Welcome to March and day 36 of the Legislature’s session.

Day-long committee hearings continue (and the Capitol ballet of getting from room to room on time).  An end, though, is in sight.  The final meeting is scheduled for the morning of March 12.  Then it will be on to day-long floor debate.

March 11 is the deadline for senators and committees to make priority bill designations.  That, along with the Speaker priorities announced the following week, will provide something of a road map for the session.

Chamber priorities remain consistent with those of year’s past, but the definition of what makes a proposal fit into those priorities and the Chamber’s mission has broadened in various areas.

Some of the legislation we actively supported or opposed at last week’s hearings include those that would amend ImagiNE; alter scheduling of Nebraska Advantage refunds related to city sales taxes; broaden taxpayer information published each year in economic incentive reports; provide funding for customized job training; provide funding for development districts; provide funding for arts, humanities, and recreation projects delayed by the pandemic; increase Business Innovation Act funding and grants; and prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.  Taxation proposals during the week went to the corporate income tax rate; taxing foreign income; and imposing an income surtax to fund early childhood education.

This week will involve a fair amount of tax reform discussion in the Revenue Committee.  A lot of this is aimed at developing a modern revenue system for Nebraska – income, corporate, sales, property, and all of the other taxes and fees imposed by state and local government.  The debate will be as to what’s fair; what’s equitable; what’s competitive.  Certainly, there will be differing opinions on the best answer.

The Budget:  The Appropriations Committee completed its hearings earlier than usual this year, and that could mean a new two-year budget is debated and approved earlier.  First, that requires reconciling differences between the Governor’s proposal with that of the Committee.  This also entails consideration of the many bills brought to the Committee by individual senators that might find their way into the measure.

One reason for the accelerated schedule is named COVID.  The new fiscal year begins July 1, so the window for an extended recess is much narrower than last year.  The budget must get done, and it will get done.  Outside of that, prospects for many other proposals are nebulous.  There is talk among some senators of debating the many issues but basically lining up the ducks and pins to set the stage for 2022.

As always, we greatly appreciate members and staff who have lent a hand, whether with the keyboard or by taking the hot seat.  (The week’s partnership award goes to Dan Mauk, who provided key testimony in Revenue and Appropriations.)

Jennifer Creager
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.