March 21, 2014                                                                              Legislative Report Archive

In This Issue


Budget Bills Advanced from Select File
Medicaid Expansion Cloture Vote Fails
Snapshots of County Issues



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budgetBudget Bills Advanced from Select File

This year's amendments to the $8 billion FY13-15 budget were advanced from the second round of debate with a one-time appropriation to pay counties for holding 150 prisoners for the state. Senator Ernie Chambers filed an amendment to strike this provision from LB905. He said county jails do not offer the same programs and are not certified at the same level as the penitentiary. The amendment failed 16-22.


Senator Brad Ashford spoke in favor of the amendment, arguing that a long-term solution to prison overcrowding is needed to reduce re-entry and recidivism problems. Ashford has offered LB907 to address his concerns. LB907 is a Judiciary Committee priority and is on General File.


Another solution to overcrowding would place inmates in the former Hastings Regional Center. A public hearing was held on amendments to LB999 on Tuesday to discuss the issue.


The budget bills are scheduled for Final Reading on Monday, the 48th day of the session.


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medicMedicaid Expansion Cloture Vote Fails

After 8 hours of first round debate on Medicaid expansion, a vote for cloture failed, 27-12. A cloture motion ends debate and forces a vote on all pending action. Because the count was six votes short, debate ceased for the day. LB887 is not likely to appear on the agenda again. LB887 would have expanded Medicaid coverage to 54,000 uninsured and underinsured Nebraskans who are newly eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Many of these individuals currently receive aid from county general assistance.  


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amlateAmendments Offered as Late Nights Begin

With 12 days left in the session, senators began working later into the evening this week. To make the most of the remaining days, bills that were not prioritized are being offered as amendments to other bills that are advancing. This week saw numerous amendments offered -- some substantive and some strategic -- and many withdrawn later.


One amendment that would affect counties is LB885, which has been offered as an amendment to LB191. The language from LB885 would require assessors to use the income approach, including a discounted cash-flow analysis, when determining the value of two or more vacant or unimproved lots in the same tax district that are held by the same person for sale or resale. To qualify for this treatment, the property owner would have to elect to treat the lots as one parcel and the lots would have to be in the same subdivision and tax district. The amendment sets out a process for the county assessor to protest the income approach, including the discounted cash-flow analysis, to the county board of equalization if he or she believes that it does not result in valuation at actual value. The county board of equalization could appeal to the Tax Equalization and Review Commission.


Amendments may affect the timing of Final Reading debate that is scheduled for Monday. Three amendments were filed to LB671, which would eliminate hunting seasons for mountain lions, during Final Reading this week. Final Reading on LB671 is the first agenda item following the budget package on Monday. After Final Reading, senators will move to consent calendar bills.



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snapSnapshots of County Issues

Bills Advanced from General File

A bill to harmonize state and federal appraiser requirements was advanced from the first round of debate this week. LB717 would bring Nebraska into compliance with federal criteria that will become effective on January 1, 2015. In addition, Senator Mike Gloor has offered an interim study resolution, LR499, to examine issues related to real appraisal credentialing legislation introduced on behalf of the Real Property Appraiser Board.


Bills Advanced from Select File

Senators advanced a handful of bills with an impact on counties from the second round of debate this week.


On Tuesday, senators advanced LB464 from Select File with amendments addressing juvenile justice and truancy. One amendment would require that misdemeanors and Class IIIA and IV felonies be initiated in juvenile court. Other provisions include language to help in clarifying the roles of counties, Probation, and the Office of Juvenile Services following the enactment of LB 561 (2013), with respect to costs associated with pre-adjudication, evaluation and transportation of juveniles in the juvenile justice system. The amendment also expresses an intent to provide an additional $5 million to Community-Based Aid for counties. The truancy amendment would require school districts and families to create a plan to address school attendance problems. If a plan is unsuccessful and a student misses 20 days of school, the school could submit a report to the county attorney. Illnesses that result in attendance being impossible or impracticable would not be included when referring cases to the county attorney. 


In addition to liquor and e-cigarette provisions, LB863 would allow counties that have been maintaining an abandoned or neglected pioneer cemetery for at least five years to transfer the management of the cemetery to a cemetery association. The county planning commission, if any, would review the proposed transfer and the county board would hold a public hearing before approving the transfer by resolution.


LB1012 would clarify provisions related to the designation of formerly used defense sites as blighted for tax increment financing.


Counties could see minimal revenue from increased fees charged to car rental customers under LB251. Existing law allows rental companies to charge 4.5 percent on each rental contract lasting less than 31 days to help cover the costs of motor vehicle taxes and fees paid in Nebraska. The bill would increase the amount to 5.75 percent. Collections in excess of taxes and fees due are returned to counties for distribution according to the regular motor vehicle formula of 22 percent to counties, 60 percent to schools, and 18 percent to cities and villages. If the tax district is not in a city, 40 percent is allocated to the county. In counties with a city of the metropolitan class, counties receive 18 percent and cities receive 22 percent.  


LB946 would revise numerous election statutes, including provisions relating to the election of county surveyors.  


LB867 would revise income tax statutes and provide a limited income tax exemption for veterans. An amendment was adopted that contains provisions from LB1043, a measure to eliminate documentary stamp taxes on transfers to 501c3 corporations that are not private foundations.



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