Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 at 5:43pm

Senator Lydia Brasch Legislative Update

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Weekly Session Update – February 23, 2015

Session began as scheduled on Tuesday, February 17, marking Day 27 of our 90-day session. In observance of President’s Day, the office was closed on Monday. This resulted in a short work week where my staff and I worked extended hours due to the normal legislative workload in addition to preparation and public hearings for LB568 and LB350.

On Tuesday, I introduced LB568 before the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB568 presents a potentially difficult policy question before the committee and legislature. LB568 addresses a finding of non-compliance with the Nebraska Commercial Driver’s License Act by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). LB568 would bring Nebraska into compliance with the FMCSA by separating the administrative license revocation (ALR) process from the underlying criminal prosecution for the holder of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) following an arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or implied consent. As Sen. Seiler recognized during hearing, this leads to an inefficiency in the process where a lower administrative hearing entity is not able to defer to a more authoritative and legitimate judicial process. Continued non-compliance would result in a loss of $18 million in federal aid highway funding. This potentially leaves the legislature with the decision of complying with an inefficient federal mandate and securing millions of dollars in federal aid highway funding or not complying and losing those federal dollars. Notably, the Department of Motor Vehicles is still in discussion with the FMCSA arguing present Nebraska law is in compliance.

On Thursday, I introduced LB350 before the Revenue Committee. LB350 was heard alongside of an identical bill, LB288, introduced by Sen. David Schnoor. LB350 reduces agricultural and horticultural land valuations from 75% to 65%. A number of organizations and individuals supplied proponent testimony, such as: Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, former-Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, Certified Appraiser Bill Kaiser, Chairman of the Washington County Supervisor Jeff Quist, and Washington County Assessor Steve Mencke. There was some opposition by Nebraska Association of County Officials, Nebraska Farmers Union, Open Sky Policy Institute, and Central for Rural Affairs. Two main arguments were offered in opposition: a) LB350 does not take property relief far enough and b) LB350 is merely a tax shift. While I would agree LB350 does not provide all the property tax relief needed, it does provide a substantial and critical step in the right direction. LB350 is not a tax shift, but provides a crucial realignment of the disproportionate tax burden that has occurred in the last five years. I will continue to fight for property tax relief, especially for our farmers and ranchers, and to represent the concerns of our district and state.

Please contact me, my administrative aide, Katie Wattermann, or my legislative aide, Tom Venzor, with questions or thoughts at (402)471-2728 or by e-mail at lbrasch@leg.ne.gov. If you would like to follow the Legislature online visit http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government or watch live broadcasting on NET2.

Keeping the Good Life Growing in Nebraska,
Senator Lydia Brasch, District 16

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