May 10, 2019                                                        Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


Property Tax Debate Stalls

Opinion Issued on Lowering Ag Land Value for School Aid

Consent Calendar Bills Advanced from General File

Bills Debated on General File

Bills Signed by Governor Ricketts


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proptaxdebProperty Tax Debate Stalls
A property tax relief package proposed by the Revenue, Education, and Retirement Systems committees stalled after three hours of debate on Tuesday, but later $51 million was added to the Property Tax Credit Fund during debate on the state budget.
AM1572, a Revenue Committee amendment to LB289, would increase state aid to education by shifting money from the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund to TEEOSA (Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act). Sales taxes would be increased by a half cent and some exemptions, primarily for services, would be removed. Sales taxes would be added to bottled water, candy, and soft drinks. Cigarette taxes would be increased by 36 cents per pack. The personal property tax credit would be eliminated. Documentary stamp taxes would be increased by one dollar, with the new funds credited to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund.
A revamped version of LB289 may reappear on the agenda. Under the Speaker's rules, each bill is allowed three hours of first-round debate. If a vote has not been taken by that time, it is removed from the agenda until the support of 33 senators can be demonstrated. Thirty-three votes are needed to overcome a filibuster.
In the meantime, senators amended the Appropriations Committee's recommendations and put $51 million per year into the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, raising the total appropriation for the fund to $275 million. Governor Ricketts had originally proposed a $51 million annual increase to the fund. The Appropriations Committee cut the recommendation to $25 million, with the remainder going to the state's cash reserve. During debate on the committee recommendations in LB298, some senators argued that the full $51 million appropriation showed a commitment to property tax relief. Others stressed the importance of replenishing the depleted rainy day fund in case the economy declines.
The second round of debate on the budget is planned for Tuesday, May 14.

agoagOpinion Issued on Lowering Ag Land Value for School Aid
An Attorney General's opinion issued on Monday concluded that reducing the percentage of actual value of agricultural and horticultural land used to calculate state aid to schools does not violate the Nebraska Constitution's uniformity clause. The proposal would only change the school aid formula and not the rate of taxation and the valuation for the tax-raising purposes. In addition, it would not violate equal protection or substantive due process requirements.
The opinion was requested jointly by Revenue Committee chair Lou Ann Linehan, Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee chair Mark Kolterman, and Education Committee chair Mike Groene. Although the request for an opinion did not refer to a specific bill, AM1572 to LB289 contains provisions to reduce the value of agricultural and horticultural land for state aid purposes to 62 percent of actual value and the value of other real property to 86 percent for school aid purposes.
The full text of the opinion is available here.

consentConsent Calendar Bills Advanced from General File
The Legislature advanced 30 bills from General File on Friday. To be eligible for consideration on the consent calendar, bills must have been advanced out of committee with no dissenting votes and be noncontroversial in nature. Debate on each bill is limited to 15 minutes, after which a vote is taken on the pending amendments, if any, and then on advancement of the bill. Bills can be removed from consent calendar at the written request of three or more senators. The request must be filed with the Clerk of the Legislature prior to the expiration of the 15 minutes allotted for introduction and debate.
The following bills impact counties:
LB 414 was introduced by Senator Tom Brandt on behalf of NACO. It would eliminate an outdated annual report made by highway superintendents. The information is already included in the One-and-Six Year Plans and SSAR (Standardized System of Annual Reporting).
LB525 would allow county boards to sell property in fee simple to other political subdivisions, rather than going through a surplus property process. Notice of the intent to sell, the legal description of the property, and the address would have to be published at least 30 days prior to the sale.
LB609 would allow counties to authorize employees to rent cars or use commercial charters rather than using their own vehicles for county travel and receiving reimbursement at the statutory mileage rate.
LB726 would require the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Corrections, to develop protocols for assisting inmates in applying for Medicaid when they have been released on a medical parole. Because counties must provide medical care for indigents, the costs for end-of-life care for these individuals often falls to counties. The protocols would help them to become Medicaid-eligible before they leave the correctional facility.
LB315 was introduced on behalf of the Nebraska State Bar Association to update inheritance tax proceedings. The bill would clarify that life insurance proceeds from trusts are not subject to inheritance tax because they are nonprobate assets. This would codify current practice in which such proceeds not payable to an estate are not subject to inheritance tax. The bill would clarify when notice of a determination of inheritance tax must be provided to the Department of Health and Human Services for decedents 55 years of age or older or having resided in a medical institution. Under LB315, this notice would only be required in an independent proceeding to determine inheritance tax in the absence of a probate proceeding.

gfdebBills Debated on General File
Pregnant women who are incarcerated in a state, county, or juvenile correctional facility could not be restrained by flex cuffs, leg irons, belly chains or other devices unless the facility administrator makes an individualized determination that restraint is necessary due to a flight risk or other circumstance under LB690. The Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act would also specifically prohibit restraints during labor or postpartum. A Judiciary Committee amendment would allow prisoners restrained in violation of the Act to file claims under the Political Subdivisions or State Tort Claims Acts. LB690 advanced on a 43-0 vote.
LB424, a bill to expand municipal authority to create land banks to facilitate the return of vacant and dilapidated properties to productive use, was debated for three hours on Thursday but a cloture motion was unsuccessful and the bill did not advance from the first round of debate.
Omaha could create a regional metropolitan transit authority under LB492 that advanced from the first round of debate on Thursday.
A bill to require medical professionals to provide additional information to women seeking abortions was amended to include reporting and advanced from General File after a cloture motion. LB209 was introduced and prioritized by Senator Joni Albrecht.

signedBills Signed by Governor Ricketts
Beginning January 1, 2020, county treasurers will receive increased commissions for collecting motor vehicle sales taxes under a bill Governor Pete Ricketts signed into law on Wednesday, May 8. Currently counties and retailers collecting sales taxes receive a commission of 2.5 percent on the first $3,000 of collections. LB237 adds an additional one-half of one percent commission on all amounts in excess of $6,000 remitted each month. Prior to January 1, 2023, the money will be divided equally between the county general fund and the county road fund in order to provide additional funds for repair of roads damaged by flooding. After January 1, 2023, 75 percent of the additional amount will be placed in the county general fund and 25 percent will be deposited in the county road fund. In counties exceeding 150,000, the county treasurer will remit one dollar of the collection fee for the first 5,000 vehicles registered on or after January 1, 2020 to the state treasurer for credit to the Department of Revenue Enforcement Fund.
Ricketts also signed LB524, a bill to require political subdivisions except cities of the metropolitan class to give notice of annexations to county officials prior to July 1 in order for the newly-annexed property to be included in the entity's taxable valuation for the current year. Annexation information received after July 1 would be considered in their taxable valuation the following year. Currently, the information must be provided by August 1 and assessors must certify taxable values to taxing entities by August 20. Cities of the metropolitan class would remain subject to the existing August 1 deadline. Senator Myron Dorn introduced LB524 on behalf of NACO.

Among the other bills he signed, LB616 will speed up development of the south beltway around Lincoln by allowing the Department of Transportation to enter into contracts with non-appropriation clauses. The clause would state that the funding for the project is subject to an annual appropriation by the Legislature. Because there would not be a bonding instrument or debt mechanism in the contract, it would not violate Nebraska's constitutional prohibition against the state incurring debt.
LB405 updates statutory references to the International Building Code and International Residential Code that are used by the state, counties and cities. Counties, cities, and villages will have to notify the State Energy Office within 30 days if they amend the local building code in a way that deletes portions of the state code. The bill will take effect on July 1, 2020.
LB130 requires new residential construction to use radon resistant construction standards.
LB356 creates new wildlife conservation specialty license plates supporting sandhill cranes, bighorn sheep, and ornate box turtles, as well as other specialty plates supporting prostate and childhood cancer awareness. The Department of Motor Vehicles will be allowed to cease issuance of certain specialty plates at the next issuance cycle if fewer than 250 plates were issued during the prior two-year period.
LB138 creates several specialty license plates for persons who have served in the armed forces, as well as new Support Our Troops license plates for persons who have not served but want to support servicemembers. Money generated from sales of the Support Our Troops plates will be used to fund a veterans' workforce development coordinator at the Department of Labor.

LB6 changes residency requirements for spouses and children of active duty military personnel who are assigned to duty outside of Nebraska. Postsecondary students will be considered as in-state residents for purposes of determining tuition rates.
LB693 enacts the Neighbor Spoofing Protection Act. It allows the Attorney General to recover a civil penalty from persons transmitting incorrect phone caller-ID information with an intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.
LB496 increases penalties for tampering with witnesses, informants, juries, and physical evidence.
LB227 limits filing nuisance claims under the Nebraska Right to Farm Act to two years after the condition which is the subject matter of the suit reaches the level of offense sufficient to sustain a claim of nuisance.

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