March 6, 2015                                                                      Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


on Facebook

onePriority Bill Designation Continues

In an effort to give committees more time to decide whether to advance bills, Speaker Galen Hadley scheduled limited debate on Thursday morning and plans the same process for next Tuesday, March 10. On Thursday, senators convened for a few housekeeping matters, then adjourned to hold executive sessions for committees that meet on Mondays and Tuesdays. The same process will be followed next week for committees that meet on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  


Although senators can select priority bills that are still in committee, many prefer to select bills that committees have reported to the floor. Some priority bills designated this week include LB31 to repeal the motorcycle helmet law.  


One priority bill, LB431, was advanced from General File this week. The bill would increase amounts triggering bidding for school district construction projects.


Another priority bill, LB268, was heard by the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The bill would abolish the death penalty.  


Senator Bob Krist's priority bill, LB15, was sent to the floor by the Judiciary Committee. The bill would change the powers and duties of guardians ad litem. LB15 appears on the Legislature's agenda for Monday.   


The deadline for senators to designate priority bills is March 12. A complete listing of priority bills is on the Legislature's website. 


Return to top


 bridgeBridge Funding Bill Heard by Revenue Committee

Today the Revenue Committee heard the first of three bills resulting from last summer's interim study of county bridges. LB610 would increase gas taxes with the revenue going to the state, counties and cities for roads and bridges. Senator Jim Smith introduced the bill, saying that that the increase is needed to fill funding gaps and improve the conditions of roads and backlogs in road projects. Using more of the state's general fund for roads and bridges puts those projects in competition with state funds earmarked for property tax relief. Bonding for roads would require pledging future legislatures to continue bonding.


The bill would increase the fixed portion of the motor fuel tax. The state's tax rate is currently 7.5 cents and cities and counties divide 2.8 cents. The bill would increase the state's rate by a half-cent each year through 2019, to total 9.5 cents. The county and city share would be increased by one cent each year to a final rate of 6.8 cents in 2019. The county and city share would go into the Highway Allocation Fund which is divided evenly between counties and cities. The county share is then distributed based upon a formula that includes population, lineal feet of bridges, motor vehicle registrations, miles of county roads, and the value of farm products.


County officials from across the stat testified in support of the bill. One official pointed out that some roads and bridges on the county's six-year plan have been on the plan for 16 years or more due to lack of funding. Others addressed the inability to increase county property taxes for roads due to levy limits.


Two other mechanisms for road and bridge repair will be heard on March 9. LB626 would create the Nebraska Bridge Infrastructure Bank Fund with a portion of motor vehicle taxes, fees, and registrations, as well as state appropriations. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will hear the bill starting at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1113 of the State Capitol.


At the same hearing, the committee will take testimony on LB609 which would adopt the Nebraska Bridge Repair Act. Counties could submit a list of bridges needing repair or replacement to a commission. The commission would bundle similar projects together and enter into design-build contracts for the projects. Counties could choose not to include bridges in the packages.

An amendment to LB609 will be offered at the hearing. The amendment would replace the bill as introduced and will be the focus of the hearing. Some of
the proposed amended language is in response to county officials' concerns. The amendment can be found here.


Return to top


aglandvalRevenue Committee Hears Exemption Bills
On Thursday the Revenue Committee heard a bill to require assessors to value all exempt property and a measure to exempt all personal property from taxes.

LB476 would require county assessors to submit a list of tax exempt properties and the estimated market value of each to the Property Tax Administrator annually. An amendment was offered at the hearing to have assessors value unimproved exempt property at the market value and require owners of improved exempt properties to submit an insurable value. NACO and county assessors testified that counties do not currently maintain values on most exempt properties and that many of the exempt properties, such as the State Capitol, would be very difficult to value. Additionally, counties would have to spend property tax dollars to place values on property that would not be added to the tax base.


LB398 would exempt all tangible personal property taxes beginning on January 1, 2017. Because counties would not be reimbursed by the state or otherwise held harmless, personal property taxes would be shifted to real property taxpayers. Senators compared the bill to LB259, which would exempt the first $25,000 of personal property from taxation. LB259 was heard in late January and remains in committee.


The committee also heard LB414, which would exempt fraternal organizations from taxes on real property. Representatives of Woodmen of the World testified in support of the exemption, noting that after Douglas County denied their exemption request, other states began recruiting them to move their headquarters from Omaha. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce testified that 550 Nebraska jobs would be lost if the company relocated. Senators discussed the differences between fraternal organizations, such as Woodmen, and other entities that sell insurance or groups that have social ties and rituals.


LB424 would extend the nameplate capacity tax structure that is currently applied to wind energy to other renewable energy sources. The bill addresses solar, biomass, and landfill gas energy. Senators questioned whether more types of energy should be added.

Next Thursday the committee will hear LB574, which would impose a 1.5 percent tax on personal intangible property. 

Return to top


 issuesSnapshots of County Issues
Committee Hearings Held This Week.
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Road ditches would be mowed on a scheduled, rotational basis in an effort to preserve wildlife habitat under LB564. At the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee hearing on March 3, Senator Brett Lindstrom offered an amendment to clarify that the duty to mow ditches would remain with the landowner unless the county board decided to assume that responsibility. County officials testified that the bill was unclear about who would be responsible for policing the mowing and that currently some landowners plant crops into the right-of-way. The committee has taken no action on the bill.

Judiciary Committee

The Judiciary Committee heard bills pertaining to marijuana this week. LB326 would make needed updates to the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. LB643 would adopt the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act. The introducer proposed an amendment to the bill that would become the bill. LB 390 creates the Medical Cannabidiol Pilot Study within the University of Nebraska Medical Center for patients who suffer from severe and untreatable or treatment-resistant epileptic seizures.


Bills Reported Out of Committee 
The Legislature's standing committees voted this week to advance a number of bills to the full body for debate. Some bills of interest to counties are listed below.

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee sent three bills of interest to counties to the floor. LB106 would require county boards to use a matrix developed by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to help determine whether to approve an application for a livestock operation. The matrix would consider factors in an application ranging from the size and type of the livestock facility to manure management and the impact on local communities. The bill would also form a State Livestock Siting Review Panel similar to the Tax Equalization and Review Commission.


A committee amendment would clarify that the only county zoning authority modified by the bill is the specific authority to grant conditional use permits or special exceptions for siting of livestock permits. Other proposed revisions would provide for direct appeal of county siting decisions to the district court and allow counties to adopt higher thresholds than in the bill.


LB367 would allow petition circulators to be paid based upon the number of signatures they collect.


LB400 would clarify requirements for public officials to file financial statements so that the filing more closely reflects the election year.

Judiciary Committee
The Judiciary Committee advanced bills addressing juvenile aid funding, guardians ad litem, and inmate copayments for health care.

LB13 would set aside 10 percent of the state's General Fund appropriation to the Community-based Juvenile Services Aid Program for the University of Nebraska at Omaha to develop a common data system to assess the effectiveness of the program. A Judiciary Committee amendment would exclude administrative budget funds from the calculation and gradually shift the proportion of the funds from development and maintenance of the data set to evaluation.


LB15, as introduced, would codify the Nebraska Supreme Court's guidelines for guardians ad litem in juvenile court. A committee amendment would instead require the guidelines to be adopted as rules by the Supreme Court. It would require guardians ad litem to submit itemized lists to the court and require contact with the juvenile every six months. Senator Bob Krist has designated LB15 as his priority bill.


LB113 would allow counties and the state to charge inmates a minimum copay of $10 for non-emergency medical visits initiated by the inmate. Inmates could not be denied care if they were unable to pay. A Judiciary Committee amendment would cap the copay at $10.


Revenue Committee

LB408, as introduced, would change the penalty applied to corporations for delinquent taxes from a felony to a misdemeanor if the amount due is less than $1,000. Because counties can collect these taxes through tax sales and distress warrants, NACO worked with Senator Mark Kolterman, the introducer, on a Revenue Committee amendment to eliminate the penalty provisions altogether.


LB361 would clarify that the process for collecting taxes on improvements made by natural resources districts, sanitary drainage districts and other entities are through special assessments. 


Bills Advanced from General File
A winner-take-all process for allocating presidential elector votes was advanced from the first round of debate following a cloture motion. Three amendments have already been filed for second-round debate on LB10.

LB128 would repeal the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act. The Act allows counties to develop a prairie dog management plan. Senator Ernie Chambers, who had fought passage of the Act during his prior years of service, introduced the bill.

LB504 would give defense counsels more time to review pre-sentence investigation reports. The bill allows for the electronic transfer of information and provides for redacting the names and addresses of witnesses.
Bills Advanced from Select File
Among the bills advanced from the second round of debate this week are LB23, which would modernize the Engineers and Architects Regulation Act by streamlining definitions and reflecting current licensing procedures, and LB439 that would eliminate minor in possession penalties for some underage drinkers who seek medical help for intoxicated friends.

Bills Passed by the Legislature
Marriage license fees would increase from $15 to $25 under LB88, which was passed by the Legislature this morning. The fee for certified copies of marriage records from county clerks would increase from $5 to $9. Senator Kathy Campbell introduced LB88 on behalf of counties.

Bills Signed by Governor Ricketts 

Governor Ricketts signed several bills of interest to counties today. 

  • LB241 clarifies that when a cemetery lot is conveyed by certificate, the certificate does not need to be recorded with the register of deeds. Senator John Stinner introduced the bill on behalf of NACO to clean up antiquated statutes.
  • LB266 clarifies the authority of municipalities to regulate nuisances within their extra-territorial jurisdiction.
  • LB142 imposes a fee on motor boat registrations and renewals to help fund an Aquatic Invasive Species Program to fight non-native organisms that pose a significant threat to water resources or water supplies.
  • LB94 provides for the issuance of printed, rather than electric, motor vehicle titles for nonresidents.
  • LB305 allows state veterans aid funds to be used for transportation of veterans, in addition to food, shelter, fuel, medical and other expenses.
  • LB314 defines the exclusive jurisdiction of county courts and concurrent jurisdiction with district courts.
  • LB312 revises bidding requirements for the Nebraska Department of Roads for projects of $100,000 or less.
  • LB260 expands the time frame for the Property Tax Administrator to correct errors in the valuation of centrally-assessed property to three years. Counties already have this authority for other types of property. 
  • LB261 removes obsolete references to county assessment functions performed by the Property Tax Administrator and clarifies other references. 


Return to top


snaphearingsSelected Hearings
Every bill introduced by the Legislature is the subject of a public hearing. Following is a schedule of bills that are of interest to counties.Note that bills not appearing on this list may be heard during the same hearing.  A complete list of hearings is available on the Legislature's website.

Monday, March 9

Business and Labor Committee

Room 2102, 1:30 p.m. 

  • LB288 (Ebke) Prohibit public employers from making certain deductions from wages


Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB341 (Howard) Provide requirements relating to health benefit plan coverage for insured in jail custody


Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB609 (Smith) Adopt the Nebraska Bridge Repair Act
  • LB626 (Campbell) Create a fund and change motor vehicle fees and taxes and their distribution


Tuesday, March 10

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB535 (Smith) Provide the Public Service Commission with exclusive jurisdiction over depth requirements for underground oil and natural gas pipelines
  • LB652 (Transportation and Telecommunications Committee) Adopt the 911 Emergency Services Communications Act


Appropriations Committee

Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB229 (Watermeier) Appropriate funds to the Supreme Court for court appointed special advocate state aid
  • LB237 (Coash) Appropriate funds for correctional facilities
  • LB654(Seiler) Appropriate funds to the Department of Correctional Services 


Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee

Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB193 (Nordquist) Prohibit the collection of interchange fees on specified taxes and provide penalties


Wednesday, March 11

Judiciary Committee

Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB473 (Chambers) Eliminate the power of eminent domain for major pipelines


Natural Resources Committee

State Capitol: Room 1525, 1:30 p.m.

Video conference: ESU#13, 4215 Avenue I, Conference Room C, Scottsbluff, 1:30 p.m. Central  

  • LB512 (Stinner) Provide powers and duties to the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regarding certain wastewater and charge an assessment for certain costs


Thursday, March 12
Natural Resources Committee

Room 1525, 1:30 p.m. 

  • LB634 (Garrett) Provide for issuance of permits under the Game Law to prisoners of war
  • LB636 (Garrett) Provide for a discounted permit under the Game Law for deployed military members and spouses on leave
  • LB637 (Garrett)Provide for resident permits under the Game Law for spouses of military personnel as prescribed


Judiciary Committee

Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB625 (Krist) Adopt the Interstate Placement for Involuntarily Admitted Patients Agreement Act


Revenue Committee

Room 1524, 1:30 p.m. 

  • LB574 (Davis) Adopt the Intangible Personal Property Tax Act


Appropriations Committee

Room 1003, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB374 (Haar) Direct transfers from the State Recreation Road Fund


Wednesday, March 18

Revenue Committee 

Room 1524 - 1:30 PM

  • LB587 (McCollister) Change the motor vehicle tax schedules
  • LB613 (Kintner) Provide duties for the Department of Revenue and change income tax rates and the distribution of sales and use tax revenue


Appropriations Committee

Room 1003, 1;30 p.m.

  • LB633 (Stinner) Appropriate funds for state aid to municipalities and counties


Thursday, March 19

Judiciary Committee

Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB30 (McCoy) Prohibit disclosure of any applicant or permitholder information regarding firearms registration, possession, sale, or use as prescribed
  • LB14 (Krist) Create the offense of use of a facsimile firearm or nonfunctioning firearm to commit a felony
  • LB603 (Bloomfield) Provide for processing and certification of federal firearms forms as prescribed


Friday, March 20

Judiciary Committee

Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.

  • LB225 (Schnoor) Change provisions relating to unlawful possession of a firearm at a school
  • LB340 (Brasch) Provide signage requirements and duties for the Nebraska State Patrol under the Concealed Handgun Permit Act
  • LB635 (Garrett) Change where a permitholder may carry a concealed handgun under the Concealed Handgun Permit Act
  • LB638 (Garrett) Change permit expiration provisions for members of the armed forces or their spouses under the Concealed Handgun Permit Act



Return to top


Nebraska Association of County Officials
1335 H Street | Lincoln, NE 68508 | 402-434-5660
Join Our Mailing List