2019 Legislative Priorities on Pro-Business Policies
In January, the Nebraska Legislature started the 2019 legislative session. Over the next few months, LIBA will be hard at work at the State Capitol building advocating for the following legislative priorities for the benefit of Lincoln businesses:
Reduce Nebraska’s Cell Phone Tax: At more than 25%, Nebraska ranks fourth highest in the country in terms of the tax rate we pay to use of our cellular telephones. This high tax has direct negative impacts on families and businesses. LIBA supports pursuing ways to reduce the cell phone tax imposed on Nebraska families and businesses.
Prevent Statewide Land Bank Authority: Legislation to expand land bank authority statewide will lead to expanded government involvement in property development. Land banks can submit an automatically accepted bid on any available property and receive tax breaks and benefits that are unavailable to private developers. For example, land banks are exempt from paying taxes on a property they own, and they receive 50% of the property tax for five years upon the sale of a property.
Require a Vote of the People to Establish New Joint Public Agencies: Under state statute, two public agencies can create a separate government agency known as a Joint Public Agency (JPA). There are currently seven JPAs in existence, three of which are in Lincoln. JPAs are an added level of bureaucracy that can levy and collect property taxes and issue bonds (with voter approval). LIBA supports amending state law to require a vote of the people to establish new JPAs.
Eliminate the Personal Property Tax on Nebraska Businesses: The personal property tax not only costs businesses financially, but it is also costly in terms of the time and effort necessary to complete and file the appropriate tax returns. LIBA supports the elimination of the personal property tax, which directly affects Nebraska’s existing and new businesses.
Limit Taxing Authority to Property Tax Asking Plus Midwest CPI: LIBA supports requiring taxing authorities to limit their general/operating fund property tax asking to the previous year’s property tax asking, plus the Midwest Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the 12-month period ending in March of the current year, up to the maximum levy provided in statute.
Support the Deployment of Small Cell Technology: The wireless industry is planning to deploy hundreds of thousands of small cells across the country to boost wireless services and prepare for the introduction of 5G. The annual small cell fee in Lincoln is $1,995 per device, compared to $50 or less in similar Midwest cities. LIBA supports legislation that would set reasonable statewide small cell deployment fees and streamline the permit process for attaching small cells.
Utilize a National Test to Assess Nebraska Eighth Grade Students: Nebraska students are currently administered four tests in eighth grade under NeSA. If Nebraska eighth grade students were given a nationally recognized exam instead, we could better determine how our educational efforts match up with other states, and lower the burden on eighth grade students by reducing the number of required standardized tests.
Increase Transparency for Schools: Nebraska’s schools receive a large portion of property taxes to make improvements to schools and keep them running smoothly. Adding a line-item budget or check register to public school districts’ websites would increase transparency in how property taxes and other funds are spent.
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.