As of Friday, January 16, the eighth day of the 2015 legislative session, a total of 430 bills and three proposed constitutional amendments have been introduced. With only two days left for bill introductions, if lawmakers exercise restraint, the total number of bills introduced this session will be less than normal.
Committee hearings will begin Tuesday, January 20, and continue through the latter part of March. Floor debate on bills advancing from committee to General File is expected to begin on January 26.
Bills of Interest to NFIB
- LB 133 – Workers Compensation – Interest Rate on Awards: Introduced by Sen. Laura Ebke (Crete), LB 133 would base the interest rate applicable to awards of WC benefits on appeal (14 percent) upon the same standard applicable to other money judgments.
- LB 134 – Workers Compensation – Confidentiality of First Injury Reports: Sen. Jerry Johnson (Wahoo) is the sponsor of LB 134, which would make first injury reports relating to workplace injuries confidential, unless the employee waives confidentiality to allow the report to be made available for public inspection.
- LB 158 – Workers Compensation – Employee Misrepresentation: Introduced by Sen. John McCollister (Omaha), LB 158 would reinstate the defense of employee misrepresentation for employers to avoid having to pay benefits resulting from an injury or condition relating to misrepresentations given by the employee when applying for a position with the employer.
- LB 276 – Nebraska Workers Compensation Act: Sen. Burke Harr (Omaha) has introduced legislation that would authorize individuals who regularly and customarily perform services for others at a location other than the person’s own fixed business location to apply to the Department of Labor to be a certified independent contractor. The measure would exempt a certified independent contractor from all requirements to be covered under a policy of workers compensation insurance and preclude such individual from obtaining any benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
- LB 363 – Workers Compensation – Medical Payments Penalty: Under LB 363, introduced by Senator Jeremy Nordquist (Omaha), all medical payments under the Workers’ Compensation Act would be payable within 30 days after notice has been given or within 30 days after the entry of a final order, award, or judgment of the court. Medical payments remaining delinquent for 30 days or more would require payment to be made to the employee in an amount equal to 50 percent of the delinquent medical payments.
- LB 388 – Workers’ Compensation – Total Disability Benefits: Sen. Matt Hansen (Lincoln) has introduced legislation (LB 388) that would provide annual adjustments for total disability benefits in a proportion equal to annual increases resulting from the determination of the state’s average weekly wage.
- LB 429 – Workers’ Compensation-Utilization and Treatment Guideline: Sen. Jim Smith (Papillion) has introduced legislation that would presume any medical, surgical, and hospital services provided on or after Jan. 1, 2016, in accordance with the Official Disability Guidelines (ODG) as published by the Work Loss Data Institute, to be reasonable and necessary. The measure would remove responsibility of an insurer, risk-management pool, or self-insured employer for charges for medical, surgical or hospital services not provided in accordance with the ODG, unless the medical, surgical, or hospitable services were pre-authorized or resolved pursuant to the independent medical examiner process or by the Workers’ Compensation Court.
- LB 20 – Income Tax Exemptions: Introduced by Sen. Bob Krist (Omaha), LB 20 would — effective Jan. 1, 2015 — exclude social security benefits and military retirement benefits to the extent included in federal adjusted gross income for purposes of state income taxation.
- LB 74 – Sales Taxation/Sales Collection Fee: Introduced by Sen. Paul Schumacher, LB 74 would increase the employer’s sales tax collection fee to 2 ½ percent of the first $3,000 remitted each month and 1/2 of 1 percent on all amounts in excess of $3,000 remitted each month.
- LB 165 – Income Taxation: LB 165, introduced by Sen. Brett Lindstrom (Omaha), would phase out the tax on Social Security income using a 20 percent decrease over a five year period, beginning in 2016.
- LB 178 – Property Taxation – Valuation of Agricultural Land and Horticultural Land: Introduced by Sen. Dan Watermeier (Syracuse), LB 178 would reduce the valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land for school district taxation purposes from 70 percent beginning in 2016 to 55 percent in 2019 and all years thereafter.
- LB 259 – Personal Property Tax Relief Act: Sen. Mike Gloor (Grand Island) has introduced legislation that would exempt the first $25,000 of depreciable tangible personal property from the Personal Property Tax.
- LB 280 – Property Taxation: Sen. Al Davis (Hyannis) has sponsored legislation that would authorize a school-funding surtax (19-29 percent of state income tax liability) and reduce the levy authority of school districts and learning communities.
- LB 309 – Property Taxation Property Tax Credit Cash Fund: Senator Davis has also introduced legislation that would appropriate $25 million from the General Fund to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund for Fiscal Years 2015-16 and Fiscal Years 2016-17.
- LB 357 – Income Taxation: Sen. Jim Smith (Papillion) has introduced legislation that would phase in reduced income tax rates from 2016 through 2024 and reduce corporate income tax rates from 2016 through 2023. The bill would also transfer $40 million from the Cash Reserve Fund to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund for 2015 and 2016.
- LB 83 – Prohibition on Employee Wage Disclosure: LB 83, introduced by Tanya Cook (Omaha), would prohibit an employer from requiring non-disclosure of wages as a condition of employment and prevent an employer from requiring an employee to sign a waiver or other document purporting to deny an employee the right to disclose the employee’s wages. The measure would prohibit an employer from taking any adverse employment action against an employee for disclosing an employee’s own wages or discussing another employee’s wages that have been disclosed voluntarily. The bill would also establish a cause of action under the Nebraska Wage and Payment and Collection Act for violations by an employer with the employee entitled to receive reinstatement, back pay, restoration of loss service credit, money damages and costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
- LB 156 – Angel Investment Tax Credit Act: Introduced by Sen. John Stinner (Gering), LB 156 would increase from $3 million to $5 million the amount of tax credits allowed annually under the Angel Investment Tax Credit Act.
Small Business Day at the Captiol
NFIB/Nebraska will co-sponsor Small Business Day at the Capitol, March 31, in Lincoln.
NFIB’s co-sponsors are the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Independent Business Association and Nebraskans For Workers’ Compensation Equity and Fairness.
Small Business Day gives NFIB members an opportunity to network with other small-business owners. Gov. Pete Ricketts is expected to speak, and there will be a legislative briefing by state senators.
Details on the time and location of Small Business Day at the Capitol will be released soon. Check www.NFIB.com/NE
for the latest information.