May 22, 2015                                                                 Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


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stallsPrison Reform Passes, Mandatory Minimum Stalls

Two prison reform bills, LB605 and LB598, were passed by the Legislature yesterday, but a bill that would have eliminated some mandatory minimum sentences will be carried over next year. LB173 ran out of time on Wednesday after it was returned to Select File for an amendment. The amendment to eliminate the habitual criminal changes proposed in the bill was adopted but no vote was taken to advance the bill.  


LB605 would clarify sentencing and emphasize alternatives to prison, which could shift some inmates to county jails. Grant funding of $500,000 would be available to counties that could tie increased inmate populations to the legislation. LB598 would make changes to segregation of inmates, including replacing solitary confinement with a requirement to use the least restrictive manner consistent with maintaining institutional order.


Two juvenile justice bills, LB347 and LB265, were also passed yesterday. LB347 would expand the jurisdiction of the Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare (OIG) to oversee the state's Juvenile Services Division of the Office of Probation Administration. The bill would allow the OIG and Foster Care Review Office to have access to certain confidential records and reports. LB265 contains language from LB13 and LB25 to develop a data system funded through the Community-based Juvenile Services Program and make technical changes to juvenile court jurisdiction.

A bill to repeal the death penalty, LB268, was passed by the Legislature. A veto is expected.



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projectedProjected Gas Tax Amounts Available

The Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) has posted projections of the amount of funds each county and municipality will receive from LB610 via the Highway Allocation Fund formula. LB610 increases gas taxes over the next four years to provide road funding. The link has been posted on the NACO website. Look for "LB610-Gas Tax Revenue for Cities and Counties" under the Featured Links section on the front page.


NDOR is working on new Highway Allocation Fund reporting requirements that are part of LB657, the mainline budget bill. Starting July 1, counties and cities will annually have to confirm that they plan to continue to accept their share of the Highway Allocation Fund distributions for the current fiscal year. The confirmations will be compiled and submitted electronically to the Clerk of the Legislature.


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 freadingBills Passed on Final Reading

Lawmakers used a consent calendar process and regular debate to pass numerous bills that were on Final Reading. The following are some of the bills sent to Governor Pete Ricketts for his signature:



  • LB259 would grant personal property owners a $10,000 exemption from the valuation of tangible personal property in each taxing district. The state would calculate the rate for centrally assessed property. Counties would be reimbursed for the losses through a manner similar to homestead exemptions.
  • LB325 would allow rural and suburban fire districts to levy up to 10.5 cents if the district is located in a county with a levy of at least 40 cents or if the county board did not authorize levy authority in the previous year. Since the property tax system was restructured in 1996, fire districts have been considered miscellaneous districts subject to levy allocation by their county boards. If funds are needed beyond the allocation, the fire district may use an election or town hall meeting process to gain levy authority.
  • LB123 would require registered warrants to be paid in order of registration to particular funds. The bill was introduced in response to concerns about the payment of multiple warrants issued by sanitary and improvement districts.  

  • LB361 would specifically define certain collections for the cost of improvements by political subdivisions as special assessments.
  • LB277 would clarify that special assessments in sanitary and improvement districts survive the issuance of a tax deed. Legislation adopted in 2011 authorized the special assessments to survive the judicial foreclosure method of obtaining title after taxes are delinquent, but the tax deed sections were omitted at that time.
  • LB375 would revise the Nebraska Real Estate License Act so that a broker's price opinion or comparative market analysis could be used for real property tax appeals.
  • LB408, as introduced, would change the penalty for a corporation's delinquent property taxes from a felony to a misdemeanor if the tax amount is less than $1,000. County treasurers, who send the delinquency notice to corporate taxpayers, suggested that the penalty was unnecessary because tax sales encourage the payment of delinquent taxes. A committee amendment was adopted to outright repeal this section of statute (77-1726).
  • LB424 would expand the nameplate capacity tax structure that is currently applied to wind energy to other renewable energy sources. The nameplate capacity tax is a substitute for the taxation of personal property.
  • LB200 would direct the first year of collections from the streamlined sales tax to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund. The funds would be collected if Congress authorizes the Marketplace Fairness Act to allow out-of-state retailers to collect Nebraska sales taxes.


Motor Vehicles

  • LB570 would authorize counties and cities to expand the use of golf cars beyond areas adjacent and contiguous to a golf course. An operator's license and proof of insurance would be required.
  • LB231 would create a definition of autocycles within motor vehicle statutes. Autocycles are three-wheeled vehicles that by definition are not motorcycles.
  • LB623 would allow driver's licenses to be issued to the children of undocumented immigrants. Governor Ricketts has expressed opposition to the bill but has not vetoed it to date.
  • LB642 would begin the process of modernizing motor vehicle records in anticipation of a new, customer-centric titling and registration system. It 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. The bill also removes a fee on Pearl Harbor and disabled veteran license plates that was earmarked for the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery System Operation Fund.



  • LB106 would require the Department of Agriculture to develop an assessment matrix that could be used by counties to determine whether to approve or disapprove a conditional use permit or special exception application for siting a livestock facility. A panel of experts, including county board members, zoning administrators, livestock producers, the University of Nebraska, and others would review the matrix annually and recommend changes.
  • LB175 would create a grant program to help livestock friendly counties with livestock development planning and associated public infrastructure improvements.
  • LB412 would revise C-BED (Community-Based Energy Development Act) laws to eliminate a requirement for a county board resolution in support of a wind energy project. Instead, only counties that have adopted zoning regulations requiring a planning commission, county board, or county commission approval for the C-BED project would have to pass a resolution in support. As an alternative, zoning approval adopted by the county board could be substituted for the resolution.

Emergency Management

  • LB55 would give the Adjutant General flexibility to make expenditures of up to $25,000 for disasters or emergencies without an emergency proclamation by the Governor. Currently the funds are earmarked for aerial suppression for wildfire and hazardous materials response.
  • LB283 would give school districts and educational service units the same authority to make emergency expenditures, enter into contracts, and incur obligations as other local governments in emergency situations. An amendment was adopted to change references to obtaining a certificate as proof of the emergency to using a proclamation of the emergency.


  • LB138 would name the Land Surveyors Regulation Act and add a code of practice to the rules and regulations of the Nebraska Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors. The code would govern the professional conduct of surveyors.
  • LB310 would harmonize existing practices of the Niobrara Council, which serves as a local management partner with the National Park Service for the Niobrara River in Brown, Cherry, Keya Paha, and Rock counties.
  • LB334 would repeal the Nebraska Workforce Investment Act due to enactment of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. The Nebraska Act is not in compliance with the federal law.
  • LB365 would allow minutes and other documents of school districts and educational service units to be retained as electronic records.
  • LB390 would create a pilot study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to allow access to cannabidiol for research and treatment of epilepsy. Select File debate on LB643, a bill to make medical marijuana available, will continue next week.
  • LB422 would amend the Probate Code to allow reasonable fees for the costs of a guardian ad litem, attorney, physician or visitor appointed by the court for a minor to be paid from the minor's estate or by the county. Similar provisions already exist under the Probate Code for guardianships and conservatorships.
  • LB464 would eliminate requirements to include social security numbers and IRS taxpayer identification numbers on effective financing statements on farm products. The Secretary of State has developed a unique identifier system to prevent possible future disclosures in public records.
  • LB479 would strike language limiting military memorials on public lands or in public places to service related to the Civil, Spanish-American, World Wars, Korean, or Vietnam conflicts. Instead, counties, townships, cities, and villages could commemorate the service of members of the armed forces in any conflict.
  • LB629 would allow transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Nebraska.
 snahpshotsSnapshots of County Issues

Five Days Remain in 2015 Legislative Session

Tuesday is the 86th day of the 90-day session. Lawmakers are scheduled to convene at 9:00 a.m. on May 26 for General File debate and will take up bills on Select File on May 27. It is expected that debate will run into the early evening both days. The schedules for May 28 and 29 will be announced next week. The Legislature will not be in session June 1-4 and is scheduled to return for the 90th day on June 5. However, if the work of the body has been completed and there is no need for veto overrides, the final day may be cancelled. Nebraska's constitution, Art. III, sec. 10 provides that legislative sessions may not exceed 90 legislative days in odd-numbered years, unless extended by a four-fifths of the Legislature. In light of the possible schedule change, 

NACO will not publish a Legislative Newsletter next week. A summary of passed legislation will be issued in June.

Fracking and Two-Person Train Crew Hearings Set for May 27

The Legislature's Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on May 27 on a bill to require persons applying for a permit to inject wastewater into commercial wells to provide a listing of all chemicals in the water. LB664 was introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers to address concerns about fracking and the authority of the Oil and Gas Commission. Because of the timing, the bill will not pass this year but will carry over to the 2016 session. The hearing is scheduled from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in Room 1525 of the State Capitol and through a video conference at ESU #13 in Scottsbluff.


The Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will hold a hearing at 8:00 a.m. on May 27 on LR338. The resolution would urge the Federal Railroad Administration to adopt a rule requiring train crews of at least two people. The hearing will be held in Room 1113 of the State Capitol.

Both hearings will be live-streamed through NET and can be accessed through the Legislature's website.

Governor Ricketts Signs Budget

Governor Pete Ricketts signed the state's two-year, $8.6 billion budget on Wednesday. The nine bills making up the budget include an additional $64 million for the Property Tax Credit Fund. Other pieces of the budget include a $42 million increase in funding for the Department of Corrections over two years and $2 million for Community-based Juvenile Justice Aid. The Corrections funding includes reimbursement for county jails that are holding state prisoners in an effort to reduce overcrowding. The budget bills are LB554 (claims against the state), LB656 (adjust appropriations for current fiscal year), LB657 (mainline budget), LB658 (salaries for senators), LB659 (salaries and benefits for constitutional officers), LB660 (capital construction and property acquisition), LB661 (fund transfers), LB662 (transfers from cash reserves), and LB663 (salaries for judges).


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