ELMWOOD – As a banker and a former actuary, numbers are a big part of State Sen. Robert Clements’ life.
During the current legislative session, Clements wants to see certain numbers go down.
“I am eager to work on property tax relief this session,” he said.
The State Department of Revenue reported earlier this month that net tax collections through December were up $178 million more than projected. So there is money to make tax relief happen, the state senator from Elmwood said.
“I support the governor’s proposal for $500 million of relief over the next three years,” he added.
Clements represents District 2, which extends from Papillion to the south, including all of Cass County. He was appointed to the Unicameral in February 2017 by Gov. Pete Ricketts to replace Bill Kintner. He won the General Election in 2018 and his current term will run through 2022.
In addition to working on tax relief, Clements has a number of bills he plans to introduce this session, which started Jan. 8 and will run through April 23.
One of his bills will deal with emotional support animals owned by people who rent apartments or homes.
“I have a bill requiring a doctor’s certificate to verify the need for an emotional support animal in apartment rentals,” he said.
Clements said there have been fraudulent claims of disability, which can cause financial issues for landlords.
“Landlords need a way to identify legitimate support animals, which cannot be charged extra deposits or rent,” he said.
Clements is a member of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee. Because it meets every day during the session, he is not on any other committees, he said.
The Appropriations Committee focuses on the state budget and approves spending for all 78 agencies in the state.
“We review the governor’s proposed budget and make some changes,” he added.
As a numbers man, Clements likes to see a balanced budget.
“I focus on balancing the budget and keeping government spending in control,” he said.
The committee is also working to solve issues in the state corrections department.
“We will be increasing pay for prison workers to try to fill vacancies,” he said.
During the period of time between legislative sessions, Clements focused his energy on the March 2019 floods that caused damage to property and people in the state.
“I worked on emergency funding needs for flood damage, especially roads and bridges,” he said. “I helped flood victims figure out where to get help.”
The banker also spent time on budget numbers.
“Our committee reviewed the tax revenues during the summer to monitor the budget needs,” he said.
His expertise with numbers was also used to help find a cure for the underfunded state retirement plans.
Since being appointed senator, Clements said the residents of his district have been vocal about their biggest concerns.
“Constituents are most concerned with high property taxes,” he said.
Military retirees in the state have asked for income tax exemptions similar to those offered by five of the six states neighboring Nebraska, the senator said. Clements was one of 43 senators to advance LB153in the first round. The bill applies only to veterans who receive a pension.
Clements said he is opposed to two areas that some of his constituents are in favor of – expanded gambling and legalizing marijuana.