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By the time this week’s article is published the Legislature will be wrapping up the 2020 session. And everyone will be able to sleep easier! All of us senators, the lobbyists, and especially the taxpayers. I hope I do not jinx LB 1107 by saying it was passed by the Legislature as I am writing this on Monday. It will not be up for a final vote until Thursday of this week. LB 1107 is a major step forward in relieving the property tax burden that property owners are facing when it comes to funding our K-12 education system here in Nebraska. When fully funded, this new property tax relief fund will provide $375 million per year to the property taxpayers of Nebraska who also pay income tax. This new property tax relief fund will be an income tax credit, so you must file a Nebraska income tax return in order to receive the relief. This relief along with our existing property tax relief fund will help make the property tax burden here in Nebraska a bit easier to bear.
I will give the lion’s share of the credit for this LB 1107 package to Senator Scheer of Norfolk. Senator Scheer is our Speaker in the Legislature and therefore in a unique position to move things along or stop them. This process started over a year ago when Speaker Scheer stood with a majority of rural senators, myself included, and said no to the passage of LB 720. LB 720 was the Nebraska ImagiNE Act. This is the replacement for the incentive package that Nebraska offers companies to locate here and create jobs, which is set to expire this December. The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce had never been told no before. The fact that about 20 mostly rural senators stood and said until we provide property tax relief to all property owners in Nebraska, we will not budge, was huge. Fast forward to this “mini-session” we just completed and again Speaker Scheer put the right senators in the room and skillfully guided them to a compromise that has become LB 1107. Keep in mind that LB 1107 was a shell bill that Speaker Scheer introduced way back in January to have a vehicle to move just this type of legislation forward. None of the components of LB 1107 were Speaker Scheer’s, but the final bill was introduced by him, so under the rules of the Legislature, he is in complete control of that bill.
As I finish this week’s article I want to provide a side note. I get a kick out of the constant effort by the press to try and amplify the rural/urban divide in the Legislature. I suppose it depends upon your definition of rural and urban. I believe most of the Omaha senators believe all senators outside of Omaha are rural. Most of the Lincoln senators believe all the senators who come from outside Lincoln and Omaha are rural. I do not put much stock in the rural/urban divide. We are all Nebraska senators and represent our constituents as well as everyone in the state of Nebraska.