Senator Albrecht Highlights Shorter Session To Convene January 5, Second Letter Sent To State College System

WAYNE – With the clocks set back an extra 60 minutes earlier this month, District 17 Senator Joni Albrecht began her weekly update with a discussion on Daylight Saving Time.

According to a release from the office of Senator Albrecht, she signed onto Senator Tom Briese’s LB 283 last session which would implement year-round Daylight Saving Time in Nebraska. If passed the bill would not take effect until the Federal Government allows states to do so, and until two neighboring states adopt similar year-round time legislation.

Senator Albrecht also reflected on the accomplishments of the State Senators this year, “I can honestly say we did our jobs well. On the last day of the first Session Governor Pete Ricketts highlighted the historic results when he said, ‘the budget passed by these Senators provides combined tax relief of over $1.8 billion to Nebraskans over the next two years. That’s the greatest amount of tax relief any Legislature has delivered in at least a quarter-century—and likely the largest amount in the history of the State of Nebraska. This represents an average of 18.5% of the State’s budget over the next two years.’”

During the address, the Governor thanked the Senators for making historic progress on the key priorities he set in January, including property tax relief, veterans tax relief, and broadband infrastructure. Governor Ricketts praised the Unicameral for controlling spending in the State’s next two-year budget. We also took care of our Constitutional duties concerning redistricting and we now prepare for the upcoming session starting in January. Nebraskans deserve no less than our best. We are a great state full of hard working, rock solid Americans. I am proud to represent you.

All Legislative Sessions are divided into two parts, first a 90 day Session and then a 60 day Session. The 107th Legislature, Second Session will convene January 5, 2022. Due to the shorter timeframe, it is key for all Senators to get their bills written and introduced early in order to allow them to be prioritized by the Speaker of the House.

Senator Albrecht provided a refresher about how a law is created in the Unicameral.

“The lawmaking process in Nebraska officially begins when a Senator introduces a bill into the Legislature, which meets each January. But the process actually begins much earlier, when a Senator first begins to formulate ideas for new laws. An idea for a new law may be suggested by anyone: concerned citizens, special interest groups, state agencies or the governor.”

Senator Albrecht continues, “but before the Legislature can formally consider the idea, it must be introduced as a bill by a Senator or legislative committee. Committees debate and propose amendments to bills, and the full Legislature has an opportunity to debate each bill at least two times before its final passage. Senators may propose amendments to alter a bill at each stage of debate.”

Find further information on how a bill becomes a Nebraska state law and refer to the corresponding chart of the process at the user friendly Legislative website at www.nebraska legislature.gov.

A second letter has also been sent to the Nebraska State College System.

Senator Albrecht said “in response to public pressure, the Nebraska State College System made inconsequential revisions to their proposed gender identity discrimination language this week by using a vague, less descriptive definition for gender identity discrimination. I want everyone to be treated with dignity but the changes to the proposed policies create a situation where students and employees who don’t use someone’s preferred pronoun could still be guilty of harassment or discrimination.”

Senator Albrecht continued, “these are clearly controversial and divisive policies. I, representing Wayne State, have joined Senator Brewer representing Chadron State and Senator Slama representing Peru State, in sending a second letter to the Nebraska State College Board of Trustees this week stressing that the changes made have done nothing to alleviate our concerns. We asked them to cease moving forward with such radical positions that do not reflect the majority of Nebraskans.”

Also, with tax season upon us, 58.5% of the property tax relief offered under the new Nebraska Property Tax Incentive Act has been claimed. This is the program established last year that offers an income tax credit for a share of the school property taxes Nebraskans pay. In total, $73 million of $125 million in credits have been issued.

Senator Albrecht mentioned, “this means a lot of Nebraskans are leaving more than $50 million they’re owed on the table. Maybe these are absentee owners who don’t file taxes in Nebraska. It could be that a taxpayer files their own taxes and doesn’t understand the process to claim the tax relief. Or a landowner who owns several parcels of land might find it daunting to navigate the filing process. I want to encourage you to look into the opportunity to save on your property taxes. Next year, Nebraskans will have a much greater incentive to be aware and to claim their portion of the credit, because its value is expected to increase by more than 300%.”

Senator Albrecht said, “Since state revenues came in strong in 2021, lawmakers are on track to provide $548 million to Nebraskans as they file their taxes next time. That could mean a sizable reduction to your state income tax bill, or even a big refund, depending on your tax situation. According to Governor Ricketts the Refundable Income Tax Credit created in LB 1107 this year is set to grow as tax revenues exceed expectations. Last year, the credit was worth $125 million statewide, offsetting 6% of local school property taxes. This year, the credit will jump to $548 million. This will offset 25.3% of your local school property taxes. Taxpayers will receive this credit when they file their state income taxes in 2022. *Excerpts from the Platte Institute.”

If you have any comments or concerns, contact Senator Albrecht at 402-471-2716 or email jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

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