Native Information: Subjects diversified at Espresso with a Cop with Sen. Hughes (8/19/21)

Senator Dan Hughes, right, spoke to a number of voters at McCook Gazette’s Coffee with a Cop in Sehnert’s Bieroc Cafe on Wednesday.

Shary Skiles / McCook Gazette

McCOOK, Neb. – To outline some of the accomplishments of the last legislature, Senator Dan Hughes opened the “Coffee with a Cop” meeting. Wednesday hosted by McCook Gazette.

Highlights of the last session cited corporate COVID-19 liability protection, carbon sequestration, limiting the taxation of bonds on agricultural land, and funding broadband grants of $ 20 million. Senator Hughes also pointed out that cutting taxes was a priority for the legislature, as evidenced by the phasing out of state income tax on social security benefits; Abolition of state taxes on military pension benefits; and a reduction in the state’s corporate tax rate.

Senator Hughes said the state will provide approximately $ 1.7 billion in property tax breaks for owners of residential, commercial and agricultural real estate over the next two years. He said that LB1107, which was passed in 2020, provided a property tax relief fund and since government revenues were “severely underestimated” the fund has grown at a rapid pace. So, over the next two years, there will be a significant amount of property tax relief for those paying residential, commercial, and agricultural property taxes. Well after that we have to see ?? Hughes went on to say, further stating that beyond the next two years would depend on future lawmakers and future government revenues.

Senator Hughes told the gathering that government revenues (personal income tax, corporation tax, and sales tax) typically grow between 4 and 4.5 percent a year. Nebraska is on track to grow 14 percent this year. Senator Hughes cited the main reasons for the increase in government stimulus money flowing through the economy and improved agriculture. As a result, the state is a ?? rainy day ?? Fund has grown to nearly a billion dollars. “This is good because we all know that sooner or later we are going to get into a recession and need those dollars to pay for the things we introduced.”

Senator Hughes also spoke about the redistribution process. As a result of the last census, the rural population has decreased while the urban areas of the state have increased. Senator Hughes said that each legislative district currently represents between 35 and 36,000 people, but the new district must be around 40,000. The 44th borough is ten counties in southwestern Nebraska – we have about 5,000 residents. So this district needs to grow a bit to stay intact.

He expects legislative and congressional districts to be “a pretty big fight”. when the legislature meets for a special session from September 13th to redraw the legislative lines. He hopes the process will be completed by the end of September so that he can return to the field in time to pick corn.

Voters expressed concern about the legislative imbalance as well as national elections. One voter pointed out that the vote to expand Medicaid in Nebraska was rejected by all but three counties, all of which were urban (Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster). Due to the population imbalance, the ballot paper was accepted.

?? Really the only way to do this is by making our rural communities more attractive and stopping migration to the cities ?? Senator Hughes replied. Good jobs, schools, recreation, housing, broadband and health care are important issues. Senator Hughes also pointed out that lower crime rates make rural Nebraska attractive, “but we need to communicate this to the people we need to relocate.” He also said, “You can’t wait for someone else to come and start a business here. It has to come from within.

Currently Sen. Hughes is the chairman of the Star Wars committee, which seems to have a somewhat misleading name. The nationwide Special Committee on Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability is conducting a comprehensive study to identify potential projects and opportunities to improve economic development, tourism and recreation, flood control and water sustainability. As part of this study, Sen. Hughes travels the state in search of tourism, business development, and population growth opportunities around Nebraska’s water resources.

At the next session, Senator Hughes is considering a bill to increase the speed limit on Interstate 80 west of Grand Island to 80 miles an hour. He also wants to continue to find ways to make the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission more “landowner-friendly”. He said he would also like additional oversight for the Nebraska Board of Educational Lands and Funds. He told voters that he would not be “really aggressive”. at its last meeting, as his term expired after the 60-day meeting starting January 2022. He cannot run again due to term restrictions.

Voters also asked Sen. Hughes about the unicameral lack of cooperation. ?? The mood in the legislature has changed. It’s not as warm or personable as it used to be, ?? said Senator Hughes. ?? I think we’re seeing this at the federal level, and that has certainly carried over to the state of Nebraska in the legislature. Part of this problem is tenure limits.

Senator Hughes told the group that he anticipated the Nebraska voter’s ID card to be an electoral issue. If the government loses the credibility of the voters, then the government is no more said Hughes. When a voter ID bill is passed, lawmakers will be challenged to provide the logistics of an ID card while ensuring that the polls are accessible to all eligible voters.

Another question that Senator Hughes raised was labor shortages. One voter felt that government support was too readily available for some people, eliminating the need and desire for work. ?? As a society, we need to take care of those who have fewer advantages ?? said Senator Hughes. ?? But at what level? What is a disability and what is not a disability? And how do we compensate for that ???

Senator Hughes shared a comment from former State Senator Tom Vickers. When I first ran [Sen. Vickers] They know that as time goes on in Lincoln, you will become more liberal. Not because your values ​​change, but because you see that the need is so great. These are words that I will always remember because they are true. We don’t see the challenges at McCook and Imperial that they see at Lincoln and Omaha.

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