April 21, 2017                                                                 Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


on Facebook

 incapproachIncome Approach to Valuing Ag Land Debated 
After three hours of discussion on a measure to revise property, income and sales taxes, time ran out and debate ended without a vote to advance LB461 or adopt any of its many amendments.

A Revenue Committee amendment, AM954, set out the main proposal that included shifting the valuation of agricultural and horticultural land to an income approach, expanding tax credits for low-income families, and changing personal and corporate income tax rates. AM954 would place ag land values within a range of 55 to 65 percent of actual value and cap aggregate growth at 3 percent. These concepts were based on LB338, a measure introduced by Senator Lydia Brasch at the request of Governor Pete Ricketts.
Senator Jim Smith, Revenue Committee chair, filed AM1129, an amendment to AM954 that would pull in ideas from another ag land valuation bill, LB602, that was introduced by Senator Steve Erdman. As debate was beginning on a different amendment, Senator Smith asked to replace it with AM1129. AM1129 would base the valuation process on land productivity groups developed by the valuation committee that would be created in AM954. It would require the appraiser on the committee to hold a rural appraisal certification. If growth exceeded 4.5 percent, the existing property tax credit would be increased.
In response to the motion to substitute amendments, Senator Bob Krist filed a motion to recommit the bill to the Revenue Committee for additional work. He argued that too many changes were being proposed without an opportunity to conduct a thorough analysis of the impact. Much of the debate on the motions stressed the need for tax reform but many senators questioned the effectiveness of the property tax and income tax elements of the bill. When the recommit motion failed on a 15-29 vote, some considered that as an indication of where the votes were on the bill itself.
The allotted time for debate ran out at 12:18 p.m. For other controversial bills, Speaker Jim Scheer has required the sponsors to show that they have the 33 votes needed for cloture before scheduling more than three hours of debate. NACO will continue to monitor the agenda to see if LB461 appears again.

Another of this year's property tax bills, LB640, a bill to redistribute $224 million in property tax credits to school districts, did not advance within three hours of General File debate and will not reappear on the agenda.

LB409, a bill to cut $150 million from state aid to schools in the next two years advanced after less than 20 minutes of debate on Wednesday.

consentGeneral File Bills Advanced through Consent Calendar
Forty-five non-controversial bills were advanced from General File on Thursday through a consent calendar process. Following are some of the bills of interest to counties.
LB20 would eliminate the requirement for veterans who are totally disabled by a non-service accident or illness to annually submit certification of their total disability to the assessor in order to qualify for a homestead exemption. Individuals who have certain permanent physical disabilities or amputations are already exempt from such filings unless their medical condition changes. The county assessor or Tax Commissioner could request certification to verify that there has been no change in the applicant's medical condition.
LB86, as amended by a Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment, would revise bridge bidding procedures in counties over 150,000 that employ a purchasing agent. Bids could be opened outside of county board meetings so that contractors would not have to wait for unrelated items on the county  board's agenda.
LB584 would revise deadlines for mowing road ditches. As advanced with a committee amendment, the bill would require mowing to be done sometime in July for the first time and sometime in September for the second time. Under existing law, the first mowing must occur before July 15 and the second sometime in August. Landowners, counties or townships could mow at any time for sight distances at intersections and entrances and for snow control as needed. The bill is intended to increase bird habitat and reduce erosion.
LB280 would allow victims of human trafficking to protect their addresses under the Address Confidentiality Act administered by the Secretary of State. These protections are already available to victims of domestic violence.
LB624 would allow law enforcement officers to request that their residential address is not disclosed as a public record in the office of the county assessor and register of deeds. The request would be good for five years. A Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee amendment was adopted that would remove a proposed $25 fee for processing the request.
LB458 would exempt purchases by county coroners from the requirements of the County Purchasing Act. An exemption has already been granted to purchases by county hospitals.
LB200 would increase a population threshold triggering county surveyors to act as county highway superintendents. Because Buffalo County will exceed the 50,000 threshold in the next census, they would be forced to overhaul their existing roads system. A committee amendment would increase the population reference to 60,000, which would give Buffalo County a cushion for growth but not affect other counties.
LB508 would address a population trigger that would cause Lancaster County to implement a civil service commission. Existing law requires counties in excess of 300,000 to form such a commission. The bill would increase the population to 400,000.
LB382 was introduced by Senator Steve Erdman on behalf of NACO. The bill would place Highway Allocation Funds and incentive payments outside of the definition of restricted funds for budgeting. This calculation would give counties more flexibility in how they spend money generated from last year's gas tax and the Build Nebraska Act.

 snapSnapshots of County Issues
Next Week's Activities 
Senators will begin work on the FY2017-18 and FY2018-19 biennial budget next week. The details of the proposed budget are set out in the Appropriations Committee Proposed Budget Report that is available on the Legislature's website. Senators will participate in a budget briefing before convening at 10:00 a.m. on Monday. Debate on the budget will begin on Tuesday and is scheduled to continue on Wednesday and Thursday. The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board will meet on Wednesday to develop revenue projections that may result in adjustments to the proposed budget.
Senators will take up about 50 bills on Final Reading on Monday before moving to General File debate on LB595, which would make revisions to school discipline policies.  

Bills Debated on General File
Senators amended and advanced a bill to provide an options for indigent persons who sit out their fines in jail. LB259 was amended to contain elements from LB145, LB395, and LB526. As advanced from General File, the court could consider the defendant's ability to pay and instead impose community service or allow for payment by installments.

Other bills that were debated on General File but did not advance due to lack of time were LB622, to adopt the Medical Cannabis Act and LB661, to provide for confidentiality of information relating to performing lethal injections.

Bills Advanced from Select File
Senators advanced a series of bills from Select File, the second round of debate this week including LB152 that would strike a January 1, 2018 termination date on funding for preserving, maintaining, and modernizing public records in register of deeds offices. Senator Joni Craighead introduced the bill on behalf of NACO. 

Nebraska Association of County Officials
1335 H Street | Lincoln, NE 68508 | 402-434-5660
Join Our Mailing List