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February 14, 2013                                                                             Legislative Report Archive
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inherInheritance Tax Rate Revision Hearing Scheduled

LB600, a bill to revise inheritance tax rates for Class II and Class III beneficiaries, will be heard by the Revenue Committee on February 27. The bill is intended to re-balance the rates for relatives such as nieces and nephews, as well as unrelated individuals. Currently Class II beneficiaries pay 13 percent on amounts in excess of $15,000 and Class III beneficiaries pay 18 percent on amounts in excess of $10,000.  The bill would decrease the rates to 9 percent and 13 percent respectively.

 

The committee will also hear LB370, which would provide state aid to counties and cities through a population-based formula. The funds would have to be used to offset property taxes.  LB531 would repeal the allocation of sales tax for road construction. LB266 would repeal increases in local option sales tax rates.

  

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snapSnapshots of County Issues 

Bills Scheduled for Hearing This Week

Dollar amounts triggering bidding on county road and bridge projects and materials would be raised by LB623, which will be heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on February 19. The committee will also hear two bills addressing county drainage projects.  Under LB386,counties entering private property for drainage control measures would have to make a record of the condition of the premises at the time of entry and give ten days' notice to the property owner. LB387 would outright repeal the statutory section that would be amended by LB386.

 

 

Bills Heard This Week

Counties could receive property tax offsets if real property purchased with funds from the Nebraska Environmental Trust is later transferred to a federal land management agency under LB57. The Trust Board would have to approve the transfer of the property. Senators heard about a pilot program in Franklin County in which Ducks Unlimited contributes to a community foundation to help offset property tax losses from decreased valuation on wetlands. The Natural Resources Committee heard the bill on Thursday and has not taken action on the bill.

 

Representatives of counties and other political subidivisons testified before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in opposition to proposed changes to tort claims caps. Existing law sets a cap of $1 million per person for claims arising from a single occurrence and $5 million for all claims arising out of a single occurrence. LB284 would increase the maximum amount recoverable to $3 million per person arising out of a single occurrence and $12 million for all claims arising out of a single occurrence. The higher caps would significantly increase the liability exposure faced by counties and would increase insurance costs. The bill would also extend the time period to file claims from one year to two years. Compared to many other states, Nebraska's caps and filing deadlines are generous.

 

The Judiciary Committee also heard LB169, a bill to clarify whether the clerk of the district court or election commissioner should serve in the position of jury commissioner in counties between 50,000 and 200,000. Senator Mike Gloor, the bill's introducer, offered an amendment at the hearing to more directly clarify the process by changing the population reference from 50,000 to 75,000. In addition, the committee heard LB482, a bill about private property rights. The committee has not taken action on the bills heard this week.

 

Senator Ken Schilz offered an amendment to LB215 at Wednesday's Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing to clarify expenditures of County Visitors Improvement Funds. The amendment states that the funds would not have to be spent in the year they were collected. Existing law provides that once counties have determined that visitor attractions in the county are adequate and do not require improvement, the county board may use the Improvement Fund dollars to promote, encourage, and attract visitors to the county. LB215 would require counties to use the excess funds for those purposes. The bill is intended to provide for more accountability of expenditures of lodging taxes. 

 

Tax sales certificate and treasurer's deed procedures would be revised by LB341, which was heard Wednesday by the Revenue Committee. The bill was introduced by Senator John Wightman to follow an interim study of tax sales issues. The bill would eliminate confusing bid-down procedures, define round-robin sales procedures, eliminate outdated references, increase fees, and revise treasurers deed notice requirements. Several amendments were discussed at the hearing and some will be offered as a committee amendment. NACO supports LB341.

 

Three election bills were heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday.  LB235 would reduce the maximum precinct size from 1,750 to 1,000. The bill would require a public hearing before precinct lines or polling places could be moved. LB271 and LB525 would take different approaches to address difficulties in programming election machines in time to meet deadlines for persons voting early in the election commissioner or county clerk's office. LB271, which was supported by NACO and the Secretary of State, would move the deadline by ten days to provide more time for election officials to complete their work. Timelines for voters picking up ballots would not be changed.  LB525 would shorten the period for entities to submit candidate names for placement on the ballot.

 

The Government Committee will hear several election bills on Thursday, February 21. LB292 would allow counties up to 20,000 to conduct elections by mail in approved precincts. Currently this process is limited to counties under 10,000.  LB417 would require the Secretary of State to provide guidelines for election workers. LB299 would add details to the process used by counties, cities and some school districts to place the question of whether to elect board members by district or at-large on the ballot.  

   

Bills Placed on General File

LB363, a bill revising public records laws, was advanced by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday with a committee amendment.  The bill limits the amount that can be charged for providing photocopies of public records to the actual added cost of supplies and equipment used, as well as the costs charged by contractors necessary to comply with the request. The cost could not include a charge for the salary of public officials or employees for the first six hours of searching for, identifying or copying records. Custodians of public records would not be required to provide copies of public records that are available on the their website unless the requester does not have reasonable access to a computer or the Internet or an ability to use a computer.  The bill defines the existing four-day time period for responding to records requests and gives the requester ten days to review estimated costs.

 

The committee amendment would allow custodians of public records to charge for staff time needed to physically redact information from records after the first six hours. If the services of an attorney are needed to review whether there is a legal basis to withhold the record, his or her fees are excluded from the cost of providing the record.  The bill has appeared on the General File agenda but has not been debated.

 
selSelected 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.

 

Tuesday, February 19

Executive Board

Room 2101 12:00 p.m.

  • LB613 (Schumacher) Create the Tax Modernization Commission

Education Committee

Room 1525 1:30 p.m.

  • LB301 (Carlson) Change provisions relating to transfer of property between school districts 

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

  • LB386 (Christensen) Require notice of road maintenance as prescribed
  • LB387 (Christensen) Eliminate provisions relating to constructing drainage facilities and taking other control measurers on public roads
  • LB623 (Price) Change provisions relating to bridge construction and road improvements

Wednesday, February 20

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

Room 1507 1:30 p.m.

  • LB278 (Pirsch) Change provisions relating to fees charged by the Secretary of State
  • LB504 (Coash) Change Commission on Indian Affairs state assistance for political subdivisions provisions
  • LB303 (Wallman) Change registration requirements for land surveyors

Judiciary Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

  • LB314 (Christensen) Adopt the Escort Services Accountability and Permit Act
  • LB255 (McGill) Change provisions relating to hearsay, child abuse, and offenses relating to morals
  • LB256 (McGill) Eliminate criminal forfeiture and provide for civil forfeiture as prescribed

Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee

Room 1525 1:30 p.m.

  • LB263 (Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee) Change provisions relating to government retirement systems

Thursday, February 21

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

Room 1507 1:30 p.m.

  • LB417 (Kolowski) Provide for guidelines for election workers
  • LB292 (Karpisek) Change population restrictions for conducting elections by mail
  • LB299 (Seiler) Change political subdivision election provisions

Judiciary Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

  • LB631 (Harr) Change provisions relating to garnishment
  • LB415 (Seiler) Change provisions relating to financial institutions and attachment and garnishment
  • LB520 (Christensen) Allow land surveyors to enter upon public or private land or waters as prescribed 

Friday, February 22

Natural Resources Committee

Room 1525 1:30 p.m.

  • LB634 (Davis) Adopt the Wildfire Control Act of 2013
  • LR40 (Davis) Request the United States Forest Service to reconsider its original decision not to pay a proportionate share of the replacement costs of fences destroyed by wildfires between private and public lands in certain counties

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

Room 1507 1:30 p.m.

  • LB294 (Seiler) Change provisions relating to use of public resources by public officials and public employees
  • LB364 (Avery) Permit government bodies to set limits on certain contracts

Judiciary Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

  • LB483 (Bolz) Provide for a re-entry program in adult correctional facilities
  • LB538 (Chambers) Change provisions relating to revocation and suspension of law enforcement training certificates or diplomas
  • LB541 (Chambers) Prohibit arbitration of claims involving disciplinary actions against peace officers

Monday, February 25

Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

Room 1507 1:30 p.m.

  • LB614 (Schumacher) Provide for withholding insurance proceeds for demolition costs

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

Room 1113 1:30 p.m.

  • LB11 (Krist) Change provisions relating to surcharge for 911 service
  • LB595 (Price) Provide for a Public Service Commission study of next-generation 911

Tuesday, February 26

Agriculture Committee

Room 2102 1:30 p.m.

  • LB597 (Larson)  Change provisions relating to county agricultural societies

Wednesday, February 27

Revenue Committee

Room 1524 1:30 p.m.

  • LB531 (Conrad) Change distribution of sales and use tax revenue and repeal the Build Nebraska Act
  • LB370 (Lathrop) Create the County Property Tax Assistance Program and the Municipal Property Tax Assistance Program
  • LB600 (Wightman) Change certain inheritance tax rates

Thursday, February 28

Health and Human Services Committee

Room 1510 1:30 p.m.

  • LB577 (Campbell) Change provisions relating to the medical assistance program
  • LB578 (Nordquist) Create a fund to provide funding for medicaid services and change distribution of premium tax revenue 

Revenue Committee

Room 1524 1:30 p.m.

  • LB101 (Watermeier) Change valuation of agricultural and horticultural land
  • LB145 (Brasch) Change valuation of agricultural and horticultural land
  • LB55 (Wightman) Change provisions relating to reassumption of assessment function by counties
  • LB574 (Harr) Provide that certain assessments are levied and collected as special assessments

Friday, March 1

Revenue Committee

Room 1524 1:30 p.m.

  • LB237 (Karpisek) Change provisions relating to a property tax exemption
  • LB348 (Harr) Change provisions relating to the assessment of certain rent-restricted housing projects
  • LB43 (Cook) Change provisions relating to a property tax exemption
  • LB110 (McGill) Change the eligibility for homestead exemptions

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