He Said, She Said
Before Monday, all state senators had not been in the same room since March 25. As the COVID interrupted legislative session came to order, a certain awkwardness was to be expected until the ship righted itself.
From the vantage point of a 55″ flat screen, the initial mojo reading was low in the George W. Norris Chamber. Senators were seated and socially distanced; surrounded by plexiglass; masks in the full and upright position; no staff in the chamber, and mass quantities of hand sanitizer cluttered their desktops.
An early dust-up Monday morning, and a doozie on Tuesday, were mere precursors to the eruption of personal attacks Friday morning. Visibly frustrated, Speaker Scheer adjourned the session early.
For the most part, bills were dispatched efficiently for the rest of the week. A dismemberment abortion bill (LB814) sent senators scrambling for the lifeboats before passing, and a much-maligned student discipline bill (LB 147) is now sleeping with the fishes.
The business incentive bill, LB 720, received time on the floor, as did the latest version of property tax relief, LB 1106. Both failed to advance.
The Revenue Committee met after the Friday morning session to discuss a remedy (that’s code for an amendment) that can gain 33 votes to pass both LB 720 and LB 1106. Rumor has it that the committee unceremoniously adjourned as some members took a walk.
Thursday, the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board met. Members split on their official FY2020/21 forecast that is $145 million higher than projected by their national forecasting experts Moody’s and IHS. The estimate decreases state receipts by only $50 million, leaving a budget surplus of $88 million.
BTW, the climate change bill supported last week by Lee Enterprises’ newspapers and many children who lobbied their state senators, was frozen out.
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.
STILL IN COMMITTEE
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.