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This past week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Nebraska Water Resources Association’s water roundtable. Weekly roundtable meetings allow those interested in water policy to share information and get updates on a variety of water topics. I gave a recap of the work the Natural Resources Committee has done so far this session, and shared our plans for the interim. Those plans include studying ongoing and upcoming issues, holding hearings, and touring in various parts of the state to visibly see the impact of water and water policy in our state.
LB289 does not appear to have support to move from general file which was not obvious when it first came out. LB289 is a bill which, in short, shifts taxes from property taxes to sales taxes in order to rebalance how government is paid for in our state. LB289 is not a perfect bill, and not everyone agrees with it, but in my opinion, the ag community cannot wait any longer for property tax relief.
As far as the budget is concerned, the Governor had included $51 million for property tax relief in the initial budget which would have been distributed to taxpayers through the property tax credit relief fund. The $51 million is an estimate of online sales tax revenue to be collected this coming year. The revenue committee took $25 million of that property tax relief funding out during committee and reallocated it to the state’s cash reserve fund. They did so because the state’s cash reserves are lower than many believe is wise. However, after much discussion on the floor, the body voted to move the $25 million back to the property tax credit relief fund.
Another point of interest in the budget is that LB403 and LB404 have been included as line items in the budget. It’s my understanding that these bills may assist in increasing Medicare reimbursement rates to nursing home facilities. This is a serious concern for many in our district, and my office has received nearly 200 letters regarding the issue. I appreciate the time that many of you have taken to reach out. Hopefully, these line items help mitigate the reimbursement problem faced by so many facilities in our district and around our state. That being said, the spread between the private cost and Medicare reimbursement is wide, so I know these bills will not solve the issues entirely. It’s also worth noting that line items can be vetoed by the Governor, so even if the additional funding passes the Unicameral, it is not guaranteed.
If you would like to speak directly to me about legislative issues, join the Great Plains conference call Tuesday at 8 AM CST and McCook Chamber Conference call Thursday at 8 AM CST. I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.