Nebraska Association of County Officials

Legislative Report
January 17, 2020 Legislative Report Archive
Bill Introductions Continue, Floor Debate Begins
Bills on property taxes, electing county election commissioners, and tax increment financing were among the 114 bills and one constitutional amendment introduced this week. Bills can be introduced for the first 10 days of the session. Introductions will conclude on January 23.
 
Public committee hearings on new bills will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21. A schedule of selected committee hearings is provided below and the entire hearing schedule is posted on the Legislature’s website.
 
This week, senators held full days of floor debate on 2019 priority bills that were carried over from the last session. After three hours of General File debate, time ran out on LB147, which would allow teachers and other school personnel to physically intervene with students to protect themselves or other students. Under procedures implemented by Speaker Jim Scheer, when a bill faced with a potential filibuster has reached three hours of debate, the introducer must show sufficient votes to invoke cloture before the bill will be placed on the agenda again.
 
LB153, a carry-over measure to exempt 50 percent of military retirement benefits from state income tax, was advanced from General File on a 46-0 vote. The bill was introduced last year by Senator Tom Brewer at the request of the governor and designated by Senator John Lowe as his priority bill last year.
 
Senators also advanced Senator Brewer’s 2020 priority bill, LB582, which would increase the authority to prosecute people for receiving stolen firearms. Consideration of other 2020 priority bills will be scheduled as bills are designated. Each senator is entitled to designate one priority bill for the session. Committees can designate two bills as priorities.
 
In addition to floor debate, senators welcomed Governor Ricketts for his annual State of the State address on Wednesday morning. He prioritized property tax relief, flood relief, support of veterans, and workforce and business expansion. On January 22, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican will present the annual State of the Judiciary address to the body.

When the Legislature reconvenes on January 23, debate will continue on a measure to require paid sick leave ( LB305). Other bills on the agenda include LB76 to change the calculation of nameplate capacity for solar panels from direct current capacity to alternating current capacity and LB231 that would require legal representation of juveniles in counties of all sizes. A $1 fee would be added to court costs to fund a grant program to assist counties with the costs.
 
NACO Legislative Committee to Meet January 31
NACO's Legislative Committee will meet on January 31 to review and take positions on 2020 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. 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 danielle.belina@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 Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel at 13th and L Streets.
Revenue Committee's Property Tax Proposal to be Heard on January 27
LB974, a proposal by the Revenue Committee to provide additional state funding for schools and lower valuations for paying school taxes, will be heard by the committee on Friday, January 24. The committee met throughout the interim and with Governor Ricketts to develop the proposal that was offered by committee chair Lou Ann Linehan and co-signed by five of the eight committee members.
 
The bill would reduce the valuation of ag land from 75 percent of actual value to 55 percent of actual value over a two-year period. Valuations of residential and commercial property would be reduced from 100 percent to 85 percent over a three-year period. The reduced valuations would be used for determining property taxes levied by school districts. Other taxing entities, including counties, would continue to use 100 percent of the actual value for residential and commercial property and 75 percent for ag land. 
 
A November Attorney General’s opinion concluded that the Nebraska Constitution’s uniformity clause allows the Legislature to provide for the assessment of real property at a uniform fraction or percentage of its actual value. Uniformity does not require that different taxing entities use the same proportion of value in assessing property for tax purposes. Rather, the opinion concluded that uniformity is required in the percentage of taxable value used by each taxing entity.
 
Other sections of the bill would decrease the acceptable range of values based upon the lowered valuation rates and reduce school levies.
Limits on Room Confinement for Juveniles Advanced from First Round
Last summer’s crisis about the conditions at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) for girls in Geneva became the focus of debate on LB231, a bill aimed a limiting room confinement of young people in juvenile facilities.  
 
As introduced, the bill would limit the use of room confinement in juvenile facilities to one hour and require documentation of the placement and approval by a supervisor. A Judiciary Committee amendment was adopted to clarify that the continuous monitoring required by the bill could be accomplished by regular in-person visits and supplemented by electronic video monitoring. The Lancaster County juvenile facility’s practice of in-person checks every 15 minutes was mentioned as a reasonable monitoring time frame.

The bill advanced from the first round of debate on a 29-2 vote. Before Select File debate, senators will examine whether the monitoring requirements place a burden on counties that do not have separate juvenile facilities and house juveniles in county jails. An amendment will be drafted to clarify the scope of the bill and narrow the list of affected facilities.  LB231 could be scheduled for Select File debate as early as next Friday.
2020 Bill Introductions Begin
Here are some of the 114 new bills that were introduced this week:
 
County Operations
LB992 (Friesen) Adopt the Broadband Internet Service Infrastructure Act and provide for certain broadband and Internet-related services
LB1021(Groene) Provide for an expedited review of certain redevelopment plans under the Community Development Law
LB1022 (Hansen, M.) Provide for election of election commissioners and eliminate certain deputy positions
 
Motor Vehicles
LB944 (Geist) Change provisions relating to motor vehicles. Transportation and Telecommunications Committee hearing on January 27
LB947 (Erdman) Change provisions relating to all-terrain vehicles and utility-type vehicles
 
Taxes
LB946 (Briese) Change the sales tax rate and impose sales tax on additional services
LB974 (Revenue Committee) Change taxation and school funding provisions. Revenue Committee hearing on January 22
LB1012 (La Grone) Change provisions relating to tax exemptions for property acquired by certain tax-exempt entities
 
Homestead Exemptions
LB952 (Wishart) Provide for a new homestead exemption. Revenue Committee hearing on January 24
 
Roads
LB973 (Kolowski) Adopt the Homeowner Association Act
 
Law Enforcement and Courts
LB978 (Murman) Provide for county, city, and village jail reimbursement
LB999 (Wayne) Require cities and villages to pay for appointed counsel for prosecutions and adjudications for violation of city and village ordinances
LB1007(Hansen, M.) Change provisions relating to competency to stand trial and be sentenced
Hearing Schedule for Selected Bills
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. For tips about testifying at a hearing, click here.
 
Tuesday, January 21
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB768 (Albrecht) Adopt and update references to federal transportation laws
LB784 (Friesen) Change provisions regarding odometer statements
LB831 (Bostelman) Change certificate of title provisions for a junked vehicle
LB785 (Friesen) Change vehicle size, weight, and load provisions, provide for stinger-steered automobile transporters and towaway trailer transporter combinations, and define emergency vehicle
 
Wednesday, January 22
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB823 (Brewer) Provide for a special election prior to the exercise of eminent domain for transmission lines in certain circumstances
LB882 (Hansen, M.) Change provisions relating to marriage and annulments
LB940 (Pansing Brooks) Change a provision regarding the sealing of juvenile records
 
Revenue Committee
Room 1524 - 1:30 PM
LB974 (Revenue Committee) Change taxation and school funding provisions
 
Thursday, January 23
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507 - 1:30 PM
LB890 (Hilgers) Provide for water, wastewater, utility, and sewer construction projects under the Political Subdivisions Construction Alternatives Act
LB763 (Dorn) Change provisions relating to certain payments of funds to townships
 
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB776 (DeBoer) Allow expert testimony on eyewitness identification and memory
LB777 (DeBoer) Provide for set-asides of infractions and violations of city and village ordinances and county resolutions
LB881 (Hansen, M.) Prohibit deductions of fines from bonds
LB906 (DeBoer) Provide requirements and restrictions on maintenance, release, and use of video recordings of forensic interviews of children
LB912 (Brandt) Change provisions relating to examination of witnesses by telephonic, videoconferencing, and similar methods
LB969 (Wayne) Change provisions relating to video depositions of child victims and child witnesses
 
Friday, January 24
G overnment, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507 - 1:30 PM
LB820 (Brewer) Change required information on the voter registration application
LB822 (Brewer) Change recall petition and election provisions
 
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB869 (Lathrop) Provide for issuance of subpoenas in civil proceedings in foreign jurisdictions and change provisions relating to subpoenas and witness fees
 
Revenue Committee
Room 1524 - 1:30 PM
LB818 (Brewer) Adjust the nameplate capacity tax for inflation
LB841 (Crawford) Change provisions relating to certain certifications for homestead exemptions
LB952 (Wishart) Provide for a new homestead exemption
 
Monday, January 27
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB944 (Geist) Change provisions relating to motor vehicles
LB931 (Halloran) Change a harvested products maximum weight overload exception under the Nebraska Rules of the Road
LB761 (Dorn) Change motor vehicle registration fees and provide funding for the simulation in motion program
LB842 (Crawford) Change provisions relating to motor vehicle tax imposed on military servicemembers
LB983 (Crawford) Eliminate a penalty relating to speeding
LB830 (Erdman) Change provisions relating to the establishment of speed limits by local authorities
 
Tuesday, January 28
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
Room 1507 - 1:30 PM
LB854 (Williams) Change provisions under the Public Funds Deposit Security Act relating to secured deposits and pooled collateral