The appropriations committee is wrapping up their preliminary budget for the 2017-2019 fiscal years, they will give the legislature the final budget on Day 69 which is April 21st. They have a very difficult task. Nebraska’s economy is still growing but only at a 1 percent increase. The Appropriations Chair Senator Stinner is looking under couch cushions for any spare change that he can find. Amazon has voluntarily agreed to collect internet sales tax which will help, but the expected revenue from that will not make a significant impact on our economy.
LB 518 creates The Rural Workforce Housing Act by moving $7.3 million in seed money from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which presently generates its funds from real estate document fees. Competitive grants would be awarded to nonprofit development organizations in areas with demonstrated housing needs, low unemployment, and the ability to complete projects within two years. This program will require a local one to one match of the grant program.
This past week we discussed LB 68 introduced by Senator Hilgers. LB 68 would override individual city and local ordinances, making firearm regulations consistent statewide. Hilgers introduced this bill with hopes to authorize the state to regulate the registration, possession, transportation, transfer and storage of firearms and ammunition. It would also allow cities and villages to retain the authority to enforce prohibitions on firearm discharge. This bill would remove a heavy burden that has been placed on Nebraska citizens and their right to bear arms, as well as, leaving the cities with tremendous abilities to continue to fight and regulate gun violence.
Senator Stinner introduced LB 222 to revamp the Nebraska Tourism Commission. This bill would expand the commission’s membership from nine to 11 governor-appointed members. Of those 11 members, four would be required to have professional, volunteer or public service experience that is related to the governance duties of the commission and the other seven members would be affiliated with the tourism industry. LB 222 would redefine the commission’s strategic plan to include the following: marketing strategies for promoting tourism, methods to expand existing tourism capacity, a review of revenue in the State Visitors Promotion Cash Fund available for tourism development at the state level, an examination of best management practices for the tourism industry, and recommended strategies to provide technical assistance, marketing services and state aid to local governments and tourism industry in Nebraska. LB 222 advanced to final reading by voice vote.