NEFB Newspaper

Disappointing end to the legislative session as senators fail to pass property tax measure, special session assured

Nebraska lawmakers concluded the 2024 regular session on April 18 without enacting a measure to provide property tax relief, despite the urging of Nebraska Farm Bureau, its members and other important stakeholders. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) backed the legislation, LB 388, as a key piece of the tax reform package that would have provided major property tax relief for Nebraskans.

“We are extremely disappointed the Nebraska Legislature was unable to deliver a property tax relief measure before closing out the 2024 legislative session. Nebraskans expected more and deserved better. Opponents of LB 388 helped ensure that property taxes will continue to increase on Nebraskans’ homes, farms and businesses into the future,” said Mark McHargue, NEFB president.

The tax relief proposal made its way to the final stage of debate on the last day of the session. However, when it was apparent there were not 33 votes to end a filibuster, Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, the bill’s sponsor, requested that LB 388 be taken off the agenda so the senators could move on to other matters that needed to be dealt with before the Legislature adjourned sine die. Earlier this year, Gov. Jim Pillen made a commitment to pursue a legislative route that would decrease property taxes by 40%. Following the Legislature’s failure to vote on LB 388, he expressed strong disappointment, indicating his intent to call a special session.

“I will call as many sessions as it takes to finish the long-overdue work of solving the property tax crisis,” Pillen said. “We will finish this work, and we will finish it this year.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau advocated for the bill as it included several provisions targeted to slowing property tax collections by political subdivisions and raising revenues elsewhere to offset reductions in property taxes; both being steps needed to better balance the state’s three-legged tax stool of property, sales and income taxes. The bill would have:

  • Incorporated property tax collection caps for counties, cities and villages.
  • Front-loaded funding to reduce property taxes paid to K-12 schools by property owners by using state dollars currently allocated to fund the state’s Refundable Income Tax Credit (RITC) for property taxes paid to schools.
    • To sustain that relief, the bill added $30 million to the fund each year moving forward.
    • It also included provisions to add additional dollars to the frontloaded funds if state revenues exceed certain thresholds.
    • By the state paying those school property taxes upfront, Nebraskans would no longer need to apply for the RITC credit as those and additional dollars would have been used to directly lower property taxes collected by K-12 schools from taxpayers.
  • Increased taxes on cigarettes, vaping and consumable hemp products.
  • Eliminated sales tax exemptions for lottery tickets, clothing cleaning and repair, pet-related veterinary services, candy and soda.

“We thank Gov. Pillen, Revenue Committee Chair Lou Ann Linehan and those senators who supported LB 388 for their work to try and provide property tax relief for hard-working Nebraskans. Nebraska Farm Bureau is about finding solutions. Clearly there is more work to be done. We look forward to finding solutions with those who similarly share a true commitment to solving Nebraska’s property tax problem,” said McHargue.

Nebraska Farm Bureau expresses gratitude to its members who participated in advocating for the property tax relief measure during this legislative session. Nearly 600 actions were completed in response to NEFB’s recent Action Alerts concerning LB 388.

“Our members are truly exceptional. It is amazing to see how we can mobilize and make a real impact. We will continue our efforts, and it’s thanks to our members that we achieved the progress made this year,” said McHargue.

Nebraska Farm Bureau is committed to collaborating with senators during the interim period, leading up to a special session, as well as throughout the session, to fulfill a key policy objective of reducing Nebraskan’s property tax burden and seek a more balanced tax system to fund education and local government.

NEFB Successes

Broadband

LB 1031 – updates several areas of state law to define broadband service as capable of providing internet access at speeds of at least 100 Mbps for downloading and 20 Mbps for uploading.

Foreign-owned Land

LB 1301 – establishes the Foreign-Owned Real Estate National Security Act and gives enforcement responsibilities to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Attorney General.

Water Quality

LB 1368 – establishes the Nitrogen Reduction Incentive Act which would implement a program to incentivize farmers to switch from synthetic fertilizers to sustainable alternatives, such as nitrogenfixing bacteria.

Child Care

LB 904 – determines childcare subsidy reimbursements by assessing both market rates and costs of providing care. Allows eligible applicants to make capital improvements and purchase materials or equipment necessary to co-locate childcare programs with nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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