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State Capitol Update From Bob Hallstrom
The committee hearing process commenced January 21 with floor debate on “carryover” bills occupying the morning sessions of the Legislature. A total of 459 new bills and six legislative resolutions proposing constitutional amendments were introduced during the first 10 days of the legislative session during which new bill introductions are authorized.
Upcoming Dates of Importance
- February 3 – Speaker starts accepting priority bill designations & requests for speaker priority bills
- February 19 – Deadline for requests on speaker priority bills
- February 20 – Deadline for designation of committee or senator priority bills
- February 28 – Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board meets
- February 28 – Tentative date to complete hearings on new bills
- March 4 – Full-day floor debate begins
- April 17 – Tentative date for last day of session.
Legislative Bill 824-Workers' Compensation Act/Temporary Disability Benefits: NFIB State Director Bob Hallstrom testified in support of LB 824 before the Business and Labor Committee, January 27. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh (Omaha), would deny temporary disability benefits to an employee if the employee's employment is terminated for cause following the occurrence of an accident or occupational disease for reasons unrelated to the occurrence of the accident or occupational disease, and the employer would have accommodated the employee's temporary restrictions but for the employee's separation from employment.
The need for LB 824 has resulted from a number of court decisions in which employers have been required to pay temporary total disability benefits to an injured employee whose misconduct results in separation from employment, even when the misconduct was unrelated to the work accident and the employer could have accommodated the employee’s temporary work restrictions.
Legislative Bill 96 has advanced. It would exempt repair or replacement parts for agricultural machinery and equipment from the state sales tax. Nebraska is one of only eight states that still charges a sales tax on agricultural machinery and equipment repairs and parts, creating a distinct competitive disadvantage for Nebraska farm implement dealers and making it more expensive for farmers to shop at home. NFIB supports LB 96.
Other Bills of Interest
Legislative Bill 955-Paid Family Medical Leave: A negative bill for small business has been introduced by Sen. Annette Dubas (Fullerton) in the form of LB 955. Under the measure, employees in Nebraska would be entitled to up to six weeks’ worth of paid leave to care for a new baby, a sick spouse or an elderly parent. Funding for the paid family medical leave would come out of a statewide pool funded with a new payroll tax.
Legislative Bill 1085–Reporting of Employee Salaries to the EEOC: Under LB 1085, introduced by Sen. Tanya Cook (Omaha), Nebraska employers with 50 or more employees would be required to annually make available to all of their employees and the Equal Opportunity Commission a listing of employee salaries, including job titles, gender, age, and years of service with the listing to be made available without any name or other information that would make an employee readily identifiable.
Legislative Bill 1073-E-Verify Immigration Status: Nebraska employers subject to the Workers' Compensation Act would be required to e-verify the immigration status of new employees under the legislation introduced by Sen. Steve Lathrop (Omaha).
Legislative Bill 1097-Income Taxation: Introduced by Sen. Burke Harr (Omaha), LB 1097 would phase in reductions in individual income tax rates over a four year period. Under the measure, the current four tax bracket rates of 2.46 percent, 3.51 percent, 5.01 percent and 6.84 percent would be reduced to three brackets with tax rates for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017 set at 2.30 percent, 4.75 percent and 5.9 percent. The legislation would also phase in reductions in the corporate income tax rates from their current levels of 5.58 percent on the first $100,000 of taxable income and 7.81 percent on taxable income in excess of $100,000 to a rate of 3.5 percent on the first $100,000 and 5.9 percent on all taxable income in excess of $100,000 for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017.
Legislative Bill 1090–Healthy Families and Workplaces Act/Paid Sick Leave: Sen. Danielle Conrad (Lincoln) has introduced LB 1090 which would allow employees to accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick time accrued in a calendar year. Under the measure, employees would be entitled to use accrued paid sick time beginning on the 90th calendar day following commencement of employment. Paid sick leave would be authorized for:
- an employee's mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- an employee's need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- an employee's need for preventative medical care
- care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- care of a family member who needs preventative medical care.
Previous 2014 Legislative Reports