March 3, 2017                                                                  Legislative Report Archive 

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forecastForecasting Board Lowers Projections 
The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Board projected another $153 million of bad news at their meeting on February 27. The board's October forecast had put the budget gap at about $900 million. The Legislature's early deficit adjustments reduced that number. Further adjustments are part of the Appropriations Committee's preliminary budget report. Including the new projection, the budget imbalance now totals $287.6 million. The Forecasting Board will meet again on April 26.

The Appropriations Committee continues hearing from state agencies on budget requests for the upcoming biennium. The preliminary FY2017-18/FY2018-19 budget is available on the Legislature's website. When hearings are complete, the committee has until the 70th day (April 24) to place the budget bills on General File.

Senators spent most of this week in first-round debate on LB46 and its accompanying appropriations bill, LB46A. The bill would provide for Choose Life license plates. A cloture motion ended the debate on LB46 after approximately four, rather than six, hours of debate. LB46A appears on Monday's agenda. If LB46A fails to advance, it is likely that LB46 will not receive second-round debate. 

On Thursday, committee hearings were held in the morning so that Nebraska's 150th Statehood Day Ceremony could be held in the Chamber in the afternoon.

pricontPriority Bill Designation Continues 
Senators and committees continued to designate priority bills and make requests for speaker priority bills this week. Designations must be completed by next week. The full list of selections to date is available here. Among the priority bills of interest to counties and the senator or committee that designated them are:

  • LB447 Eliminate certain mandatory minimum penalties (Chambers)
  • LB271 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 Prohibit certain regulation of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories by counties, cities, and villages as prescribed (Hilgers)
  • LB368 Change helmet provisions, change passenger age limits, and require eye protection for operators of motorcycles and mopeds (Lowe)
  • LB415 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 Systems Committee)
  • LB496 Define and redefine terms under the Community Development Law (Williams)
  • LB72 Provide for governmental unit bond priority under the Nebraska Governmental Unit Security Interest Act and rename the act (Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee)
  • LB407 Create and provide duties for the Whiteclay Public Health Emergency Task Force (State-Tribal Relations Committee) 

comhrgssetCommittee Hearings Continue
Revenue Committee
The commission counties receive for collecting motor vehicle sales taxes would return to pre-2002 levels under LB531, which was heard by the Revenue Committee this week. The bill would reinstate the commission of an additional one-half of one percent on all amounts collected in excess of $3,000 per month. Currently counties and retailers that collect sales tax receive a 2.5 percent commission on the first $3,000 of sales tax collections, which equates to a maximum of $75 per month. By reinstating the county commission, funding would be shifted from the Highway Allocation Fund to the county general fund. Cities testified in opposition because Highway Allocation Funds are shared equally between counties and cities.  
Taxes on transferred motor vehicles would be refunded based upon the number of unexpired days, rather than unexpired months, if LB400 is enacted. Senator Robert Hilkemann introduced the bill on behalf of a constituent who sold a car to his daughter and paid the same month's taxes as both seller and buyer. Because it would require approximately 100 hours of programming to update the existing Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) titling and registration computer system to implement LB400, the bill carries a delayed effective date. DMV is in the process of developing a new computer system that could calculate the unexpired days. A clarifying amendment was discussed that would put LB400 in place when the new system is operational in all 93 counties.
The committee heard two bills on Wednesday that would change the functions of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC). LB322 would require qualitative standards to be met before the TERC could order a percentage change to a class or subclass that goes beyond the median level of value. It would change the filing fee to a tiered structure based upon the valuation of the property.
LB385 would shift the burden of proof to the county in TERC appeals if the assessed value of the property has increased by more than 5 percent from the previous year. Under the existing standard, the property owner must show by clear and convincing evidence that the county board of equalization acted unreasonably and arbitrarily in determining the value of the property. LB385 would place the burden of proof on the county. It would also expand the list of persons who can execute an appeal on behalf of a taxpayer.
A third TERC bill, LB555, would create a two-tiered structure for filing fees and provide mileage reimbursement for TERC members who live more than 50 miles from the state office building in Lincoln. By law, one member must live in the Third Congressional District. 
Urban Affairs Committee
Counties and other taxing entities would receive additional notice of tax increment financing (TIF) projects under LB95 that was heard by the Urban Affairs Committee on February 28. LB95 would require the city planning commission to give 30 days' notice of public hearings to counties by certified mail and include information about where to find copies of the blighted and substandard study conducted by the city. The additional notice is intended to help ensure that there is time for at least one regular meeting of the county board or governing body of other taxing entities to discuss the TIF proposal. LB95 was introduced by Senator Sue Crawford as the result of an interim study of TIF issues this summer. It was one of several bills that would increase state or local oversight over TIF projects.
The committee also heard LR16CA, which would amend the constitution to extend the maximum time for redevelopment projects to repay indebtedness from TIF projects from 15 to 20 years if more than half of the property in the project is designated as extremely blighted.

A bill to expand redevelopment plans to include workforce housing eligible for TIF in first and second class cities and villages has been designated by Senator Matt Williams as his priority bill. Senator John Stinner introduced LB496. The committee has not taken action on any of the TIF bills.
Natural Resources Committee
Sandhills residents testified before the Natural Resources Committee for several hours on a measure to impose a moratorium on industrial wind development projects in the area. Senator Tom Brewer, whose district covers most of north central Nebraska, introduced LB504 in response to controversy about the impact of turbine developments. Supporters emphasized the property tax benefits of the projects and efficiencies of wind energy. Opponents discussed environmental concerns and property rights. The committee took no action on the bill.

Retirement Systems Committee
Participants in the county, state, State Patrol and school retirement plans would have to take a bona fide break in service after retirement before they could be hired by another member of the state-administered retirement plan under LB415. Senator Mark Kolterman, chair of the Retirement Systems Committee, introduced the bill to prohibit double-dipping. County, state and State Patrol employees would have to wait 120 days. The waiting period for school employees would be 180 days. LB415  has been designated as a Retirement Committee priority bill. 

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
A two-year waiting period for the restoration of voting rights to felons would be eliminated under LB75. Senator Justin Wayne introduced the bill and designated it as his priority bill. It was advanced by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
The committee also heard LB76, which would require the Board of Pardons to notify the Secretary of State when a person convicted of a felony satisfactorily completes the conditions of his or her probation or is discharged from probation prior to the scheduled termination. Senator Wayne, the introducer, asked the committee to hold the bill for further discussion. In the meantime, the Secretary of State will provide additional information on their website and increase education for county officials.
LB451 is the annual election clean-up bill focusing on issues requested by county clerks and election commissioners. The bill would move dates, change procedures for filling vacancies in the Legislature and Board of Regents, and codify existing election practices.
On Thursday, the committee heard a proposed constitutional amendment, LR1CA, that would require voters to present identification containing a photograph prior to being able to vote. A proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit a requirement for voters to present identification will be heard by the committee on March 16.        
The committee will hear a series of election bills during the final weeks of hearings. On March 9, they will hear bills to:
  • Require political parties to have at least 10,000 persons affiliated with their party per voter records in order to have a name placed on the primary ballot (LB34)
  • Allow persons who move within the state to vote provisionally without reregistering (LB112)
  • Provide for applications for early voting ballots using the Secretary of State's website. An amendment will be offered to remove a requirement for county clerks and election commissioners to send a letter to the address at which an applicant is registered to vote when the applicant designates a different address as the location to which the ballot is mailed. NACO requested the amendment because the bill as written does not provide for anything to be done with the letter if a voter objects to the new address (LB197)
  • Automatically transmit voter application information when Department of Motor Vehicles records are updated unless voter opts out (LB290)
On March 15, the committee will hear bills to:
  • Reduce the maximum size of voting precincts from 1,750 to 1,000 (LB277)
  • Eliminate the 10,000 population cap on holding elections by mail. County clerks or election commissioners in counties of all sizes would follow existing procedures to apply to the Secretary of State for approval of an all-mail election for a particular precinct (LB619)
  • Enact the recommendations of an election technology committee report (LB316)
On March 16, the committee will hear bills to:
  • Require additional polling places in counties over 100,000 (LB163)
  • Prohibit requiring a voter to present identification prior to voting (LR15CA)
On March 17, the committee will hear bills to:
  • Provide for nonpartisan elections for all county offices (LB111)
  • Allow voters to determine whether county offices should be elected on a nonpartisan basis (LB139)
  • Allow counties of 15,000 or less to submit the question of partisan county elections to voters (LB183)
 snapSnapshots of County Issues
Bills Advanced by Committees 
The Legislature's standing committees sent a number of bills to General File this week, including the following measures of interest to counties.
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
  • LB310 Change provisions relating to bridge carrying capacities and weight limits *NACO Bill*
  • LB339 Merge the Department of Aeronautics into the Department of Roads and rename as the Department of Transportation
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
  • LB280 Change provisions relating to the Address Confidentiality Act
  • LB624 Provide procedure to withhold from the public law enforcement officers' residential addresses in county records
  • LB151 Change and provide for duties of the Auditor of Public Accounts and certain audited entities

Bills Passed by the Legislature

On Friday morning the Legislature passed a dozen bills, including five revisor bills that repeal obsolete provisions. Among the bills sent to Governor Ricketts are LB45 which would expand eligibility for Military Honor license plates to members of the Reserves. LB80 would place law clerks and students employed in the unclassified service under the civil service statutes for counties of 150,000 to 300,000.
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.

Monday, March 6, 2017
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB141 (Williams)  Adopt the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act

Business and Labor Committee
Room 2102,1:30 p.m.
  • LB609 ( Linehan) Provide fee schedules under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act
  • LB408 (Lowe) Provide for a drug formulary under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act
  • LB319 (Halloran)  Provide for confidentiality of and access to certain injury reports under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act
  • LB147 (Hansen) Change workers' compensation provisions relating to waiting time, termination of compensation, and attorney's fees
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee
Room 1507,1:30 p.m.
  • LB559 (Schumacher) Prohibit the collection of interchange fees on specified taxes and fees relating to electronic payment transactions
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB501 (Brewer) Change prohibition on locations where permitholder may carry a concealed weapon
  • LB520 (Hansen)  Require notification when persons prohibited by state or federal law obtain a handgun or concealed carry permit
  • LB556 (Halloran)  Change provisions relating to firearms and create the offenses of use of a facsimile or nonfunctioning firearm to commit a felony and possession of a firearm by a prohibited juvenile offender
  • LB637 (Bostelman)  Prohibit disclosure of information relating to firearm owners and concealed carry permitholders
  • LB666 (Lowe) Change provisions relating to carrying a concealed weapon

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB510 (Ebke) Provide a restriction on installment contracts for the purchase of real or personal property by political subdivisions

Health and Human Services Committee
Room 1510, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB441 (Morfeld) Change eligibility provisions under the Medical Assistance Act

Thursday, March 9, 2017
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113,1:30 p.m.
  • LB434 (Ebke) Change videoconferencing provisions relating to certain juvenile hearings
  • LB516 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to a report on juvenile facilities
  • LB656 (Baker) Provide for claims against the state by persons wrongfully incarcerated
  • LB658 (Wayne) Provide for expert witness appointment as prescribed in certain juvenile proceedings
  • LB226 (Wishart) Provide for purchase of motor vehicles and insurance by certain juveniles, change foster care transition proposal provisions, and provide immunity from liability for caregivers

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB34 (Ebke) Change filing requirements for partisan candidates
  • LB112 (Hansen) Permit registered voters moving within Nebraska without reregistering to vote provisionally
  • LB197 (Kolowski) Provide for electronic application for an early voting ballot
  • LB290  (Vargas) Provide for voter registration upon application for driver's license, state identification card, or certain benefits
  • LB25 (Murante) Change provisions for presidential electors
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB570 (Friesen) Provide a property tax exemption for all tangible personal property
  • LB572 (Friesen) Provide termination dates for the Property Tax Credit Act and the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act and change application deadlines under the Nebraska Advantage Act
  • LB576 (Brewer) Limit increases in property tax bills
  • LB599 (Groene) Exempt certain improvements on land from taxes as prescribed
Friday, March 10, 2017 - Recess Day
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 unformly 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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