Partisanship and naps

Through eight days, senators have introduced 430 bills and one constitutional amendment that would require voter identification. You might ask yourself, “How do 49 senators come up with so many great ideas?”  You know the answer…..lobbyists. Each bill is critical to the future of our state, and is a true masterpiece of legal craftsmanship. Fortunately for us all, no more bills can be introduced after January 18.

Early last week, mornings were reserved for senators to mill about the George Norris Chamber and introduce bills. Afternoons were set aside for informal meetings and naps. Thursday, Governor Ricketts delivered his State of the State Address. His priorities for 2017 include: less spending; lower taxes; fixing the Department of Corrections and pulling rabbits out of hats.

So far, our nonpartisan unicameral legislature has been solidly partisan.  It will be interesting to see if stalwarts on both sides holds tough as we get deeper into the 90-day session.  Former Republican US senator, Richard Luger has a solution. To paraphrase, “Nonpartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”

Click here for senators’ contact information.
Click here for committees and their members.
Click here for live streaming of floor debate and committee hearings.

What’s up? Taxes, that’s what’s up!  

LB312 would place state sales tax on a boatload of currently exempt products and services: merchandise; newspapers; school lunches; admission to school events; personal legal, accounting and real estate services; veterinary and specialty animal services.  Sales tax would be also be applied to contractor labor for residential additions and construction.

LB313 introduced by Freshman Senator Briese, is easy to understand.  It ups the state sales tax by a penny – 5½ cents to 6½ cents. What happened to lower taxes and less government?

Bills of interest

LB37    Adopt the Uniform Wage Garnishment Act
LB77    Change access to sales and use tax information by cities
LB97    Adopt the Riverfront Development District Act
LB115  Transfers $85K from the State Visitors Promotion Cash Fund to Omaha for music festivals
LB136  Change garnishment proceedings
LB229  Changes provisions relating to garnishment
LB312  Eliminates certain state sales tax exemptions
LB313  Increases state sales tax from 5½ cents to 6½ cents
LB420  Prohibit employers and employment agencies from asking for criminal history

Click here for all legislation introduced the first three days.