Beginning of the end

Tomorrow, senators return for the 44th day of this 60-day legislative session. While not cornteened, the 49 senators will be socially distanced and plexiglassed until the final gavel drop on August 13.

Coincidentally, tomorrow’s agenda shows 44 Select File bills staged for action. Each bill has received a full public hearing, and the appropriate committees voted to send it to General File. Each bill then received full and fair floor debate before moving on to Select File. One would presume that by now, a thorough vetting had been accomplished, and lengthy discussion would be unnecessary. But nay nay, one would be wrong!

Let’s face it; senators were muzzled for months, and they have pent up opinions to share and grievances to lay bare before moving on to the work of the people. Some will speak ad nauseam. Mostly about the cornteen, BLM, taxes, police reform, the children, the disadvantaged, the advantaged, the prisons, the governor, the president, and even the Lord. Oh my!

Last week, the Platte Institute hosted an interview with Senator John Stinner, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He said the first year of the biennial budget, which ended June 30, was balanced. The senator is cautiously optimistic about this second fiscal year noting Nebraska’s low unemployment rate and that some CARES Act funds may be available for state budget requirements.

The senator discussed LB720, the $100 – $150 million business incentive package, and believes some form of the bill should pass. He also believes that passing even a minimal amount of property tax relief (LB1106) is a 50/50 proposition at best. Speaker Jim Scheer indicated that both LB720 and LB1106 would see floor debate on Wednesday.

My trigger was tripped today by the same one-sided newspaper article appearing in both the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal Star. It promotes an “11th-hour push” by unnamed climate scientists, unnamed others, and children to pass LB283, a $250,000 climate change study. Failed iterations of this bill have been around for years.

Unnamed climate scientists and others? Seriously? Twenty minutes on an iPhone and I could identify every one of those mysterious folk. That’s either sloppy reporting or intentional.

And what about the other side of the LB283 story that went unreported? Here’s a lead for you, Scoop. Senators Hughes, Lowe, and Scheer did not vote to advance LB283. Bet you a byline that they would share their perspective with the public. BTW, it took me less than a minute to find their votes on the Legislature’s website.

And then there are the children. Aren’t you a little disgusted when adults use innocent children, especially grade-schoolers, to gin-up the media for their social cause de jour, e.g., climate change? Believe me, senators will not change their minds on climate change, or any other kind of change, because they receive a crayon plea on construction paper from a classroom of eight-year-olds. Stop it!

Final Reading Bills

  • LB770 Free passes to state parks for disabled veterans and changes to nonresident fees. $230,000-$250,000 annually.

Select File Bills

  • LB720 New ImagiNE business incentive package. $125 million annually. Some leading senators want this bill tied to a property tax relief bill. Some don’t. Pick a side, or pick a compromise. No matter the outcome, you will be disappointed.
  • LB912 Christmas tree of correction bills. $170,000 – $190,000 annually.
  • LB1148 New reporting requirements for juvenile abuse, neglect, placement, and treatment. $12 million annually.
  • LB1183 Data collection and disbursement by the statewide health information exchange. $2.7 – $3.1 million annually.

General File Bills

  • LB242 Sales tax turn back for municipalities and sewer and water utilities. $190,000 – $224,00 annually.
  • LB283 Climate change study. $125,000.
  • LB923 Exempts from sales tax on electric generation, transmission, distribution, and street lights owned by an electric cooperative or member association. $190,000 – $224,00 annually.
  • LB974 Property tax relief bill “número dos” replaces LB1074 that is drowning in so many cockamamie amendments that it now swims with the fishes. The big K-12 schools will hate on this bill because…that’s what they do.
  • LB1155 Urban housing grant program. $10,000,000

Tracking

GENERAL FiLE

LB187 SUPPORT (Hilkeman)

  • 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.

LB1084 (Kolterman) MONITOR

  • 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.

FAILED TO ADVANCE

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.

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