Apr 23 2022

Putting a Bow on the 2022 Legislative Session


As the 107th Legislature ended the 2022 legislative session last Wednesday, the Sine Die pronouncement marked the end of a busy and productive session at the Capitol.

The shorter 60-day session had some unique challenges, including how our state would appropriate and make effective use of over $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. When all of the requests were heard by the Legislature, over $4 billion in asks were made for programs and other investments across the state, so it was certainly no small task for senators to work through all of the items and formulate appropriate policy as a result.

Our state’s economic vitality and continued success also played a part in policymaking this session. Nebraska has weathered the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and emerged with a stronger economy than most states across the country and has even been rated as the very top state when it comes to economic conditions in a post-pandemic landscape. 

The “Chamber Coalition” - which includes the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Nebraska Chamber, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and the NE Chamber of Commerce Executives - submitted testimony in support of LB1014 to show support for a full allocation of the federal funds and for several proposals under the expansive measure, including $100M for shovel-ready projects by nonprofits. LB1014 was adopted on a 40-4 vote and signed into law.

While much work remains for future sessions, the 2022 edition saw crucial pieces of legislation pass, including LB873, which provides historic tax relief to Nebraskans, and LR283CA, a Constitutional amendment that would allow airports across the state to spend revenue toward developing commercial passenger air service.

On the topic of tax relief, LB873 will lower the state’s top corporate and income tax rates to 5.84 percent over the next few years, helping to keep our state competitive with surrounding states that offer lower tax rates. LB873 as a whole, cuts income taxes, exempts social security income and ensures significant property tax relief for Nebraskans. We extend our thanks to all Lincoln and Lancaster County senators who voted for this historic tax package in addition to the many proponents who testified on behalf of the Chamber to support this measure.

Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Chair of the Revenue Committee, deserves a huge than you for her leadership and perseverance. Also, Speaker Mike Hilgers, Senator John Stinner, Senator Brett Lindstrom, Senator Tom Briese and Senator Curt Friesen were instrumental in getting the omnibus tax package across the finish line.

Ultimately, nearly $700 million in funding is allotted to what have been dubbed “The Good Life Game Changer” policies that address workforce, infrastructure and economic growth priorities through ARPA funds. LB1112 from Senator Terrell McKinney of Omaha would create the Computer Science Technology and Education Act, which intends to address the tech talent workforce crisis. The goal of LB1112 is to prepare Nebraska’s K-12 public school students to compete and thrive in a 21st century workforce. LB1167 was included in the final budget bills, which would provide $20 million of additional general fund support to the Intern Nebraska program and ultimately updates several critical components of the program to make it more flexible and business friendly. Additional funding was also advanced for job-training and apprenticeship programs.

These workforce development enhancements will prove to be incredibly important to growing Lincoln businesses and attracting and retaining talent in our city and in our state.

Two major water bills were also signed into law, including LB1023, known as the STARWARS proposal, and LB1015, which authorizes the Perkins County Canal project. Finding a second sustainable source of water for the city of Lincoln remains an issue that will be of utmost importance going forward. LB1081 from Senator Eliot Bostar was modified to appropriate $20 million in federal funds for the study of Lincoln’s secondary water source. Senator Anna Wishart and Senator Bostar worked hard to get $20 million in funds for this effort under LB1014, which was enacted into law on April 7 on a 40-4 vote.

Finally, and very importantly, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce worked closely with Senator Bostar and a host of other community supporters, including the Lincoln Airport Authority, the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County, to pass LR 283 CA, which will provide a very important financial tool for the Lincoln Airport and other smaller airports across the state to attract air service. This was a top issue for the Lincoln Chamber, and we are very pleased to see this issue placed on the November 2022 ballot for all Nebraskans to support. As noted earlier, Senator Bostar was the lead sponsor, however, the following co-sponsors should also be thanked for their supporting role: Senator Ray Aguilar, Senator Mike Flood, Senator Suzanne Geist, Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Senator John Stinner, Senator Patty Pansing Brooks, Senator Adam Morfeld, Senator Mike Jacobson and Senator Matt Hansen. This was a bipartisan, statewide effort with 47 of 49 senators in support and two not voting.

The 2022 session proved to be successful in tackling many larger projects and policies that can help our city and state prosper. We thank the 13 outgoing senators who will exit due to term limits or are not seeking re-election for their continued collaboration over their tenures in office—it will not be easy to replace their leadership and commitment to Nebraska and public office.