March 20, 2015                                                                      Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


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marriageMarriage License Fee Increase Signed by Governor
Marriage license fees will increase from $15 to $25 under LB88, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts. The fee for certified copies of marriage records from county clerks will increase from $5 to $9. Senator Kathy Campbell introduced LB88 on behalf of counties. It will take effect three calendar months after the session adjourns on June 5. Thanks to all county clerks who contacted their senators asking for support of this bill.

In addition to LB88, Governor Ricketts signed the following bills of interest to counties:
  • LB23 updates the Engineers and Architects Regulation Act. It clarifies definitions and allows for electronic testing methods.
  • LB146 provides a process for the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans to be buried in a veteran cemetery.

  • LB122 allows local governing bodies to regulate utility-type vehicles crossing controlled access highways with more than two marked traffic lanes.

  • LB34 creates the Carbon Monoxide Safety Act to require certain dwellings to have carbon monoxide detectors. Counties, cities, and villages can adopt or enforce more stringent requirements for the installation and maintenance of carbon monoxide detectors.

  • LB313 updates federal regulations referring to motor vehicles and motor carriers.

  • LB272 creates a voluntary veterans preference in private employment.


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speakerSpeaker Priority Bills Selected

In addition to the senator and committee priority bills reported last week, the Speaker of the Legislature is authorized to select 25 priority bills. A full list of all senator, committee, and speaker priority bills can be found here on the Legislature's website. Among the speaker priority bills of interest to counties are:


  • LB47 (Watermeier) Change provisions relating to anatomical gifts under the Motor Vehicle Operator's License Act
  • LB200 (Davis) Change the distribution of sales and use tax revenue and provide duties for the Department of Revenue
  • LB231 (Smith) Provide for regulation and operation of autocycles
  • LB240 (Hansen) Change provisions relating to a behavioral health pilot program
  • LB325 (Davis) Change levy provisions for rural and suburban fire protection districts
  • LB347 (Krist) Expand the jurisdiction of the Inspector General to the juvenile justice system
  • LB361 (Harr) Clarify that certain assessments levied as prescribed are levied and collected as special assessments
  • LB540 (Crawford) Adopt updated international building code standards
  • LB577 (Murante) Permit counties to regulate peddlers, hawkers, and solicitors
  • LB605 (Mello) Change classification of penalties, punishments, probation and parole provisions, and provisions relating to criminal records and restitution and provide for a special legislative committee 
  • LB642 (Garrett) Change provisions relating to motorboat, motor vehicle, and trailer registration and titling


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apprpriationsAppropriations Committee Hears County Aid Bill

County and city officials testified on Wednesday in support of a bill to provide $40 million in direct state aid to counties and cities. Under LB633, counties and cities would each receive $20 million in state aid for public infrastructure projects.


Senator John Stinner, the introducer, offered an amendment to define public infrastructure to include public roads, jails, buildings, and related equipment.The funds would be distributed through a formula based upon the lineal feet of bridges in the county compared to the lineal feet of bridges statewide. Counties without bridges, as determined by the Department of Roads, would receive a distribution equal to 85 percent of the smallest county aid distribution.      


Four years ago, counties lost more than $9.5 million in state aid during  the state's fiscal crisis. LB633 would restore those losses. It is one of many proposals competing for an estimated $42 million of state revenue.



The Appropriations Committee has not taken action on the bill.   


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fraternalExemption for Fraternal Benefit Societies Advances

Fraternal benefit societies would be exempt from property taxes by LB414, which was advanced from the Revenue Committee on a 5-2 vote this week. The bill has been prioritized by Senator Burke Harr. Last year the Woodmen of the World Insurance Society, which is a fraternal benefit society, sought a tax exemption for a portion of its headquarters in Omaha. The request was denied. At the Revenue Committee hearing on the bill, Woodmen and Omaha Chamber of Commerce representatives testified that the exemption would help keep Woodmen's 550 jobs in Nebraska. Senators discussed the differences between fraternal organizations such as Woodmen and other entities that sell insurance or groups that have social ties and rituals, such as Knights of Columbus.


The committee advanced a second bill, LB542, that would provide a sales tax exemption for county agricultural societies. Currently elected county fair boards are exempt but county agricultural societies are not. The bill has not been prioritized.


The committee voted to indefinitely postpone LB574 that would impose a 1.5 percent tax on all personal intangible property except certain bonds, retirement accounts, and other specific assets.  

A bill that was sent to the floor by the Revenue Committee last week was advanced from General File with minimal debate. LB356 would require assessors to use the income approach to value rent-restricted property. As introduced, the bill would create a committee to set a statewide capitalization rate based upon a formula. A Revenue Committee amendment was adopted that removes the formula and would allow the committee to calculate a different cap rate for a county or group of counties if determined appropriate. Language that is currently in regulations was added to statute to require the committee to use a band of investment technique or other generally accepted techniques to set the market derived cap rate. A separate technical amendment was adopted to clarify that actual expense and income data must be provided to assessors and the committee by investors by October 1 each year. The bill is a Revenue Committee priority bill.


A bill to revise requirements for appraisers and persons performing mass assessment, LB139, was also advanced from General File on Tuesday. The bill was introduced to eliminate inconsistencies between Nebraska's standards for appraisers and those in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The bill as introduced would also have created a definition of employee that would limit the ability of counties to hire a part-time mass assessment appraiser who does not hold an appraiser's license. A committee amendment struck the proposed new language about mass appraisers. A friendly amendment was adopted that would prohibit the Real Estate Appraisal Board from engaging in enforcement actions involving mass appraisals conducted under the authority of any county assessor or employee or by independent contractors. The one-year moratorium would allow an interim study to be conducted on the issue. LB139 is a Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee priority bill.   



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 snahpshotsSnapshots of County Issues
Committee Hearings Held This Week.
Each bill introduced by the Legislature is assigned to a committee and receives a public hearing by that committee. Typically during the first half of the session, the Legislature conducts floor debate in the morning and holds hearings during the afternoon. Hearing concluded this week and full days of debate will begin on Monday, the 50th day of the 90-day session.

The Revenue Committee heard two bills this week, LB587 and LB615.

Vehicles more than 12 years old would no longer be subject to motor vehicle tax under LB587. The bill would also change the age factor which is multiplied by the vehicle's MSRP to arrive at the tax amount. Counties would lose more than $4.5 million under the proposal.


The committee also heard LB615, which would take effect if Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Relief Act. The Act would generate funds from streamlined sales tax collections. Part of the receipts would be earmarked for the Property Tax Credit.


The committee went into executive session immediately after the hearings. No action was taken on the bills.
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. In addition to the bills noted elsewhere, the Judiciary Committee reported out the following bills.

  • LB268 would eliminate the death penalty in Nebraska. Senator Ernie Chambers has prioritized LB268.
  • LB459 would regulate when a deposition can be obtained from a child witness or child victim.
  • LB265 as introduced would expand the scope of the Foster Care Review Office to include children in out-of-home placements.A committee amendment contains concepts from LB25 and LB13 that address the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and create a data system using money from the Community-based Juvenile Services Aid Fund.

Bills Advanced from General File
Filibusters on a winner-take-all process for presidential electoral votes (LB10) and a repeal of the motorcycle helmet law (LB31), took up much of the floor debate this week.

Among the handful of bills advanced from General File was LB498 which would require dealers of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility-type vehicles (UTVs) to collect sales taxes at the point of sale. Legislation adopted last year shifted that responsibility to county treasurers. Under the bill, treasurers would continue to collect sales taxes on private sales. In addition, ATVs and UTVs would be registered and provided with a validation decal. The registration fee would be $8, with $1 to the Department of Motor Vehicles and $7 to the county. The registration would be valid until ownership of the vehicle is transferred. LB498 would take effect upon October 1, 2015. Speaker Galen Hadley, who introduced last year's legislation, introduced and prioritized LB498. He has offered a technical amendment for debate on Select File to clarify that occasional sales of ATVs and UTVs are treated the same as sales of motor vehicles.

LB15 also advanced from the first round of debate. As introduced, the bill would provide additional duties for guardians ad litem, including requiring guardians serving through a multi-case contract to provide itemized billing statements.It would codify the Nebraska Supreme Court's guidelines for guardians ad litem. A Judiciary Committee amendment was adopted that would require the guidelines to be adopted as rules by the Supreme Court by July 1, 2105, rather than enacting them into statute. LB15 is Senator Bob Krist's priority bill.


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