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Opinion - Opinion
Over the fence at LegislatureTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Tom Hansen

Since Gov. Heineman asked the Revenue Committee to indefinitely postpone his tax proposals, LB 405 and LB 406, new legislation has come into the forefront that would address our state's tax structure.

LB 613 was introduced by Sen. Schumacher of Columbus. The bill creates the Tax Modernization Committee.

This committee will conduct a comprehensive study of our entire tax system. Public hearings will be held across the state compiling additional recommendations from the public.

After examination of past studies and public hearings, the committee will issue a report of its findings to the Legislature by Dec. 13 of this year containing any recommendations for legislation.

Floor debate:

• LB 6 creates the Nebraska Commission on Problem Gambling consisting of 9 members whose responsibilities include developing guidelines and standards for the operation of the Gamblers Assistance Program and to direct the distribution and disbursement of money in the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund. (On General File)

• LB 52 gives authority to the Director of Corrections to enter into contracts for the provision of labor services by those individuals incarcerated at the McCook Work Camp with any charitable, fraternal, or nonprofit corporation as long as the labor provided serves a public need. (After being filibustered by Senator Chambers, this bill was taken off the Agenda)

• LB 225 requires that in all birthing facilities in Nebraska the attending physician of a newborn shall screen or cause the critical congenital heart disease screening on newborns. (Placed on Final Reading)

• LB 499 gives the Game and Parks Commission the authority to pass, by majority vote, commission orders which govern conservation orders, seasons, open and closed areas, and bag limits. These orders would replace current rules and regulations in these areas. A public hearing is required on each proposed order and no order is valid until 15 days after such order has been posted on the Commission's web site. (Placed on Select File.)


Public hearings this week included:

• LB 101 reduces the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land for school district taxation purposes by 2% per year for five years. The land would remain valued at 75% for other taxation purposes; and

• LB 145 provides for a reduction in the valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land for the purposes of property taxation from the current reduced rate of 75% to 65%.

• LB 110 changes the date a homeowner can be eligible for a homestead exemption. Current dates of eligibility is ownership from Jan. 1 - Aug. 15. The bill changes this so that the owner is determined on Jan. 1.

• LB 154 includes utility vehicles in the definition of roadside assistance vehicle, which requires drivers to exercise due care and caution and yield the right of way to “move-over”, when approaching certain vehicles with flashing lights activated on the road.

• LB 258 prohibits school bus drivers from using any type of cell phone whenever the vehicle is in motion. Dispatch communication devices are allowed.

• LB 266 repeals the authorization for cities to raise their sales taxes, with a vote of the people.

• LB 348 requires the county assessor to utilize an income-approach calculation when determining the assessed value of a rent-restricted housing project. The county assessor is also required to use a capitalization rate provided by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority when using the income-approach calculation.

• LB 428 removes the prohibition on certified nurse midwives from attending home births. Certified nurse midwives would still have to operate under the supervision of a licensed practitioner who would have to authorize the home birth.

• LB 505 requires health insurance plans sold in the state after Jan. 1, 2014 to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder for persons under 21.

• LB 531 repeals the Build Nebraska Act, which distributes one-quarter of one percent of state sales and use tax proceeds to the State Highway Capitol Improvement Fund and the Highway Allocation Fund beginning on July 1, 2013.

• LB 544 (my bill) requires an owner/manager of cattle diagnosed with Bovine Trichomoniasis to notify adjacent landowners and report to the Department of Agriculture within 14 days.

• LB 577 requires Nebraska Medicaid to add the newly eligible adults – people 19 to 64 with incomes of as much as $15,856 for an individual and $26,951 for a family of three – to Medicaid rolls under the federal Affordable Care Act.

• LB 593 allows the State Board of Education to issue charters and create schools independent of the school district in which they are located. Creation of these charter schools would be limited to the boundaries of Class V school districts - currently in Omaha.

This is one of a series of bi-weekly reports from Sen. Tom Hansen, a rancher who represents Lincoln County in the Nebraska Legislature. Email him at thansen@leg.ne.gov

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/3/2013
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