Long as God Can Grow It

Like a house guest who overstays his welcome, Acrimony languished in the George Norris Chamber for the legislative session’s final three days. Short tempers and sensitive feelings don’t make for good lawmaking, but senators completed the Speaker’s agenda.

Despite distractions from COVID and the economic downturn, senators stepped up to provide more property tax relief to Nebraskans, and a substantial economic development incentive package for businesses. Bravo senators!

Custom has it that each senator who will not return next year shall be lavished with praise by a colleague on the Legislature floor. Custom also has it that each outgoing senator is afforded time to sing his/her praises. The standard five-minute time limit was sorely missed.

The Governor vetoed LB 1060 after the Legislature adjourned for the year (pocket veto). The bill would add hair texture and protective hairstyles (such as braids, locks, and twists) to the definition of race. Governor Ricketts said LB 1060 is not a race issue and would inhibit employers from establishing safe grooming standards. He identified food handlers and machinery operators.

Wasn’t hair already a thing? For everyone? In the ’60s? Employers grumbled, and parents convulsed because their children looked like unkempt crazy hippies. Adults discriminated. Kids grew up. They all got over it.

  • Congratulations, Speaker Jim Scheer, for successfully hearing cats.
  • In 2021, the retired military can exclude half of their benefit pay from state income tax.
  • Must be 21 to use and purchase tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, electronic nicotine delivery systems, or alternative nicotine products.
  • Columbus Day is now also Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
  • Encouraged expansion of broadband internet service in underserved and unserved areas.
  • Created a state Commission on African American Affairs.
  • Two members of the Legislature must be present at an execution.

That’s it for the year folk.

BILL TRACKING

APPROVED BY THE GOVERNOR

LB1107 (Scheer) Creates a new business tax incentive program, the ImagiNE Nebraska Act.

  • Requires the state to provide matching funds for a potential academic hospital and all-hazards disaster response facility at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
  • Provides a refundable income tax credit that would be based on the amount an eligible taxpayer paid in property taxes to their school district during the previous year. For calendar year 2020, the total amount of credits would be $125 million. For the following three years, that amount could increase based on growth in the state’s net tax receipts and the level of its cash reserve. The credit cap would be $375 million for 2024. For each year after that, the total amount of credits would be $375 million plus an allowable growth percentage equal to the growth in real property value.
  • Ensures that the state’s cash reserve could not drop below $500 million after any transfer of funds to the new

INDEFINITELY POSTPONED

LB187 (Hilkeman) SUPPORT

  • Adds two new definitions to an eligible sports arena facility to the Sports Arena Facility Financing Assistance Act.
  • Any sports complex which includes concession areas, parking facilities and onsite administrative offices connected with operating the sports complex.
  • A multipurpose field meaning a rectangular field of grass or synthetic turf which is primarily used for competitive field sports, that may include soccer, football, flag football, lacrosse or rugby.
  • The bill repeals the occupancy requirement to receive a turn back of sales tax and replaces occupancy with project completion date.

LB974 MONITOR (Linehan) REVENUE COMMITTEE PRIORITY BILL

  • This is a complex property tax and school funding bill. As amended by AM2433, the bill would reduce property taxes as a major source of funding for K-12 education.
  • Real property would be valued at 95% of actual value for tax year 2020.
  • In tax year 2021, real property would be valued at 91%of actual value.
  • In tax year 2022, and thereafter, real property would be valued at 86% of actual value.

LB1084 (Kolterman) MONITOR – AMENDED INTO LB720 THE CHAMBER’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL

  • The Nebraska Transformational Project Act would provide $300 million in state funding to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for their NExT Project.
  • NExT Project has two components: a state of the art academic medical center facility and a federal all-hazard disaster response military and civilian partnership.
  • UNMC must show an economic impact to Nebraska of at least $2.7 billion during the planning and construction period and at least $4.9 billion over ten years

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