Monday, February 12th is the 26th legislative day and begins seventh week of the 2024 session. Senators are continuing morning floor debate on legislative measures mostly introduced in 2023, while continuing committee hearings in the afternoon through February 28th.
Over the week, committees will hold hearings on 130 bills, two department funding requests, and four commission appointments.
In the past few weeks, legislative standing committees have taken testimony on numerous proposals, with hearings often stretching into the evening. This included consideration of bills that would repeal various sales tax exemptions, dramatically scale back programs such as ImagiNE, and limit growth in outlays by local subdivisions by imposing what are referred to as “hard caps.” The growth caps could be in the form of the previous year’s property tax collection plus growth attributed to new construction and allowances for circumstances such as dealing with natural disasters, or it could be a simple two or three percent limitation. Most of these are aimed at facilitating Governor Pillen’s goal to reduce property taxes by 40 percent.
Key to all of this is the mid-biennium budget proposal offered by Governor Pillen and the preliminary response from the Appropriations Committee. There are differences in the offered plans, with numbers for the current year not too far apart but then widening in the following two years. Any final product will be affected by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board (NEFAB), which meets at the end of February to predict just how much revenue will be available for the General Fund from sales taxes, individual and corporate income taxes, and the various miscellaneous taxes. The NEFAB’s determination sets a baseline of sorts for basic budget outlays, how much might be available for new funding proposals, and how much might be available for further tax reductions.
However, taxation is not the only matter state senators are focusing their time.
Workforce housing continues to remain a major concern across the state. On Wednesday, the Appropriations Committee will take testimony on a number of housing development proposals, most of which would provide additional funding to the Department of Economic Development for existing housing programs.
Economic development also remains a focus. Monday’s floor agenda includes possible continued debate on LB 644, a bill to provide for $160 million for large commercial and industrial sites or better known as “mega sites.” While we work with supportive senators on this important proposal, it is becoming clear that compromise is needed among urban and rural senators to ensure “mega site” policy continues to move ahead after this legislative session.
While it is difficult to predict where the remaining 34 legislative days will take everyone on priorities, your Greater Omaha Chamber team remains heavily engaged on our members’ behalf and will continue to work for the most advantageous outcome for the Greater Omaha business community.
For more information, visit our Public Policy page or contact Jennifer Creager or Tim Stuart at 402.474.4960.