April 19, 2013                                                                             Legislative Report Archive

In This Issue


County Officials View Legislative Process




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viewCounty Officials View Legislative Process

Despite snow and ice, county officials from across the state met with senators and state agency officials during NACO's Counties' Legislative Day on April 18. Lieutenant Governor Lavon Heidemann discussed the challenges in the interoperable public safety communications system and planning for fire emergencies. Speaker Greg Adams outlined the legislative process, including placement of items on the Legislature's daily agenda and strategies for reaching a consensus. Senator Galen Hadley, chair of the Revenue Committee, discussed issues that will be included in the tax modernization study. Senator Kathy Campbell, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and a former Lancaster County commissioner, encouraged county officials to consider running for the Legislature, noting the valuable experience gained from service in local government. Senator Bill Avery, chair of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, discussed election bills and amendments to public records statutes in LB363. Following lunch at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel, county officials visited state agencies, viewed floor debate, and toured the Capitol and Governor's Mansion.


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expansionExpansion of Medicaid Debated

After ten and a half hours of first-round debate on Medicaid expansion and not enough votes to invoke cloture to end the debate, Speaker Greg Adams pulled LB577 from the Legislature's agenda on Wednesday. The bill will not be scheduled for debate again until supporters can show there are enough votes to end the filibuster. LB577 would expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults age 19 through 64 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Many of these individuals are currently served through county general assistance. Senator Kathy Campbell has designated LB577 as her priority bill for the session.    


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snapshotSnapshots of County Issues 

Bills Advanced from Committees

LB3, a bill to revise procedures for filing nonconsensual liens, advanced from General File with minimal debate. As originally introduced, the bill would require filers of nonconsensual liens to submit a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the register of deeds to use to send a certified copy of the filing to the record owner of the property. A Judiciary Committee amendment would replace the introduced bill with language requiring service of process upon the property owner to notify them of the filing of a nonconsensual lien. Failure to serve a copy of the lien on the property owner or to file a judicial action to enforce the lien would cause it to lapse and have no legal effect. The bill would also create a criminal penalty for submitting a nonconsensual lien for filing. LB3 is a speaker priority bill.


A bill adding six state troopers to the Nebraska State Patrol and designating at least six officers for liquor enforcement advanced from General File on Wednesday. LB579 is a General Affairs priority bill.


On Friday the Legislature used a consent calendar process to advance noncontroversial General File bills that were not designated as priorities. Pursuant to the consent calendar rules, each bill is given 15 minutes for debate. When that time expires or debate is completed, whichever comes first, a vote is taken to advance the bill and on any pending motions or amendments. If three senators object in writing to the bill being considered on the consent calendar before the expiration of 15 minutes or the end of the debate, the bill is removed from the consent calendar. If any amendments are adopted, other than a standing committee amendment, which adds new subject matter to a bill, the bill is removed from the consent calendar during the next round of debate. 


Following are some summaries of the some of the bills advanced from the first round of debate today.


LB345 would revise the procedures for transfer on death deeds that were enacted last year. The bill would strike requirements for the witnesses to be disinterested and would require a cover sheet listing filing information to be attached to death certificates at the time of filing. Senators questioned whether the cover sheet should be signed and notarized. Others discussed whether striking the disinterested witness language could lead to undue pressure to enact a transfer on death deed. Three senators attempted to file an objection to the bill's placement on consent calendar. The process was discussed as a point of order before the committee amendment setting an operative date was adopted and the bill was advanced.


LB169 would revise jury commissioner statutes for counties over 50,000 so that the clerk of the district court could continue to fulfill that role. Existing law requires the election commissioner or a separate office to serve as jury commissioner in counties of 50,000 to 200,000. A committee amendment was adopted to change the 50,000 population reference to 75,000.


LB386 would add notice provisions when a county is constructing, maintaining or improving drainage facilities on roads. The county board or road overseer would have to make a record of the conditions of the premises at the time of entry or record any claimed encroachment on the road right-of-way that could be used in the event of damage to private property. The county would have to give 10 days' written notice to enter onto private property to address encroachments. A committee amendment was adopted that would allow access in emergency situations without notice.


LB377 would clarify that when a city or village annexes a road, the powers granted to the county board, including easements for road purposes, are transferred to the city or village.


LB493 would provide for the lease or transfer of ownership of portions of the Cowboy Trail in northern Nebraska. A Natural Resources Committee amendment would allow leases or transfers to political subdivisions and allow leases to nonprofit entities. After the transfer or lease, the lessee or transferee would maintain the property at their own expense.


Bills Passed on Final Reading

Senators sent 16 bills to the governor on Thursday. Some of the bills that were passed include:


LB55 would change "shall" to "may" in a statute that requires counties to assume contracts for assessment services that were entered into by the state on behalf of state-assessed counties. Until legislation was adopted in 2009 to require counties so reassume the assessment function, nine counties were assessed by the state. The state had entered into a 10 year contract for assessment software that some of the nine counties preferred not to use when they reassumed the assessment function. Because counties were not parties to the contract, there were concerns about their authority to terminate the contracts.


LB263 is a cleanup bill requested by the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System and contains changes recommended during a recent compliance audit. The bill would revise the five state-administered retirement programs, including the county plan. It changes definitions and clarifies treatment of assessment employees that became county employees.


LB271 would revise the time frame for voters to cast their ballots early in the county clerk or election commissioner's office from 35 days to 30 days prior to the election.


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