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Opinion - Opinion
Hansen: Supt. salaries, priority schools, tax cutsTell North Platte what you think
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Tom Hansen

Committees continue to hold public hearings, study bills they’ve taken testimony on and decide the bill’s fate by advancing them or indefinitely postponing them.

Committee action on a bill is always the first step in the legislative process.

Bills passed into law include:

LB 215 requires that if a county visitors committee determines that the visitor attractions in the county are adequate, the governing body of the county may only use the county Visitors Improvement Fund to promote, encourage and attract visitors to the county. The intent of LB215 is to provide better accountability for expenditures of lodging tax dollars.

LB 403 requires that cigarette lighters sold in Nebraska that resemble children’s toys will require a child-proof safety feature.

LB 470 adopts the Superintendent Pay Transparency Act to require school boards to publish school superintendent contracts and associated costs and requires school districts to include an identification of the costs in the annual proposed budget statement.

Bills under debate in general file (first round):

LB 393 exempts an adult operating or riding on a motorcycle from wearing a helmet. After more than 8 hours of debate, the Legislature failed to stop a filibuster to take a vote on this bill. This bill will likely die at the end of the session.

LB 438 provides for priority schools, operating councils and community schools. Advanced to second round of debate.

LB 740 makes veterans who have been off active duty for 2 years or less, their spouses, and dependents eligible for resident tuition rates at public colleges and universities in Nebraska. Advanced to the second round of debate.

Bills of interest in public hearings:

LB 696 prohibits the use of and requires labeling of food containers containing Bisphenol A. (BPA)

Tax cuts -- LB 721 reduces the valuation of ag-land and horticultural land for purposes of property taxation from 75% to 65% of actual value; requires the Department of Revenue to contract to procure new technology that identifies non-payers of taxes or improper or fraudulent payments; reduces all income tax bracket rates over a defined time period; indexes all income tax brackets for inflation; exempts Social Security benefits from income taxation; exempts military retirement benefits from income taxation; and increases property tax relief amount granted under the Property Tax Credit Act by 30%.

LB 832 requires violent offenders sentenced after Aug. 1 to earn sentence reductions through participation in a department-approved personalized program plan and through good behavior.

Under LB 832, violent offenders may earn sentence reductions of up to 50% of their total sentence.

LB 902 exempts military retirement income from state income taxation.

LB 935 would require legislative review of any proposed relocation of a state service or agency from one community to another, costing $15 million or more. This bill is in response to the new Veterans Home being built in Kearney.

LB 945 requires the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to acknowledge receipt of a political subdivision’s documentation requesting reimbursement under a previously approved aid application within 30 days and let the political subdivision know what further documentation is needed to process the reimbursement request.

LB 1001 allows production and marketing of hemp and exempts industrial hemp from the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

LB 1029 allows the same permitting as exists for hauling grain products allowing a permit for loading up to fifteen percent greater than the maximum weight specified by law, and adopts the similar length requirement as is allowed by the movement of grain.

LB 1039 would allow farm equipment dealers to designate farm equipment haulers to act as their representative when hauling farm equipment to or from the dealer’s place of business. This would allow the hauler to have the same width, height, and length exemptions as the dealer.

LB 1056 amends the income tax code by creating a new bracket for the highest income taxpayers. It would also adjust the current brackets and reduce the income taxes paid by 95% of the state's taxpayers.

LB 1061 eliminates elected Community College Boards and replaces them with appointed boards. These appointments would be made by the county boards of the counties that make up the community college’s geographical district.

LB 1083 establishes a new category of grants within the statutory guidelines of the Job Training Cash Fund. Under the provisions of LB 1083, the subaccount established within the Job Training Cash Fund that is designated for small companies and companies based in rural or high poverty areas could also be used to employ or train recently separated veterans.

 LB 1092 utilizes bond financing by authorizing the Highway Commission to issue bonds to accelerate completion of the highway construction projects identified in the Build Nebraska Act.

 LB 1097 reduces the number of income tax brackets from four to three and raises the amounts at which each begin, starting next year, over three years.


Sen. Tom Hansen, thansen@leg.ne.gov

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 2/14/2014
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