LINCOLN–Twenty-four bills were passed before the second session of the 105th Nebraska Legislature adjourned late Wednesday afternoon.
Senators unanimously passed a bill that will require payday lenders to provide borrowers with more information. LB 194 will require lenders to notify borrowers in writing about the transaction date and amount, as well as payment due date and total payment due.
Also under LB 194, payday loans will not be allowed to exceed $500 and borrowers will have the right to rescind a transaction by the end of the next business day. Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, said lenders can charge more than 400 percent interest on loans, which contributes to poverty and debt.
Also passed Wednesday was LB 496, a bill that will allow some cities to use tax increment financing to support the construction of workforce housing. LB 496, sponsored by Gering Sen. John Stinner, will allow any municipality in a county with less than 100,000 residents to incorporate the construction of single or multi-family housing as part of a redevelopment project eligible for TIF.
The bill allows the use of TIF to also finance workforce housing in communities with high unemployment and poverty rates. Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard, spoke out against the bill, saying it would place more pressure on taxpayers across the state since taxes on homes funded through TIF are tax exempt for 15 years. Stinner invoked a cloture motion, and the bill passed on a 35-8 vote.
Social workers will be placed in each of the state’s 17 educational service units to help students with mental health and behavioral issues under LB 998. Introduced by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, LB 998 will create a fund allowing each ESU to hire a social worker to help train teachers and other school employees on how to better connect with students dealing with mental or behavior health issues. The program’s funding will be limited to private donations and end in 2022. The bill passed on a vote of 31-15.
A bill that would require bottle clubs to be licensed was passed on a 48-0 vote. LB 1120, sponsored by O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson, will require bottle clubs, or establishments where private members are able to bring and consume their own alcohol, to be licensed. The club licensee will not be able to obtain any other license under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act, and all clubs will have to be closed between 5 and 6 a.m. The bill also will allow liquor license applicants to apply for a rehearing should they be denied by the Liquor Control Commission.
After these and an assortment of other bills were passed, Gov. Pete Ricketts gave a farewell address for the end of the session. The governor commended lawmakers for working together in a collaborative effort.
“This session underscores the importance of collaboration–working together,” Ricketts said. “And how by doing that, we can accomplish more.”
The governor praised senators’ work on passing bills related to highway speed limits, education, expanding health care, combating opioid abuse and “some” progress on tax reform.
Ricketts said that while senators were unable to agree on legislation that would provide property tax relief, there would be ongoing efforts in the future to achieve that goal.
“Tax relief is controlling our spending and putting more money back into the pockets of hardworking Nebraskans,” Ricketts said during his 10-minute address. “And within that framework, I will work continuously with senators and other groups on how we can achieve property tax relief for our hardworking Nebraskans.”