A BAKER’S DOZEN

The timing was perfect for Mike and I to welcome our 13th grandchild into the world!

My daughter and son-in-law, Michaela and Lee Kortus, are celebrating the arrival of their third daughter, Berkley Grace. Berkley arrived between hearing days, while I was not in session. I had the joy of staying with Berkley’s big sisters, McKynlee and Landrie, and we had a delightful time. I am blessed beyond measure.

ENERGY IN NEBRASKA

With the extreme weather conditions, it seems like the subjects of electricity and energy are being discussed from coffee shops to Capitals across the nation. I had a chance this week to sit down with James Dukesherer, from the Nebraska Rural Electric Association, to discuss what District 17 residents and Nebraskans as a whole can expect when the Nation’s energy resources are drained. I came away from our conversation very thankful for the hard work NREA does to provide excellent service and customer relationships with the people of our District.

THANK YOU TRUCKING INDUSTRY

When the weather gets as cold as it did this week, additional commercial motor vehicles and motor carriers are called on to transport fuel to meet the increased energy needs. In response, Governor Pete Ricketts signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency, facilitating the granting of a waiver that allowed motor vehicles and carriers to operate for extended hours effective February 15-19. I want to say a special “thank you” to those in the trucking industry in District 17 and across this great State, for their hard work and extraordinary efforts. Similar to this summer when Covid hit us so hard, truckers across Nebraska are carrying the supplies needed for our citizens to be able to thrive. Thank you for your amazing fortitude and diligence. We appreciate you!

INHERITANCE TAX RELIEF BILL

This has been an intense week in the Revenue Committee hearing bills relating to Nebraska’s inheritance taxes. Nebraska currently has the nation’s top inheritance tax rate, 18%, on remote relatives and non-related heirs. Of the six states that currently impose inheritance taxes, only two states, Nebraska and Pennsylvania, have chosen to tax lineal heirs (children and grandchildren), while the others exempt these relatives. Inheritance Taxes have changed significantly in the state since 2007.

Senator Robert Clements of Elmwood is introducing LB310 which would cut state inheritance tax rates while increasing the amount of property value that is exempt from the tax. Nebraska is one of only six states that impose an inheritance tax. Inheritance tax revenue, which is collected by counties, has increased by approximately 5 percent per year for the past 27 years, much faster than inflation. This bill would cut rates in half on each of the three classes of beneficiaries subject to the tax over three years while allowing exemptions to increase at a rate close to inflation. LB310, would modernize Nebraska’s tax code. Most states repealed their inheritance and estate taxes after a federal tax change in the early 2000’s.

DISTRICT 17 COVID-19

The number of positive tests reported for the periods February 11, 2021, and February 18, 2021 in District 17 are as follow:

Dakota County +14 (3841)

Thurston County: +4 (1090)

Wayne County: +10 (1031)

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

In other news

Last month, we crossed a grim milestone. COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in the United States during the month of January, the first time that has happened since the pandemic began last March. But another, less visible killer has been with us much longer than the coronavirus.

Since my last column, a couple of my bills have moved forward. My daylight saving time bill moved out of committee last week, and we had the opportunity to debate several bills on the floor of the legislature on the morning of February 16. My bill to enhance military reservist tuition credit…

Here’s a tweet I wrote this week: “I’ve been in meetings with @BillGates. I respect his intellect and desire for social responsibility by the world’s wealthy. On this idea, though, maybe he should come to #Nebraska and learn a little more. #NoFakeMeat.”

The Legislature passed the one-third mark this week in the 90-day legislative session. The Appropriations Committee also presented their preliminary recommendations for the biennial budget. This provides a starting point for discussion of the various budget actions suggested so far. After th…

The second week of February of your 2021 Unicameral Legislature has been very energetic. As of February 11th, I have testified before the Health and Human Services Committee, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and the Revenue Committee for 8 out of my 10 bills. Mondays are …

In the last couple of weeks, the legislature has been holding all-day hearings, an unprecedented move in an unusual year. In that time, a majority of my bills have had a public hearing, and one of them has already taken another step toward passage. LB 4, a bill to eliminate a 10-year militar…

LINCOLN — Since the Nebraska Legislature reconvened on Jan. 6, state senators have introduced new bills ranging from reducing military retiree tax liability to providing private school scholarships and enhancing youth rights in state care. Here is a brief rundown of bills introduced during t…