News Release: Legislative Testimonies for Feb. 26
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Phone: (402) 452-3737
Legislative Testimonies for Feb. 26: LB445 & LB461
Bills Relate to Occupation Taxes, Promoting Competition
LINCOLN, NE – The Platte Institute will testify in support of a bill that would require Omaha, and with an amendment, other cities, to report on their use of occupation taxes, and another proposal that would promote competition among intrastate transportation and moving service businesses.
Platte Institute Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox will testify on both bills.
Legislative Bill 445, by state Sen. Mike McDonnell, will be heard before the Urban Affairs Committee. The hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. in State Capitol room 1510. LB445 is currently the last of four bills on the agenda.
LB445, as introduced, would require Nebraska cities of the Metropolitan Class (currently, Omaha) to issue an annual budget report on the use of local occupation taxes. Occupation taxes are gross receipts taxes levied in addition to other state and local taxes, which cities are permitted to levy on economic activities in their jurisdiction under state law.
Examples include occupation taxes on businesses which sell prepared foods, wireless service, hotel rooms, tobacco products, and increasingly, sales in designated development districts. While these taxes are technically imposed on businesses, typically, the costs are passed onto consumers, and appear as if they were additional sales taxes to the average taxpayer.
An expected amendment to LB445 would expand the scope of the reporting requirement to other municipalities.
“Combined cell phone taxes, which include local occupation tax, are fourth highest in Nebraska according to the Tax Foundation. Restaurant and other occupation taxes can result in Nebraskans paying over ten percent tax on a meal in some of our communities. In 2012, the 9.5 percent combined tax paid in Omaha at large was ranked the nation’s sixth highest among the country’s fifty largest cities,” said Nicole Fox.
“Nebraskans deserve to know in plain language how these taxes are being used,” said Fox.
Sen. Curt Friesen’s Legislative Bill 461 will be heard before the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee at 1:30 p.m. in the Warner Chamber. LB461 is currently first on the agenda.
LB461 removes a process governed by Nebraska’s Public Service Commission (PSC) for issuing a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” for transportation companies that offer intrastate transport of people or moving services. Under the proposal, these companies would remain regulated and a permit would be required to conduct business, but the PSC’s requirement to hold a hearing to receive a certificate would be removed.
“A Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is a regulatory barrier to free enterprise. It is also known as a Competitor’s Veto,” said Fox.
“It prevents people from entering a business not because they are unskilled or unqualified, but because existing businesses don’t want competition. Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity forbid people from going into business unless they first get permission from their own competitors. Proof of ‘public need’ is often arbitrary and hard to define,” said Fox.
Fox’s testimonies are available online at PlatteInstitute.org/Testimony.
To schedule an interview on these topics, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 452-3737 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.