March 29, 2013                                                                             Legislative Report Archive

In This Issue


Full Days of Debate Begin





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fullFull Days of Debate Begin

The Appropriations Committee concluded hearings on expenditure bills and agency requests on Tuesday and full days of floor debate began on Wednesday. For the next several weeks, the Appropriations Committee will meet to develop a budget recommendation to present to the entire Legislature. The committee's preliminary recommendations from late February are here. The Legislature's rules require the budget bills to be placed on General File by the 70th day and appropriations bills must be passed by the 80th day. Tuesday will be the 52nd day of the session. The Legislature's calendar is available here.


Thus far, 61 bills and resolutions have been passed and signed by Governor Heineman. Eleven bills passed on Thursday and are awaiting his signature or veto. During the 2011 long session, 97 bills had been passed and signed by this point in the session.


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dayPlan 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.  A tentative agenda and on-line registration are available here.


Registrations are also being taken for for NACO's County Board of Equalization Workshop in Kearney in May 9. A tentative agenda is here. 


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snapshotSnapshots of County Issues 

Bills Advanced from Committees

The Judiciary Committee sent several bills affecting counties to the floor this week. LB342 would clarify when court-appointed and county-funded counsel would be statutorily required in proceedings to terminate parental rights.  LB169, as revised by a proposed committee amendment, would change population levels so that a clerk of the district court could continue serving as jury commissioner when a county reaches 50,000, rather than shifting that responsibility to the election commissioner or another county office. LB103 would expand authority to use videoconferencing in civil cases when a party is incarcerated. LB267 would prohibit jail inmates and persons on probation, parole or work release from acting as an undercover agent or employee of any law enforcement agency or political subdivision. LB538 would allow the Nebraska Police Standards Advisory Council to suspend or revoke law enforcement certificates due to a temporary or permanent physical, mental or emotional incapacity. The committee has not yet advanced its first committee priority bill, LB561, but further discussion is expected during an executive session of the committee next week. The bill would overhaul the juvenile justice system. The second Judiciary Committee priority bill, LB44, appears on the Legislature's agenda for possible debate on Tuesday. The bill would bring Nebraska into compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the sentencing of juveniles to a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.


The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee advanced LB93, a bill to provide for a veteran designation on drivers' licenses and state identification cards. A committee amendment would create a registry of veterans within the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The registry could be used by the Department of Veterans' Affairs and would be used by the Department of Motor Vehicles to verify service for purposes of the veteran designation. Concepts from three other bills were included in the committee amendment. LB378 would eliminate an additional $5 fee charged for Pearl Harbor Survivor, Ex-Prisoner of War, Disabled American Veteran, and Purple Heart license plates that is used to help fund the operation of the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery in Alliance. LB383 and LB596 would provide for Military Honor license plates representing each branch of the armed services.


Bills Advanced from General File

LB97, a bill to allow for the creation of land banks by cities in Douglas and Sarpy counties, was debated on General File on Wednesday afternoon but did not advance before adjournment for the day. The land bank's primary goal would be facilitation of the return of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. The land bank could give an automatically accepted bid at tax sales and foreclosure sales. If property taxes are collected on property conveyed by a land bank, the land bank could retain fifty percent of the collections for the first five years.


Senators discussed the makeup of the land bank board and adopted a floor amendment offered by Senator Ernie Chambers to strike a requirement for representation of racial and ethnic diversity. The amendment was categorized as aspirational but impossible to implement. The accountability of the land bank board, which would consist of seven members appointed by the mayor and other nonvoting members, was discussed, as well as the board's ability to issue bonds and make investments. An amendment limiting the assets of the land bank to $25 million was offered by Senator Jim Smith and withdrawn. Senator Ken Schilz suggested expanding the authority to create a land bank to all cities. Other senators questioned whether a land bank would compete with private developers.


Further amendments are expected before the bill reappears on the agenda for debate. LB97 was introduced and prioritized by Senator Heath Mello.



Bills Indefinitely Postponed

This week the Transportation Committee killed bills that would outright repeal a county drainage statute (LB387) and allow a motorcycle to proceed through red traffic lights in limited situations (LB85).


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