Budget Bills Due Next Week
The Appropriations Committee has been working to develop a recommended budget for presentation to the full Legislature. The budget bills must be placed on General File by the 70th day of a 90-day session. Monday will be the 68th day.
The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board is scheduled to meet today to review revenue projections to help craft the state's budget. At the beginning of this week, there was an estimated $41 million in the budget that could be used for this year's legislative proposals.
Bills Advanced from General File
Bidding thresholds for road projects would be increased by LB623, which advanced from General File on Tuesday. Existing law requires contracts for road and bridge repairs in excess of $60,000 to be bid and let to the lowest responsible bidder. LB623, as revised by a committee amendment, would increase the bidding threshold to $100,000. Additionally, LB623 would increase the current threshold of $10,000 on contracts for materials to $20,000. The bill would not alter bidding amounts in the County Purchasing Act, which applies to purchases of equipment, services, supplies, and other personal property. NACO supports LB623.
LB140 would revise the Airport Zoning Act. It addresses nonconforming structures, modifications to airport zoning regulations, and actions by the board of adjustment.
Bills Advanced from Select File
On Wednesday, senators advanced a number of bills from Select File through a consent calendar process and regular floor debate. Following are some of the bills that would affect counties:
LB595 would provide for a study of next-generation 911. Using funds from the wireless surcharge, the Public Service Commission would contract with an independent third party to conduct the study. Among other things, the study would examine providing access to emergency services from all connected communications sources and providing multimedia data capabilities for public safety answering points and other emergency service organizations. The final report would include recommendations on a variety of options for planning, development, implementation and management of next-generation 911, including identification of costs, equipment changes, and revisions to the master street address guide.
LB377 provides that when a city or village annexes a county road, they receive the same powers and easements that are held by the county.
LB345 would revise the Nebraska Real Property Uniform Transfer on Death Act that was adopted last year. The bill would require a cover sheet to be attached when death certificates are filed due to the death of the transferor of a transfer on death deed, joint tenancy, or life estate. As introduced, the bill would have eliminated a requirement for two disinterested witnesses to sign a transfer on death deed. An amendment was adopted to define the term "disinterested witness" so that a designated beneficiary or heir, child or spouse of a designated beneficiary could not serve in that capacity.
LB386 would create procedures for county boards or road overseers to document encroachments on road right of ways before undertaking drainage projects. Landowners would be given ten days' written notice, which could be waived in the event of an emergency.
LB477 would extend the sunset for the Riparian Vegetation Management Task Force from June 30, 2013 to June 30, 2015. The task force develops vegetation management plans in river basins.
LB303 would revise requirements for land surveyor examinations to allow for the examinations to be conducted electronically.
LB349 would revise procedures for write-in candidates for President.
LB169 would allow the clerk of the district court to serve as jury commissioner in counties of 75,000 or less. Existing law requires the clerk of the district court to serve as jury commissioner in counties of up to 50,000, and requires the election commissioner or other office to fill that role in counties of 50,000 to 200,000.
LB538 would provide for the temporary suspension or permanent revocation of a law enforcement certificate based upon physical, mental, or emotional incapacity.
LB423 would revise the Livestock Animal Welfare Act to establish protocols for determining the disposition of mistreated animals. New language would allow a law enforcement officer to specify in a custody agreement that the owner or custodian of the animal could maintain custody of the animal and provide care at the expense of the owner. An amendment was adopted to exempt cities of the primary class (Lincoln) from the requirements of the bill. Cities of the metropolitan class (Omaha) are already exempted. Cities of this size have an animal control infrastructure in place. In addition, the germaneness rule was waived to allow LB544 to be amended into the bill. LB544 would address notification of bovine trichomaniasis.
Bills Signed by the Governor
Several bills of interest to counties were signed by Governor Heineman on April 24.
LB55 changes "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 to reassume the assessment function, nine counties were assessed by the state. The state had entered into a lengthy 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 the authority to terminate the contracts. Because the bill carries an emergency clause, it took effect when signed into law.
LB263 is a cleanup bill requested by the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System and contains changes recommended during a recent compliance audit. The bill revises the five state-administered retirement programs, including the county plan. It changes definitions and clarifies treatment of assessment employees that became county employees.
LB271 revises 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.
LB158 revises the length of time that DUI offenders must use an ignition interlock device. In order to comply with the new federal highway law, MAP-21, devices must be ordered for at least one year. The bill becomes operative on July 1, 2013.