|Early Adjournment Set for May 23
On Tuesday Speaker Jim Scheer announced that the Legislature will adjourn sine die on May 23, the 86th day, rather than on June 2, the 90th day of the session.
After a challenging start to the session,122 bills have been passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. Another 47 have been passed by the Legislature or are on Final Reading.
Bills that are not passed or killed will carry over to the 2018 session at the same stage of debate. A daily worksheet shows the status of each bill. The worksheet for May 15 is available
|Budget Bills Sent to Governor
The Legislature passed an $8.9 billion, two-year state budget package this week. The package was sent to Governor Pete Ricketts, who can sign, veto, line-item veto, or let the bills pass without his signature.
The budget process was especially challenging this year as the state faced a budget gap of more than $900 million at the start of the session and revenue projections were lowered as the session went on. The final budget cut some spending and slowed other spending, swept money from cash funds, tapped the state's reserves, and lowered the amount of reserves required by law. Opponents proposed returning to the amount of last year's appropriations, making across the board reductions, and eliminating exemptions as possible mechanisms to close the budget gap. In a show of opposition, the initial vote on
to take money from the cash reserve and lower the minimum cash reserve requirements, failed to garner the 33 votes needed for an emergency clause. Amid talk of a possible state government shutdown, a reconsideration motion was offered and the bill passed with enough votes for the emergency clause.
Governor Pete Ricketts has not announced the specific actions he plans to take on the budget bills, but has expressed concerns that the revenue forecasts are too optimistic. If he makes line item vetoes, the Appropriations Committee must report on the fiscal implications and effect on operations. The committee may offer a motion to override the total or any part of the line item vetoes. Subsequently, override motions may be made by other members of the Legislature. Thirty votes are required for an override. The process is set out in Rule 6, section 14 of the Legislature's
. The Speaker has tentatively reserved time on Tuesday's agenda to address possible override motions.
The Appropriations Committee's proposed budget report is available
| Records Modernization Bill Signed Governor
, a bill to eliminate a January 1, 2018 termination date on filing fees used for records preservation and modernization, was
signed by Governor Rickets on May 9. It will take effect three calendar months after the Legislature adjourns.
The fee structure was implemented in 2012 to help provide funding to maintain and upgrade documents filed in the offices of county registers of deeds and the Secretary of State. The fees are used for technology projects such as microfilming and digitizing records and implementing e-recording. Some counties have used the funds to repair old land record books and provide public access computers in register of deeds offices.
Without LB152, the fee structure would return to the pre-2012 process on January 1, 2018.
Senator Joni Craighead introduced LB152 on behalf of NACO. Senator John Lowe introduced as similar bill,
, and put his support behind LB152.
|Felon Voting Rights Veto Override Unsuccessful
The Legislature took up three election bills this week. On Monday, senators failed to override a veto of a bill that would have eliminated a two-year waiting period to restore voting rights to ex-felons. The bill proposed restoring voting rights immediately upon completion of their sentence or probation. The vote on the motion was 23-23, which fell short of the 30 votes needed for an override.
was introduced and prioritized by Senator Justin Wayne.
Debate on a proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to present identification ended after a motion to invoke cloture failed. Senator John Murante introduced and prioritized
to require the Legislature to provide specifications for the kind of identification that would be necessary and the manner in which it would be presented. The Legislature would also provide for exemptions from requirements to present identification when it would violate an individual's constitutional rights.
Speakers on LB75 and LR1CA discussed disenfranchisement, racial inequities, and constitutionality of the proposals.
, an election clean-up bill, was passed by the Legislature on May 8. It would move the date for certain political subdivisions to certify the races that must be filled on an upcoming ballot from July 1 to June 15 in even-numbered years. Election notices would appear in the newspaper 42, rather than 40 days prior to the election. Other sections of the bill would create a three-tiered time frame for filling vacancies in the Legislature.
Discussion of election issues will continue this summer. Senator Murante, who chairs the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, has introduced two interim study resolutions on election issues.
will examine the timing of special elections conducted on behalf of political subdivisions and the effect of requiring all such elections to be held in conjunction with statewide primary or general elections.
will examine voter fraud in Nebraska.
A public hearing has been scheduled for May 15 on
, a resolution to urge removal of the federal designation of state election systems as critical infrastructure. The hearing will begin at 12:00 in Room 1507 of the State Capitol.
|Special Hearings Scheduled on Legislative Resolutions
Public hearings have been scheduled on several legislative resolutions. The full hearing schedule is available
Monday, May 15
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 12:00
- LR95 (Craighead) Provide the Honor and Remember Flag is adopted as an official symbol of the State of Nebraska
- LR71 (Murante) Urge United States Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to remove the designation of state election systems as critical infrastructure
Tuesday, May 16
Room 2102 12:00 p.m.
- LR127 (Krist) Provide the Executive Board appoint a special committee of the Legislature to be known as the Nebraska Justice System Special Investigative Committee
Wednesday, May 17
Room 1113, 8:00 a.m.
- LR151 (Pansing Brooks) Recognize the historic significance of the In re Gault decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, and acknowledge its importance to the juvenile justice system
|Interim Study Resolutions Introduced
Taxation, juvenile justice, elections and other topics of interest to counties will be examined during interim studies this summer. Study resolutions were introduced through the 80th day, which was May 10. 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
(Urban Affairs Committee)Interim study to examine issues related to the use of tax-increment financing
(Smith) Interim study to examine the structure and administration of, and compliance with, real and personal property taxes
(Ebke) Interim study to examine possible legislative reforms to Nebraska's mandatory minimum sentencing laws
(Blood) Interim study to examine cross-county assessment and collection of ad valorem taxes
Courts, Sentencing, Juvenile Justice
(McDonnell) Interim study to research how the state and each of the counties handle, process, and test sexual assault evidence collection kits
(Pansing Brooks) Interim study to examine the impact of incarceration on children in Nebraska
(McCollister) Interim study to examine the cost of telephone calls made by people housed in county jails in Nebraska
(Pansing Brooks) Interim study to examine the policies, practices, and laws that govern the safeguarding and sealing of juvenile records
(Hansen) Interim study to examine the effectiveness of section 29-901, which relates to the imposition of bail, and section 29-2206, which relates to the imposition of fines, fees, and court costs
(Hansen) Interim study to investigate the purpose and benefits of creating conviction integrity units in Nebraska
(Hansen) Interim study to examine possible reforms to Nebraska's sentencing laws to accommodate an option of deferred judgment probation
2 (Murante) Interim study to examine elections conducted by and on behalf of political subdivisions
(Murante) Interim study to examine the extent of voter fraud in Nebraska
(Urban Affairs Committee) Interim study to examine issues under the jurisdiction of the Urban Affairs Committee
(Kolterman) Interim study to examine the public employees' retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board
(Larson) Interim study to examine the collection of annual assessments under the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act
(Murante) Interim study to examine issues under the jurisdiction of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
(Williams) Interim study to examine whether the unclaimed property laws of Nebraska should be updated
(Friesen) Interim study to review the implementation of the 911 Service System Act
(Friesen) Interim study to review issues under the jurisdiction of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
(Hilkemann) Interim study to examine the system of valuing automobiles for calculation of the motor vehicle tax
(Friesen) Interim study to examine issues surrounding the relocation of utilities within the public right-of-way
(Wayne) Interim study to examine the potential for counties to have additional authority to pass ordinances within county boundaries
(Stinner) Interim study to examine fiscal distress among local political subdivisions in Nebraska and how the Legislature could establish an early warning system to identify and respond to such fiscal distress
LR245 (Brewer) Interim study to examine issues raised by LB504, 2017, related to placing a moratorium on industrial development of wind energy projects
(Wayne) Interim study to examine issues related to eminent domain and property rights
| Snapshots of County Issues
Bills Passed by the Legislature
The following bills are some of the measures sent to Governor Ricketts this week.
would revise bridge bidding procedures in counties over 150,000 that employ a purchasing agent. Bids could be opened outside of county board meetings so that contractors would not have to wait for unrelated items on the county board's agenda.
would revise deadlines for mowing road ditches. The bill would require mowing to be done sometime in July for the first time and sometime in September for the second time. Landowners, counties or townships could mow at any time for sight distances at intersections and entrances and for snow control as needed. Under existing law, the first mowing must occur before July 15 and the second sometime in August.
would allow victims of human trafficking to protect their residential addresses under the Address Confidentiality Act administered by the Secretary of State. These protections are already available to victims of domestic violence.
would allow law enforcement officers to request that their residential address is not disclosed as a public record in the office of the county assessor and register of deeds. The request would be good for five years.
would exempt purchases by county coroners from the requirements of the County Purchasing Act. A similar exemption has already been granted to purchases by county hospitals.
would increase to 60,000 a population threshold triggering county surveyors to act as county highway superintendents. Because Buffalo County will exceed the 50,000 threshold in the next census, they would be forced to overhaul their existing roads system unless the statute is changed.
would address a population trigger that would cause Lancaster County to implement a civil service commission. Existing law requires counties in excess of 300,000 to form such a commission. The bill would increase the population to 400,000.
was introduced by Senator Steve Erdman on behalf of NACO. The bill would place Highway Allocation Funds and incentive payments outside of the definition of restricted funds for budgeting. This calculation would give counties more flexibility in how they spend money generated from last year's gas tax and the Build Nebraska Act.
would provide options for indigent persons who would otherwise sit out their fines in jail. Courts would be required to consider a defendant's ability to pay a fine before sentencing him or her to jail time for nonpayment. Courts could instead impose community service or allow for payment by installments. Courts would be required to consider all methods of bond payments to avoid pretrial incarceration. Counsel would be appointed for indigent debtors if being found in contempt of court might result in imprisonment.
Bills Signed Into Law
Governor Ricketts has signed a number of bills that passed last week. Some of the bills that would impact counties include the following.
eliminates the requirement for veterans who are totally disabled by a non-service accident or illness to annually submit certification of their total disability to the assessor in order to qualify for a homestead exemption. Individuals who have certain permanent physical disabilities or amputations are already exempt from such filings unless their medical condition changes. The county assessor or Tax Commissioner could request certification to verify that there has been no change in the applicant's medical condition.
allows counties to enter into interlocal service agreements for sewage disposal systems. The bill applies only to Sarpy County.
changes the statute of limitations for civil actions for sexual assault of a child.
revises the definition of "knife" within the criminal code to return to statutory language from 2009 that required courts to consider the intent of the party to use the knife as a deadly weapon.