Nebraska voters will decide six ballot issues, along with voting on candidates. Four were put on the ballot through petition drives and two were added by state lawmakers.
Initiative 428 would cap payday loans at a 36% annual interest rate. Such loans, also known as cash advances, check advances or delayed deposit loans, are a type of short-term, high-cost borrowing that people use to get small amounts of immediate cash. Last year in Nebraska, fees charged by payday lenders equaled an average of 387% annual interest. Advocates say the current rates are exorbitant and prey on poor people. Industry representatives say the limits could kill their businesses and harm people who can’t get credit elsewhere.
Initiative 429 would amend the Nebraska Constitution to allow casino gambling at licensed horse race tracks. The amendment sets the legal foundation for laws authorizing, regulating and taxing the new gambling.
Initiative 430 is a proposed law that would authorize casinos at licensed horse race tracks and create a seven-member Nebraska Gaming Commission to oversee and regulate those casinos. It would require a license fee of $1 million for each casino operator and bar anyone under age 21 from gambling at the casinos.
Initiative 431 is a proposed law that would impose taxes on the new race track casinos and direct where the tax money would go. It would send 70% of the taxes to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, 25% to the city or county where the track is located, 2.5% to support treatment for compulsive gamblers and 2.5% to the state general fund.
Supporters of the measures say they would raise new revenue for property tax relief, keep gamblers from spending their money in other states and help support horse racing. Opponents say casino gambling can be addictive, drains money from communities and creates a number of social problems. Voters can consider the measures independently and do not need to vote the same way on all of them.
Amendment 1 would remove the last vestige of slavery from the Nebraska Constitution. The constitution currently bans slavery or involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime. The exception allowed a practice known as convict leasing, in which prisoners were leased out to provide labor. The practice ended in 1940.
Amendment 2 would allow enhanced tax benefits for developments in “extremely blighted” areas. The proposal would allow up to 20 years of tax-increment financing, instead of 15 years, in areas with high unemployment and high poverty rates. With tax-increment financing, cities put the additional property taxes generated by a development project into paying project-related costs, such as sidewalks and sewers.