Nebraska Association of County Officials

Legislative Report
February 12, 2021 Legislative Report Archive View the video Legislative Report here
Inheritance Tax Reduction Hearing on February 18
LB310, a bill to increase amounts exempt from inheritance tax and decrease the tax rate, will be heard by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 18. The bill will sharply reduce inheritance tax collections. It does not provide replacement revenue.
Nebraska counties use inheritance taxes for things that would otherwise be paid for by an increase in property taxes. Most counties don’t have a reserve and many use inheritance taxes to respond to emergencies that can’t wait until the next budget cycle.
Please contact your senator or the Revenue Committee to express opposition to LB310. Include statistical data if you have it and information about how your county has used inheritance taxes to reduce property taxes or deal with emergencies.
Letters and emails must be received by the committee by noon (CST) on Wednesday, February 17 to be included as part of the record. The committee email address is: Letters must identify the bill (LB310), state your name and address, state a position against LB310, and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record for the bill.
If you would like to testify in person, please notify the NACO office. Due to social distancing protocols, a limited number of testifiers are allowed in the hearing room at any given time. We want to coordinate testimony as best we can. The Legislature's information about in-person and written testimony is available here.
Members of the Revenue Committee are: Chair Lou Ann Linehan, Vice Chair Brett Lindstrom, Senators Joni Albrecht, Eliot Bostar, Tom Briese, Mike Flood, Curt Friesen, and Rich Pahls.
The hearing will be livestreamed on NET.
Elimination of Elected Offices Proposed in Two Separate Bills
County assessors would not be elected officials after January 1, 2023 under a bill that will be heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. LB179 would replace the elected office with a position appointed by the county board in counties with a population over 3,500 and more than 1,200 tax returns in a given year. In smaller counties, the county clerk would serve as county assessor. LB179 will be heard on Friday, February 19 at 1:30 p.m.
The position of ex officio clerk of the district court would be eliminated and the duties transferred to the clerk magistrate under LB102. If the office of elected clerk of the district court becomes vacant or the incumbent does not run again, county boards could choose to eliminate the office and transfer duties to the clerk magistrate. The Judiciary Committee will hear LB102 on Thursday, February 25 at 1:30 p.m.
NACO opposes both bills, as well as LB43 that would require the election of some election commissioners. LB43 was heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on January 28 and remains in committee pending the outcome of a Nebraska Supreme Court case.
Committees Send Bills to Full Legislature
As committees continue to hold public hearings on bills, they are also meeting in executive sessions to send bills to the full body of the Legislature for debate. Hearings will conclude for the Judiciary Committee on March 12; other committees will conclude hearings on March 4. Floor debate will be held on the morning of February 16, then intermittently until hearings conclude. Full days of floor debate will begin on March 15.
This week the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee advanced LB93, a bill introduced by the committee at NACO’s request, to eliminate county clerks’ responsibility for mailing a monthly report of marriage licenses to the Department of Health and Human Services. The data is available electronically.
The committee also advanced LB94 to clarify that online notarial acts performed while Executive Order 20-13 was in place could not be invalidated. The order accelerated the ability to perform online notarial acts under LB186 (2019) before its July 1, 2020 effective date.
LB368 would give the State Auditor discretion to impose a $20 per day late fee on political subdivisions that fail to file financial reports with their office. LB369 would grant the Auditor unrestricted access to the working papers and audit files for any audit report required to be filed in their office.
The Business and Labor Committee reported out LB169, a bill to eliminate the duty of county clerks to issue locksmith licenses. NACO supported the bill. Another bill, LB155, would create the In the Line of Duty Compensation Act to provide a $50,000 benefit to law enforcement officers and others who die in the line of duty.
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee Hears Broadband Bills
The State of Nebraska would spend $20 million annually to expand high-speed internet service to rural areas under a proposal heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Monday. LB388, introduced by Transportation Committee Chair Curt Friesen on behalf of Governor Pete Ricketts, would provide grants in unserved and underserved areas. A similar bill, LB456, would appropriate $10 million for grants. A separate concept set out in LB604 would distribute broadband grants through the Department of Economic Development.
The committee also heard measures to cap application fees for permits to collocate wireless facilities. LB520 is aimed at limiting fees used by consultants hired by governmental entities to help with the process. It would also enact a 60-day shot clock for the review and approval of applications.
Other bills would establish a framework for agreements between electric utilities and broadband service providers (LB455) and set minimum broadband speeds (LB398).
NACO testified in support of an amendment to LB656 that would allow counties to provide broadband services on a wholesale or retail basis. As introduced, cities would be given this authority.
Revenue Committee Hears Property Tax Proposals
This week the Revenue Committee heard 13 proposals that would affect property taxes. LB63, introduced by Senator Brett Lindstrom on behalf of NACO, would change the deadline for county assessors to submit recommendations to county boards of equalization from February 1 to March 1.
Ag land values would be dropped to 30 percent of actual value for school bonds (LB2) or 55 percent for school funding (LB454). LB454 would also adjust the state aid to schools formula.
LB644 would require taxing entities to provide information about budget, valuation and levy increases through additional notices, meetings, and postcards mailed to individual taxpayers. NACO testified in opposition to LB644, citing redundancy and the difficulties of a joint meeting with other taxing entities, especially those that cross county lines.
LB79 would increase the minimum amount allocated to the Property Tax Credit Fund by the allowable growth rate of the income tax credit created by last session’s LB1107.
LB165 would change the assessment of real property that is damaged. Legislation adopted after the 2019 floods created a process for reducing property values after the January 1 assessment date when at least 20 percent of the property is destroyed due to a calamity. LB165 would require county assessors to inspect and review all properties on which a damage report was filed and present a report to the county board of equalization, which would be required to adjust the assessed value on the date the damage occurred. NACO testified in opposition to the bill.
LB189 would eliminate the ability for counties and other taxing entities to extend property tax refunds over five years when a shorter period would cause a hardship. Instead, refunds would have to be included in the next budget. Interest would accrue at a rate of 9 percent. The bill was introduced because an ethanol plant sought a quicker refund of taxes after a court decision decreased their valuation. NACO testified in opposition to LB189.
LB98 was introduced to address “donut holes” of agricultural property located within city limits in counties under 100,000. The bill would expand the amount of property eligible for special valuation. NACO estimated that the bill could reduce the tax base and provided the committee with the history of special valuation.
LB313 would extend the homestead exemption filing deadline for persons whose spouse has died. NACO worked with introducer Senator Rita Sanders and proponents on an amendment to clarify the treatment of partial exemptions. Sarpy and Douglas County representatives and NACO testified in support of the amended bill.
LB214 would define wasteland and recreational land. Revenue Committee Chair, Lou Ann Linehan described the bill as clarification so that if a farmer wants to hunt or fish on their land occasionally, the primary use of the property would not be considered recreational.
LB466 would require county assessors to prorate property taxes when a property is sold if proration does not occur during the closing. The bill is directed at how some real estate agents calculate property taxes during closings in Douglas and Sarpy counties.
LB222 would require in lieu of tax payments on property owned by the Game and Parks Commission for wildlife management purposes to be based on the property’s highest and best use. Currently the value of the land is based on its use immediately before acquisition. NACO testified in support of this bill.
Next Week’s Hearings
Next Wednesday, the committee will hear bills to require all counties to accept partial payments of property taxes (LB292), require property tax protest forms to include the requested valuation (LB291), and provide for denial of tax exemptions if the application form lacks any required information (LB521). In addition, LB613 would require the Tax Equalization and Review Commission to hold hearings on appeals within six months following the date of the appeal. If the commission fails to reach a decision within nine months after the date of the appeal, it would be decided in favor of the property owner.
Next Thursday, the committee will hear LB310, a bill that would significantly reduce inheritance tax collections.
Committee Hearings Scheduled
Legislative standing committees are holding public hearings on bills. Please note that some hearings will begin at 9:30 a.m. and others will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Monday, February 15
Presidents' Day Holiday

Tuesday, February 16
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee -- Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
LB610 (Hilgers) Change provisions relating to improper issuance of a certificate of registration under the Motor Vehicle Registration Act
LB339 (Bostelman) Require a utility coordination plan for certain highway and bridge contracts
LB670 (Murman) Authorize design and placement of highway memorial signs
Wednesday, February 17
Judiciary Committee -- Room 1113, 9:30 a.m.
LB109 (Pansing Brooks) Provide that photographing or recording a peace officer is not obstruction of justice
LB271 (Morfeld) Adopt the 24/7 Sobriety Program Act
LB500 (Geist) Provide for venue for prosecution of certain offenses when committed using an electronic communication device
Revenue Committee -- Room 1524, 9:30 a.m.
LB292 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to partial payments of property taxes
LB524 (Brandt) Change provisions relating to the calculation of credits under the Nebraska Property Tax Incentive Act
LB613 (Erdman) Change provisions relating to hearings and decisions on appeals under the Tax Equalization and Review Commission Act
Revenue Committee -- Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
LB291 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to property tax protests
LB521 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to applications for property tax exemptions
LB611 (Hilgers) Correct a reference to a defined term relating to property taxes
LB622 (Friesen) Limit the growth of real property valuations and provide for adjustments to assessed values
Thursday, February 18
Appropriations Committee -- Room 1525, 9:30 a.m.
LB192 (Wishart) State intent regarding appropriations for law enforcement training and certification
LB193 (Wishart) State intent regarding appropriations for law enforcement training
LB304 (Hansen, M.) Appropriate funds to the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee -- Room 1507, 9:30 a.m.
LB590 (Groene) Change time periods for ballots for early voting
LB125 (McCollister) Provide for ranked-choice voting for certain elections
LB635 (Cavanaugh, J.) Change provisions regarding nomination and election of certain partisan candidates
Judiciary Committee -- Room 1113, 9:30 a.m.
LB52 (Lathrop) Provide for immunity for injury or death resulting from COVID-19 exposure
LB54 (Lathrop) Change immunity for intentional torts under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act and the State Tort Claims Act
LB71 (Wayne) Change provisions relating to intentional tort claims under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act and State Tort Claims Act
LB139 (Briese) Adopt the COVID-19 Liability Protection Act
Judiciary Committee -- Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
LB53 (Lathrop) Provide immunity for health care providers acting in conformance with the crisis standard of care during a COVID-19 state of emergency
LB160 (Wayne) Change provisions of the Nebraska Hospital-Medical Liability Act
LB259 (Halloran) Authorize a civil action for damages sustained by public safety officers
LB326 (Slama) Provide immunity for claims against first responders operating motor vehicles and arising from vehicular pursuits and provide for policies, training, and duties relating to vehicular pursuits
Revenue Committee -- Room 1524, 9:30 a.m.
LB310 (Clements) Change inheritance tax rates and exemption amounts
LB377 (DeBoer) Change inheritance tax provisions
LB40 (Groene) Adopt the Nebraska Rural Projects Act
Friday, February 19
Appropriations Committee -- Room 1525, 9:30 a.m.
LB103 (Dorn) Appropriate funds to aid counties to pay certain federal judgments
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee -- Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
LB179 (Linehan) Transition from elected to appointed county assessors
Revenue Committee -- Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
LB175 (Friesen) Change the distribution of sales tax revenue and authorize the use of funds for certain infrastructure projects
Tuesday, February 23
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee -- Room 1507, 9:30 a.m.
LB654 (Wayne) Adopt the Public Entities Investment Trust Act
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee -- Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
LB215 (Hughes) Change 911 service surcharge provisions
Thursday, February 25
Judiciary Committee -- Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
LB102 (Dorn) Provide for transfer of duties of clerks of the district court to clerk magistrates
LB316 (Cavanaugh, J.) Change provisions relating to limitations for a postconviction relief action
LB548 (Wayne) Adopt the Nebraska Racial Justice Act and provide grounds for postconviction relief
Friday, February 26
Judiciary Committee -- Room 1113, 9:30 a.m.
LB167 (Geist) Protect religious freedoms as prescribed and provide for certain tort claims