February 16, 2018                                                             Legislative Report Archive 

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priorityPriority Bill Selections Continue
A bill to cap the costs for inmate phone calls in county and city jails has been selected as a priority bill by Senator John McCollister. LB776 is one of several senator and committee priority bills designated this week that could affect counties. The Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the floor with an amendment to clarify that communications with attorneys must be without cost to the inmate. NACO is working with proponents and opponents on amendments to define reasonable costs that reflect rates established by the Federal Communications Commission and commissions paid by phone service vendors. LB776 is the third bill on the agenda for Tuesday.
Senators and committees must designate their priority bills by adjournment on February 20. Priority bills will appear on the agenda for General File debate as they are reported out of committees. Some of the priority bills designated this week that remain in committee include LB829, Senator Steve Erdman's property tax relief bill, and LB993, Senator Suzanne Geist's priority bill to begin enacting next generation 911 in Nebraska. LB389, Senator John Lowe's priority bill, would provide for small wireless facilities in the right-of-way, also remains in committee.

tifadvTax Increment Financing Bills Advances from First Round
Senators advanced a bill from General File that would update tax increment financing laws (TIF). LB874 was introduced to follow up a 2016 state auditor's report and an interim study in 2017. Counties, schools and other taxing entities would receive additional notices and opportunities to comment on pending and future projects. Redevelopment projects could include a provision to require all property taxes levied on a redevelopment project to be paid before they become delinquent in order to be eligible for TIF.

Tax statements would have to include a breakdown of how much would be allocated to the redevelopment project and how much would be allocated to the county, city, school district and other subdivisions. The statement would also have to include language that the taxes on the real property are divided as part of a redevelopment project under the Community Development Law for a period not to exceed 15 years.
The Urban Affairs Committee indefinitely postponed the following TIF bills: LB95, LB262, LB489, LB846, LB967 and LB1085.

govelectGovernment Committee Hears Election Bills
Election commissioners, the deputy Secretary of State, and NACO testified in support of an election cleanup bill, LB1068, on Wednesday.
Six issues suggested by county clerks and election commissioners and the Secretary of State were consolidated into the annual omnibus bill. It would list the information that would be provided in response to a request for the voter registration list and specifically authorize the Secretary of State to provide the list. This concept was introduced in response to a request for voter information from all states as part of a presidential commission on elections investigation of possible voter fraud during the last presidential election.
Petition sponsors would be required to verify that they have at least the number of signatures necessary to place the issue on the ballot if all signatures are valid. If the total is not enough, the sponsors would be jointly and severally liable for the costs of the signature verification process. Last year, Douglas County spent $37,000 to verify signatures for two unsuccessful petitions. Other petition provisions would allow the Secretary of State to instruct election officials to stop verifying signatures when more than 110 percent of the signatures needed are verified. An Attorney General's opinion had concluded that the Secretary of State lacked authority to stop the verification process even if the required number of signatures had been met.
Other sections would close a loophole in 17-year-olds voting provisionally in special elections and would change terminology in recall elections. The dates for recall elections would be revised to allow for a 50-day window for special elections to be held by mail. Recall elections could be cancelled 24 days prior to the election, rather than 16 days, to save counties costs of mailing ballots. The bill would extend the period of confidentiality when an initiative or petition is submitted for review. Other sections would require subdivisions requesting the adjustment of election district boundaries to provide a map approved by the governing body and subjected to public review and challenges.
The committee also heard LB1065 which would provide for electronic poll books. Photo and signature databases from the Department of Motor Vehicles would be merged into election records with the stated intent of "deterring and detecting voter fraud, improving and modernizing election procedures, and safeguarding voter confidence." Senator John Murante, the introducer, offered an amendment that would replace the bill and remove the fiscal note. As originally written, the Secretary of State estimated costs of $2.6 million to obtain photos and signatures of voters who do not have a state-issued indentification. The amendment would not require photos and signatures from those individuals.
The final election bill heard on Thursday would impose a timeline for absentee ballots to be returned by someone other than the registered voter. In counties with a 24-hour drop box, the ballot would have to be returned within one business day. In counties without a 24-hour drop box, the ballot would have to be returned on the same calendar day. Violation of these deadlines would be considered a Class IV misdemeanor. LB959 was introduced in response to reports of campaign workers in a bond election volunteering to pick up and deliver ballots to the election commissioner's office. There was a concern that the volunteer could throw away the ballot, rather than turning it in. Testifiers discussed making the timeline more flexible and who would be responsible for enforcing the return of ballots.

The committee took no action on the bills.
Next week the committee will hear bills to restore voting rights to felons. LB1027, which would strike the two year period after a felon's sentence is completed, including any parole term, before restoration of rights will be heard on Thursday, February 22.
On Friday, February 23, the committee will hear a measure to move the presidential primary to the second Tuesday in March. The bill does not address who would pay for the costs of a separate primary election. They will also hear LB969 to change the number of signatures needed to place nonpartisan candidates on the ballot. Legislation enacted in 2016 increased the number of signatures needed to at least ten percent of the registered voters entitled to vote for the office. Senator Bob Krist has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the changes adopted in 2016 place an undue burden on nonpartisan candidates and violate constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection.

taxsaleTax Sale Bill Hearings Set for February 22
LB1097, a bill to require tax sales certificate investors seeking treasurer's deeds to include a full legal description and proof of a title search, will be heard by the Revenue Committee on February 22. Senator Mike Hilgers introduced the bill on behalf of county treasurers to begin discussion of the treasurer's deed process.
The committee will also hear LB965, which would require the parcel ID number for delinquent parcels to be published along with the tax list description, and LB1095, which would significantly expand the information that has to be included on tax statements.
Two other bills would change fees related to filings for transfers of real estate. LB1075 would impose a fee equal to one percent of the value of the real estate on the transaction. LB1076 would increase the documentary stamp tax by 50 cents for each $1,000 of value. The increased funds from both bills would go to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund.
The hearing will begin at 1:30 in Room 1524 of the Capitol. Committee hearings are livestreamed through the NET link on the Legislature's website.

On February 23, the committee will hear LB1100, a bill to implement a productivity approach to valuing ag land, and LB1104, a bill to add income criteria for special valuation of parcels of no more than five contiguous acres. 

nacoscholNACO Scholarship Deadline is March 1
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 another 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, 2018. To access the application from this article, click   here .

 hrgsnapSnapshots of Activity
Committee Hearings
Every bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature is given a public hearing by a committee. County officials are encouraged to provide testimony on bills that may affect their office. Please note that if you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. CST on the last work day prior to the public hearing.The letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.

Following is a summary of discussion at selected committee hearings this week.

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
"Move over" laws would be expanded to roadways beyond controlled-access highways under LB1011. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard the bill on Monday. The new language would be added to Nebraska's rules of he road to provide protections for highway and utility maintenance vehicles and solid waste or recycling service vehicles. There were no opponents to the bill.
The committee also heard bills to provide for wildlife conservation license plates ( LB1080), to redefine low-speed vehicles to include three-wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of 25 mph, seatbelts and a windshield ( LB1049), and redefine the definition of automobile to include autocycles ( LB1092).
On Tuesday the committee heard a bill to require utility location requests for large projects and repeat location requests to be paid by the excavator. LB1031 has been referred to as the "Allo bill" due to the company's block-to-block installation of fiber throughout the city of Lincoln, but it would apply to city, county, state and federal projects as well. Under the state's current One-Call system, utilities provide free location service to mark buried lines.
The committee has not reported action on these bills.

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
The committee took testimony on LB929 to clarify employment and political activity protections for members of the Nebraska National Guard. The bill would also allow members of the Guard to request protection of their residential addresses in the same manner as law enforcement officers. Senator Tom Brewer, who introduced the bill, said that the members eligible for address protection due to their work providing direct support to law enforcement missions could be identified by the Adjutant General in lieu of providing an identification number as required for law enforcement officers.
The committee also heard LB1072 that would give preference to purchasing Nebraska products, goods, and services from a resident bidder when public contracts are awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. The bids would have to be comparable in price and otherwise meet the required specifications.
The committee has not taken action on the bills.

Judiciary Committee
Law enforcement agencies and jails would have to notify their governing body at least 30 days before entering into an agreement to enforce immigration laws under LB1082 that was heard by the Judiciary Committee this week. The governing body would have to include the notice in the agenda of subjects of their next regularly scheduled public meeting. Within 60 days after entering into the agreement, the agency would have to provide a copy to the Crime Commission. Failure to do so could result in an audit of the agency by the State Auditor at the cost of the political subdivision. Supporters of the bill argued that the contracts should be transparent.
Mental health professionals could take a person into emergency protective custody under LB964. Currently a mental health professional with probable cause to believe that a person is mentally ill and dangerous or a dangerous sex offender has a limited privilege to hold a person until a law enforcement officer or other authorize person arrives to take custody of the person.

Appropriations Committee
The state would be responsible for paying prosecution costs for criminal incidents committed at state correctional institutions under LB861. Prosecution costs, including defense for indigent defendants, attorney's fees and expert witness fees would have to exceed 2.5 cents levied on the valuation of the property before the state would take over the costs. NACO and counties supported the bill.

Bills Reported to the Floor
The Urban Affairs Committee reported a bill out of committee that would allow for interlocal agreements between counties and cities to regulate nuisance within the city's extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction. LB735 was introduced by Senator Carol Blood at Sarpy County's request.
Bills Advanced From Select File
Counties would not have to post weight limit signs on bridges if the weight limit matched the limit on the road under LB310. Senator Curt Friesen introduced the bill last year on behalf of NACO. The bill was advanced from Select File with an amendment clarifying liability for damage to bridges caused by weight violations. An amendment was adopted on General File to define culverts to fix an oversight in legislation adopted in 2016 setting weight limits for implements of husbandry being operated on county roads. The amendment exempts culverts with a span of less than 60 inches from these restrictions.
Bills Signed Into Law 
A bill to update court terminology and practices to reflect the functionality of the JUSTICE system was signed by Governor Pete Ricketts on February 14. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced LB193 on NACO's behalf. Some sections of the bill will become operative on January 1, 2019 and others will take effect three calendar months after the session ends, approximately July 19.
Among the other bills that were signed into law is LB100 that requires mental health boards to use a clear and convincing standard of proof when determining whether a petitioner's rights to obtain a handgun should be reinstated.

LB146 allows persons convicted of infractions to petition the court to set aside the conviction in the same manner as misdemeanors and felonies.

LB93 sets parameters for the use of automatic license plate readers by governmental entities and limit the retention of data to 180 days.

comhrgsCommittee Hearings Scheduled
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.
Monday, February 19 - Recess Day
Tuesday, February 20
Agriculture Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB893 (Wishart) Change seller disclosure statement requirements and provide for restrictions and duties on pet shop owners under the Dog and Cat Purchase Protection Act

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1113 (Walz) Provide an exception for leasing dark fiber or providing broadband, Internet, telecommunications, or video services by an agency or political subdivision of the state
  • LB1114 (Walz) Provide for creation and maintenance of a statewide geographic information system map under the Nebraska Telecommunications Regulation Act
  • LB856 (Morfeld) Adopt the Internet Neutrality Act, change communications provider requirements under the Nebraska Telecommunications Regulation Act, and change financial assistance provisions relating to the Nebraska Internet Enhancement Fund

Wednesday, February 21
Health and Human Services Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LR281CA (Morfeld) Constitutional amendment to state that affordable health care is a right and to expand eligibility under the medical assistance program
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB797 (McDonnell) Change penalties for second and third degree arson
  • LB811 (Lindstrom) Change prohibited uses of scanning devices and encoding machines 
  • LB872 (Harr) Change provisions relating to appeals by prosecutors
  • LB1010 (Hansen) Change procedures for determining competency to stand trial in counties containing a city of the primary class

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB814 (Schumacher) Provide a procedure to resolve protests of government service contract procurement decisions 
  • LB694 (Blood) Prohibit cities and villages and counties from taxing or regulating distributed ledger technology
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1022 (Schumacher) Adopt the Irrigation Tax Act and change the valuation of agricultural land for property tax purposes            

Thursday, February 22
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB927 (Howard) Change provisions relating to juveniles' out-of-home placement, care, and custody
  • LB981 (Baker) Change provisions relating to arraignment of juveniles and authorize juvenile court jurisdiction to age twenty-one with consent of the juvenile and legal counsel
  • LB1051 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to family member visitation
  • LB1086 (Wayne) Provide for intervention in certain proceedings involving juveniles as prescribed 
  • LB1112 (Vargas) Change provisions relating to placement and detention of juveniles and permit an additional use of funds under the Community-based Juvenile Services Aid Program

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB817 (Chambers) Change provisions regarding funds of candidate committees 
  • LB839 (Crawford) Require reporting regarding electioneering communication under the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act 
  • LB1129 (Kuehn) Prohibit state employees from certain political activities
  • LB1027 (Wayne) Provide for restoration of voting rights upon completion of a felony sentence or probation for a felony
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB939 (McDonnell) Provide a homestead exemption for certain dwelling complexes located on military installations
  • LB965 (Schumacher) Change provisions relating to lists of real property subject to sale for delinquent taxes 
  • LB1016 (Briese) Adopt the Money Transmission Fee Act and provide income tax credits
  • LB1095 (Hilgers) Change the information included in certain tax notices and receipts
  • LB1097 (Hilgers) Change provisions relating to treasurer's tax deeds 
  • LB1075 (Friesen) Impose a fee on transfers of real estate
  • LB1076 (Friesen) Increase the documentary stamp tax and provide for the use of the revenue
Friday, February 23
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB693 (Blood) Regulate and create criminal offenses regarding the use of unmanned aircraft systems 
  • LB892 (Howard) Prohibit restraining animals in the event of certain natural or manmade disasters or severe weather events as prescribed 
  • LB977 (Wayne) Make post-release supervision optional for Class IV felonies

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1036 (Kolowski) Change the expenditure limit for a recognition dinner under the Local Government Miscellaneous Expenditure Act
  • LB682 (Blood) Provide consumer protection and civil relief for servicemembers and provide a duty for the National Guard
  • LB969 (Wayne) Change signature requirements for nomination of partisan candidates by petition 
  • LB1032 (Murante) Provide for a statewide presidential primary election
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB910 (Bolz) Adopt the Property Tax Circuit Breaker Act and change the funding of the Property Tax Credit Act 
  • LB937 (Stinner) Change filing fees for appeals to the Tax Equalization and Review Commission 
  • LB1006 (McCollister) Change provisions relating to rehearings under the Tax Equalization and Review Commission Act
  • LB1100 (Erdman) Change the valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land 
  • LB1104 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to the special valuation of agricultural or horticultural land

Monday, February 26
General Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1125 (Groene) Change school finance base limitation and local effort rate provisions
Tuesday, February 27
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1115 (Murante) Provide population requirements for establishing district boundary lines for legislative districts, Supreme Court districts, and certain political subdivisions
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB680 (Krist) Adopt the Interstate Placement for Involuntarily Admitted Patients Agreement Act
  • LB690 (Blood) Adopt the Counterfeit Airbag Prevention Act 
  • LB1126 (Bolz) Adopt the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights Act
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1023 (Schumacher) Change sunset dates on certain tax incentive programs
  • LB1021 (Schumacher) Eliminate certain sales and use tax exemptions 
  • LB941 (Wayne) Change the calculation of the tax on the average wholesale price of gasoline 
  • LB1026 (Wayne) Authorize issuance of highway bonds, create a fund, and change existing highway funding provisions
  • LB1088 (Wayne) Adopt the Nebraska Education Formula and the Remote Seller Sales Tax Collection Act, terminate the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act and the Property Tax Credit Act, and eliminate certain tax exemptions
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