Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Nebraska Legislative Update

-- from the desk of Jon Bailey, Director Rural Research and Analysis Program
Center for Rural Affairs

Legislative Update

May 27, 2005

This issue of the Legislative Update is sent early due to the Memorial Day holiday. The Legislature has adjourned for the week and is not back in session until Tuesday, May 31 – the start of the last week of the 2005 session.

LB 90: Rural Economic Development Package

On May 25, LB 90 was approved on Final Reading. The Final Reading vote was 46-2 (Senators Chambers and Raikes voting “No”). On May 26, the Governor signed the bill into law.

LB 312: Business Tax Incentive Reform

Also on May 25, LB 312 was approved on Final Reading. The Final Reading vote was 45-3 (Senators Chambers, Raikes and Schimek voting “No”). On May 26, the Governor also signed this bill into law.

Budget Update

On May 24, Governor Heineman signed LB 425 – the main budget appropriation bill – into law. However, he line-item vetoed about $8 million worth of spending over the two-year life of the budget.

Among the vetoes were: $656,000 in aid to community health centers for medical services to the uninsured (the budget approved by the Legislature had appropriated $875,000 in additional resources for the community health centers specifically for services to the uninsured; the five health centers in the state will continue to receive about $1.7 million in aid from the state over the next two years); $408,000 in both years for state reimbursements to county jails; $562,000 for child advocacy centers (treatment and counseling centers for abused children; and $1.2 million for the Nebraska Scholarship Program.

The Appropriations Committee recommended sustaining the Governor’s vetoes by not attempting to override any of them. There were attempts to override the vetoes on the health center, jail reimbursement and child advocacy center funding. All failed to receive the 30 votes necessary to override a veto.

Bills Update

Any bill designated a Priority Bill will also have a “P” attached to its number (for example, LB 123P). The chief sponsor of the bill is listed in parentheses.

The words Support or Oppose after a bill description indicate where the Center for Rural Affairs has taken a position on the bill. If neither word is indicated, the Center has not taken a position at this time.

NOTE: Once a bill is Indefinitely Postponed (killed) or signed into law, we will remove it from the Legislative Update list.

Rural Development

LB 28 (Connealy) – The “Endow Nebraska Act.” The bill would provide a tax credit for a contribution to a qualified charitable organization. On May 23, the bill was advanced to Final Reading. Support

Agriculture/Livestock

LB 132 (Cunningham) – This bill modifies the Nebraska Pasteurized Milk Law by providing exemptions to small-scale dairies and processors to the often-expensive bottling and processing requirements, and by allowing dairies and farmers to advertise on-farm sales of non-pasteurized milk (currently, the sale of non-pasteurized milk cannot be advertised). The bill sits on General File. Support

LB 346P (Agriculture Committee) – Would modify several provisions of the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act all with the goal to increase utilization of the tax credit. The bill sits on General File. Support

Education/Schools

LB 126P (Raikes) – Would mandate the “assimilation” of Class I schools (elementary-only schools) into K-12 school districts for the 2006-07 school year. The bill awaits action on Final Reading. Oppose

LB 129P (Education Committee) – An overhaul of the formula for state aid to schools. The bill is awaiting action on General File.

Other

LB 550 (Jensen) – Requires a plan to be submitted by December 1, 2005, for the financial support of community health centers and emergency medical services in the state. The bill awaits action by the Health and Human Services Committee.

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