Bills Scheduled for Hearing
Senator Brad Ashford's bill to close juvenile detention centers in Kearney and Geneva will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on March 7. As introduced, LB561 would shift the detention of juvenile offenders to community-based services. The Office of Juvenile Services would be dissolved and replaced by an Office of Juvenile Assistance. The new office would coordinate juvenile probation and services related to diversion and violence prevention. Further amendments are expected.
Two bills to expand Medicaid coverage will be heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 28. LB577, introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell, would provide health insurance coverage for certain low-income Nebraskans. LB578, introduced by Senator Jeremy Nordquist, would put insurance premium taxes that have been used to subsidize the state's high risk insurance pool toward the Medicaid expansion. The expansion would help cover costs incurred by counties for general assistance.
Bills Heard By Committees This Week
Following Revenue Committee discussions on Wednesday, a comprehensive tax study will replace Governor Heineman's tax reform proposals. LB613, which was introduced by Sen. Paul Schumacher, would create a special study committee composed of Revenue Committee members and chairs of other standing committees. Senator Beau McCoy, the introducer of Governor Heineman's proposals (LB405 and LB406) has indicated that he will select LB613 as his priority bill for the session. The Revenue Committee unanimously voted to indefinitely postpone LB405 and LB406.
Dollar amounts triggering a formal bidding process on county road and bridge projects and materials would be raised by LB623, which was heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Wednesday. Existing law requires bidding of contracts for road and bridge repair if the estimated cost will exceed $60,000. The bill would increase the maximum cost without bidding to $150,000. The bill would increase the current bidding threshold for materials from $10,000 to $20,000. The rates have not been changed since 1988. NACO testified in support of the bill.
The Transportation Committee also heard 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. An amendment was offered to provide an exception for emergency situations. LB387 would outright repeal the statutory section that would be amended by LB386. The discussion on both bills focused on the possibility of an overall revision to existing county drainage laws. The committee has not reported action on the bills.
Bills Debated on General File
Debate began on February 22 on a bill addressing fees charged for public records by counties and other public entities. LB363 would prohibit the inclusion of salaries for officials and employees for the first six hours of searching, identifying, or copying public records. Senators noted contacts from county officials asking for a shorter time period because six hours of research would unduly hinder the operation of their offices. Debate on LB363 will continue on Monday.
Bills Advanced from Committees
If the names of no more than two candidates are slated to appear on the primary election ballot for county office, the candidates would be declared nominated and advance to the general election under LB56. Automatic advancement is already in place for the election of directors of natural resources districts, public power districts, airport authority boards, and certain other offices. The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee sent the bill to General File with an amendment clarifying that the candidates must have properly filed for the nomination of a political party and the number of candidates does not exceed the number of candidates to be nominated by that party for that office.
Cities annexing county roads would receive the same authority held by the county over the road, including recorded or prescriptive easements, under a bill advanced by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LB377 was introduced to address ownership issues in annexations when a county has an easement but does not own the property on which a road is located. The committee also advanced LB399, which would allow volunteer members of public safety or crime prevention organizations to use flashing amber lights under terms and conditions and within areas determined by the sheriff, police department, or other applicable law enforcement agency.
The Judiciary Committee advanced several bills this week, including measures revising transfer on death deeds and nonconsensual liens. LB345 would require a cover sheet to accompany death certificates filed in the register of deeds office and would eliminate requirements for two disinterested witnesses to attest to transfer on death deed. LB3, as originally written, would require a county recording office to forward a copy of nonconsensual liens to the property owner. A committee amendment would rewrite and amend the bill and create the crime of fraudulently filing a financial statement. It would set out a process for service by the sheriff in order to enforce the lien.
Bills Debated on Select File
On Thursday senators advanced 25 bills from Select File by voice votes, including:
- LB28, which would change the deadline for imposing a 25 percent penalty for late filing of personal property tax returns from August 1 to July 1
- LB29, which would eliminate a requirement for county assessors to maintain a controlling account of monthly tax collections
- LB36, which would provide that the documentary stamp tax is not imposed upon certified or authenticated death certificates filed with the register of deeds
- LB311, which would clarify the ten day timing requirement to obtain a bond prior to the beginning of the term of office for county officers
- LB156, which would eliminate an outdated report made to the Department of Health and Human Services by counties with community service programs
- LB207, which would shift the responsibility to mail motor vehicle registration renewal postcards from counties to the state in exchange for a fifty-cent reduction in county fees
- LB210, which would revise the Uniform Commercial Code to address improperly filed financing statements