Hughes' views: Highlighting bills of significance

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The legislature is getting into full swing. Hearings began last week and we have already advanced a few bills on the floor. 

I want to highlight a few bills which I believe are significant to us in Southwestern Nebraska and the greater state of Nebraska as well. 

Livestock feeding

First, LB 227, which will be heard in February, is a bill I introduced in response to court cases in the Carolinas. This bill includes provisions to protect livestock feeding operations’ right to continue operation if a new housing subdivision is built near an existing facility. 

It’s my opinion that if livestock feeding facilities were there first, they should be grandfathered in. Homeowners who build in the proximity should not be entitled to compensation if they one day decide they don’t like living next to that facility. It is my goal that LB 227 will prevent that type of nuisance lawsuit from being successful in Nebraska. 

Taxable valuation

The next bill I want to highlight is LB 497. The hearing date for this bill has not yet been scheduled. This is a bill I have co-sponsored dealing with the problem of property taxes. 

We developed this bill cooperatively with several senators and other interested groups. It reduces the taxable valuation of farm and ranch land from 75 to 40 percent within three years for the funding of K-12 education only. 

It also provides relief for residential and commercial property taxpayers by changing the formula called the Nebraska Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA). LB 497 also makes sure our K-12 schools are kept whole by making up this reduction in educational funding by the state. This bill does come with a price tag, so we are looking at increasing revenue by eliminating some exemptions to make up the difference in revenue. 

This is only one of several bills that have been introduced dealing with the property tax problem here in Nebraska. I am still optimistic the Revenue Committee is committed to bringing forth a bill for debate by the full body that will bring significant relief to the property taxpayers of Nebraska.

Medical cannabis

Another bill of great interest is LB 110, the Medical Cannabis Act. This bill was heard before the Judiciary Committee last Friday and it was quite a lengthy hearing. I do not believe a majority of senators are going to support this bill, including me, but it will be a lively debate on the floor. 

There will be a huge push to put marijuana on the ballot in 2020 if the legislature does not pass something this year. Just like Medicaid Expansion, this issue is being pushed by forces and big money outside of our borders. It is not our fellow citizens clamoring for this, it is outside interests that have found a way around the Legislature to push their agendas and further their ideologies with slick advertising and messages that appeal to our human instincts to help our fellow citizens. 

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