Speaker Jim Scheer announced new precautions for the Legislature in response to COVID-19 concerns. His decision to reconvene the body will be day-to-day, rather than adhering to the set schedule. Twenty days remain in this sixty-day session.
Until further notice, visitors are banned from the Legislative Chamber, including the balconies. They may visit the Capitol Rotunda and hang with lobbyists all they want, but the place is a germaphobic nightmare. All that handshaking, back-slapping, and close-talking is a breeding ground for disease.
Every session, the Legislature’s only “must-do” is to pass the budget. The biennial budget that passed the last session was for FY2019/2020 and FY2020/2021. The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following year. This second year of the biennium is typically making adjustments to the budget. The difficulty with this session is that tax revenues exceed projections. Some senators want to spend the newfound money, while others don’t.
No call-in votes. If a senator is ill and wants to vote, they must drag their fanny to the Chamber, plant themselves in their seat and push the green or red button. Twenty-five votes to advance a bill, thirty-three to overcome a filibuster and thirty to override a Governor veto.
After overcoming several filibusters, the budget advanced from General File late last Thursday. Select File debate is Tuesday. A filibuster or two may ensue, but the bill will proceed to Final Reading. The Speaker wants the budget delivered to Governor Ricketts on Friday, and he tends to get his way.
Property tax relief is on life support. Senator Lou Ann Linehan admitted that her PTR bill, LB 974, is dead. She could not show Speaker Scheer that she has 33 votes to overcome a filibuster.
One thing that Lou Ann is not – a quitter. She is working on a modified LB 974 that will amend into LB 1106, a shell bill on General File, and prioritized by the Speaker. Her amendment is not available at this writing as it’s likely more than one hundred pages of complicated formulas and tax jargon. I probably wouldn’t read it anyway.
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.