nature. More than just enjoying the wide-open spaces, farmers and ranchers work with nature to produce essential food for families across the globe. I think many small business owners have a similar feeling about the communities where they open their businesses. Starting a business is more than just supply and demand. It is also investing in the needs and people of a community and being part of growing economic opportunities.

Julie and I moved to North Platte over 28 years ago with two small children. I had spent the previous 10 years managing the Correspondent Banking Division for the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) in Lincoln, a sister bank to North Platte National Bank. In my role at NBC, I traveled the state visiting other banks and larger agricultural borrowers. It was a great way to learn more about the unique attributes of the Sandhills and how truly special they are to our state.

At the time of my arrival, North Platte National was in the beginning stages of building a new building (now home to Wells Fargo) to accommodate their growth in the heart of downtown. NBC was also expanding to Bridgeport, Alliance, Hyannis, Mullen, and Valentine. It was during that time that I became very active in economic development. I wanted to see the towns where my customers lived and work continue to grow and thrive.

On the heels of the most recent census, a refocusing on economic development is more important than ever before. District 42 communities, and those elsewhere in Western Nebraska, need to find ways to slow and reverse the migration we have seen to Nebraska’s urban areas. Economic development will require strong leadership in each community, and a collaboration between neighboring communities to support regional development. By growing our local economies, we can attract additional opportunities throughout the region.

Growth begets more growth. By growing high paying jobs with good benefits, we cause more homes to be built, add more children to our schools, and more retail activity. If we want to attract more restaurants and stores, we need more people with higher average incomes and potential to continue growing. In turn, more retail stores bring more shoppers to market and, just as importantly, keeps more shopping dollars in our market.

Sometimes it is hard to know where to start in these cycles. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? How do we grow our local economies to attract more businesses without the businesses to support more population?

The first step is supporting community services that can also attract more population. North Platte has the potential to become a strong regional trade center. Because of its proximity to I-80 and Highway 83, North Platte is easy to access and draws people from a 100-mile radius for the goods and services that residents throughout the region needed without competing with Kearney. A strong regional trade center has strong health care facilities, great schools, available retirement housing, quality recreational facilities, and reliable air service.

All these factors are impacted by population in and around the trade area. Many educational, healthcare, and service-based needs can be shared resources amongst the District. Others can be more readily accessed in North Platte versus traveling to Scottsbluff, Kearney, or Grand Island if properly supported by North Platte and the surrounding communities.

District 42 has many advantages to attract new residents and businesses. We have strong schools (both public and private) that have quality facilities and teachers. We have a new modern hospital staffed with very talented physicians and nursing professionals, including one of the best cancer facilities in the entire state, a new neurosurgery center with truly outstanding staff, and a best-in-class emergency department. Our park systems are very strong and capitalize on the beauty of Western Nebraska. The new owners of the District 177 mall are aggressively creating an entirely new shopping experience that everyone in the region will be proud of. We also are blessed to have Mid-Plains Community College, whose presence reaches throughout the area; the expansion of the Health Science facility will be a welcome addition and another step forward in helping address our nursing shortage.

I am only one of many business owners who has invested in the communities where my customers live and work, but I am proud of the progress that we have made over the past 20 plus years to address these issues. In the coming weeks, I will focus on where we have been with our economic development progress and where we can expect to go in the future.

If you see opportunities for growth or have ideas for how the Nebraska Legislature can further support economic development in rural communities, please reach out to me at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. Our door is always open!

As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Lawmakers often have two tasks: address the problems before us now, and attempt to avoid the problems of tomorrow. One of the greatest challenges facing District 42 and our larger region is the lack of quality affordable housing. Unfortunately, there is not a quick and easy fix, and I want to work with my fellow state senators to create a long-term vision for the future.

As we come out of the pandemic, Nebraska is fortunate to have a strong economic position. However, we are not insulated from the impact of the continuing supply chain shortages, worker shortages and the growing cost of virtually everything as inflation continues at a record pace. Couple this with rising interest rates, and the cost of housing is growing out of reach to new buyers.

Two years ago, a lot and basic three-bedroom home would have cost approximately $275,000 to build in North Platte with an interest rate of approximately 2.75% for a 30-year mortgage. Today, that same home would cost approximately $325,000 and the interest rate would be closer to 5.25%. If a borrower contributed a minimum down payment of 5%, the monthly payment would consist of a monthly principal and interest payment, insurance and real estate taxes. Two years ago, our hypothetical home would have a monthly payment of about $1,719.91. Today, the monthly payment is up to $2,422.56.

Increased monthly payments mean buyers must earn more. For the same home, the annual income necessary to qualify for the loan made a year ago would need to be around $56,571.00. The annual income necessary to qualify for the same house today would be approximately $80,571.00. And the cost of housing is still rising and so are interest rates.

The Legislature passed two bills this year designed to start making new and remodeled housing more affordable. First LB 1069 extended the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act through fiscal year 2026-27 and increased the maximum price for a qualifying grant from $275,000 to $325,000 for new owner-occupied housing and from $200,000 to $250,000 per unit of rental housing. LB 1069 also decreased the match requirement from one to one-half the amount of a workforce housing grant award. This grant program allows political subdivisions and nonprofit development organizations to build out rural housing at lower costs.

Second, I co-sponsored LB 1065 with Sen. Justin Wayne to improve the micro-TIF legislation first introduced by Sen. Mike Groene. The bill allows for property tax rebates for homeowners increasing the value of a home that has been within city limits for more than 60 years through home improvements, including demolition and reconstruction on the same site. The bill also increases the length of time the rebates can be awarded from 10 to 15 years, aligning micro-TIF with the original TIF program. Finally, LB 1065 allows for expedited approval and increases the allowable maximum assessed values.

I am proud to have supported the passage of both LB 1068 and LB 1065. These bills are part of an ongoing conversation needed to address a challenge plaguing Nebraska communities, big and small.

District 42 has many exciting economic development opportunities ahead. Sustainable Beef and the industrial rail park are expected to bring huge job growth, and affordable housing will be essential to support the new labor force. Workers will likely locate within a 50-mile radius of North Platte and communities prepared with affordable housing options will be able to recruit new families.

Now is the time to plan for the 2023 legislative session! If you have ideas to help make housing more affordable in District 42, please reach out. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your District 42 state senator.

Contact Sen. Mike Jacobson: mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

As a life-long farmer, I tend to mark the passing of time in growing seasons. Spring is typically a time for new beginnings, but in the past few years it has been a time of adversity for many Nebraskans. In 2019, our state saw historic flooding that wiped out many a family home and crippled agricultural operations and businesses, big and small, throughout much of Nebraska. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic again brought tragedy for many Nebraskans and forced us to adapt to a new normal.

Now in 2022, devastating wildfires have plagued central and western Nebraska. Just small sparks paired with dry and windy conditions have wreaked havoc on many farms and ranches. Thankfully, it has once again begun to rain. Many people call these rains “million-dollar rains.” However, it seems to me that these may be “billion-dollar rains.”  Our farmers and ranchers are just starting to feel the impact of the disaster. Will wheat farmers be able to take advantage of record prices, or will they be crop-less? Will ranchers have sufficient grassland and crops to feed their cattle herds? Only time will tell, but I’m confident our agricultural community will feel the support of its fellow Nebraskans.

Of course, the destruction would have been much worse without the heroism and incredible bravery of our volunteer and professional firefighters and first responders who literally put their lives on the line to protect the lives and property of others. Our thanks also go out to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, staff of the State Emergency Operations Center and Nebraska Incident Management Team, members serving in the National Guard who provided assistance to local responders, and the Nebraska State Patrol.

Yet again, Nebraska has been blessed with men and women who are willing to answer our calls for help, sometimes to the detriment of their own families and friends. It is hard to fully appreciate their service, and I offer my deepest sympathies to those facing injury and death due to these wildfires. You are forever in our debt.

If you would like to assist with wildfire relief efforts, I encourage you to visit KRVN’s webpage: ruralradio.com/krvn/wildfire-relief.  Producers in need of hay, fencing, or other supplies should visit the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s resource page at: nda.nebraska.gov/disasterresources/index.html.

Thank you to the firefighters, first responders, and healthcare workers in District 42 who help keep us safe during the hardest of times.

Constituents can reach Senator Mike Jacobson at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. Our door is always open!

Although the Nebraska Legislature has adjourned the 107th biennium, the Legislative term continues through Jan. 3.

As we move through the summer, I am meeting with groups across the district to better understand their needs and begin drafting legislation for the 108th biennium that begins on Jan. 4.

I plan to continue to write about some of the issues I am seeing and discussing possible solutions.

This week I want to focus on the need for broadband and cell phone connectivity. Take a drive on U.S. Highway 83 to Thedford, or drive Neb. Highway 97 to Mullen, and you will find your cell phone coverage is very limited.

Although all the county seats in District 42 have fiber connections, most of our rural areas are still without high-speed broadband. Go to the eastern half of the state and you find multiple carriers providing high speed internet services at competitive prices.

Broadband services are following the same path that rural electrification once did many years ago. First the larger cities were wired, then the smaller towns, and ultimately the rural areas were connected. The issue always comes down to the cost to get people connected. The technology has improved greatly over the years, and we now can connect people in more remote rural areas by using towers that are connected with fiber.

The tower uses a radio transmitter to connect rural users with the use of a satellite dish. The speed of the connection is much faster than the older technology and the cost is much less than running fiber to each doorstep. The speed is a function of the distance to the tower.

In this past legislative session, I helped pass LB 388 sponsored by Sen. Curt Friesen. The bill is referred to the Broadband Bridge Act. The Broadband Bridge program was created to facilitate and fund the development of broadband networks in unserved and underserved areas. The program provides grants of up to $5 million to political subdivisions to be used to install broadband services in areas of the state that lack broadband internet, providing speeds of at least 25 megabits per second for downloading and three megabits per second for uploading.

As precision agriculture continues to demand better connectivity, this type of technology is imperative.
We are also seeing a trend where more and more people are moving out of larger cities in other states to rural areas in the Midwest. Many are young people who are choosing to raise their families in the Midwest where they can access higher quality schools and Midwestern values.

In most cases, these people are keeping their higher paying jobs and simply working remotely from home. We also have limitless possibilities of improving remote learning in our schools if we have a reliable broadband network for students, either in their local school building or in their homes in remote area.

This can only be possible if we have access to high-speed broadband services.

As your state senator, I will continue to fight to better educate those living in the eastern third of the state that we have needs in this end of the state as well. Additionally, I will continue to advocate to invest more of the state’s resources here, as opposed to always focusing east. Far too many state projects such as the Nebraska State Fair, the Veterans Home, and other state funded projects fail to find their way west. I intend to change that.

It is an honor to represent you and District 42 at the Nebraska Legislature. Please continue to reach out to me at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729 regarding the issues you care about.

The Nebraska Legislature held its last day of session on Wednesday. It seems all short-session years are hectic, but with available funds in the state’s cash reserve and $1.04 billion in federal dollars to appropriate, this session has been particularly frenzied. Early session filibusters also reduced the time available for bill consideration once the body moved into full-day debate in March. Despite the time pressures, I was pleased to be able to support many major successes this year:

» LB 792 and LB 1068: These bills appropriate funds to the University of Nebraska Medical Center Rural Health Complex at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The purpose of the complex is to increase training opportunities for healthcare professionals with the goal of increasing the healthcare workforce in rural Nebraska. District 42 will benefit from a larger hiring pool of qualified personnel to work in nursing, behavioral health, assisted living and other healthcare fields.

» LB 873 and LB 984: LB 873 provides four critical tax cuts for Nebraska families expected to amount to $900 million annually by 2027-28. The bill accelerated the phase-out of Nebraska’s social security income tax; lowers certain personal and corporate income tax rates; keeps refundable income tax credits from LB 1107 growing at a reasonable rate; and creates a new refundable income tax credit for community college-related property taxes paid. Real tax savings for hard-working Nebraska families.

» LB 984: This bill reduces sales and use tax collection fees, which lessens the burden of tax collection on Nebraska retailers. LB 984 is particularly important for small businesses that are so critical for rural communities and puts money back in your pocket.

» LB 1011, LB 1012 and LB 1013: These are the three bills comprising the mid-biennium budget adjustment package. LB 1013 appropriated money for the North Platte/Hershey Rail Park project — which will be a boon for District 42. It also contains funding for the Perkins County Canal (LB 1015) and rural workforce housing support, which are essential for the long-term growth of rural Nebraska and our ag economy.

» LB 1014: LB 1014 appropriates the $1.04 billion in federal dollars sent to Nebraska under the American Rescue Plan Act. The Unicameral made many important investments across the state, including allocating $20 million for the proposed Sustainable Beef project in North Platte. The project will have an economic benefit for the entire region and bring high-quality jobs to District 42.

» LB 1015 and LB 1023: These two bills make important investments in Nebraska’s water resources. First, LB 1015 authorizes a study for the Perkins County Canal. The canal will ensure Colorado cannot deplete water in the South Platte and Platte River basins and aid the executive branch’s enforcement of our rights under the 1923 Compact. We must do everything we can to protect Nebraska’s water resources so Nebraskans throughout the state have sufficient drinking and irrigation water.

» LB 1023: This bill funds projects recommended by the Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability Special Committee, including a marina project at nearby Lake McConaughy. Increasing tourism opportunities is an important component of a strong economy and revenues from out-of-state tax dollars reduced the burden on local taxpayers.

» LB 1065 and LB 1069: These two bills will help District 42 communities address the severe workforce housing shortages. LB 1065 made improvements to the microTIF program. There are additional changes needed to make the program more workable, but LB 1065 was a step in the right direction. LB 1069 expands and clarifies provisions in the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act and the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act to further increase investments in housing important for attracting talent and workforce to the District.

Despite the many successes listed above, there were a few shortfalls this session as well, including our failure to advance Sen. Joni Albrecht’s pro-life legislation and Sen. Tom Brewer’s constitutional carry measure. But the work doesn’t stop just because the session is over. I will be working with my colleagues on building support for these and other bills over the interim. There is also some speculation that we may be back for a special session after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its order in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this summer, which could affect the application of the Roe v. Wade decision.

It is an honor to represent you and District 42 at the Nebraska Legislature. Please continue to reach out to me at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729 regarding the issues you care about. The interim is an important time to prepare legislation for the next Unicameral session.

The 2022 Legislative Session is nearly at the close. Monday was the last day to consider bills on Select File (round two of three) and we started with consideration of three critical bills.

LB773 was Sen. Tom Brewer’s constitutional carry bill and a bill I cosponsored. Sen. Brewer asked that the many proponents not speak during the Select File debate so the “nay-sayers” could voice their opposition to the Second Amendment.

Many opponents advocated for an amendment negotiated with Omaha law enforcement to protect local anti-gun policies in Omaha and increase gun-related penalties. Thank you to the many constituents from District 42 who reached out to express their opposition to the Omaha amendment. I was proud to represent the will of District 42 by voting “no” on the amendment and to cease debate so we could vote on the clean bill. Unfortunately, we fell two votes short of cloture due to absent Senators. Sen. Brewer vowed to bring the bill back next year and I look forward to continuing my support of constitutional carry and the Second Amendment.

Next, the body quickly voted to advance LB876 with no further debate. I had joined with other Senators in discussing the opportunities for economic development that racetracks and casinos would provide for western Nebraska when the bill was debated on Friday. LB876 requires a feasibility study before new racetrack licenses can be issued. Due to laws requiring a certain number of Nebraska-bred races, the horseracing industry needs time to catch up with more race days. The feasibility study in LB876 was a way to keep the process moving forward and a much better alternative to the 5- to 7-year moratorium on new tracks proposed by others.

I am still not completely satisfied with the provisions on LB876 and will continue to work to fast-track North Platte’s proposed project. I think there is a way to grow the racing industry responsibly while shortening the timeline for western Nebraska applications. I have been working closely with the North Platte Chamber and Chickasaw Nation representatives on solutions and will continue to work with them – and my colleagues – on a solution over the interim.

The other key legislation from Monday was LB792, Sen. John Lowe’s bill to appropriate funds for the University of Nebraska Medical Center Rural Health Complex on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. This project will help address healthcare workforce shortages by increasing capacity for student training and opportunities to recruit professionals to remain in rural Nebraska after graduation. The Complex will help provide qualified personnel to work in nursing, behavioral health, assisted living, and other healthcare fields.

On Tuesday, the Unicameral kicked off debate and advancement of the dozens of bills waiting on Final Reading to be passed into law. I was particularly pleased to support advancement of two bills that will help District 42 communities address the severe workforce housing shortage.

LB1065 was another bill I cosponsored and made important improvements to micro-TIF. There are additional changes we need to make micro-TIF more workable, and I hope to perfect the process in the future. There is more work yet to be done, but LB1065 was a step in the right direction.

Efforts to expand and clarify provisions in the Middle-Income Workforce Housing Investment Act and the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act in LB1069 will also increase housing opportunities. I was glad to join with 41 of my colleagues to give the last stamp of approval to this bill introduced and prioritized by Sen. Matt Williams.

Wednesday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 20 will mark the final two days of the 2022 Legislative Session. There are still important bills for District 42 awaiting final passage, including the Select File bills advanced on Monday, more funding for the Nebraska Advantage Rural Development Act, changes to expand broadband infrastructure, and reductions of sales and use tax collection fees.

As always, my door is open to constituents, and I would love to hear from you at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. It is an honor to represent you and District 42 at the Nebraska Legislature.

Tuesday was a long day spent discussing four bills. We began the day with the second round of debate for LB873, which now contains four critical tax cuts for Nebraska families. First, LB873 accelerates the phase-out of Nebraska’s social security income tax from 10 years to 5 years. This is a huge win for our seniors on fixed incomes.

Second, the bill lowers certain personal and corporate income tax rates to 5.84%, down from the current rate of 6.84%.

Third, LB873 incorporates modifications to the refundable income tax credit in LB1107, the historic property tax relief package passed in 2020, needed due to strong revenues coming into the State. In 2021, this income tax credit will be equal to 25% of the amount of school district-related property tax paid. LB873 allows the credit to continue to grow at a reasonable rate over the next several years.

Finally, LB873 creates a new refundable income tax credit for community college-related property taxes paid, similar to the LB1107 provisions for local public-school taxes.

All told, this entire tax package is expected to amount to $900 million annually by Fiscal Year 2027-2028. This is real tax savings for hard-working Nebraska families!

Next, we considered a veto override for LB1073, a bill to compel the Governor to accept the remaining federal dollars available to Nebraska for rental assistance. The motion to override fell one vote short of passage.

We then moved on to debate LR264CA, which proposes to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to eliminate property, income, and corporate (“EPIC”) taxes in favor of a consumption tax. This new tax would be charged on all new goods and service purchases that are not business inputs, including food, medical services, prescriptions, new vehicles, new homes, interest on loans and savings accounts, etc. Although there would be a carve-out for certain business expenses and would include a so-called “prebate” to help offset new taxes on the poor, the consumption tax is largely untested and would be a radical change from the tax system used in the U.S.

The consumption tax is an intriguing concept, and I remain open to new ways to reduce property taxes. However, there seem to be many questions yet to be answered, including what checks and balances will be in place to ensure necessary funding for rural communities and public services such as schools, first responders, courthouses, and infrastructure. Local control is important to Nebraskans and the EPIC consumption tax would place all of the funding power with a single state taxing authority. In the end, I was not able to get acceptable answers to my questions. We need to see the entire process before deciding whether these radical changes are right for Nebraska.

After several hours of debate, LR264CA obtained only 19 of the 25 votes necessary to advance the bill to the next round.

The rest of the day was spent listening to more debate on LB920, the criminal justice system reform bill, which will come to a vote Wednesday morning. I remain opposed to this bill without the elimination of certain provisions that I believe pose a risk to public safety.

After voting on LB920, we will move on to an important debate on LB933, the Human Life Protection Bill. The bill is certain to be filibustered, and I hope the Unicameral will use this debate time to iron out some important details of the bill so we can gain the votes necessary to pass this important pro-life legislation.

It should also be noted that the Governor returned vetoes on Tuesday for a few line items in the budget. Of note, to reduce the provider rate increase for health care providers from the proposed 15% increase down to the original 8% increase. In my mind, this is unacceptable. I will be voting, with what I think will be the majority, to override the veto and restore funding.

As always, my door is open to constituents, and I would love to hear from you at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. It is an honor to represent you and District 42 at the Nebraska Legislature.

The Nebraska Unicameral worked into the evening hours this week and I expect there will be many more late nights ahead. Long days are typical at the end of the short session, but there is a lot of important work to be done as a result of filibusters that ate up valuable time earlier in the session. Rest assured, I will be there to represent you on every vote, no matter how late.

This week, we gave second-round approval to the three bills compromising the mid-biennium budget adjustment package (LB1011, LB1012, and LB1013). Many Nebraskans may not know that, by law, the State must balance the budget – without borrowing money to make ends meet. I appreciate the self-restraint this requires on the part of the state government, along with recent efforts to curb state spending.

Both the budget, and a proposal to implement critical tax cuts for all Nebraskans, have been slowed or stalled by a faction within the Legislature that wants to block a $175 million appropriation to partially fund a new state prison unless a criminal justice reform bill can also be passed. Although I agree that we need to implement policies that reduce recidivism, holding our state’s budget hostage is irresponsible.

It is worth noting that LB1013 contains funding for the North Platte/Hershey Rail Park project – which will be a boon for tourism in Lincoln County and the surrounding areas. I will continue to vote in favor of the budget package when it has its final round of debate on Tuesday.

On Friday afternoon, I voted with 27 of my colleagues to advance pro-life bill LB933 to General File. I was disappointed the Judiciary Committee chose not to advance this important legislation to the floor for debate. However, a majority of the Unicameral agreed the bill should be pulled from the committee and be considered.

LB933, introduced by Sen. Joni Albrecht, would be “triggered” if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade or the U.S. Constitution or federal law is amended to give control over abortions to individual states. If one of the triggering actions occurs, LB933 would prohibit both medical and chemical abortions and subject physicians violating the law to a felony charge.

I believe pro-life protections are critical to protect the most vulnerable among us – the unborn. I was proud co-sponsor this legislation and to share my and my wife’s personal story with fertility issues and now as adoptive parents. I was also touched to hear many others share their own experiences with this very personal issue. Although this bill’s future is still uncertain, I look forward to championing this issue in the future.

I continue to hear from many of my constituents about another bill I’ve co-sponsored, Sen. Tom Brewer’s constitutional carry bill, LB773. This bill has cleared the first round of debate and I look forward to continuing the fight in support of the Second Amendment later in the session.

With 12 days left, we still have many important priorities yet to debate, including more opportunities to cut taxes. As always, my door is always open to constituents and I would love to hear from you at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. It is an honor to represent you and District 42 at the Nebraska Legislature.

Sen. Mike Jacobson

District 42
Room 1302
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2729
Email: mjacobson@leg.ne.gov
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