|Property Tax Debate on Tuesday's Agenda
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, the property tax bill supported by Governor Ricketts, appears on the Legislature's agenda on Tuesday, April 3, for General File debate. The day will begin at 9:00 a.m. with Final Reading on the budget and claims bills,
, then move to LB947.
News articles are reporting that there are likely 25 votes to advance the bill but it isn't clear if there are 33 votes to invoke cloture and end debate so that a vote on advancement can be taken.
The debate will be livestreamed by
, which is available through the Legislature's
. Tuesday's agenda is available
|Budget Bill Advances from Second Round
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A compromise on Title X funding allowed
, the mainline budget bill, to advance on Wednesday night from the second round of debate following a two-hour filibuster and a cloture vote. Two other budget bills,
, advanced from Select File last week, but two cloture votes on LB944 were unsuccessful thus no votes were taken to advance the bill.
A group of senators worked on a
that borrowed language from federal regulations and other states that would prohibit funds disbursed under the federal Title X program from being used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning and place restrictions on other activities of qualified health organizations. Under the budget proposed by Governor Ricketts, federal Title X funds could not be paid or granted to an organization that performs, assists, provides counseling in favor of or refers for abortion services.
Senators clashed over funding for abortion-related services, the propriety of including a policy decision in a budget bill and the bill's impact on health care services to low income persons.
All three budget bills and the state claims bill appear on Tuesday's agenda for Final Reading. Friday and Monday are recess days. The session is tentatively scheduled to adjourn on April 18, the 60th day of the session. Bills that are not passed or killed in this session will not carry over to 2019.
Senators are scheduled to work late nights during the next two weeks to try to debate as many priority bills as possible. On late nights, the body recesses for 30 to 40 minutes around 5:30 p.m. for dinner, then continues debate until 9:00 p.m. or later. Speaker Jim Scheer indicated that senators may work until 10 p.m. next Friday.
The Appropriations Committee's budget proposal can be found
|Inmate Phone Call, Corrections, Tort Claims Bills Advance
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A bill to regulate the costs of phone calls by inmates and limit the amount counties and cities can receive for providing phone service was amended before advancing from first round debate.
would change provisions relating to powers and duties of the Jail Standards Board and provide requirements for inmate access to telephone or videoconferencing systems in county and city jails.
Pursuant to a compromise amendment that was adopted prior to advancement, a county operating a county jail may receive revenue for the reasonable operating costs for establishing and administering such telephone services system or videoconferencing system, but shall not receive excessive commissions or bonus payments. In determining the amount of such reasonable operating costs, the Jail Standards Board may consider for comparative purposes the rates for inmate calling services provided in
47 C.F.R. part 64
. Amounts in excess of the reasonable operating costs include, but are not limited to, any excessive commissions and bonus payments, as determined by the Jail Standards Board, including, but not limited to, awards paid to a county for contracting with an entity that provides such service.The Jail Standards Board would be required to ensure that county jails are providing inmates with means to communicate by telephone or videoconferencing with inmates' families, loved ones, and counsel.
Officers in charge of municipal prisons or jails who fail to comply would be guilty of a Class V misdemeanor.
Tort Claims Bill Advances to Select File
A court case in which a family was not informed about their foster child's history until after he assaulted their son led to the introduction of
by Senator Justin Wayne. As initially introduced, LB729 would have allowed claims arising out of misrepresentation or deceit under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA) and the State Tort Claims Act. However, a committee amendment which was adopted removed the language that applied to the PSTCA and narrowed the applicability to the Department of Health and Human Services.
had also been introduced at the beginning of the legislative session to address this issue but was withdrawn after the introducers determined they were attempting to accomplish similar results with their legislation.
Judiciary Committee Priority Bill on Corrections Advances
, one of two Judiciary Committee priority bills, was advanced from General File to Select File after the legislative body adopted portions of the Judiciary Committee amendment.
Senators started debate on Tuesday and adopted an amendment constituting part of the committee amendment. The bill was pulled from the agenda for the day at the request of the committee chair when it became clear that a filibuster was underway that could derail the bill. It was brought back on Thursday and advanced to Select File.
As amended, LB841 incorporates several bills that are intended to improve policies and procedures related to the state's criminal justice system, focusing on the Department of Corrections and the Board of Parole and Office of Parole Administration. Two county-related bills, LB816 and LB853, were removed from the committee amendment prior to the advancement of LB841.
would transfer the authority to conduct criminal investigations relating to conduct occurring within facilities operated by the Department of Correctional Services from the Department to the Nebraska State Patrol. Included within the amended LB816 were provisions that would move inmates to county jails. Such provisions raised concerns about the length of time the inmate would stay in county jail, the costs of housing inmates in county jails and concerns about moving inmates to jails that would have no space for additional inmates.
The second county-related bill which was removed was
that would authorize the Department of Correctional Services to contract with counties for housing inmates in county jails under certain conditions to help alleviate overcrowding.
|Wind Energy Moratorium Proposed
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Senators gave first and second round approval to a bill that would increase liquidated damages for wildlife violations and amended it to include public power provisions. During General File debate on
, Senator Tom Brewer offered an amendment based on
that would prohibit construction of wind energy projects after August 1, 2018 unless a county's zoning regulations or a resolution address setbacks, property values, noise limits, environmental impacts, and decommissioning turbines at the end of their useful life. He cited the R-Line project proposed in the Sandhills as his reason for introducing the bill and
In addition to the Brewer amendment, debate focused on proposed language to allow the public power industry to withhold competitive or proprietary information that would give a business advantage to competitors. A recent Nebraska Supreme Court case involving a request for information about the Nebraska Public Power District found that the information could not be withheld. It stated that it is the role of the Legislature to balance the public purposes embodies in the public records statutes and the public power statutes. After three hours of General File debate on the bill and amendments, a motion to invoke cloture was successful. The Brewer amendment lost and the bill advanced.
Select File debate occurred on Thursday and the bill passed despite a motion to recommit to the Natural Resources Committee, debate on several proposed amendments, and discussion of the germaneness of combining game and public power issues into a single bill. The combination was determined to be germane since all issues were heard by the Natural Resources Committee. The bill advanced from Select File on Wednesday.
|Snapshots of County Issues
Consent Calendar Bills Advanced from General File
Senators took up a list of noncontroversial bills through a consent calendar process on Monday and Tuesday nights. On consent calendar, each bill is given 15 minutes for debate. At the expiration of 15 minutes or the completion of debate, whichever comes first, a vote is taken to advance the bill and on any pending amendments. Any amendment adopted, other than the standing committee amendment, which adds new subject matter results in the bill not being scheduled for Select File.
The following bills of interest to counties were advanced from General File.
would extend the duration of Class B county highway or street superintendent licenses from one year to three years to match the length of Class A licenses.
, as amended by a Revenue Committee amendment, would require the county clerk to mail a copy of the property tax protest form to the property owner when the valuation has been protested by someone other than the owner. The amendment added language clarifying that a third party, such as a management company, can protest on behalf of the owner.
would provide that new filing fees and court courts are not assessed in the transfer of jurisdiction from juvenile court to district court through bridge orders.
would create procedures for the emancipation of minors.
would update a statute that was missed last year when legislation was adopted to address new court rules on media access during audiovisual court appearances.
would double the dollar amount that could be spent on employee recognition dinners under the Local Government Miscellaneous Expenditures Act from $25 to $50. The rate had not been increased since 1993.
would extend the deadline for online voter registration from 5:00 p.m. to midnight on the deadline day. The bill was introduced on behalf of the Secretary of State.
would update terminology used in county statutes to be gender neutral.
would allocate motor vehicle sales tax based on the situs of vehicles owned by public power districts and licensed at their headquarters. The bill would not take effect until 2021 when the new vehicle titling and registration system will be implemented by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Bills Advanced from Select File
On Wednesday senators advanced a number of bills from Select File.
would require political entities such as schools and county hospitals that are contemplating business decisions that would result in employees being removed from the state-administered retirement systems to give notice of their intent and reimburse the retirement plan for costs.
, as amended on General File, is an omnibus bill addressing vehicle titling and registration and encompassing a number of bills. Amendments were adopted on Select File to add bills allowing special permits for hauling oversize loads of bales of livestock forage (hay bales) as proposed by
, updates to carrier enforcement laws to reflect federal changes (
), and compensation for motor vehicle dealers for recalls (
). Another amendment was adopted to incorporate
, a bill to require drivers to move over when approaching highway maintenance, utility, and recycling collection vehicles.
would create a process for a victim of sex trafficking to petition the court to set aside a conviction or adjudication for prostitution-related and other offenses. Senator Theresa Thibodeau offered an amendment to regulate bottle clubs based on
but its germaneness was challenged. The amendment was withdrawn and the bill advanced on a voice vote.
would provide for increased speed limits on most categories of roads except the interstate. It would also create a new "super-two" category of major arterial highway.
Bills Signed by Governor Ricketts
would prohibit juvenile felony offenders who have been adjudicated for a felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing a firearm until the age of 25. Exceptions were made for members of the armed forces and law enforcement. Senator Paul Schumacher offered a floor amendment that would require representation by counsel prior to adjudication in certain instances. The amendment was compared to
, a bill introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks that would require counsel for juveniles. LB158 failed to receive enough votes for cloture and did not advance from General File earlier in the session.
Fourteen bills were passed and sent to the governor on Thursday. Following are some of the bills of interest to counties.
would create the 911 Service System Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the Public Service Commission (PSC) regarding the implementation and funding of next generation 911. Fourteen appointed members would represent county officials, emergency managers, public safety answering points, law enforcement, wireless carriers, and others. The PSC would determine how to allocate the 911 Service System Fund and determine the criteria for distribution. Funds could be used for costs of governing bodies or public safety answering points, including, but not limited to the acquisition of new equipment, delivering core services, training personnel used to provide 911 services,
would change judicial district boundaries for Clay, Nuckolls, and Otoe counties.
|Interim Studies Introduced
Criminal justice, elections and other topics of interest to counties will be examined during interim studies this summer. Study resolutions were introduced through the 50th day, which was March 27. Study resolutions are prioritized by the chairperson of the committee to which they are referred. Public hearings and stakeholder meetings are held throughout the summer on selected resolutions. A complete list of interim studies is
(Hansen) Interim study to conduct a review of issues arising from the lack of mental health treatment for those in the criminal justice system
(Lowe) Interim study to review procedures and practices at the Youth Rehabilitation Center-Kearney and the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Geneva with the intent to improve safety and security
(Bolz) Interim study to examine the success of the Office of Violence Prevention since its establishment
(Morfeld) Interim study to examine the feasibility of adopting the American Bar Association's Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases
(Hansen) Interim study to examine the effectiveness of statute 29-901, as relates to the imposition of bail and the requiring of money bonds for misdemeanors and city ordinance violations
(Howard) Interim study to examine the disproportionality that exists in Nebraska's foster care and juvenile justice systems
(Wayne) Interim study to examine the Nebraska Juvenile Code
(Wayne) Interim study to review criminal offenses throughout the Nebraska statute
(Hansen) Interim study to examine the effects on elections should Nebraska switch to an all vote-by-mail system
(McCollister) Interim study to examine whether inmates in county jails, who are eligible to vote, are being unconstitutionally disenfranchised due to their circumstance
(Kolterman) Interim study to examine the public employees' retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board
(Kolterman) Interim study to carry out the provisions of 13-2402 which require the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee to monitor underfunded defined benefit plans administered by political subdivisions
(Morfeld) Interim study to examine resources available to the state and political subdivisions to fund roads
(Wayne) Interim study to review issues pertaining to funding Nebraska's infrastructure system
(Clements) Interim study to examine the regional boundaries of the Nebraska Planning and Development Regions
(Quick) Interim study to examine issues related to the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act
(Walz) Interim study to examine the conditions which lead to the congregation, isolation, and segregation of Nebraskans with mental illness who reside in institutional settings and those at risk of placement in institutional settings due to a lack of community support and services
(Morfeld) Interim study to examine the self-funded model that has led to the development and management of technology to allow citizens electronic access to government information and services
(Friesen) Interim study to examine issues raised by LB 1031, 2018, which considered whether the One-Call Notification System Act should be updated
Interim study to examine taxes and fees on wireless services