Nebraska Association of County Officials

Legislative Report
Legislature Reconvenes for COVID-19 Funding
The Legislature convened for three days this week to adopt $83,619,600 in emergency funding for the state’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). LB1198, an Appropriations Committee priority bill, was amended and advanced from Select File on Tuesday. On Wednesday, senators convened briefly for the required layover day between Select File and Final Reading. On Thursday, 45 senators voted unanimously to pass LB1198. Governor Pete Ricketts signed the bill immediately.
 
Speaker Jim Scheer told the body that he did not know when the Legislature would be called back for the remaining 17 days of the session. When it reconvenes, debate will be scheduled on Monday through Saturday for two weeks and Monday through Friday on the third week. Due to the number of senators who are running for re-election, the session will not be held during the two weeks before the primary election on May 12.
 
He expressed appreciation to the senators and to Governor Ricketts for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained that the senators who were absent had been advised not to attend the three-day session due to age or health.
 
LB1198, which was introduced to appropriate funds to restore the doors to the George W. Norris Chamber of the Capitol, was amended to provide the following emergency funding:
 
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
$38,156,700 for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to local jurisdictions and support to local health departments
 
$4,004,000 for additional staffing expenditures for DHHS
 
$13,000,000 for surge staffing for veterans homes and DHHS care facilities
 
University of Nebraska Medical Center
$515,000 for COVID-19 testing
 
$2,500,000 for lab equipment, software programming and personnel
 
$100,000 for UV light boxes to clean respirators for use by health care workers
 
$343,900 for establishment of an interoperable platform for communication, bed tracking, and resource sharing among public health, health care, emergency medical personnel, and emergency managers for county and state entities
 
Ready Reserve
$ 25,000,000 for unobligated reserves in the event additional funds are necessary
Property Tax Relief Bill Reported to the Floor
Although the Legislature did not take action on any issues besides emergency funding this week, regular procedural matters were handled, such as reporting technical and grammatical changes to bills that had been advanced prior to the suspension. In addition, the Revenue Committee reported that a property tax relief bill, LB1106, had been advanced to the floor with a committee amendment. The amendment to LB1106 is based on an amendment to LB974 that was intended to revise the school aid formula to lessen reliance upon property taxes. LB974 stalled after three hours of first round debate and it will be necessary to show 33 votes in support to place the bill back on the agenda. The amendment to LB1106 is an attempt to meet objections raised by opponents to LB974. Speaker Jim Scheer has said that his first priority is to pass the budget when the session reconvenes and other bills will be scheduled as time permits.
 
Revenue Committee Chair Lou Ann Linehan also filed an amendment to LB1008 that would appropriate $130 million for property tax relief and state aid to education. LB1008 is this year’s main budget bill. It is on Select File.