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Debate continues on tax commission measure

2013-03-18T14:45:00Z 2013-03-20T11:35:34Z Debate continues on tax commission measureThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 18, 2013 2:45 pm  • 

Lawmakers failed to reach a vote Monday on a measure that would create a Nebraska tax modernization commission.

The Legislature adjourned for the day after two hours  of debate on the proposal, which would launch a comprehensive study of Nebraska's tax climate.

Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus introduced the legislation (LB613) to address a tax system that many view as outdated. Many of the state's current sales tax exemptions were created in the 1960s.

The panel would include all members of the Legislature's Revenue Committee and other committee heads. Members would meet until December 2015. The committee then would dissolve unless lawmakers reauthorized it.

Sen. Ernie Chambers has mounted a filibuster on the bill. Chambers argued Monday that legislation wasn't needed for lawmakers to study the state tax system.

Chambers said he also was upset that the  Revenue Committee had failed to advance one of his bills, a proposal to repeal a new sales tax championed by cities.

Chambers has argued that the law disproportionately affects the poor, because it gives cities the ability to raise their sales taxes to as high as 2 percent, with voter approval. Nebraska cities were opposed to Chambers' measure.

"That Revenue Committee wronged me," Chambers said. "I do not brook wrongs patiently, or with a forgiving spirit."

The Legislature's tax focus shifted to the study this year after Gov. Dave Heineman eased away from his proposal overhaul of the system. Heineman had wanted to eliminate Nebraska's income tax -- or at least reduce what retirees pay -- but his two proposals met resistance from farm groups, manufacturers, hospitals and other groups who benefited from specific sales tax exemptions.

Debate on the tax-study bill continues on Tuesday.

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