2022 Unicameral Halftime Report

2022 Unicameral Halftime Report

This week marked the halfway point in the 60-day session of the 107th Legislature. A total of 593 bills and 9 constitutional amendment proposals were introduced this year. These proposals joined the 522 carryover pieces of legislation from the 2021 90-day long session. Here are highlights of this session’s key Platte Institute priorities. We focused on bills which provide more and better opportunities for hardworking Nebraskans.

The Unicameral has already made some progress when it comes to modernizing Nebraska’s tax policies for families and businesses. LB310, introduced and prioritized by Sen. Rob Clements, reduces the burdens of Nebraska’s county inheritance tax. The bill was signed by the governor on February 17. The act that become law also included provisions of Sen. Wendy DeBoer’s LB377. Of note, it is the only legislative bill the Legislature has fully passed into law so far this session. In part, this is because LB310 was a carryover bill from 2021 and was Sen. Clements’ priority bill for this session.

More on LB310 can be found here:

Unicameral approves inheritance tax cut

Also this week, Sen. Mike McDonnell’s LB1264 was heard in the Revenue Committee, and the Platte Institute testified in support. LB1264 encompasses the Blueprint Nebraska recommendations for modernizing Nebraska’s tax code to make our state an economic leader among our peers. Elements of the Blueprint Tax Modernization Plan have significant bipartisan support by Nebraska voters as reflected in a scientific poll we conducted.

Here are more details from that poll:

Voters support Blueprint Nebraska by 4 to 1 margin

Already this session, senators have advanced bills to streamline professional credentialing requirements for Nebraska funeral directors and barbers. Sen. John McCollister has also introduced and prioritized LB709, which addresses the occupational licensing hurdles those with criminal histories face. This is a comprehensive reform measure the Platte Institute supports. Although still in committee as of this writing, we anticipate LB709 will be amended with Sen. Tom Briese’s LB263 from 2021, which allows workers moving to Nebraska to join our workforce and benefit from universal recognition of their job licenses held in good standing in other states.

Here’s more on each of those bills:

LB709: Job Licensing Opportunities for Former Offenders

LB263: Universal Recognition of Job Licensing

Increasing government transparency and engagement by Nebraskans in the public policy process is also an important Platte Institute priority. This week, Nebraska Legislature Speaker Mike Hilgers announced that LB777, introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer, was selected as a Speaker Priority bill for the session. LB777 would require the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission to develop and maintain a digital archive of Nebraska legislative video coverage.  The Platte Institute testified in strong support of this bill, highlighting that Nebraska is an outlier in providing archived access to legislative audio or video recordings. Currently, 46 states have an archive.

Here’s more on that bill:

Bill would post Nebraska Legislature videos online

Finally, LB1127 introduced by Sen. Anna Wishart would create a regulatory sandbox in Nebraska. Regulatory sandboxes provide a temporary space for entrepreneurs to collaborate with regulators to develop new products and services under some degree of regulatory supervision, but without potentially excessive regulatory burden and penalties. The goal is to allow startups to “play” in the sandbox and potentially alert regulators when existing rules may need to be re-examined. The bill may not move forward this year, but as more states and countries continue to create regulatory sandboxes, the issue is sure to return to the Legislature.

Here’s a conversation between Sen. Anna Wishart and Jim Vokal about regulatory sandboxes on a recent episode of the Nebraskanomics podcast:

Nebraskanomics: Sen. Anna Wishart on Regulatory Sandboxes

In the coming weeks, the Legislature will be focusing on debating priority bills as well as the budget. As bills of interest progress through the process, we will keep you updated. In the meantime, please visit our Take Action page to communicate your thoughts to policymakers.

Photo courtesy Nebraska Unicameral Information Office.

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