Greetings from Lincoln! We continue to have floor debate on bills during the mornings and committee hearings in the afternoons. The Appropriations Committee, of which I am Vice Chair, has been studying the Governor’s budget recommendations as well as hearing testimony from State Agencies and our own Legislative Fiscal Analysts to work on crafting this year’s budget for our state.
On Wednesday, February 15, I will be introducing LB 842 before the Health and Human Services Committee. This bill would extend the sunset date of a law which I introduced in 2009 to assist people participating in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program to achieve their goals of obtaining a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. This bill originally had a sunset date of September 30, 2012 and LB 842 would extend that date to December 31, 2016. We have seen that this is already helping people to work their way out of poverty through education and I would like to see the program last longer. Also, LB 507, a similar bill which deals with GEDs or High School Diplomas,
has now advanced to Final Reading.
On Thursday, February 9, we debated LB 841 on General File. This is the bill I introduced at the request of the Nebraska Department of Roads to correct a portion of our law where we are not in compliance with Federal Regulations. If these changes are not made, Nebraska is at risk of losing approximately $24 million of federal funding. We are still working with our Federal Delegation of Senators and Representatives to enact a change to the laws which will bring us back to where we are currently. The bill advanced to Select File.
Also on Thursday, we debated a bill (LB 1118) which would provide tax incentives for large data center projects. LB 1118 was introduced by Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue and prioritized by Senator Galen Hadley of Kearney. This is a great bill which could bring wonderful economic benefits to our whole state. LB 1118 adds to our Nebraska Advantage Act opportunities for communities to expand their economic base with data centers in much the same way we have chosen to help attract other businesses to Nebraska. In our current global society computer data is the foundation. Many states have already used tax incentives to draw these companies, such as Google, to their states and it would be a great advantage to Nebraska to have them here. Through technology, these businesses can locate centers in small communities as well as big ones. And our Nebraska workforce is well placed to take advantage of this opportunity.