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Did you know that an added benefit of your membership with the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce is a consistent outreach to elected officials at all levels of government, advocating for a strong local economy?

The 2021 Legislative session begins tomorrow for Nebraska so we will be tracking the bills that come to the floor and relaying them back to our members. The 2021 session comes with a lot of COVID legislation, re-districting, and budgeting based on a pandemic effected economy.

Here are the bills we at the Chamber will be watching:

Taxes - simplification by offering a flatter system that will reduce the need to offer tax incentives for companies to increase jobs and expand.

COVID Legislation - Major topics like protection for businesses from COVID related lawsuits, rural broadband internet, masks in legislative session.

A brief summary of the COVID legislation is as follows:

  • Retroactively raises the evidentiary standard to the clear and convincing standard rather than preponderance of the evidence. We continue to study this issue; however, Nebraska case law indicates retroactively raising the standard of care would be unconstitutional. As such, we have adopted a retroactive raising of the bar through the evidentiary standard.

  • Prospectively upon enactment raises the evidentiary standard to the clear and convincing standard and modifies the standard of care from negligence to gross negligence or willful misconduct.

  • From enactment would provide premises liability protection so long as a person is not engaging in gross negligence or willful misconduct.

  • From enactment would provide a safe harbor for persons following public health guidance.

  • From enactment would provide liability protection for health care providers and facilities so long as they are not engaging in gross negligence or willful misconduct.

  • Limits the statute of limitations to two years.

Budget - creating and leveraging a budget to meet the needs of all Nebraskans. Governor Ricketts is expected to ask for $115 million for a new prison that is being proposed.

If the current trend of tax collections holds, the state will have more revenue than expected when the COVID-19 crisis began in March. A November report from the Nebraska Department of Revenue indicated that overall gross tax collections were above forecast, as were sales and individual income taxes.

To-go drink extension - whether or not to continue the to-go alcohol option for restaurants.


ImagineNE Act - Applications are available. On August 17, 2020, LB1107 was passed by the Nebraska State Legislature and signed by Governor Ricketts. Included in the bill was the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, which became effective on January 1, 2021.

The ImagiNE Nebraska Act is a comprehensive economic development incentives package that meets the needs of businesses expanding in or relocating to Nebraska.

Updates from the Small Business Policy Council - Derek will be the Chair this year which brings more of a spotlight to Central Nebraska and Kearney. If there is legislation that you feel would benefit your small business, please let Derek know and he will bring it to the Council for review.

Of course, the biggest pause for action will be whether or not the session can happen uninterrupted. We are hoping for the best outcome for our businesses and are sending our best wishes to our senators for a successful and peaceful session.

Keep watch on our blog for updates over the next few months.

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