NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Sen. Steve Erdman

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at serdman@leg.ne.gov

Straight Talk From Steve…
September 6th, 2019

Image result for Highway Memorial Signs

 

Back in January I introduced LB 612, a bill for highway memorial signs. This idea came to me from Allan Kreman, a resident of Bayard, as a way to honor his brother, Arlyn, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver a few years ago on highway 26.

While the bill never advanced out of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I began working with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) this year to implement a new highway memorial policy in lieu of my bill. Today I can proudly announce that NDOT has implemented a brand new highway memorial policy and I would like to tell you a little bit about it.

Immediate family members wishing to memorialize the death of a loved one as the result of a fatal traffic accident may now submit an application with NDOT. The application is available online at the department’s website or by downloading the pdf file at: dot.nebraska.gov/media/13535/ndot-roadside-memorial-policy.pdf. NDOT has yet to include an online payment method for collecting the $50 application fee.

As far as eligibility goes, there are two exceptions to the rule. Highway memorial signs will not be erected for those who were operating a motor vehicle and whose blood alcohol content level was equal to or exceeded the legal limit, nor will signs be erected for those who were found to be driving while impaired by the use of a recreational or illicit substance.

Each highway memorial sign will have a blue background with white lettering and will include the names of one or two deceased loved ones. In addition, each highway memorial sign will also include one of five traffic safety messages. These messages include: Please Drive Safely, Seat Belts Save Lives, Don’t Drink and Drive, Don’t Text and Drive, and Don’t Drive Impaired.
NDOT will make every effort to place these highway memorial signs at or near the requested locations with a few exceptions. Highway memorial signs cannot be placed within municipal boundaries nor can they be placed on Interstate highways or freeways.

Each sign will be posted for a one-year period along with the option to renew for another year. Personally, I would like to see NDOT extend the one-year period to two or more years, and I will continue to push for this change in the policy. However, once NDOT removes a sign, the applicant will have 30 days to retrieve and keep the sign at no extra charge.

Another bill that I introduced in January was LB 371, a bill to allow ATV’s to cross divided state highways. I continue to work with NDOT to create a workable policy for operating ATV’s on state roads and highways in our state. This issue is much more complex than highway memorial signs due to the changing demographics of our state. What is good for rural Nebraska doesn’t always work well in our state’s more populated regions. Nevertheless, I will continue to work with NDOT to find a workable solution for operating ATV’s on Nebraska’s roadways.

Straight Talk From Steve…
August 30th, 2019

Good News: The Gering to Ft. Laramie-Goshen irrigation tunnel that collapsed in Wyoming is now running water again! This is good news for farmers and ranchers in Western Nebraska who were affected by the sudden loss of these irrigation waters.

One thing governments love to do is to spend other people’s money, especially when it makes them feel good. Such is the case with Nebraska’s business incentive programs. Many people do not realize that Nebraska has welfare programs for businesses. So, today, I am going to tell you about some of these programs.

Last week a joint hearing was held between the Legislature’s Revenue Committee and the Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, on the subject of these business incentive programs, or as I like to call them, business welfare programs, because that is what they really are. At the center of the debate was a report released by the Nebraska Department of Revenue called the “2018 Nebraska Tax Incentive Annual Report.” You can find the full report at the Department of Revenue’s website.

Perhaps the biggest business welfare program in our state has been the Nebraska Advantage Act, which was created nine years ago in order to keep Con Agra in our State. It didn’t work. Con Agra moved their headquarters to Chicago. This fact alone should convince even the most ardent supporter of these business incentive programs that they do not work. But, there is more.

The Nebraska Advantage Act has created $479 million in earned tax incentives, which businesses have yet to collect on. According to the Department of Revenue’s report, the Nebraska Advantage Act generated $2.6 billion in new qualifying investments and about 2,500 new full time jobs in 2018, each with an estimated annual wage of $46,874. However, the report also projected that by 2028 the cumulative losses from the program would be $1.5 billion, a number which has been confirmed by the government policy research group, Open Sky.

The Nebraska Advantage Act promotes a recipe for failure. It takes the State $121,000 in tax incentives to create a single $46,000 per year job. So, that job will never pay for itself. Simply ask yourself this question: How many years in paying taxes would it take for someone making $46,000 per year to contribute $121,000 in taxes?

The tax credits given to businesses under the Nebraska Advantage Act have hurt our local communities. In order to help you see this, consider how the sales tax reimbursement program effected the city of Sidney. The sales taxes withheld from Sidney over the course of a few short years totaled in excess of $8 million. To quote a member from the Nebraska Department of Revenue, “There is greater value to these incentive packages than one can quantify.” How does one manage that which cannot be measured? These programs are valued because of the way they make Legislators feel, not because they bring measurable economic prosperity to our local communities.

The Employment & Investment Growth Act has also proved to be disastrous for our State. Although the program has sunset, it continues to dole out incentives to businesses. The amount of tax incentives earned, but not collected on from that incentive program now totals $223 million. These two Acts combined have a total of more than $700 million in earned incentives not yet collected.

In 2018 businesses claimed $46.5 million in tax credits and refunds under the Employment & Investment Growth Act, even though there was no net increase in jobs created by the program for that year. Going forward, companies will continue to accrue more tax credits and refunds under this program, which was first enacted in back 1987. By 2025 the projected cumulative revenue losses to the state after factoring in economic growth will exceed $2 billion!

Earlier this year the Nebraska ImagiNE Act was introduced as a replacement for the Nebraska Advantage Act. If the Legislature passes the Nebraska ImagiNE Act, I believe many companies will figure out how to beat the system. They will reinvent themselves in order to make themselves eligible to take advantage of these tax incentive programs. In other words, the State will continue to give money to these businesses at the expense of the taxpayers, and this is why I refer to them as business welfare programs.

We cannot continue to give away billions of dollars in tax incentives when our property taxes and state spending are out of control. The Legislature continues to treat the symptom of high taxes and refuses to acknowledge the cause, which is spending too much!

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Straight Talk From Steve…
August 23rd, 2019

Irrigation tunnel repair

As the old saying goes, “When it rains, it pours!” And so has it been in the Nebraska Panhandle. Whether it be the Spring Blizzards, the irrigation tunnel collapse, or the recent hail storms, western Nebraska has been absolutely pummeled this year with precipitation and severe weather. Fortunately, some relief is now on the way.

Last week I toured the site of the Gering to Ft. Laramie-Goshen irrigation tunnel collapse with a representative from U.S. Senator, Ben Sasse’s office, Nebraska Secretary of State, Bob Evnen, and Assistant Secretary of State, Cindi Allen. After assessing the damage and seeing the loss of water to some 54,000 acres in western Nebraska, there was no question that something had to be done on the federal level.

So, last Thursday, Sen. Ben Sasse, Sen. Deb Fischer, and Congressman Adrian Smith, of Nebraska along with Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, and Congresswoman Liz Cheney wrote to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, asking him for crop insurance protection. Their letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is what did the job.

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture responded the very next day. On Friday the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, announced that the Gering to Fort Laramie-Goshen irrigation tunnel collapse was caused by unusually high precipitation in the area. Consequently, the Risk Management Agency determined that since the tunnel collapse was due to natural causes, crop insurance would cover all those agricultural producers affected by the disruption in the water supply. This is great news for farmers and ranchers in the affected area.

Western Nebraska has been hit very hard this year, and there remains still more work to be done. However, please know that your elected officials are all working hard to give you the relief you need. The last thing we need in western Nebraska is a string of more farmers and ranchers filing for bankruptcy.

So, today I want to express my gratitude to U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, and Congressman Adrian Smith as well as those politicians named above from Wyoming for doing the right thing and writing that letter. Because they advocated for farmers and ranchers in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming who’ve been affected by this natural disaster, we should all be grateful. Most of all, though, I thank God for his providential care and for extending to us his generous hand of provision during this time of great need.

Straight Talk From Steve…
July 19th, 2019

 

This week I want to bring to your attention a matter of great concern to everyone living in Western Nebraska. In case you haven’t heard, an irrigation tunnel in Eastern Wyoming recently collapsed, which carries water to 104,000 acres of agricultural land.

This canal originates in Eastern Wyoming and irrigates approximately 50,000 acres in that state. As the irrigation waters cross the border into the Panhandle of Nebraska, it waters another 50,000 acres in Scotts Bluff County alone.

The irrigation tunnel that collapsed runs through a large hill in Eastern Wyoming. The collapsing of the tunnel created a sinkhole on the hill that is 100 feet across and 50 feet deep. The top of the tunnel is still more than 100 feet below the bottom of this sinkhole.

Governor Ricketts, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, the Nebraska Director of Agriculture and me are involved in talks with the management of the irrigation canal to see how we might help the situation. We will assist in any way we can.

We have been in contact with the Governor of Wyoming, State Legislators in Wyoming, and others who may be able to help resolve this problem. The tunnel collapse is a huge economic catastrophe for farmers in Eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska. This catastrophe will affect the economies of both states.

Unless irrigation waters can be restored to these regions in a timely manner, crops will die. This could mean the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural revenues in our state. Even if we were to fix the problem in a couple of weeks, it could still result in significant losses in yields for those crops that are in dire need of irrigation waters during these hot summer days in the middle of July.

This disaster will likely effect more agricultural acres than the flooding that occurred in Easter Nebraska earlier this spring. Some may be tempted to think that this issue is isolated to those farmers living in Scotts Bluff County or Western Nebraska, but its effects will be felt all across the state.

I cannot emphasize enough how serious this disaster is for everyone involved. This could likely force some agricultural producers and families in Western Nebraska, as well as some businesses that deal directly with agriculture, to face the threat of bankruptcy. When crops are threatened, it puts an undue strain on the spouses and children of farming families, as well as others, such as landlords, who are associated with the agricultural industry of our state. Ultimately, all Nebraskans will feel the effects of this disaster because agriculture is the engine that drives our State’s economy.

Just as Nebraskans pulled together during the spring to help with those victims of the floods we also need to ban together to help those affected by this issue as well. So as you ask the question, “How can I help?” The answer is to pray. Pray for those making the decisions about repairing the irrigation canal, and pray for those affected by the lack of irrigation water.
While most farmers have crop insurance, they will likely only recover the cost of what they have already put into the ground. Crop insurance usually doesn’t cover the yield. So, there will be no revenue left to pay property taxes, mortgages, and other living expenses associated with an agricultural operation.

I will keep you informed as we go through the process of resolving this issue. Thank you for caring for our agricultural families and thank you for praying. May God save our crops, and may God bless Western Nebraska.

When in the course of legislative events it becomes apparent that legislators place undue burdens of taxation upon the people, it becomes incumbent upon the people of a free and democratic society to take matters into their own hands and to assert their own will over the legislative process. When powerful legislators turn a deaf ear to the plight of the landowner, it becomes time for the common people of the state to act. When taxation with unfair representation becomes so burdensome that a man or a woman cannot earn a living for himself or herself, but becomes a slave to the State, a new revolution begins knocking on our door. And, today I am opening that door.

Fortunately for us, such a revolution does not have to involve the taking up of arms or involve the shedding of blood. The forefathers of our great State were very wise men, who foresaw the coming of this fateful day. So, in 1912 they gave us a very valuable tool for revolution. Our forefathers provided the common people of Nebraska with a means for asserting their will over the legislative process, and that tool is called the “ballot initiative.” Through the process of a successful petition drive, the common people of our State possess the power to assert their will over a blind, uncaring and dull Legislature.

For many property owners living in Western Nebraska property taxes have spun out of control and have become a burden too heavy to bare. Some today are even selling their farms and ranches and are moving to other states in order to labor where the burden of taxation is more affordable. But, farms and ranches are the staples of Western Nebraska as well as the engine which drives our State’s economy. Without farms and ranches, Nebraska would turn into a vast wasteland.

When landowners suffer, so does the State’s economy. The voices of the property owners continue to fall on deaf ears inside the State Capitol precisely because the State does not feel the pain of the average property owner. As long as that pain remains unnoticed and unfelt in Lincoln, State Senators will continue to turn a blind eye to the problem of over-taxation.

The State Legislature will never pass any kind of meaningful legislation for property tax relief until they are forced to do so. The language of our ballot initiative is exactly what is needed to force the Legislature to act. The reason our petition drive will force the Legislature to act is because the language of the ballot measure amends the State Constitution. Without a constitutional amendment, the Legislature would have the power to reverse or overrule the will of the people, and that is exactly what they would do if given the chance. However, with a constitutional amendment firmly set in place, State Senators would finally find themselves roped and tied to do the will of the people.

Nebraska is one of only 21 states which allow for a ballot initiative. So, we are fortunate to have this means at our disposal. But, unless we use it to overcome the will of a deadlocked Legislature, we will only get the pain and suffering we deserve. Therefore, today I am asking all Nebraskans to support our petition drive for property tax relief. Our ballot initiative would provide every Nebraska property owner the opportunity to claim a 35 percent credit or refund of their property tax bill on their State Income Tax Return. If you would like to know more about the ballot initiative or how to become part of this revolution for property tax relief, then please visit www.truenebraskans.com.

Straight Talk From Steve…
June 28th, 2019

 

This week we celebrate our nation’s independence from Great Britain. As Americans we love liberty and despise tyranny. Liberty is so foundational to our American form of government that Thomas Jefferson included it as one of our unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. But, what led Jefferson to declare liberty as a God-given right? With some help from my staff, this is what I discovered.

The Founding Fathers were greatly influenced by the political philosophy of John Locke. In 1689 Locke published his Second Treatise on Government, which outlined his ideas for a more civilized form of government. Human rights and religious liberty were especially important to Locke because he had to escape England due to his own religious beliefs. Locke believed the primary purpose of government was to secure liberty. But, Locke also understood that liberty could not be devoid of morality, so, he wrote about civil government that, “…though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license.” Little did Locke know that his ideas would inspire an American Revolution in less than 100 years.

Revolution had been stirring in the American colonies at least since the days of the Boston Massacre in 1770. In 1773 Samuel Adams led a band of men to raid a British merchant ship, dumping its cargo of tea into the harbor. This led the British to impose the Intolerable Acts on the Colonies and to put a naval blockade on Boston Harbor. By the summer of 1774 most of the colonists had finally had enough of British tyranny. So, in September 1774 delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia to conduct the First Continental Congress.

The next year tensions began escalating towards war as Great Britain began amassing military forces in Virginia. So, on March 23, 1775 120 delegates convened in St. John’s Church in Richmond to conduct the Second Virginia Convention. Among the delegates in attendance were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and five other men who would later sign the Declaration of Independence. With “an unearthly fire burning in his eye,” according to one Baptist minister, Patrick Henry took to the podium and began to speak without using notes. Near the end of his speech Henry declared, “The war is actually begun.” And after a few more words Henry ended his speech with the words that would later make him famous, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

On June 11, 1776 the Continental Congress appointed a Committee of Five to draft the Declaration of Independence. Those on the committee were: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Adams and Sherman had earlier declared that the rights of conscience were sacred. But, during the days of the writing of the Declaration of Independence the subject of liberty took center stage again. The debate was whether or not a secular state could uphold liberty apart from God and morality. So, on June 21, 1776 John Adams wrote these words:

“Statesmen…may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”

Concluding that liberty was inseparable from God and morality, Thomas Jefferson along with the Committee of Five took the concept of liberty to the next level, carrying it out to its logical conclusion. Liberty, they decided, is a basic human right which comes from God. So, Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Straight Talk From Steve…
June 21st, 2019

 

People enter into politics for a variety of different reasons, and those reasons end up defining that Senator’s personal political philosophy. For instance, some come into the Legislature with a single focus, such as to improve education or healthcare. Others come to do the bidding of the lobbyists. Still others come to impose their worldview on society. To the contrary, I believe the primary duty of a State Senator should be to act on the best interest of the people of the State.

For this reason, I have tried to focus my attention on what I believe Nebraskans need most. What I hear from people all across the State of Nebraska is that they need property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform most. For this reason, I have made these two issues my highest priorities as a State Legislator. As a result, this year many with destroyed property from the blizzards and floods will get property tax relief because I was able to successfully pass a bill with a provision for property tax relief for those with destroyed property.

What I like most about being a Nebraska State Senator, though, is actually helping people. Besides writing bills, serving on the Appropriations Committee, and speaking on the floor of the Legislature, being a Nebraska State Senator allows me to serve Nebraskans in some very unique ways. When I am not fretting over the state budget, property tax relief and agricultural land valuation reform, I often find myself helping people solve difficult problems and improving their situation in life.

Government often fails people. Because I see how government fails people, I try to resolve those situations where people get left behind or fall through the cracks. Working behind the scenes this year, I have been able to help many of our constituents in Legislative District 47. For instance, I once helped a truck driver obtain a birth certificate from a department that was backlogged due to a reduction in personnel. He needed the birth certificate in order to renew his commercial driver’s license. We were able help him get the birth certificate in time so that he did not lose a single day of driving. I have been able to help many other constituents with similar kinds of problems.

This philosophy of helping people when government fails sometimes takes me across the state. I have even been able to help some who live as far away as Omaha’s inner city. For instance, I recently helped a young, single, kinsman foster mom living in Omaha’s Southside get her foster child back. Child Protective Services had taken her child away because Omaha Public Power District had turned her power off. She couldn’t pay her electric bill because DHHS was sending her check to the wrong person! Once we got that straightened out, she was able to pay her electric bill, get her power restored, and get her foster child back.

So, if government seems to be failing you or is just leaving you in the dust, please know that I want to help. So, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (402) 471-2616. Not every situation can be resolved, but when government is the problem, I will do my best to fix it. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of Nebraska.

Straight Talk From Steve…
June 14th, 2019

 

On June 11 President Trump delivered a speech in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he lifted the ban on E15 gasoline for the summer months. E15 is gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol. The announcement was good news for Nebraska farmers, because Iowa and Nebraska are the top two ethanol producing states in the country. So, the more ethanol we sell, the better it is for Nebraska’s corn growers.

E15 has been the subject of much criticism in recent years. So, today I would like to explain why E15 is a great Nebraska product and why we need it for the future. Whether we want to admit it or not, E15 is here to stay, but there are some very good reasons why we should all like this unique Nebraska product.

The first reason that makes E15 such a great product is that it helps the United States compete in the global oil market. Because of political turmoil in places such as the Middle East and Venezuela, the United States can no longer depend upon these oil producing countries to supply us with the oil we need. As President Trump said in his speech, “More American ethanol production means less dependence on foreign supplies.” The United States needs to become an oil independent nation, and American ethanol plays an important role in helping us reach that goal. Some, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, believe ethanol has the potential to cut our use of gasoline in half.

A second reason why E15 is a great product is because it is harmless to your vehicle. One of the main criticisms of ethanol in the past has been that it is harmful to your engine’s fuel system, but these criticisms have been largely debunked by objective studies. For instance, one such objective study was conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in March 2012. That study found no remarkable degradation in fuel systems in cars with models dating back as far as 1995. As a general rule, though, you should not use E15 in classic cars, cars manufactured prior to 2001, or in small engines, such as your lawn mower.

A third reason that makes E15 such a great product is that the timing is right. E15 is a fuel for America’s future. The EPA has approved E15 for all cars manufactured since 2001, but this year car manufacturers are rolling out new models specifically designed for burning E15. The only holdouts this year are BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Volvo. I believe these foreign car manufacturers will come around soon, especially once they learn that Americans want to buy new cars that are even better designed for burning E15.

Nebraska stands to benefit greatly from this increased demand for E15 and other ethanol products. President Trump also signed an executive order on June 11 to promote agricultural biotechnology. The executive order will direct federal agencies to streamline regulations and to speed up innovation. Consequently, the new E15 rule change along with biotechnology and higher demands for the product will only spur on development and encourage economic growth in our state. So, in the final analysis E15 is very good for Nebraska.

 

Friday, June 14th is Flag Day. So, today I want to encourage you to fly your American flag with pride. The United States of America is the greatest nation in all of world history. No other nation has ever come close to matching the greatness of our republic, and today I want to remind you of that fact.

Some may ask, “Has America always done what is right?” The answer to this question is most assuredly, “No”. Such things as slavery, racism, and Native American genocide will forever tarnish our nation’s past. To be sure, it would be foolish to say that America has always been on the right side of truth, justice, liberty and righteousness.

No nation governed by human beings will ever be so perfect. The reason is that human beings are fallible. We make mistakes. As human beings, Americans are neither superhuman nor divine. However, what distinguishes America from the other nations of the world is the fact that we can talk openly about our past and learn from our mistakes. The fact that we recognize in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government as basic human rights is exactly what makes our republican form of government so great.

Despite our checkered past, America truly has a great story to tell. America, more than any other nation, has been the worldwide defender of freedom. When dictators arise and oppress nations, those nations turn to the United States of America for deliverance. On June 6th we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. Had the United States of America not intervened in Europe during WWII, Europeans would still be oppressed by Nazi dictators today.

Besides being the worldwide champions of justice and liberty, the American people have excelled more than any other modern nation in science, technology, philosophy, education, art, sports and entertainment. The list of American accomplishments is far too numerous to list exhaustively here. But, despite all of our wonderful achievements there remains still one more aspect of our American nation which propels us to the top of the list of the world’s greatest societies.

So what is it that makes America so great? The ultimate source of American greatness is the fact that we have always looked to God, honored him, and credited him for our success. Throughout our history as a nation, Americans have always recognized and honored God as the true source of our providential blessing. Perhaps, our National Motto says it best: “In God We Trust” or the song we sing at every baseball game, “God Bless America.” So, this year when you pledge your allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, remember what it means to be “One nation under God.”

Even when the future of America seems bleak, the American spirit remains strong. As Americans, we view every potential disaster as an opportunity to put American greatness on display for the rest of the world to see and to marvel at, and all of our American greatness is summed up and represented through the stars and stripes on the American flag.

So, as we fly our American flags high on Friday, let us remember all of these things which make America great, and let us teach them to our children, so that the next generation of Americans can be even greater than ours.

The first session of the 106th Legislature has now come to an end. Just like students who receive their report cards at the end of the school year, so also should the Nebraska State Legislature be graded. So, what kind of grade should be given to the Nebraska State Legislature this year? In my assessment, the Legislature has earned a grade of D along with the comment, “Needs Much Improvement.”

So, why do I give the Nebraska State Legislature such a poor grade? I have given the Legislature a low grade because of what they failed to do this year. Most importantly, the Legislature failed to pass legislation for significant property tax relief, including LR3CA, my Resolution to put a measure on the 2020 ballot for a Constitutional Amendment for property tax relief. Moreover, LB 289 also failed in the Legislature. This bill would have given Nebraska property owners significant property tax relief for 2018 but made up for the loss in revenue by eliminating numerous sales tax exemptions, such as pet grooming services, tattoo services, and wedding planning services.

The second reason why the Nebraska State Legislature deserves such a poor grade is because they failed to reform the way we value agricultural land for property tax purposes. Nebraska needs to switch to an income based approach to valuing agricultural land, instead of using the current market approach. Although my priority bill, LB 483, advanced out of the Revenue Committee this year, it failed to advance beyond General File. Instead, the Legislature passed my other bill, LB 372, which forces the Property Assessment Division to use appropriate indexes when valuing agricultural land for property tax purposes in the current market based system. While this bill will slightly improve the current market based system, it won’t solve the major problems associated with using this method.

The third reason why the Nebraska State Legislature deserves such a poor grade is because they failed to cut spending. Contrary to the opinion of the Governor as wells as certain other Senators who serve on the Appropriations Committee, a smaller increase in spending does not constitute a cut in spending. The Legislature increased overall spending this year by 2.9 percent. If you managed your budget the same way that the State does theirs, you would soon go bankrupt, and that is what is slowly happening to the State.

What saves me from rating the Nebraska State Legislature with a failing grade is the fact that a few good bills actually did pass this year. One such bill was LB 244. LB 244 was my bill to make an allowance for massage therapists to make use of mobile units in the practice of their business. Because LB 244 passed along with an emergency clause and was signed by the Governor, the bill now becomes the law. So, massage therapists can now begin taking their services out to where their clients live, work, study, and play.

Thank you for reading my articles throughout the first session of the 106th Legislature. It has been an honor for me to serve the constituents of Legislative District 47. I hope to see many of you at our parades, festivals, and fairs this summer. May God bless Nebraska!

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Nebraska’s First Capitol Building, Douglas County, 1855

 

 

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47
Room #12th Floor
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2616
Email: serdman@leg.ne.gov
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