A tussle

Paul Hammel (Omaha World-Herald) reported that two political heavyweights, John Stinner, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and Governor Ricketts, publically squared off over priorities in crafting the next state biennial budget.

Stinner tossed the Bad Santa flag and called a penalty on the Governor. It seems that Pete acted on an opportunity to further reduce Nebraskan’s property taxes by a whopping $173 million by merely shifting pots-o-money within the budget. Stinner has other needs for that cash, like increasing provider rates for social services, a downpayment on a new prison, and boosting the state’s rainy day fund.

As a property owner, “THANKS, PETE!” Nebraska’s property taxes are oppressive. On the other hand, citizens support quality care for those less fortunate and believe the state cash reserve should protect us when times get tough. And they will. “GO GET ‘EM, JOHN!” It’s just a matter of perspective.

The session began on January 6. Rather than morning floor debate and afternoon committee hearings for new bills, Speaker Hilgers scheduled full-day public hearings for 684 new bills and a handful of constitutional amendments. Because each of those gems must receive a public hearing, the Speaker intends to wrap up hearings early in the event of an outbreak. No, not an outbreak of common sense. An outbreak of the COVID.

Floor debate begins the mornings of February 16, March 2, 9, 10, and 11. All-day floor debate starts March 15.

Monday, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will hold five hearings on the deployment of high-speed broadband. Tuesday, they have six more.

Three bills regarding net metering of electricity rear their frizzy little heads on Wednesday. Can’t get enough debate about property tax relief? Catch the Revenue Committee on Friday afternoon. You’ll get your fill.

In the mood for a nap? Tune in to Appropriations Committee hearings on Monday and Tuesday. They will deep dive into the budgets of 14 (of 90) state agencies. The State Gaming Commission is on their docket, as are a few bills to spend more of your money…..for worthy causes, of course.

Bill Tracking

Hearings Monday Morning
In The Business & Labor Committee

  • LB290 (M.Cavanaugh) Would adopt the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act. The Act will create a paid family and medical leave insurance program to provide partial wage replacement for eligible workers to care for themselves or a family member experiencing a serious illness or to care for a new child through birth, foster care, or adoption. Leave can also be taken for military exigency. The program is financed through employer contributions to the program. Employers who offer private insurance or programs with benefits as generous as those specified in the act can opt-out of the program. Self-employed persons can opt into the program. Similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, a covered employee who utilizes the paid family leave insurance program is entitled to be restored to the position held by the employee when the leave commenced or to a position with equivalent status and pay.
  • LB258 (Vargas) LB305 requires employers with four or more employees to provide employees with access to paid sick and safe leave. Employees shall accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick and safe time for every thirty hours worked. Employers must allow employees to accrue up to forty hours in a calendar year based on hours worked. Nothing in the bill prohibits employers from providing additional paid leave. Safe leave can be used for reasons relating to domestic violence, stalking, or domestic abuse. Any employer with a paid leave policy who makes available an amount of paid leave that is sufficient to meet the accrual requirements for paid sick and safe time and which may be used for the same purposes as paid sick and safe time under the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act is not required to provide additional paid sick and safe time.