March 28, 2014                                                                              Legislative Report Archive

In This Issue


Snapshots of County Issues



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valuValuation Bills Amended During Second Round Debate

Bills on the valuation of vacant lots and low income housing were offered as amendments to two bills on Tuesday. The vacant lot bill was originally introduced as LB885 and 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 bill 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.


LB885 was amended onto LB191, the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act. LB191 would provide an income tax credit to rehabilitate historically significant income-producing properties. The bill advanced to Final Reading as amended by the vacant lot provisions.


An amendment to create a process for valuing low income housing was offered to a second bill, LB1087. As introduced, LB1087 would expand the homestead exemption to 100 percent for veterans who are disabled due to a service-connected disability, and their unremarried widow or widower. An amendment to adjust the exempt amount to reflect the value of the home was offered and defeated. A second amendment, AM2589, which would require assessors to use an income approach to value low income housing that receives Section 42 tax benefits, was offered but deemed not to be germane. Because this amendment was not debated, supporters may try to offer it as an amendment to another bill. 


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taxsaleTax Sales Amendments Adopted on Select File

Two tax sales amendments, a motor vehicle lien bill, and
bill requiring a contract for identifying nonfilers of state tax returns were amended onto a Department of Revenue clean-up bill before it advanced from Select File. As introduced, LB851 would create a rebuttable presumption of Nebraska residency for purposes of registering motor homes, as well as changing tax incentive reporting requirements and other technical changes.


The first tax sale amendment, AM2561, was introduced by Senator Heath Mello as LB681. The bill would harmonize land bank and tax sales provisions from two bills that were passed last year. Due to the timing of their passage, they were not able to be integrated into a single bill last year so legislation was needed this year to combine them.


The second tax sale amendment, AM2611, would clarify that tax deed proceedings for tax sales certificates issued between 2010 and 2014, including noticing and application, and foreclosure proceedings, are governed by the laws in effect on December 31, 2009.


The motor vehicle amendment, AM2621, was introduced as LB668 by Senator Galen Hadley. It would provide that the sale of property with an artisan's lien would extinguish liens or security interests if the holder does not respond to appropriate notice. The proceeds of the sale would be distributed first to satisfy the lien and then to satisfy the obligation secured by the lien of any holder of record. As required by existing law, the county treasurer would hold the money for five years and then pay it into the school fund unless one of the parties furnishes evidence of ownership.


The final amendment, AM2510, was introduced by Senator Mello as LB761. As revised and amended to LB851, it would require the Department of Revenue to enter into at least one contract to identify nonfilers of tax returns with a tax liability in excess of $5,000.


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concalConsent Calendar Bills Advanced Through Two Rounds of Debate

Senators advanced nearly 50 bills from General File on Monday using a consent calendar process, then advanced half of them from Select File on Thursday. The remainder will be taken up on Monday. The following bills were among those advanced from Select File.


  • LB757 would eliminate antiquated statutes requiring road numbering and mailbox placement.


  • LB758 would allow a copy of the registration certificate for a trailer, rather than the original certificate, to be carried in the vehicle pulling the trailer.  


  • LB777 would modernize motor vehicle operator's license statutes by substituting the word "replacement" for the word "duplicate". The two documents are functionally equivalent.


  • LB698 would authorize the Department of Roads to allow haying of highway rights-of-way every year.


  • LB697 would require county treasurers to forward an electronic copy of the list of real property subject to tax sale to the Property Tax Administrator for publication on the Department of Revenue's website.


  • LB736 would expand the methods that could be used to contact the One-Call Notification System before beginning excavation. 


The following bills of interest to counties will appear on Monday's Select File consent agenda:


  • LB792 would eliminate an outdated school report that county treasurers send to the State Treasurer.


  • LB816 would allow electronic forms to be used as proof of automobile liability insurance.


  • LB780 would eliminate the filing of a Form 521 with death certificates not related to transfer on death deeds. 


  • LB937 would change the number of county supervisors that constitutes a quorum from two-thirds to a majority of the members. 


  •  LB737 would reduce the residency requirement for veterans service officers from five years to one year and allow an exception if there are no applicants.



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prisonPrison Overcrowding and Reentry Bills Advanced

Two bills aimed at prison overcrowding were advanced from General File on Wednesday. As amended and advanced, LB907 would create the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Working Group to work with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to study potential legislative solutions to prison inmate overpopulation including specialty courts, alternatives to incarceration, prison programming and other issues.


LB999 would study the possibility of using existing facilities at the former Hasting Regional Center as a possible behavioral health treatment center.


A juvenile justice bill, LB464, appears on Monday's Final Reading agenda but will be returned to Select File for an amendment. AM2652 would transfer $450,000 from the state's General Fund to the State Court Administrator to help pay for proposed new duties related to court-connected prehearing conferences and other services for juveniles.



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snapSnapshots of County Issues

Interim Study Resolutions Introduced

Senators concluded the introduction of interim studies this week. Counties will participate in studies to examine unfunded mandates (LR544LR582), county bridges (LR528), guardian ad litem (LR542), juvenile courts (LR552), agland valuation (LR566), relationships between state and local governments (LR556), and state aid (LR573). A complete listing of interim studies can be found here.



Bills Debated on General File

Voters who register in the office of the county clerk or election commissioner would be able to vote provisionally that same day under a Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee amendment to LB565. Ballots would not be counted if the acknowledgment of registration postcard is returned to the county as undeliverable within ten days. Senator Russ Karpisek offered an amendment to require legislative confirmation of election commissioners appointed by the governor in counties over 100,000. The amendment failed, as did an amendment to address the possible lack of identification needed  by the homeless to register to vote under the bill.  LB565 was debated on Thursday and appears on Monday's agenda for continued General File debate.   


The State of Nebraska could issue highway construction bonds pursuant to LB1092 that was advanced from General File on Wednesday. A cloture vote was needed to end debate and take a vote for advancement.  


Bills Passed by the Legislature

Senators sent a number of bills to the governor's desk this week, including the budget package and several bills prompted by this summer's Tax Modernization Commission study. Among the tax relief proposals that passed are measures that would increase homestead exemption income limitations (LB986), adjust income tax brackets for inflation (LB987), and exempt certain agricultural machinery from sales and use taxes (LB96). The budget contains an additional $25 million in property tax relief and $5 million that would be paid to counties for temporarily housing state prisoners.


Following are some of the bills passed that would affect counties.


  • LB560 would require all employers to provide employees with an itemized statement listing their wages, deductions, and hours worked, if appropriate, on each payday. The statement would be delivered or made available to each employee, by mail or electronically, or provided at the employee's normal place of employment during employment hours.


  • LB661 would require the Secretary of State and Department of Motor Vehicles to develop an electronic voter registration system.


  • LB814 would revise definitions and registration procedures related to all-terrain and utility-type vehicles. County treasurers would collect the sales and use taxes at the time of application for the certificate of title for such vehicles. For five years, sales and use taxes collected for these vehicles and personal watercraft would be used by the Game and Parks Commission for repairs at state parks.


  • LB251 would increase the fees charged by car rental companies to help cover the costs of motor vehicle taxes and fees paid in Nebraska. Under existing law, such fees collected in excess of motor vehicle taxes and fees are distributed to counties, cities, and schools under the regular motor vehicle distribution formula.


  • 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.


  • LB946 would revise numerous election provisions, including clarifying the election process for county surveyors.  


Bills Signed Into Law

Governor Heineman signed two bills with county impact this week. LB144 allows candidates who fail to advance from the primary election due to a tie vote to pursue a write-in candidacy in the general election. LB259 exempts keno writers who have no direct responsibility for the selection of numbers from licensing. Both bills take effect three calendar months after the legislative session ends on April 17.



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