Thursday is the last day non-incumbents can file for office for the primary election. Twenty four seats in the Legislature are up for election this cycle. Nine incumbent senators are running unopposed and desperately hoping to remain that way on March 2. No jinx intended.
The nine-member Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board meets Wednesday. Their AccuWeather forecast for next year’s general fund receipts will determine if the state budget remains on Doppler Alert, or if all will be bright and sunshiny.
Speaking of campaign contributions; Sen. Ernie Chambers introduced LB817 that puts the kibosh on elected officials using their own campaign funds for the benefit of other political campaigns and events. Some state senators are writing checks from their campaign accounts to sponsor events for their Parties or other senators. This is no black-tailed prairie dog bill, but campaign contributors, Common Cause and the Nebraska Accountability & Disclosure Committee completely agree.
Committee hearings on every bill introduced this session conclude Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday (Day 35), the Speaker shifts the format to all-day floor debate for the final 25 legislative days.
Ever hear of the Nebraska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission? Didn’t think so. It has three commissioners in Sidney. They meet a dozen times a year to issue permits for the development of Nebraska’s oil and natural gas resources. Senator Erdman (Bayard) introduced LB713 to increase each commissioner’s daily pay from $50 to $500. Sweet!
Senators Burke Harr and Tom Brewer propose replacing both Nebraska statues in the National Statutory Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol. Julius Sterling Morton and William Jennings Bryan (both very handsome men, BTW) were unveiled in 1937. The senators prefer Standing Bear, the renowned Ponca chief and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather. Fine alternatives indeed. Perhaps another equally famous Nebraska icon merits consideration in this debate….Hmmm?
Bills of interest
LB756 (Morleld) General File Not prioritized. Amended in committee to 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. Additionally, 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 Not prioritized. 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 Prioritized. 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.