On Friday, the Legislature completed the fifth week of the session.
The day-long hearing schedule continues, with testifiers running from room to room in the Capitol as there are more than usual timing conflicts. They also have to comply with COVID rules that restrict attendance in hearing rooms, as well as strict requirements for submission of testimony and letters.
[Perhaps the week was best illustrated when a certain Chamber Public Policy representative, while on the way to an adjacent committee room, had to get a Redcoat escort through a hallway crowded with people who were waiting for an anti-vaccine hearing.]
Over the last few weeks, Chamber Public Policy has provided written and in-person testimony on a number of measures, including those on economic incentives, taxation, and workforce development.
Chamber involvement has included proposals to: Support locating Space Command at Offutt (signed by every senator and subsequently approved unanimously); implement the constitutional amendment extending tax increment financing for redevelopment in areas of extreme blight; authorize port authorities for industrial site development (thanks to the Chamber’s Mark Norman for leading testimony on that); expand the military retirement tax exemption; allow employers a limited tax credit for assisting employees with student loan repayment; provide assistance for entrepreneurial and start-up businesses through programs such as the Business Innovation Act or the proposed Innovation Hub Act; continue to attract investment and development in areas such as North Omaha via the New Markets Job Growth Investment Act; and further develop the workforce through new and expanded education and training programs.
There was also a Government Committee hearing on a classic – city county merger. Senator McCollister has a proposal to refine the process of structuring and gaining voter approval for a unified government. Public Policy testified as to the history of merger legislation and the Chamber’s efforts and involvement.
There will be many more issues and hearings and amendments to address in the coming weeks. Most of the new bills remain in committee, awaiting a hearing or post-hearing decisions on their fate.
All of this requires a delicate balance between addressing issues vital to the Chamber’s mission while not overextending our brand.
It is expected that it will take until March 15 to complete all of the hearings. Regular morning floor sessions will return sometime before that, with full day debate to follow.
Between COVID restrictions, the accelerated hearing schedule, 15 inches of snow around the Capitol (now even more), finding a place for the kids on snow days, (securing a Redcoat escort through the throngs if necessary), senators and testifiers have been coping.
We will keep you informed.
Senior Director, 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.