Wednesday, was Budget Day. It’s always filled with anticipation for state department heads, state employees, state contractors, grant recipients, the Governor, taxpayers and your favorite lobbyist.
Unicameral aficionados, who religiously tune-in to NET, anticipate budget debate as well. Liken them to General Hospital devotees, hooked on policy debate. They know the budget brings drama and controversy to their living room, so they writhe at spending choices and revel at comments by their favorite senators. However, these regular viewers most anticipate the possibility of a tussle like those on C-SPAN where “My Esteemed Colleague” uses $10 words to call “My Good Friend” a complete jerk.
Didn’t happen. Senators quizzed the Appropriations Committee about spending motives, and Committee Chairman Stinner only used his “Dad voice” once. Late in the day, the state’s $9.3 billion biennial budget advanced to Select File.
A win for property owners came in the form of a $51 million hot potato. The Governor’s original budget request contained that potato in the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, for each of the next two years. “My good friends” on the Appropriations Committee halved the potato and sent $26 million to the Rainy Day Fund. An amendment by “my esteemed colleague” Senator Linehan, made that potato whole again, fully funding the Governors original request. The total property tax credit, which is refunded to all property taxpayers, increases to $372 million in FY2020-21.
Property tax relief bill, LB289, did not fair as well last week. Facing strong opposition, the bill was removed from the agenda after three hours. The Speaker has a rule. If a bill does not advance within three hours, it’s gone, unless the bill introducer shows him at least 33 votes to overcome the debate filibuster. Sen. Linehan is lobbying her good friends to get to 33.
BIG DEAL BILLS THIS WEEK
- All Seven Budget Bills – Select File and Final Reading.
- LB720 – Nebraska ImagiNE Act. 115-page, $150 million kitchen sink business incentive bill.
- LB686 – $49 million, 384-bed facility in Lincoln to reduce (not fix) prison overcrowding.
- LB630 – Judiciary Committee assorted criminal acts.
- LB110 – Medical cannabis bill. Likely not to pass, but sets-up drama for 2020 ballot initiative.
APPROVED BY THE GOVERNOR
- LB57 Prohibits municipalities from adopting or enforcing ordinances/regulations that expressly or effectively prohibit the short-term rental of residential properties and restrict the ability of municipalities to regulate residential properties used as short-term rentals. The Tax Commissioner will enter into agreements with online hosting platforms and short-term rentals to permit the online housing platform to collect and remit applicable sales taxes on behalf of sellers or hotel operators otherwise required to collect such taxes for transactions consummated through the online hosting platform.
- LB203 Amends the Music Licensing Act to add the owner of a multi-family dwelling to the definition of “proprietor.” Apartment common areas (lobby, clubhouse, fitness center) are included in the Act.