Nebraska Association of County Officials

Legislative Report
January 31, 2020 Legislative Report Archive
Floor Debate Focuses on General File Bills
Special deer hunting permits for landowners, an exemption from massage therapy licensure for reflexology, and an attempt to refer a bill to a different committee generated the most floor debate this week. Among the handful of bills advanced from General File was a measure introduced to modernize and reorganize jury selection laws. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced LB387 on behalf of NACO.
 
A second bill carried by Senator Pansing Brooks on behalf of NACO will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on February 6. LB1041 would set out procedures for determining when grand jury reports and transcripts of the proceedings are available for public review. An amendment will be offered at the hearing to add further definition to existing processes.
 
Senators began first round debate on LB267, a bill to expand authority for counties to borrow money and issue bonds to help pay for emergency repairs, retrofitting, reconstruction, or replacement of bridges. LB267 is the first bill on the agenda for floor debate on Monday.
Mandatory Continuing Education for Treasurers to be Discussed
County and city treasurers would have to complete an annual continuing education program approved by the Auditor of Public Accounts under a bill that will be heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee next week. Costs of attending the program would be borne by the corresponding county or city. The Auditor would maintain attendance records and notify the appropriate county or city attorney and the Attorney General if a treasurer did not complete the required training.
 
Over the past year, NACO has been developing its own continuing education program for county treasurers. NACO will suggest that the program would comply with the legislation. LB781 will be heard on Thursday, February 6.
 
At the same hearing, the committee will hear LB807, a bill to update references to government auditing standards to reflect the 2018 standards, rather than the 2011 version.
 
Publication of Semiannual Statements
A bill that would allow posting of semiannual statements on a county website to meet publication requirements under certain circumstances will be heard by the committee on Wednesday, February 5. LB1047 would allow posting of semiannual statements on county websites to be considered compliance with statutory publication requirements if a newspaper cannot publish the statements in a timely manner. The statements must be published during the months of January and July each year. They show the receipts and disbursements of the county treasurer’s office for the last preceding six months. The bill would modernize the terminology for the listed items and consolidate several statutes into a single section of law. Senator Curt Friesen introduced the bill on behalf of NACO.
 
At the same hearing, the committee will hear a bill introduced by Senator John Lowe on behalf of NACO that would change the appeals process for certain zoning decisions. LB1057 would provide that judicial review of a zoning decision by a planning commission or a county board involving a conditional use or special exception could only be obtained through a petition in error process.
 
The committee will also hear measures to require drop boxes for all-mail elections and to reverse the budget-setting process. LB1055 would require counties using a vote-by-mail process to maintain a secure drop box for ballots starting 10 days before the election and allow voters to cast their ballots in the office of the county clerk. LB1211 would require taxing entities to determine how much would be received in real and personal property taxes by the governmental entity, then set the budget accordingly. Under existing law, entities look at their obligations, then determine the amount of revenue needed.
 
The hearings on both days begin at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1507 of the State Capitol. They are livestreamed through NET.
Hearings Propose Changes in County Board Duties
Hearings have been scheduled for next week on county board issues ranging from the appointment of public defenders to liquor licenses.

Appointment of Public Defenders
LB1194 would change the population threshold requiring counties to elect a public defender from 35,000 to 45,000. Currently counties of less than 35,000 that do not have an elected public defender can fill the position by appointment. The Judiciary Committee will hear LB1194 on February 6.
 
The bill is one of three measures proposing changes to county offices. LB744 would allow for the appointment of a county engineer in counties over 150,000. LB1022 would require the election of election commissioners. Hearings have not been scheduled on either bill.  
 
Temporary Expansion of Liquor Licenses
LB1056 would allow farm wineries, craft breweries and other liquor license holders to apply for a permit for a temporary expansion of their premises to an immediately adjacent area for up to 15 days per year. The licensee would have to file an application with the appropriate county, city, or village. The General Affairs Committee will hear LB1056 on February 3.
 
On February 10, the committee will hear LB1090, a bill to allow local governing bodies to suspend liquor licenses for nonpayment of taxes, fees, and special assessments.
 
Broadband and Wireless Services
On February 3, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will hear a bill to allow county boards to charge an application fee for the submission, processing, and review of requests to install new wireless facilities or collocate existing structures. LB898 would cap application fees for the review of a collocation request at $500 and the review of the placement of new towers at $1,000.
 
LB992 would implement the recommendations of the Rural Broadband Task Force to facilitate the expansion of broadband into rural areas by allowing electric utilities greater access to easements. Counties would be encouraged to appoint a county or regional broadband coordinator to facilitate broadband planning and coordination.
 
LB996 would create the Broadband Data Improvement Program to help ensure that Nebraska is accurately represented in federal broadband grant programs. NACO will encourage the committee to use data collected by the National Association of Counties’ TestIT program to map where broadband service is available.  
 
Data Collection
Counties would not be able to regulate the collection of consumers’ personal information under LB746. Instead, the bill would create statutory rights for consumers to know what information is being collected and to opt-out of sales of personal information. The proposed Nebraska Consumer Data Privacy Act is similar to an act adopted in California. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will hear LB746 on February 4.
 
Road Maintenance for Homeowners Associations
Counties could contract with homeowners associations to provide road maintenance or snow removal on nonpublic roads which serve the association in LB973. The payment would have to fairly represent the cost to the county of providing the service. The Urban Affairs Committee will hear LB973 on February 4.
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, February 3
General Affairs Committee
Room 1510 - 1:30 PM
LB1056 (Lowe) Provide for temporary expansion of licensed premises under the Nebraska Liquor Control Act

Transportation 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

Tuesday, February 4
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB1067 (Erdman) Provide for the crossing of a controlled-access highway by an all-terrain vehicle or utility-type vehicle
LB746 (Blood) Adopt the Nebraska Consumer Data Privacy Act
 
Urban Affairs Committee
Room 1510 - 1:30 PM
LB973 (Kolowski) Adopt the Homeowner Association Act
LB999 (Wayne) Require cities and villages to pay for appointed counsel for prosecutions and adjudications for violation of city and village ordinances
LB1135 (Wayne) Provide duties for a city attorney of a city of the metropolitan class and provide a prosecutorial exception for city and village attorneys
 
Wednesday February 5, 2020
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507 - 1:30 PM
LB1047 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to semiannual statements of county treasurers
LB1055 (Brewer) Change provisions for voting by mail in certain counties
LB1057 (Lowe) Change provisions regarding appeals of certain zoning decisions by county planning commissions and county boards
LB1211 (Hansen, B.) Change requirements for the preparation of proposed budget statements under the Nebraska Budget Act
 
Health and Human Services Committee
Room 1510 - 1:00 PM
LB1142 (Health and Human Services Committee) Provide for emergency plans at the youth rehabilitation and treatment centers
 
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB1029 (Lathrop) Change requirements for preservation of court records
LB1030 (Lathrop) Change requirements relating to forfeited recognizances, fines, and costs
 
Natural Resources Committee
Room 1525 - 1:30 PM
LB1201(Bostelman) Create the Flood Mitigation and Planning Task Force
LR288 (Slama) Urge Congress and the United States Corps of Engineers to prioritize flood control as a top priority for the management of water systems under their authority in the Missouri River Mainstream Reservoir System Water Control Manual
 
Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee
Room 1525 - 12:10 PM
LB1054 (Kolterman) Define the required beginning date and change deferment of payment provisions under certain retirement plans
 
Revenue Committee
Room 1524 - 1:30 PM
LB806 (Wayne) Exempt social security benefits and retirement benefits from taxation as prescribed

Thursday February 6, 2020
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507 - 1:30 PM
LB781 (Stinner) Provide for annual continuing education for treasurers of certain local governments and provide a duty for the Auditor of Public Accounts
LB807 (La Grone) Change a duty of the Auditor of Public Accounts relating to government auditing standards
 
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113 - 1:30 PM
LB1041 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to grand jury transcripts
LB1095 (McDonnell) Authorize counties containing a city of the metropolitan class to establish juvenile justice programs and services
LB1112 (Kolowski) Change provisions relating to payment for sexual assault forensic examinations
LB1148 (Vargas) Change provisions relating to the Office of Juvenile Services and the placement of juveniles at youth rehabilitation and treatment centers
LB1169 (Cavanaugh) Create the Nebraska Integrated Juvenile Data Governing Body and the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Information System
LB1194 (Walz) Change population threshold for appointment of public defenders in certain counties

Friday, February 7 - Recess