NFIB/Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom reports from the State Capitol on the legislative week ending January 15, 2016
Nearly 325 bills have been introduced during the first seven days of the 2016 Legislative Session. Debate on carry-over priority bills commenced on Monday, January 11, with the Speaker of the Legislature already accepting priority bill designations from senators. Other key dates in the 2016 Legislative Session, include:
- Jan. 19 – Committee hearings begin on new bills
- Jan. 20 – Last day to introduce bills
- Feb. 18 – Deadline for requests on speaker priorities
- Feb. 19 – Deadline for designation of committee or senator priorities
- Feb. 22 – Speaker announces his priority bills
- Feb. 26 – Forecasting Board meets to revise revenue projections
- March 3 – Tentative date to complete public hearings on new bills
- March 7 – Full-day floor debate begins
- April 20 – Sine die adjournment (tentative)
Governor’s State of the State Address
Spending Restraint and Property Tax Relief
Gov. Pete Ricketts presented the annual State of the State address on Thursday, January 7. Additional property tax relief and increased transportation infrastructure funding (borrow $150 million from the state’s Cash Reserve Fund) head his list of priorities for his second year in office. He also proposed to address the projected state budget shortfall with additional controls on state spending that will avoid the need to take any money from the state’s Cash Reserve Fund to balance the budget. The governor also reiterated his opposition to a new private sector approach to acquiring additional federal Medicaid funds for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The governor’s property tax relief proposal would tighten spending and levy limits for local political subdivisions, while limiting the statewide aggregate growth of agricultural property valuations to 3 percent.
Bill of Interest to Small Business
- Legislative Bill 671 – Build Nebraska Act: LB 671, introduced by Sen. Bob Krist (Omaha), would repeal the Build Nebraska Act and transfer all funds in the State Highway Capital Improvement Fund to the General Fund. The Build Nebraska Act was enacted in 2011 to dedicate a quarter-cent of the state’s 5.5 percent sales tax to roads funding.
- Legislative Bill 717 – Assessment and Valuation of Real Estate: Introduced by Sen. Mike Groene (North Platte), LB 717 would freeze assessed values for real estate on January 1, 2016, to the level existing on January 1, 2015. The bill would also utilize sales occurring within five years of the assessment date, excluding sales constituting the lowest 20 percent of assessment ratios, for assessment purposes.
- Legislative Bill 723 – Sales and Use Tax Collection Fees: Introduced by Sen. Paul Schumacher (Columbus), LB 723 would, effective January 1, 2017, allow retailers to retain 5 percent of the first $3,000 in sales and use tax remitted (currently two and one-half percent) and two and one half percent of the next $3,000 remitted each month as reimbursement for the cost of collecting the tax.
- Legislative Bill 724 – Sales and Use Tax Collection Fees: Also introduced by Senator Schumacher, LB 724 would, effective January 1, 2017, allow retailers to retain 5 percent of the first $6,000 in sales and use tax remitted (currently two and one-half percent) each month as reimbursement for the cost of colleting the tax.
- Legislative Bill 743 – Workers’ Compensation Act – Shoulder Injuries: Sen. Matt Hansen (Lincoln) has introduced legislation that would provide that a loss of an arm does not include injuries to the shoulder, regardless of the location of residual impairment, with injuries to the shoulder to be compensated pursuant to the total and partial disability provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act, rather than as a scheduled member injury.
- Legislative Bill 749 – Income Taxation: LB 749, introduced by Sen. Brett Lindstrom (Omaha), would, effective January 1, 2016, provide additional income tax exemptions for social security benefits.
- Legislative Bill 809 – Property Tax Credit Cash Fund: LB 809, introduced by Sen. Al Davis (Hyannis), would appropriate $50 million in FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18 to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund.
- Legislative Bill 812 – Sales and Use Taxation/Custom Software: Introduced by Sen. Jim Smith (Papillion), LB 812 would, effective January 1, 2017, exempt custom software (computer software created for and prepared to the special order of the purchaser), including the charges for coding or otherwise producing any custom software and the charges for the tapes, disks, or other properties, electronic or otherwise, furnished by the seller and computer software training relating to custom software, from sales and use taxes.
- Legislative Bill 817 – Direct Primary Care Agreements: Introduced by Sen. Merv Riepe (Ralston), LB 817 would enable the innovative use of direct primary care practice agreements for primary medical care in order to improve access to medical care, reduce the use of emergency departments for primary care, and allow emergency departments to treat emergencies more effectively and reduce costs. The legislation would also confirm that direct primary care agreements that meet the requirements of the Act do not constitute insurance or function as a qualified health plan pursuant to any federal mandates.
- Legislative Bill 821 – Workplace Privacy Act: LB 821, introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson (O’Neill), would prohibit employers from requiring employees or job applicants to share their social network passwords with their employer. The measure would also prevent public or private employers from forcing employees to display their Facebook or Twitter pages for inspection by the employer and would deny an employer access to an employee’s social networking account through any third party. The bill would also establish a cause of action in favor of the employee against the employer for violations of the Act.
Small Business Day at the Capitol
Come meet Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and top senators on February 19, when NFIB/Nebraska co-hosts the annual Small Business Day at the Capitol. Click here
for more information.