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Floor debate on priority bills continued this week. For the first time this session, I can honestly say the “pace” of the debate and action on bills on the floor was “fast” compared to what I have seen thus far. One thing worthy of note is the amount of interest generated by budget and appropriations bills. With the budget shortfall we face, spending cuts will no-doubt feature prominently in the debates ahead. One bill we debated this week cut a small amount of spending. That debate went all the way to a cloture vote (a motion to stop debate). If this is any indication of things to come, the months ahead are going to be filled with very long days and very tough debates as other measures that make much more significant spending cuts come up.
All that said, I want to be crystal clear on one point: I will not vote for a bill that raises taxes. Period. In the weeks ahead you will hear a lot about the need to “raise revenue.” Just remember that is political speak for “raise taxes.” You will hear all about how this or that spending cut is going to “hurt” some group who currently benefits from the program in question. I don’t want to appear heartless to anyone, but as far as I am concerned, the people I am worried about “hurting” are the ones who have to PAY the taxes, not the ones who consume them.
I introduced my very last bill on Thursday the 23rd in front of the Judiciary Committee. LB 502 would establish “Constitutional Carry” of firearms, otherwise known as “Permit-less Carry.” More than a dozen States already have this law on the books and Nebraska shares a border with two of them. I strongly believe a person shouldn’t have to get a permit from the government to exercise a constitutional right. Did I have to take a class and pay for a permit to exercise my first amendment right and write this newspaper column? The 2nd amendment is the only constitutional right you have to ask permission to exercise. This is just wrong.
I’m still hopeful my bill that would establish a two-year moratorium on commercial wind energy development in the Sandhills (LB 504) will be voted out of committee. The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Dan Hughes (LD44) opposes the bill. Without his support, it will remain in committee for the rest of the session. For those folks interested in seeing this bill debated on the floor of the legislature, I encourage you to politely call Sen. Hughes and urge him to support it.
The Revenue Committee has met in Executive Session all week. None of the many tax-related bills in that committee have been reported out. My bill to put a four-year cap on property taxes beginning in 2019 (LB 576) is one of them being considered by the committee. There are quite a few really good ideas on property taxes in the form of several different bills this session. I believe one bill amended to include a number of these different good ideas will likely come out of the committee. This is very tough work. Fixing this extremely complex problem at a time of low commodity prices and very low tax revenues is incredibly difficult. I would urge people interested in my bill to contact the members of the Revenue Committee, most especially the Chairman, Sen. Jim Smith (LD 14) and politely ask them to advance LB 576 to general file.
My priority bill, LB 340, was voted out of committee and debated on General File this morning. It was advanced to Enrollment and Review on a 39-0 vote. This bill will reorganize State agencies so the Department of Veterans Homes will come out of the Department of Health and Human Services and go under the Director of Veterans Affairs. I think this bill is going all the way to the Governor’s desk! It saves tax money and delivers better care for Nebraska’s Veterans.
I want to thank everyone who contacts my office letting us know where you stand on bills before the legislature. Please keep your calls and letters coming. Please contact the office if you would like to set up a time to visit with me, or you have any concerns about what is happening in YOUR legislature.