Scheer: Legislature hasn’t reached consensus on major tax issues

Scheer: Legislature hasn’t reached consensus on major tax issues

Nebraska Legislature Speaker Jim Scheer and Executive Board Chair Sen. Mike Hilgers were guests on today’s Platte Institute Webinar. The focus of the webinar was the upcoming return of the Legislature on July 20, and what can be expected in the remaining 17 days of the legislative calendar.

The Legislature’s session was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scheer and Hilgers commented on new legislative procedures during the pandemic and which legislation will be discussed before the end of the session.

Scheer emphasized that his “thoughts are strictly on the priority legislation,” which will get preference to be debated during the limited time available. In addition, there will be a hard cap placed on legislative business concluding at 10 p.m. each night to ensure that there is enough time for proper cleaning procedures before the Legislature reconvenes the next morning.

On revenue and budget issues, both the Speaker and Sen. Hilgers pointed out that this was a fluid time period and that there was an ongoing discussion on lost state revenues. As businesses look to open once again, both webinar guests highlighted that any legislation on liability issues regarding reopening and the spread of COVID-19 would not occur until the 2021 legislative session. Tax incentives for businesses and property tax reform were mentioned as having the potential to pass during the session, but both guests noted that there were hurdles to jump before any significant legislation could pass.

“What will happen? That’s the $64,000 question,” Scheer said.

Scheer said he did not believe any of the major tax or economic policy packages currently have a consensus that would garner 33 votes to overcome a filibuster, and that it would be necessary for property tax legislation to be approved first before enough senators would give their support to a tax incentive bill.

Both Scheer and Hilgers advised that all current bills asking for financial support should be amended since there will be an emphasis on not passing bills that would spend money Nebraska doesn’t have. Scheer also said there would be no change to rules requiring a new legislative hearing if amendments are submitted on issues that have arisen after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s the video of the full webinar:

To see a list of future Platte Institute webinars and events, please click here.

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