The End is Near
Speaker Hilgers announced that Thursday, May 27, the 107th Legislature, First Session, will adjourn sine die. Brings a tear to one’s eye. It certainly does for those 49 COVID-aweary state senators.
Procedurally, all General File bills, or those dogs still in committee, stand no chance of becoming law this year. Instead, they carry over to the Second Session, which opens on January 5, 2022. Select File bills must move to Final Reading by the end of day Tuesday, or they too will hang around until next January.
Governor Ricketts plays a significant role as the Session comes to a close. When a bill advances from Final Reading to his desk, he has five days (excluding Sunday) to sign or veto. That means any legislation moved to the Governor after this Friday risks a pocket veto because the Legislature will adjourn before five days expire, with no opportunity to override a veto.
Senator Anna Wishart’s medical cannabis legalization bill LB474 got smoked again. Look for it on the November 2022 statewide ballot.
Senator Lindstrom’s LB64 would phase out state tax on Social Security benefits over ten years. The bill advanced to Final Reading. Upon full implementation in 2030, many current beneficiaries will be dead.
Senator Bostar’s LB630 advanced to Final Reading. The bill creates a pilot program to study academic performance and behavior by adding commercial air filters to 300 school classrooms. Wouldn’t removing face masks increase performance and behavior?
The Redistricting Committee is meeting in anticipation that Census Bureau information will be available in July. The Legislature’s Executive Board appointed members to the committee that consists of five Republicans and four Democrats. Geographically, three members are from metro Omaha, three from Lincoln, and three from greater Nebraska.
- Lou Ann Linehan – R – Elkhorn, Chairperson
- Carol Blood – D – Bellevue
- Tom Briese – R – Albion
- Tom Brewer – R – Gordon
- Suzanne Geist – R – Lincoln
- Steve Lathrop – D – Millard
- John Lowe – R – Kearney
- Adam Morfeld – D, Lincoln
- Justin Wayne – D – Lincoln
In September, the Legislature will come back for a Special Session, strictly limited to redistricting. Be prepared for high drama, discord, and pure partisan politics. For entertainment value alone, redistricting is Top 10 must-watch TV.
- LB139 (Briese) (Slama Priority) SUPPORT – Adopts the COVID-19 Liability Protection Act.
- LB432 (Revenue Committee Priority Bill) – MONITOR – Income tax shell bill.
- AM774 Would amend the following bills into the bill:
- LB680 (Linehan) Cuts the corporate tax rate beginning 2022 from 7.5% to 5.58% on the first $100K of taxable income and remains 7.75% over $100K. In 2023 the first $100K tax rate will be 5.58% and 7.25% over $100K. Intent language would then cut the taxable rate over $100K to 7% in 2024 and 6.84% in 2025.
- LB564 (McDonnell) Adds apprenticeship programs to the definition of qualified higher education expense in the Nebraska Educational Savings Plan Trust (NEST).
- LB59 (Stinner) SUPPORT – Amends the Nebraska Tourism Commission’s powers to allow the Commission to engage directly with retailers to sell tourism promotional products. It further provides that retailers who pay in full for merchandise have no further reporting requirements to the Commission. The bill also harmonizes a section of the statute governing the handling of sales revenue received by the Commission and a section of statute describing the Commission’s powers.
- LB258 (Vargas) (M. Hansen Priority) OPPOSE – Requires employers with four or more employees to provide access to paid sick and safe leave. FAILED TO ADVANCE.
- LB290 (M.Cavanaugh) OPPOSE – Adopts the Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance Act to create a paid family and medical leave insurance program to provide partial wage replacement for eligible workers to care for themselves or family members.
Held In Committee
- LB52 (Lathrop) MONITOR – Provides immunity from injury or death resulting from COVID-19 exposure.
- LB79 (Briese) MONITOR – Change the minimum amount of relief provided under the Property Tax Credit Act.
- LB122 (Hunt) OPPOSE – Eliminates the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 plus tips. Tipped workers would be paid the state minimum wage of $9.00 an hour.
- LB133 (Erdman) MONITOR – Adopts a consumption tax.
- LB422 (Briese) MONITOR – Reduces sales tax rate from 5.5% to 5% and eliminates some sales tax exemptions.
Failed to Advance
LR11CA (Erdman Priority Resolution) MONITOR – A resolution for a constitutional amendment and consumption tax. Changes the way taxes are collected, replaces the income tax, the sales tax, the property tax, and the inheritance tax with a consumption tax, directs the Legislature to enact a consumption tax.