As we approach the opening day of the 2020 Session of the Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday, January 8, the 70’s game show “Treasure Hunt” comes to mind as senators will be searching for revenue to fund pressing and costly issues.  These issues include lowering property and income tax and adopting a new economic development incentive program.  Prison reform is also a high and costly priority. The Nebraska Retail Federation supports these efforts “IF” they can be accomplished without raising taxes, shifting taxes, or raising fees.  However, that is a huge “IF”.   We will be watching closely and aggressively opposing efforts to gain revenue by raising the overall sales tax rate or removing existing sales tax exemptions (groceries, gold & silver bullion, soft drinks, & bottled water for example).


You have probably heard or seen on the national news that the California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.  The California law is the first consumer privacy act in the country. We believe a Nebraska bill that uses that California law as a model will be introduced and will include a whole new layer of responsibilities of businesses to further protect the privacy of information. As proposed, it would apply to nearly all information that businesses routinely gather on their customers (real name, alias, postal address, unique personal identifier, online identifier, Internet protocol address, email address, account name, social security number, driver’s license number, passport number, or other similar identifiers) and carries a civil penalty of up to seven thousand five hundred dollars for each violation. While we don’t question the good intentions of the proponents of these efforts, we are very concerned about unintended consequences to retail loyalty programs, etc.


We also believe a Nebraska bill will be introduced that follows an Illinois law and makes the collection of biometric information without owners’ permission a crime. Fingerprints are the most common form of biometric information. Other forms include facial recognition, retinal scans, the sound of a voice, DNA, etc. The proposal makes the collection of biometric information without owners’ permission a crime. Specifically, companies can face a $1,000 to $5,000 fine and lawsuits for violating the act. It also requires companies to securely store biometric data and destroy old or unused biometric data. For instance, a business could be held liable for losses resulting from the misuse of biometric data. An example of such a loss is a thief using a copy of somebody’s fingerprint to gain access to a building or a bank account. We will be opposing both privacy efforts in their present form.