2021 Regular Session of the Nebraska Legislature Comes to an End

Date: May 27, 2021

Special session on redistricting to be held. Lawmakers to re-convene for regular business Jan. 5, 2022

State Director Bob Hallstrom reports from Lincoln on the small-business agenda at the May 27 end of the 2021 regular session

The 2021 Nebraska Legislature adjourned sine die on Thursday, having completed its work for the session. Lawmakers will reconvene January 5, 2022, for commencement of the 2022 legislative session. Prior to that time, the legislature will conduct a special session to complete the legislative redistricting process.

The final two days of the session consisted primarily of adopting formal rules for the redistricting process and consideration of overrides on three bills that were vetoed by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The Legislature successfully overturned the gubernatorial vetoes on:

  • Legislative Bill 108 (Expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program support for two years for those earning 165% of the federal poverty level vs current level of 130%)
  • Legislative Bill 147 (Transfers management of the Omaha Public School Retirement Investments to the State)
  • Legislative Bill 306 (Broadens heating assistance benefits to those earning up to 150% of the federal poverty level, instead of the current level of 130%).

The Legislature completed the session having passed 203 individual bills with another 16 measures adopted by way of amendments to those bills.

Looking Ahead to 2022

All legislation that was not adopted or indefinitely postponed this session will be carried over to the 2022 legislative session. The primary bills of interest that are likely to receive further consideration next session, are the following:

  • Legislative Bill 258 – Paid Sick Leave: Introduced by Sen. Tony Vargas (Omaha), and designated as a priority bill by Senator Matt Hansen (Lincoln), 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 – Opposed)

  • 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 legislation would apply to all employers subject to the Employment Security Act (one or more employees), with self-employed individuals eligible to participate funding would be provided for the program through a payroll tax of up to 1 percent of payroll as determined by the Commissioner of Labor.

The bill would allow 12 weeks or 60 workdays of paid leave if taken intermittently and would base the paid leave upon 90 percent of an individual’s average weekly wage that is at or below 50 percent of the state average weekly wage and 50 percent of the individual’s average weekly wage that is above 50 percent of the state average weekly wage, not to exceed 66 percent of the state average weekly wage.

The bill would also require employers to pay all other benefits that are due to the employee that would have been paid in the absence of leave, as well as all other benefits offered to the employee (vacation, sick leave, etc.) and would require employers to allow employees to return to their jobs after exercising their right to family medical leave.

(NFIB Position – Oppose)

  • Legislative Bill 310 – Inheritance Tax: Introduced by Sen. Rob Clements (Elmwood), LB 310, as amended, would for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2022, increase the exemption amount for:
    • Class I beneficiaries (immediate relatives and siblings) from $40,000 to $100,000 and retain the existing 1 percent tax rate
    • Class II beneficiaries (remote relatives-nieces and nephews) the exemption amount would be increased from $15,000 to $40,000 and the tax rate reduced from 15 percent to 11 percent.
    • Class III beneficiaries (non-relatives) the exemption amount would be increased from $10,000 to $25,000 and the tax rate reduced from 18 percent to 15 percent. In addition, any person under the age of 22 would not be subject to the inheritance tax.

(NFIB Position – Support)

  • Legislative Bill 667 – Workers’ Compensation – Confidentiality of First Injury Reports: Introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran (Hastings), LB 667 would require the Workers’ Compensation Court to withhold workers’ compensation first reports of injury from disclosure to the public for a period of 60 days, with certain designated exceptions. (NFIB Position – Support)
Interim Study Resolutions

NFIB will continue to represent its members’ interest through participation in interim study resolutions addressing:

  • Legislative Resolution 139 – Interim study to examine the financial health of individuals in Nebraska’s workforce over one year into the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Legislative Resolution 140 – Interim study to examine Nebraska’s unemployment insurance system
  • Legislative Resolution 166 – Interim study to review the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act
  • Legislative Resolution 206 – Interim study to examine workers’ compensation
Previous Reports and Related Information
Photo courtesy of Unicameral Update, the Nebraska Legislature’s official news source since 1977

 

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