The Nebraska legislature passed the budget bills last week. Governor Ricketts has five days (not counting Sundays) to decide whether or not to sign the legislation. The governor has the power to veto specific articles on budget bills, without vetoing the bill as a whole. Once the finance bills are passed, other laws that affect general funds or cause a reduction in general fund revenue, as well as all other tax expenditure bills, can be read on final reading.
LB2, introduced by Senator Tom Briese, would reduce the valuation of farmland from 75% to 50% of the actual value for educational bond purposes. As introduced, LB2 would have reduced farmland to 30% of its real value for school bond issues, but the Revenue Committee amendments changed it to 50% of real value. The committee’s changes also included provisions of LB79, as amended, which proposed to increase the funding of the Property Tax Credit Fund by 3% each year. However, the 3% annual increase in the Land Tax Credit Fund was removed in order to maintain sufficient support for the advancement of the bill.
The aim of LB2 is to more equitably balance the responsibility for paying for new school buildings between farm owners and those who live in cities or own businesses. Currently, in rural areas, agricultural landowners may represent a small percentage of voters in a school voucher election. However, they can end up paying off the majority of the debt. The legislature debated LB2 for more than 5 hours last week, before giving the bill approval in the first round with 38 senators voting yes, 3 voting no and 8 not voting on the progress of the bill .
Another property tax measure was also debated by the Legislature last week. LB 408 proposed to limit a political subdivision’s property tax claim to no more than 3% from the previous year. The 3% increase would not apply to property taxes used for bond debt or property taxes derived from real growth. The 3% cover would disappear after 2027.
After eight hours of debate on LB408, a closing motion was presented by the sponsor of the bill. Closure motions require 33 votes to interrupt debate, which allows a vote on the progress of the bill. The closing motion was unsuccessful, dropping four timid voices. Political subdivisions, such as schools, cities and counties, opposed this bill. The governor proposed a similar cover, but wanted it in the constitution, rather than the statute, which would have been more difficult to change if necessary.
Property taxes are the number one concern I hear from constituents. The Legislature increased funding for the Property Tax Credit Fund and last year we adopted a new income tax credit program based on the amount of property taxes paid to school districts. However, even though the Legislature allocates about $ 700 million per year for property tax relief, it has not resolved Nebraskan’s property tax burden. Therefore, I was in favor of LB408.
A day after a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, the legislature gave its first round approval to LB51 with a 39-0 vote. LB51 would require all law enforcement agencies to be accredited by January 1, 2023. This would require agencies to adopt use of force policies and increase annual training requirements for law enforcement officers. . Strangling would generally be prohibited. Law enforcement agencies should adopt policies requiring an officer to intervene when they believe another officer is using excessive force.
As introduced, continuing education requirements would have been increased from 24 hours to 40 hours. The committee’s amendments reduce the requirement to 32 hours, which will be phased in. In addition, the limit of 10 hours of online training is removed. The Crime Commission would be required to create a database of law enforcement officers whose certification has been revoked or who have been convicted of a serious crime. The reserve officer program is replaced by conditional training officers, who would be able to carry a firearm, wear a badge and interact with the public after completing specified training and under the direct supervision of a field training officer, pending the next basic training. classify. Prior to the second stage of debate, the sponsor of the bill made a commitment to work with rural senators who have expressed concern about certain provisions of the bill. My support for this measure depends on whether these concerns are properly addressed.
As we enter the final weeks of this legislative session, senators have started working in the evenings to complete our work. The Legislature will begin discussing tax and spending measures over the next two weeks. I encourage you to contact me to let me know your thoughts on these measures. I can be reached at District # 40, PO Box 94604, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509. My email is [email protected] and my phone number is (402) 471-2801.