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Senators introduce bills targeting income, sales and property taxes

January 10, 2019

Nebraska senators introduced 138 measures Thursday on the first day of bill and resolution introductions, including tax bills, legalization of medical cannabis, and a bill to require public schools to post “In God We Trust” in prominent locations.

Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard proposed a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment (LR3CA) that would provide for state income tax credits equal to 35 percent of local property taxes paid.

That proposal would appear to result in well over $500 million in annual property tax relief.

By comparison, an earlier citizens initiative drive that was subsequently withdrawn proposed a 50 percent credit that would have resulted in an estimated $1 billion of property tax relief.

The new proposal would require the votes of at least 30 senators to be submitted to a vote of the people in 2020.

Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha proposed income tax reform (LB50) that would adjust some tax brackets while increasing income tax rates for high-income Nebraskans.

The top tax rate would be hiked from 6.84 percent to 7.84 percent for Nebraskans earning more than $100,000 a year and those earning in excess of $1 million would pay an additional 1 percent surtax on that additional income. Nebraskans with income in excess of $2 million would pay a 2 percent surtax on that additional income.

Sen. Tom Briese of Albion sponsored a bill (LB18) that would divert the sales tax revenue collected from online sales to the state’s property tax credit cash fund.

New bills will be introduced for 10 days. Other bills introduced on Thursday:

Tuition for service members

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue sponsored a bill (LB6) allowing active duty military stationed in Nebraska, their spouses and dependents, to pay in-state tuition to colleges and universities. Sen. Sue Crawford, also of Bellevue, grouped service members enrolled in vocational rehabilitation programs into those who can pay in-state tuition in a similar bill (LB122).

State contract protests

A bill (LB21) from Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward would require the Department of Administrative Services to create a formal protest procedure “for any contract for services” exceeding $5 million awarded by state agencies.

Community college tax levies

Kolterman also introduced a bill (LB27) that would afford the state’s community colleges more flexibility in how they use their locally assessed property taxes. The measure does not raise the levy cap of 11.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

‘In God We Trust’

Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard wants Nebraska’s public schools to display the national motto “In God We Trust” in each classroom or prominent place in each school building “where each student shall be able to see and read it each day school is in session.” Erdman’s bill (LB73) also requires the Nebraska Attorney General to defend school districts in civil litigation related to the motto.

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