Hughes Views: Bills head to Governor’s desk

This week has been a short week. We had two recess days in observance of Easter. Last Thursday, we passed multiple bills through final reading which will head to the Governor’s desk. 

Notably among them was LB472, known as the Qualified Judgement Payment Act, to allow Gage County to levy a sales tax for payment of a federal judgement against the county. 

For background, the county is required to pay 28 million dollars for violating a federal law when prosecuting a criminal case. Although I do not support the notion of allowing counties the right to levy sales tax, the only alternative appeared to be increasing the property tax burden on Gage County residents. 

Even then, it would take years for the landowners of Gage County to repay the burden. I voted for the bill on that premise because I do not believe property taxpayers should bear all the burden. The Governor is expected to veto this bill. That being said, it passed final reading on a 43-6 vote, and should have enough support to override the veto. 

Senator Wayne’s LR14CA also passed through final reading last week. It is a constitutional amendment with the intent of spurring new development in extremely blighted areas and allowing TIF, tax increment financing, to extend to 20 years. 

I am not in favor of extending the length of time from 15 to 20 years because it sets a precedent for other areas to ask to do the same. If used correctly, TIF can be very helpful, and we do have some success stories in our district. 

However, I do not want to create loopholes which may lead to abuse or elimination of the program. I also realize programs like this disrupt competition in our free market system, so I think we need to be very cautious when making changes. 

Turning from other Senators’ bills to my own, I am still working on amending LB227 for when it is placed on the agenda for select file. 

If you would like to speak directly to me about legislative issues, join the Great Plains conference call Tuesday at 7 a.m. MT and McCook Chamber Conference call Thursday at 7 a.m. MT.  

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. My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.

You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.

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