NEBRASKA
LEGISLATION

Nebraska's 2021 legislative session adjourned on May 27th.  This was the first session of the legislature's two-year cycle. Legislation not acted on will carry over to the 2022 session. There will be a special session later this year but that will only deal with redrawing legislative districts using 2020 Census data. In addition to passing the state’s two-year budget, lawmakers this year funded property tax relief, cut taxes on military retirement, Social Security income, business inputs and residential water service, and phased in a reduction in the corporate tax rate. All told, the Legislature passed 200 pieces of legislation, which includes three bills vetoed by the governor and overridden by legislators. Below is a summary of issues important to restaurants in which the Nebraska Restaurant Association played an influential role.
-  Last updated 07.01.2021 -

FOR ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING NEBRASKA LEGISLATION, CONTACT RICH OTTO & JIM OTTO AT 402.474.5255

ALCOHOL TO GO

SUPPORTED BY NERA

Early in the pandemic and at the request of the Nebraska Restaurant Association, Governor Ricketts issued an Executive Order allowing restaurants to sell alcohol to go with a carry out order of food. While we are very appreciative of the Governor's decisive action, Executive Orders are not law and go away after the emergency passes. To make it permanent, Nebraska law had to be changed. To accomplish that, LB 72 was introduced by Senator Geist. It provides that a holder of a Class C liquor license may sell alcoholic liquor not in the original package, such as a mixed drink or cocktail, for consumption off the premises. It advanced from the General Affairs Committee and was amended into LB 274, a General Affairs Committee priority bill which passed and has been signed by the Governor. After signing LB 274, the Executive Order was no longer necessary as Nebraska law now permanently allows restaurants and bars with the proper license to sell alcohol to a person twenty-one years or older in a motor vehicle if the alcohol is sold along with food, the motor vehicle is in park, and the alcohol is placed in the trunk.

CANDY & SODA TAX: LB 115

BEING MONITORED

LB 115 would make candy and soda subject to sales tax with funds remitted to Health Care Cash Fund. It was introduced by Senator McCollister, it did not advance but will carry over to next year’s session. We are monitoring this bill.

COVID LIABILITY PROTECTION: LB 139

SUPPORTED BY NERA

LB 139 provides protection for businesses from liability issues resulting from COVID. Provisions include protection for healthcare, business premises, general safe harbor, and enhanced burden of proof on the part of claimant if the business is not acting with gross negligence or willful misconduct. The legislation passed and has been signed by the Governor.

DECREASE IN COPERATE TAX RATE: LB 432

SUPPORTED BY NERA

LB 432 starts the process of achieving corporate and individual income tax parity by stair-stepping the corporate tax rate down to 7.5 percent the first year, 7.25 the second year, then stating the intent of the body is to take it the rest of the way to the individual rate (6.84) in the next biennium. The legislation passed and has been signed by the Governor.

EXPANDED ELIGIBILITY FOR SNAP BENEFITS: LB 108

SUPPORTED BY NERA

LB 108 increases the gross income eligibility limit to 165% of federal income poverty guidelines for SNAP benefits. This brings Nebraska up to the level that is funded by the federal government. Many employees receiving SNAP benefits have declined more work hours because the added income would trigger a greater loss in benefits. The result was a penalty for working harder. It was introduced and prioritized by Senator McCollister. It passed and was vetoed by the Governor, but the Legislature overrode the veto.

EXTENSION OF GARNISHMENT COMPLIANCE: LB 95

SUPPORTED BY NERA

LB 95 Changes the number of days for an employer to respond to a garnishment summons from 10 days to 20 days. Garnishment notices go to the actual location where the employee works. When businesses have more than one location, getting the paperwork processed within the ten days by the main office can be a challenge and can result in fines to the employer. Introduced by Senator DeBoer, it did not advance but will carry over to next year’s session.

INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE: LB 480

OPPOSED BY NERA

LB 480 would increase the minimum wage by one dollar per year to twenty dollars per hour on and after January 1, 2032, through December 31, 2032; then to the adjusted hourly rate to be determined annually by the Commissioner of Labor, equal to the minimum wage from the previous calendar year increased by the Consumer Price Index. Introduced by Senator McKinney, it did not advance but will carry over to next year’s session.

INCREASE TIP WAGE: LB 122

OPPOSED BY NERA

LB 122 eliminates the tip wage entirely. If it passes, the minimum wage for wait staff would be $9.00/hour plus tips. It was introduced by Senator Hunt and did not advance but will carry over to next year’s session.

INCRESE BUSINESS LIABILITY: LB 441

OPPOSED BY NERA

LB 441 shifts the burden of proof related to COVID liability to business. Introduced by Senator Matt Hansen, it did not advance but will carry over to next year’s session.

PAID LEAVE: LB 258

OPPOSED BY NERA

LB 258 as introduced requires employers with four or more employees to provide employees with access to paid sick and safe leave. Employees would accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick and safe time for every thirty hours worked. This bill advanced from the Business & Labor Committee. It was introduced by Senator Vargas and prioritized by Senator Matt Hanson. This bill failed to advance from general file and will need to be re-prioritized next year to get on the agenda.

PAID LEAVE: LB 290

OPPOSED BY NERA

LB 290 would create a paid family and medical leave insurance program to provide partial wage replacement for eligible workers to care for themselves or a family member experiencing a serious illness or to care for a new child through birth, foster care, or adoption. The program is financed through employer contributions. A covered employee would be entitled to be restored to the position held when the leave commenced or to a position with equivalent status and pay. Introduced by Senator Michaela Cavanaugh, it was advanced by the committee but there was not enough time for it to be considered by the full legislature. It is on schedule to be heard by the entire body next session.

STATE LEVEL MEAT INSPECTION: LB

BEING MONITORED

LB 235 is part one of a two-part process to re-start the Nebraska State Meat Inspection program giving (mainly small) businesses the option of USAD inspection or State of Nebraska meat inspection. Introduced by Senator Brewer, it did not advance but will carry over to next year’s session. We are monitoring this bill.