Nebraska’s Economic Indicator Predicts Slow Growth in Early 2022
Nebraska Public Media, Aaron BondersonOctober 27, 2021

A leading economic indicator in Nebraska predicts a nearly one-percent drop in growth over the next six months. Results from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln September survey were released this week.

Eric Thompson heads the economic indicator and said Nebraska’s economy is growing rapidly, but expects that growth to be marginal heading into 2022.

Thompson said Nebraska’s agricultural performance is among the positive factors aiding the state’s economy.

“We don’t always have as strong of ag economy as we have right now, because commodity prices are good,” he said. “Nebraska’s population growth continues to be solid, not spectacular, but solid.”

Although manufacturing hours slowed in recent months, Thompson said that sector has been healthy in the state.

Low vaccination rates and national supply shortages are negatively affecting Nebraska’s economy now and months ahead. Thompson said correcting those issues should be a priority going forward.

A federal grand jury in California on Tuesday indicted Nebraska Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry on charges of lying to federal investigators and another crime in connection with a probe about illegal campaign donations provided by a foreigner, prosecutors said in a tweet.

The announcement of the indictment in Los Angeles federal court came hours after Fortenberry, in an unusual YouTube video featuring his wife, dog and 1963 Ford 100 pickup truck, revealed he expected to be indicted for allegedly lying to FBI agents.

Fortenberry is due to be arraigned in that court Wednesday. He is charged with one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign. Full announcement coming.”

“The indictment alleges that Fortenberry repeatedly lied to and misled authorities during a federal investigation into illegal contributions to Fortenberry’s re-election campaign made by a foreign billionaire in early 2016,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said in a press release.

The indictment says Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, “a foreign national prohibited by federal law from contributing to any U.S. elections, arranged for $30,000 of his money to be contributed through other individuals (conduits) to Fortenberry’s campaign during a fundraiser held in Los Angeles, according to the indictment,” the release said.

Congress avoids government shutdown. How did Nebraska’s delegation vote?
Omaha World-Herald, Ryan HoffmanSeptember 30, 2021

Congress avoided a government shutdown Thursday, and it did so without support from the five members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation.

The three members of the House and two senators joined a majority of their fellow Republicans in opposing the measure, which will fund the government through Dec. 3.

The legislation was needed to keep the government running once the current budget year ended at midnight Thursday. Its passage buys lawmakers more time to craft the spending measures that will fund federal agencies and the programs they administer.

The House approved the measure by a 254-175 vote not long after Senate passage in a 65-35 vote. A large majority of Republicans in both chambers voted against it.

In statements, Nebraska congressional members cited a range of reasons for opposing the legislation — though several directed their critiques at the spending habits of Washington.

Nebraska’s State Treasurer said Thursday he’s willing to defy a proposal in the Biden budget that could require banks to turn over yearly transaction information to the IRS on accounts of more than $600. John Murante and state treasurers and auditors in 24 other states recently sent President Biden a letter opposing the proposal.

“As State Treasurer, I have an obligation to safeguard the personal information of hundreds of thousands of these accounts and it’s absolutely wrong to ask American citizens who haven’t even been accused of wrongdoing to turn over their private bank information to the federal government. There’s no excuse for it.”

Murante, who’s the incoming national chair of the State Financial Officers Foundation, said the proposal would also be a huge burden on banks and other financial institutions and is classic government overreach.

“I don’t typically engage in legislation that’s going through the Congress, but on an issue like this, it’s something that myself and many of my colleagues across the country believe that we have to stand up and fight,” Murante said.

The Biden administration says the country is missing out on billions of dollars in tax revenue and wants to hire more IRS agents to stop rampant tax evasion.

President Biden approves Nebraska disaster declaration for July windstorm
Omaha World-Herald, Sara GentzlerSeptember 7, 2021

President Joe Biden on Monday approved a disaster declaration in Nebraska related to severe storms and straight-line winds in July, opening up federal aid to help the state recover.

Federal assistance is available for state, tribal, local governments and some nonprofits in 14 counties for “emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and straight-line winds,” according to a White House press release.

The counties are: Box Butte, Cass, Clay, Douglas, Fillmore, Grant, Hall, Hamilton, Madison, Sarpy, Saunders, Sheridan, Washington and York. Funds are also available through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, according to the Governor’s Office — that money can help with public projects anywhere in Nebraska that aim to cut down on the risk for damage in natural disasters.

During a preliminary assessment, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was able to validate about $30.8 million in damage from the July 9-10 storms across the affected counties, a report from the agency shows.

Redistricting guidelines adopted
Unicameral Update, Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, LR134May 26, 2021

Lawmakers approved criteria May 26 that will guide the Legislature in the 2021 redistricting process.

The U.S. and state constitutions require the Legislature to redraw various governmental district boundaries every 10 years in response to population changes reflected in the U.S. Census. Senators are expected to complete the redistricting process in a special session in early fall after census data becomes available.

The Legislature will create new district boundaries for Nebraska’s three U.S. House of Representatives districts, 49 legislative districts and those of the Nebraska Supreme Court, Public Service Commission, State Board of Education and University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

Omnibus gun bill passed
Unicameral Update, Sen. Tom Brewer, LB236 LB85 LB173 LB244 LB301May 21, 2021

A bill that updates several concealed carry provisions and the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act passed May 21.

Sen. Tom Brewer
LB236, as introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, would have allowed counties to authorize residents to carry a concealed weapon without a state-issued permit. Those provisions were removed from the bill and replaced by provisions of four other bills:
• LB85, introduced by Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman, which requires the Nebraska State Patrol to notify the holder of a concealed carry permit four months prior to the permit’s expiration;
• LB173, introduced by Blair Sen. Ben Hansen, which exempts from concealed carry prohibitions the transportation of a firearm in a vehicle for lawful purposes or carrying a concealed weapon directly to or from a vehicle if the firearm is unloaded, stored in a case and kept separate from ammunition;
• LB244, introduced by Elmwood Sen. Robert Clements, which allows a 30-day grace period to renew a concealed carry permit; and
• LB301, also introduced by Hansen, which removes CBD contained in a product approved by the FDA from the definition of hashish or concentrated cannabis and updates Nebraska drug schedules and penalties to conform to federal law.

Senators passed LB236 on a 45-0 vote.