- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Some Nebraska veterans could receive more property tax relief under a bill backed by lawmakers Thursday.

The Legislature voted 28-0 to give the most severely injured veterans, such as those who are paralyzed or have missing limbs, a full homestead exemption. Spouses of such veterans who died from these disabilities also would be eligible for the exemption.

The bill faces two more votes in the full Legislature before going to Gov. Dave Heineman.

Sen. Pete Pirsch of Omaha, who introduced the bill, said the measure recognizes the sacrifices that these veterans have made.

The bill would apply to 100 percent service-connected disabled veterans, a status determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

About 2,500 Nebraskans fit into that category, Pirsch said.

Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha said he didn’t think the bill would have been brought up if Pirsch wasn’t seeking another office. Pirsch is running for attorney general.

Chambers was one of nine senators who did not vote on the bill.

Chambers noted there are homeless veterans and veterans in prison who need mental health treatment.

“I don’t believe this is aimed at helping veterans,” he said. “I think it’s aimed at helping political careers, campaigns.”

Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue, an Air Force veteran, voted for the bill.

“This bill was not designed to solve all the myriad problems associated with veterans, but it’s a first step,” he said.

Garrett noted there are veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder and there is a high suicide rate among veterans.

Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus also voted for the bill, but he added a cautionary remark. It’s only a matter of time before police officers, firefighters, teachers and bus drivers who become disabled start asking for exemptions, he said.

“When we do these special things, we are very slowly, very incrementally shifting the burden to the working families of 15 years from now,” he said.


The bill is LB1087

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