A recap of the legislative session

by Dist. 34 Sen. Curt Friesen

Friday, May 31 -- the last day of the One-Hundred Sixth Legislature, First Session -- adjourned sine die.  Without the votes to solve a workable property tax relief package, the Legislature decided to adjourn the session four days early.  
A few end-of-the-session stats; 739 bills were introduced, of which 293 were passed into law.  Among those that passed were many great innovations and ideas that truly will benefit the State of Nebraska.
During his closing remarks, Gov. Ricketts highlighted the passage of LB 184, which I Introduced to create the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act.  LB184 will help build a new 5G network infrastructure, including small cells, which the telecommunications industry predicts would infuse over $1.5 billion into Nebraska’s economy.  
My priority bill LB663 passed. LB663 will change  the  method  for  calculating  Nebraska adjusted  basis for  “like-kind  exchanges” of similar depreciable  personal  property.   
Currently,  the  net  book  value  (amount  after  depreciation)  of  the  property  is  used  to determine Nebraska adjusted basis. This bill would repeal using net book value and allow using the remaining federal tax basis as the Nebraska adjusted basis.
The passage of LB462 will make changes to the One-Call Notification System Act (Diggers Hotline - 811).  One-Call Service is a system used by excavators to identify and locate underground facilities prior to excavation to protect the facilities from damage.  LB462 allows the One-Call board of directors to review locator training materials, propose best practices and requiring the board to assess the effectiveness of enforcement programs and actions.
Although property tax reduction was the dominant and politically pressing issue this year, no bill could garner the backing and votes to pass. LB289 contained the repeal of a number of sales tax exemptions and a one-half cent state sales tax increase to generate funding for the Property Tax Credit Fund. A majority of Senators were not willing to advance a repeal of exemptions to fund property tax relief.  The bill was just too large to be loved and could not be downsized.
Some small gains were made for property tax relief.  The Legislature carefully structured the 2019-21 state budget with a conservative 2.9 percent in spending growth. The budget controls spending to deliver $550 million in direct property tax relief over the next two years. It also delivers over $2 billion in state aid to K-12 education.  
My summer plans? Immediately after adjournment the members of the Revenue Committee met to resume property tax discussions ahead of an initiative petition drive to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2020 general election ballot.  That proposal would provide Nebraskans with a state income tax credit for 35 percent of local property taxes paid.
I was appointed to continue to serve on an annual special legislative oversight committee to examine state-licensed assisted care facilities.
I will be speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by the Aurora Development Corporation on Thursday, June 6 at 8 a.m. at the Bremer Center in Aurora.   Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.
If you have any legislative concerns you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact me or my legislative staff. My email address is cfriesen@leg.ne.gov and the telephone number is 402-471-2630. You are always welcome to stop by my office in the State Capitol.


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