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I appreciate the way so many of you read my newspaper articles.
I’ve been busy these past few months trying to write legislation I hope will be most beneficial for the folks living in the Panhandle as well as for all those living in Nebraska. Today, I would like to update you on what I have been working on.
My first order of business has been to deliver on property tax relief. Over the summer I met with a coalition of Senators, farm groups, and concerned citizens to put together a legislative resolution for property tax relief. The plan we came up with is called the 50/50 plan, and soon we will be collecting signatures for a citizen led initiative to ensure that this measure appears on your ballot next year. The 50/50 plan will allow property owners to declare half of that portion of their property taxes which pays for education as a credit or refund on their State income taxes.
I also want to fix the way destroyed property gets valued for property tax purposes. Currently, the value of a piece of property on January 1 determines its value for property tax purposes for the remainder of the year. But, what if your house burns down on January 2? My bill will give the Board of Equalization the authority to prorate a parcel’s valuation to the date of its destruction. A property owner should not have to pay a full year’s worth of taxes on property which was destroyed midyear.
Besides property tax relief, I have also been working to fix the way agricultural land gets valued for property tax purposes. Last year I introduced LB602, which was designed to change the method of valuation from the current market based system to an income approach. Although my bill never made it out of committee, the Revenue Committee combined various elements from my bill into LB461. However, LB461 in its current form does not solve the primary problems associated with agricultural land valuations. Consequently, I have been working to fix LB461 through the amendment process.
Finally, a piece of legislation I hope to recommend for the Consent Calendar is a bill which would raise the rate of pay for gas commissioners from $50 per meeting to $500 per meeting with an annual cap set at $6,000. The rate of $50 per meeting was set back in 1950 and has never been changed. Because gas commissioners get paid by the oil companies, the raise in pay would have no bearing on the State’s biennial budget. My bill would also allow the director to recommend any future pay increases. The way I see it, $50 per day amounts to charity work, so it is time to give these gas commissioners a well-deserved raise.
Finally, in a few days we will be formally remembering and celebrating our veterans. Personally, I believe we should honor our veterans all 365 days of the year. The reason why we should honor veterans all year long relates to the cost of being a veteran. When it comes to our veterans, we must never forget the slogan that “All gave some, and some gave all.”