NEFB Newspaper

NEFB works to advance top priorities through Nebraska Legislature

The Nebraska Legislature is more than halfway through the 60-day legislative session, and committee hearings have wrapped up. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) testified on several legislative bills that included topics ranging from tax reform and livestock zoning to childcare and more. One of the top priorities for Nebraska Farm Bureau this session is to build on the property tax relief it worked to deliver in recent years.

From increased funding for the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund to establishing a refundable income tax credit for property taxes paid to K-12 schools and adding tax relief based on property taxes paid to community colleges; Farm Bureau’s advocacy efforts have provided significant property tax relief for Nebraskans. NEFB estimates its collective property tax relief efforts reduced property taxes by 24% for the owner of $250,000 home in 2023, while reducing property taxes by nearly 33% for Nebraska farms and ranches.

For the past several months, Nebraska Farm Bureau has been an active participant in Gov. Jim Pillen’s 40-person Valuation Reform Working Group, reviewing and engaging on potential recommendations from the working group along with engaging on long-term property tax reform.

“We’ve had a lot of great conversations going into this legislative session that we haven’t had before, especially on property taxes. Valuations have gone up not just in agriculture, but on all the homes that we live in. As we’ve gone through the tax conversation, members of the governor’s working group decided collectively that we need to stop this continuing march forward on property taxes,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Numerous bills have been introduced as part of Gov. Pillen’s proposals to reform the way taxes are collected in Nebraska. At the beginning of the year, Pillen called for a 40% reduction in state property taxes in 2024. He asked the Nebraska Legislature as well as chambers of commerce to partner in achieving that goal, stating it is a necessity for all Nebraskans. Nebraska Farm Bureau is committed to balancing the three-legged stool of taxes.

“In the balanced stool of taxation, sales tax is the least amount that we tax. We’re looking at increasing the sales tax and that’ll bring in about $450 million dollars. We’re also looking at eliminating some sales tax exemptions that are across the board with the goal of generating more sale tax collections to replace property tax dollars that are being used to fund schools and local government so we can effectively lower property tax collections and keep schools and local governments whole,” said McHargue.

While NEFB supports broadening the tax base through sales tax, it draws the line at taxing inputs, including repair parts. NEFB thanks the more than 250 members who acted on our Action Alert to send a letter to members of the Revenue Committee asking to not to advance a bill that proposes taxing parts and repairs.

Another priority for NEFB this legislative session is supporting the responsible expansion of Nebraska’s value-added industries. Over the past few years, we have seen permit applications denied, even though they met all local zoning requirements. Greg Hoegermeyer, a Washington County Farm Bureau member, represented NEFB while testifying in support of a proposal that would streamline the permitting process for livestock facilities.

“There are two main issues. The first one is to get these permits through the permitting process without a lot of emotion applied to the decision if the proposal fits zoning regulations. Secondly, making a decision in a reasonable amount of time. This bill would put a 90-day cap on that so the producers that want to do these investments can have an answer within a reasonable amount of time,” said Hoegermeyer.

NEFB also spoke in support of legislative bills aimed at expanding childcare throughout the state. Rural communities, farmers and ranchers find it extremely difficult to locate childcare in their local communities, sometimes eliminating the option to return to rural areas of the state due to lack of childcare.

The Nebraska Legislature will now take up all-day floor debate on the proposals put forward. NEFB will continue working alongside senators to advance the state’s leading industry – agriculture.

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