LINCOLN, Nebraska (KTIV) – Nebraska lawmakers have kicked off a new legislative session that promises to include debate on several challenging issues.
Proposals to balance a tight state budget and lower property taxes are two of many topics to be tackled during the 90-day session.
Another big topic that is expected to be discussed- a constitutional amendment to give Nebraskans the right to use marijuana for medical purposes.
“Do you so swear or confirm?” “I swear” “In that case, congratulations”
Wednesday’s session began with 13 new state lawmakers formally taking office in the Nebraska Legislature.
“You’ve got people with experience in agriculture and higher education, young professionals, entrepreneurs,” said Gov. Pete Ricketts, (R) Nebraska. “And so they’ll be able to bring a different perspective. And what I hope, is that they’ve been hearing from their constituents the importance of property tax relief- and that they’ll be able to bring a collaborative spirit to be able to work on that.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts, who will be sworn into office on Thursday, says relieving property taxes is his top priority.
“The last two years we’ve been stalled in the legislature by filibusters,” said Gov. Ricketts. “And so next week I’ll be coming back with additional proposals for property tax relief.”
“We just have to move that pendulum,” said Sen. Joni Albrecht, (R) District 17. “Because people are struggling-especially in District 17 where I serve. I mean we have farmers that, I don’t know what you would do if you’re just a grain farmer and trying to meet your obligations for property tax.”
Gov. Ricketts and lawmakers also face the state’s budget challenges this year.
“What we have to do is prioritize our spending,” adds Gov. Ricketts. “We have to live within our means just like every Nebraska family has to do.”
Lawmakers will also consider proposals to legalize medical marijuana-
“There’s cause and effect to everything that we do,” adds Sen. Albrecht. “I want to see the data that they have. And I want to know that the medical field and pharmacies are truly understanding that this could help people.”
Some senators and activists promise to put the issue on the 2020 ballot, if nothing passes this year.
Senators will introduce legislation during the session’s first 10 days.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is also proposing a tax exemption on military retirement pay in an effort to keep retirees from leaving the state.