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Tragically, two coronavirus-related deaths have occurred in Nebraska. One each in Douglas and Hall Counties. More than 100 confirmed cases are reported statewide. According to the latest US Census Bureau, approximately 1,934,306 Nebraskans have not tested for or contracted COVID-19. Let’s keep it that way!

The Legislature convened last week to pass LB 1198 that includes an $83.6 million appropriation from the cash reserve to fight this pandemic. The debate was blessedly brief, which was difficult for a few senators of the chatty persuasion.

  • $38.2M – local health departments for protective gear and supplies
  • $25M – unobligated funds for unforeseen future needs
  • $13M – staffing at veterans’ homes and state DHHS care facilities
  • $4M – staffing and overtime for DHHS Division of Public Health
  • $3.01M – UNMC lab equipment, personnel, software/programming, and COVID-19 testing
  • $344k – statewide communication system for response efforts

Speaker Scheer suspended the legislative session, with sixteen legislative days remaining. He will determine when it’s safe to reconvene. Have no doubt the Legislature will resume this year to pass the budget, and many priority bills already staged for debate.

The most significant would be property tax relief. The original package, LB 947, was jelly on a canned ham. When opened five weeks ago, most schools and their senators rejected it because of the taste. That ham has been aging in a seasoned Tupperware Vent & Serve and will be amended into LB 1106. Who knows if the aging process is enough to garner 33 votes.

The Speaker is holding LB 720, the ImagiNE Act business incentive bill on Select File since last year, waiting for a resolution to property tax relief. The current Nebraska Advantage Act expires on December 31. A $300 million bill for UNMC (LB 1084) will be amended into LB 720 when the time is right, so COVID-19 or not; LB 720 will be debated this year.

Now wash your hands, keep your distance and be wary of those Zoom Bombers.

Tracking

GENERAL FILE

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.

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