Legislature is Shortsighted in Revenue Planning


Dear friends and neighbors,

Here in the Legislature, we have started late-night debates to provide more time for discussion as we only have 20 days of session left until we adjourn. Last week, we passed the state budget and it was sent to the Governor who could have vetoed individual parts of the budget. Fortunately, the Governor approved the budget with no vetoes this time. 

Over the past several decades, we have created a structural deficit and we have eroded our revenue with special interest exemptions, carve-outs, tax credits, and incentives that are designed to grow Nebraska's economy and attract more people to the state. Instead of growing our state, these exemptions have cuts into the resources we have to provide property tax relief. We don’t have the funding. We need to look at new revenue sources for Nebraska so we can not only provide property tax relief, but make sure we have a fair public school funding system and that Nebraskans can access the public services they need.

Our thinking is shortsighted. Part of this may be because of term limits--maybe we are thinking in four or eight-year increments instead of thirty, fifty, or one-hundred-year increments for the long-term sustainability of people in Nebraska. When we look at all of these carve-outs and write-offs and credits that have eroded our tax base, we see that this loss of revenue cuts into the resources that we have to provide property tax relief. 

A comprehensive strategy for property tax relief has to raise revenue and attract more people to our state. It means keeping our promises to fund our schools, including early childhood care. Keeping tax dollars in the public education system to serve all our children. Expanding SNAP benefits. Legalizing recreational and medical marijuana. Allowing those with marijuana charges to modify their records. Passing policies that emphasize support and equity for the LGBTQ community. Raising the tipped minimum wage. Reforming police. These are smart ways to grow our tax base.

We are losing our college graduates, young people are fleeing our state, and people say they do not want to live in Nebraska. A big reason for this is the racist, discriminatory, old-fashioned policies that we pass in this state. Our growth rate ranking is 39th in the country. We have to do more to attract and retain talent. 

My colleagues say reducing property taxes will help us achieve this. The young people I know are not concerned primarily about property taxes -- most of them do not own property! For many Nebraskans, the dream of homeownership is unfathomable. They cannot get ahead because we do not pass policies in this body that says we value them. What we need instead of this is more targeted tax relief and rebuilding our safety net for Nebraskan families. With policy like this, instead of saying "look at our great policies" or "look at our great quality of life" or "look at the great culture we have in our state," we are merely saying "look how cheap it is to live here." The majority of young people are not excited to move here and that is in large part because we have given up asking "how do we make our state the best state" and we just keep chipping away at our culture, focusing only on making our state the cheapest.

There are things we can do to tangibly improve Nebraskans' quality of life, without costing anything and without giving a tax giveaway to corporations. We cannot keep cutting taxes at the expense of services and programs. We have to raise revenue. We can do this by enacting LGBTQ protections, providing paid family leave, legalizing cannabis, supporting public schools, having affordable housing, raising our tipped minimum wage, expanding tolerance and nondiscrimination policies for migrants, and accessible reproductive healthcare. 

This is the comprehensive way to deal with property tax relief. It is not about what percentage of tax cuts we debate over in a single bill. These are not short-term solutions like we have seen so many times before. This is the systemic change Nebraska needs. 


Status of My Bills

  • LB 121 - Expand SNAP access by lifting the ban to food benefits for people with prior drug convictions
    • Advanced to General File on March 9th
  • LB 131 - Municipal updates bill package
    • Advanced to General File
    • Urban Affairs committee priority 
  • LB 250 - Interior Design Voluntary Registration Act
    • Advanced to General File on February 17th
    • Will likely be debated in 2022
  • LB 260 - Unemployment for caregivers in the Employment Security Law
    • Advanced to Final Reading 
    • Designated as my personal priority 
  • LB 277 - Harmonize the Mobile Home Landlord and Tenant Act
    • Amended into a Judiciary Housing Package via LB 320 (Cavanaugh, J.)
    • Advanced to Final Reading on April 20th
  • LB 357 - Youth in Care Bill of Rights
    • Advanced to General File on March 12th
    • Will likely be debated in 2022

Priority Bills I Support 

By no means is this list comprehensive. I want to highlight some of the most impactful priority bills my colleagues have introduced this session.
  • LB 320 (Cavanaugh, J.) - contains my LB 277; Judiciary Housing Bill Package  
    • LB 320 provides housing protections for victims of domestic violence
    • Committee amendment (AM 450) included portions of several bills addressing Landlord/Tenant issues into LB 320. Portions of LBs 4546246268277, and 402 are included in the amendment. 
    • Advanced to Final Reading on April 20th
  • LB 258 (Vargas, Hansen, M. priority) - Adopt the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act
    • Requires employers to provide employees with access to paid sick and safe leave.  
    • Advanced to General File on March 17th
  • LB 108 (McCollister) - Addresses the SNAP cliff effect 
    • There is a two-part income eligibility test under SNAP: first, gross income eligibility (130% of federal poverty limit) and second, net income eligibility. 
    • When a family applies for SNAP, the first question is whether their gross income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines
    • LB 108 would set gross income eligibility at 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. The net income eligibility limit would not change
    • Advanced to Select File on April 20th
  • LB 298 (McDonnell) - Extend unemployment benefits to all eligible work-authorized immigrants
    • Placed on General File on March 29th 
  • LB 241 (Vargas) - Adopt the Meatpacking Employees COVID-19 Protection Act
    • Advanced to General File on March 17th
  • LB 474 (Wishart) - Legalize medicinal cannabis by adopting the Medicinal Cannabis Act
    • Advanced to General File on March 31st
  • LB 306 (Brandt) - Expand eligibility for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
    • Changes requirement from 130% of the federal poverty level to 150%, making more Nebraska households eligible. 
    • Advanced to General file on March 9th 
  • LB 485 (DeBoer) - Expand eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy program
    • Increase income eligibility limit from 130% to 185% of the federal poverty level

Priority Bills I Oppose

  • LB 2 (Briese) - Reduces the valuation of agricultural land for school bonding
    • This will cause revenue losses resulting in cuts to schools, health care, and other services Nebraskans need 
  • LB 11CA (Erdman) - Replaces current tax system with a consumption tax
    • If passed, it will reduce state revenue by $4 billion and adds taxes to essential services, disproportionately shifting the tax burden onto low and middle-income Nebraskans.  
    •  Tax policy experts largely disagree with this approach 
  • LB 408 (Briese, Geist priority) - Limits property tax growth requests from localities to 3% per year
    • This undermines local control and will have harmful impacts on local governments, who are already accountable to their constituents to keep property taxes low 
    • The state does not need to overreach and set an inflexible limit that communities should decide for themselves I support property tax relief through increased state support for schools and think these proposals cut in the opposite direction 
    • This bill was filibustered and is considered dead for the year 
  • LB 281 (Albrecht) - Requires school districts to adopt specific instructional programs
    • Mandating curriculum is a legislative overreach 
    • The authority to craft education standards should remain with the NE Board of Education

COVID-19 Updates

Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is now providing free vaccinations to those 16 years old and over.
Vaccines for Minors If you are 16, 17, or 18 years old, you will need parental consent and a guardian present with you in order to get the vaccine. Click here to see which vaccine you are eligible for if you are a minor.  COVID-19 Testing You can use the Douglas County Health Department's interactive map to find a testing site that is best for you. Sort testing options by location, price, rapid results offered, and more. Vaccination Locations Click here to use DCHD's interactive map with both long-term and temporary vaccine clinics
  1. Douglas County Community Clinic Locations
  2. Temporary Locations: 
    1. Heartland Family Services Intergenerational Campus (4318 Fort St., Omaha, NE 68111) - Only Pfizer Vaccines available - Click here to find available appointments
  3. OneWorld Community Health Center (for patients)
  4. Charles Drew Health Center: Please call 402-451-3553 to schedule an appointment
  5. Fred Leroy Health Center (for patients) 
  6. Baker's locations: Click here to find available appointments
  7. CVS locations: Click here to find available appointments 
  8. Hy-Vee locations: Click here to find available appointments  
  9. Kubat Health Care: Click here to find available appointments
  10. Kohll's Pharmacy:  Click here to find available appointments
  11. Walmart locations: Click here to find available appointments
Walk-ins are now welcomed at most clinics but appointments are still available.  Contact the COVID-19 Information Line at (402) 444-3400

Schedule an Appointment
Vaccine FAQ

District 8 Events

2021 Homestead Exemption Applications
  • Accepted until June 30th; file with the Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds
  • Douglas county homeowners (seniors 65+), disabled individuals, and/or veterans with 100% service-related disabilities may qualify for a homestead exemption, which is a property tax relief program
  • You can find more information on the program here
Castlepalooza at Joslyn Castle
  • Free neighborhood festival on June 5th (3pm-9pm) with live music, activities for families, vendors, food trucks, beverages, and more
Picnics at the Castle
  • Every Thursday in July from 5pm -8pm at Joslyn Castle enjoy a picnic and family-friendly activities. Food trucks will be present or you can bring your own food
National Night Out
  • Save the date for Tuesday, August 2nd 
Keep Clarkson Park Beautiful
  • Seeking volunteers to assist with trash clean-up. Sign up here
2021 JCNA Spring Cleanup
  • May 22nd from 9am-2pm at Duchesne Academy's Parking Lot (36th & California Street) 
  • Free disposal of bulk items too large for normal trash pickup (couches, TVs, computers, anything but hazardous waste) 
2021 Benson Neighborhood Clean-up
  • May 15th from 9am-2pm at Omaha Home for Boys (4343 N. 52nd St)
  • Accepts any bulky household items except tires, batteries, and hazardous waste

Our Office in the News

Lincoln Journal Star - Extended protections for student journalists fail to advance in Legislature
Lincoln Journal Star - State lawmakers advance bill to allow food aid for more Nebraskans
San Francisco Chronicle - Nebraska prison proposal clears big hurdle in Legislature
NET Nebraska - In-state college sports betting ban rejected; budget passes after debate over police, prisons
The Neighbor / Omaha World-Herald - Nebraska budget heads to Ricketts' desk as focus turns to other tax, spending ideas
KETV Omaha -  State takes step forward in building a new prison
The Neighbor / Lincoln Journal Star - Legislature advances police reform bill, looks for compromise on issues concerning rural senators
Newsweek - Radio Host Chris Baker Fired Over 'Racist' Tweet About Derek Chauvin Verdict
Sioux City Journal - Legislature won't consider convention of the states
NET Nebraska - Convention of states blocked in Legislature
Scottsbluff Star Herald - Local journalism teachers disappointed after bill fails
North Platte Telegraph - Lawmakers advance bill creating statewide Farm to School network
Scottsbluff Star Herald / Omaha World-Herald -  Proposed corporate tax cut narrowly survives vote in Nebraska Legislature