March 17, 2017                                                                  Legislative Report Archive 

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debpriorPriority Bill Debate Continues, Rules Adopted
Monday marked the mid-point of the 90-day 2017 legislative session. Fourteen bills have been passed while senators have been engaged in extended debate on legislative rules, budget adjustments, keno ( LB470), and Choose Life license plates ( LB46), among other issues. Senators advanced a handful of bills from Select File throughout the week to join a dozen other bills on Final Reading.
Senators started this week with continued debate on LB368, which would repeal motorcycle helmet laws in Nebraska. Late Tuesday morning, Senator John Lowe, who introduced and prioritized the bill, moved for a cloture vote. The motion failed on a 32-12 vote and debate ended on the bill.
On Wednesday, the body gave second round approval to two bills that would clean up municipal statutes. LB133 would correct and update laws related to second class cities and villages. LB113 would clarify municipal population references. Senators finished the morning with debate on LB62, a measure to eliminate a prohibition on teachers wearing religious garb. A cloture vote was needed to end debate and advance the bill on Thursday morning.
Friday began with the adoption of permanent rules. Speaker Jim Scheer made a motion to adopt the rules as they appeared at the beginning of the session. Senators withdrew over 40 pending amendments to the rules and the motion was adopted.
Later, a cloture was invoked to end Select File debate on LB46, a bill authorizing Choose Life license plates. A cloture vote is expected on Monday to end debate on the companion appropriations bill, LB46A.

comhrgssetCommittee Hearings Continue
Judiciary Committee
An overflow room was need to accommodate the crowd interested in the Judiciary Committee's hearing on LB622, Senator Anna Wishart's priority bill to allow for the use of medical marijuana. The bill would create the Medical Cannabis Act to develop a registry for patients who would be eligible to use marijuana purchased from registered producers and processors. 
On Thursday, the committee heard bills to require courts to consider the financial ability of defendants to pay fines, court costs and bonds. LB395 would require the court to consider alternatives to avoid pretrial incarceration. If a money bond is set, the court would appoint counsel if the defendant was found indigent. Under LB145, the court would examine the defendant's ability to pay before imposing a sentence to secure the payment of a fine. Community service and installment payments could be used to pay fines. Several counties submitted fiscal notes indicating that it would be difficult to accurately calculate the number of defendants that might be eligible under each bill. The committee took no action on the bill.
Appropriations Committee
The Appropriations Committee heard from the Department of Health and Human Service, Department of Roads, Public Service Commission, and constitutional officers during agency budget hearings this week. The committee will formulate its final plan and must present it to the full body by the 70 th day, April 24.
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Three bills to provide for nonpartisan elections of county officials were heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Friday. 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 of nonpartisan primary elections to be placed before voters in counties of 15,000 or less. According to 2015 U.S. Census estimates, there are 84 counties of 15,000 or less. Proponents of these bills stated that races are sometimes decided in the primary election because all candidates are members of the same party and that voters who are registered as nonpartisan can only cast limited votes in the primary election.
The introducers asked the committee to hold two bills that were heard on Wednesday. LB316 would enact recommendations of an election technology task force that met this summer. Because the Government Committee will need to do additional research on the policies presented in the proposal, Committee Chair John Murante will not seek a vote on the bill this year. Senator Justin Wayne asked for LB277 to be examined further before advancement. The bill would decrease maximum precinct sizes from 1,750 to 1,000. The committee also heard, but took no immediate action on LB619, a bill to allow counties of all sizes to conduct elections by mail on a precinct by precinct basis using the existing process of seeking approval from the Secretary of State.
On Thursday, the committee heard LB163, which would require the establishment of additional polling places in counties over 100,000. Senator Tony Vargas offered an amendment that would replace the original bill with a requirement for the election commissioner in those counties to provide additional office hours during which voters could vote early or pick up or return early voting ballots. The committee also heard LR15CA, which would prohibit laws requiring voters to present identification prior to voting.
spkerSpeaker Priority Bills Announced
In addition to senator and committee priority bills, the Speaker is allowed to designate up to 25 speaker priority bills. When Speaker Jim Scheer released the list on Monday, he noted that a record number of bills had been submitted for consideration as speaker priorities. A complete list of Speaker, senator, and committee priority bills can be found on the Legislature's website. Speaker priority bills of interest to counties include:

  • LB151 (Stinner) Change and provide for duties of the Auditor of Public Accounts and certain audited entities
  • LB152 (Craighead) Change and eliminate provisions relating to the fees for recording and filing certain documents **NACO Bill**
  • LB180 (Bolz) Provide for bridge orders transferring juvenile court jurisdiction of a juvenile to a district court
  • LB253 (Crawford) Authorize intergovernmental service agreements under the County Industrial Sewer Construction Act and provide for a special tax levy
  • LB267 (Linehan) Change provisions relating to onsite vaccinations at health care facilities
  • LB389 (Friesen) Adopt the Small Wireless Facilities Act
  • LB509 (Ebke) Change provisions relating to the issuance of subpoenas
  • LB628 (Larson) Prohibit ordinances and resolutions prohibiting certain short-term rentals of residential property
  • LB639 (Bostelman) Change when a preference is required for certain government employment relating to servicemembers and their spouses and veterans  
 snapSnapshots of County Issues
Bills Advanced from Committees
Committees met in executive sessions this week to send bills to the floor for debate by the full body. Following are some of the bills placed on General File:

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
  • LB152 (Craighead) Eliminate 2018 sunset on filing fees used for records preservation and maintenance. This bill was introduced at NACO's request and has been designated as a Speaker priority bill.
  • LB365 (Blood) Charges for public records requests by nonresidents of Nebraska could include existing salary or pay obligations for public officials, including attorneys who review the records.
  • LB34 (Ebke) Allow parties to maintain status upon showing of 10,000 registered voters rather than a percentage of votes. Senator Ebke has designated LB34 as her priority bill.
  • LB68 (Hilgers) Prohibit certain regulation of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories by counties, cities, and villages. A committee amendment would create separate provisions for transporting handguns and long guns in cities of the metropolitan class. Senator Hilgers has designated LB68 as his priority bill.
  • LB127 (Groene) Change notice requirements under Open Meetings Act to require publication in a newspaper of general circulation within the jurisdiction. An amendment would replace the bill with language limiting the publication requirement to political subdivisions or their advisory bodies and, if available, in a digital advertisement on the newspaper's website, as well as any other appropriate method designated by the body. Other public bodies could designate their own method of notice.
  • LB432 (Erdman) Eliminate provisions of the Nebraska Budget Act relating to allowances for delinquent taxes and anticipated litigation. A committee amendment would permit such allowances if the prime rate published by the Federal Reserve Board is 10 percent or more at the time of the budget filing. Senator Erdman has designated LB432 as his priority bill.
  • LB479 (Groene) Change public hearing provisions and redefine a term under the Nebraska Budget Act. A committee amendment would strike proposed requirements for the budget hearing to be held on a separate day from the regularly scheduled meeting and the original prohibition against adopting a budget for 30 days after the hearing.
Revenue Committee
  • LB44 (Watermeier) Adopt the Remote Seller Sales Tax Collection Act. Senator Watermeier has designated LB44 as his priority bill.
  • LB51 (Schumacher) Allow tax sales bidders to bid down the rate of interest paid and strike procedures for round-robin sales. A committee statement would restrict the initial bid amounts to a whole number and subsequent bids to one-half or one percent.
  • LB535 (Hughes) Provide an exception for filing a Form 521 with the register of deeds when recording an oil, gas, or mineral lease. Senator Hughes has designated LB535 as his priority bill.

Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
  • LB480 (McCollister) Provide requirements relating to health benefit plan coverage for insureds in jail custody.

Bills Advanced from Select File 
  • LB8 (Krist) Change and eliminate provisions relating to juvenile detention and probation and provide for graduated response sanctions and incentives
  • LB10 (Krist) Increase the number of judges in the separate juvenile court from five to six
  • LB11 (Krist) Change provisions relating to transfer of juvenile cases and appeal of such transfers
  • LB85 (Blood) Require persons seeking appointive or elective office to pay outstanding civil penalties before filing or appointment.   
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. Hearings will conclude on March 23 and full days of debate will begin.

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
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB373 (Schumacher) Change and eliminate revenue and taxation provisions
Thursday, March 23, 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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