February 10, 2017                                                                  Legislative Report Archive 

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clementsClements Sworn in as District 2 Senator
Robert K. Clements of Elmwood was sworn in on Monday as Legislative District 2's new senator. Clements replaces Senator Bill Kintner who resigned in January. He will serve on the Appropriations Committee. Legislative District 2 covers Cass County and parts of Otoe and Sarpy counties.

permruleDebate on Permanent Rules Continues
Senators again spent most of the week debating permanent rules related to the number of votes needed to invoke cloture and end filibusters. They adopted temporary rules that will be in effect until Tuesday, the 29 th day of the session. An amendment was offered to adopt the temporary rules for another 30 days to allow senators to see how existing cloture rules work. Rules debate will continue on Monday.
Monday's agenda also includes two bills on Final Reading. LB119, which would delay the date for certifying state aid to schools from March 1 to June 1, and LB22, which is part of the Governor's expedited FY2016-17 budget adjustments, were advanced from the second round of debate this week. The Appropriations Committee spared some of the cuts  proposed by the governor, including restoring $4 million to the Supreme Court for probation and other programs aimed at decreasing incarceration and recidivism.

govstaxGovernor's Tax Relief Proposals Heard
The Revenue Committee's hearing room was crowded on Wednesday as testifiers shared their thoughts on two proposals by Governor Pete Ricketts. LB337, introduced by Senator Jim Smith on the governor's behalf, would reduce top income tax rates in a series of steps triggered when state revenue growth exceeds projections by 3.5 percent. LB338, introduced for the governor by Senator Lydia Brasch, would use an income- and productivity-based method to calculate values on agricultural land. The committee listened to seven hours of testimony in support and opposition of the concepts. It has not taken action on either bill.

A second bill that would use a productivity model, LB602, was introduced by Senator Steve Erdman and will be heard on February 24.

Several other property tax proposals have been heard or are scheduled for hearings in the coming weeks.

On Monday, the Education Committee heard LB144, which would lower the percentage of value of agricultural and horticultural land used for calculating the school aid formula. The value would drop from 72 percent to 20 percent of actual value over four years. Another bill, LB266, that would reduce ag land values for schools to 30 percent after 2020 will be heard by the Revenue Committee on February 16.   

LB322 would add a member to the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) and tie filing fees to the value of the property. LB555 would also tie TERC filing fees to property values. LB385 would shift the burden of proof in TERC appeals to the county board of equalization if the assessed value of the property increased by more than five percent over the prior year. The bills will be heard on February 22.

LB468 would delay implementation of the Personal Property Tax Relief Credit and distribution of Highway Trust Fund dollars from motor vehicle sales tax for tax years 2018 and 2019. The hearing is also on February 22. 

comhrgssetCommittee Hearings Continue
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Counties would not have to post weight limits on bridges unless the limit is less than the limit for a legal load under LB310. Counties generally do not have load rating summaries for bridges under 20 feet long. It would cost between $750 and $1,500 apiece to conduct such an analysis using axle configuration, axle spacing, total vehicle weight, and other factors. Transportation Committee Chair Curt Friesen introduced the bill at NACO's request.
On Tuesday, the committee heard a bill to allow motor vehicle dealers to provide electronic titling and registration services to purchasers. Participation in the program would be voluntary for dealers and purchasers. Dealers would have to be approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The functionality would be part of the new vehicle title and registration computer system that is under development by the Department. Other sections of the bill would consolidate the date county treasurers submit title and registration fees to the state to the 20th day of each month. An amendment is expected that would clarify the responsibility of each party under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act. Senator Bruce Bostelman has also offered AM156 that would provide for a title search for vehicles over 30 years old. The Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles and representatives of NACO and the New Car Dealers Association testified in support of LB263.
The committee heard a number of other bills this week, including LB275, a bill to allow law enforcement or private property owners to remove abandoned vehicles from private land. The process would be similar to the removal of vehicles from public land.
LB355 would provide for Native American Cultural Awareness and History specialty license plates.

LB351 would expand the veteran designation on driver's licenses to include members of the Reserves and National Guard who were not called to active duty. Certain members of the U.S. Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would be allowed to receive a veterans' designation as well.

LB143 would allow the registration certificate for vehicles owned by public power districts to be kept at the principal place of business of the district. This would eliminate the need to annually change the registration certificate in each vehicle. Last year legislation was enacted to allow permanent license plates for vehicles owned by public power districts.
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Counties, cities, and villages would be prohibited from regulating the ownership, transportation, or transfer of firearms, ammunition, and firearms accessories under LB68. The bill is similar to a measure that was filibustered last year. Although the bill was heard by the Government Committee, early in the session senators debated whether to re-refer the bill to the Judiciary Committee.

Victims of human trafficking could participate in the Address Confidentiality Program overseen by the Secretary of State under LB280. The Act currently allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking to use a substitute address when interacting with state and local agencies. It also provides a new mailing address to keep their actual address confidential. The Secretary of State forwards the victim's mail to their new, undisclosed address. Senator Sue Crawford introduced the bill to help provide protection to victims of human trafficking. Three groups that provide support to trafficking victims testified in support of the bill.

The committee took no action on the bills.

Judiciary Committee
District court terminology would be updated to reflect modern technology under LB193, which was introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks at NACO's request. Clerks of the district court identified language that is antiquated or practices that are no longer necessary due to the Supreme Court's electronic case management system. There was no opposition to the bill. A bill to update jury statutes, LB192, will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on February 22.
The committee heard two bills related to mandatory minimum sentences. LB447 would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, except for first-degree sexual assault and sexual assault of a child. LB53 would have a three-judge panel decide whether to use or disregard mandatory minimum sentences or enhanced criminal penalties.
Natural Resources Committee
LB392 would enact the Wind Friendly Counties Act based on 2003's livestock friendly concept for counties. The Department of Agriculture would create a process through which counties could apply for the designation. The committee heard the bill on Thursday and has not reported any action on it.
 snapSnapshots of County Issues
Bills Advanced by Committees 
This week the legislature's standing committees sent a number of bills to the full body for debate. Some of these include:

  • LB584 (Friesen) A committee amendment would enact authority for counties, townships, and landowners to mow roadside vegetation on road shoulders or of sight distances at intersections and entrances at any time of the year or for snow control
  • LB81 (Blood) Increase handgun purchase permit fees from $5 to $25
  • LB158 (Pansing Brooks) Require counties to provide appointed counsel for juveniles
Upcoming Hearings on County Issues
In addition to the hearings listed below, here are a few to note next week:
  • LB544 (Watermeier) Provide for elimination of the office of clerk of the district court. In counties with an ex officio clerk of the district court, the duties would be transferred to the clerk magistrate. In counties with an elected clerk of the district court, the county board could vote to eliminate the office when a vacancy occurs or the incumbent does not file for re-election. Hearing on Wednesday, February 15 at 1:30 p.m. before the Judiciary Committee
  • LB369 (Lowe) Eliminate the 2018 sunset on records preservation and modernization fees collected by registers of deeds. This bill is similar to LB152 (Craighead) that was heard last week. Hearing on Thursday, February 16 at 1:30 p.m. before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
  • LB237 (Erdman) Change the filing location of school district treasurers bonds to the school district. An amendment will be offered to require an electronic copy to be sent to the county treasurer. Hearing on Thursday, February 16 at 1:30 p.m. before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
  • LB382 (Erdman) Remove highway allocation funds and incentive payments from restricted funds calculations in county budgets. Hearing on Thursday, February 16 at 1:30 p.m. before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
scholNACO Scholarhips Applications Being Accepted
Nebraska high school seniors who are the children, stepchildren, or under the legal guardianship of county officials or employees are encouraged to apply for one of twelve $1,000.00 NACO scholarships.  In addition to the twelve NACO scholarships, a special award, the Ronda Dix Memorial Scholarship, may be awarded to an applicant planning a career in nursing, physical therapy, or other medical field.  Additional information and the application form can be found on the front page of the NACO website.
The scholarship application deadline is March 1, 2017. To access the application from this article, click here . 
comhrgSelected Committee Hearing Schedules
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. For tips about testifying at a hearing, click here.

Monday, February 13, 2017
Executive Board
Room 2102, 12:00 p.m.
  • LB653 (Murante) Adopt the Redistricting Act
Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee
Room 1525, 12:00 p.m.
  • LB532 (Kolterman) Change provisions relating to a military service credit for certain retirement plans as prescribed
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB480 (McCollister) Provide requirements relating to health benefit plan coverage for insureds in jail custody
  • LB72 (Schumacher) Provide for governmental unit bond priority under the Nebraska Governmental Unit Security Interest Act and rename the act
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Agriculture Committee
Room 2102, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB449 (Chambers) Repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act
Urban Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB625 (Larson) Change the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB410 (Smith) Change boundaries and number of public service commissioner districts and provide for the appointment and election of new commissioners as prescribed
  • LB459 (Smith) Change provisions relating to governance of the statewide one-call notification center and provide for the establishment of best practices
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB359 (Kolterman) Authorize damages for property taxes and special assessments paid on property lost through adverse possession
  • LB544 (Watermeier) Provide for elimination of the office of clerk of the district court as prescribed
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB652 (Kolowski) Authorize the display of the Honor and Remember Flag
  • LB497 (Brewer) Change references to a federal form relating to veterans
  • LB340 (Murante) Transfer powers and duties from Division of Veterans' Homes of Department of Health and Human Services to Department of Veterans' Affairs
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB468 (Krist) Change revenue and taxation provisions 
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB369 (Lowe) Change provisions relating to fees charged by the register of deeds
  • LB237 (Erdman) Change filing requirements of official bonds for school districts
  • LB382 (Erdman) Change provisions relating to budget limitations for counties

Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB251 (Harr) Redefine agricultural or horticultural purposes for revenue and taxation purposes
  • LB266 (Friesen) Change valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land
  • LB640 (Groene) Change provisions of the Property Tax Credit Act and provide school district property tax relief
Friday, February 17, 2017 - Monday, February 20, 2017
Recess Days
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Urban Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB262 (Groene) Change provisions relating to undeveloped vacant land under the Community Development Law
  • LB489 (Groene) Redefine development project under the Community Development Law
  • LB597 (Groene) Provide for application process through county assessor and Tax Commissioner prior to using tax-increment financing

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 2:00 p.m.
  • LB156 (Friesen) Eliminate a termination date under the 911 Service System Act
  • LB43 (Hilkemann) Change provisions relating to surcharges for 911 service
  • LB389 (Friesen) Adopt the Small Wireless Facilities Act
  • LB472 (Bostelman) Change provisions relating to signs and advertising on highways
  • LB612 (Wayne) Require direct access to 911 emergency service from certain telephone systems using Internet protocol-enabled services
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB173 (Morfeld) Prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity
  • LB192 (Pansing Brooks) Change and modernize provisions relating to the qualifying and summoning of jurors
  • LB526 (Morfeld) Change provisions relating to debtor's rights, garnishment, attachment, and other debt collection procedures

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507,1:30 p.m.
  • LB508 ( Hilgers) Change the population threshold for the county civil service system
  • LB567 ( Bolz) Change funding for county public assistance offices

Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB535 (Hughes) Provide an exception for filing a statement with the register of deeds when recording an oil, gas, or mineral lease
  • LB322 (Craighead)Change the Tax Equalization and Review Commission Act
  • LB385 (Lindstrom) Change provisions relating to the burden of proof and who may appeal under the Tax Equalization and Review Commission Act
  • LB555 (Smith) Change and eliminate provisions of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission Act
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB178 (Bolz) Provide for sexual assault protection order
  • LB191 (Pansing Brooks) Provide for renewals of domestic violence protection orders
  • LB289 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions and penalties relating to pandering, human trafficking, labor trafficking, and sex trafficking and prohibit solicitation of a trafficking victim
  • LB394 (Morfeld) Change provisions relating to possession of a deadly weapon by person subject to a domestic violence protection order
  • LB487 (Morfeld) Provide exception to certain crimes for persons witnessing or experiencing drug overdoses and provide protection from civil liability for emergency responders and peace officers administering naloxone

Health and Human Services Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB297 (McCollister) Create Children and Juveniles Data Pilot Project

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB644 (Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee) Provide, change, and eliminate provisions governing boards, commissions, and similar entities
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB232 (Kolterman)  Provide a property tax exemption for property leased to the state or a governmental subdivision
  • LB236 ( Erdman) Change provisions relating to the inclusion of multiple lots in one parcel
  • LB238 (Erdman)Change provisions of the Nebraska Budget Act relating to certifying taxable values
Friday, February 24, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 2:00 p.m.
  • LB367 (Krist) Change provisions relating to payment of costs in juvenile matters

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB482 (Smith) Adopt the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act 

Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB602 (Erdman) Change and eliminate provisions relating to the valuation of agricultural land
  • LB498 (Brewer) Change provisions relating to transfer of homestead exemptions
  • LB253 (Crawford) Authorize intergovernmental service agreements under the County Industrial Sewer Construction Act and provide for a special tax levy
  • LB288 (Harr) Change provisions relating to service of notice when applying for a tax deed and the laws governing tax sale certificates

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