May 23, 2013                                                                             Legislative Report Archive

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interimInterim Studies Proposed

Ag land valuation, elections by mail, court costs paid by counties, and other topics of interest to counties will be examined during interim studies this summer. Although Monday was the deadline for the introduction of most interim study resolutions, each legislative standing committee may introduce one additional study resolution before the session ends. 


Study resolutions are prioritized by the chairperson of the committee to which they are referred. Public hearings are held throughout the summer on selected studies.  A complete list of interim studies is here 


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issuesSnapshots of County Issues

Bills Advanced from Select File

The funding component of the juvenile justice reform bill was advanced from Select File on Wednesday. The main bill, LB561, would transition juvenile services from the Office of Juvenile Services (OJS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) into community-based programs overseen by the Office of Probation Administration. LB561A, the funding bill, would transfer existing funds into the new program as well as providing additional new funding. The nearly $1.5 million counties currently receive as County/Community-based Juvenile Services Aid would be doubled as counties assume more responsibilities. Several senators stressed that the overall program should be adequately funded at the outset and that increased funding may be needed in the future. As part of the transition, 77 new probation officers would be hired and placed throughout the state. During debate, Senator Sue Crawford asked whether counties would be responsible for providing office space to the new hires. Senator Brad Ashford, Chair of the Judiciary Committee and primary introducer of LB561 and LB561A, replied that during the transition, some of the DHHS office space could be used but that later it would be the responsibility of counties to provide space. As written, the underlying bill would permit the usage of Community-based Juvenile Services Aid for either the lease or construction of probation office space associated with carrying out the expanded probation duties in LB561. Senator Ashford suggested revisiting this requirement in the future but noted that the increase in County Aid will help offset the costs of office space.


Certain cities in Douglas and Sarpy counties would be able to establish municipal land banks as tools to facilitate the return of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. LB97 provides that each land bank would be a political subdivision guided by an appointed seven-member board. Properties acquired by a land bank would have to meet the criteria specified by the land bank board, including the condition and location of the property, as well as a consideration of the whether the acquisition would serve in the best interests of the community. Property held by a land bank would be exempt from all state and political subdivision taxes. When property would be transferred from the land bank to a new owner, 50 percent of the real property taxes collected for the first five years would be remitted to the land bank, unless the property is located in an area subject to tax increment financing. The land bank could bid at tax sales and submit automatically be accepted bids. LB97, which advanced from the second round of debate this week, would take effect on October 1, 2013. 



Bills Passed by the Legislature

Tax sales procedures would be revised by LB341, one of seven bills passed by the Legislature today. The bill would eliminate the bid down process, 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 signed by Governor Dave Heineman, the bill would take effect on January 1, 2015.


LB66 would allow cities to undertake redevelopment projects on property located on formerly used defense sites located within a sanitary and improvement district. A city approving a project and the county in which the city is located could enter into an interlocal agreement for the county to reimburse the city for the services provided by the city to the site.


LB623 would give counties more flexibility in bidding road and bridge projects. 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.



Bills Signed into Law

On May 16, Governor Dave Heineman signed LB299, which requires the Secretary of State to develop and publish guidelines for election workers. The guidelines will be instructional in nature and will not bind election commissioners or county clerks. Other sections of the bill revise the process for cities and counties to place the question of electing board members by district or at large on the ballot. The bill will take effect three calendar months after the Legislature adjourns.


Filers of nonconsensual common-law liens will have to complete additional steps for the filing to be valid under LB3. Filers must have the sheriff serve a copy of the recorded lien upon the owner of the property. The filer will have ten days to institute a judicial proceeding to enforce the nonconsensual lien. Failure to do so will cause the lien to lapse and have no legal effect. The bill creates the Class IV felony offense of fraudulently filing a financing statement, lien or document. The bill also enacts the Commercial Real Estate Broker Lien Act to allow filings of liens for commissions due to commercial real estate brokers. Because the bill carries an emergency clause, it has already taken effect.


LB99 removes the sunset date on Nebraska's racial profiling ban and extends the ban through 2014. Law enforcement agencies will have to provide a written copy of their racial profiling prevention policy to the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, which is commonly referred to as the Crime Commission. The bill also requires law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and probation officers who become aware of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency to report it to the Crime Commission.


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