Nebraska Association of County Officials

Legislative Report
January 24, 2020 Legislative Report Archive
Floor Debate Moves to Half-Day, Hearing on New Bills Begin
The introduction of new bills ended on Thursday. The final tally:  481 new bills and 10 constitutional amendments.
 
Public hearings on the new introductions began this week. For the next five weeks, senators will debate bills as a full body in the mornings and hold committee hearings on introduced legislation in the afternoon, usually beginning at 1:30 p.m. Most committees area scheduled to meet once, twice or three times a week. The Appropriations Committee meets every day and the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee meets at the call of the chairperson.
 
After the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, senators began the week with continued first-round debate on a bill to require employers to provide paid sick leave ( LB305). Time ran out before a vote was taken to invoke cloture.
 
On Wednesday, Mike Heavican, Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court, gave his annual State of the Judiciary address. He spoke about access to justice and efficiencies in the court system.
 
Next week the Legislature will begin debate with LB880, a bill to change the Nebraska Department of Education’s deadlines for certifying the amount of state aid that will be paid for the 2020-21 school year.
NACO Legislative Committee to Meet January 31
NACO's Legislative Committee will meet on Friday, 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 Hears School Aid Proposal
On Wednesday, the Revenue Committee heard testimony on LB974, a bill to provide additional state funding for schools and lower valuations for paying school taxes. 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.
 
The Nebraska Farm Bureau and Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry were among the proponents of the bill. Large, urban school districts testified in opposition due to a loss in state aid.
 
The Revenue Committee met in executive session on Thursday morning to continue discussion of the bill.
 
The committee heard two homestead exemption bills on January 24. LB841 would eliminate requirements for permanently disabled veterans to recertify their disability annually to remain eligible for a homestead exemption. LB952 would create a new homestead exemption for disabled veterans based on the disability percentage determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
The committee also heard LB818 that would change the fixed rate of nameplate capacity tax to an indexed amount based upon the consumer price index (CPI). Renewable energy generators, such as wind turbines, pay nameplate capacity taxes in lieu of personal property taxes. The rate has been fixed since the tax was enacted ten years ago. NACO testified in support of the bill.

The full Legislature advanced a separate nameplate capacity bill, LB76, from General File on Tuesday. The bill would provide clarification in how solar panel arrays are taxed. While most other kinds of renewable energy are based on an alternating current, or AC, rating, energy generated by solar panels is calculated on a DC, or direct current, rating. The DC current must be converted to AC current before connection to the power grid. A percentage of the megawatts of power are lost through this process. LB76 would clarify that solar panels are taxed on their AC, not DC, rating.
Limits on Room Confinement for Juveniles Advanced
LB230, bill to limit the use of room confinement in juvenile facilities, was amended to clarify that it does not apply to counties that house youth under the age of majority and advanced from Select File. The bill would limit the use of room confinement to one hour and require continuous monitoring through regular in-person visits that could be supplemented by electronic video monitoring.
 
Time ran out during General File debate on a second juvenile justice bill, LB231. The Speaker’s practice is to limit debate to three hours on bills that will require a cloture motion to cease debate. When debate is likely to continue after three hours, the bill is removed from the agenda until the principal introducer can show enough votes to invoke cloture. 

LB231 would require counties of all sizes to provide legal counsel to juveniles when a juvenile court petition is filed. Legislation adopted in 2016 requires counties over 150,000 to provide counsel for juveniles. A new one-dollar court fee would provide grant funds to counties for additional costs.

Township Tax Distribution Change Heard by Government Committee
Distributions of tax dollars to townships would be made automatically under LB763, a bill introduced by Senator Myron Dorn, a former Gage County supervisor. Existing law allows for cities, villages, school districts, educational service units, county agricultural societies, and rural and suburban fire districts to receive funds without requesting them, but townships must submit a paper warrant in order to receive their funds. LB763 was heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday.
 
The committee also heard LB890 that would allow counties and other political subdivisions to use design-build or construction management at risk procedures for water, wastewater, utility or sewer construction. The bill was introduced on behalf of the city of Lincoln.
 
On Friday, the committee heard two bills to make minor revisions to election laws. LB820 would remove a requirement to list home and work telephone numbers on voter registrations. LB822 would clarify the deadline for verification of signatures on recall petitions as fifteen business days and detail the date for recall elections.

Clean Up Bills Heard by Transportation Committee
Three bills to bring Nebraska’s motor vehicle laws into line with federal requirements were heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Wednesday.  LB768 would update references to federal motor vehicle regulations, including those on the transportation of hazardous materials. Other sections of the bill would require odometer statements on transfers of all vehicles with a manufacturer’s model year of 2011 or newer and an age of less than 20 years. Similar changes to odometer reporting were proposed in LB784.
 
Language mirroring the federal FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act would be enacted in Nebraska by LB785. It would change length and weight limits for certain specialty vehicles.
 
The committee also heard LB831which would give the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles discretion to issue a salvage title for motor vehicles manufactured prior to 1940 that have a junked title.
 
Upcoming Transportation Committee Hearings
Next Monday, January 27, the committee will hear motor vehicle and speed limit bills.
 
LB931 would allow 15 percent overweight loads when hauling agricultural products from storage bins to market. These provisions already apply to products hauled from the field to storage or market.
 
LB842 would make active duty members of the armed forces who are Nebraska residents and their spouses eligible for an exemption from motor vehicle taxes. Currently active duty members who are stationed in Nebraska but a resident of another state are exempt from motor vehicle taxes. Senator Sue Crawford introduced an identical bill, LB926, in 2018. Because motor vehicle taxes are divided among counties, cities, and schools, these three entities would experience an undetermined loss of revenue.
 
LB944 is the annual cleanup bill for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
 
LB761 would add 50 cents to registration fees for training for first responders through a mobile simulation through the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
 
LB983 would eliminate the 1-point violation for speeding citations up to 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.
 
LB830 would allow cities and villages of 500 residents or more to change speed limits when hazardous conditions exist.
 
On January 28, the committee will hear LB771 that would allow for one license plate to be used on trucks with a gross weight rating of 7 tons or less that are not manufactured with a front license plate bracket.
2020 Bill Introductions Begin
Here are some of the new bills that were introduced this week:
 
County Operations
LB1056 (Lowe) Provide for temporary expansion of licensed premises under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act
LB1090 (Blood) Allow local governing bodies to suspend liquor licenses for nonpayment of taxes, fees, and special assessments
LB1091 (Vargas) Adopt the Face Surveillance Privacy Act
LB1167 (Albrecht) Require members of the public to be allowed to speak at each meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act
LB1195 (Morfeld) Change provisions regarding access to public records
LB1211 (Hansen, B.) Change requirements for the preparation of proposed budget statements
 
Elections
LB1055 (Brewer) Change provisions for voting by mail in certain counties
LB1086 (Hansen, M.) Provide for poll watchers under the Election Act
LB1110 (La Grone) Change procedures for calling a school bond election
LB1114 (Hansen, M.) Change election provisions for sanitary and improvement districts
LB1119 (La Grone) Restrict special elections under the Election Act as prescribed
LB1120 (La Grone) Restrict special elections under the Election Act as prescribed
LB1121 (La Grone) Change incumbent filing deadlines and remove obsolete election provisions
LB1122 (La Grone) Change provisions regarding counting boards for early voting
 
Property Tax
LB1074 (Linehan) Change provisions relating to the assessment of improvements on leased lands and the collection of certain fees and taxes
LB1075 (Linehan) Change tax provisions relating to net book value
LB1087 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to partial payments of property taxes
LB1107 (Scheer) Change property tax provisions relating to notice of preliminary valuations
LB1125 (Cavanaugh) Provide a new homestead exemption and authorize the late filing of homestead exemption applications
LB1192 (Linehan) Limit the total amount reimbursed by the state for homestead exemptions
LB1193 (Linehan) Change election provisions for certain bond issue, tax levy, and property tax limitation questions
LB1212 (Hansen, B.) Adopt the Property Tax Request Act
LB1213 (Hansen, B.) Change tax and school funding provisions
 
Retirement
LB1054 (Kolterman) Define the required beginning date and change deferment of payment provisions under certain retirement plans
 
Planning and Zoning
LB1057 (Lowe) Change provisions regarding appeals of certain zoning decisions by county planning commissions and county boards
 
Law Enforcement and Courts
LB1082 (Morfeld) Increase the indigent defense court filing fee
LB1095 (McDonnell) Authorize counties containing a city of the metropolitan class to establish juvenile justice programs and services
LB1097 (McDonnell) Appropriate funds to the Supreme Court
LB1113 (Kolowski) Provide that photographing or recording a peace officer is not obstruction of justice
LB1117 (Pansing Brooks) Change sentencing provisions for crimes committed by a person under twenty-one years of age and change provisions relating to jurisdiction over juveniles
LB1180 (Wayne) Change provisions regarding alternate jurors
LB1194 (Walz) Change population threshold for appointment of public defenders in certain counties
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.

If you are unable or do not wish to testify in person, you may submit a written position letter that will be included in the official hearing record. Such letters must be delivered to the office of the committee conducting the hearing or emailed to the committee chair by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day immediately prior to the hearing. Letters must include your name, address, bill number, position (for, against, neutral), and a request that it be included as part of the public hearing record. For tips about testifying at a hearing, click here.

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

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113 – 1:30 p.m.
LB771 (Gragert) Change a one-license-plate registration provision
LB789 (Slama) Change school bus stop signal arm violation provisions
 
Urban Affairs Committee
Room 1510 - 1:30 PM
LB797 (Hansen, M.) Change restrictions on municipal annexation
LB809 (Wayne) Adopt 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code standards
LB824 (Hunt) Change provisions related to state and local building codes
LB800 (Urban Affairs Committee) Provide for the applicability of state and local construction cod
 
Wednesday, January 29
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507 - 1:30 PM
LR283CA (Brewer) Constitutional amendment to change qualifications of electors
 
Thursday, January 30
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507 - 1:30 PM
LB896 (Erdman) Require notice of construction and expansion of structures near military installations as prescribed
 
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM    
LB941 (Hunt) Create the Nebraska Youth in Care Bill of Rights
 
Friday, January 31
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113 – 1:30 PM
LB745 (Blood) Provide duties for law enforcement and prosecutors regarding federal immigration forms relating to victims of certain crimes             
LB924 (Chambers) Change provisions relating to racial profiling and require law enforcement training     
LB945 (Cavanaugh) Require a report on untested sexual assault evidence collection kits 
LB975 (Geist) Change provisions relating to reports of child abuse or neglect       
LB1007 (Hansen, M.) Change provisions relating to competency to stand trial and be sentenced
 
Monday, February 3
Tr ansportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113 – 1:30 PM
LB898 (Friesen)Provide for the collocation of certain wireless facilities   
LB992 (Friesen) Adopt the Broadband Internet Service Infrastructure Act and provide for certain broadband and Internet-related services            
LB996 (Brandt) Create the Broadband Data Improvement Program