April 23, 2015                                                                      Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


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 budgetState Budget Debate to Begin Next Week

The official version of the Appropriations Committee's proposed FY15-16 and FY16-17 budget will be released next Tuesday and debated next week. According to the rules of the Legislature, the budget must be adopted by the 80th day of a 90-day session. In addition to regular spending, the budget includes more funds for the Property Tax Credit and payments to county jails for holding state inmates. 


Speaker Galen Hadley has announced that first-round debate on the budget will begin on Thursday, April 30 and continue on to Friday, May 1, if necessary. The Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board is also scheduled to meet on April 30 to project tax revenue for the budget period. In February, the Forecasting Board projected nearly $10 million less than had been previously expected. If projections are again lower than anticipated, the Appropriations Committee may have to adjust their proposal before the second round of debate.


The Legislature will use a consent calendar process on Wednesday to advance non-controversial bills. A list of those bills is attached to the agenda for Tuesday. Among the bills scheduled for Select File debate on Tuesday are LB132, which would change bonding authority for joint public agencies, and LB414, which would grant a tax exemption to fraternal benefit societies. Bills on the agenda for the first round of debate include LB325, which would provide independent levy authority for rural and suburban fire districts, and LB175, which would provide grants to Livestock Friendly counties. Monday is recess day.

Late nights of debate also begin next week. Starting on
April 28, senators will work into the evenings, with adjournment generally scheduled for 8:30 p.m. or later. During the week of May 4, a revised schedule with a 20-minute "at ease" lunch break will be used as an alternative to late nights. The Legislature will tentatively adjourn by 7:00 p.m. during the trial period. During full days of floor debate, senators usually work through lunch on the last working day of the week and adjourn mid-afternoon. The Speaker's memos outlining the schedule for the final 20 days of the session are here


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vehicleVehicle Records Updates Advanced from General File
A bill to begin the process of modernizing motor vehicle records in anticipation of a new, customer-centric titling and registration system advanced from the first round of debate today. LB642 would require the full legal name and driver's license number or other identifier of all applicants for motor vehicle and motor boat registrations. The goal is to phase in the collection of data needed by the new system to link records for all vehicles owned by the same individual. During debate some senators asked about the level of security needed if a social security number is used as an identifier. LB 642 was introduced by Senator Tommy Garrett and designated as a Speaker priority.

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electElection Clean-Up Advanced from First Round

An election clean-up bill comprised of concepts introduced on behalf of the Secretary of State and election commissioners was advanced from General File debate today.  


Some of the provisions of LB575 would:

  • Clarify language requiring counties and other entities to fill vacancies within 45 days
  • Change the deadline for write-in affidavits from ten days prior to the election to the "second Friday" to address concerns in counting days
  • Allow early voting requests to be submitted by email
  • Replace "a majority" with "one-half or more" for certain vacancies that trigger a special election
  • Require voter history to be completed within 30 days after the election rather than 60 days after the election
  • Remove primary election information from early voter return envelopes


A committee amendment was adopted that incorporates language from LB578, LB514, and LB319. Language taken from LB578 includes a number of concepts, such as increasing the minimum rate each political subdivision is charged for placing an issue on the ballot from $50 to $100.Other language would allow poll workers to choose not to be paid or allocate their pay to an organization contracted with the election commissioner to recruit poll workers.  


Concepts taken from LB514 would add an address confirmation option for certain persons who wish to register and vote early on the same day.


Language from LB319 would expand mail elections to allow candidates to be included on the ballot.The amendment did not include language from LB319 that would have authorized counties of all sizes to request authority from the Secretary of State to conduct all-mail elections in specified precincts. Currently, this option is only available to counties of less than 10,000.  



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 snahpshotsSnapshots of County Issues

Bills Advanced from General File

Senators spent most of the week debating and advancing priority bills from General File, the first round of debate. Some of the bills of interest to counties follow.


LB423 would create a tax credit for wind energy in an effort to attract that industry to the state. A Revenue Committee amendment was adopted to create a sliding scale for the credits and limit the time frame to use the credits. Proponents pointed toward possible property tax relief from the credits and regulation of the placement of wind turbines through local zoning. Opponents argued against the transferability of credits and the difficulty in calculating long-term subsidies to wind energy developers. To address the future fiscal impact, another amendment, AM1328, was adopted to require the Department of Revenue to provide an annual report to the Legislature outlining the amount of credits earned, claimed, and outstanding.


LB330 would update the Liquor Control Act. It was amended to include a ban on powdered alcohol. Other amendments would regulate and allow the sales of alcohol on pedal-pubs and allow bars to sell refillable bottles of beer called growlers.


LB360 would strengthen the state's cat and dog breeder inspection laws. An amendment based on LB377 was adopted to mirror seized animal disposition procedures that are currently applied to livestock. Other adopted amendments would increase licensing and inspection fees.


LB253 would eliminate the requirement for a notary to acknowledge the signatures of both spouses on a purchase agreement or contract for sale of a homestead. A technical amendment by the Judiciary Committee would harmonize references to "both husband and wife" to "both spouses."


LB629 would allow transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Nebraska. Companies would have to register with the Public Service Commission. Further amendments are expected on Select File to require drivers to notify their lenders if their cars are being used for such services.


LB67, as introduced, is intended to clarify which debtors have priority for repayment if a governmental entity goes bankrupt. Senators debated the rights of bondholders, who arguably assume some risk in purchasing an investment, versus governmental employees who were promised pensions that may be underfunded. An amendment was adopted that would exempt retirement accounts and pension funds from the proposed priority criteria. Further amendments may be offered on Select File to refine technical aspects of the amendment.


Bills Passed by the Legislature

The following bills of interest to counties were passed by the Legislature today.  


LB15 would require the Nebraska Supreme Court to place into rule standards for guardians ad litem for juveniles in juvenile court proceedings. Guardians could be compensated on a per-case basis or through a system of multi-case contracts.  


LB245 would allow incarcerated individuals to request that a court reconsider DNA evidence used in their trials.


LB482 would require certain factors to exist before juveniles could be fingerprinted or placed in a juvenile detention facility for status offenses, such as truancy. County attorneys would be required to make reasonable efforts to refer juveniles to community-based resources. The bill outlines the reasons restraints could be used on juveniles during court appearances.


LB324 would authorize certain sanitary and improvement districts to regulate the same actions county boards can regulate by ordinance.




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