The final days of the legislative session are always known for a few things: long agendas, late nights, frantic compromise discussions, and lots of crazy turns, frequently about things that seem to come out of nowhere.  We’ve seen all of those things in the waning days of the 2024 session, and with only four scheduled session days left, we haven’t seen the last of anything yet.

Senators have been in a rush to finish as many of the outstanding priority bills as they can that remain for discussion, hence the long agendas and late nights.  At the end of last week, Speaker John Arch noted that there were still over 100 bills to make their way through the second and third rounds of debate.  Due to the timing necessary because of legislative rules, the Speaker had requested that all General File (first round) debate be completed last week. Even with that directive, at least three bills remain on the agenda on General File this week.  These bills will have to complete first round debate by midnight tonight to have any hope of becoming law.

Although frantic compromise discussions are taking place on every outstanding bill with any opposition, by far the one getting the most attention is on the Governor’s tax bill, LB 388.  LB 388 is the revenue raising piece of a two-bill strategy to address the high property tax burden felt by Nebraskans all over the state.  Its companion bill, LB 1331, deals with the way those increased revenues will be directed in order for taxpayers to realize relief.  Both bills will have to pass in order for the original plan to succeed.  LB 388 advanced from General File last week but only after a proposed 1% sales tax increase was removed from the bill and Chairwoman Lou Ann Linehan indicated she would be seeking a compromise to move the bill forward.  We expect to see some version on tomorrow’s agenda, but details are very limited on what the bill will include.  We are also aware of a major concern on TIF financing in the current draft of LB 1331 and are supporting the City of Omaha in their efforts to attach an amendment addressing this issue.  However, LB 1331 will not be taken up again if LB 388 does not pass in some form.

Finally, in the things that come out of nowhere file, a last-ditch effort to address winner-take-all in Nebraska arose at the very last-minute last week following a national push for Nebraska to change the way we allocate our state’s presidential electors.  Because the underlying bill had not been prioritized, the issue did not come to the floor during the session, but there was an attempt to attach it to another bill last week.  Those efforts were unsuccessful, but there is still a fair amount of Twitter (X) chatter from national partisans, including a push to address this issue in a special session.

Governor Pillen has been vocal about floating the idea of a special session in case the Legislature does not enact a property tax plan that meets his specifications.  Could we see a combination property tax/winner-take-all special session during the summer?  That would certainly qualify as a crazy turn.

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