Death & Taxes

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and change. You can’t avoid change, it’s mandatory. Progress however is optional.” – Unknown

DEATH

Sen. Chambers introduced LB44, his latest attempt to abolished the death penalty. In 2015, the senator passed legislation, then overrode the Governor’s veto, to repeal capital punishment. That victory was short-lived as Nebraska voters overwhelmingly restored the death sentence in 2016.

LB44 floor debate was mundane and the death of LB44 was apparent from the opening filibuster speech. Democrats eventually accounted for all 17 votes to repeal. Three more party members were conveniently absent during roll call. Not to imply that state senators seeking reelection have ever ducked a tough vote.

TAXES

Nebraska property taxes are Top 5 in the nation. Go Big Red! Fortunately, this Revenue Committee is actually serious about helping property owners. Time is at a premium in this session, so Chairwoman Linehan pulled an Izzy Mandelbaum (“It’s go time!”) and convened three committees (Revenue, Retirement and Education) for the Mother Of All Hearings. The house was a rockin’ for six and one-half hours as 16 senators engaged fifty testifiers (most opposed) about the merits of the Linehan/Grone Plan. Meanwhile, scads of caring and compassionate special interest supporters sat eagerly in the hearing room in their skinny pants and silly socks wearing Save Our (insert cause) lapel pins.

The Linehan/Groene plan is complicated. Generally it would shift more of the responsibility for funding K-12 education away from property taxes and onto new revenue from expanded sales taxes. Some testifiers suggested that local government could reduce spending. School superintendents recorded their names for in-school indoctrination. There is no easy answer, but the right people are working on a reasonable solution.

PROGRESS

It’s time to adjust your ride height. The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board met for the final time this session. These are the folks who predict Nebraska’s economic outlook. They say that state tax revenue will increase by $55 million from now to June 30, 2021. Weirdly, $45 million will be collected by June 30 of this year. For the next two years (7/1/19 to 6/30/21) the increase is only $10 million. Wish there was something clever to say about that.

Wednesday is the 70th day of this 90-day session. It’s the deadline for the Appropriations Committee to submit a budget proposal to the Legislature. The Legislature must pass a balanced budget by Day 80, or all members will be relegated to wearing skinny jeans and silly socks.

Watchlist

APPROVED BY THE GOVERNOR

  • LB57 Prohibits municipalities from adopting or enforcing ordinances/regulations that expressly or effectively prohibit the short-term rental of residential properties and restrict the ability of municipalities to regulate residential properties used as short-term rentals. The Tax Commissioner will enter into agreements with online hosting platforms and short-term rentals to permit the online housing platform to collect and remit applicable sales taxes on behalf of sellers or hotel operators otherwise required to collect such taxes for transactions consummated through the online hosting platform.
  • LB203 Amends the Music Licensing Act to add the owner of a multi-family dwelling to the definition of “proprietor.” Apartment common areas (lobby, clubhouse, fitness center) are included in the Act.

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