News Release: Legislative Bill Tracking for April 29

NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute 

Contact: Adam Weinberg
(402) 452-3737
aweinberg@platteinstitute.org

Legislative Bill Tracking for April 29
Final Votes on Cottage Food Bill & Occupation Tax Transparency

 

LINCOLN, NE – Two bills supported by the Platte Institute appear at the top of today’s Final Reading agenda in the Unicameral.

Sen. Sue Crawford’s Legislative Bill 304 is currently first on the agenda. The bill has been prioritized by Sen. Ben Hansen.    

LB304 expands Nebraska’s cottage food law, which currently allows certain non-potentially hazardous homemade foods to be sold at farmers markets with the disclaimer that they are not produced in an inspected commercial kitchen.

LB304 would allow the same food products currently sold at farmers markets to be sold from home or online. The bill includes an Agriculture Committee amendment which would require cottage food producers to register with the Department of Agriculture, complete a food safety course, and have any private wells used in making food items be tested for contamination by nitrates or bacteria.

“In rural Nebraska, there are often limited flexible income-earning opportunities, particularly for women. Some individuals have an elderly parent or a family member with special needs and cannot work outside the home. Stay at home parents may want to earn extra income to help cover expenses for their children’s activities such as scouting, dance lessons, music lessons and sports,” said Platte Institute Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox.

“The Platte Institute views LB304 as a win for food entrepreneurs, and it will help grow Nebraska’s economy,” said Fox.

Sen. Mike McDonnell’s Legislative Bill 445 is the third bill on the agenda and is a Speaker priority bill. While the original draft of the bill was aimed at cities of the metropolitan class (currently, Omaha), the bill has been amended to require all municipalities to issue publicly-available reports on the collection and use of occupation taxes in their jurisdictions.

In Nebraska, occupation taxes are locally levied taxes on the gross receipts from a variety of economic activities, including the sale of prepared foods and drinks, hotels and short-term lodging, rental cars, tobacco products, and wireless services. The taxes are imposed on businesses, but are then typically passed onto consumers. Increasingly, development firms are seeking out local occupation taxes as a revenue source for projects in specific districts of cities like Omaha.

“Combined cell phone taxes, which include local occupation tax, are fourth highest in Nebraska according to the Tax Foundation. Restaurant and other occupation taxes can result in Nebraskans paying over ten percent tax on a meal in some of our communities. In 2012, the 9.5 percent combined tax paid in Omaha at large was ranked the nation’s sixth highest among the country’s fifty largest cities,” said Fox.

“Nebraskans deserve to know in plain language how these taxes are being used,” said Fox.

To schedule an interview on these topics, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 452-3737 or aweinberg@platteinstitute.org

The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. More media resources are available at PlatteInstitute.org/Media.

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