Hughes' views: Right-to-Farm bill passes 46-2

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Now that LB227 has passed, I have shifted my focus to other bills and priorities. One such bill is LB719, a bill I introduced at the request of auto recyclers and scrappers. 

The intent of the bill is to streamline the process of surrendering titles for junked motor vehicles to the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles and reporting inventory of junk or scrap vehicles to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). 

Both of those actions are mandated by law, but can be time-consuming and/or result in multiple or incomplete records. I have submitted this bill for consideration to the consent calendar. I hope it will be added and passed. 

Bills that will successfully pass the consent calendar are noncontroversial and should pass easily, but would otherwise not be placed on the agenda because they did not receive a priority. 

There is a slight risk in placing a bill on the consent calendar—if a bill does begin a discussion which lasts longer than 15 minutes, the bill is removed from the consent calendar and will not pass. Because LB719 is so narrowly focused and is noncontroversial, I do believe it would pass on the consent calendar.

Budget

Aside from that, my main focus for the rest of this session is property tax relief. The revenue committee voted LB289 out of committee on April 30.

The sales tax exemptions to be eliminated include; pet-related services, moving services, storage, hair care and hair removal services, nail care, skin care, tattoo, home services and repair (including plumbing, HVAC, and electrical), interior design, taxi, limo, rideshare, lawn care, parking, swimming pool cleaning, dating, telefloral, wedding planning, weight loss, personal training, clothing alteration, candy, pop, bottled water, ice, and car repair. 

The budget came out of committee May 2. Following that, we had recess days Friday and Monday for the purpose of studying the budget and formulating questions. Another briefing was held on Tuesday morning before we began discussing the budget. As of Wednesday, the budget is the only issue we will discuss that until it is passed. 

This process can last for a few hours or many days, and typically takes a week. I think moving through this budget too quickly would be a disservice to all Nebraskans. We as senators need to take our time and have the tough conversations on the floor to achieve equitable and sustainable property tax relief. 

Tuesday teleconference

Floor debate on LB289 began Tuesday afternoon. The big question will be whether it can garner the needed 33 votes to survive any filibuster attempts. 

Hughes said increased state aid to schools would be how the property tax relief would be distributed. However, he said schools with a lower levy and have been fiscally conservative will still be hurt by that plan. 

In addition to the half-cent sales tax and lifting of some exemptions, valuations for school purposes will change. 

Ag land will go from 75% of value to 65% while residential and commercial will go from 100% of value down to 90%. These lower valuations will not apply to counties or cities.

All schools would receive a per student cost. This will help schools that have received little or no state aid. 

Hughes noted the Lincoln and Omaha schools would stand to lose millions so the 17 urban senators would be enough to kill the bill if no compromise can be reached. 

Hughes said he “held his nose” and voted for the sales tax authority for Gage County to pay off their $28 million obligation to the Beatrice six. 

While he doesn’t like to see more taxing authority, he didn’t want all the burden to fall on property taxes.

If you would like to speak directly to me about legislative issues, join the Great Plains conference call Tuesday at 7 a.m. MT or the McCook Chamber Conference call Thursday at 7 a.m. MT. Call the office for call-in numbers. 

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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