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Nebraska Legislature wraps up session, senators and governor tout tax relief

Posted at 7:03 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 20:03:18-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Legislature finished up its session in Lincoln this morning.

Senator Carol Blood of Bellevue was pleased overall with what got done this year.

“I think Nebraska passed a lot of bipartisan bills this year,” said Blood.

She pointed to exempting social security income for seniors and exempting retirement income taxes for military veterans.

Speaker Mike Hilgers called it historic.

“I think it’s the most consequential series of tax cuts that this legislature has passed in decades,” said Hilgers.

While no major property tax bills were passed this year, Governor Pete Ricketts says, with the property tax reform bill passed in 2020, along with adding more money into the credit relief fund, property taxes shouldn’t be rising to what they have in the past.

“You pull all that together and that means, across the two years, we’ll have a record-setting...nearly $1.7 billion in property tax relief coming from the state,” said Ricketts.

Other bills passed include expanding broadband, putting in casino gambling regulations and legalizing to-go alcohol permanently.

What didn’t get done was a 3% cap in spending on local governments such as school districts. Senator Ben Hansen voted for the cap this year.

“I thought it was a good way to kind of tighten the purse strings to help the property tax owners of Nebraska,” said Hansen.

It's something Governor Ricketts said could contribute to rising tax bills in the future. He hopes it comes back next year.

“That’s why people are mad," he said. "The legislature needs to act to reign in that local property tax increase because that's what's really driving this,” said Ricketts.

Another bill that fell short of advancing was medical marijuana. Hansen thought it was a conservative approach and worries about a ballot initiative.

“A little disappointed that didn’t get out because of my greater concern. Yes, it’s going to be on the ballot and it's medical marijuana in all forms,” said Hansen.

Ricketts said they can beat a ballot initiative by education.

“I think we can make sure that they understand how they can protect our safety best, and then if there is a ballot initiative, work to defeat it when it comes up,” said Ricketts.

The Unicameral isn’t technically done this year, they’ll have a special session to redistrict congressional and legislative maps, among others.

“It’s going to be a contentious issue, I’m sure,” said Hansen.

“As long as people, the citizens of Nebraska stay a part of the process, the committee stays transparent. I have hope that, unlike last time, there will be political shenanigans,” said Blood.

The legislature is expected to be back sometime in mid-September to tackle redistricting.

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