In his latest report, NFIB/Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom also says lawmakers restored $61 million the governor cut out of the state budget sent to him.
As lawmakers adjourned April 3 for a long weekend, only five days remain in the 2014 legislative session. To be considered for final approval, bills must be advanced to Final Reading by the end of the 58th day of the session. With many contentious bills yet to receive Select File consideration, the final days of the session should be exciting.
Legislative Bill 943, opposed by NFIB, has been “shelved” for the year. It called for raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour over the next three years. The measure fell five votes short of the 25 needed to advance to the second round of debate. Lawmakers also rejected an amendment to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers.
In opposing LB 943, introduced and designated as priority bill by Sen. Jeremy Nordquist (Omaha), NFIB argued that:
- an increase in the minimum wage would directly impact the state’s smallest businesses, those firms which in today’s economic climate can least afford a substantial hike in mandated employee wages
- raising the minimum wage frequently hurts small businesses and raises unemployment, especially among younger and lower-skilled workers
- the state’s minimum wage should not be increased beyond the level of the federal minimum wage.
LB 943 was rejected on a 20-to-20 vote. Voting in the affirmative, 20: Ashford, Chambers, Dubas, Karpisek, Mello, Avery, Conrad, Haar, K., Kolowski, Nordquist, Bolz, Cook, Harms, Lathrop, Sullivan, Campbell, Crawford, Harr, B., McGill, and Wallman
Voting in the negative, 20: Bloomfield, Coash, Hadley, Lautenbaugh, Pirsch, Brasch, Davis, Hansen, McCoy, Schilz, Carlson, Garrett, Kintner, Murante, Schumacher, Christensen, Gloor, Larson, Nelson, and Smith
Present and not voting, 3: Adams, Krist, and Wightman. Excused and not voting, 6: Howard, Johnson, Seiler, Janssen, Scheer, and Watermeier
Tax Relief Now Law
Gov. Dave Heineman also signed a series of tax relief measures into law, citing the cumulative effect of $412 million in tax relief over the next five years. Bills providing tax relief and supported by NFIB, include:
Legislative Bill 987 will index Nebraska’s individual income tax brackets for inflation, as well as exempt portions of social security and veteran retirement. The bill also allows a veteran to make a one-time election, within two years after separation from military service, to exclude portions of military retirement benefits. The exclusion may be to either exclude 40 percent of the military retirement benefit income for seven consecutive years or to exclude 15 percent of the military retirement benefit for all taxable years after the person turns 67.
Legislative Bill 96 eliminates sales tax on the sale, lease, rental or storage of repair or replacement parts for agricultural machinery and equipment that are used in commercial agriculture.
Legislative Bill 905 increases the Property Tax Credit Program by $25 million on an annual basis, in addition to the current $115 million ongoing funding.
Legislative Bill 867 exempts separately stated postage charges from sales and use taxes. Under current law, sales tax is charged for U.S. postage affixed to mailings that are sent on behalf of the sender by a printer, preparer, or other third party-who then separately bills the sender for the postage. Payment of sales and use taxes under these circumstances, would be eliminated under LB 867.
Vetoes And Overrides
Governor Dave Heineman used his veto pen to slash $65 million in proposed spending by the Nebraska Legislature, suggesting that more funds should be directed to additional property tax relief. Among the spending measures for which the Governor employed his line-item veto authority, were:
- $2.5 million earmarked to install courtyard fountains at the State Capitol
- $10 million from job training programs
- $11.7 million to install new heating and air conditioning systems in the Capitol
- $7.5 million of the $17.5 million designated for deferred state park maintenance
- $7.4 million for the Nebraska Supreme Court
- $5.4 million to increase rates paid to providers of services to the developmentally disabled.
In issuing his vetoes, the Governor recommended that $25 million of the vetoes should be used to increase the state tax credits for property tax relief.
In response to the gubernatorial vetoes, the Legislature, upon recommendation of the Appropriations Committee, overrode the vast majority of the vetoes, restoring $61 million of the $65 million in proposed cuts.
Previous 2014 Legislative Reports
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