R’s & D’s

Last Monday, senators were briefed on the proposed second year of the $8.8 billion biennial budget, as drafted by the 9-member Appropriations Committee. Tuesday, the three budget bills opened on General File, so the remaining 40 senators might challenge the mental capacity of those committee members.

If you’re a novice at this unicameral politics thing, you might expect that Neo-Crazy Conservatives would hire a battalion of accountants to deep dive the numbers and find even more severe cuts to the budget than were proposed by our wealthy Governor. They may call it “Less Government – Lower Taxes” but we all know the cuts find their way into the coat pockets of those heartless fiscal butchers.

You might also suppose Progressives would picket in the Rotunda for more taxes that further the cause for the oppressed, women, children, poor, old, undernourished, overnourished, uneducated, unwashed, unemployed, untoothed, same sex, unisex, no sex, lesbian, gay, transgender, transcontinental, queer or questioning, color blind, deaf, gender variant, or just plain lazy.

Au contraire.  The “filibuster de jour” was the unsolvable politics of abortion and Title X funding. Title X is a federal family planning program that sends Nebraska almost $2 million. The Governor proposed eliminating Title X funding for organizations that perform, counsel or refer for abortions, like Planned Parenthood. Oh, the tales those Conservative R’s and Progressive D’s senators did tell. As midnight approached, and the bats circled the Sower, the budget moved to Select File with Title X funding intact. Select File on the budget is scheduled for this Tuesday.

The following link is an updated summary of the legislative races on the May 8 Primary Election ballot. Kudos to those who sign their name on any public office election form. Particularly, the legislative candidates who may spend upwards of $100,000 and knock on thousands of doors, just to be competitive. All for a $12,000 (plus per diem) per year position, that is especially challenging and unbelievably satisfying. And, if they do great job, they’re fired after eight years!

Primary Election Races

Bills of interest

LB756 (Morfeld) and LB873 (Urban Affairs Committee)

LB756 likely would not come up for debate because it is not prioritized. Senator Morfeld filed an amendment to add LB756 onto LB873, a committee priority bill, so it has a chance at passing.

LB756 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.