Friday was Day 56 (of 60). It was 3:30 pm when Speaker, Jim Scheer, stepped to his microphone. The fourth tax relief bill offered this year had just been blocked by yet another filibuster. The fifth, and final, tax relief bill seems destined for the same fate on Monday. As Mr. Speaker began to talk, senators quickly realized he was miles from pleased. He had their attention.
Since opening day of this legislative session (Jan. 3), tax relief, or cuts, or reform or whatever you want to call it, have been THE most significant issue. Taxpayers are stressed-out! Particularly, property taxpayers. And, there is reason to believe the Legislature and the Governor are motivated to develop and pass a plan that leads to lower taxes. The motivation….a petition drive, currently underway, that would force the lowering of property taxes and blow-up the taxation model we have all come to know and love. Residents are signing the petition right now, and it could very likely be on the November General Election ballot. Now you can do your best Don Knots impression.
Back to the Speaker. He expressed his “displeasure” in the body’s inability to compromise. He then called out the five senators who introduced tax plans because they had been killing each others bills. Finally, he “invited” those senators to his office to work on a compromise, – without staff or lobbyists. Sacrilegious as that sounds, they met Friday night for three hours and again Sunday. Monday is absolutely the last day to begin moving a bill through the process, and the agenda does not yet include a tax reform bill.
On an equally significant note, the body advanced LB449 (Senator Chambers) that would repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act. First, which of you city folk thought there are only white-tailed prairie dogs in Nebraska? And second, did you know prairie dogs have a management team? These critters are prolific and their colonies are detrimental to livestock. Step in a prairie dog hole and you too can break a leg. Protecting prairie dogs is personal for Senator Chambers. Perhaps he has a colony or two in his district. The Act was passed during his four year term limit hiatus.
The session continues April 9, 10 and 11 and will adjourn sine die April 18.
Bills of Interest
LB873 (Urban Affairs Committee) SELECT FILE – Omnibus committee bill (8 bills combined including short-term rental bill, LB756). As amended, LB873 would allow a municipality to adopt or enforce an ordinance or other regulation that imposes a sales tax or an occupation tax on short-term rentals. Also, an online hosting platform may enter into an agreement with the Tax Commissioner to permit the online hosting platform to collect and remit applicable sales taxes on behalf of the seller or hotel operator otherwise required to collect such taxes for transactions consummated between the seller or hotel operator and the purchaser or occupant through the online hosting platform.
LB1067 (Quick) In Committee – DEAD. Something similar will come back next year. Expands Nebraska’s Business Improvement District Act to enable municipalities to promote tourism and construct or renovate tourist attractions using a special tourism surcharge on tourism-related products or services. The legislation requires notice to businesses that would be affected by such surcharge. If more than 50% of such businesses protest the proposed surcharge, it would not be adopted. The bill would not permit use of funds generated by the surcharge to be used for other purposes such as a municipality’s general fund operations.
LB1084 (Briese) In Committee and Prioritized – DEAD. Among other provisions, the bill eliminates sales tax exemption for many items including: cleaning of clothing, landscape services, pet services, taxi, limousine, parking lot services. It appears that LB1084 does not have five votes to advance from committee.
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