This past weekend, I attended the annual meeting of the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska in O’Neill and heard an excellent panel discussion from State Senators Al Davis, Dave Bloomfield and Jerry Johnson covering almost every topic of interest under the sun. The three senators spoke, discussed and answered questions for nearly three hours, and their comments were enlightening on many aspects of the issues before the Unicameral this upcoming short session.
We’ll be talking more about the specifics of their discussions in a future print issue of Nebraska Farmer, but the “take home” moment for me was when one of the senators, while talking about property tax issues and potential relief, noted that if local school districts and government entities accept more state aid in an effort to relieve local property taxes, then those districts and agencies will probably also have to accept more state involvement in how they operate.
In other words, there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are always strings attached to anything that seems like a good deal. And for rural Nebraskans, local control of their own government entities close to home, especially school districts, has always been something that has been near and dear. While everyone in rural Nebraska agrees that property tax relief is a key issue that needs to be discussed and evaluated, folks also need to look at potential loss of some aspects of local control in the process. Unintended consequences are often a much bigger deal in the aftermath of legislation intended to fix a particular problem. We see this time and again on the state and federal levels.
So, as we talk with our state senators about the issues of importance to our rural lives in Nebraska, be sure to temper your comments with some thought to some of those potential consequences, and solutions that take these consequences into consideration.
The other key comment made several times during the morning session by each of the senators on the panel was the impact of comments from citizens. They take great stock in hearing from their constituents on tough topics, and they each told the group that they need to hear your input to make informed decisions on the legislation that will face the Unicameral this year.
Here is this week’s discussion question. Have you ever contacted your local state senator about a topic of interest? Let us know your experiences and thoughts right here.
You can follow me on Twitter at Husker Home Place, and watch Nebraska Farmer online for news about harvest and upcoming winter meetings.