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On the evening of July 25th I attended a special meeting in North Platte sponsored by the Platte Institute on the subject of property tax relief. The meeting consisted of a panel discussion with three Nebraska State Senators, namely Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, Sen. John Lowe of Kearney, and Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn.
The discussion eventually turned to LB 289, a property tax relief bill introduced last year by Sen. Linehan. Had this bill passed in the Legislature, it would have delivered only one third of the property tax relief needed in our State. I opposed this bill in the Legislature, because I believe it would have ended the discussion on property tax relief altogether. Had this bill passed, I believe Legislators in Lincoln would have never spoke to this issue ever again.
The Nebraska State Legislature simply cannot be trusted to deliver on significant and meaningful property tax relief. This is why I worked with the citizen-led group, TRUE Nebraskans, to form a petition drive to put an initiative on the 2020 ballot. Because the State Legislature will never deliver on the kind of property tax relief Nebraskans actually need, our only recourse is this ballot initiative.
If the petition drive is successful and the measure passes, it will give every property owner the chance to reclaim 35 percent of their property tax bill back in the form of a credit or a refund on their Nebraska State Income Tax Return. Nebraskans don’t need a ten to twelve percent reduction in their property taxes; instead, they need a 35 percent reduction in their property taxes, and that is precisely what the ballot initiative will deliver. If you would like to know more about the petition drive, then please visit www.truenebraskans.com.
On a different subject, I have new information to report concerning the irrigation canal collapse in eastern Wyoming. Last week engineers considered inserting a sleeve into the tunnel consisting of a ten foot diameter pipe. But, after further calculations were made, it was determined that the pipe would not deliver a sufficient amount of water to irrigate farms in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.
The new plan is to reinforce the broken portion of the tunnel with a patch. With this new plan, we hope to restore irrigation waters to the region in three weeks. This is merely a temporary fix to help farmers get through this year’s growing season. A permanent fix will be needed after the growing season ends and when irrigation waters are no longer needed.
Please know that Governor Pete Ricketts, Sen. John Stinner, and I will do everything we can to fund the restoration project. I have been in contact with Congressman, Adrian Smith, and U.S. Senator, Ben Sasse, in order to seek any federal aid available. We are also working closely with Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming and Wyoming State Senator, Cheri Steinmetz, to resolve this problem.
The irrigation tunnel collapse is now getting national attention. After reaching out to the Omaha World Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star and the Associated Press, the catastrophe started getting national attention. For instance, last Friday morning I was interviewed by the New York Times concerning this mess. While all of this media attention helps, I believe the real answer lies above us. So, please ask God to send us rain and please pray for those effected directly and indirectly by this catastrophe.