Pay Attention to the Legislature
I know many of you are not into politics, but when State Senators introduce bills that could become law, you need to pay attention. At the LIBA office, we try to read every bill and decide how it will affect two things: business and taxes.
So what should you know? Legislative Bill 373 will repeal the Build Nebraska Act, which is important to Lincoln because it provides funding for area roads and, more importantly, the new South Beltway Project. In addition to killing the South Beltway, it will also terminate the “Personal Property Tax Relief Act,” which has provided relief to business owners all across the state.
While LIBA does not normally dive head first into issues for kids, LB373 contains a major change in youth sports. Today, adult and youth sports are not charged a sales tax. Under the bill, youth sports, even offered by the YMCA, churches and other non-profits, will be charged a sales tax for admission to sports events.
Another bill of interest to LIBA, LB 312, will charge you a tax on the interest you pay on your business loans. Yes, sales tax on interest. It’s an interesting idea, but also a bad one if you ask me. Of course LIBA’s main reason for looking at the bill was the tax on business loans, but you should also know that home loans, auto loans, and even student loans will be taxed under this bill.
Some of our members are watching LB343. This bill eliminates the need for a license to serve as an apprentice body artist, cosmetician, or student instructor for cosmetology, electrology, esthetics, nail technology, massage therapy, and body art. While reducing the amount of government paperwork is something we would normally support, some in this industry believe that having a student, or apprentice license is important. I’m not sure if LIBA will take a position, but we are meeting with business owners who think the license is important.
There is also LB211, introduced by Senator Hansen. Under this proposal the minimum wage for tipped employees will increase incrementally until it is 50% of the minimum wage rate by 2018. If the regular minimum wage stays at $9 per hour this would raise more than double the minimum wage for tipped employees by raising it from $2.13 to $4.50 by 2018. Many restaurant owners will be concerned about this bill. While the current tipped minimum wage of $2.13 sounds low, if a worker currently does not get enough tips to get to the $9 per hour, the employer must make up the difference. So under NO circumstances may a worker get under $9 per hour as the laws exist today. One local restaurant owner told me that his waiters and waitresses make an average of $20 per hour with tips.
While public policy and politics can be complicated and overwhelming, that’s why we’re here. With your help and feedback, we will hold our Legislature accountable. It’s important for you to pay attention to the proposed laws that will affect your business and help us advocate for you by giving us – and the lawmakers – your thoughts.
LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at (402) 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.
For more information on LIBA, visit Liba.org.