Hughes' Views: Legislature reconvenes for 60-day session

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Happy New Year! As we swing into the next decade the second session of the 106th Legislature commences on Wednesday, Jan. 8. This will be a 60-day session that is scheduled to last until April 23.

Bills will be introduced in the first 10 days of this session, plus we still have all of the carryover bills from the first session. 

Public hearings are scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 21. Committee chairpersons and members remain the same in this second session. 

As Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, I will be addressing bills that carried over from the first session as well as any incoming bills that directly relate to the committee and our main concerns. 

property taxes

Of course, property taxes are still the number one issue for me. 

Fortunately, the State of Nebraska has had some additional revenue come in above projections and consequently, we have some extra dollars to direct toward property tax relief. 

The challenge, now that we have some money to work with, is how do we redistribute those dollars where they are most needed. I am still of the opinion the agriculture producers of the state need relief first. 

It was agriculture’s real estate taxes that have more than doubled in the last 10 to 15 years. This is due to a flaw in our state aid to schools funding formula. 

There has been a tremendous tax burden shift from the state taxpayers onto the backs of our farmers and ranchers. They are the ones who deserve relief first. 

Hopefully, we can accomplish that upfront and craft legislation that will grant property tax relief to homeowners and commercial property taxpayers in 2021. 

Then, hopefully, we can set the state on a course of less reliance on property taxes for years to come.

ImagiNE Act, LB720

A big topic of contention last year was the ImagiNE Act, LB720. 

I am a firm believer in incentives, e.g., attracting businesses and retaining quality employees. 

LB720 is set to replace the Nebraska Advantage Act which expires at the end of December, 2020. The Nebraska Advantage Act provides incentives to recruit businesses in Nebraska and aids in creating a quality workforce to challenge our neighboring states. 

It will have a slim chance of passing this session if changes are not made to the original version and not enough time is spent discussing the contents of the bill and it’s lasting effects. 

The challenge for me will be making sure that funding will not be concentrated in the eastern part of the state and verifying that funding will be allocated across the state.  

My office has moved to the southwest quadrant of the Capitol, into room 1117. We will be located here for approximately 18 months or so as the original location of the Natural Resources office will be in the new phase of renovation.  

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.

Read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. Click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.

 

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