Final 2012                                                                                     Legislative Report Archive

In This Issue







Constitutional Amendments





Find us on Facebook 


on Facebook

introSummary of 2012 Legislation

The 102nd Nebraska Legislature, Second Session adjourned on April 18. This Legislative Report is a summary of some of the 248 bills and constitutional amendments adopted in 2012. 


Attention has been focused primarily on those bills of possible interest and impact to counties. These bill summaries are intended to provide a brief synopsis only and to highlight particular provisions of interest within each of the bills. For a more thorough understanding of any of these measures, please review the actual legislative bills. The full text of the final version of the bill, called the slip law, can be viewed on the Unicameral's website.  A link to this site can be found on NACO's website. Bills can be requested from the Legislature's Bill Room at (402)471-2877. Also, consider contacting your county attorney with questions regarding the implementation of a particular bill in your county.


More than 450 bills and constitutional amendments were introduced this year. Bills that were not adopted will be considered killed and will not carry over to the 2013 session. Because provisions from one bill were often amended into another, original and final bill numbers are sometimes noted within the summaries.


Most bills take effect at 12:01 a.m. on July 19, 2012, which is three calendar months after the Legislature's adjournment. Bills passed with an emergency clause become effective either upon receiving the signature of Governor Dave Heineman or on an otherwise specified date.


Please contact the NACO office or your affiliate group if you

have suggestions for possible legislation for 2013. NACO's 2013 legislative priorities will be selected following NACO's annual legislative conference on October 11 in Kearney.


Return to top

coopCounty Operations

LB 473, the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act, allows counties to adopt a coordinated program for the management of prairie dogs within the county. In counties that have adopted a plan, each person who owns or controls property must manage prairie dog colonies present on their property to prevent the expansion of colonies to adjacent property if the adjacent owner objects to the expansion. If the landowner does not control the prairie dogs, the county board may undertake proper management methods and charge the costs to the landowner.


LB 14 revises filing fees collected in register of deeds offices. Existing law sets a filing fee of $5 per page. LB 14 provides for a $10 fee for the first page and $6 for subsequent pages. The bill designates $2.50 of the fee for the first page and 50 cents of the fee for the second page for preserving and maintaining public records in the office of the register of deeds and for modernization and technology related to those records. The fee for filing state and federal tax liens with the Secretary of State increases from $6 to two times the amount for other filings, with the county's portion of the increased fees designated for preservation and technology. The revised fee schedule will take effect on January 1, 2013 and terminate on December 31, 2017.


LB 536 creates the Nebraska Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act to allow for the transfer of real property without probate.  Such transfers would be subject to inheritance tax to the same extent as if owned by the transferor on death.  Transfer documents must be filed in the office of the register of deeds within 30 days after being executed. The bill also contains language from LB 818 that permits the transfer of property between spouses or ex-spouses without documentary stamp tax. LB 536 takes effect on January 1, 2013.


LB 772 eliminates an antiquated requirement to pay county board salaries on a monthly basis in counties over 60,000.  Eliminating the monthly reference would allow these counties to pay county board salaries on the same semi-monthly or bi-monthly pay schedule as other employees and officials, as is the current practice. 


LB 936 eliminates specific dates related to the termination of inactive townships by a county board. Removal of a June 1 deadline gives county boards flexibility to set the date for the transition. The bill took effect on April 10.


LB 879 allows a county treasurer, rather than a county clerk, to hold the security given by a bank holding deposits in excess of FDIC guarantees.


LB 836 allows political subdivisions to use deposit placement services to hold public funds. The bill carried an emergency clause and was signed on March 7.


LB 995, which revises county hospital statutes and reconciles them with laws regulating other hospitals in the state, amends the Open Meetings Act, effective April 6, 2012. LB 735 also revises the Act to address meetings of the community college board of governors and public power and irrigation districts. The bill takes effect on July 19, 2012.  Revised versions of the Act appropriate for each effective date are available for downloading on NACO's website. A laminated poster-sized version will be distributed to each county later this summer.


LB 470 authorizes certain county boards and city councils to approve personnel, administrative or compensation policies or procedures before implementation by library boards. Currently library boards handle these functions.


LB 861 removes a prohibition on selling alcoholic liquor during the hours of 6 a.m. to 12 noon on Sundays.  Local governing bodies are given authroity to set their own requirements for liquor sales during those hours.


LB 459 prohibits political subdivisions from using rule, regulation, ordinance, resolution or proclamation to assign a legal status to animals that is inconsistent with the status of animals as personal property. The bill was introduced to avoid problems other states have experienced when the term "pet owner" is replaced with "guardian."


Return to top

taxesTaxes and Spending

LB 370 revises the process for issuing treasurers tax deeds. The bill extends the period for redemption of owner-occupied property for 45 days after the application for the tax deed and limits the time of redemption for other owners. The bill requires the tax sales certificate holder to provide additional notices to property owners. Because the bill states that the laws in effect on the date of the issuance of the tax sales certificate govern all matters related to the tax deeds proceedings, the bill's impact will not be seen immediately. An interim study, LR 514, will provide for continued discussion of delinquent property tax issues.


LB 823 allows county treasurers to withhold distributions of school district funds if an official bond or evidence of equivalent insurance coverage has not been filed with the county treasurer.


LB 851 makes the issuance of property tax receipts voluntary, rather than mandatory. Treasurers must provide receipts to taxpayers requesting them.


LB 750 revises the definition of farm home site for purposes of valuation. The term means land contiguous to a farm site which includes an inhabitable residence and improvements used for residential purposes. The farm home site must be located outside of urban areas or platted and zoned subdivisions. The bill also revises guidelines used for determining comparable sales of agricultural property. Consideration may be given to whether a premium was paid. A premium may be paid when proximity or tax consequences cause the buyer to pay more than the actual value for the land.


LB 822 eliminates the notation of the average level of value of all classes and subclasses of real property in the county on change of value notice.


LB 1106 requires the owner of improvements to leased land to sign and file an assessment application with the county assessor at the time of an ownership change.


LB 897 eliminates requirements for the county clerk in counties over 200,000 to complete the tax list.


LB 970, as introduced, would have eliminated inheritance taxes collected by counties and created corporate and individual income tax breaks. The inheritance tax provisions were removed by the Revenue Committee and the final bill contained only income tax reductions. Another bill, LB 1102, which would have increased exemption amounts and reduced inheritance tax rates, failed to advance. An interim study, LR 644, has been introduced by the Revenue Committee to examine alternate sources of revenue for counties if inheritance taxes are eliminated.


LB 902 creates an exemption from sales and property taxes for property held by nonprofit corporations and leased to political subdivisions, including counties. The bill would also exempt leasing corporations that are formed by governmental entities to issue tax-free bonds. A vote of the people would be required for projects costing more than $50,000 or 0.6 percent of the total or actual value of real and personal property of the governmental subdivision. The bill was sometimes referred to as the Ameritrade bill during debate due to the use of this process to issue bonds for a baseball stadium.


LB 1080 provides a personal property tax exemption for tangible personal property acquired by a person operating a data center in Nebraska.


LB 1125 authorizes natural resources districts to exempt from occupation taxes any acres enrolled in temporary retirement programs. The bill allows NRD's to refund occupation taxes upon the presentation of evidence of nonirrigation status.


 Return to top

mvMotor Vehicles

LB 1155 allows counties to pass a resolution authorizing the use of golf cars within the county if the operation is on roads adjacent and contiguous to a golf course. Operators must have a driver's license and owners must carry liability insurance. This concept was originally introduced as LB 930. Other provisions of LB 1155 increase the penalty for a fourth or greater offense of driving with a suspended or revoked license.


LB 216 provides for the issuance of one license plate, rather than two, for motor vehicles that are collected, preserved, restored or maintained by the owner as a leisure pursuit and not used for general transportation of persons or cargo. Vehicles with a single special interest license plate can only be driven on public streets and roads for occasional transportation, public displays, parade, and related pleasure or hobby activities. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2013.


LB 740 allows truck-tractors with semitrailers carrying livestock forage to reach 59.5 feet in length in order to match the standards of surrounding states. The weight of such loads would not exceed existing legal weight limits.


LB 841 brings Nebraska into compliance with federal laws governing long combination vehicles. Legislation was enacted in 2011 that extended the length of these vehicles for hauling sugar beets but it violated federal laws. Without this correction, the state would have lost $24 million in road funding.


LB 751 updates motor carrier statutes and contains provisions from several other bills.   Language from LB 718 authorizes any county, rather than the county of issuance, to handle title transactions. Language from LB 769 places responsibility on the state for issuing duplicate and replacement driver licenses and state identification cards to eliminate the need for county officials and employees to undergo costly background checks. The bill outright repeals sections of statute requiring all courts to submit a list of arrest warrants to county treasurers every month.


LB 801 eliminates outdated references to "designated county officials" in motor vehicle and motor boat laws and other statutes. This language became obsolete after legislation adopted in 2009 moved all motor vehicle and motor boat services to the county treasurers' offices.


LB 898 expands the size of engine allowed in minitrucks from 1,000 to 1,500 cubic centimenters.


Return to top

lawLaw Enforcement

LB 881 requires the arresting or apprehending agency, rather than the entity operating a holding facility, to be responsible for medical costs related to injuries incurred during arrest or apprehension of law violators.


LB 734 revises the timeline for replevin actions to extend beyond 20 days, if ordered by the court.


LB 66 clarifies instances when probation officers are responsible for collecting DNA samples from certain persons convicted of a felony. Existing law requires collection at a detention facility or institution as specified by the court.


LB 817 requires 20 hours of continuing education annually for certified law enforcement officers. This language was introduced in LB 1046. In addition, language from LB 816 provides that a conviction with a set-aside sentence could be used as evidence of incompetence or fitness for duty to determine whether law enforcement certification should be denied, issued, or revoked.


LB 807 provides that a firearm seized by law enforcement agencies shall be restored to its original owners if the firearm has not been used in the commission of a crime or domestic assault and has not been defaced or altered. The bill also revises concealed weapons permit requirements.


LB 985 establishes the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project to help meet the needs of youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.


LB 993 expands the role of child abuse and neglect investigation teams located in child advocacy centers. County attorneys and law enforcement representatives serve on each team.  


Several bills changed penalties or elements of crimes.

  • LB 310 makes a credible threat a reason for granting a protection order. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to carry it out.
  • LB 670 amends the Uniform Controlled Substances Act to include the drug commonly known as "bath salts." This language was originally introduced in LB 814.
  • LB 612 clarifies the statute of limitations for civil actions in cases of sexual assault on a child by providing that the victim would have 12 years after their 21st birthday to file the suit.
  • LB 799 changes penalties for the crime of child abuse.
  • LB 804 provides that a justification defense used in civil actions for assault and battery or intentional wrongful death does not bar recovery.
  • LB 1030 requires drivers overtaking a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device to exercise due care, including leaving a safe distance of no less than three feet clearance.
  • LB 1039 employs the differences between red and yellow flashing lights on school buses to clarify when drivers are required to stop when encountering a school bus. If visibility is limited, the bill allows for loading or unloading pupils in areas with proper signage.

 Return to top


LB 904 revises requirements for clerks of the district court to provide dissolution and annulment information to Vital Records. The bill eliminates a penalty for failure to provide the information and allows for a designation of "unkown" if the information is not available to the parties or their attorneys.


LB 865 allows jurors to voluntarily waive their fees for jury service.


LB 790 adds a county judge in Lancaster County by removing a judge from District 5, which includes Merrick, Platte, Colfax, Boone, Nance, Hamilton, Polk, York, Butler, Seward and Saunders counties. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2012.


LB 793 limits the number of frivolous civil actions that can be filed by a prisoner to three in forma pauperis filings. The court determines whether a filing is frivolous.


LB 899 provides procedures for decrees of legal separation.


LB 933 revises procedures used to compel school attendance. Schools are given additional opportunities to work with absent students before involving the county attorney.


Two bills create panels with county members. LB 821 creates the Nebraska Children's Commission to develop a statewide strategic plan and make recommendations for child welfare. One of the commission members appointed by the Governor must be a prosecuting attorney who practices in juvenile court. The bill creates the office of Inspector General within the Office of Public Counsel to conduct investigations of the Nebraska child welfare system. All law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys are required to cooperate with the Inspector General.


LB 1145 creates a task force to study human trafficking. A county sheriff, county attorney, and county commissioner are included on the panel. The panel will develop curriculum for mandatory training on human trafficking for law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders and others in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.


Return to top


LB 1101 clarifies the timing of the election of an assessor in counties that are re-assuming the assessment function. Existing language requires the position to be filled at the next election. The bill was signed on April 10.


LB 1035 provides for automatic advancement of candidates in airport authority elections when less than two candidates have filed for each opening in the primary election. Language amended into the bill from LB 966 allows election commissioners and county clerks to use computer printouts as permanent election records.  Language from LB 757 addresses the placement of partisan candidate names on primary election ballots.


LB 503 revises the process used by political parties to fill vacancies following nomination on the general election ballot.


LB 878 is a technical clean-up bill introduced on behalf of the Secretary of State. The bill changes the deadline for the Secretary of State to prepare the election calendar from December 1 to November 1. It addresses filling vacancies on certain city councils, clarifies statutory cross-references in reclamation district elections, and revises outdated references to custodians of election equipment.


LB 398 allows election commissioners and their deputies to administer oaths and affirmations using the county seal. The bill makes other revisions to notary statutes including allowing persons who reside in states bordering Nebraska to be appointed as a notary public if they work in Nebraska.


LB 1121 harmonizes the process for counting signatures on sanitary and improvement district recall petitions to mirror the process used for voting in district elections.


Return to top


LB 916 provides county officials and employees who are participating in the defined contribution benefit plan an opportunity to switch to the cash balance plan used for new hires. The election to transfer plans must be made between September 1, 2012 and October 31, 2102. The transfer will occur on January 1, 2013. The bill also allows retirement benefits to be awarded as part of a civil settlement to a victim of felony sexual assault, child abuse, and other crimes. The bill disallows the use of funds forfeited by participants who leave before vesting to reduce county employer contributions.


LB 867 revises the retirement plan for new hires in Lancaster County. For employees hired after July 1, 2012, the county must contribute a match of at least 100 percent of the employee's mandatory contribution. Existing law requires a match of 150 percent.


Return to top

caConstitutional Amendments

Four proposed constitutional amendments will appear before voters on the November 2012 general election ballot.


LR 19CA asks voters to consider whether an official can be subject to impeachment for any misdemeanor in pursuit of office. Existing constitutional language provides for impeachment for misdemeanors in office.


LR 40CA would provide for a constitutional right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife and state that public hunting, fishing and harvesting of wildlife are a preferred means of managing wildlife.


LR 358CA would expand legislative term limits from two terms to three terms.


LR 373CA would increase the salary for state senators from $12,000 per year to $22,500 per year.


Return to top

othOther Issues

LB 1126 grants counties the power to cede and transfer extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction over land outside of an area extending no more than one mile from its corporate boundaries. Under LB 1126, village jurisdiction could not extend more than one-quarter mile outside of the area extending one mile from the corporate boundaries of the village. 


LB 766 allows the Adjutant General to spend up to $10,000 without an emergency proclamation when an immediate hazardous material response is required.


LB 795 allows the American Legion and other recognized veterans organizations to receive applications for membership in Nebraska veterans homes. Existing law provides that only county veterans service officers can perform this function.


LB 819 clarifies the treatment of military medals under unclaimed property laws.


LB 391 creates the Nebraska Invasive Species Council which will develop an adaptive management plan for invasive species identification, response and management. A member of the Nebraska Weed Control Association will serve on the council. The bill also prohibits the possession, importing, purchase, or sale of aquatic invasive species.


LB 828 revises and harmonizes statutes related to wind and solar energy agreements. The bill carried an emergency clause and took effect on March 7.


In LB 1161 and LB 845, the Legislature continued work begun during the special session on pipelines.  Under LB 1161, pipelines must make an application to the governor, who may approve the pipeline or refer it to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for further review. The PSC must make all documents available unless they are protected by public records laws. The bill carried an emergency clause and was signed on April 17. LB 845 strengthens reclamation requirements under the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act. Among other requirements, the seed mixture and reclamation methods used by pipeline carriers must meet requirements of the Federal Seed Act, Nebraska Seed Law, and Noxious Weed Control Act.


Several bills focused on child welfare and health and human services issues. Among those, LB 825 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to enter into contracts with community-based organizations, such as area agencies on aging, to provide integrated access points for economic assistance programs administered by the Department. The department would provide caseworkers to help clients complete applications for public assistance and renewal forms, screen clients for eligibility, and answer client questions. The face-to-face attention would replace the automated application services provided through ACCESS Nebraska.


LB 871 authorizes each behavioral health region to adopt a policy for determining financial eligibility for consumers using community-based behavioral health services in the region.


LB 880 provides duties for the State Records Administrator to examine ways of reducing costs to agencies to manage records retention and using cost-effective, modern storage practices.


LB 719 updates statutory references by changing the term "gateway" to "portal" to reflect current records management practices and technology.


LB 959 provides civil immunity for employers when providing certain information for a job reference. If the prospective employee consents in writing, a current or former employer may provide information about employment date and duration, pay rate and wage history, job description and duties, attendance and other work-related information.


LB 1049 prohibits secondary recyclers from purchasing or receiving any manhole cover or sewer grate except from an authorized representative of the political subdivision that owns the cover or grate or an authorized third party. Payment must be made by a check or draft and sent to the official address or the finance department of the political subdivision or the third-party seller.


LB 1090 provides grants to sponsors of summer food services programs for non-recurring expenses such as staff training and outreach. County governments sponsoring such programs are eligible for the grants.


LB 1091 requires providers of prepaid cell phones to collect wireless 911 surcharges on each retail transaction, beginning January 1, 2013. LB 847, a bill that would have allowed surcharges to be used for personnel costs, failed to advance.


LB 1130 authorizes cities and villages to create entertainment districts that allow for the consumption of alcohol in designated commons areas.


LB 729 authorizes municipalities to use funds generated under the Community Development Law to demolish structures determined to be unsafe or unfit for human occupancy.


Return to top

intsInterim Studies


What follows is a partial listing of interim study resolutions that were introduced for examination during the summer and fall months. This listing represents only those studies determined to be of significant interest and importance to county government. Listed here are the resolution numbers, introducer, a brief description of the issue, and the committee that will conduct the study. The public hearing schedule for selected interim studies will be posted on the Legislature's website as it becomes available.


LR 452 (Nordquist) Interim study to examine the public employees retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board Nebraska Retirement Systems


LR 464 (Smith) Interim study to examine the procurement procedures of governmental units with respect to contracts for publicly funded construction projects Government, Military and Veterans Affairs


LR 482 (Mello) Interim study to examine the use of eminent domain by political subdivisions for the taking of private land for the use of development or management of recreational trails or corridors Natural Resources


LR 483 (Harr) Interim study to examine whether Nebraska should update the Uniform Commercial Code with regard to rejection or removal of fraudulent or otherwise improper financing statements or other records offered for filing with the Secretary of State Banking, Commerce and Insurance


LR 487 (Mello) Interim study to examine issues surrounding restrictions on registered sex offender participation in state and federal holiday activities that are centered around children Judiciary


LR 494 (Dubas) Interim study to examine uninsured and unlicensed drivers and associated penalties Transportation and Telecommunications


LR 502 (Mello) Interim study to examine the issues surrounding governmental transparency Government, Military and Veterans Affairs


LR 503 (Mello) Interim study to examine issues surrounding project labor agreements Government, Military and Veterans Affairs


LR 512 (Avery) Interim study to examine issues under the jurisdiction of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Government, Military and Veterans Affairs


LR 514 (Wightman) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive review and revision of the laws governing the process for sales of real property for delinquent real property taxes Revenue


LR 516 (Nordquist) Interim study to examine issues relating to the crime of destruction of property through the use of graffiti and to develop recommendations to prevent, combat, and abate graffiti in communities  Judiciary


LR 518 (Mello) Interim study to examine issues surrounding the investment of state funds Nebraska Retirement Systems


LR 520 (Mello) Interim study to examine issues relating to land banking Revenue


LR 538 (Dubas) Interim study to examine eminent domain authority and judicial approval and interpretation of the public interest determination  Judiciary


LR 542 (Mello) Interim study to examine issues surrounding the creation of a state infrastructure bank Revenue


LR 567 (Cornett) Interim study to examine tax burdens and fiscal conditions in Nebraska communities Revenue


LR 568 (Cornett) Interim study to examine any aspect of the state tax structure and tax policy Revenue


LR 571 (Ashford) Interim study to review matters under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee Judiciary


LR 572 (Fischer) Interim study to review matters under the jurisdiction of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee Transportation and Telecommunications


LR 575 (Carlson) Interim study to examine the interests and any role of the Department of Agriculture relating to incidents of livestock neglect and abandonment, particularly with respect to safeguarding livestock health Agriculture


LR 582 (McGill) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive review of the laws governing powers of a city to enter into a redevelopment project for property within a radius of three miles of the boundaries of a city Urban Affairs


LR 584  (Avery) Interim study to examine the authority and execution of eminent domain and condemnation proceedings Judiciary


LR 596 (Pirsch) Interim study to examine methods of enhancing the budgetary coordination between the Revenue Committee and Appropriations Committee of the Legislature Revenue


LR 598 (Pirsch) Interim study to examine methods to more equitably value agricultural lands for tax purposes in Nebraska Revenue


LR 602 (Schilz) Interim study of the intent of LB 919, and the current fees paid to sheriffs for performing their statutory responsibilities and increasing docket fees to cover the actual costs associated with using the court system Judiciary


LR 644 (Revenue Committee) Interim study to examine alternative sources of county revenue if the inheritance tax is repealed Revenue


Return to top

Nebraska Association of County Officials
625 South 14th Street Suite 200 | Lincoln, NE 68508 | 402-434-5660
Join Our Mailing List