LB 132 – School Financing Review Commission Advances
This week lawmakers debated LB 132, which would create the School Financing Review Commission. After lengthy debate, senators agreed to a compromise on the makeup of the commission and advanced LB 132 to Select File. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Wendy DeBoer of Omaha, would investigate alternatives to Nebraska’s overreliance on property taxes to fund schools. Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the bill.
LB 338 – Broadband Service and Funding for Broadband Infrastructure
LB 338 was signed by the Gov. Ricketts on May 5. As amended, the bill was a combination of two bills introduced by Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard. One bill improves competitive choice in rural areas. The other increases Nebraska Universal Service Fund speed standards and established standards cities and counties can rely on in making grants for broadband infrastructure with the American Recovery Plan funds. Nebraska Farm Bureau supported this bill which will create imminent competitive opportunities in all areas of Nebraska.
LB 572 – Nebraska Brand Law
LB 572 is currently on Select File and would make a series of changes to the Nebraska Brand Law. It makes electronic inspection available as a means to meet brand inspection requirements, temporarily lowers the physical inspection fee, and revises statutory maximums for various brand recording and permit fees. It also provides an alternative means for dairies to comply with brand law requirements for calves under 30 days of age leaving the brand inspection area and allows for brand investigators to write waivable citations for infractions to Nebraska’s Brand Law. Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the bill.
LR11CA – The Consumption Tax Constitutional Amendment Proposal
This week, lawmakers debated LR 11CA a proposed consumption tax to replace the state’s income, corporate, sales, and property tax system. Authored by Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard, LR 11CA calls for a vote of the people in 2022 on a constitutional amendment that would revolutionize the state’s tax system. The measure failed to advance to Select File. Senators spent much of the day debating the tax, which would be applied to the purchase of services and new goods. LR 11CA would eliminate the excessive burden imposed on Nebraska families and businesses by the current tax code that overly relies on property taxes to fund education and local governments. Nebraska Farm Bureau supports investigating the consumption tax and all its components.
House Leaders Send Letter Opposing Stepped-Up Basis Repeal and Capital Gains Death Tax
Representatives Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) led more than 130 of their House of Representatives colleagues in sending a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy opposing the Biden administration’s proposal to repeal stepped-up basis from the tax code and require payment of capital gains taxes at death. “Small businesses, farms, and ranches are the lifeblood of America, creating jobs and economic opportunity across our country,” said Rep. Smith. “Protecting stepped-up basis across generations and ensuring capital gains taxes are only collected upon the sale of an asset are vital to ensuring local, family-owned businesses remain local, family-owned businesses, supporting and creating jobs in their home communities. Our focus should be on tax policies which encourage small businesses to create jobs; not on punitive taxes which could force families out of business.” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue thanked Congressman Smith, Congresswoman Fischbach, and the over 130 members of the House who signed onto this important letter clearly stating their support for continuing stepped-up basis. “The elimination of this important tax provision is simply another attempt to make death a taxable event. No farmer, rancher, business owner, or family should be forced to sell parts of their business or any asset just to pay the federal government. We believe this sends a powerful message to all of those in Washington who are pushing for tax increases that will harm family farms, ranches, and businesses which provide jobs and support Nebraska communities.” View Letter here.
Advancing Precision Ag Technology
U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced legislation to support the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT) technology for precision agriculture. The bill would encourage National Science Foundation (NSF) support for research on advanced sensing systems for rural and agricultural areas, focusing on rural and agricultural environments where there often is unreliable signal connectivity or power. This can affect how connected IoT technologies operate in these settings. “Precision agriculture systems gather important sensor data that can help ag producers do their jobs. However, unreliable signal connectivity or power can restrict Nebraska farmers and ranchers from reliably using this new technology. My new legislation will ensure that research and development consider the unique circumstances facing rural and ag communities,” said Sen. Fischer. The legislation also expands the definition of “advanced technology” for NSF’s Advanced Technical Education (ATE) Program to ensure the inclusion of agriculture-related technology; and, updates language in NSF’s associate degree programs in STEM fields to consider applications that incorporate distance learning into the curriculum. This would provide additional flexibility for students in rural areas or those who work on a farm or ranch. Finally, it directs the Government Accountability Office to produce a report that provides a technology assessment of precision agriculture innovations, as well as reviews all existing federal programs that support precision agriculture. Nebraska Farm Bureau thanks Sen. Fischer for this legislation to continue to advance precision agriculture technology.
Use Pilot Projects to Build Toward a Carbon Bank
The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), has worked over the past three months to develop specific recommendations for how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should approach a potential carbon bank.