January 29, 2016                                                                        Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue

Governor's Property Tax Bill Hearing Set for February 4

Mass Appraiser Exception Sent to Full Legislature

Motor Vehicle Changes Proposed

Consent Calendar Scheduled for Monday


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govpropGovernor's Property Tax Bill Hearing Set for February 4
Budget limitations and caps on agricultural land values are two pieces of a property tax relief proposal that will be heard by the Revenue Committee on February 4. LB958 was introduced by Senator Mike Gloor, Revenue Committee chair, at the request of Governor Pete Ricketts.
The bill would eliminate existing budget exceptions for capital improvements and funding for interlocal agreements. When combined with the proposed three percent cap on unused budget authority, future county budgets would be significantly impacted.
LB958 also imposes a three percent cap on agricultural and horticultural land values. If the aggregate taxable value of all agland in the state exceeds the aggregate value of agland in the prior year by three percent or more, the assessed values would be reduced uniformly and proportionately until the current year's aggregate value would equal 103 percent of the prior year's value. The Tax Equalization and Review Commission would determine the adjustment needed.
Finally, LB958 would eliminate authority to use the townhall meeting process for certain political subdivisions to increase their levies for one year. Existing law also provides for an increase for up to five years with a vote of the people.
Two other bills were introduced at the request of the governor. LB960 would create an infrastructure bank to accelerate completion of the expressway system and provide matching funds to counties to repair deficient bridges. The Appropriations Committee will hear LB960 on February 16 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1524. It will follow the agency hearing for the Department of Roads. Senator Lydia Brasch has prioritized LB960.
A hearing date has not been set for LB959, which would control growth in the school funding formula by limiting school budget increases.
massMass Appraiser Exception Sent to Full Legislature
Independent contractors and other individuals who are retained by counties to help in the assessment process would be exempt from the requirements of the Real Property Appraiser Act under LB729. County assessors and employees are already exempted from the Act. Prior to last year's moratorium on enforcement actions, the Nebraska Real Property Appraiser Board had contacted several counties that were using the services of individuals who were not county employees and did not hold an appraisal credential to help perform mass assessment. Because many counties can't afford to have an appraiser on staff, some share appraisers or make other arrangements that do not fall within the existing exemptions. LB729 would clearly allow such arrangements, subject to the appraisal standards established by the Tax Commissioner and under the direction and responsibility of the county assessor.
At the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee hearing on Monday, some senators questioned whether a separate mass appraiser credential should be created and whether it is appropriate for someone without credentials to perform mass appraisal. NACO testified in support of the bill, stressing the Property Tax Administrator's oversight of county assessment practices and the responsibility of county assessors to maintain good practices in their offices. The Appraiser Board testified in a neutral capacity and offered a possible amendment to require such persons to sign a report. The committee advanced the bill to General File on Wednesday with no amendments.
Senator Jerry Johnson introduced LB729 on behalf of counties.
LB731, a bill to update the Appraiser Act to comply with federal requirements, was also advanced to General File.

mvMotor Vehicle Changes Proposed
The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard several bills to change procedures and funding for motor vehicle processes.

LB785 would eliminate the requirement for the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide drivers licensing services in all counties. In exchange, counties would not be required to provide office space when the Department delivers all aspects of motor vehicle service, including fee collection, in a county. NACO suggested that if this concept is pursued, Nebraska residents should not be required to drive more than 100 miles or another specified distance, to obtain a driver's license. LB785 was placed on General File with no amendments.

Motor vehicle taxes would be redistributed to fund a new statewide vehicle titling and registration (VTR) computer system under LB918. Existing law authorizes county treasurers to retain a one percent collection fee before remitting collections to the state for distribution to counties, cities, and schools. LB918 would deduct another one percent  to fund the VTR system before the distributions are made. Testifiers stressed the need to replace the aging VTR system and suggested other alternatives, such as an increase in other motor vehicle taxes and fees.

LB765 would increase motor vehicle title fees for out of state vehicles to more accurately reflect the time and cost spent in processing the titles. Because Nebraska titles are comparatively inexpensive and county treasurers issue titles so quickly, an out-of-state used car dealer sought more than 5,500 titles in Lancaster County last year. While the process is not illegal, it consumes a great deal of staff time. LB765 would increase title fees from $10 to $25 for these transactions.

Next Tuesday, February 2, the committee will hear a bill to allow motor vehicle dealers to provide titling and registration services. LB989 would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to implement an electronic dealer services system no later than January 1, 2020.

The committee also reported LB775, LB811 and LB880 to General File. LB775 would change the factor used to determine net book value on motor vehicles. Currently the calculation is based upon the year of acquisition. LB775 would change to the year the vehicle was placed in service. It would also exempt trailers and semitrailers with motor vehicles as a class of exempt property. LB811 would require farm trucks and trailers to use alpha-numeric license plates in counties over 100,000. LB880 would create a reservist license plate as a companion to the existing military honor plates and would revise the veterans drivers license designation.

consentConsent Calendar Scheduled for Monday
In an effort to move noncontroversial bills through the legislative process, Speaker Galen Hadley has scheduled a dozen bills for a consent calendar process on Monday. Some of the bills include LB699, to change membership on land bank boards, LB695 to clarify procedures for returning ballots in sanitary and improvement district elections, and LB775 to change the factor used to calculate the net value of a motor vehicle.
To be considered for the consent calendar, bills must be noncontroversial in nature and have had no opposition at the hearing that is not addressed in a committee amendment. Other amendments that add new subject matter will result in the bill not being scheduled for consent calendar during the next round of debate. Upon either the completion of debate or 15 minutes, whichever comes first, a vote is taken to advance the bill and any pending amendments or motions.
Action This Week
On Thursday of this week, the Legislature debated carryover bills on General File. During the early part of the week, debate focused on LB289, a bill to prohibit cities from regulating firearms. The bill fell one vote short of a cloture motion and was removed from the agenda.
LB47 advanced from the second round of debate after a compromise amendment was adopted. As advanced, the bill would add a question to motor vehicle operator's license applications asking if the applicant wishes to have their name included on the Donor Registry of Nebraska.

snapSnapshots of County Issues
Every bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature is given a public hearing by a committee. Each senator is assigned to one or more committees. Following is a summary of discussion at selected committee hearings this week.

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee held hearings this week on county budgets, commissions collected by county treasurers, and ballot selfies.
LB784 was introduced for NACO by Senator Curt Friesen to help counties access funding during the period between July 1 and the adoption of the budget on September 20. Counties are subject to the Nebraska Budget Act and the County Budget Act. Both Acts limit expenditures to a proportion of the budgeted amount during this period but the Nebraska Budget Act also allows the governing body to approve additional expenditures from the budgeted funds upon a showing of necessity. LB784 would add this language to the County Budget Act. The bill does not increase budgets or taxes but allows expenditures to be made at the most beneficial time for the county. For example, counties could use more budgeted road funds in July and August, which is the optimal time for road projects.
LB827 would increase the collection fee retained by county treasurers for collecting sanitary and improvement district (SID) funds. A year ago the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that SIDs are considered municipal corporations subject to a one percent collection fee, rather than the two percent fee that had historically been charged. LB827 would reinstate the two percent collection fee. The fees help reimburse counties for the costs associated with collecting SID taxes.
LB807 would allow county boards in counties over 200,000 to waive quarterly reports on the number of criminal cases by the county attorney. County boards in smaller counties can already waive the report.
LB787 would allow voters to take photos of themselves with their completed ballot, commonly referred to as ballot selfies. Existing law prohibits voters from showing their marked ballots to others in a manner that reveals the name of the candidates for whom he or she voted but it isn't clear whether this restriction applies to photos voluntarily posted on social media.

No action has been taken on these bills.
Judiciary Committee
LB693 would increase the time frame to file a tort claim against a county from one to two years. NACO and other political subdivisions opposed the bill in testimony before the Judiciary Committee.

LB937 would eliminate an antiquated prohibition against persons with venereal disease marrying in the state. The law is not being enforced.

hrgschedCommittee Hearing Schedule for Next Week
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, February 1
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB927 (Hilkemann) Change provisions relating to surcharges for 911 service
  • LB938 (Smith) Adopt the 911 Service System Act and transfer funds from the Enhanced Wireless 911 Fund to the 911 Service System Fund
  • LB977 (Smith) Change provisions relating to implements of husbandry on highways. An amendment, AM1895, has been offered to prohibit implements of husbandry being operated on any highways of the state from crossing bridges or culverts if they are overweight or exceed postings.
  • LB900 (Bloomfield) Change motorcycle and moped helmet provisions, motorcycle registration fees, rename the Health Advisory Board, and create the brain injury services program and a fund

Tuesday, February 2

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB989 (Murante) Change provisions relating to motor vehicles

Wednesday, February 3
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB780 (Schumacher) Change provisions relating to emergency protective custody
  • LB1103 (Schumacher) Change provisions relating to medicaid reimbursements, provide for a lien, and change estate procedures
Thursday, February 4
Appropriations Committee
Room 1003, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB809 (Davis) Appropriate funds to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB742 (Hansen) Change county population thresholds

Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB861 (Schumacher) Provide for court review of inmate restrictive housing placement as prescribed
  • LB679 (Krist) Change reporting requirements of the Community Corrections Division of the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
  • LB1094 (Judiciary Committee) Change provisions relating to evidence, sentencing, certain criminal penalties, criminal mischief, assault, theft, forgery, and probation

Natural Resources Committee
Room 1525, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB736 (Friesen) Change provisions relating to electric utilities and electric suppliers under the Rural Community-Based Energy Development Act
  • LB863 (Schilz) Adopt the Wind Energy Expansion Act
Revenue Committee
Room 1524, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB958 (Gloor) Change provisions relating to budgets, the valuation of agricultural land, and levy limitations
  • LB717 (Groene) Change provisions relating to the assessment and valuation of real property
  • LB940 (Johnson) Adopt the Tax Stabilization Act

Friday, February 5
Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee
Room 1525, 12:00 p.m.
  • LB805 (Mello) Require a periodic study of certain retirement plans and a report filing by certain political subdivisions

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB935 (Schilz) Change provisions relating to the Auditor of Public Accounts

Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB915 (McCollister) Create a veterans' treatment court pilot project
  • LB919 (Williams) Change provisions relating to problem solving court programs

Revenue Committee

Room 1525, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB671 (Krist) Repeal the Build Nebraska Act and change the distribution of sales tax revenue

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