The clash between East and West finally came to a head in the Nebraska Legislature last week. Two bills that are very important to me were debated on the floor. One had an easy ride, while the other one had a bumpy and rugged ride.
On Thursday my bill, LB 382, advanced to Enrollment and Review for Select File. LB 382 was a bill I introduced which takes highway allocation funds out of the category of restricted funds in order to provide some flexibility for county governments. LB 382 was able to advance in the Legislature because Speaker Scheer placed it on the list of Consent Calendar bills. Only bills that are considered to be non-controversial and which have no fiscal impact on the State’s General Fund are considered for the list of Consent Calendar bills. Thursday was devoted entirely to Consent Calendar bills. LB 382 passed by a vote of 29-0-16. This means that 29 Senators voted for the bill; nobody voted against it, but sixteen Senators voted Present-Not Voting. Four Senators were absent and did not vote. LB 382 had the easy ride.
The legislative match of the week came on Friday when LB 461 came up on the floor for debate. LB 461 is an omnibus bill created by the Revenue Committee, which consolidated income tax relief bills with agricultural land valuation bills, rolling them into one new bill. The bill poked at the clash between those living in our State’s population centers, who want income tax relief and residential property tax relief, and farmers in our rural districts who need property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform. 24 amendments were proposed for the bill, virtually killing it before it ever got out of the gate. Debate on the bill lasted for three hours, resulting in a stand-off and ending in a filibuster.
This is bad news for farmers in Nebraska. However, I want all of my constituents to know that I am not done pursuing property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform. I went to Lincoln to fight for two things: Property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform. These two issues shall forever remain at the forefront of what I do legislatively until they become a reality in our State. Fortunately, my agricultural land valuation reform bill, LB 602, was not one of the bills consolidated into LB 461. My bill remains in the Revenue Committee and can still be voted out. Consequently, the fight isn’t over yet, and I am exploring new strategies and new ways to facilitate property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform with the sincere hope of making it happen for us this year.