Fiscal notes

Senators had a long week. Literally. Five days. The rest of the session the Legislature convenes four days a week. Senators, especially those living in Greater Nebraska, are able to return to their districts for long weekends and sing praises about the good work they do in Lincoln.

Committee hearings are in full bloom with 468 bills and 17 legislative resolutions introduced this session. As usual, the Judiciary and Revenue Committees take the brunt of the hearings.

Have you heard? The state budget is short of cash again! Like maybe $200 million short. In the biz, we call this a revenue shortfall. Why then, would senators introduce legislation to spend more and create an even bigger shortfall? Never let it be said that some elected officials won’t spend money they don’t have.

Between the time a bill is introduced, and it has a committee hearing, a Fiscal Note is produced by the Legislature’s Fiscal Office and/or the Department of Revenue and/or or some bean counter armed with a calculator, an imagination, and a #2 pencil. In economic times like these, bills that require more spending are typically afforded a lovely public hearing with respectful questions and thanks all around. Later, they are killed in committee. It’s called Death by Fiscal Note.

While well intentioned, the introducer of the following quartet of spending bills understands that the hearings will be pleasant. Even cordial. Enthusiastic supporters will testify in support to improve the lot of our children. He also knows these bills are already in the clutches of the Grim Reaper of Fiscal Notes.
• LR270CA – FREE education in public schools for 3- and 4-year-olds ($420M).
• LB876 – Increase special education and support services funding from $224M to $374M.
• LB877 – Increase state aid to schools by 66% per child for early childhood education.
• LB1007 – School districts may levy a 3% property tax for facilities-related expenditures.

What’s up?

  • LB756  Short term rental bill has been amended and advanced out of Committee to General File.  The amendment provides that a municipality may adopt or enforce an ordinance or other regulation that imposes a sales tax or an occupation tax on short-term rentals if the tax is otherwise permitted by applicable law.  It also provides that 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.
  • LB802 On Thursday, the Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill that creates the Nebraska Tourism Commission Promotional Cash Fund.  Vendors that develop,  print, and distribute publications and promotional materials on behalf of the commission shall on a monthly basis submit to the commission all revenue received from the sale of advertising space in such publications.
  • LB1067 No hearing scheduled yet.  Authorizes a special tourism surcharge under the Business Improvement District Act.  Authorize the use of funds for tourism promotion and marketing activities and improvements to tourism attractions.  Provides for representation on district boards from local convention or visitors’ bureaus; to allow business improvement districts to be formed of non-contiguous areas.
  • LB1084 No hearing scheduled yet.  Eliminates sales tax exemption for many items including: storage and moving services, cleaning of clothing, landscape services, pet services, taxi, limousine and parking lot services.