News and Updates from the Nebraska Unicameral
Every week during the 2013 Legislative session, Nebraska Appleseed will publish a Legislative Update.
In these updates we will keep you informed on the progression of bills Appleseed is interested in, including Legislative testimony given by Appleseed staff, as well as ways you can get involved and make your voice heard on the issues important to you.
The Legislature went into session on January 9, and already there has been a flurry of activity.
State of the State Address
On January 15, Governor Heineman delivered his State of the State Address, in which he laid out his priorities for the coming year. Most of the address centered on the Governor’s plan to eliminate state personal income and corporate taxes.
Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Becky Gould issued this response to the State of the State Address.
While Appleseed was disappointed there was no mention in the address of the new Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act or of the need for further reforms to our state’s child welfare system, we remain committed to advocate strongly for these priorities in the 2013 Legislative session.
Responsible Tax Policies
On January 14, Nebraska Appleseed joined with a number of Nebraska groups and residents at the Nebraska State Capitol to call for strategic financial investments to rebuild Nebraska.
With the Nebraska economy on solid footing, it is time to take steps to strengthen the future of our state by restoring funding to key priorities for the state, like our schools, access to health care, and our local governments. By investing in our communities, we can preserve the high quality of life Nebraskans work so hard for.
On Friday, January 18, the Governor released his state budget proposal, reflecting the idea set forth in his State of the State Address to eliminate the state personal and corporate income tax.
Such a drastic shift in the tax system is very risky, according to Professor Richard Pomp, a national expert on tax policy and the keynote speaker at a Tax Policy Symposium organized by OpenSky Policy Institute on January 17.
Professor Pomp told the audience, which included several state senators, that small and specific changes to a tax system are much better than broad, radical shifts that cause volatility in revenue projections. He also said states without personal income taxes usually have geographic advantages Nebraska doesn’t have – like natural resource development or tourism industries – which the state can tax to make up the loss of income tax revenue.
Appleseed is concerned eliminating the state income tax could have a risky and unpredictable effect on Nebraska families and businesses, endangering The Good Life our residents work so hard for.
Bills of Interest
LB 216 – A bill introduced by Senator Amanda McGill that would extend some services and support that are available to youth in our foster care system to the age of 21. Under current law, these services and support end at age 19.
Sarah Helvey, Appleseed’s Child Welfare program director, made this statement in support of LB 216.
LB 309 – A bill introduced by Senator Kate Bolz that would simplify the delivery of public benefits in Nebraska.
Appleseed is committed to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our state’s public benefits delivery system, also called ACCESS Nebraska. This system must function better, to ensure that those in need of basic assistance will be able to access the help they need to build a better life for their families.
LB 330 – A bill introduced by Senator Gwen Howard which raises gross income eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Appleseed is in favor of this bill because it rewards hard work while still making sure low-income families can remain food secure.
LB 368 – A bill introduced by Senator Sue Crawford that would allow some employers to receive wage subsidies to hire workers that are in need of job training and experience.
Appleseed feels this bill is a win-win for businesses that are looking to expand and for workers in need of job experience. This program will help build job skills to strengthen the Nebraska economy.
LB 381 – A bill introduced by Senator Charlie Janssen that would require Nebraska citizens to have a photo identification with their current address in order vote in elections.
Appleseed is strongly opposed to such an exclusionary voter suppression bill. It is an unnecessary roadblock to the democratic process that undermines the voting rights of many older Nebraskans, Nebraskans that live in rural areas, and Nebraskans with low incomes.
Stay up to date on Appleseed’s issues
You can keep up with all the exciting happenings at the Legislature by following Appleseed on our social media pages. Like our Facebook page and follow issues and legislative hearings in real-time on Appleseed’s Twitter feed.
Plus, stop by our Appleseed Blog for opinion pieces, informative updates, news stories, and videos of what we’re working on throughout 2013.
We will keep you updated on the latest bill introductions, hearings, and floor debate. And, we’ll let you know how you can get involved and make your voice heard!