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Sen. Tom Brewer

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43

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01-12-2018 Weekly Update

February 14th, 2018

Senator Tom Brewer
43rd District
01-12-2018

I have received a number of calls on Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) commonly known as “Electronic Log Books” for truck drivers. The bottom line is if you had to keep a pen and paper log book in the past, you most likely need an ELD gizmo on your truck to comply now. This law is going to make life difficult for some folks engaged in trucking for agriculture, namely livestock hauling. I don’t like it.

First of all this is a Federal law we’re dealing with. There’s nothing the State of Nebraska can do about it, but I did contact our congressional delegation for their input. Rep. Adrian Smith voted “for” an amendment in the House of Representatives that would have delayed the ELD law two years, but unfortunately this measure was defeated in the US House of Representatives.

The US Senate passed the ELD law. Senator Fischer and Senator Sasses’s offices both have voiced concerns about it and are monitoring it.

Sen. Fischer is providing feedback to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to ensure they understand how this affects agriculture. The FMCSA issued a 90 day exemption from ELDs for the transportation of agriculture commodities, which is in effect until March 18, 2018. You can find more information on the Federal Register website at this link:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/20/2017-27311/hours-of-service-electronic-logging-devices-limited-90-day-waiver-for-the-transportation-of

There is a period of time where the FMCSA is taking public comment on this new ELD law. I strongly encourage those effected by this law to submit a comment on their website here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FMCSA-2017-0360-0001

FMCSA also has an informational email address where people can ask questions: ELD@dot.gov

The Governor’s property tax bill (LB 947) was introduced by Sen. Smith last Wednesday. As you know Sen. Erdman has also introduced a property tax bill (LB 829) I know there may be others coming out next week.

People ask me, “Which one do you support?” I tell them, “All of them.” If it lowers property taxes, I’m voting for it.

Some will argue some aspect of this or that bill is “bad” and try to promote the idea we shouldn’t vote for it. The legislature is a political body, so no one should be surprised when this wrangling begins in the weeks ahead. The fights will all be about “how to pay for it.” Some will argue the measure in question doesn’t do enough, that additional funds from spending shifts or new revenue are needed to deliver real relief. Some will argue that every penny of Nebraska’s $4.5 billion dollar budget is utterly essential and not a dime of it could be shifted to help fund property tax relief. They will say “new revenue” (also known as raising your taxes) will be needed. Nebraska’s budget was $2 billion just ten years ago. Now it is $4.5 billion. That is a 125% increase in the size of the State’s budget. Surely we can save money somewhere.

It’s very likely that some of these property tax bills will not get voted out of committee. Those bills may have a chance to be debated on the floor of the Senators who introduced them use a procedure called a “pull motion.” They would need 25 votes on the floor to accomplish this. Though in the rules, this procedure is not used very often because it may cause hard feelings in the committee the bill is pulled out of.

Sen. Smith (introducer of the Governor’s property tax bill) said he saw “a narrow path” to passing his bill. I think this same rational applies to all of the different property tax measures. If we get to the end of the session and none of the different property tax bills have survived, I will do a pull motion for LB 576. This is my bill currently held in the Revenue Committee since last session. It would “cap” property taxes for four years. SOMETHING has to be passed this session. At the very least, the people shouldn’t be made to suffer further increases in property taxes while the legislature tries to find a solution to this difficult problem.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

Sen. Tom Brewer

District 43
Room #11th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2628
Email: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov
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