The final stretch, the light at the end of the tunnel, the end is in sight . . . pick your metaphor.
Tuesday is the 53rd day of the Legislature’s 2022 session. Much has been accomplished; much remains. Senators have been putting in the hours. Over the last two weeks, daily adjournment times have ranged from 8:01 to 10:36 p.m.
Debate has included measures on tax burden reduction, the state budget, ARPA funding, criminal justice reform, and various approaches to community redevelopment.
Last Thursday, debate opened on the third iteration of the tax reform/reduction proposal. Now designated as LB 873, this combines a phased-in reduction of the top individual and corporate income tax rates to 5.84 percent; elimination of taxation on Social Security payments; elimination of a scheduled $200 million reduction in the ImagiNE tax credit applied to school district levies; and expanding the property tax credit to include taxes paid to community colleges. After earlier attempts on tax packages came up short, LB 873 advanced on a 44-0 vote. There are still two rounds to go, and it could be heavy lifting.
Also advancing were the three state budget bills (all approved and presented to the Governor), LB 1014, the main ARPA distribution bill (this is on Final Reading), and the North and South Omaha redevelopment plan (LB 1024), also on Final Reading.
The budget and ARPA bills do have provisions related to the Chamber’s efforts. These include funding infusions for the Site and Building Fund, the state’s intern program, workforce training, Offutt upgrades, and $60 million for the Airport II business park.
The longest day. Senators pick things up again today with an agenda some could describe as daunting. First up is Select File debate on the tax plan. Then a motion to override the Governor’s veto of a bill requiring the state to apply for federal rental assistance funding. Then debate on LR 264CA, a constitutional amendment that would repeal property, income, corporate, and sales taxes (thus, EPIC, or End Property, Income, and Corporate taxes) and change the sales tax as we know it to a “consumption tax” on new goods and services.
Then, criminal justice system reform (which via debate on this and other bills has already received extensive discussion). Then ten other proposals. In a way, that provides something of a road map for the final eight days. There are, though, a good number of other measures awaiting their turn. Friday is the last day that mathematically a bill on General File can be advanced and then find its way to final approval and have a chance for an override of a veto.
Also note that a bill being scheduled for a final vote (e.g. ARPA and the North/South Omaha proposals) doesn’t necessarily mean smooth sailing. They can be subjected to hours of debate and pulled back to Select File for amending. At the moment, there are a long list of bills ready for the Final Reading agendas. These include The Big Lake (which leans more to this is in the public interest and here is the authority to proceed if it proves economically feasible to do so); Senator McKinney’s LB 450, a proposal to establish collaborative efforts to promote technology ventures in areas of high unemployment; Senator Wayne’s LB 917, which would provide a tax credit to employers who hire people with felony convictions; and Senator McKinney’s LB 1112, providing student computer technology education for workforce preparation.
Chamber priorities for the last stretch are getting the tax plan approved, pushing the North and South Omaha proposal through, ARPA, and other opportunities that will enhance the Chamber’s efforts. As always, big thanks to Chamber staff and members who have pitched in so much to get us this far. It makes all the difference.
Vice President, Public Policy
808 Conagra Dr., Ste. 400, Omaha, NE 68102
Lincoln Office: 402-474-4960
For more information, visit our Public Policy page or contact Jennifer Creager or Tim Stuart at 402.474.4960.
You can read the Legislature’s Update to learn more about the happenings in Lincoln.