May 17, 2013                                                                             Legislative Report Archive

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juvenJuvenile Justice Reform Advances from Second Round

Two juvenile justice bills were advanced by the Legislature this week. LB561, which was advanced from Select File, would overhaul the juvenile justice system and LB561A, the companion appropriations bill, would provide additional funding for County/Community Juvenile Services Aid. As originally introduced, LB561 would have closed the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Kearney and Geneva but those provisions were removed in the initial committee amendment that was adopted by the full body on General File.


Concepts from four other bills have been amended into the current version of LB 561. LB471 would provide that a juvenile committed by the court to the Office of Juvenile Services does not need a prior evaluation if it is found by the court that a substantially equivalent evaluation has been done in the previous 12 months or if an addendum to a previous evaluation would be appropriate.


LB86 would provide that staff secure juvenile detention facilities would be placed under the general oversight of the Jail Standards Board. On Select File, an amendment was adopted to provide the Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare Act with oversight of juvenile detention facilities and staff secure juvenile facilities.


Sections from LB562 would provide probation officers with additional access to information for decisions relating to cross-over youth.


Sections from LB503 would provide intent language to recognize the alternative response to reports of child abuse or neglect model with designated criteria no earlier than July 2014.


LB561A, which was advanced from General File, includes state aid to provide $10 million for the County/Community-based Juvenile Services Aid. Prior to advancing the appropriations bill, members of the Legislature indicated that further discussions about funding for this program would occur on Select File.


taxsaleTax Sale Changes Advance from Select File 

County tax sales procedures would be revised by LB341, which was advanced from the second round of debate on Wednesday. An amendment was offered that would have required the property owner to reimburse the $20 tax sales certificate issuance fee to the certificate holder as a cost of redemption. Two senators questioned why the property owner, who might be struggling to pay delinquent taxes and 14 percent interest, should pay the additional fee and thereby eliminate any cost for purchasers of certificates that are later redeemed. Because the opposition to the amendment was likely to result in a motion to indefinitely postpone the bill, effectively killing it for this session, the amendment was withdrawn.


As the bill advanced, it would increase tax sales certificate issuance fees from $10 to $20 and add a $25 bidder registration fee. The bill would outline procedures for round-robin bidding, update outdated references, and revise notices given by certificate holders planning to foreclose or seek a treasurer's deed. If passed, the bill would take effect on January 1, 2015.


LB97, a bill to authorize the creation of municipal land banks to help return delinquent properties to tax rolls is also on Final Reading. 



issuesSnapshots of County Issues
Session Overview

Monday is the 80th day of the 90-day 2013 legislative session. Of the 655 bills introduced this year, 136 have passed and been signed by Governor Heineman.  Debate has sometimes been contentious and lengthy as senators take up controversial bills. One bill, a revision of the retirement plan for schools, judges and the Nebraska State Patrol (LB553), was vetoed and became the subject of a successful override on Tuesday. Earlier in the week, a cloture vote was needed to end debate on a bill to abolish the death penalty, LB543. Medicaid expansion (LB577), which was debated on General File in mid-April, will not return to the agenda until a compromise can be reached off the floor.


A number of senator, committee, and speaker priority bills remain in committees or have not been debated this year. Some of these include a repeal of the motorcycle helmet law (LB393), increased cigarette taxes (LB439), and revisions of the Parenting Act (LB22). Bills that are not passed or killed will be carried over to the 2014 session.


On Monday, senators will take up the final round of debate on the state budget. The budget bills must be passed no later than the 80th day in a 90 day session.
Bills Advanced from Select File

Counties would have more flexibility in bidding road and bridge projects under LB623, which was advanced from Select File this week. Existing law requires competitive bidding for projects in excess of $60,000. LB623 would increase the dollar amount triggering competitive bidding to $100,000. The bidding amount for materials for these projects would increase from $10,000 to $20,000.


LB140 would amend the Airport Zoning Act. The bill would require every political subdivision that has an airport hazard area within the area of its zoning jurisdiction to adopt specified zoning regulations, even if a comprehensive plan and zoning regulations have not been adopted. A pending amendment was withdrawn before the bill advanced from Select File.


Military veterans would be able to have a "veteran" designation displayed on the front of their driver's license or state identification card pursuant to LB93. To be eligible for the designation, veterans would have to register with the Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs and have served on active duty in the armed forces before an honorable or general (under honorable conditions) discharge.
Cities could undertake redevelopment projects on formerly used defense sites located within sanitary and improvement districts under LB66. While the bill was introduced specifically to address a project in Sidney, senators discussed opportunities to use this authority in other areas of the state before advancing the bill.
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