Plan Now for NACO's Legislative Day
County officials are invited to come to Lincoln to watch the Legislature in person on April 18. Registration begins at the NACO office at 8:30 a.m. and moves to the Warner Chamber of the State Capitol at 9:15. Speaker Greg Adams and several key senators have been invited to address the group. Following a lunch with senators at the Cornhusker Marriott, county officials can visit state offices, tour the Capitol and governor's mansion, and watch legislative debate. On-line registration is available here.
Registrations are also being taken for NACO's County Board of Equalization Workshop in Kearney in May 9.
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Speaker Priority Bills Selected
Increased rates for competitive bidding on bridge projects, valuation of low-income housing projects, and filing procedures for nonconsensual liens are some of the measures that have been designated as speaker priority bills. A complete list of all senator, committee and speaker priority bills is here.
Some speaker priority bills of interest include:
- LB3 - Change filing provisions relating to nonconsensual liens
- LB55 - Change provisions relating to reassumption of assessment function by counties
- LB348 - Change provisions relating to the assessment of certain rent-restricted housing projects
- LB565 - Prohibit registering to vote and voting early on the same day
- LB574 - Provide that certain assessments are levied and collected as special assessments
- LB623 - Change provisions relating to bridge construction and road improvements
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Snapshots of County Issues
Bills Scheduled for Hearing
The Appropriations Committee will hold two final days of hearings next week before full days of debate begin on Wednesday, March 27.
Bills Heard By Committees This Week
The Revenue Committee heard two bills on Wednesday that would revise the commission received by counties and others collecting sales taxes on behalf of the state. Currently the commission is set at two and one-half percent of the first $3,000 remitted each month. LB333 would provide for an additional one-half of one percent commission on collections in excess of $3,000 per month. Prior to a budget-cutting special legislative session in 2002, counties, retailers, and other sales tax collectors received commissions at the tiered rate. LB581 would allow counties to receive the additional rate on motor vehicle sales tax collections in excess of $3,000 per month. The committee also heard measures to study the possibility of using an income approach to value agland (LB618) and to allow taxpayers a longer time to appeal the constitutionality of taxes (LB558).
On Monday, the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard LB84, a bill to clarify the use of utility-type vehicles. Senator Paul Schumacher offered an amendment that would rewrite the original bill to create a local option to allow such vehicles to cross four-lane roads. The committee also heard LB223 to extend the permissible length of utility-type vehicles and LB650 to include asphalt crack filler trailers within the definition of trailers under the Motor Vehicle Registration Act.
Bills Advanced from Committees
A number of bills were sent to the floor by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee this week. Two election bills, LB299 and LB565, have been prioritized. Senator Les Seiler selected LB299 as a senator priority bill. It is intended to revise the process for first class cities to elect council members by ward and at large. The revisions would also allow a county to place the issue of electing county board members at large or by district on the ballot through either a county board action or a petition. LB565 was selected a speaker priority. The bill would prohibit registering to vote and voting on the same day. LB565 remains in committee and will be rewritten by a committee amendment. The other election bills advanced by the committee include:
- LB144 (Larson) Allow candidates who lost in the primary election due to a tie to be eligible as write-in candidates in the general election
- LB167 (McCoy) Define how presidential electors to mark their ballots
- LB188 (Karpisek) Require election commissioners appointed by the governor to be approved by a majority of the legislature
- LB382 (Janssen) Require each presidential elector to cast his or her ballot for the presidential candidate who receives the highest number of votes in the state
- LB433 (Price) Require formal procedures for administering ballots to residents of nursing homes or hospitals
The Government Committee also advanced Senator Pete Pirsch's priority bill, LB224. The bill, which was introduced by Senator Charlie Janssen, would amend resident bidder statutes to give preference to resident disabled veterans. A committee amendment defines resident disabled veteran and provides for the preference over any other resident or nonresident bidders if all other factors are equal.
A bill to expand Medicaid was advanced by the Health and Human Services Committee. LB577 was introduced and prioritized by Senator Kathy Campbell. It would provide expanded eligibility for certain low-income adults.
The Revenue Committee advanced bills to allow taxpayers to make advance tax payments and to revise special assessment terminology. LB82, Senator Paul Schumacher's priority bill, would create a program to allow taxpayers to make advance payments that could be redeemed after five years as credits against taxes owed the state. LB574 would replace general references to tax collections with specific special assessment terminology. The bill has been selected as a speaker priority.
Taxes on real property purchased with grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund would have to be addressed before the property could be sold, leased, transferred or exchanged under LB57. The Environmental Trust board would also have to give written approval of the transaction. The bill advanced from the Natural Resources Committee with an amendment that would rewrite the bill. Senator Tyson Larson has selected LB57 as his priority bill.
Bills Advanced from General File
One piece of the juvenile justice reform package was advanced from General File but will be held on Select File until the rest comes out of committee. LB464 would require cases to be filed in juvenile court, rather than county court. Under existing law, cases are filed in county court, then the county attorney determines whether to move the case to juvenile court. Much of the floor debate centered on the bill's effect on the prosecutor's discretion in determining where to file the case. The bill was introduced by Senator Brad Ashford and is his priority bill. LB561, the major component of the juvenile justice reform package and a Judiciary Committee priority bill, remains in committee as an amendment is finalized.
LB613, a proposal for a comprehensive tax study, advanced after a cloture motion to end a filibuster by Senator Ernie Chambers.
Bills Indefinitely Postponed
The Judiciary Committee indefinitely postponed LB123, which would have returned indigent defense fees collected in Douglas County court cases to the county. These funds are currently collected in all counties and used by the Commission on Public Advocacy to assist counties with criminal defense. It also killed LB520, which would have given surveyors authority to enter onto private property in the performance of their duties.