Hearings Held This Week
would lower the threshold for counties to file claims to recover costs for the prosecution of incidents at correctional facilities. Legislation adopted last year would allow counties to seek payment from the state when the prosecution costs exceed the amount of property tax that could be raised in the county by a 2.5 cent levy. LB232 would further limit county liability by decreasing the rate to an amount generated by a 1.5 cent levy. The earlier legislation was introduced in response to costs incurred by Johnson County to prosecute inmates involved in riots at the state prison in Tecumseh.
The Judiciary Committee heard
, a bill to update jury statutes, on Thursday, March 14. The bill was developed by clerks of the district court to update and reorganize jury selection statutes to create the Jury Selection Act. The Act would modernize terminology and current practices in the selection of jurors. The bill would increase the pool of potential jurors by increasing age to opt out of jury service from 65 to 70. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced LB387 and carried similar legislation for NACO in 2016 and 2017. Those bills had been advanced by the Judiciary Committee but not debated due to lack of time. No one testified in opposition to LB387.
On Friday, March 15, the committee heard a bill intended to allow offenders to become eligible for parole sooner and alleviate overcrowding in prisons.
would reestablish a repealed statute stating that a minimum term does not exceed one-third of the maximum term for certain felonies unless a mandatory minimum sentence is required by statute. The committee also heard
to eliminate certain mandatory minimum sentences. This would allow inmates to begin accruing good time credits upon admission and affect the parole eligibility of inmates convicted of Class IC and ID felonies.
Hearings Next Week
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Counties, cities, and other political subdivisions would have to prepare their budget statements with generally accepted accounting principles using the accrual basis under
that will be heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 20. The State Auditor would include these principles within their minimum accounting standards applicable to reports filed by political subdivisions with the state. Currently most counties operate on a cash basis. The bill would take effect on January 1, 2020.
On Wednesday, March 21, the Revenue Committee will hear two bills to change provisions of the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act.
would limit beginning farmers to one successful lease agreement in the program.
would limit tax credits for agricultural assets to three years.
Business and Labor Committee
would create the In the Line of Duty Compensation Act to recognize law enforcement officers, firefighters, and associated rescue squad and emergency medical services ambulance squad members who are killed in the line of duty or die within one year after an injury on the job. To be eligible, law enforcement officers would have to serve for more than 100 hours per year and be authorized to make arrests. The amount of compensation would be $50,000 in 2020 and would increase annually based upon the Consumer Price Index. The State Claims Board would consider claims and payment would be made by the state. The Business and Labor Committee will hear LB363 at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18.
General Affairs Committee
The Tax Commissioner or any peace officer could seize certain electronic gaming devices that violate the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act under
. Such gray devices accept coins, tokens or other value in exchange for play and award monetary prizes or credits or simulate casino, poker, or card games. Cell phones and ATMs would not be treated as gray devices. The General Affairs Committee will hear LB722 on Monday, March 18.
Bills Passed on Final Reading
Senators passed 25 bills on Friday, including the following bills of interest to counties:
would require online sellers with 1) a gross revenue from Nebraska sales of $100,000 or 2) 200 or more separate transactions in Nebraska to collect Nebraska sales tax beginning April 1.
would allow physician medical directors to use rotating or flashing red or blue lights on their motor vehicles when traveling to an emergency requiring their service. The lights would be identical to those available to volunteer firefighters and peace officers. Such physicians would have to successfully complete an emergency vehicle operator course and be authorized by the county sheriff to use the lights.
would allow counties, cities, and villages to form joint clean energy assessment districts under the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act (PACE). PACE is a mechanism for municipalities to finance installation of energy efficiency improvements for renewable energy systems in exchange for the property owner's agreement to pay an annual assessment not to exceed the weighted average useful life of the project. PACE assessments are collected at the same time as property taxes unless a third-party lender agrees to make the collections. Copies of assessment contracts are filed with the assessor and register of deeds of the county where the property is located. The bill carries an emergency clause.
would create a process for the operation, titling, and registration of former military vehicles. A former military vehicle is defined as a vehicle that was manufactured for use in any country's military forces and is maintained to accurately represent its military design and marking but is no longer used, or was never used, by a military force.
would allow the withholding public records related to the details of physical and cyber assets of critical electric infrastructure. The bill applies to assets for which incapacity or destruction would negatively affect security, economic security, public health or safety, or any combination thereof.
would create a state designation for colleges and university campuses that are supportive to their veteran and active duty students. Some of the criteria for the designation could include giving college credit for certain types of military activities, having a military leave of absence policy, and specific recognition of military or veteran students.
Bills Signed by Governor Ricketts
Governor Ricketts signed bills into law on March 7 and 12.
would allow counties and municipalities to enter into interlocal agreements for nuisance enforcement within the municipality's extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction.
would revise and modernize investment options for the County and State Retirement Plans. The bill does not address transfers from the defined compensation plan into the cash balance plan.
would require condominium association boards to annually file a listing of the board members' and officers' names and addresses with the register of deeds of the county in which the condominium is located. The registration would provide contact information for the service of legal notices and other information.
would allow county boards to create an expedited application process for special designated liquor licenses. The licenses could be issued 12 days, rather than 21 days, before the event.
would allow individual fire districts that are members of a mutual finance organization (MFO) to lower their levies if additional funds are not needed. Existing law requires all members of an MFO to levy the same rate. LB63 would allow a fire district to levy an amount below the agreed-upon rate for two of the three years of the agreement. The bill carries an emergency clause.
would allow motor vehicle franchisees to submit photographs and other documents electronically to sheriffs for title inspections.
would allow counties to certify completion of the One-and-Six Year road plans and other reporting documents to the state rather than submitting the entire document.
would require governing bodies whose annual property tax request would be higher than the prior year to hold a hearing and pass a resolution or ordinance to set the property tax request. The bill would require additional information to be published in the hearing notice and included in the resolution or ordinance. The bill carries an emergency clause so it would be in effect for the coming budget cycle.
would change language in motor vehicle titling statutes from "husband and wife" to "married couple."
would revise the way contractors become prequalified to bid on projects let by the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
would grant certain National Guard members the same protection of their residential addresses in assessors' and registers of deeds' records as is authorized for law enforcement officers.
would require the Nebraska State Patrol to conduct a study to determine how to increase state criminal justice protective and investigative resources for reporting and identifying missing Native American women and children in the state. The study would involve federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement representatives.
would require the owner or lessee of land consisting of five contiguous acres or less to provide an IRS Schedule F to document a profit or loss from farming for two out of the last three years in order to qualify for special valuation. The bill would take effect on January 1, 2020.
would expand the pool of veterans eligible for a veteran's designation on drivers' licenses and state identification cards. Separate designations would be made for members of the National Guard or Reserves.
would clarify licensure requirements for facilities used to house persons under civil protective custody.
would change land capability groups used to value agricultural land to the use applied by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Currently these are based on dryland farming categories.
would authorize the use of a single-bank pooled collateral method for pledging collateral for government investments in excess of FDIC insured amounts. The Director of the Department of Banking would designate a bank, savings association, trust company, or other qualified entity to administer the single-bank pooled method.