NFIB-Backed UI Reform Bill Passes Nebraska Legislature

Date: March 24, 2017

Measure aiming to curb habitual abusers of unemployment insurance sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts

NFIB/Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom reports on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending March 24.

The Legislature completed its public hearing process March 23, and full-day sessions of floor debate will commence when it reconvenes March 28, following a long, four-day weekend.

Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer (Norfolk) has selected his 25 Speaker priority bills, which, along with the priority bills previously designated by individual senators and committees, will dominate the agenda for the balance of the 2017 session.

NFIB Victory on UI Reform

One of the bills designated as a priority bill by the Business and Labor Committee, and supported by NFIB, has been given final approval by the Legislature and forwarded to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his signature.

Legislative Bill 203, introduced by Sen. John Kuehn (Heartwell), would revise the requirements for individuals receiving unemployment benefits who voluntarily leave a job without good cause, by providing that such an individual would not be eligible for unemployment benefits until they have earned four times their weekly benefit amount in insured work and has separated from the most recent subsequent employment under non-disqualifying conditions.

The bill would address habitual abusers of the unemployment insurance program and is estimated to save employers between $2.75 million and $7.5 million annually.

Tax Relief Taking Shape

The Revenue Committee appears to be edging closer to striking a compromise on a series of measures that would provide significant tax reform and relief. According to news reports, the “package” includes:

  • phased-in cuts to individual and corporate income tax rates
  • revisions in the manner in which agricultural land values will be determined
  • limits on increases in property taxes for agricultural land owners.

Also expected to be included in the tax relief “package” is a proposal that would use funds from the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund to increase state aid to schools and offset the effect of reducing the maximum school district property tax levy from $1.05 per $100 of valuation to $1.00.

The proposal under consideration would:

  • gradually lower the state’s top individual income tax rate from 6.84 percent to 5.99 percent over a minimum of eight years, with reductions triggered in any year in which the revenue increase is greater than 3.5 percent over the prior year
  • combine the state’s two lowest individual income tax brackets into one bracket with a rate of 3.1 percent and phase-out personal exemption credits
  • combine the state’s two corporate income tax brackets into a single bracket and gradually reduce the top rate
  • base the value of agricultural land for tax purposes on its income-producing capacity and place a 3.5 percent annual cap on the aggregate growth of agricultural land valuations statewide.

Ban-The-Box Bill Advances

Despite opposition from NFIB, Legislative Bill 420, “ban the box” legislation, has been advanced to General File by the Business and Labor Committee. Introduced by Sen. John McCollister (Omaha), LB 420 would prohibit public and private employers and employment agencies from asking an applicant to disclose, orally or in writing, information concerning the applicant’s criminal record or history, including any inquiries on any employment application, until the employer or employment agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications. The bill would apply to employers with 15 or more employees.

The measure was advanced on the following 4-3 vote:

Ayes–Senators Chambers, Crawford, Hansen and Howard
Nays–Senators Albrecht, Halloran and Lowe.

Small Business Day at the Captiol

NFIB/Nebraska will co-sponsor the Small Business Day in Lincoln at the State Capitol on April 12.

NFIB’s co-sponsors are the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, 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 will speak to the group, followed by legislative briefings by state senators.

Details on the time and location of Small Business Day at the Capitol can be found under the “Events” tab on the NFIB website (www.NFIB.com/NE).

Previous Reports and Related News Releases

March 17—Bill Targeting Unemployment Insurance Abusers Advances

March 10 Report—NFIB Members Rally to Kill Bad Workers’ Comp. Bill

March 3 Report—Senators Given Grim Revenue Forecast

February 24 Report—Nebraska Legislature Designates its Priority Bills

February 17 Report—Legislators Propose Expanding Sales Tax to Sales

February 10 Report—NFIB-Backed Unemployment Bill Advances

February 3 Report—Governor’s Tax Relief Bill Coming Up For First Hearing

January 30 News Release—Comment on Governor’s Press Conference, Today

January 27 Report—NFIB Fighting Habitual Abusers of Unemployment Insurance

January 20 Report—Bill Introduction Period Expires in Nebraska Legislature

January 13 Report—Bill Introductions Less Than Normal in Nebraska Legislature

January 12 News Release—Comment on Today’s State-of-the-State Address

January 6 Report—Nebraska Legislature Opens for Business

[Tile photo of Sen. Joni Albrecht courtesy of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature website]

 

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