News Release: Jan 27. Legislative Hearings on Property Tax Limitation, Licensing Reform
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Mobile: (402) 500-0209
Legislative Testimony for Jan. 27
Proposals Cap Property Tax Revenue Growth, Reform Job Licensing
LINCOLN, NE – Today, the Platte Institute will provide in-person legislative testimony on two bills before the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee and one bill being heard by the Health and Human Services Committee.
Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry will testify in support of two measures that would require voter approval for local political subdivisions to exceed 3% annual growth in property tax revenue.
The Revenue Committee will meet on those proposals in State Capitol Room 1524. They’ll hear LR22CA, Sen. Lou Ann Linehan’s proposed constitutional cap on property tax revenue growth introduced on request of the governor at 9:30 a.m. Then, at 1:30 p.m. Curry will provide supporting testimony for Sen. Tom Breise’s LB408, which is a similar proposal contained in a legislative bill.
LR22CA is an update to a 2019 proposal for a constitutional amendment. While the previous proposal exempted bond payments from the 3% annual limitation, LR22CA now includes provisions to account for new growth in local property tax bases. That means the 3% revenue growth cap would not apply to additions like newly constructed buildings, improvements to existing properties, or annexed property.
“LR22CA is one potential option that can help slow the growth of the property tax burden moving forward. If paired with broader tax reforms, it could facilitate an overall shift to reduced reliance on property taxes to fund local government,” Curry said.
Though the policy contained in LB408 is similar to LR22CA, the bill would have a different path to implementation if senators chose to adopt it instead of, or in addition to, the constitutional amendment. If approved by the Legislature, LR22CA would go to voters in November 2022, while LB408 could be made law in 2021.
“If there is support to advance LR22CA, then I encourage this committee to also advance [LB408] so Nebraskans can have immediate action on the growing burden of property taxes,” said Curry.
Platte Institute Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox will testify before the Health and Human Services Committee in State Capitol Room 1510 at 1:30 p.m. Fox will provide supporting testimony for Sen. Dave Murman’s LB211, which permits the practice of reflexology by registered and certified reflexologists.
Reflexologists are personal care practitioners who use their hands to apply pressure to a client’s feet, hands, or outer ears. Currently, reflexology can only be performed lawfully in Nebraska by licensed massage therapists. Nebraska has one of the country’s most time-consuming requirements for earning a massage therapy license, at 1,000 hours of classroom training. Most states require a range of 500 to 700 hours for massage therapy licensing, and exempt reflexology from their licensing requirement.
“Reflexology is exempt from massage laws in 32 states and the District of Columbia. There are 4 states that have no massage law, and reflexology is not regulated or licensed. Our neighbors, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota exempt reflexology from massage law. Kansas and Wyoming do not have massage laws,” said Fox.
“Out of the 1,000 required hours of massage training potential reflexologists are required to take, approximately 20-30 hours is dedicated to reflexology at most,” said Fox.
The Platte Institute first learned about Nebraska’s treatment of reflexology practitioners in 2016 when Connie Young, a certified but unlicensed reflexologist from Omaha, reached out to the Institute. Young practiced out of her home for years without incident, but then received a cease and desist order from the state Department of Health and Human Services after teaching a class on reflexology at a local massage therapy school.
Typically, cease and desist orders detail the criminal penalties unlicensed practitioners can face if they continue to work without a license. Young’s letter said she could receive a felony charge for continuing her reflexology practice.
“We can charge you with a felony for working with people’s feet and hands,” Young told the Lincoln Journal Star in 2016. “That just seemed crazy.”
Young temporarily moved her business to Council Bluffs, Iowa, which does not license reflexology, before relocating to Indiana.
In 2018, the Platte Institute submitted an application for reflexology to be reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Credentialing Review process on behalf of reflexology practitioners. In an effort to determine whether medical professionals on the review panel deemed it necessary for the field to be licensed, the Platte Institute proposed in the application that reflexology be granted its own licensing requirement that reflected the industry training standards common among those solely practicing reflexology.
In a July 2018 report responding to the application, former DHHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Williams noted that he did not think licensing was necessary for reflexology.
“Given that Reflexology is arguably safely unregulated in most states, it is difficult to justify Nebraska holding possibly the most arduous Reflexology requirements in the United States…It is difficult to conceive of any treatment or approach more medically risk free than Reflexology,” wrote Dr. Williams.
In 2019, the Health and Human Services Committee unanimously advanced a bill to de-license reflexology, but the measure was filibustered on the floor of the Legislature, prompting a compromise proposal that requires reflexologists to register with the state upon completing a private industry certification. Reflexology certification requires 200-300 classroom hours.
“LB211 is a jobs bill. LB211 says we want you to live and work in Nebraska. The ability to pursue the occupation of one’s choosing is one of the greatest gifts this Legislature could give Nebraskans,” said Fox.
To schedule an interview on these topics please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 500-0209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. More media resources are available at PlatteInstitute.org/Media.