We had a hot week in the Legislature. They haven’t turned on the air-conditioning yet, and they have apparently already solved all the easy problems in Nebraska because the calendar is full of bills that are tough issues.
LB 640 was heard on the floor this week. I also co-sponsored this bill. It would dramatically change the formula used to provide much more State-aid to schools, and bring much-needed property tax relief. I really like this bill, and Sen. Groene (North Platt) did a great job with it, but like a lot of other good bills this session, there simply isn’t thirty-three votes to end the filibuster (end the opposition debate with a “cloture” motion) and get to a vote on the bill where we only need twenty-five votes to pass it. It’s a fact of life with anything that is the least bit controversial this year. A lot of really good bills will simply sit and be carried over to next year because they do not have thirty-three votes to end the filibuster. The legislature’s failure early in the session to reform the “cloture” rule is something we get to the see the results of everyday.
Debate began on LB 461 this week. This is the Governor’s bill brought by Sen. Smith (Papillion). The bill would completely change how AG ground property taxes are assessed and bring income tax relief as well. I introduced an amendment to this bill, AM 1104. It makes changes to some technical language, but most importantly it also addresses residential and commercial property taxes as well. It drives down valuations on all three classes of real property at the same time. I think this approach is vital. Ag ground property taxes are not just too high. When farmers and ranchers have to take out second mortgages, when they can’t sell a crop of grain or cattle that even covers the tax bill for the ground, when folks on a fixed income have to start taking money out of a retirement account to pay the property taxes on their house – that’s not just taxes being “too high” – that is taxation that has become immoral. Every Nebraska property owner is being crushed by out-of-control property taxes. This isn’t just and “urban vs. rural” issue. I really hope there is time left for my amendment to be debated on the floor and it becomes part of this bill. Property Taxes are the #1 issue in the 43rd district. We shall see how debate continues next week.
I cannot tell you enough how important it is we continue to hear from you. Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 471-2628.