April 6, 2018                                                             Legislative Report Archive 

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 fourFour Days Remain for Possible Property Tax Debate
Four legislative days remain as senators work to wrap up the 2018 legislative session on April 18. At the end of Thursday's debate, 57 bills have been passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Ricketts. Another 62 bills have been advanced from Select File or are on Final Reading.

Except for the bills on Select File consent calendar and Friday morning's debate, nearly all of the bills on the past week's agenda were on General File. Many were removed from the agenda after three hours of debate when a test vote indicated that there would not be 33 votes to invoke cloture to end debate.

At the time of this writing, next week's agenda is uncertain due to the status of the property tax relief bills. On Tuesday senators debated LB947, the governor's property tax relief proposal, but time ran out and debate ended before a vote was taken. On Friday, they took up LB1103, a bill to provide a minimum amount of state funding to school districts for property tax relief. Senator Briese offered an amendment that contained LB1084, his proposal to provide property tax relief with offsetting revenue increases. Last week, senators debated LB640, another school funding measure that would provide property tax relief.

Because there was no consensus about which of the bills or issues to pursue and none of the bills advanced from General File, Speaker Jim Scheer proposed a meeting on Saturday, April 6 with a small group of senators to try to work out a proposal. Several of the group were not available and some senators objected to the membership. If the meeting is held and some compromise is reached, the result is likely to appear on Monday's agenda.

Unless decisions are made next week that significantly impact counties, no regular legislative newsletter will be published. The next newsletter will be an end-of-session summary published in early May.

Bills that are not passed will be killed at the end of the session. A daily worksheet shows the status of each bill. The worksheet for April 6 is available here.

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 electfirstElection Proposals Debated on First Round
A constitutional amendment to require voters to provide identification and a bill to provide for the use of electronic poll books were debated on Thursday. LR1CA was introduced by Senator John Murante and prioritized by Senator Tyson Larson. It would require voters to present a photo ID prior to being able to vote. The Legislature would be responsible for providing specifications for the identification and the manner of presentation. Senators discussed the minimal level of voter fraud in Nebraska and the need to show identification for many life functions. After an hour of debate, Senator Murante filed a motion to invoke cloture. The motion failed and debate ended.
LB1065 would codify the process for using electronic poll books. As introduced, it would require the Secretary of State to include a digital signature and digital photograph of all registered voters in the voter registration database. The image and photos would be pulled from the Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) database. A committee amendment was intended to clarify that the Secretary of State would not be required to obtain photos of persons who do not already have a photo in the DMV database.

In response to floor debate, Senator Murante filed an amendment that would remove references to the bill's intent, provisional voting if there are questions about the ID, and requirements for identification. AM2842 would specifically allow a county to combine the list of registered voters and the sign-in register for the precinct into an electronic pollbook. The amendment was adopted.
Further amendments are expected on Select File. Senator Tony Vargas may offer an amendment to require automated voter registration. If so, county clerks and election commissioners will need to carefully review the amendments and contact their senators, if necessary. At this point in the session, amendments are often filed shortly before they are debated. NACO will email notice to all clerks and election commissioners as soon as possible if such an amendment is filed.

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inmcallsInmate Phone Call Bill Advances from Select File
The Jail Standards Board would be responsible for ensuring that county jails provide inmates with a means to communicate by teleconferencing or videoconferencing with their families, loved ones, and counsel under LB776. This would include a determination of reasonable operating costs considering the rates for inmate calling services, commissions, and bonus payments for service providers.

The bill was introduced in response to a report by the ACLU that some county jails were charging excessive rates for inmate phone calls and receiving commissions or bonuses for working with particular service providers. However, any revenues generated from the calls are typically used to provide programing and services for inmates.

The bill advanced from Select File on Friday, along with a bill to require the Department of Correctional Services to develop an accelerated release plan for inmates in state facilities if they are operating at 140 percent of capacity on July 1, 2020. LB841 was amended to contain several other bills dealing with the Department of Correctional Services, State Patrol, and Office of Parole Administration.

Senators gave second round approval to LB902 that would authorize the withholding from public disclosure information related to firearm registration, possession, sale or use applications or permits. The information would be available upon request to any federal, state, county, or local law enforcement agency.
A second bill to withhold information from the public, LB1015, was withdrawn from the General File agenda at the request of the introducer. As introduced, the bill would allow governmental entities to withhold information from reports filed with the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court that reveal the identity of the employee who is the subject of the report.

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 smallcellSmall Cell Wireless Bill Debated 
The authority for wireless carriers to place small cell facilities on public infrastructure to help boost Nebraska's wireless coverage to 5G was debated on General File but no vote was taken on advancement. LB389 was introduced by Senator Kurt Friesen and prioritized by Senator John Lowe. Some senators debated the economic development possibilities that could be available with the new technology. Others questioned whether the streamlined permitting process and access to rights-of-way would invalidate local control and the ability to charge fees for access. A motion to bracket the bill was pending when time ran out.
Several other bills were debated on General File but no vote was taken. A bill to revise Nebraska State Patrol employees' bargaining rights led to a discussion of changes in Patrol leadership under LB791. The bill was introduced by Senator Laura Ebke at the request of the governor. A Judiciary Committee amendment contains provisions that would require sheriffs, chiefs of police, and other law enforcement agencies to give notice to the Law Enforcement Training Academy when an officer is hired or leaves an agency. The bill was debated for several hours Wednesday morning but no vote was taken.

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snapshotsofSnapshots of County Issues
Bills Advanced from General File
On Friday senators advanced from General File a bill to repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act. LB449 would repeal authority for county boards to develop and enforce a management plan upon the complaint of a landowner adjoining a property inhabited by prairie dogs. Senator Ernie Chambers presented a list of issues in the existing law that may be unconstitutional.

LB670, a bill with an omnibus amendment from the Judiciary Committee, was amended and advanced from General File on Tuesday. As introduced, LB670 would change the makeup and duties of the Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice. The coalition makes recommendations to the Crime Commission for awarding grants and studies juvenile justice issues, among other things. Other bills that were amended into LB670 relate to reporting room confinements at juvenile facilities and changing duties for peace officers during encounters with certain juveniles.

Consent Calendar Bills Advanced from Select File

Thirty-two bills advanced from Select File through a consent calendar process on Wednesday. To be eligible for consent calendar, bills must be noncontroversial and must have been advanced out of committee with no dissenting votes. Following are some of the bills of interest to county officials.

LB733 would extend the duration of Class B county highway or street superintendent licenses from one year to three years to match the length of Class A licenses.
LB885, as amended by a Revenue Committee amendment, would require the county clerk to mail a copy of the property tax protest form to the property owner when the valuation has been protested by someone other than the owner. The amendment added language clarifying that a third party, such as a management company, can protest on behalf of the owner.
LB708 would provide that new filing fees and court courts are not assessed in the transfer of jurisdiction from juvenile court to district court through bridge orders.
LB714 would create procedures for the emancipation of minors.
LB983 would update a statute that was missed last year when legislation was adopted to address new court rules on media access during audiovisual court appearances.
LB1036 would double the dollar amount that could be spent on employee recognition dinners under the Local Government Miscellaneous Expenditures Act from $25 to $50. The rate had not been increased since 1993.
LB1038 would extend the deadline for online voter registration from 5:00 p.m. to midnight on the deadline day. The bill was introduced on behalf of the Secretary of State.
LB786 would update terminology used in county statutes to be gender neutral.
LB1030 would allocate motor vehicle sales tax based on the situs of vehicles owned by public power districts and licensed at their headquarters. The bill would not take effect until 2021 when the new vehicle titling and registration system will be implemented by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Bills Passed by the Legislature 
On Friday a number of bills were passed and sent to the governor. Among those was LB909, an omnibus bill addressing vehicle titling and registration and encompassing a number of other bills. Some of the elements in the bill include allowing special permits for hauling oversize loads of bales of livestock forage, and requiring drivers to move over when approaching maintenance, utility, and recycling collection vehicles. Other provisions create a "flood damaged" salvage title and define autocycles and low-speed vehicles.

Bills Signed by Governor Ricketts
The budget bills were passed on Tuesday and signed by Governor Ricketts on Wednesday. The mainline budget bill, LB944, contains the language pertaining to Title X funding for family planning clinics that senators debated last week. The budget provides for direct property tax relief  of $448 million through the Property Tax Credit over the biennium.

Ricketts also signed LB931, which is intended to prevent over-prescription of opioids by requiring photo identification to receive the drugs. The bill limits the duration of opioid prescriptions for persons under age 19 to seven days and directs physicians to discussion the risk of addition with patients who receive opioids.

Other bills were signed to change district court judicial boundaries ( LB697) and create an advisory committee to assist the Public Service Commission in planning next generation 911 ( LB993), 

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