LINCOLN–(KFOR Jan. 3)–Nebraska lawmakers returned to work Wednesday morning for the shortened, 60-day Legislative session at the State Capitol, with some hoping to move forward in attempting to pass legislation that have been ruled as priorities and other bills leftover from last year that were in the middle of debate.
Lt. Gov. Joe Kelly gaveled the Legislature into session shortly after 10am Wednesday. Speaker of the Legislature John Arch of LaVista addressed fellow senators that they need to move past the divisiveness that happened last session because of some controversial bills.
“I think everybody left the session last year saying probably not our finest hour, and we need to do better,” Arch said.
Starting Jan. 10, lawmakers will spend time considering some changes to the Legislature’s permanent rules. Speaker Arch says that includes technicalities, language clean-up, and codifying precedent.
One of the items Nebraska lawmakers will likely deal with during the 60-day Legislative session is a proposal that’s labeled as “bold and courageous” by Governor Jim Pillen to further reduce local property taxes.
The plan would hike Nebraska state sales taxes by 36%, raising it from 5.5% to 7.5%. The 7.5% rate would be the highest in the country, according to the Sales Tax Institute. The highest state sales tax rate in the nation is in California, at 7.25%. Pillen’s proposal would put a tougher lid on local spending.
A spokesperson for Pillen told the Nebraska Examiner the idea was prompted by the failure of other attempts to lower local property taxes in recent years. It’s keystone of Pillen’s promised “transformative” proposal on property taxes to reduce them from a total of $5 billion a year on all taxpayers to $3 billion.