2 important bills to know about

March 5, 2019

Once again, state revenues are less than expected.

The Economic Forecasting Board met on Feb. 28 to project future revenues. Its projection sets the maximum amount the state can spend in the next two years. The annual budget is $4.5 billion. Revenue is down by $110 million in total, but is spread over 2.5 years. The cash reserve can absorb $69 million. About $11 million in spending will need to be reduced by 6-30-2019 and $30 million the next two years. Gov. Ricketts proposed a 3.1-percent budget increase. The lower forecast means the budget increase will be limited to 2.8 percent.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity of attending a meet and greet hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9776 and American Legion Post 129 in Ashland. In attendance was Sen. Tom Brewer, Sen. Rob Clements and Mayor of Ashland Rick Grauerholz. Sen. Brewer opened the event by speaking about his six tours in Afghanistan, where he received two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. Following Sen. Brewer’s speech, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with members of the public about a wide variety of topics such as lowering property taxes and supporting our veterans both of which I will continue to support.

This week we have two bills being presented in committee. LB700 on March 6 in the Natural Resources Committee. LB700 deals with adding new deconstruction requirements on underground components for decommissioning wind turbines to ensure the land gets back to its original and serviceable state. Currently, when a wind turbine is decommissioned, the above ground equipment and a few feet of the concrete pad is removed. After a few feet of the concrete pad is removed, about 3 feet of soil is used to cover the remaining concrete in an attempt to return land to a natural state. However, the soil is susceptible to erosion and cannot be effectively farmed or worked. LB700 will ensure wind companies completely remove all equipment above and below ground and return the land to its natural workable state.

LB279 on the other hand will provide a sales tax exemption for food sold by veteran service organizations. These organizations, such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, host fundraising events in which they will sell food to members of the organization and their guest in order to make money to use for veteran services. For example, the Disabled American Veterans use the fundraising money to fund a transportation service to take disabled veterans to scheduled appointments. By providing this sales tax exemption many of these organizations will be able to continue serving veterans and their communities.

Finally, I would like to welcome a new member to my staff -- my new Legislative Aide Noah Borgmann. Noah has been with us for about three weeks now and has been learning all the ins and outs of the Nebraska State Legislature. Prior to this, he was working at Sandhills Publishing and recently graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Originally he is from just outside of our district in Arlington, Nebraska. Welcome Noah!

I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

Bruce Bostelman is a Nebraska state senator representing Butler and Saunders counties, as well as most of Colfax County in Legislative District 23.