February 9, 2018                                                             Legislative Report Archive 

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priorityPriority Bill Designations Shape Floor Debate
Monday is the 25th day of the 60-day 2018 legislative session. As the mid-point of the session approaches, senators and committees are beginning to select their priority bills and the bills are appearing on the agenda for debate. Priority bills are generally considered ahead of other bills at that stage of debate. A priority bill which fails to advance after two votes on General File or one vote on Select file returns to nonpriority status.
Senators are allowed to select one priority bill and most committees may choose two bills. In addition, the Speaker may select 25 speaker priority bills. Senators must make recommendations for speaker priority bills by February 15. The deadline to designate senator and committee priority bills is February 20.

Monday's agenda begins with debate on LB744, the Legislative Qualifications and Election Contests Act. The bill would implement procedures for the legislature and election officials to follow in the event of a challenge. The bill was prioritized by the Executive Board.
Some of the other priorities selected thus far include:
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. Priortized by Briese.

LB449 (Chambers) Repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act. Prioritized by Chambers.

LB496 (Williams) Define and redefine terms under the Community Development Law. Prioritized by Williams.

LB758 (Hughes) Provide for voluntary payments in lieu of taxes on water augmentation project lands as prescribed. Prioritized by the Natural Resources Committee.

LB1005 (Kolterman) Change county and school retirement provisions. Prioritized by the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee.

LB874 (Urban Affairs Committee) Change the Community Development Law. Prioritized by the Urban Affairs Committee.

 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.

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee took testimony this week on LB1111, a measure to establish an early warning system to identify counties, cities and villages that are in fiscal distress. The bill would require the State Auditor to review financial indicators from taxing authorities and determine whether they should be placed on a fiscal watch. The indicators include a review of bonded debt, liabilities in excess of 20 percent of revenue, levying at the maximum rate for the past three years, and other factors. The Auditor would evaluate the fiscal indicators to determine whether the taxing entity might be at risk of fiscal stress. Senator John Stinner, the introducer, cited the Beatrice 6 lawsuit against Gage County and the loss of Cabela's in Cheyenne County as examples of situations that might cause counties to be under fiscal stress.
On Thursday, the committee heard testimony on LB1066, which would require photo identification for voting, and LB1064, which would require the Secretary of State to check the citizenship status of all registered voters against federal homeland security records. Senator John Murante, LB1064's introducer, offered an amendment to replace the verification with a requirement for the Secretary of State to cross-check voter registration records against the Department of Motor Vehicles' records. The Secretary of State already performs this comparison periodically.
Next Wednesday, the committee will hear three election bills and a measure to provide residential address protection to members of the Nebraska National Guard ( LB929). The election bills would set a deadline for returning ballots on behalf of someone else ( LB959), permit the use of electronic poll books ( LB1065), and make technical and clean-up changes requested by election officials ( LB1068).
Urban Affairs
Cities and villages could enter into interlocal agreements with counties for the removal, abatement, or prevention of nuisances inside the municipality's extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction (ETJ) under LB735, which was heard by the Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Senator Carol Blood introduced the bill to add another tool for areas that have significant development outside of municipal boundaries. Currently counties have little ability to address nuisances in the ETJ if a city chooses not to exercise their authority to do so. Although such agreements may already be acceptable under the Interlocal Cooperation Act, the bill would grant specific authority for the agreements.
A tax sales certificate purchaser requested the introduction of LB1028, a bill to allow investors in delinquent taxes to make improvements to abandoned and dilapidated property. The improvements could equal up to 25 percent of the assessed value of the property and would accrue interest at the delinquent tax rate of 14 percent. County officials, NACO and the Nebraska Realtors Association testified in opposition to the bill.
The committee has not reported action on either bill.
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
LB993 would implement the recommendations of a next generation 911 master plan that was commissioned by the state in 2016. NACO and county officials were part of the group of stakeholders that collaborated on the plan and testified in support of LB993. The bill would provide a continued role for stakeholders through a new advisory committee. It would task the Public Service Commission with determining the allocation of the wireless 911 surcharge to help cover costs of next-gen 911 services. NACO and county officials testified in support of the bill at Monday's hearing.
Maximum speed limits could be increased on the interstate, highways and roads in Nebraska under LB1009. The increase would reflect actual speeds used by drivers, as indicated by engineering and speed studies. It would an additional functional classification of roads for two lane highways designed primarily for through traffic with passing lanes spaced intermittently and on alternating sides of the highway.
Revenue Committee
County assessors testified before the Revenue Committee on Wednesday in opposition to a section of the Department of Revenue's clean-up bill that would provide a process for reassessment in the event of a major calamity. Those provisions of LB1089 contain concepts similar to LB899, which was heard earlier.
Senator Tom Briese's Property Tax Limitation Act that would revise state aid to schools was heard on Thursday. LB1084 would also terminate the Personal Property Tax Relief Act, increase cigarette taxes, eliminate sales and use tax exemptions, impose an alternative minimum income tax, and take other steps to increase revenue.
Chair Jim Smith introduced three shell bills - LB961, LB962, and LB963 - to provide placeholders if needed later for concepts on corporate and individual income taxes and property taxes. LB963, as introduced, would require assessors to inspect and review real property parcels every three years, rather than every six years. Smith assured the committee that the bill would not be advanced as introduced.
Judiciary Committee
Because so many bills were assigned to the Judiciary Committee this year, Chair Laura Ebke scheduled a full day of hearings on a recess day. On Friday, February 9, the committee heard nine bills primarily dealing with criminal law issues and juveniles.
The committee considered legislation related to electronic modes of currency on Wednesday. LB691 would create the Nebraska Virtual Money Laundering Act. This bill would deal with cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.
LB695 would authorize smart contracts and authorize use of distributed ledger technology. It would add blockchain and smart contracts to the Electronic Notary Public Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. LB695 would allow smart contracts, which are virtual contracts that are administered using distributed ledger technology, to be recognized as having the same force and effect as a regular paper or digital contract under Nebraska law.
The Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee has heard another version of a virtual currency bill, LB987. The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee will hear LB694 that would prohibit cities and villages and counties from taxing or regulating distributed ledger technology.
Bills Debated on 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 debated on Select File but time ran out before it could be advanced. 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 Passed on Final Reading
A bill to update court terminology and practices to reflect the functionality of the JUSTICE system was passed by the Legislature on Thursday. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced LB193 on NACO's behalf.
Among the other bills that were passed by the Legislature is LB100 that would require 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 would allow persons convicted of infractions to petition the court to set aside the conviction in the same manner as misdemeanors and felonies.

LB93 would set 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 12
Appropriations Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB715 (Howard) State intent relating to appropriations to local public health departments
Business and Labor Committee
Room 2102, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB916 (Hansen) Prohibit retaliation under the Nebraska Wage Payment Collection Act and the Wage and Hour Act
  • LB843 (Pansing Brooks) Provide protections for employees' wage disclosures
  • LB1014 (Pansing Brooks) Name the Discriminatory Wage Practices Act, change provisions relating to wage discrimination on the basis of sex, and provide protections for employees relating to wage disclosure
Education Committee
Room 1525, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB801 (Stinner) Adopt the Panhandle Beginnings Act to provide certain services to school-age children
General Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1102 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to distribution of taxes collected, license renewals and fees, and the tax on gross proceeds for county and city lotteries 
  • LR294CA (Larson) Constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to authorize any game of chance, lottery, or gift enterprise and to provide for distribution of revenue      
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1136 (Clements) Provide for custody and disposition of certain vehicles in possession of multistate auction dealers by treating such vehicles as abandoned vehicles
  • LB1011 (Harr) Provide a duty for drivers approaching certain stopped vehicles on a roadway as prescribed under the Nebraska Rules of the Road
  • LB1049 (Harr) Redefine low-speed vehicle
  • LB1080 (Hughes) Provide for Wildlife Conservation Plates
  • LB1092 (Smith) Change provisions relating to autocycles
Tuesday, February 13
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1063 (McDonnell) Provide funding to assist victims of traumatic brain injury and increase certain driver's license fees as a source of such funding 
  • LB989 (Wishart) Authorize testing of autonomous vehicles by a city of the primary class on its roadways
  • LB1122 (Larson) Authorize testing of automated motor vehicles as prescribed
  • LB1043 (Lowe) Change provisions relating to reimbursement of common and contract carriers for transportation costs associated with certain agency clients as prescribed
  • LB1031 (Friesen) Change excavation notification and marking requirements and provide for large project planning meetings, rulemaking authority, and cost allocation under the One-Call Notification System Act
Urban Affairs Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB709 (Baker) Change provisions relating to city and village plumbing boards and change a penalty
  • LB767 (Quick) Adopt changes to the state building code
  • LB1025 (Wayne) Create the Building Codes Advisory Committee and change building code provisions
  • LB720 (Wayne)Change applicability provisions for building codes
  • LB889 (Wayne) Provide and eliminate duties relating to fire codes
  • LB890 (Wayne) Provide for a fee examination and report relating to the State Fire Marshal
Appropriations Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB861 (Watermeier) Require that certain prosecution costs be paid by the state
Wednesday, February 14
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB929 (Brewer) State rights of Nebraska National Guard members and provide that a residential address may be withheld from the public  
  • LB1015 (Briese) Allow withholding from public of reports of injury under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act that reveal an employee's identity 
  • LB959 (Murante) Provide requirements for returning a ballot for someone else and provide a penalty 
  • LB1065 (Murante) Permit use of electronic poll books and use of digital images for confirmation of the voter's identity
  • LB1068 (Murante) Provide for seventeen-year olds to vote in special elections, provide requirements for adjusting political subdivision boundaries, and change voter registration, special election, recall, and initiative and referendum provisions             
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB836 (Howard) Provide for minors' consent to certain mental health services as prescribed 
  • LB964 (McDonnell) Authorize mental health professionals to take a person into emergency protective custody under the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act
  • LB982 (Morfeld) Provide for persons eighteen years of age or older to consent to certain behavioral health services
  • LB1082 (Vargas) Require jails, law enforcement agencies, and the Nebraska State Patrol to provide public notice before entering into agreements to enforce federal immigration law and to allow audits of noncomplying entities 
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1077 (Friesen) Eliminate levy limits for school districts
  • LB1106 (Linehan) Change requirements for overriding property tax limits 
  • LR290CA (Kuehn) Constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to value real property for property tax purposes at its market value on date of acquisition 
Thursday, February 15
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1072 (Linehan) Change a preference in awarding public contracts and eliminate reciprocal preference provisions
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB978 (Harr) Change provisions relating to garnishment
  • LB992 (Bolz) Provide for release from a residential lease for a victim of domestic violence and eviction of a perpetrator of domestic violence
  • LB1029 (Hansen) Change time for acceptance of a power of attorney
  • LB1039 (Linehan) Increase the amount that may be required for a pet deposit under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
  • LB1131 (Riepe) Define minor child relating to dissolution of marriage statutes
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB1117 (Crawford) Change certain cigarette and tobacco products tax rates
  • LB1030 (Friesen) Change the sales tax sourcing rules for certain motor vehicles and trailers
Friday, February 16 and Monday, February 19 - Recess Days
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
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
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
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

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