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Capitol Digest: Tom Osborne to speak at the Capitol against medical marijuana

January 25, 2019 GMT

The World-Herald’s statehouse reporters round up news highlights from the Legislature and state government into the Capitol Digest — a daily briefing for the political newshound with a busy schedule.

Cornhusker against cannabis. Opponents of legalizing medical cannabis have lined up former Husker football coach Tom Osborne to speak against the idea. Osborne is slated to join Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and other administration officials at a press conference before a much-anticipated public hearing on Legislative Bill 110 on Friday at 1:30 p.m.

The hearing is expected to be a long one, and may still be going when the main advocates for legalization of medical marijuana, Lincoln Sens. Anna Wishart and Adam Morfeld, host an evening fundraiser. Funds would be used for a medical cannabis petition drive, which the senators promise they will pursue if efforts to pass a bill fail.

Walk this way. Gov. Pete Ricketts joined Husker head baseball coach Darin Erstad, “American Ninja Warrior” show regular Maggi Thorne and others Thursday in a 20-minute walk around the State Capitol. The goal: urging Nebraskans to exercise regularly and eat healthfully.

“Every little bit counts,” Erstad said. “I challenge every last one of you to just take one more step.”

School choice. Students from private and parochial schools gathered Thursday at the State Capitol for a rally supporting school choice. They were joined by Ricketts, representatives of the Nebraska Catholic Conference and State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn.

Linehan, who chairs the Revenue Committee, has introduced Legislative Bill 670, which would offer state income tax credits to people who donate to a private and parochial school scholarship fund. The price tag has been an obstacle for similar proposals in past years.

Property tax accountability. Linehan also introduced LB 103, which would require school boards and other taxing entities to hold a special public hearing, and take a vote, when local property valuations are increased. Proponents of the bill said Thursday that now it’s too easy for school boards and cities to reap a windfall when property valuations rise because they will collect more taxes by just retaining their current tax levy.

LB 103 would automatically lower levies — to keep taxes the same — if valuations went up. A taxing entity could raise revenue, but it would have to hold a public hearing and a separate vote. Opponents of the idea, which included several school groups, said that school boards already take valuation increases into consideration when setting their levies and that the public already has a chance to chime in on that during public budget hearings.