February 23, 2018                                                             Legislative Report Archive 

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inmatecallsCharges for Inmate Phone Calls Debated
County jails would have to make prepaid or collect telephone systems available to inmates under LB776 that was debated on General File on Tuesday. Senator John McCollister designated LB776 as his priority bill.
Currently most jails contract with a provider that sets a rate per minute for collect or prepaid calls. In some instances, the county receives a commission in addition to the cost per minute. Counties generally use these revenues to provide re-entry or other inmate programming and services for inmates such as legal software subscriptions, cable tv, and magazine subscriptions.
As introduced, counties could not receive revenue in excess of the reasonable operating costs for establishing and administering the system. The provider of the phone system would have to allow inmates to communicate on the phone or by videoconference with their attorney without charge and without monitoring or recording by the jail or law enforcement. The Jail Standards Board would be responsible for prescribing rules for access to phones and videoconferencing and ensuring that jails provide inmates with "affordable and meaningful means to communicate by telephone or videoconferencing with inmates' families, loved ones, and counsel."
A Judiciary Committee amendment was adopted to require communication with attorneys generally, not only an attorneys who has already been retained as counsel by an inmate. An amendment was offered that would require the Jail Standards Board to consider rates set by the Federal Communications Commission for inmate calling services. The amendment would prohibit excessive commissions and bonus payments, including awards paid to a county. The session adjourned for the day before a vote was taken on the amendment. LB776  appeared on the agenda on Wednesday but has not been debated further. It does not appear on Monday's agenda.

 taxsalebillsRevenue Committee Hears Tax Sale Bills
County treasurers will work with stakeholders on a treasurer's deed concept heard by the Revenue Committee on Thursday. LB1097 would require tax sales certificate investors to include a full legal description and proof of a title search when applying for a treasurer's deed. Senator Mike Hilgers introduced the bill on behalf of NACO to begin discussion of standardizing the treasurer's deed process. One senator suggested completely eliminating treasurer's deeds and requiring judicial foreclosure of all unredeemed tax sale certificates.
LB1095 would significantly expand the information that has to be included on tax statements by requiring contact information and the full name of each taxing entity. Senator Mike Hilgers, who introduced the bill to begin discussion about increased accountability, said that he did not intend to place an additional burden on counties for postage, paper, and, in some counties, different sized filing cabinets to accommodate larger statements. Testifiers discussed the possibility of listing contact information on the county website. The information is already available for each entity on the State Auditor's website.
A third tax sale bill, LB965, would require the parcel identification number for delinquent parcels to be published along with the tax list description prior to the sale of tax sales certificates. Some counties already publish this information. An amendment would specify that if the assessor and treasurer have different parcel ID numbers due to the subdivision of property or other event creating a short-term discrepancy, the treasurer's number would be used.
None of the bills were designated as priority bills and no action was reported.

snapshotsofSnapshots of County Issues
Committee Hearings
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Counties and other local government entities could spend up to $50 per person annually on recognition dinners for elected officials, employees, or volunteers under LB1036. Currently expenditures are capped at $25. The bill was introduced to reflect increases in the cost of living since the rate was last set in 1993. The authority to spend public funds on recognition dinners, mileage, meals, and the like is granted under the Local Government Miscellaneous Expenditures Act. Senator Rick Kolowski, the bill's introducer, suggested placing the bill on the consent calendar when it is developed later in the session.
NACO opposed a bill to move the presidential primary election to the second Tuesday in March due to a $1.6 million fiscal note for counties for holding a separate election. Senator John Murante, who introduced LB1032, stated his intent for the state to pay for the proposed election.
The committee also heard a bill to restore voting rights to felons upon completion of their felony sentence or probation ( LB1027). No action was taken on the bills and none received a priority designation.
Judiciary Committee
The Judiciary Committee heard bills to modify the placement of juveniles and transfer some juvenile services back to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). LB1112 would modify provisions relating to placement and detention of juveniles and permit a one-time use of Community-based Juvenile Services Aid funds for converting an existing juvenile detention facility. LB927 would transfer juvenile status offenders and law violators from the Office of Probation to DHHS starting on July 1, 2019.
Revenue Committee
Ag land would be valued based on a productivity method under a bill heard by the Revenue Committee. LB1100 would base ag land valuations on soil productivity ratings established by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and commodity prices. The bill would also establish an Agricultural Land Valuation Board to develop a manual detailing the methods and discount rates to be used for calculating the valuations.

All agricultural land in Nebraska would be valued as dry land and assessed for its use as farm irrigation under LB1022. A one cent tax on every 10 gallons of irrigated water would generate $2.1 billion. Senator Paul Schumacher introduced the bill to encourage thinking outside of the box for new revenue sources. Several farmers testified in opposition to the proposal and there were no supporters.

LB1104 would require proof of income from agriculture or at least $1,000 of gross revenue for parcels of less than five contiguous acres to be granted special valuation. Senator Kurt Friesen introduced the bill on behalf of Sarpy County to address acreages that seek treatment as agricultural property for valuation purposes.
The committee heard two bills that would change fees related to filings for transfers of real estate. LB1075 would impose a fee equal to one percent of the value of the real estate on the transaction. LB1076 would increase the documentary stamp tax by 50 cents for each $1,000 of value. The increased funds from both bills would go to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund.

Another bill would create a special homestead exemption for housing developed on Offutt Air Force Base as part of a federal privatization initiative in the mid-1990's. Under LB939, the private developers would make payments in lieu of taxes to cover school taxes because children from the base attend local public schools but the property would be exempt from other property taxes.Proponents argued that the developers pay property taxes but receive no services, such as road maintenance, from the county.

Bills Advanced to General File
Committees reported a number of bills to the floor this week. Some of those include LB861 to require the state to pay a county's prosecution costs when costs from a single incident at a state correctional facility exceed 2.5 cents of the county levy. A committee amendment would add procedures for filing and paying the claim. LB861 has been designated as a priority bill by the Appropriations Committee

LB887 would require 75 percent of all members of the governing body of a governmental unit to vote to exceed its budget authority. Existing law requires a vote "of the governing body".

Bills Passed by the Legislature
A measure to require counties to only post weight limit signs on bridges if the carrying capacity is less than the road was passed by the Legislature on a 45-0 vote. LB310 also specifies the size of culvert that is subject to weight limits as an implement of husbandry.

prioshapePriority Bill Designations Shape Session
Property tax relief, opioids, and speed limits are some of the topics senators will debate during the second half of the session. Senators finished designating their priority bills this week. A list of some of priority bills of interest to counties follows.Bills are listed by bill number, prioritizer, introducer, and description. A complete list of priority bills can be found here on the Legislature's website.

LB685 (Blood - Blood) Provide a funding priority for special-needs military dependents under the Developmental Disabilities Services Act
LB902 (Bostelman - Bostelman) Authorize the withholding from the public of information regarding firearm registration, possession, sale, or use
LB1084 (Briese - Briese) Adopt the Property Tax Request Limitation Act, provide sunset dates for certain tax exemptions and incentives, and change other revenue and taxation provisions
LB449 (Chambers - Chambers) Repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act
LB829 (Erdman - Erdman) Adopt the Property Tax Relief Act
LB993 (Geist - Friesen) Create the 911 Service System Advisory Committee and change the 911 Service System Act and eliminate the act's termination date

LB640 (Groene - Groene) Change provisions of the Property Tax Credit Act and provide school district property tax relief
LB1108 (Harr - Harr) Authorize certain tax credits, change the sales tax rate, and provide for school foundation aid and certain grant programs
LB931 (Howard - Howard) Provide requirements for opiate prescriptions
LB1009 (Hughes - Murante) Provide a super-two rural highway classification and change maximum highway speed limits as prescribed
LB368 (Krist - Lowe) Change helmet provisions, change passenger age limits, and require eye protection for operators of motorcycles and mopeds
LB1130 (Kuehn - Kuehn) Provide a disclosure requirement for certain tax-exempt organizations under the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act
LB389 (Lowe - Friesen) Adopt the Small Wireless Facilities Act
LB776 ( McCollister - McCollister) Provide requirements for inmate access to telephone or videoconferencing systems in county and city jails
LB1115 ( Murante - Murante) Provide population requirements for establishing district boundary lines for legislative districts, Supreme Court districts, and certain political subdivisions
LB158 (Pansing Brooks - Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to appointment of counsel for juveniles
LB1132 (Quick - Pansing Brooks) Provide a procedure to set aside convictions of victims of sex trafficking and to expunge related records
LR269CA (Schmuacher - Schumacher) Constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to delegate complete or partial sovereignty to one area of the state
LB947 (Smith - Smith) Adopt the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act, change income tax rates, and eliminate certain exemptions and credits
LB98 (Stinner - Friesen) Extend certain levy authority for natural resources districts
LB1113 (Walz - Walz) Provide an exception for leasing dark fiber or providing broadband, Internet, telecommunications, or video services by an agency or political subdivision of the state
LB44 (Watermeier - Watermeier) Adopt the Remote Seller Sales Tax Collection Act
LB990 (Wayne - Wayne) Create the offense of possession of a firearm by a prohibited juvenile offender
LB496 (Williams - Stinner) Define and redefine terms under the Community Development Law
Committee Priority Bills
LB861 (Appropriations Committee - Watermeier) Require that certain prosecution costs be paid by the state
LB1065 (Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee - Murante) Permit use of electronic poll books and use of digital images for confirmation of the voter's identity
LB841 (Judiciary Committee - Pansing Brooks) Provide duties relating to correctional overcrowding emergencies
LB670 (Judiciary Committee - Krist) Change membership, powers, and duties of the Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice
LB758 (Natural Resources Committee - Hughes) Provide for voluntary payments in lieu of taxes on water augmentation project lands as prescribed
LB1005 (Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee - Kolterman) Change county and school retirement provisions
LB1089 (Revenue Committee - Smith) Change provisions relating to confidential tax information, refundable income tax credits, and homestead exemptions
LB309 (Transportation and Telecommunications Committee - Bostelman) Change motor vehicle titling and registration provisions, assembled and kit vehicle provisions, and the branding of certificates of title as reconstructed or replica
LB874 (Urban Affairs Committee - Urban Affairs Committee) Change the Community Development Law
Speaker Priority Bills
LB714 (Howard) Provide for judicial emancipation of a minor
LB729 (Wayne) Allow claims arising out of misrepresentation or deceit under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act and State Tort Claims Act
LB923 (Morfeld) Provide immunity for certain law enforcement employees administering naloxone and change provisions relating to immunity for persons reporting or experiencing alcohol overdoses
LB1098 (Hilgers) Change dollar threshold for certain purchasing requirements under the County Purchasing Act

nacoscholNACO Scholarship Deadline is March 1
Nebraska high school seniors who are the children, stepchildren, or under the legal guardianship of county officials or employees are encouraged to apply for one of twelve $1,000.00 NACO scholarships. In addition to the twelve NACO scholarships, a special award, the Ronda Dix Memorial Scholarship, may be awarded to an applicant planning a career in nursing, physical therapy, or another medical field. Additional information and the application form can be found on the front page of the NACO website. The scholarship application deadline is March 1, 2018. To access the application from this article, click   here .

comhrgsCommittee Hearings Scheduled
Every bill introduced by the Legislature is the subject of a public hearing. Following is a schedule of bills that are of interest to counties.Note that bills not appearing on this list may be heard during the same hearing. Hearings will conclude on February 27.  A complete list of hearings is available on the Legislature's website.

Monday, February 26
General Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1125 (Groene) Change school finance base limitation and local effort rate provisions
Tuesday, February 27
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1115 (Murante) Provide population requirements for establishing district boundary lines for legislative districts, Supreme Court districts, and certain political subdivisions
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB680 (Krist) Adopt the Interstate Placement for Involuntarily Admitted Patients Agreement Act
  • LB690 (Blood) Adopt the Counterfeit Airbag Prevention Act 
  • LB1126 (Bolz) Adopt the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights Act
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1023 (Schumacher) Change sunset dates on certain tax incentive programs
  • LB1021 (Schumacher) Eliminate certain sales and use tax exemptions 
  • LB941 (Wayne) Change the calculation of the tax on the average wholesale price of gasoline 
  • LB1026 (Wayne) Authorize issuance of highway bonds, create a fund, and change existing highway funding provisions
  • LB1088 (Wayne) Adopt the Nebraska Education Formula and the Remote Seller Sales Tax Collection Act, terminate the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act and the Property Tax Credit Act, and eliminate certain tax exemptions
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