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From State Director Bob Hallstrom
The 2014 session of the Nebraska Legislature adjourned April 17. A total of 180 bills became law with Gov. Dave Heineman’s signature, with more than 50 other bills having passed after being amended into other measures.
Seven bills were vetoed by the governor with five of the vetoes overridden by the Legislature. Bills passed with an “emergency clause” become law the date after being signed by the governor. Bills without a specific “effective date” will become effective on July 18, 2014, three calendar months after adjournment. At the conclusion of the second year of a two-year biennium, any bill not passed into law automatically dies and must be reintroduced to be considered next session, which commences on January 7, 2015.
The 2014 session was highlighted by action in the areas of prison reform, tax relief and water funding. Seventeen state senators have completed their service as a result of term limits. Key bills of interest to NFIB and the small business community are:
While the session began with visions of significant individual and corporate income tax rate reductions, lawmakers elected to protect the state’s cash reserve – which is expected to approach nearly $700 million next year. However, the following measures, supported by NFIB, were adopted by lawmakers and will provide in excess of $400 million in tax relief over the next five years:
Income Taxes--Legislative Bill 987 indexes income tax brackets for inflation and exempts a portion of military retirement benefits and social security income from taxation.
Sales Taxes--Legislative Bill 96 exempts agricultural repairs and replacement parts from the state sales tax, and Legislative Bill 867 exempts separately stated postage charges from the state’s sales tax.
Property Taxes--Legislative Bill 905 provides funding to the state’s Property Tax Credit Cash Fund in the amount of $25 million annually, in addition to the existing $115 million for property tax relief.
The following series of measures promoted by labor unions and trial lawyers, which would have increased costs for employers, were all successfully opposed by NFIB.
Minimum Wage Increase--Legislative Bill 943 would have increased Nebraska’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour over the next three years. A Business and Labor Committee amendment would have increased the minimum wage for tipped employees.
Paid Sick Leave--Legislative Bill 1090 would have required employers to provided paid sick leave to full-time employees on the basis of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 40 hours annually.
Paid Family Leave--Legislative Bill 955 would have provided up to six consecutive weeks of paid family leave to care for a newborn, or an adopted or foster child. Financed through an employee payroll tax, the program would have also applied to sick family members or employees who face serious medical conditions.
Salary Reporting--Legislative Bill 1085 would have required employers with 50 or more employees to annually file reports with the equal opportunity commission and to make such reports available to all employees, disclosing individual salaries, including job title, gender, age, and years of service.
Member Involvement Made a Difference
Many thanks to NFIB members who continue to participate in the legislative process. Your calls and letters in response to an action alert contributed to the generation of opposition to the minimum wage increase legislation and truly made a difference in the outcome.
Interim Study Resolutions
NFIB will keep busy over the interim between legislative sessions by monitoring and participating in various interim study resolutions relating to issues such as, taxation, healthcare and mandated benefits, workers’ compensation and workplace regulations.
Previous 2014 Legislative Reports
From most recent down to first