NEBRASKA CITY – After being thrown into the legislature mid-session, Sen. Robert Clements was a bit confused during his first week in office.
“The first two weeks were overwhelming I would say, and I was pretty much lost and not sure what to do,” says Clements.
Clements, who oversees all of Cass County and portions of Otoe and Sarpy County, was assisted early on by several veteran senators and now is beginning to understand the time commitment it takes to be an active member of the unicameral.
“It’s a long hard schedule, it’s long days and short nights, you get home at night and you have about 15 bills to review for what you’re going to vote on tomorrow,” says Clements.
The banker from Elmwood, took over the District 2 seat after former Sen. Bill Kinter was pressured into resigning after a series of mishaps. Clements took over for Kinter in early February after being appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Clements biggest priority is right in line with the governor’s.
Ricketts has been spearheading a tax bill that would change how agricultural property is valued. Clements says it’s the most important thing the legislature will do in 2017.
“Property tax for ag land especially, I’d like to see a change in the valuation there to make it more of an income approach,” says Clements.
The bill LB 461, would also cut corporate and income taxes over a series of several years.
It has received mixed reviews from special interest groups with some hailing it as the most meaningful tax legislation in years for the state.
Others have been less enthused, saying it will only help the rich.
One analysis by the Open Sky Policy Institute, shows that 74 percent of the tax cuts in the bill will go to the wealthiest 20% of Nebraskans.
Debate on the bill is set for next Friday.