- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Despite long and often heated debates, Nebraska lawmakers approved major legislation this year in their 60-day short session. Here’s a look at what passed and what didn’t:

What passed:

SOME TAX-CUT MEASURES - Nebraska’s tax brackets will expand to keep pace with inflation, property owners will see a slightly larger tax credit from the state, and farmers and ranchers will no longer have to pay sales taxes on machinery parts and repairs. Some recent military retirees and Social Security recipients will also receive a tax break.

WATER PROJECTS - Water projects aimed at conservation, quality and flood control will receive about $11 million each year. A newly expanded Natural Resources Commission will choose the top priorities, with input from farmers, cities, public power districts, wildlife advocates and others.

PRISONS - Nebraska’s prison system will expand its re-entry programs and mental health services in an effort to reduce long-term prison overcrowding.

GAME AND PARKS - Crews will begin work on a backlog of maintenance projects at Nebraska’s state parks and recreational areas, thanks to new funding approved in this year’s budget bills.

EDUCATION - Nebraska will soon send state intervention teams into schools that perform poorly on state proficiency exams. Lawmakers also agreed to increase funding for early childhood education.

What failed:

MEDICAID EXPANSION - A new proposal to expand Medicaid coverage under the federal health care law was killed again by a legislative filibuster.

SOME TAX-CUT MEASURES - Farmers and ranchers will continue to pay taxes on 75 percent of their land’s value; a bill that would have lowered the threshold to 65 percent died in committee. Proposals to reduce Nebraska’s top income tax rate also failed to advance.

MOUNTAIN LION HUNTING REPEAL - Despite several attempts to repeal it, Nebraska’s mountain lion hunting season survived this year’s legislative session. Hunting groups argued that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission should have the power to regulate the season.

GOOD TIME REFORM - The push to end automatic good time credit for violent prisoners was rejected. Prisoners receive one day of credit for every day served, effectively cutting their sentences in half.

AMBER LIGHTS - A bill that would have allowed neighborhood patrol groups to place flashing amber lights on their vehicles stalled in a legislative filibuster.

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