January 27, 2012                                                                                 Legislative Report Archive

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Selected Committee Hearing Schedule


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inheritRevenue Committee Hears Inheritance Tax Elimination Bill

County officials from across the state filled the Revenue Committee's hearing room on Thursday to express their opposition to Governor Dave Heineman's plan to eliminate inheritance taxes.  Due to the number of testifiers, total proponent and opponent testimony was limited to approximately two hours for each side, but many, many county officials wrote letters, sent emails, and made personal contact with committee members and their own senators.  


Governor Heineman spoke in support of LB 970, which contains three prongs of his tax proposal package.  Citing a desire to gain a competitive advantage by boosting Nebraska's ranking in Tax Foundation studies, he has proposed cuts to corporate and income taxes and elimination of the county inheritance tax.

County officials outlined the uses of inheritance tax receipts, ranging from road and bridge projects to economic development to social programs such as general assistance, senior centers, veterans assistance, and CASA.  In recent years, some counties have moved away from using inheritance taxes primarily to fund special projects; instead, the money is used for general operations to help keep levy rates within the constitutional fifty-cent limit or budgeted for specific programs.  

County officials reminded the committee about the actions counties have already taken to make up for the loss of state aid last year, including freezing budgets, cutting the workforce, increasing insurance deductibles, and eliminating programs not required by state or federal law.  The loss of $48 million in inheritance taxes, last year's elimination of state aid, and an increasing number of unfunded mandates put counties in a position where increased property taxes may be the only option.  

With no sources of significant revenue except property taxes and no lower levels of government to assume unfunded mandates, some speakers suggested looking at sales taxes or other funding mechanisms for counties.  However, the Governor and Legislature have made it clear that proposals for new taxes will not be favorably received.  

The AARP, the Nebraska State Education Association, Open Sky Policy Institute, regional service providers, and citizens joined counties in opposing LB 970 through testimony and letters.

The Revenue Committee has taken no action on the bill.


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Snapshots of County Issues 

All bills introduced by the Legislature are assigned to one of the Legislature's committees for a public hearing. Hearings, which are held each afternoon, will conclude on Feb. 24.


Hearings Held This Week


Pledged collateral for excess deposits could be held in county treasurers' offices under LB 879. The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Rich Pahls at NACO's request to amend a section of statute that was not included when related legislation was adopted last year. The Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee heard the bill on Monday and reported it to the floor.


Bills Debated on General File


County boards could adopt and carry out management plans for black-tailed prairie dogs under LB 473. If a county adopts a plan, each landowner would be responsible for managing prairie dog colonies to prevent their spread to adjacent property if the adjacent property owner objects to the expansion. The bill was debated and advanced from General File on Wednesday.


Bills Withdrawn from Consideration


LB 1166, a bill that would have authorized county boards to appoint and remove county officers, has been withdrawn at the request of introducer Sen. Brad Ashford. In his motion to dismiss, Sen. Ashford noted that pending legislation to provide for a county manager form of government would provide a vehicle for the concept LB 1166 was intended to address.


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HearingSelected Committee Hearing Schedule

Following is a list of some of the bills with county impact that have been scheduled for public hearing in the coming weeks. Please check the Legislature's website for a full listing.


Monday, January 30

Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

Room 1507 1:30 p.m.

* LB1004

 (Schumacher) Authorize credit unions to receive deposits of public funds


Transportation and Telecommunications

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

* LB930 (Brasch) Allow operation of golf car vehicles on highways as prescribed

* LB875 (Howard) Prohibit driving while using wireless communication devices in school crossing zones and construction zones

* LB1039 (Brasch) Change provisions relating to school bus safety requirements


Tuesday, January 31

Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee

Room 1525 12:10 p.m.

* LB973 (Coash) Provide for the use of retirement benefits to pay civil damages


Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

* LB898 (Fischer) Redefine minitruck for vehicle titling, registration, and insurance statutes and rules of the road


Urban Affairs Committee

Room 1510 1:30 p.m.

* LB716 (McCoy) Change municipal powers within extraterritorial jurisdiction

* LB924 (Mello) Change the Nebraska Redevelopment Act


Wednesday, February 1

Government, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee

Room 1507 1:30 p.m.

* LB1070 (Wightman) Change eligibility provisions for petitioning on the general election ballot

* LB934 Karpisek) Provide for appointment of all election commissioners by the county board

* LB966 (Karpisek) Change vote canvassing procedures

* LB757 (Avery) Change political party provisions

* LB1035 (Sullivan) Provide for automatic nomination of airport authority board members as prescribed


Judiciary Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

* LB1000 (McGill) Change certain marriage related fees


Thursday, February 2

Government, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee

Room 1507 1:30 p.m.

*LB772 (Smith) Change provisions relating to the payment of salaries for county board members

*LB823 (Adams) Change duties of county treasurers


Judiciary Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

LB1119 (Karpisek) Prohibit sale, possession, and use of flying lantern-type devices

LB816 (Pirsch) Change provisions relating to evidentiary use of set-aside convictions

LB817 (Pirsch) Change duties of the Community Corrections Division of the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

LB951 (Harr) Provide for assault with a bodily fluid against a first responder


Revenue Committee

Room 1524 1:30 p.m.

LB1080 (Cornett) Provide a property tax exemption and a sales and use tax exemption relating to data centers

LB1118 (Cornett) Provide tax incentives for large data center projects


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scholNACO Scholarship Available

The children and stepchildren of Nebraska's county officials and employees are eligible for scholarships provided by the Nebraska Association of County Officials. Click here for details.


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