February 28, 2014                                                                              Legislative Report Archive

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comhrgsCommittee Hearings Conclude, Full Days of Debate Begin

Today marks the 35th day of the 60-day session and the end of committee hearings. After a recess day on Monday, senators will begin full days of debate on March 4. The session will tentatively adjourn on April 17.


The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board will meet today to project anticipated state revenues. Because many of the pending bills have a fiscal note, the projections will play a key role in the remainder of the session. It has been reported that one element of the Appropriations Committee's budget package will be a $25 million appropriation to the Property Tax Credit Fund, which offsets a portion of property tax bills.


To date, 19 bills have been passed by the legislature and signed into law. Bills that are not passed during this session do not carry over to 2015.



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floorCommittees Send Bills to the Floor

This week committees reported that a number of bills, including many priority bills, were advanced to the floor of the legislature for debate by the entire body.  Selected bills of interest to counties are listed below. The bills without a priority designation may be amended onto other bills that have advanced or may be considered for consent calendar. Because amendments are sometimes offered during debate without advance notice, we may ask county officials for immediate input or contact with senators.


Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

  • LB746 would provide for cross-county portability of ballots within the state. If a voter moves within the state but does not update his or her registration, a provisional ballot could be used after the voter shows evidence of their current address in the form of a current photo ID and a utility bill, bank statement or other government document dated within 60 days and showing the voter's name and residence address. The bill would take effect on January 1, 2015.

  • LB833 would clarify election provisions for county surveyors and require all counties to hold an election in 2020 to determine whether the office should be filled on an elected or appointed basis. Committee amendments would allow county boards in counties with an elected surveyor to opt out of the election and allow the issue of election or appointment to be presented to voters again pursuant to a petition or county board resolution. This bill is also part of the committee amendment to LB946.

  • LB946 contains numerous election provisions, including using the official's salary on November 30 proceeding the election as the basis for setting the candidate filing fee. A committee amendment would make revisions and add elements from four other bills. Language from LB833 would mirror the committee amendment as outlined above for county surveyor elections. LB726 would revise membership on Class II and Class III school boards. LB743 would define when the second half of a term of office begins. Language from LB1084 would revise city council vacancy appointment procedures. LB946 is Senator John Murante's priority bill.

  • LB980 would shorten the time frame for county boards to terminate township boards when they are unable to fill two or more vacancies on the township board. Senator Jerry Johnson introduced the bill at NACO's request. In response to discussion at the committee hearing, he has offered an amendment to require publishing notice of the vacancies in a newspaper and publishing on the county website, if available.

  • LB937 clarifies that a quorum for a board of supervisors is a majority of all of the board members. Existing law sets a quorum at two-thirds of the seven-member board.

  • LB1084 was introduced to address extended vacancies on city councils. As introduced, the bill would have stricken an exception to the 45 day requirement to fill a vacancy if good cause is shown that the requirement imposes an undue hardship. The stricken language would be reinstated by a committee amendment so the exception would remain unchanged. The revised version of LB1084 is also part of the committee amendment to LB946. 


 Judiciary Committee

  • LB780 would eliminate the filing of a Form 521 (Real Estate Transfer Statement) when death certificates are filed, except filings made to effectuate a transfer on death deed. NACO supported this bill.

  • LB693 would increase the value of the decedent's estate that can use an affidavit of probate from $30,000 to $50,000.


Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

  •  LB892 would increase the maximum civil penalty for One-Call violations and allow utility companies to sue repeat violators. The One-Call system is used by excavators to identify underground facilities before digging.


Revenue Committee

  • The State of Nebraska could issue highway construction bonds under LB1092. A committee amendment would reduce the maximum amount from $400 million to $200 million and limit the issuance period to two years. As introduced, the bill would have pledged dollars from the Highway Trust Fund, which is shared by counties and municipalities, for repayment. The amendment references the Highway Cash Fund, which is allocated to the state.


Health and Human Services Committee

  •  LB887, Senator Kathy Campbell's priority bill, would enact the Wellness in Nebraska Act. The bill would expand Medicaid coverage.
  • LB994 would increase the fees the Department of Health and Human Services charges for certified copies of death certificates and certified copies or abstracts of marriage licenses. LB994 is a speaker priority bill.

  • LB931 would create the Nebraska Mental Health First Aid Training Act to help the public identify and understand the signs of mental illness, a mental health crisis, or an alcohol/substance abuse problem. As introduced, the program would be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. A committee amendment would shift administration to the behavioral health regions.


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heardBills Heard in Committee This Week

Revenue Committee

Purchasers of tax sales certificates who bid down their interest in the property would receive a deed for the entirety of the property under LB979, which was heard by the Revenue Committee on Wednesday. The bill would revise conflicting language from last year's LB341 regarding refunding of certificate issuance fees, which were increased from $10 to $20 last year. The bill would require the property owner to pay the fee upon redemption or foreclosure so that the investor would be reimbursed. Other revisions would give priority to the first certificate purchaser when the taxes are sold in subsequent years. Two county treasurers testified in opposition to the bill and others submitted letters to the Revenue Committee. The bill did not receive a priority designation.

The committee also heard LB1043 that would eliminate documentary stamp taxes when property is transferred without consideration to a 501(c)(3) corportation that is not a private foundation.

On Thursday, the committee heard LB885 that would allow counties over 150,000 to use a discounted cash-flow analysis to determine the actual value of two or more vacant or unimproved lots. The owner could elect to treat the lots as one parcel. 
If the bill advances from committee, it is likely to have an amendment that would expand it to all counties and clarify the process to combine lots.


Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

A proposal to allow counties to reassume the mailing of motor vehicle tax notices was heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Monday. LB925 would allow counties to opt out of last year's LB207 that shifted the mailing to the Department of Motor Vehicles and reduced county collections by fifty cents per registration. Proponents cited efficiencies in having return envelopes of identical sizes and the ability to have a letter personalized with information about the county. The Department of Motor Vehicles testified in opposition, noting that the statewide system uses a national titling and registration database to ensure accuracy. The committee took no immediate action on the bill.



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