The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry is Nebraska’s largest statewide business association. Put simply, the Chamber exists to make Nebraska an even better place to do business.
Headquartered half-a-block west of the state capitol, the Chamber’s most important activity is representing the business community on major issues of interest before the Nebraska Unicameral. Generally speaking, the State Chamber follows issues and legislation addressing five key areas:
- Economic development
- Job creation and business investment
- Labor law and other regulations facing employers
A recent survey revealed that the Chamber’s legislative activity and updates were very important to 90 percent of the members – and more than 97 percent of members agreed the Nebraska Chamber is effective in representing the state’s business community.
Four registered lobbyists lead the Chamber’s efforts to educate state lawmakers on key issues. The Chamber’s professional staff communicates with state senators, testifies before legislative committees, and monitors activity on the unicameral floor and in the legislative committees.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: In the 2017 session of the Nebraska Legislature, more than 670 bills were introduced. In total, your Nebraska Chamber either took positions on or monitored roughly 250 measures due to their potential impact on businesses. The session brought some notable achievements for the business community, including State Chamber-supported bills such as:
- LB161: Extends the Nebraska Advantage Act credit carryover time for businesses making significant capital investments and creating several high paying jobs.
- LB203: Curbs abuse of the state’s Unemployment Insurance program by tightening restrictions of benefits for those who leave a job without good cause, saving an estimated $3.7 million in 2018 and $5 million in 2019.
- LB271: Reduces red tape for state transportation infrastructure projects, thereby expediting projects and saving as much as $19 million annually.
- LB518: Establishes new funding sources for grants to help address Nebraska’s workforce housing shortages.
- LB641: Establishes a matching grant program to attract more early-stage bioscience startups to Nebraska.
The Nebraska Chamber works equally as hard to defeat or amend harmful proposals. Last year, there were a number of such bills in the Legislature. Fortunately, none passed. Among the more menacing bills were:
- LB52: Would impose a 5.5 precent state tax on loan interest, costing individuals and businesses several hundred million dollars annually and crippling the state’s economy.
- LB126, LB467 & LB572: Would halt important business incentives, including the Nebraska Advantage Act.
- LB312 & LB563: Would eliminate several sales tax exemptions that are important to businesses.
- LB313: Would increase Nebraska’s sales tax rate by 18 percent, raising the current 5.5 percent rate to 6.5 percent.
- LB373: Would repeal the roads-funding Build Nebraska Act (LB84), while terminating many pro-business tax provisions. This bill would raise taxes by more than $1.2 billion by 2020.
- LB468: Would amend and/or eliminate recent tax code improvements, including indexing of income tax brackets.
Over the past decade, the State Chamber has also become much more active in monitoring federal activities. The Nebraska Chamber is the state affiliate of two national organizations: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
In a recent survey, 98 percent of the members said they would recommend joining the Nebraska Chamber to a non-member business. By being a leader in advocacy for the business community, the Nebraska Chamber works on behalf of its members, which includes businesses of all sizes and sectors, as well as local chambers of commerce and their communities.