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This past week we concluded our final days of the 106th Legislative session. We should have been done in the middle of April, but because of COVID, we finished on August 13. Some of the highlights of the last 17 days of the session were the passage of LB1107 and LB814. I have discussed both bills in previous articles so I will not plow that field again. But it is particularly important to note that the members of this Legislature came together and compromised to bring some much-needed property tax relief. Although the first increment of that relief will be modest, once fully implemented, there will be sufficient property tax relief for every property taxpayer in the state.
Now that the session is behind me I can turn my attention to issues for next year. With the session starting in January my time to work up legislation for it is quickly passing. Here are a few ideas I am working on.
How many of you know that we have a whiskey distillery in the 44th district? It is in Moorefield, just east of Curtis. It is a family run business and has been very successful. So successful, in fact, they are running into some volume restrictions that would prohibit them from expanding without running into a mountain of additional regulation. With just a minor change in statute, they could continue to expand their business and enjoy the benefits of economies of scale while maintaining quality. But more importantly, it will allow a Father, Son, and Grandson to work together in a family business.
Of course, I will still be hunting for a way to compensate landowners for the damage done by the state of Nebraska’s wild animals. I hope to work with the Game & Parks Commission to find the resources and the mechanism to allow for large game damage to be at least partially reimbursed to the landowner. I have had conversations with G&P in the past and have run into a brick wall with this idea. But the dynamic has changed a little with the passage of LB126, the Landowner Early Deer Hunt bill. I received cooperation from the Commissioners themselves in passing that bill, so I am hopeful the Commissioners and I will be able to work together again on this type of legislation.
Lastly, I will continue to work on reducing the property tax burden on agriculture. I know we passed property tax relief this past session, but the challenges of agriculture, especially with the drought and commodity prices well below the cost of production, cannot be overlooked when it comes to maintaining a healthy economy here in the State of Nebraska. The reliance upon property taxes to fund our schools here in rural Nebraska is out of balance and I will continue to work on finding ways to make the way we pay for our children’s education more in line with the people and property that are benefiting the most from it.