The Legislative session begins this week. Therefore, I would like to give my readers a heads-up about what to expect this year. While more than 500 new bills will get introduced this year, three carry-over bills will be very importance to me again this year. So, today I would like to tell you about these three very important carry-over bills from last year.
The most important carry-over bill is LB 289. LB 289 is the Revenue Committee’s property tax relief bill which was introduced by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, who is also the chair. Property tax relief will be the hottest topic of the year.
The reason this bill is so important is because it fails to deliver on significant and meaningful property tax relief. If this bill ever passes into law, the losers will be everyone who owns real estate in Nebraska. LB 289 is nothing more than an attempt to dupe the public into believing that the Legislature has finally delivered on property tax relief when the total amount of relief is projected to be only $482 million in the first year of its implementation, which includes the $275 million which is already in the Property Tax Cash-Credit Fund. None of that money will go directly to taxpayers; instead, it will go to the tax spenders with the hope of reducing your property taxes. To pay for the loss in revenue, LB 289 would remove sales tax exemptions on many services, such as dog grooming services and dry cleaning services.
The second carry-over bill that I will be watching closely is LB720, which is the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. The ImagiNE Nebraska Act is intended to replace the Nebraska Advantage Act, which will sunset this year. The ImagiNE Nebraska Act is nothing short of corporate welfare.
When it comes to the ImagiNe Nebraska Act, the question needs to be asked, “Why is the State involved in economic development at all?” The Nebraska State Constitution never directs the State to incentivize new business. Moreover, these kinds of incentives undermine the nature of our free-market economy. Nebraska needs to learn how to be competitive without enticing new businesses with corporate welfare. Instead of incentivizing new businesses, I believe our priority should be to cut spending and lower taxes so everyone can benefit from lower taxes.
Finally, the third carry-over bill that will concern me greatly this year is LB 483, a bill for agricultural land valuation reform. Last year LB 483 advanced to General File, but stalled there. I believe I have enough votes to continue debate on the bill, but first the bill needs to be amended.
We have worked on fixing the issues. The biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome on this bill is determining the capitalization rate. Last year certain urban Senators were concerned that the capitalization rate I came up with could be manipulated to benefit or harm farmers and ranchers across the State. Therefore, I will amend the bill this year with a new formula for the capitalization rate which should resolve this problem. Therefore, I hope to be able to advance the bill this year to Select File and Final Reading.
As far as new legislation goes, I have several other common sense bills that I will be introducing this year. They range from issues dealing with the Game & Parks Commission to setting speed limits in the Panhandle. As we move into the new legislative session, if you have questions or comments, please call my office at (402) 471-2616. Happy New Year!