The Legislature is hitting the home stretch in the 2024 session. While there are only 14 working days left, in real time that stretches out to almost four more weeks. Senators began working into the evening and late nights on Mondays and are scheduled to do so approximately three nights per week for the remainder of the session. Generally, this means adjourning somewhere around 9PM every night, although progress on the day’s agenda can sometimes vary their closing times. Time is running short to finish consideration of the all the priority bills for the year. Speaker John Arch has noted that approximately one half of priority bills (54) still sit on General File, with a number of others still pending in committee.

This week has already seen the state budget advance from the second round of debate. The full Legislature mostly followed the recommendations of the Appropriations Committee, with the exception of two items on the Chamber’s radar. The first was the successful adoption of an amendment from Senator Terrell McKinney, which added additional dollars for middle income housing needs across the state.

The second was a change to the Governor’s budget proposal to “sweep” a number of cash funds for revenue to put towards property tax relief. One of the targets of those transfers was a proposed $70 million reduction from the state unemployment insurance trust fund. Employers pay into this fund voluntarily to provide a backstop for federal unemployment benefits in case of a downturn in the economy. The Chamber opposed this transfer because we believe that employers who paid into the fund for a specific purpose should not have their contributions used for unrelated functions.

In the end, the Legislature reduced the cash fund transfer to $30 million, and directed $40 million to a new workforce development cash fund housed at the Department of Labor. Senators also adopted an amendment that would give employers a five-year break from paying into the fund, since the fund balance is so high.

While the budget action was taking up a good deal of floor time, our eyes were also on discussions taking place in the Revenue Committee. Committee members have been meeting every day in hopes of putting together a property tax package. We expect to learn details of that package today or tomorrow and floor debate on the proposal will start as early as next week.

As always, we appreciate your attention and input on legislative matters and encourage you to contact if you would like to share your thoughts or seek additional information. The Omaha Chamber Public Policy’s number one priority is to advocate for our members and to be your voice in Lincoln, and that job is tremendously easier when we are able to share your stories and concerns with lawmakers.

For more information, visit our Public Policy page or contact Jennifer Creager at 402.474.4960.