February 2, 2018                                                             Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue



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 taxsaleTax Sale Interest Rate Debated
Purchasers of tax sales certificates could bid down the interest rate they are willing to accept in order to purchase the parcels they want under LB51, which was debated on General File on Wednesday and Thursday. Under the bill introduced by Senator Paul Schumacher, property owners would continue to pay 14 percent to redeem the delinquent taxes. Counties would receive the difference between the  interest rate agreed to by the investor and 14 percent.
Opponents speaking on behalf of tax sale certificate purchasers and bankers expressed concerns that such a plan might decrease the number of bidders at tax sales and discourage local investors from bidding.
In an effort to cut short debate and eliminate the possibility of a filibuster, Senator Schumacher took the unusual step of filing a motion to indefinitely postpone LB51. In response, Senator Ernie Chambers filed a motion to bracket the bill until April 18, 2018. During the procedural maneuvering, senators debated the merits of the bill, including amending the bill to decrease the interest rate to 11 percent to more closely reflect current interest rates. The 14 percent rate was set in the 1980's to mirror the interest rates of the time. The 14 percent interest rate, which is set out in Neb.Rev.Stat. sec. 45-104.01, is also used for worker's  compensation awards and other disbursements.
The bracket motion prevailed on a 26-14 vote and Senator Chambers filed a motion to unbracket the bill. The motion, which is acceptable under the rules of the Legislature, was last used in the 1970's. The motion was unsuccessful and debate ended. It is highly unlikely that the bill will appear on the agenda again.
Hearing dates have not been set for two other tax sales bills: LB1097 and LB1095.

policyNew Policy for Submitting Letters to Committees
The Legislature's Standing Committees have adopted a new policy for the submission of letters to committees that are intended to be part of the record. Under the new policy, letters must be received by the committee by 5:00 p.m. the day prior to the hearing. Letters received after the cut-off will not be read into the record.

 revenuecomRevenue Committee Hears Tax Proposals
Governor Pete Ricketts presented his tax relief package to the Revenue Committee on Wednesday with a proposed alteration to lock in refundable income tax credits. As introduced, income tax credits would increase only when state revenues exceed projections. Under the revision to LB947, the increases would be automatic until topping out at 30 percent of property taxes paid in 2031.
On Thursday, the committee heard LB1108, Senator Burke Harr's proposal to use workforce development to grow the state. His package of ideas also included a sales tax increase that would provide $9 million to the Infrastructure Bank and an equal amount to develop a light rail line. Proponents supported increased school funding and readiness tax credits. No opponents testified on the bill.
Next Friday the committee will hear Senator Tom Briese's priority bill, LB1084. It would increase the sales tax and eliminate a number of exemptions in an effort to increase funding for schools and the Property Tax Credit Fund.
On Thursday, the committee will hear LB963, which would change the frequency for county assessors to inspect all parcels from every six years to every three years. NACO has been assured that the committee will not advance the bill as introduced. It was introduced as a shell bill in case the Revenue Committee needs a bill at a later date.
 hrgsnapSnapshots of Activity
Committee Hearings
Every bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature is given a public hearing by a committee. Each senator is assigned to one or more committees. Following is a summary of discussion at selected committee hearings this week.

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
Bills on budgets, bonds, and bidding were heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee this week. LB943 would allow taxing entities to use all growth due to new construction when determining their budget. Existing law allows the use of a growth factor when growth exceeds 2.5 percent of the base.
LB850 would require political subdivisions to disclose the total cost, including interest, when presenting bond issues to voters. Senator Lou Ann Linehan, who introduced the bill, offered an amendment to add details to the method of disclosure.
A clarifying amendment was also suggested for LB1128, a bill introduced by Senator Justin Wayne to prevent government entities from spending funds appropriated by the legislature if the entity has accepted grants and other nongovernmental funds. The amendment would limit the bill to the Supreme Court, Secretary of State and Attorney General. The bill is intended to prevent appearances of outside influence on the judiciary and other officials.
LB1098 would increase amounts triggering bidding under the County Purchasing Act. NACO and county officials testified in support of the bill.
The deadline for online voter registration would be moved from 5:00 p.m. to midnight on the third Friday prior to an election by LB1038. The earlier deadline has been confusing to voters. County clerks and election commissioners support the change.
The committee has not reported any action on these bills.
Urban Affairs Committee
Four bills on tax increment financing (TIF) met with mixed responses during an Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday. LB874, which was introduced and prioritized by the committee, addresses issues raised in a 2016 report by the State Auditor and a subsequent interim study. Among other things, the bill would require cities to give counties and schools an opportunity to place a nonvoting representative on the community redevelopment authority. Other sections of the bill would require property tax statements to include a designation if property taxes have been divided as part of a TIF project. LB846 would require additional evidence to show that the TIF project would not have occurred absent the incentives. LB967 would strike authority for projects to extend for three miles outside of municipal boundaries. LB1085 would serve as implementing legislation for a pending constitutional amendment, LR16CA, that would allow the repayment period for TIF projects to be extended from 15 to 20 years if more than half of the property in the project area is designated as extremely blighted. Voters would have to approve LR16CA before LB1085 would take effect. The committee did not report action on any of the proposals.
Judiciary Committee
Counties could continue to house inmates for the Department of Correctional Services on a temporary basis under LB853. Inmates could only be placed in county jails that have the capacity and agree to offer services to meet one or more of the inmates prerelease programming requirements. An amendment was discussed to more clearly define the requirements for programming.
Law enforcement agencies would have to report the reasons surrounding an officer's separation from service under LB792 that was heard by the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Senator Laura Ebke introduced the bill in conjunction with LB791 as part of the Governor's initiative to ensure accountability and transparency in the Nebraska State Patrol.
LB955 would provide for reciprocal certification of military police officers and law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions.
Retirement Systems Committee
County hospitals or school districts that make a business decision that would move some of their employees out of the county or school retirement plan would be responsible for costs of an actuarial study, plan funding obligations, and administrative costs under LB1005. The bill was introduced by Senator Mark Kolterman at the request of the Public Employees Retirement Board to help protect the assets of the plans when employees are outsourced. He cited the example of a school district that terminated support staff and rehired them through a leasing company. The school saved money because they no longer paid for retirement contributions, worker's compensation, health insurance, and other benefits. When such an event occurs, actuarial assumptions of the retirement plan are altered and the state can incur unplanned financial liabilities for rollovers, refunds, and payouts. The committee reported no action on the bill.

Bills Advanced from General File 

This week senators advanced a number of bills carried over from 2017 to Select File.  


Municipalities could enact ordinances requiring the identification and registration of vacant properties under LB256. Senators debated whether the fees that could eventually become liens would be enough incentive for owners to rehabilitate and encourage occupancy.  


LB480 would require private insurance plans to reimburse political subdivisions for medical supplies or services when the insured is in jail pending disposition of the charges. A committee amendment prohibits a political subdivision from paying health insurance policy premiums on behalf of a person who is in temporary custody.


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 5 
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB721 (Wayne) Remove a prohibition to regulate wireless telecommunications service by the Public Service Commission
  • LB993  (Friesen) Create the 911 Service System Advisory Committee and change the 911 Service System Act and eliminate the act's termination date
  • LB994 (Friesen) Create the Rural Broadband Study Task Force, change provisions relating to the Nebraska Telecommunications Universal Service Fund, and change powers and duties of the Public Service Commission as prescribed 
Tuesday, February 6
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB987 (Schumacher) Adopt the Uniform Regulation of Virtual-Currency Businesses Act
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1009 (Murante) Provide a super-two rural highway classification and change maximum highway speed limits as prescribed

Urban Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB986 (Hansen) Adopt the Neighborhood Improvement District Act and change provisions relating to special assessments for other improvement or development districts as prescribed
  • LB1067 (Quick) Authorize a special tourism surcharge under the Business Improvement District Act
  • LB735 (Blood) Provide for interlocal agreements regarding nuisances
  • LB1028 (Wayne) Adopt the Abandoned and Dilapidated Housing Act

Wednesday, February 7
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB691 (Blood) Adopt the Nebraska Virtual Currency Money Laundering Act and define and redefine terms under the Nebraska Money Transmitters Act
  • LB695 (Blood) Authorize and define smart contracts and authorize use of distributed ledger technology as prescribed
  • LB773 (Clements) Change intimidation by telephone call provisions and prohibit intimidation by electronic message
  • LB782 (Pansing Brooks) Change intimidation by telephone call provisions and provide for intimidation by electronic communication
  • LB855 (Lindstrom) Change Security, Privacy, and Dissemination of Criminal History Information Act provisions to provide for charges or offenses that have been pardoned
  • LB1083 (Hansen) Provide for discovery of telephone numbers and email addresses of witnesses in criminal cases

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.      
  • LB1111 (Stinner) Adopt the Fiscal Stress Management Act

Natural Resources Committee
Room 1525, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1123 (Groene) Provide for streamflow augmentation projects and retention of water rights as prescribed  
  • LB1124 (Groene) Provide notice and hearing requirements for public entities relating to land acquisition and ground water pump installations
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1089 (Smith) Change provisions relating to confidential tax information, refundable income tax credits, and homestead exemptions
  • LB963 (Smith) Change how often real property is inspected and reviewed for property tax purposes
Thursday, February 8
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB990 (Wayne) Create the offense of possession of a firearm by a prohibited juvenile offender
  • LR293CA (Wishart) Constitutional amendment providing a right to use or consume medical cannabis subject to laws, rules, and regulations

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1064 (Murante) Require election officials to check voter records for deceased individuals and require the Secretary of State to check the citizenship status of all registered voters and applicants to register to vote
  • LB1066 (Murante) Require photographic identification for purposes of voting

Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1084 (Briese) Adopt the Property Tax Request Limitation Act, provide sunset dates for certain tax exemptions and incentives, and change other revenue and taxation provisions
Friday, February 9 - Legislature in Recess, Special Judiciary Committee Hearings
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 9:00 a.m.
  • LB781 (Pansing Brooks) Change penalties for certain felonies committed by persons under nineteen years of age
  • LB869 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to sealing of juvenile records
  • LB875 (Bolz) Change sentencing provisions for crimes committed by persons under the age of eighteen  
  • LB930 (Hansen) Prohibit use of juveniles' statements made as a result of custodial interrogation
  • LB983 (Ebke) Change provisions relating to audiovisual court appearances
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB925 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to certain sex crimes and crimes against children
  • LB988 (Pansing Brooks) Adopt an affirmative consent standard with respect to sexual assault
  • LB1013 (Pansing Brooks) Limit the habitual criminal enhancement to violent felonies
  • LB1132 (Pansing Brooks) Provide a procedure to set aside convictions of victims of sex trafficking and to expunge related records

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