That was a long short week. The Legislature’s original agenda called for a four-day week, Tuesday through Friday. However, on Monday, Speaker Scheer responded to COVID-19 concerns and told senators to make like fruit haters and diss a pear until further notice.
Then Friday, the Speaker announced the Legislature would reconvene tomorrow at 1:30 pm. He also intends that they meet on Tuesday and Wednesday. The purpose is specifically to authorize the Governor’s request for $58.6 million in emergency funding. The state cash reserve is healthy, so this appropriation should not have much opposition.
We understand the request covers personal protective equipment, supplies, and additional staffing at Vets Hospitals and Department of Health and Human Services facilities. Increased lab testing by the University of Nebraska Medical Center is also part of the package.
Technically, twenty legislative days remain in this session. However, as stated previously in these convoluted rants, passing the budget is the only “must-do” in a legislative session.
The budget overcame a filibuster on General File and rests calmly on Select File. At some date uncertain, the Legislature will reconvene and take up the budget on Select File. There will likely be another filibuster attempt, but advancing to Final Reading is a certainty.
After laying over a day, Final Reading will be a breeze and the budget will move to Governor Ricketts’ desk. He may sign the budget in toto. Or, he may veto specific line items, at which point the Legislature may reconvene to consider overrides.
That leaves many bills quite literally blowing in the COVID-19 wind. High profile bills, like property tax relief (déjà vu), a business incentive plan (déjà vu, again), and $300 million for UNMC. Waiting in the wings are a host of significant issues that really should be addressed this year. Frankly, there may not be enough time. But then again, what’s time to a pig.
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.