The Legislature debated and advanced bills from General File this week.
Annexation Authority for Flooded Cities and Villages
, which would allow cities of the second class and villages to annex noncontiguous land to relocate after catastrophic flooding, was advanced from General File on Tuesday. The bill was introduced by Senator Lynn Walz and prioritized by the Urban Affairs Committee to provide an option for the village of Winslow, which was flooded last spring. If the village rebuilds at the same location and is destroyed again, it will not be eligible for FEMA funds to rebuild again. If property is annexed but the city or village has not been relocated in whole or part within five years, disconnection procedures must be started.
The bill also includes provisions from a tax increment financing clean-up bill (
), a 97-page clean-up of statutes related to primary class cities (
), and several other bills on municipal issues.
Electronic Small Claims Court Filings
would eliminate a requirement for small claims court filings to be made in front of a judge, clerk, or notary. Removing this requirement would allow filings to be made electronically. Some of the other bills amended into LB1028 include
that would allow preservation duplicates of court records to be retained electronically, rather than in microfilm, and
that would increase the time frame for state courts to transmit funds from fines, costs, and forfeited recognizances to counties from 10 days to 30 days.
Electronic Testimony in Civil Cases
, as introduced, would allow judges in civil cases to authorize experts and other witnesses in civil cases to provide testimony electronically. Senator Tom Brandt, the introducer, said counties might see a slight cost savings from not having to transport inmates to civil proceedings. A Judiciary Committee amendment was adopted that would incorporate provisions from
to allow the Supreme Court to adopt rules to provide uniform methods for clerks of the district court to issue deposition and discovery subpoenas for out of state civil lawsuits. Other bills included in the committee amendment would create processes to expedite civil actions (
) and revise duties for attorneys acting as parenting plan mediators (
Mutual Finance Organization Levy Clarification
would provide clarification to legislation adopted last year on levies by mutual finance organizations. Mutual finance organizations are groups of fire districts, cities, or villages that enter into interlocal agreements to provide fire emergency responses or training for a joint area of operation. The participants must agree to levy the same property tax rate within the boundaries to jointly fund the operation of all its members at least once every three years. Funding is provided at a rate of $10 per person within the assumed population of the organization’s area. LB1130 would change the dates to apply for funds to more closely align with budget timelines. It would clarify the duration of agreements and the timing of levying the same rate.
Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center Package
Four bills directed at placement of juveniles and services provided at the youth rehabilitation and treatment centers (YRTCs), were advanced from General File on Tuesday.
would clarify the division of responsibilities for education and facilities between the Office of Juvenile Services, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Administrative Services.
would statutorily define the roles and responsibilities of YTRCs. A committee amendment would require the development of operations plans and emergency placement plans that could include placement at criminal detention facilities, if allowed by law.
would require additional reporting to the Office of the Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare and create a special oversight committee of the Legislature to review YRTC issues.
would require courts to specifically commit juveniles to the YRTC in Kearney or Geneva. Treatment plans for each juvenile would be provided to the court.
Bills Debated but not Advanced
, a bill to create a streamlined process for issuing liquor licenses to temporarily expand the location of the permit to an area adjacent to a draft brewery, winery, or other permit holder, began on Friday, March 6 and was scheduled for further debate on Monday, March 9. It was passed over and has not appeared on the agenda since then.
, a bill to consolidate four administrative fees charged by the Secretary of State to reduce reliance on the state’s General Fund, was debated on General File on March 11. Senators debated the merits of user fees and whether they should be used to offset property taxes. No vote on advancement was taken after three hours of debate.