LINCOLN — Developers renovating historic buildings could get a 20 percent income tax cut under a bill advanced 32-0 by state lawmakers on Thursday.
State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha said that such tax breaks for historic renovation are offered by several states and would provide an incentive to rehabilitate several buildings across Nebraska.
Nordquist said he would amend Legislative Bill 191 during second-round debate to cap the total credits at $15 million a year.
That amendment and others were sought by Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher, who objected to the bill, also known as the “Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act.”
Schumacher said that without some limits on the amount of tax credits, the bill could prompt a “raid” on the state treasury.
Nordquist rejected that idea but agreed to work on amendments with Schumacher so LB 191 could advance.
Among the projects cited that could benefit from the tax break were an old federal building in North Platte, the Bassett Lodge & Range Cafe in Bassett and an old power plant along the riverfront in Omaha.
Under LB 191, the tax break would be applicable on investments of up to $5 million. So, the largest tax break that one project could obtain would be $1 million. It would apply only to buildings that have been deemed historic by state or local authorities.
The bill, under a proposed amendment, would sunset after four years, allowing state lawmakers to assess if it worked or not.
In other action, lawmakers gave first-round approval to a measure to allow online voter registration.
LB 661, introduced on behalf of Secretary of State John Gale, would allow online registration via the Secretary of State website and via the Department of Motor Vehicles. An applicant would have to possess a valid state driver’s license or identification card to register online because they provide the required signature.
Proponents said the bill would not only ease the process of registering to vote but also make current voter lists more accurate.
The required information would include the final four digits of an applicant’s Social Security number, which is used to double-check the accuracy of voter lists.