Hughes' views: Session going into the home stretch

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Tuesday’s call marked the final call of the session. There are only four days of the session this week and two next before the Legislature adjourns May 31. 

The big question down the stretch is what will happen with LB720, the Nebraska Incentive Act bill, and LB 183, which will carry the lone effort for property tax relief. 

Neither has enough votes to break a filibuster alone. That’s why the two may be rolled into one before the end of the week.

LB720 has been given “super priority” status by the Executive Committee which removes some of the rules needed to forward the bill. 

LB183 could also be getting super priority status but as of Tuesday noon, it had not happened. 

LB720 would keep a business incentive package alive for business recruitment. 

LB 183 will remove the sales tax exemptions included in the other property tax relief bill, LB289, that is not moving forward. 

There would be no sales tax increase, no additional taxes on cigarettes, and no changes in how property is valued. 

Removing the sales tax exemptions would generate about $100 million to go into the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund. That’s in addition to the $51 million added in the budget and the $242 million already in the fund. 

That’s significant tax relief but now all of what rural senators were after. 

If the body puts the two bills together, it will force the governor to make a decision whether or not to veto. If he does, the bill would still need 30 votes for a veto override near the end of the session. 

Weekly report

This past week, we’ve been working on the budget which is very contentious as I expected it to be. 

Normally budgets pass with a simple majority and do not generate as much discussion as the one this year. Specifically, there were concerns with one provision of the mainline budget bill. 

The length of debate and discussion about that provision caused us to take a cloture vote, which failed. When the bill was brought back up again, the controversial provision was voted on and was allowed to remain in the bill.

LB294 then passed the second round of debate and did appear on the agenda for Final Reading on Tuesday, May 21. 

Another significant topic is LB720, commonly referred to as the ImagiNE Act. 

Briefly, the ImagiNE Act is an incentive program to attract out-of-state businesses to Nebraska and retain businesses in our state. 

If you’d like more technical information, search LB720 on https://nebraskalegislature.gov/ or contact my office. 

The idea of incentives is not new-—those who support it believe it makes us competitive with other states in attracting businesses to Nebraska. 

The current incentive package is called the Nebraska Advantage Act, which is set to expire next year, which replaced another previous incentive bill commonly known as LB775. 

This year, there has been extensive debate on LB720. Being a proponent of free markets and a conservative, I support creating an environment where businesses can thrive.

That means lowering property tax rates so businesses can keep and invest more of their income to grow and hire more employees. 

We discussed the medical marijuana bill for three hours last week. The introducers lacked votes to break the filibuster, so the bill will not come back this session. 

I believe that is what they wanted—the introducers of LB 110 want to get medical marijuana on the ballot in 2020. The fact that the Legislature did not pass the bill will help their campaign. 

As a word of caution to all, there are going to be several petitions circulated throughout the next two summers to put issues on the 2020 ballot. Please make sure you know what you are signing. 

Most petition circulators are typically paid for your signature—make them explain the petition to you in detail and do not give up your signature without an explanation. 

Lastly, this past weekend Josie and I had the pleasure of attending the Nebraska State Track Meet in Omaha. We enjoyed seeing athletes from each school district in Legislative District 44. 

There are truly so many exceptional young people in southwestern Nebraska, we should all be proud of them. 

Also, I want to congratulate all of the seniors who graduated from high school this year. The diversity of our young people is amazing, and it is fun to hear their future plans and dreams. 

I am inspired by the quality of our young men and women and am confident that the future of our state and nation is in good hands.

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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