The Nebraska Enterprise Revenue Bonds Question
appeared on the May 11, 2010 primary election ballot
in the state of Nebraska
as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment
, where it was approved
The measure, which was also known as Amendment 1, allows nonprofit agencies to use tax-free bonds for certain construction projects and equipment needs. Also, cities and counties could issue the tax-free bonds on behalf of the nonprofits seeking them. Bonds would have to be repaid by the nonprofit using them and tax money would not be able to be used to repay the bonds.
The measure was referred to the ballot by the Nebraska Legislature. By the opinion of the Nebraska Attorney General, and by the actions of the Nebraska Secretary of State John A. Gale, the measure was later removed from the ballot. However, on March 12, 2010, the measure was again placed on the ballot, this time under a revised proposal, filed as LR 295 CA.
Official results of the measure follow:
| Amendment 1|
| Yes|| 129,018|| 52.5%|
Results via the Nebraska Secretary of State
Text of amendment
The ballot language Nebraska voters saw on the ballot read:
- A vote FOR this amendment will authorize the Legislature to permit counties, cities, and villages to acquire, own, develop, and lease or finance real and personal property for use by nonprofit enterprises for nonsectarian, nondevotional, and nonreligious purposes and to issue revenue bonds for such purpose; will prohibit the use of condemnation for acquiring such property and operation of such property as a business by the county, city, or village; and will not authorize the county, city, or village to impose any tax to repay the obligations represented by such revenue bonds.
- A vote AGAINST this amendment will not authorize the Legislature to permit counties, cities, and villages to acquire, own, develop, and lease or finance real and personal property for use by nonprofit enterprises or to issue revenue bonds for such purpose.
The measure added a new Article 13, Section 4 of the Nebraska Constitution to read:
- Notwithstanding any other provision in this Constitution, the Legislature may authorize any county, city, or village to acquire, own, develop, and lease or finance real and personal property, other than property used or to be used for sectarian instruction or study or as a place for devotional activities or religious worship, to be used, during the term of any revenue bonds issued, only by nonprofit enterprises as determined by law and to issue revenue bonds for the purpose of defraying the cost of acquiring and developing or financing such property by construction, purchase, or otherwise. Such bonds shall not become general obligation bonds of the governmental subdivision by which such bonds are issued, and such governmental subdivision shall have no authority to impose taxes for the payment of such bonds. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article VIII, section 2, of this Constitution, the acquisition, ownership, development, use, or financing of any real or personal property pursuant to the provisions of this section shall not affect the imposition of any taxes or the exemption therefrom by the Legislature pursuant to this Constitution. The acquiring, owning, developing, and leasing or financing of such property shall be deemed for a public purpose, but the governmental subdivision shall not have the right to acquire such property for the purposes specified in this section by condemnation. The principal of and interest on any bonds issued may be secured by a pledge of the lease and the revenue therefrom and by mortgage upon such property. No such governmental subdivision shall have the power to operate any such property as a business or in any manner except as the lessor thereof.
Supporters of the measure included the following:
Arguments that were made in support of the measure included the following:
- If the measure passed, according to John Chapo of the Lincoln Folsom Children's Zoo, the zoo would be able to improve facilities and would be able to add exhibits. The measure would allow the zoo and other nonprofits to pair with governments to use tax-free bonds improve certain projects. Chapo stated, "Contributions are down. When contributions are down, we have to be more creative."
- Eric Crouch, a former Heisman Trophy winner, who sells playground equipment, stated that if the measure was passed, the lower lending rate could save money for organizations, such as the YMCA. The YMCA, according to Crouch, could have saved more than $250,000 on its new facility in Lincoln.
Opposition to Amendment 1 was not as evident in newspapers, campaigns or other sources in the state of Nebraska. Some arguments that were made on blogs in the state included:
- At first glance, the measure seemed to be an expansion of government.
- May be a way for the state government to exercise eminent domain.
- It gave public money to let the state government decide which "non-profit" may use property.
- The wording of the amendment was too vague in not explaining the definition of "non-profit" organizations and other terms.
- See also Endorsements of Nebraska ballot measures, 2010
- The Lincoln Journal Star stated it's support of the measure in an editorial published on April 21, 2010. According to the publication, "Voters turned similar proposals down previously, some believe, because voters were worried that the loans could end up the responsibility of the taxpayers. That's not the case. This time the ballot language makes the point crystal clear, stating that the amendment "will not authorize the county, city or village to impose any tax to repay the obligations represented by such revenue bonds." If a nonprofit failed to make payments on a tax-exempt loan issued by a local government, the private investors would be the ones left holding the bag - not the taxpayers."
Path to the ballot
60% of the members of the Nebraska State Legislature must vote for a proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot. Nebraska is one of nine states that allows a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a 60% supermajority vote in one session.
- ↑ Omaha.com, "Crouch makes Amendment 1 pitch", May 5, 2010
- ↑ [Nebraska Secretary of State's Office, "Unofficial Election Results", May 11, 2010
- ↑ Omaha World-Herald, "Pay raise taken off ballot", February 5, 2010
- ↑ Nebraska Legislature, "LR 295 CA"
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Nebraska Secretary of State, "Constitutional Amendment"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Lincoln Journal Star, "Editorial, 4/21: Yes on Amendment 1", April 20, 2010
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 KETV.com, "Amendment 1 Could Help Nonprofits", May 5, 2010
- ↑ 9-12 Nebraskans, "Constitutional Amendment vote tomorrow -- anybody have some insight?", May 10, 2010