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POLICY WATCH

NEFB Supports Funding for AgrAbility Program

Nebraska Farm Bureau testified before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee this week to offer support for a bill allocating state funds for a program designed to assist disabled farmers and ranchers. Introduced by Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil, LB 671 allocates $300,000 over the next two years to the University of Nebraska Extension to fund the Nebraska AgrAbility program. The dollars would be used to purchase assistive technology and equipment for physically challenged producers enabling them to continue to operate their farm or ranch.

NEFB Backs Proposals to Modify Term Limits, Require Voter ID

A proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow Nebraskans to serve three consecutive terms in the Nebraska Legislature received support from Nebraska Farm Bureau this week. Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha introduced LR 18CA. Nebraskans are currently limited to two consecutive terms of service. Farm Bureau pointed to several benefits of allowing three consecutive terms, including greater retention of institutional knowledge in the Legislature and the need for more time for relationship building among senators critical to building trust and tackling big picture issues for the state. If adopted by the Legislature, Nebraskans would vote on the measure in the 2022 general election. Nebraska Farm Bureau also offered support this week for LR 3CA, a Constitutional Amendment introduced by Sen. Julie Slama of Peru to require photo identification before voting.

Bills Target Tax Relief for Nebraskans

Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) supported a handful of bills related to providing tax relief for Nebraskans this week. Among the bills garnering NEFB support during hearings were LB 367, LB 524, and LB 622. LB 367 was introduced by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion. The bill would impose a tax on gambling machines and earmark the revenues for property tax relief. LB 524 was introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth. The bill would change provisions relating to the calculation of tax credits under the Nebraska Property Tax Incentive Act (LB 1107 passed in 2020). The bill would ensure that any 2019 school district taxes that were both levied and paid during calendar year 2019 be deemed to have been paid in calendar year 2020 and thus eligible for the credit in 2020. Lastly, LB 622 was introduced by Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson. The bill limits the growth of valuations for commercial, residential, and agricultural classes of property to 3 percent annually for taxation purposes.  

NEFB Opposes Renewable Fuel Standards Waivers

Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) has registered opposition to petitions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for refinery waivers from 2019 and 2020 renewable fuel standards. In comments to the EPA this week, NEFB clarified the request for waivers were unjustified under current law, pointing out that Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers may only be granted if there is a demonstration the RFS causes severe economic harm to the economy as whole, not because of market conditions resulting from plummeting demand for gasoline due to COVID-19. Nebraska Farm Bureau reiterated the importance of upholding the RFS and the positives of the ethanol industry to Nebraska farmers and the state’s economy.

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