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January 19, 2018                                                             Legislative Report Archive 

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introconBill Introductions Conclude
Senators wrapped up the introduction of 469 bills on Thursday, the tenth day of the session. Public hearings on the new proposals began on Tuesday and will continue through February 27. A full list of introduced bills is available on the Legislature's website. A hearing schedule is available as well.

Floor debate this week focused on carryover bills on General File. LB193, a bill to update court references and reflect the use of JUSTICE, the Nebraska Supreme Court's electronic case management system, advanced to Select File on a 40-0 vote. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks carried the bill on behalf of NACO.
 
Chief Justice Mike Heavican presented his State of the Judiciary address on Thursday. He discussed the fiscal impact and results generated from LB605 (2015), a bill that expanded probation services and problem-solving courts in an effort to address prison overcrowding.


legmtg
NACO Legislative Committee Meeting Set for January 26
NACO's Legislative Committee will meet on January 26 to review and take positions on 2018 legislation. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the NACO office at 1335 H Street in Lincoln in the conference room on the second floor at the rear of the building.
 
After brief introductory remarks, affiliate groups will meet for discussion of bills pertinent to their membership. After the groups have met, the NACO Legislative Committee will reconvene as a whole to review and take positions on the entire list of bills. All county officials are encouraged to attend or discuss areas of concern with their NACO Board representative prior to the meeting. The NACO Board of Directors makes up the NACO Legislative Committee.  
 
Because lunch will be provided, please notify the NACO office at (402)434-5660 or leslie@nacone.org if you plan to attend. Because the Legislature is in session, parking around the Capitol will be limited. Public parking is not available behind the NACO office or in the MIPS lot. A parking garage is available at The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel at 12th and L Streets.
 
policyNew Policy for Submitting Letters to Committees
The Legislature's Standing Committees have adopted a new policy for the submission of letters to committees that are intended to be part of the record. Under the new policy, letters must be received by the committee by 5:00 p.m. the day prior to the hearing. Letters received after the cut-off will not be read into the record.

 
countywideCountywide Sales Tax, Valuation Bills Heard
NACO's proposal to provide for a countywide sales tax for economic development and manufacturing and industrial development was met with opposition from cities concerned about sharing funding sources during a Revenue Committee hearing on Thursday. LB884 was introduced by Senator Burke Harr for NACO.

Under existing law, counties can implement a sales tax for public safety services in areas of the county that are not subject to municipal sales taxes if approved by voters in the area subject to the tax. LB884 would strike the city sales tax limitation so that the sales tax would be applied countywide. All voters in the county would decide whether to impose a half-cent, one cent, or one-and one-half cent sales tax. County officials testified that non-property tax funding sources are needed for economic development, so counties can be ready for multi-million dollar projects, such as a Toyota plant that had been proposed in Cass County.

Senator Harr also introduced LB885 on NACO's behalf to require notices to be sent to property owners when someone else protests the value of their property. Although such protests do not occur frequently, the bill was proposed as a taxpayer fairness issue. An amendment will be offered to address protests submitted by third parties on behalf of the property owner.
 
The committee heard several bills to change valuations and procedures. LB772 would allow special valuation of agricultural and horticultural land which is located within the corporate boundaries of cities and villages in counties of less than 100,000. Senator Lynn Walz introduced the bill to address "donut holes" of ag land within the city of Fremont.
 
LB905 would place the burden on county assessors to prove that their values are "equitable and in accordance with the law" during property tax protests heard by the county board of equalization. NACO and county assessors testified in opposition to the bill noting that the proposed burden of proof is not a standard applied elsewhere. Testimony emphasized the difference between mass appraisal used by counties and fee appraisal applied to individual properties, as well as communication between assessors and taxpayers to arrive at a value.
 
Two bills, LB881 and LB882, were introduced on behalf of the Nebraska Bar Association to clarify technical aspects of inheritance tax collections. The bills do not affect the amount of inheritance taxes collected by counties.
 
Next Thursday, the committee will hear LB899, a bill to require the proration of values if real property is destroyed by fire or other natural disasters between January 1 and October 1. Assessors would have to set values on the original property and the destroyed property, as well as any replacement property. LB1089, which would address valuation changes in the event of a major calamity, has not been set for hearing.
 
The committee will also hear LB829, a bill to provide property owners with an income tax credit equal to half of the property taxes they paid for schools. The same concept is being circulated as a petition to be placed on the 2018 general election ballot.
 
 
salcaps Bills Propose Caps on County Officials' Salaries
On Thursday, January 25, the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee will hear two bills to cap county officials' salaries. The hearings will begin at 1:30 in Room 1507 of the State Capitol. The hearing will be livestreamed on NET.

LB831 would place an annual salary limitation on elected officials of political subdivisions, including county board members. The limitation would prohibit counties from paying an annual salary to board members that is more than twice the annual salary of a member of the legislature. Because members of the legislature earn $12,000 annually, that limitation would be $24,000. Based on the salaries for county board members in 2017, 24 county boards would be impacted.
 
LB997 would limit salaries of administrative employees of political subdivisions, including counties. The bill defines an administrative employee as "an employee whose primary responsibilities are supervisory or supportive in nature" and specifically lists county clerks, county administrators and any personnel whose position provides support to such positions, or similar positions that perform a similar administrative function and their support personnel. This definition could potentially include all county offices and departments. The bill would prohibit counties from spending more than five percent of their budgets for salaries and benefits for administrative employees.
 
Historically, NACO has opposed the idea of the Legislature setting salaries for elected county officials. In the late 1970's, several members of the Legislature expressed concerns that the salaries of county officials did not appear to keep pace with other salaries in the state. They advocated that the state set salaries for county officials. Recognizing that local officials would best know the salary requirements of their respective offices, NACO appointed a committee in 1981 to study county salaries and publish a report recommending minimum base salaries for elected officeholders for the 1983-1986 term. The efforts of the 1981 committee resulted in a noticeable improvement in county salaries and benefits. Similar committees were appointed in 1985 and every four years since, including 2017, to study county officials' salaries and make salary recommendations prior to the January 15 deadline for setting salaries.

 
 hrgsnapSnapshots of Hearings
Every bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature is given a public hearing by a committee. Each senator is assigned to one or more committees. Following is a summary of discussion at selected committee hearings this week. The committees did not report taking action on any of the listed bills.
 
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard bills to clean up outdated language and define the number of votes needed to enact a one-percent budget increase. LB786 would update terminology used in 14 county statutes, for example adding "or she" when "he" is used to refer to a county official.
 
LB 825 was introduced on behalf of the State Auditor to clean up and harmonize budget statutes. Because testifiers raised questions about whether proposed language striking references to a sinking fund moved beyond a technical cleanup, an amendment will be offered to reinstate the sinking fund language.
 
LB887 would require a vote of at least seventy-five percent of all members of a governing body in order to enact an additional one percent of budget authority. Existing law does not clearly indicate whether the count should be based upon the total number of members of the body or the number of members present. An audit report for the City of Lincoln questioned the count and a December Attorney General's opinion concluded that the vote should be based upon 75 percent of the members of the governing body constituting the quorum, not the entire membership of the body.
 
Judiciary Committee
On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee heard three hours of testimony on a bill to require counties to provide jail inmates with a prepaid, collect or combination phone system and prohibit counties from receiving revenue in excess of the reasonable operating costs for establishing and administering the system. LB776 would require providers of inmate phone services to allow inmates to communicate with their attorneys without charge and without monitoring or recording by the jail or law enforcement. The Federal Communications System (FCC) already caps the cost of interstate inmate phone calls but does not set a cap on intrastate calls or commissions.
 
The committee also heard testimony on LB678, a measure to seal criminal records for acts occurring before January 1, 2017. In addition, the bill moves forward the date for determining correctional overcrowding emergencies.
 
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
The Department of Transportation, Board of Examiners of County Highway and City Street Superintendents, county highway superintendents, and NACO testified in support of LB733, a bill to extend the duration of Class B county highway or city street superintendents from one year to three years. This would match the duration of Class A licenses.
 
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.  A complete list of hearings is available on the Legislature's website.

Monday, January 22
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB683 (Blood) Provide a license fee exemption for servicemembers and their spouses under the Nebraska Real Estate License Act
 
Business and Labor Committee
Room 2102, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB784 (Vargas) Change the Employee Classification Act to prohibit contractors with unpaid fines from contracting with the state or political subdivisions
 
Executive Board
Room 2102, 12:00 p.m.
  • LB744 (Executive Board) Adopt the Legislative Qualifications and Election Contests Act
 
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB895 (Geist) Change lien and flood-damaged brand provisions relating to motor vehicle certificates of title and change duties and requirements of the Department of Motor Vehicles as prescribed
  • LB896 (Geist) Change provisions relating to electronic certificates of title, salvage vehicles, and the electronic dealer services system and Vehicle Title and Registration System maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles
 
Tuesday, January 23
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB671 (Krist) Change requirements for certain driving permits and use of occupant protection systems, change certain violations from secondary to primary enforcement, and prohibit use of interactive wireless communication devices by school bus operators
  • LB711 (Baker) Change requirements for use of occupant protection systems 

Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB750 (Williams) Change provisions relating to recording of real property instruments and rights and duties of secured creditors

Urban Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB940 (Friesen) Change provisions of the Civic and Community Center Financing Act relating to fund use, grant request limits, property sale restrictions, and grant application priority
  • LB707 (Kolterman) Change provisions of the Uniform Standard Code for Manufactured Homes and Recreational Vehicles by eliminating applicability and references to manufactured homes and renaming the code
  •  LB854 (Quick) Expand the number of municipalities which may create a land bank and change land ank powers and board requirements
 
Wednesday, January 24
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB670 (Krist) Change membership, powers, and duties of the Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice
  • LB673 (Krist) Change procedures for certain hearings for juveniles
  • LB689 (Blood) Exclude juveniles from the Sex Offender Registration Act
  • LB708 (Bolz) Change provisions relating to juvenile court bridge orders
  • LB714 (Howard) Provide a procedure for judicial emancipation of a minor
  • LB774 (Pansing Brooks) Change peace officers' duties regarding encounters with certain juveniles
  • LB870 (Pansing Brooks) Provide for room confinement for juveniles as prescribed

Natural Resources Committee
Room 1525, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB762 (Hughes) Change a date for certain scrap tire recycling grants
 
Thursday, January 25
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB688 (Blood) Provide for the possession, use, and application of sunscreen for children and students and provide immunity
  • LB729 (Wayne) Allow claims arising out of misrepresentation or deceit under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act and State Tort Claims Act
  • LB780 (Pansing Brooks) Prohibit manufacture, import, transfer, and possession of multiburst trigger activators and firearm silencers
  • LB810 (Harr) Change provisions of State Tort Claims Act relating to certain claims arising out of misrepresentation or deceit by the Department of Health and Human Services
  • LB849 (Ebke) Provide procedure for return of handguns temporarily taken into possession by law enforcement under Concealed Handgun Permit Act

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB831 (Wayne) Provide annual salary limitations for elected officials of political subdivisions
  • LB997 (Murante) Provide limits on salaries of administrative employees of political subdivisions
     
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB829 (Erdman) Adopt the Property Tax Relief Act
  • LB899 (Erdman) Provide for an adjustment to the assessed value of destroyed real property

Friday, January 26
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB832 (Wayne) Change definition of marijuana under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
  • LB906 (Williams) Change provisions relating to Schedule I controlled substances
  • LB970 (Wayne) Change marijuana penalties as prescribed
  • LB971 (Wayne) Change a penalty for possession under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
 
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