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Corrections, property taxes, abortion restrictions — all to be pondered by Nebraska Legislature

Posted at 6:56 PM, Jan 03, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — It's a new session in Lincoln, a blank slate for lawmakers looking to pass their priorities.

For Albion senator Tom Briese, who’s usually one of the congenial senators in the body, he wants to see broad property tax reform, with his first priority fixing an old bill that gives out tax credits to property owners.

“I told one of my colleagues, if we can’t get that done, I’m going to be hard to get along with,” said Briese.

Briese, along with other conservative colleagues, are hoping to bring back a bill that caps school boards at raising property taxes by three percent, or the rise of inflation.

A similar bill died due to a filibuster last year.

“Create some more flexibility for school districts, something they can live with. Nobody in our body wants to choke off public education in Nebraska, and we’re not going to stand by and let somebody do that,” said Briese.

Corrections will also be on the forefront; lawmakers allocated $15 million last year to plan for a new prison, they may be seeking to actually fund a new prison this year.

But Judiciary Chair Steve Lathrop, he’s waiting for data, specifically a corrections facility master study, that’s not expected until August, until he can approve a prison.

“What should that additional bed space look like? Should it be high security, low security, medium security and it’s hard to tell without an updated master facilities study,” said Lathrop.

Lathrop will instead push corrections reform, while details are light right now. He mentions incremental changes to sentencing, and boosting staff at probation, all to enhance public safety and use tax money better.

“If we had more thoughtful sentencing, we would be able to take savings and reduce violent crime and provide for better public safety with those same dollars,” said Lathrop.

Bills on restricting abortion will also likely be coming down the pipeline. This comes as the Supreme Court will likely issue rulings next year on restrictions in Mississippi.

Briese, a Republican, and Lathrop, a Democrat, are at odds. Briese says the time is now, while Lathrop wants to wait for the courts.

“I think with what has been happening across the country with what we’ve been hearing from the Supreme Court. I think the pathway has opened up for us and we need to take advantage of that,” said Briese.

“I think a better course would be to see, what parameters change if any, to that constitutional right until the Supreme Court rules,” said Lathrop.

Another bill soon to be introduced would strengthen the penalty for voter fraud.

Senator Briese says he hopes it’ll give Nebraskans more confidence in their elections.

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