OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — State senator Lou Ann Linehan has made it her mission to bring down property taxes.
This session, a bill that would re-do the state funding formula for schools was opposed by many school administrators, and eventually failed.
Linehan, the chair of the Revenue Committee, helped steer a compromise that gave some amount of property tax relief to Nebraskans, while also providing business incentives and funding to the NEXT project, a large-scale UNMC project that would also include federal funding.
Linehan still wants to do more on the property tax front.
“I think the more we educate the people, both the educators and all Nebraskans about how it works and they see how unfair it is for some children versus other children, I think we’ll see changes,” says Linehan.
Her opponent, Allison Heimes, says changing the school funding formula is necessary, and that she also wants to bring down property taxes.
She says she would have a different approach.
“That was one of Lou Ann’s weaknesses when she was in the legislature was that a lot of the superintendents, a lot of the people involved in making decisions for schools, didn’t feel like they were involved in that decision, and thus they opposed it,” says Heimes.
Heimes first got interested in running after her brother Matthew died.
“He passed away from suicide. So after he passed away I sort of became an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention,” says Heimes.
She later decided she wanted to run after trying to get a hold of her own state senator, Sen. Linehan, to provide plaques for National Guard members who died. She found it frustrating that it was difficult to schedule a meeting.
In the fall of 2019, she decided to run.
She wants to funnel in more money to mental health hospitals and social and addiction services.
She also is looking to bring in mental health workers into schools.
“Getting ahead of it by providing those services early in the schools, is why I think it’s so important,” says Heimes.
Linehan says she’s proud to help pass a bi-partisan bill that allows mental health patients to direct their treatment to a family member before there’s an emergency.
“I think if people become aware of it and it’s used, it can be really helpful. So people don’t have to be in a crisis before we can get them help,” says Linehan.
It appears likely the state will still be in a pandemic when the legislature returns in January.
Linehan wants to pass liability protections for businesses and schools, making it difficult to sue, if a business or district followed government mandates.
“They have to do their job and have to make sure they’re doing everything to keep children, careful. Businesses shouldn’t be exposed to lawsuits that are frivolous, that if we don’t get this fixed, is going to happen,” says Linehan.
Heimes says this issue is what separates the two candidates.
“Her’s is very business focused, mine is more people focused. Mine is about, how do we protect those essential workers, how do we get that rapid testing for those essential workers and the average citizen as well,” Heimes.
Linehan says there is another major difference between herself and her democratic opponent.
“I’m a Republican and she is not,” says Linehan.
“Limited government, self reliance, government should do what is has to do but it shouldn’t do everything for people.
Linehan has experience that goes beyond the legislature. She worked as the chief-of-staff to former US Senator Chuck Hagel.
She won the primary by 22 percentage points.