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POLICY WATCH

Legislative Landscape for Tax Relief Coming Into View

Committee hearings wrapped at the Capitol this week. Senators will begin all-day debate next week with many agriculture priority bills waiting to be added to the agenda. All priority bills from senators, committees, and the speaker have been designated.

Senator Dave Murman of Glenvil has designated LB 723 (Briese) as his priority bill. The proposal is a top priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau as it puts a floor of $560 million under the Refundable Income Tax Credit for School District Taxes Paid established by LB 1107 in 2020.

Some rural senators continue to advocate for property tax relief equal to the income tax relief proposed in LB 939 (Linehan), which is the Revenue Committee’s priority bill. Agriculture and rural senators do not oppose income tax relief, but in fact welcome it as producers pay income tax like everyone else. However, farmers and ranchers bear the brunt of exorbitantly high property taxes with little benefit to their local area.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau team supported efforts by the ag leaders working group to support both LB 1160 (Wishart), which would deliver reverse osmosis system grants throughout the state, and LB 1261 (Murman) which increases tax credits available for livestock modernization efforts.

The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board increased revenue projections by $775 million for the two years ending June 20, 2023, predicting the state’s cash reserve would have approximately $1.7 billion if no additional money was spent. According to the revenue forecast, Nebraska is expected to collect nearly $5.73 billion in taxes in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. That’s a 10.7 percent increase over the board’s previous estimate, amounting to an extra $370 million. For the following fiscal year, board members projected tax collections of $5.96 billion, which would amount to an extra $405 million. Some board members raised concerns about economic uncertainties related to inflation, global supply chain problems, and more.

The Appropriation Committee is due to release its budget package by March 11. Once released, the Nebraska Farm Bureau governmental relations team will have a much clearer view of the legislative landscape and path forward to property tax relief.

As always, please reach out with questions and comments. We are happy to discuss any issues with you.

NEAgLobbyDC Policy Brief

By Jordan D. Dux, Director of National Affairs, Twitter: @NEAgLobbyDC

This week, President Joe Biden gave his first State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. Outside of the pomp and circumstance, these speeches have historically provided the president an opportunity to celebrate the victories and/or describe our nation’s struggles directly to the American people with Congress applauding (typically far too many times in my opinion) along the way. While the current war in Ukraine took centerstage, issues directly related to agriculture were largely left out of the speech. While the topic of competition within the meat processing sector was mentioned (more on that in the minute), vital issues like ag labor, taxes, trade, and regulatory reform were hinted at, but largely ignored. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) is very aware that our priorities don’t exactly align with the current administration. We also understand that the situation in Ukraine needed to take center stage during the speech. At the same time, given the lack of progress made or even attention paid to the aforementioned issues, it is hard for any farmer or rancher not to walk away from that speech feeling left out.

The marketing situation experienced in the cattle sector over the past two years is certainly worthy of discussion as cattle producers have seen depressed prices even as consumers saw the exact opposite. NEFB has responded to the situation by examining what policy alternatives were needed, pushing the Department of Justice to conduct a full investigation of the situation, and supporting legislation aimed at providing more price discovery including a majority of Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer’s Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. At the same time, leaving issues such as the now desperate need for a steady and legal agricultural workforce and any mention of trade policy out of the speech entirely was certainly disappointing. As a policy organization, NEFB is always willing to work with our nation’s leaders on our member-passed public policy prescriptions. Rest assured that Farm Bureau will continue to push our nation’s elected leaders as hard as we can to ensure the economic futures of our farm and ranch member families.

First Congressional District Candidate Forum

You’re invited to join Nebraska Farm Bureau for a first congressional district candidate forum Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. (CT). The forum will be held virtually via Zoom. This is your opportunity to hear from candidates and ask questions. Candidates invited include Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Senator Mike Flood, Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, and John “Glen” Weaver. Save your spot by registering today.

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