Final 2017                                                                  Legislative Report Archive 

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sine2017 Legislative Session Adjourns Sine Die
The 105th Nebraska Legislature, First Session adjourned on May 23, 2017. This Final 2017 Legislative Report is intended to provide a brief synopsis of some of the 173 bills passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Pete Ricketts. This report highlights particular provisions of interest to counties within the included bills and notes bills that were amended into other measures. Please review the actual legislative bills for more specifics. The full text of the final version of each bill, called the slip law, can be viewed on the Legislature's website. Copies of bills can be requested from the Legislature's Bill Room at (402)471-0617. Also, consider contacting your county attorney with questions regarding the implementation of a particular bill in your county.

More than 667 bills, resolutions, and constitutional amendments were introduced this year. Bills that were not adopted or killed will carry over to the 2018 session with their 2017 status. The 60-day 2018 session is scheduled to convene on January 3.

Most bills take effect at 12:01 a.m. on August 24, 2017, which is three calendar months after the Legislature's adjournment. Bills passed with a specific operative date or emergency clause become effective on the specified date or upon the governor's signature.
The NACO staff appreciates all county officials and employees who responded to requests to contact legislators, testify at hearings, review legislation, and answer surveys during this year's session. The direct involvement of county representatives is the key to a productive legislative session.

Please contact the NACO office or your affiliate group if you have suggestions for possible legislation for NACO to pursue in 2018. NACO's 2018 legislative priorities will be selected following NACO's 12th annual legislative conference on October 12 at Wildcat Hills near Gering.
taxTaxation and Revenue
Senators passed an $8.9 billion, two-year state budget package after facing a $900 million shortfall at the start of the session. The final budget cut some spending and slowed other spending, swept money from cash funds, tapped the state's reserves, and lowered the amount of reserves required by law.
The Revenue Committee discussed exemptions and incentives and heard a variety of proposals to cut property, income and sales taxes. A committee proposal to change the valuation of real property to an income approach and combine the bottom two income tax rates was debated as AM954 to LB461. The proposal was based in part on LB337 and LB338, two tax relief bills introduced on behalf of Governor Pete Ricketts. LB461 failed to garner enough votes for a cloture motion on the first round of debate.

Interim studies LR161, LR162, and LR163 will continue the examination of the structure and administration of, and compliance with income, sales, and property taxes.
LB217, a Revenue Committee omnibus bill that contains provisions from several other bills, was adopted. It provides a 30-day grace period to pay delinquent taxes on rejected homestead exemptions before taxes accrue. Language from LB238 allows county assessors to certify valuations to taxing entities electronically, in addition to certification by mail if requested by a governing body or by listing the certification on the assessor's website. Language from LB228 requires owners of rent-restricted housing to submit income and actual expense data electronically to the Department of Revenue. The Department will forward the information to county assessors by August 15 each year. Language from LB251 establishes the primary use of a parcel as agricultural or horticultural land without regard to whether the parcel is platted or subdivided into separate lots or developed with improvements such as streets and sewers. Language from LB288 allows certified mail or designated delivery service to give notice of a pending tax deed and requires the notice to be given by name. The bill provides that tax sales certificates sold between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2017 are governed by the laws in effect on December 31, 2009. Language from LB233 requires county assessors to certify the total taxable value by school district on or before August 20, rather than August 25. Amendments must be certified by August 31, rather than September 30.
LB20 eliminates the requirement for veterans who are totally disabled by a non-service accident or illness to annually submit certification of their total disability to the county assessor in order to qualify for a homestead exemption. Individuals who have certain permanent physical disabilities or amputations are already exempt from such filings unless their medical condition changes. The county assessor or Tax Commissioner could request certification to verify that there has been no change in the applicant's medical condition. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.
cooperCounty Operations
LB318 amended the Open Meetings Act, effective March 13, 2017. Although the specific change applies only to conference call meetings of the Nebraska Brand Commission, any revision to the Act requires counties to update the copies of open meetings laws that are available at all public meetings. The current language is posted on NACO's website.
LB151 changes the number of days for notice before a public hearing on a proposed budget statement from five days to four calendar days. The day of publication counts as a day but the day of the hearing does not. It creates penalties for failure to report information requested annually from counties and other entities, including lists of interlocal agreements. A 14 percent penalty will be assessed on delinquent payments for services provided by the Auditor.
LB382 places Highway Allocation Funds and incentive payments outside of the definition of restricted funds for budgeting purposes. This calculation will give counties more flexibility in how they spend money generated from recent increases in infrastructure funding.
LB432 revises the authority granted to governmental entities to adjust their budgets to account for delinquent taxes. Existing law allows for a five percent offset for delinquent taxes as well as an allowance for anticipated litigation. LB432 permits the delinquent tax allowance only if the prime rate published by the Federal Reserve Board is 10 percent or greater at the time the entity's budget is filed and certified. Because the bill carries an emergency clause and was signed by the governor on April 27, it is in effect for FY17-18 budgets.
LB444 provides that city or county law enforcement officers, paid firefighters, and emergency responders who suffer serious bodily injury from an on-duty assault that results in the officer falling below the minimum number of working hours to maintain health insurance. The city or county may cancel the health insurance if the employee does not return to employment within twelve months after the date of the injury.
LB624 allows law enforcement officers to request that their residential address is not disclosed as a public record in the offices of the county assessor and register of deeds. The address may be disclosed if the request is made in writing. The request is valid for five years. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.
LB458 exempts purchases by county coroners from the requirements of the County Purchasing Act. A similar exemption is already in place for purchases by county hospitals.
LB415 is an omnibus retirement bill that makes technical and clean-up revisions to the five state-administered retirement plans with specific emphasis on the school retirement plan. In addition, concepts from LB32 change the calculation of the county prior service annuity to give counties flexibility to pay the annuity monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. The prior service annuity applies only to employees hired before the current county retirement plan was enacted in 1973. It is estimated that there are 50 to 100 retirees in 12 counties that receive the benefit. Concepts from LB278 clarify the definition of disability for consistency across the county, state, and school plans. Language from LB219 revises the mortality tables used to calculate annuities. Interim studies LR91 and LR202 will examine various retirement issues this summer.
LB625 expands the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) mechanism to counties. Since it was enacted last year, the PACE process has allowed municipalities to finance the up-front costs of energy efficiency improvements on commercial, industrial, and residential properties with annual payments being made in the same manner as property tax. Under LB625, third party lenders can collect annual assessments directly from owners of qualifying property other than single-family residential property. An interim study, LR109, will further review the PACE process.
Several bills amended statutes with specific population references and triggers. LB200 raises the minimum population level requiring counties to have a county surveyor perform the duties of a highway superintendent to 60,000. Existing law sets the trigger at 50,000. Buffalo County is expected to exceed 50,000 at the next census.
LB80 exempts law clerks and students employed by the county attorney or public defender from the classified service under civil service laws applicable to counties of 150,000 to 300,000.
LB508 revises a population trigger that will cause Lancaster County to implement a civil service commission. Existing law requires counties in excess of 300,000 to form such a commission. The bill increases the population to 400,000. Lancaster County is expected to exceed 300,000 at the next census.
LB86 revises bridge bidding procedures in counties over 150,000 that employ a purchasing agent. Bids shall be opened in the same manner as competitive bids for products and services subject to the County Purchasing Act in § 23-3111.
LB253 allows counties to enter into interlocal service agreements for sewage disposal systems. The bill applies only to Sarpy County.
LB451 is an election clean-up bill. It creates a three-tiered time frame to determine whether vacancies in the Legislature or on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents are filled by appointment or election.  It moves the date for certain political subdivisions to certify the races that must be filled on an upcoming ballot from July 1 to June 15 in even-numbered years. It strikes a prohibition against election commissioners in counties of more than 100,000 holding another elective office or becoming a candidate for elective office within 30 days after leaving office. 

LB34 grants ballot access to third party candidates that have at least 10,000 registered voters affiliated with their party. Existing law bases ballot access on the number of votes cast at prior elections.
LB85 prohibits persons from filing for office if they have outstanding civil penalties and interest imposed under the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Act. The Accountability and Disclosure Commission will provide filing officers with a current list of outstanding civil penalties and interest. Potential candidates will be allowed to file if an appeal of the matter is pending before a state court or if the candidate files a surety bond with the Commission. Candidate filing forms will contain a statement by the candidate of whether civil penalties are owed or a surety bond has been filed. The bill prohibits appointment to any elective or appointive office until such penalties and interest are paid.

Senators considered LR1CA, a constitutional amendment to require voters to show identification at the polls. A motion to indefinitely postpone the measure was unsuccessful and a motion to invoke cloture fell short.
A bill to eliminate the two-year waiting period to restore voting rights to ex-felons was passed by the Legislature but vetoed by Governor Ricketts. An attempt to override LB75  failed and the veto was sustained.

Two interim study resolutions on election issues were introduced for examination this summer. LR132 will examine the timing of special elections conducted on behalf of political subdivisions and the effect of requiring all such elections to be held in conjunction with statewide primary or general elections. LR182 will examine voter fraud in Nebraska.

lawLaw Enforcement and Courts
Court Issues
LB259 requires courts to consider a defendant's financial ability to pay before setting the amount of a bond. The court may also authorize the defendant to be released with supervision and waive the fees or costs. The court or magistrate may consider the defendant's ability to pay fines and costs at a sentencing hearing or a separate hearing prior to sentencing. The offender could be sentenced to hours of community service or payment could be made by installments. The bill is intended to reduce pretrial incarceration and sitting out fines. An interim study, LR219, will continue to examine these issues.
LB280 permits victims of human trafficking to participate in the Address Confidentiality Act administered by the Secretary of State. The program provides for victims of abuse, sexual assault or stalking to apply to the Secretary of State to serve as an agent for purposes of service of process and receipt of mail. The bill carried an emergency clause and took effect on May 12.

LB307 revises language describing the collection and distribution of court fees to more clearly delineate the breakdown between funds. The total amount collected is unchanged.

LB509 updates procedures relating to subpoenas.

Juvenile Issues
LB8 authorizes the Office of Probation Administration to develop a matrix of graduated response sanctions and incentives for juveniles on probation.

LB10 adds a juvenile court judge in Douglas County, effective July 1, 2017.

LB11 provides that transfers of juveniles between district or county court and juvenile court are considered final orders.
LB180 provides for bridge orders transferring jurisdiction of a juvenile from the juvenile court to the district court.

Criminal Penalties
LB289 increases penalties for human trafficking. It provides for sexual assault protection orders as originally proposed by LB178. The clerk of the district court must provide application and affidavit forms. Language from LB188 allows the parent of a child conceived as the result of a sexual assault to petition for termination of parental rights of the perpetrator.
LB300 changes the statute of limitations for civil actions for sexual assault of a child.

LB478 creates the offense of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person as it applies to possession of archery equipment for lawful purposes or possession of a knife for processing or harvesting game if the prohibited person is in possession of a state-issued recreational license evidencing permission to hunt, fish, or trap.

LB558 revises the definition of "knife" within the criminal code to return to statutory language from 2009 that required courts to consider the intent of the party to use the knife as a deadly weapon.
LB487 provides immunity from prosecution for drug possession for persons who seek help for themselves or another person due to a drug overdose. The bill also protects emergency responders who administer certain drugs to treat an apparent opioid overdose.
 mvMotor Vehicles
LB263 is the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee's omnibus bill. It allows motor vehicle dealers to provide titling and registration services. Other sections require county treasurers to remit both title and registration fees on the 20th of each month. Provisions from other bills that were amended into LB263 change oversight of the One-Call Board of Directors ( LB459), exempt vehicles with remote starters from laws prohibiting leaving vehicles unattended without removing the key ( LB54), and allow public power district vehicle registrations to be kept at the principal place of business of the district ( LB143).

LB45 expands Military Honor license plates to include members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force Reserves. Language was adopted from LB419 to extend eligibility to current and former commissioned officers of the U.S. Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.
LB46 provides for Choose Life license plates.

An interim study, LR195, will examine the system of valuing motor vehicles, including an analysis of manufacturer's suggested retail price compared to market-based valuation and the exemption from motor vehicle taxes for vehicles that are 14 years or older.
LB584 revises deadlines for mowing road ditches. The new language requires mowing to be done sometime in July for the first time and sometime in September for the second time. Landowners, counties or townships can mow at any time for sight distances at intersections and entrances and for snow control as needed. Under existing law, the first mowing must occur before July 15 and the second sometime in August.

LB271 allows the Nebraska Department of Roads to assume responsibility for conducting environmental assessments for road projects. The reviews are currently conducted at the federal level. Conducting these assessments at the state level will significantly reduce wait times for projects.
LB339 merges the Department of Aeronautics into the Department of Roads to form a unified Department of Transportation. The new department will be headed by the Director-State Engineer. A Director of Aeronautics will be appointed by the Director-State Engineer and confirmed by the Legislature to head the aeronautics division. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2017.
LB152 eliminates a January 1, 2018 termination date on filing fees used for records preservation and modernization. The fee structure was implemented in 2012 to help provide funding to maintain and upgrade documents filed in the offices of county registers of deeds and the Secretary of State. The fees are used for technology and modernization projects such as microfilming and digitizing records and implementing e-recording. Similar language was introduced in LB369 and LB268.
LB268 also expands the asset recovery program for settling Medicaid debts. LB268 requires certain lien releases, notices, and other documents to be filed by the register of deeds at no cost. The Department of Health and Human Services will provide a self-addressed return envelope with appropriate postage for lien filings.
LB535 eliminates the filing of a Real Estate Transfer Statement (Form 521) on oil, gas and mineral leases. The bill also allows, but does not require, registers of deeds to accept digital or electronic signatures. This authority already exists in Neb.Rev.Stat. § 86-611(3).
LB88 amends the Uniform Credentialing Act allow military spouses to obtain temporary licensing in health professions. The temporary license would allow them to work in Nebraska for one year while they are waiting to obtain a permanent license.
LB340 transfers oversight of the state's four veterans homes to the State Department of Veterans' Affairs, effective July 1, 2017. Currently the Department of Health and Human Services has oversight of these facilities.

LB639 expands the hiring preference given to members of the military to spouses of servicemembers. The preference applies to employment with the State of Nebraska or its political subdivisions during the spouse's period of military service and six months after discharge.
otherOther Issues
LB9 creates the Radon Resistant New Construction Task Force to develop minimum standards for radon resistant construction. The recommendations will be used to develop legislation in 2019.

LB222 changes membership in the Nebraska Tourism Commission to regional representation and provides for a program of innovative tourism grants.

LB407 creates the Whiteclay Public Health Emergency Task Force to examine the public health implications of alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska. The task force consists of five voting members from the Legislature and nonvoting members from the Commission on Indian Affairs, as well as a public health expert, and a data analysis expert. The task force will terminate in 2019.
interimInterim Study Resolutions Introduced
What follows is a partial listing of interim study resolutions that were introduced for examination during the summer and fall months. This listing represents only those studies determined to be of significant interest and importance to county government. Listed here are the resolution numbers, the introducer, a brief description of the issue, and the committee that will conduct the hearing. If a hearing has been scheduled on the resolution, the date and time are listed. More hearings will be posted on the Legislature's website as they are scheduled. A complete list of the studies is available here.
LR28 (McDonnell) Interim study to research how the state and each of the counties handle, process, and test sexual assault evidence collection kits. Judiciary
LR60 (Urban Affairs Committee) Interim study to examine issues related to the use of tax-increment financing. Urban Affairs
LR85 (Urban Affairs Committee) Interim study to examine issues under the jurisdiction of the Urban Affairs Committee. Urban Affairs
LR91 (Kolterman) Interim study to examine the public employees' retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board. Nebraska Retirement Systems
LR92 (Kolterman) Interim study to examine the requirement that the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee of the Legislature monitor underfunded defined benefit plans administered by political subdivisions. Nebraska Retirement Systems
LR109 (Larson) Interim study to examine the collection of annual assessments under the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act. Urban Affairs
LR113 (Bolz) Interim study to examine the long-term fiscal sustainability of the Nebraska Health Care Cash Fund to pay for health care and related services. Appropriations
LR114 (Judiciary Committee) Interim study to examine Nebraska's statutes relating to geriatric or compassionate release laws for elderly inmates. Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 15 9:30 a.m.
LR126 (Hughes) Interim study to examine the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project. Natural Resources
LR132 (Murante) Interim study to examine elections conducted by and on behalf of political subdivisions. Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
LR136 (McCollister) Interim study to examine the effect of the Congressional passage of Joint Resolution, S.J. RES. 34, which disapproved the Federal Communications Commission final rules for Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services. Transportation and Telecommunications
LR146 (Murante) Interim study to examine issues under the jurisdiction of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
LR158 (Williams) Interim study to examine whether the unclaimed property laws of Nebraska should be updated. Banking, Commerce and Insurance
LR161 (Smith) Interim study to examine the structure and administration of, and compliance with, state individual income and corporate income taxes. Revenue
LR162 (Smith) Interim study to examine the structure and administration of, and compliance with, state and local sales and use taxes and any other miscellaneous taxes. Revenue
LR163 (Smith) Interim study to examine the structure and administration of, and compliance with, real and personal property taxes. Revenue
LR164 (Quick) Interim study to examine the need for restoration, development, and capital improvement of sites that attract tourists to and within Nebraska. Appropriations
LR172 (Wishart) Interim study to review recruitment and retention efforts that are currently or could potentially be undertaken by the Dept. of Correctional Services. Judiciary Committee hearing on Oct. 20 at 9:30 a.m.
LR173 (Wishart) Interim study to review the work detail and work release efforts at the community corrections centers. Judiciary Committee hearing on Oct. 20 at 9:30 a.m.

LR174 (Friesen) Interim study to review the implementation of the 911 Service System Act. Transportation and Telecommunications
LR177 (Friesen) Interim study to review issues under the jurisdiction of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. Transportation and Telecommunications
LR182 (Murante) Interim study to examine the extent of voter fraud in Nebraska. Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
LR189 (Morfeld) Interim study to examine ways in which Nebraska could increase access to health insurance, including Medicaid. Health and Human Services
LR191 (Ebke) Interim study to examine possible legislative reforms to Nebraska's mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m.
LR195 (Hilkemann) Interim study to examine the system of valuing automobiles for calculation of the motor vehicle tax. Revenue
LR196 (Ebke) Interim study to track the progress of the Dept. of Correctional Services and to ensure the intentions set forth by the Legislature are being complied with and carried out. Judiciary Committee hearing on Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m.
LR198 (Pansing Brooks) Interim study to examine the impact of incarceration on children in Nebraska. J udiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m.
LR203 (Friesen) Interim study to examine issues surrounding the relocation of utilities within the public right-of-way. Transportation and Telecommunications
LR206 (Wayne) Interim study to examine the potential for counties to have additional authority to pass ordinances within county boundaries. Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
LR207 (Wayne) Interim study to examine public health issues related to drugs, alcohol, and sexually transmitted diseases in Douglas County. Health and Human Services
LR208 (McCollister) Interim study to examine the cost of telephone calls made by people housed in county jails in Nebraska. Judiciary
LR210 (Stinner) Interim study to examine fiscal distress among local political subdivisions in Nebraska and how the Legislature could establish an early warning system to identify and respond to such fiscal distress. Appropriations
LR214 (Wayne) Interim study to examine contracting and procurement by the Dept. of Roads. Transportation and Telecommunications
LR216 (Pansing Brooks) Interim study to examine the policies, practices, and laws that govern the safeguarding and sealing of juvenile records. Judiciary
LR219 (Hansen) Interim study to examine the effectiveness of section 29-901, which relates to the imposition of bail, and section 29-2206, which relates to the imposition of fines, fees, and court costs. Judiciary
LR220 (Hansen) Interim study to investigate the purpose and benefits of creating conviction integrity units in Nebraska. Judiciary
LR221 (Hansen) Interim study to examine possible reforms to Nebraska's sentencing laws to accommodate an option of deferred judgment probation. J udiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m.
LR223 (Blood) Interim study to examine Nebraska statutes governing the use of personally identifiable information. Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
LR224 (Blood) Interim study to examine cross-county assessment and collection of ad valorem taxes. Revenue
LR237 (Groene) Interim study to examine all aspects and the history of the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project. Natural Resources
LR240 (Brewer) Interim study to examine the issues raised by LB121, 2017, related to taxation of military benefits. Revenue
LR241 (Vargas) Interim study to examine the distribution and use of funds from the Federal Title X program. Judiciary
LR243 (Wayne) Interim study to examine issues related to eminent domain and property rights. Judiciary
LR245 (Brewer) Interim study to examine issues raised by LB504, 2017, related to placing a moratorium on industrial development of wind energy projects. Natural Resources
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