Transaction tax, imminent domain and water rights were just a few of the topics touched on by state senators and members of Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska Saturday at the ICON convention in Broken Bow.
A panel of senators including Annette Dubas, Mark Christensen and LeRoy Louden spent three hours trading comments with ICON members about priority issues at the Unicameral.
Transaction (sales) tax
“More and more senators are seeing the need to reconsider the revenue stream,” Dubas said. “A transaction tax seems the best route but we have to consider how counties will generate revenue if the state makes the change to that type of system.”
Dubas said the governor has put ideas forth and now it’s time for the Unicameral to get serious; put everything on the table. A study of all tax laws is the next step in considering all the pros and cons.
“Maybe at the end of the day, we might be happy; maybe not,” said Dubas. “But the door needs to be opened for change. Remember though, a change here will affect something over there. Something someone will not be happy about will pop up.”
If a transaction tax is considered, the process would eliminate all sales tax exemptions statewide. That would be a huge hurdle to overcome, Louden said.
Louden also indicated there is talk about another look at the school aid formula but he will not be part of the process because he is termed out.
Imminent domain is an issue that came to the forefront because of the XL pipeline debate and perimeters will need to be set for future projects, Dubas said.
Government entities can claim imminent domain and buy land for projects like roads and infrastructure. Dubas said more research is needed about specific language about who can use imminent domaain and where it is applicable.
Water rights boil down to politics and money, Christensen said.
Due to the drought, there is no subsoil moisture left anywhere in the state and irrigation allocations will possibly be adjusted this year. He has been researching a state statute that says a landowner has the right to the beneficial use of the water under his land.
Moratoriums and water allocations may infringe on a landowner’s right to his water, and that has to be studied. He is surprised a lawsuit hasn’t come forward with just that principle in mind.
“How each individual looks at these landowner rights is the difficult issue,” Christensen said.
ICON attendees also listened to a drought and grass management presentation from Scott Cotton, UNL Extension Educator in Dawes County, before concluding the day with a business meeting and banquet.