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POLICY WATCH

Legislature Sends Budget to Governor 

This week the Nebraska Legislature focused much of its time on debating and advancing bills related to the state’s budget. It is constitutionally mandated that the budget must be advanced to the governor by day 80 of the session. The two-year budget calls for about $5.3 billion a year in spending, with an average increase of 2.2 percent. The budget includes $574 million for the Perkins County Canal project and created a $1 billion education future fund, which will provide stability for Gov. Pillen’s proposed student foundation aid to K-12 schools. 

Other budget related bills of note include: 

  • LB813 (Arch, at the request of the Governor) Provide, change, and eliminate provisions relating to appropriations.  
  • LB815 (Arch, at the request of the Governor) Appropriate funds for salaries of members of the Legislature.  
  • LB816 (Arch, at the request of the Governor) Appropriate funds for salaries of constitutional officers.  
  • LB799 (DeBoer) Change judges’ salaries, judgeships in county courts and the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court, and provisions relating to the Supreme Court and the College of Law.  
  • LB814 (Arch, at the request of the Governor), Appropriate funds for the expenses of Nebraska State Government for the biennium ending June 30, 2025, and appropriate Federal Funds allocated to the State of Nebraska pursuant to the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.  
  • LB818 (Arch, at the request of the Governor), Provide for transfers of funds, create funds, and change and eliminate provisions regarding the sources, uses, and transfers of funds. 
  • LB282 (Riepe),Provide for payment of claims and approve a contract claim against the state.  

The Legislature also advanced the Revenue Committee’s omnibus package, LB727 (Linehan), to Select File. This package is comprised of 28 bills, seven of which are of interest to our members. 

  • LB580 (Holdcroft) This bill was brought at our request to protect the special valuation status of land actively used for agricultural purposes after it is annexed by a city or village.  
  • LB529 (Hansen) Amends the property tax request act by requiring one elected official from a public body seeking a levy override at a joint meeting, adds electronic notification and reporting, and removes principal and interest payments on bonds from the request calculation.  
  • LB706 (Moser) Allows for the issuing of bonds up to $450 million for road construction (repayment would be $30 million annually for 19 years) and adds a provision to extend the sunset date.  
  • LB180 (Brandt) Creates the Nebraska Biodiesel Tax Credit Act, allowing for biodiesel retailer income tax credits equal to $.14 multiplied by the total number of gallons of biodiesel blended with diesel fuel by the taxpayer (gas station).  
  • LB118 (Brandt) Modifies the Livestock Modernization Program within the Rural Advantage Act by lowering the eligibility threshold to projects that cost $10,000 or more. The current minimum investment required is $50,000. 
  • LB809 (Murman) This measure increases the available tax credits in the L1/L2 programs within the Rural Advantage Act from $1 million to $10 million. This program is widely used and allows livestock producers to take advantage of state incentives when growing their workforce.  
  • LB96 (Slama) This bill adds to a law enacted last year that exempts the sale of net wrap from sales tax to include twine and bailing wire.  

With less than 100 hours of debate left in the session, there are still several bills of interest to Nebraska Farm Bureau that will need to be passed, including the governor’s property and income tax reform package. We will continue to stay on top of things until the legislature adjourns sine die on June 9. 

USDA Offers Livestock Disaster Program Flexibilities in Response to Those Impacted by Drought, Winter Storms 

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is providing additional flexibilities and further enhancing disaster recovery assistance provided by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) in response to needs expressed by livestock producers who have experienced significant feed, forage, animal and infrastructure loss from pre-existing, long-term drought conditions further compounded by unprecedented snowfall and winter storms.  

 These livestock disaster program policy enhancements include an extended June 2, 2023, deadline to submit notices of loss and applications for payment for 2022 losses. The deadline extension and program flexibilities are available to eligible producers nationwide who incurred losses from a qualifying natural disaster event.    

“Potentially impacted producers are encouraged to contact their FSA county office to gain an understanding of these program enhancements and determine whether the changes are applicable to their operation,” said Tim Divis, Acting State Executive Director for FSA in Nebraska.  
 
Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) is available to eligible producers who have suffered above normal expenses for hauling feed or water to livestock or hauling livestock to forage/grazing acres due to the impacts of drought. ELAP also may be available to assist with the above normal costs of feed during natural disasters, including during extreme winter weather. ELAP triggers on a county-by-county basis. Normal ELAP policy is that, as part of the application process, producers must report these impacts to FSA within 30 days of when those impacts are apparent. However, this 30-day notification requirement has been waived in some situations to allow for late applications for 2022 impacts and for 2023 impacts that occur before June 2, 2023. Producers with questions about possible benefits through ELAP for 2022 impacts or 2023 impacts through June 2, 2023, should contact their county FSA office. 
 
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died, above normal mortality, because of a qualifying natural disaster event. Normal LIP policy is that, as part of the application process, producers must report these deaths to FSA within 30 days of when these deaths are known. This 30-day notification requirement has been waived for 2022 losses. FSA is now accepting 2022 Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) notices of loss and applications for payment through June 2, 2023, for all covered livestock that may have been eligible in 2022.    

Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides benefits for grazing losses due to a qualifying drought or wildfire. FSA recently revised the program to allow additional animals as qualified for the program, including livestock that contribute to the commercial viability of an operation and are maintained for the purpose of pleasure, roping, pets or show. Because of this change, FSA is accepting LFP applications for these newly eligible covered livestock through June 2, 2023. Producers who have questions about whether their livestock may be eligible for LFP should contact their county FSA office.  

Revising 2022 Applications 
Producers who have a 2022 ELAP, LIP or LFP application on file with FSA as of the program deadline or were placed on an approved register, may revise their application with the newly updated eligible livestock no later than June 2, 2023.      

More Information   
Producers can apply for ELAP, LFP and LIP benefits at their local FSA county office. For more information or to submit a notice of loss or an application for payment, please contact your local FSA office or visit farmers.gov/recover.   

Congressman Flood to Host Town Hall  

U.S. Congressman Mike Flood announced he will hold a town hall in Lincoln on May 30 at Lincoln North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd St, Lincoln, Neb. During the town hall, Congressman Flood will provide an update on the priorities he’s been working on for Lincoln and Nebraska’s First Congressional District. There will be a question-and-answer period. This event is open to the public. 

In addition to the program, district staff will be available to assist with challenges regarding federal agencies, military academy nominations, scheduling requests and other needs constituents might encounter. 

For questions about the town hall, please contact Congressman Flood’s Lincoln Office at (402) 438-1598. 

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