The Nutty Professor

Good news for all Nebraskans! The 60th and final legislative day is April 18.  The Speaker might adjourn the kids on April 11 (Day 59) if they play nice and do their chores.

This week, senators will begin debate on mid-term adjustments to the State’s $8.9 billion biennial budget. By rule, changes in the budget must be approved by Day 50. State revenues are still in the dumper, so floor debate will focus on budget cuts, rather than spending.

Private negotiations concerning tax relief (property and corporate income) are getting serious. A prediction: if a deal comes together, no one will particularly like it, tax cuts will phase in over 70 dog years, and all parties will claim victory. Which begs a question. Where does the money for tax cuts come from if government is already short of cash? It’s good old fashioned FM, my friends.

LB1090 advanced from General File to Select File on Friday. This is a significant bill for taxpayers, yet coffee shop geezers are way out of the loop on this one. Nebraska’s tax law partially mirrors federal tax code. So…. the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that everyone so much appreciates, does not kick in for Nebraska taxpayers unless the Legislature and Governor pass legislation. Put simply, NO LB1090 = NO $226 MILLION IN TAXPAYERS’ POCKETS.

Senator Schumacher (The Professor) had an absolute ball last week on General File. He made senators think and thoughtfully debate his idea for the creation of a Sovereign City, no bigger than 36 square miles in a part of the state where there are currently less than 10 people per square mile. Sure, a couple fuddy-duddies poked fun and laughed at his concept, but they had to genuinely consider an idea that just might stimulate economic and population growth in Nebraska’s sparsest of areas. Schumacher’s bill did not pass, but the vote total was tied – 19-19. This is the Professor’s final session due to term limits. Gonna miss that nutty guy.

Bills of interest

LB756 (Morfeld) General File – This bill will be amended into an Urban Affairs Committee Priority Bill. As amended, the bill would 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. Also, 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 – DEAD. Something similar will come back next year.

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 and 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.