Busy Week of Testimony on Small Business Bills

Date: February 05, 2021

Should there be a sales tax on services? Should tipped employees also get a huge minimum-wage increase?

State Director Bob Hallstrom reports from Lincoln on the legislative and political week ending February 5

Committee hearings continue to be conducted a rapid-fire pace, with the first half-day of floor debate still over a week away. With 151 bills having been referred to the Judiciary Committee resulting in the need to schedule almost 10 bills for hearing each day, Judiciary Committee hearings are extending well into the evening.

Committee Activity

NFIB State Director Bob Hallstrom presented testimony on the following bills which received public hearings during the past week:

Business and Labor – Monday, February 1

  • Legislative Bill 122 – Minimum Wage – Tipped Employees: Sen. Megan Hunt (Omaha) has introduced LB 122 that would increase the minimum wage for tipped employees from $2.13 per hour plus all gratuities to $9 per hour. (NFIB Position – Oppose)
  • Legislative Bill 256 – Workers’ Compensation – Approval of Lump Sum Settlements: Sen. Matt Hansen is the sponsor of LB 256 that would clarify that a release of a lump-sum settlement for indemnity benefits only — that is not required to be submitted for approval by the Compensation Court — need not contain allegations regarding eligibility for Medicare if the employee’s right to receive future medical, surgical, and hospital services is specifically excluded from the settlement and Medicare has not paid medical, surgical, or hospital expenses, or if Medicare has paid medical, surgical, or hospital expenses for which it claims it is entitled to reimbursement and Medicare has been reimbursed for such expenses at the time the settlement is executed. (NFIB Position – Support)
  • Legislative Bill 463 – Workers’ Compensation – Remote Participation in Evaluations: Sen. John Arch (La Vista) has introduced legislation (LB 463) that would authorize physical examinations of an employee by the employer’s physician to be attended by the employee’s physician either in person or remotely by electronic means. Amendments designed to allow a physician on behalf of an employer or its insurer to participate by electronic means in a physical examination of an employee conducted by a secondary physician retained by the employee were submitted to the committee. (NFIB Position – Oppose)

Revenue Committee – Wednesday, February 3

  • Legislative Bill 422 – Sales Tax on Services: Sen. Tom Briese (Albion) has introduced LB 442, which would, commencing October 1, 2022, reduce the state sales tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5 percent with adjustments in each of the next four calendar quarters to provide approximately the same amount of sales and use tax revenue for the state as would have been generated without the expansion of sales tax on services provided under the bill. The measure would apply the state sales tax to all services (all activities engaged in for other persons for a consideration and that involve predominantly the performance of a service as distinguished from selling or leasing tangible personal property, excluding services rendered by an employee to his or her employer) which shall be presumed taxable unless a specific sales tax exemption applies. (NFIB Position – Oppose)
  • Legislative Bill 133 – The Nebraska Consumption Tax Act: Sen. Erdman (Bayard) is the sponsor of LB 133, which would eliminate all property, income and corporate taxes and replace it with a tax on the use or consumption in the state of Nebraska of taxable property or services (excludes intangible property and services, including financial intermediation services) at a rate of 10.64 percent (NFIB Position – Oppose)

Upcoming Hearings

NFIB will be appearing before multiple committees next week to present testimony on each of the following bills:

  • Legislative Bill 171 – Unemployment Insurance: Sen. Matt Hansen has also introduced LB 171, which would allow for an increase in an individual’s weekly benefit amount of 5 percent for each dependent:
    • a child under the age of 19 years
    • a child who is a full-time student under the age of 26 years and who is financially dependent upon the individual
    • a child of any age who is medically certified is disabled and depended upon the individual) of the individual up to a maximum increase of 15 percent. (NFIB Position – Oppose)
  • Legislative Bill 258 – The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act: Introduced by Sen. Tony Vargas (Omaha), LB 258 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 60th 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
    • absence necessary due to domestic abuse, domestic assault, sexual assault, or stalking. (NFIB Position – Oppose)
  • Legislative Bill 290 – Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act: Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh (Omaha) has introduced legislation that would establish a statewide paid family medical leave insurance program similar to Nebraska’s unemployment insurance system, managed by the state Department of Labor. The bill applies to all employers subject to the Employment Security Act (one or more employees), with self-employed individuals eligible to participate. It would also provide employees with benefits of up to two-thirds of the state average weekly wage for up to 12 weeks of leave or, for leave taken on an intermittent basis, 60 workdays during any benefit year.

Previous Reports and Related News Releases

Photo courtesy of Unicameral Update, the Nebraska Legislature’s official news source since 1977

 

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