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Broadband bill heard on legislative floor
FROM THE STATE SENATOR

Broadband bill heard on legislative floor

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Last week, the Legislature took a pivotal step forward in efforts to expand broadband access to rural Nebraskans. LB338, my priority bill, was heard on the floor of the legislature and passed the first round of debate, advancing to Select File.

LB338 increases the speed standards from 25/3 to 100/100 upload/download for the purposes of new Nebraska Universal Service Fund (NUSF) support, while protecting ongoing support for current 25/3 infrastructure. Under this bill, state and federal funds would now be used to build out quality, future proof broadband infrastructure which will meet the needs of schools, hospitals, small businesses, telehealth providers, students, those working from home, and all residents of Nebraska. This is not only good for our state’s rural areas, but also for cities and towns.

LB338 also gives the Public Service Commission (PSC) another avenue when redirecting NUSF support to expand broadband in rural areas Nebraska. LB338 allows a community consisting of agricultural producers, schools, libraries, hospitals, local businesses, and others to develop their own rural-based plan which will identify their broadband needs, as well as choose which broadband carrier they believe will best suit their community. The PSC may then consider this plan when redirecting funds. For years, we have seen funding go to companies who promise to build out quality and affordable high speed internet, however time and time again rural residents are left behind. This bill seeks to change that, and I will continue working to expand broadband across Nebraska. 

The Nebraska Department of Revenue (DOR) reminds taxpayers who are eligible for a property tax credit to claim this new credit, which is a result of LB1107 passed by the legislature and signed into law last year by Governor Ricketts. This can be done by filing the Nebraska Property Tax Incentive Act Credit Computation form PTC with their Nebraska income tax return. This form can be found on the DOR’s website, https://revenue.nebraska.gov/ on the homepage under “Featured Information.”

The Nebraska DOR has also created a new lookup tool for those wanting to claim an income tax credit. This tool helps these individuals calculate what they are owed. The tool can also be accessed by navigating to the Nebraska DOR’s website and clicking “Nebraska School District Property Tax Look-up Tool.”

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service recently announced that the deadline for filing federal income taxes for the 2020 tax year was extended from April 15 to May 17, 2021, in order to help taxpayers continue navigating the current circumstances with COVID-19. The Nebraska DOR also announced it will follow the IRS and do the same for state income taxes. Though the deadline was extended, the IRS still urges taxpayers to file as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds.

I hope everyone had a safe and blessed Easter weekend, and I appreciate hearing from constituents on issues affecting District 23 and encourage you to contact my office on legislation at 402-471-2719 or bbostelman@leg.ne.gov.

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