News Release: Legislative Testimony for February 14
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Mobile: (402) 500-0209
Legislative Testimonies for Feb. 14
Platte Institute to Oppose Tax Rate Increases, New Licenses
LINCOLN, NE – The Platte Institute will testify in opposition to tax rate increases and added state job licensing requirements before the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue and Health and Human Services Committees today.
Platte Institute Senior Fellow for Job Licensing Reform Laura Ebke will testify in opposition to two bills that would increase job licensing requirements. Legislative Bills 422 and 607 will be heard in State Capitol room 1510 starting at 1:30 p.m. LB422 is first on the agenda and LB607 is third.
LB422 is a proposal to create licensing to practice Art Therapy in Nebraska. Art therapy is an emerging behavioral health practice, however, most states do not require a license to use art therapy techniques.
Ebke will ask the Health and Human Services Committee to consider the alternatives to licensure as outlined in the Occupational Board Reform Act the Legislature adopted in 2018.
"A certification or other recognition in law, would allow for the official recognition and creating of billing codes for Art Therapy—while not creating a new licensing board, or excluding those who might seek to perform some elements of Art Therapy from doing so if they choose not to pursue full certification," said Ebke.
In the hearing for LB607, Ebke will oppose a provision to expand nail technology licensing. While many advanced nail technology practices require state licensing, natural nail manicures and pedicures can currently be performed without a job license in Nebraska.
"Questions that the Committee should ask before increasing the barriers for relatively low wage workers to earn a living should include: Is changing the scope of this license addressing a consumer need or a clearly demonstrated safety issue? Have there been complaints, or injuries, documented? How many? Can some of these concerns be addressed through inspections of places of business for sanitation purposes, rather than through the licensing of those who may be working there? Could a requirement for liability insurance for the business address whatever risk remains for businesses that practice manicures and pedicures?" Ebke asked.
In the Revenue Committee, Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry will testify in opposition to LB314 and in a neutral capacity on LB497.
Today's Revenue Committee hearing begins early, at 12:30 p.m. in State Capitol room 1524. According to the Revenue Committee Chair, the two property tax-related bills will be heard at the same time with rotating testimonies from supporters, opponents, and neutral testifiers.
In her testimony on LB314, Curry will oppose the bill's proposals to increase sales, income, and excise tax rates to increase spending on the property tax credit relief fund, but will say that the bill's proposal to end exemptions in the state and local sales tax base should be included in a larger property tax reform package.
Public finance experts who hold different philosophical views often share the idea that governments should raise needed revenues on a broad base with few exemptions, in order for taxes to be levied at a lower rate. This approach also helps to reduce unequal treatment of different products, services, and taxpayers in the economy.
"Today we have an increasingly service-based economy, and the sales tax base needs to be updated to account for this change. This principle of including services in the sales tax base is agreed to across the philosophical spectrum among tax policy experts. Where the disagreement begins is when deciding what to do with the new revenues," said Curry.
"This bill directs the new revenues towards the property tax credit relief fund. While that choice will subsidize local property tax bills at their current levels, we are concerned that LB314 does not have an appropriate mechanism to assure that local property taxing entities will meaningfully reduce property taxes in response to receiving these new revenues," said Curry.
In neutral testimony on LB497, Curry will discuss the bill's proposal to provide property tax reductions by expanding the sales tax base to include purchases of groceries. While sales taxes on groceries are typically disliked by taxpayers, Nebraska's original sales tax included the levy on store-bought food, and at a significantly lower sales tax rate than Nebraskans pay today.
"This exemption was put into place in 1983, so groceries were taxed in Nebraska for 16 years before a change was made," said Curry.
Curry will also highlight policies that offset the cost of grocery sales taxes for residents who are food insecure.
"Federal law prohibits sales of groceries purchased with SNAP, or food stamp benefits, from being subject to tax. Today, there are 14 states that tax food with some only allowing the tax to be levied by local governments. Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota all tax food but have chosen to offer a rebate or income tax credit to compensate the poor," said Curry.
Ebke and Curry’s testimonies are posted online at PlatteInstitute.org/Testimony.
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.