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(Audio) Nebraska lawmakers gear up for 2020 legislative session

(Audio) Nebraska lawmakers gear up for 2020 legislative session
RRN/ Sen. Matt Williams.

Property tax reduction & business tax incentives are among the list of concerns for lawmakers who will convene the next legislative session on January 8, 2020.  It will be the shorter, 60 day session.  

 

Courtesy/ Nebraska Legislature. Sen. Matt Williams.

Property tax relief 

Lexington, Neb.  — The Legislature’s Revenue Committee spent the summer months looking at various proposals for providing property tax relief.  Gothenburg  Sen. Matt Williams  is optimistic a proposal will come out that has more universal appeal.  Sen. Williams tells the Rural Radio Network  (RRN) one of the problems lawmakers have had for several years is, if you’re going to reduce property tax, you have to have a revenue source to do so…

(Audio)   williams-property tax 1 12-11-19

Sen. Williams also cautions that everyone needs to keep their expectations in check because of  many demands for services — good roads to drive on, good education for kids, the need to lock up criminals and the need to take care of those who are less fortunate.

The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board met in late October and projected the state will get an extra $266 million in tax revenue for the state budget between now and June 2021.

Nebraska Unicameral

Business tax incentives 

Sen.  Williams says LB 720, which adopts the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, is a measure that would modernize Nebraska’s economic development program to encourage new business to relocate in the state and retain existing business. Williams tells the RRN it was introduced as a replacement for the Nebraska Advantage Act…

(Audio)   williams-imagine nebraska 1 12-11-19

Senator Williams says the updated incentive program is needed to try to cut down on “brain drain” which occurs when talented people leave the state for other states….

(Audio)  williams-brain drain 12-12-19 (2)

The State Department of Labor projects over 34,000 openings in H3 occupations every year through 2026. 13 of Nebraska’s 93 counties don’t have a primary care physician. Former University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds said that in his talks with a Scottsbluff hospital administrator, the administrator wouldn’t hesitate to hire 50 more nurses if the candidates were there.

LB 720 remains on Select File and will be debated by the full Legislature during the second session, which begins on January 8, 2020.

Medicaid reimbursement of nursing homes

Sen. Williams says the Legislature’s Health & Human Services Committee, which he sits on,  has spent a considerable amount of time discussing  Medicaid  reimbursement of nursing homes.   Sen. Williams says there are about 205 nursing homes in the state and 14 have closed over the past year due to financial issues.  Williams says 13 of those were in rural areas, including one in his 36th district,  in Broken Bow.  Williams says medicaid reimbursement of nursing homes is lagging and as a result, nursing homes are struggling to survive…

“Medicaid reimbursement methodology is very inequitable. We have a nursing home receiving as little as $115 per day reimbursement…and another nursing home providing the same level of service receiving $265 per day. We have put together a working group…working with the department heads at HHS (Health & Human Services Department) on this issue…working on coming up with a new rate methodology.”

Sen. Williams is a member of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee which has held numerous hearings to attempt  to get a grip on the problem. Williams says legislation is going to be introduced in the 2020 legislative session that proposes a more equitable way to distribute medicaid reimbursement dollars to nursing homes.

Sen. Williams says continuing problems in the prison system is another topic likely to enter the picture.

Sen. Williams says issues he  has been working on include a measure involving financial literacy and another on elder abuse, particularly legislation that could help when it comes to scams and schemes that prey on the elderly.

 

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