The Legislature's Executive Board is clearing a pathway for potential enactment of a new state business tax-incentives program before senators are scheduled to conclude their legislative session next week.

The nine-member committee informally agreed Tuesday to recognize Speaker Jim Scheer's prerogative to choose the order of amendments that will be considered to the bill and the speaker, in turn, said he would allow Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, sponsor of the bill, to determine that order.

With 19 proposed amendments to the bill backed up at first-stage floor consideration, the board's decision — reflected in an informal 6-3 count of opinions expressed — could be key in propelling the legislation ahead.

The bill stalled on the floor of the Legislature last week, but Kolterman has since demonstrated to the speaker that the measure can command the 33 votes required to hurdle a filibuster and Scheer plans to return the proposal to the legislative agenda Wednesday.

The proposed new tax-incentives plan, called Imagine Nebraska, would replace the current Nebraska Advantage Act, which is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.

Supporters have argued that enactment of a new business attraction and development package needs to be accomplished before the Legislature adjourns in order to assure business interests inside and outside the state that Nebraska continues to be "open for business" in terms of offering business development and expansion incentives. 

A decision to wait until next year to replace Nebraska Advantage would send a negative signal to business interests who plan developments years in advance, supporters contend.

Opponents of the new legislation have raised concerns about the mounting costs of the accompanying range of extensive tax breaks.

This year's proposal has become wrapped into growing pressure by rural senators to enact property tax relief legislation before the Legislature adjourns.

Pending at the second stage of floor consideration are amendments to a tax bill (LB183) that propose a scaled-down version of the Revenue Committee's comprehensive tax reform package (LB289), which is stalled at first-round consideration.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.


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