March 10, 2017                                                                  Legislative Report Archive 

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debpriorDebate Begins on Priority Bills 
Senators began the week with a cloture vote to advance LB46A from the first round of debate. LB46A is the companion appropriations bill to LB46, a bill to create Choose Life license plates. Last week a cloture motion was required to end a filibuster of LB46. Twenty-two amendments to LB46 carried over to Select File and it is likely that cloture votes will be needed to end second-round debate on both bills. Much of the debate focused on free speech and the language on the plate, rather than the appropriations.
The body bracketed a bill to allow for reimbursement of the costs of second opinions requested by employees who disagree with the employer-appointed physician in worker's compensation cases. The bracket motion will be in effect until January 10, 2018. LB181 is Senator Dan Quick's priority bill.
Senators amended and advanced a bill introduced and prioritized by Senator Ernie Chambers to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. As originally introduced, LB447 proposed eliminating the minimum sentence for all but the most serious crimes.

The Whiteclay Public Health Emergency Task Force would be created under LB407, which advanced from General File on a 42-0 vote. The task force would examine the public health implications of alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska and the neighboring Pine Ridge Reservation. The bill was prioritized by the State-Tribal Relations Committee.
Debate began on LB368, Senator John Lowe's priority bill to eliminate Nebraska's mandatory motorcycle helmet law. Instead, riders age 21 and older could wear alternative eye protection. Children under age 6 would be prohibited from being a passenger on a motorcycle. LB368 is the first bill on the agenda when the session reconvenes on Monday at 10:00.

comhrgssetCommittee Hearings Continue
Appropriations Committee
The Appropriations Committee continued to hear from state agencies about their budget needs this week. On Monday, the Supreme Court, Attorney General, Commission on Public Advocacy, Board of Parole, and Department of Correctional Services appeared before the committee. The committee also heard LB378, which would appropriate $5 million for a program in which state inmates would be housed in county jails to facilitate work release programs. Appropriations Committee hearings will continue through the end of next week.
Senator John Stinner, Chair of the Appropriations Committee has filed an amendment to LB331 at the request of the Governor that would lower the state's required minimum reserve from 3 percent to 2 percent. A public hearing on AM494 will be held on March 15 at 1:30 p.m.
The Appropriations Committee must place the budget bills on General File by the 70 th day, which is April 24.
Health and Human Services Committee
LB441, this year's Medicaid expansion bill, was heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday. Expanding health care coverage under LB441 would reduce general assistance claims for counties. The bill remains in committee and has not been prioritized.
Judiciary Committee
Five bills to revise concealed weapon laws were heard by the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. One concealed carry measure heard earlier by the Government Committee, LB68, was selected by Senator Mike Hilgers as his senator priority bill. LB68 would prohibit counties and cities from regulating the ownership, possession, transportation, and carrying of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories by ordinance. Instead, the legislature could adopt statewide laws to regulate firearms.
On Thursday, the committee heard bills to expand the ability to hold evidentiary hearings before the juvenile court telephonically or through video conferencing ( LB434) and to provide for the appointment of expert witnesses for juveniles ( LB658). The committee also heard a bill to allow claims to be filed with the State Claims Board if the amount of a final federal judgement for damages for wrongful conviction exceeds the available financial resources of a political subdivision. LB656 was introduced to provide an alternative to bankruptcy for counties facing huge judgements. The committee took no action on the bills.
Revenue Committee
The Revenue Committee heard several bills this week aimed at reducing property taxes. LB576, as introduced, would limit 2017 and 2018 property tax bills to the 2016 amount. Senator Tom Brewer, the introducer, offered an amendment at the hearing that would instead cap valuations for four years. LB570 would exempt all tangible personal property from property tax. The fiscal note indicates potential aggregate reductions to political subdivisions of $218 million in FY2019-20. LB599 would exempt from taxation improvements on land of infrastructure, redevelopment, or new construction intended for business or housing  until the property would be occupied, sold or leased. Senator Mike Groene, who introduced the bill, compared the property to other kinds of exempt business inventory. LB572 would eliminate the Property Tax Credit and state funds for schools under the TEEOSA (Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act) formula. The committee took no action on the bills. 
 snapSnapshots of County Issues
Bills Advanced from Committees
Committees met in executive sessions this week to send bills to the floor in anticipation of priority bill designations and possible placement on a short consent calendar. Following are some of the bills placed on General File.
Judiciary Committee
As introduced, LB444 would prohibit counties and cities that offer single or family health insurance from cancelling the policy for officers who suffer serious bodily injury from an assault that occurs while the officer is on duty and that results in the officer falling below the minimum number of work hours needed to maintain coverage. A Judiciary Committee amendment would expand the bill to include first responders. The bill was introduced and prioritized by Senator Lynne Walz.
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Law enforcement officers could remove abandoned vehicles from private property upon the request of the property owner under LB275. If the property owner removes the vehicle, they would be required to give notice to law enforcement within 24 hours. A committee amendment would expand this authority to trespassing vehicles, which would be defined as a vehicle that is parked, without permission, on private property that is not typically made available for public parking.
Urban Affairs Committee
LB625, a bill to revise last year's Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) mechanism for municipalities to finance the up-front costs of energy efficiency improvements on commercial, industrial, and residential properties, was advanced by the Urban Affairs Committee and designated as one of its priority bills. NACO offered proponents several potential technical amendments to clean up the collection process but they were not included in the committee amendment.
The committee advanced two tax increment financing (TIF) measurers, LB496 and LR16CA. LB496 would expand development plans to include workforce housing in cities of the first and second class and villages. Senator Matt Williams has designated LB496 as his priority bill. LR16CA would revise the Nebraska Constitution to allow the legislature to extend the maximum length of repayment on TIF projects from 15 to 20 years if more than one-half of the property in the project area is designated as extremely blighted.
The committee also selected LB590 as a priority. The bill would revise the state building code.
Bills Indefinitely Postponed
The Natural Resources Committee indefinitely postponed several bills this week, including LB533 that would require proof of liability insurance before permits for fracking wells could be issued.
The Urban Affairs Committee indefinitely postponed LB597, a bill that would require county assessors to accept filings for tax increment financing proposals and submit them to the Tax Commissioner.

Bills Signed into Law
Governor Ricketts signed 12 bills on March 7, including five revisor bills that repeal obsolete provisions. Unless a specific operative date is provided, bills take effect three calendar months after the session adjourns. Because adjournment is tentatively scheduled for June 2, bills will take effect in early September.
LB45 expands Military Honor license plates to include members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force Reserves. Commissioned officers of the U.S. Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who have been detailed directly to any branch of the armed forces for service on active or reserve duty and who were discharged or otherwise separated with an honorable or general (under honorable conditions) are also eligible.
LB74 clarifies population thresholds for annexation, suburban development, and planned unit development by municipalities. The bill makes specific reference to the most recent federal decennial census.
LB80 removes law clerks and students employed by the county attorney or public defender from the classified service in counties of 150,000 to 300,000.
electionElection Bills Heard by Government Committee
Registered voters who move to a different county within the state would be able to vote provisionally under a bill heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday. LB112 would require the Secretary of State to adopt rules and regulations establishing procedures for county clerks and election commissioners to verify that a person has not voted elsewhere and investigate whether voters are properly registered. Secretary of State John Gale, election commissioners, and NACO testified in opposition to the bill, pointing out that the process is similar to election day registration. LB112 has not been prioritized and remains in committee.

LB34 would allow political parties to maintain their status as a party upon a showing of at least 10,000 registered voters in the state. Senator Laura Ebke introduced and prioritized the bill.

The Secretary of State and Department of Motor Vehicles would develop an electronic process to request early voting ballots if LB197 is enacted. As introduced, county clerks and election commissioners would send a letter to the registration address of persons who requested that the ballot be sent to an address different than their voter registration address. Because the letter would not be used for any other purpose, NACO worked with Senator Rick Kolowski on an amendment to eliminate it. Opponents testified that election equipment is aging and the funds needed to implement the bill might be better spent on maintenance and technology.

LB290 would change the existing motor voter process from an opt-in system to an opt-out system. Data from drivers' license or state ID changes would automatically be used to update voter registration records unless the voter chooses otherwise.

Next week the committee will hear more election bills. On Wednesday, the committee will hear LB277 to decrease maximum precinct size from 1,750 to 1,000 and LB619 to allow counties of all sizes to conduct elections by mail on a precinct by precinct basis. The committee will also hear LB316, which would enact recommendations of an election technology task force that met this summer.
On Thursday, the committee will hear LB163, which would require the establishment of additional polling places in counties over 100,000, and LR15CA, which would prohibit laws requiring voters to present identification prior to voting. A proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to present identification, LR1CA, has been prioritized by Senator John Murante.
On Friday, the committee will hear three bills to provide for the nonpartisan election of county officials. LB111 would require all partisan county offices to be elected on a nonpartisan basis. LB139 would allow the question of whether to elect county officials on a nonpartisan basis to be placed on the ballot by the county board or a petition from voters in the county. LB183 would allow the issue to be placed before voters in counties of 15,000 or less.

The committee has selected LB451, an election clean-up bill made up of issues requested by county clerks and election commissioners, as a priority bill.
Senator, Committee Priority Bill Designations Conclude
Senators and committee finalized their selections of 2017 priority bills this week. The complete list of senator and committee priority bills is available here on the Legislature's website. This week also marked the deadline for senators to submit requests for designation of speaker priority bills. The list of speaker priority bills will be released on Monday. The remaining 45 days of the session will focus on the budget and priority bills.  
Below are some of the priority bills of interest to counties, the introducer, a description, and the designator.

Senator Priority Bills
  • LB88 (Blood) Provide for temporary credentials under the Uniform Credentialing Act for military spouses (Blood)
  • LB340 (Murante) Transfer powers and duties from Division of Veterans' Homes of Department of Health and Human Services to Department of Veterans' Affairs (Brewer)
  • LB144 (Friesen) Change agricultural and horticultural adjusted valuations for calculating state aid to schools (Bostelman)
  • LB338 (Brasch) Adopt the Agricultural Valuation Fairness Act (Brasch)
  • LB447 (Chambers) Eliminate certain mandatory minimum penalties (Chambers)
  • LB34 (Ebke) Change filing requirements for partisan candidates (Ebke)
  • LB432 (Erdman) Eliminate provisions of the Nebraska Budget Act relating to allowances for delinquent taxes and anticipated litigation (Erdman)
  • LB640 (Groene) Change provisions of the Property Tax Credit Act and provide school district property tax relief (Friesen)
  • LB271 (Hilgers) Authorize the Department of Roads to assume certain responsibilities under federal environmental laws and provide for limited waiver of the state's sovereign immunity (Geist)
  • LB68 (Hilgers) Prohibit certain regulation of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories by counties, cities, and villages as prescribed (Hilgers)
  • LB535 (Hughes) Provide an exception for filing a statement with the register of deeds when recording an oil, gas, or mineral lease (Hughes)
  • LR1CA (Murante) Constitutional amendment to require voter identification (Murante)
  • LB158 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to appointment of counsel for juveniles (Pansing Brooks)
  • LB233 (Smith) Change revenue and taxation provisions (Stinner)
  • LB444 (Walz) Prohibit cities and counties from canceling health insurance coverage for injured law enforcement officers (Walz)
  • LB75 (Wayne) Provide for restoration of voting rights upon completion of a felony sentence or probation for a felony (Wayne)
  • LB496 (Stinner) Define and redefine terms under the Community Development Law (Williams)
  • LB622 (Wishart) Adopt the Medical Cannabis Act (Wishart)
Committee Priority Bills 
  • LB72 (Schumacher) Provide for governmental unit bond priority under the Nebraska Governmental Unit Security Interest Act and rename the act (Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee)
  • 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 (Judiciary Committee)
  • LB451 (Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee) Change various provisions relating to elections as prescribed (Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • LB289 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions and penalties relating to pandering, human trafficking, labor trafficking, and sex trafficking and prohibit solicitation of a trafficking victim (Judiciary Committee)
  • LB373 (Schumacher) Change and eliminate revenue and taxation provisions (Legislature's Planning Committee)
  • LB415 (Kolterman) Provide and change notification requirements and duties and benefits for certain retirement system members, change certain annuity and disability benefit provisions, and provide duties for school districts and the Public Employees Retirement Board relating to retirement (Nebraska Retirement Committee System)
  • LB461 (Smith) Correct references to a federal act in a revenue statute (Revenue Committee)
  • LB407 (Pansing Brooks) Create and provide duties for the Whiteclay Public Health Emergency Task Force (State-Tribal Relations Committee)
  • LB590 (Crawford) Change state building code provisions (Urban Affairs Committee)
  • LB625 (Larson) Change the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act (Urban Affairs Committee)
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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113,1:30 p.m.
  • LB405 (Baker) Change provisions relating to DNA samples, DNA records, and thumbprints under the DNA Identification Information Act
  • LB435 (Ebke) Change provisions relating to escape
  • LB450 (Chambers) Adopt the Patient Choice at End of Life Act
  • LB622 (Wishart)Adopt the Medical Cannabis Act

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB277 (Wayne) Change population requirements for election precincts
  • LB619 (Wayne) Permit certain counties to conduct elections by mail
  • LB316 (Murante) Change election provisions relating to technology and funding
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113,1:30 p.m.
  • LB527 (Morfeld) Provide for subpoena of records in certain cases
  • LB145 (Hansen)  Provide for a hearing to determine financial ability to pay fines and costs and traffic citations and provide for community service
  • LB395 (Morfeld)  Change provisions relating to conditions of and ability to post bail
  • LB615 (Wayne) Provide for expungement of criminal history record information in cases of arrests based upon mistaken identity

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB163 (Vargas) Require additional polling places prior to elections in certain counties
  • LR15CA (Morfeld) Constitutional amendment prohibiting requiring a voter to present identification prior to voting
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LR18CA (Wayne) Constitutional amendment to eliminate requirements that property taxes be levied by valuation uniformly and proportionately
Friday, March 17, 2017
Judiciary Committee

Room 1113,2:00 p.m.
  • LB491 (McCollister)  Create the offense of fraudulent misrepresentation of a service animal and provide penalties
  • LB424 (Ebke)  Provide for earned time and discontinue use of good time in the Department of Correctional Services
  • LB585 (Linehan) Change provisions relating to dangerous dogs, seizure of animals, and animal control authorities

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB111 (Hansen) Provide for nonpartisan election of county officers
  • LB139 (Crawford) Authorize change to nonpartisan election of county officers
  • LB316 (Murante) Change election provisions relating to technology and funding
Monday, March 20, 2017
Business and Labor Committee
Room 2102,1:30 p.m.
  • LB503 (Brewer) Prohibit certain provisions in collective-bargaining agreements
  • LB598 (Groene) Require consideration of certain factors by the Commission of Industrial Relations when establishing wage rights
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113,1:30 p.m.
  • LB446 (Chambers) Eliminate the death penalty and change and eliminate provisions relating to sentencing
  • LB560 (Schumacher) Change restrictive housing and inmate discipline provisions
  • LB593 (Hughes) Create the offense of criminal trespass to vehicles
Thursday, March 22, 2017 - Final Day of Hearings
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113,1:30 p.m.
  • LB502 (Brewer) Adopt the Permitless Concealed Carry Act

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1;30 p.m.
  • LB485 (Pansing Brooks) Create Chief Standing Bear and Indigenous Leaders' Day
  • LB421 (Murante) Change provisions of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act
  • LB422 (Murante) Change provisions of the Election Act
  • LB423 (Murante) Change provisions relating to counties

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