February 26, 2016                                                                        Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


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innocentCloture Vote Fails on Innocent Third Party Bill
LB188, a bill to define innocent third parties in police chases, fell two votes short of a cloture motion on Thursday.
As introduced, LB188 would have clarified that there are circumstances when a passenger in a fleeing vehicle should not be considered an innocent third party. A Judiciary Committee amendment and several others were offered to add specifics, including a requirement to notify a supervisor of the identity of the third party before beginning pursuit. NACO supported LB188 because several counties have faced liability for chases when passengers in the fleeing vehicle encouraged the driver to flee or had been charged with crimes prior to fleeing.
A cloture motion is a parliamentary action to cease debate on a bill and vote immediately on its advancement. The motion can be made by the introducer after the chair has determined that there has been full and fair debate. On General File, the motion can be made after six hours. For bills on Select File, such as LB188, the motion can be made after two hours of debate. A two-thirds majority of the elected members (33 votes) is required for a cloture motion to be successful. If the motion fails, debate on the bill ends for the day. If the Speaker chooses to resume debate on the bill, successive cloture motions require an additional two hours of debate.
rehearingRehearing Set For NextGen 911 Bill
The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee will hold a special rehearing on LB938, a bill to designate the Public Service Commission as the lead agency in developing statewide NextGen 911. The hearing will address the sunset date of the bill, as well as an issue raised by telecommunications companies regarding their relationship with the Public Service Commission. In addition, there is expected to be discussion of the challenges faced by responders who received limited identification information during a recent homicide in Omaha. The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on February 29 in Room 1113 of the State Capitol. The hearing on LB938 will follow hearings on four appointments to the Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards. Senator Smith has filed an amendment, AM2301, to LB938 and the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee has prioritized the bill.
speakerSpeaker Priority Bills Announced
Speaker Galen Hadley announced this year's list of speaker priority bills on Monday. The full list of senator, committee, and speaker priority bills can be found on the Legislature's website. Speaker priority bills of interest to counties include:
  • LB 465 (Harr) Adopt the Electronic Notary Public Act
  • LB580 (Murante) Adopt the Redistricting Act
  • LB742 (Hansen) Change county population thresholds
  • LB803 (Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee) Change disposition of court docket fees as prescribed
  • LB994 (Davis) Change provisions under the Motor Vehicle Registration Act relating to financial responsibility as applied to nonresident owners
  • LB1000 (Mello) Require certain law enforcement agencies to adopt policies on the use of body-worn cameras, provide that recordings from such cameras are not public records, and prohibit certain conduct involving such recordings
  • LB1098 (Morfeld) Increase legal fees as prescribed
  • LB1106 (Garrett) Change forfeiture provisions as prescribed
updateUpdates from Selected Committee Hearings
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs
A task force would examine how to replace aging election equipment under LB1107 that was heard by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee this week. The task force would include election officials from large and small counties, representatives of political parties, veterans, disabled populations, and minority communities. As introduced, the Secretary of State and chairpersons of the Appropriations and Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee would serve on the task force. At the hearing, introducer Senator Tommy Garrett suggested moving the legislative representatives to an ex officio capacity to eliminate concerns about the separation of powers in the original proposal. Election commissioners, NACO, representatives of the Secretary of State and other groups that would be represented on the task force testified in support. A legislative resolution, LR403, would also create an election task force but it would only be composed of members of the Legislature. The Executive Board reported LR403 to the Legislature for consideration last week and it appears on Monday's agenda, following Final Reading and Select File consent calendar bills.
The committee also heard a series of bills that would revise the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. LB1024 would increase the maximum dollar amount for contracts between a public entity and its officials or employees that are not subject to public disclosure. The current rate for such contracts is $2,000. LB1024 would increase the amount to $10,000. Contracts in excess of the statutory amount are not prohibited but must be disclosed in an open and public process. The Director of the Accountability and Disclosure Commission testified in opposition to the bill. LB1024 remains in committee and did not receive a priority designation.

Landscapers testified in support of a bill to update the Professional Landscape Architects Act. LB788 was introduced to revise licensing and compliance procedures. Some of the bill's terminology has raised questions about the impact on the duties of planning and zoning officials. The committee has not reported any action on the bill.

Revenue Committee
A bill to grant Railroad Transportation Safety Districts (RTSDs) independent levy authority will not be debated this year. At the Revenue Committee hearing on LB1031 this week, introducer Senator Matt Hansen asked the committee not to take action on the bill this year but to use it as a springboard to discussion of the issue. Existing law provides for county and city officials to serve on the RTSD board but the district's funding falls within the county's allocation for miscellaneous districts. The districts are intended to improve public safety at rail crossings.
Business and Labor Committee
The Business and Labor Committee heard bills this week to terminate the Commission on Industrial Relations (CIR) and adopt a new workforce investment act. LB1044 was introduced to start discussion of the processes used by the CIR to evaluate comparable salaries and the impact of such comparisons on property taxes. LB1110 would enact the Nebraska Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Legislation adopted last year repealed language that was outdated due to the repeal of federal workforce laws. LB1110 would establish new Nebraska laws to carry out the new federal act. LB1110 has been selected as a Business and Labor Committee priority bill.
Judiciary Committee
Grand jury proceedings would be more transparent under a proposal introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers. LB1055 as introduced would be replaced by an amendment offered at the hearing. The amendment would provide that if a grand jury returns what is called "no true bill," or no finding that would lead to an indictment, the grand jury must create a report with the assistance of the prosecuting attorney.
A special joint hearing of the Judiciary and Appropriations Committees looked at the Department of Corrections' budget, 2104 Master Plan Report, and 2015 Strategic Plan. The discussion focused on overcrowding and wait times for mental health and rehabilitation services, as well as staffing issues.
On March 3 the committee will hear a series of bills related to firearms - LB769, LB681, LB1090, LB815, and LB971. On Monday, the Attorney General released an opinion issued to Senator Bill Kintner about whether a carryover bill, LB60, would change current law pertaining to the possession of firearms at a school. LB60 is not a priority bill and remains in the Judiciary Committee.

The committee reported LB1098, an increase in legal services fees, to the floor. The bill would increase the fees from $5.25 to $6.25. The fees are earmarked for the Legal Aid and Services Fund. The bill is a Speaker priority.
The committee indefinitely postponed LB839, a bill to require background checks for persons purchasing or possessing tactical gear, military-grad helmets, body armor, night-vision eyewear or scopes, and high-capacity ammunition clips.
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Public power district vehicles could be registered in a single county under LB783 that was heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Monday. The bill would allow the vehicles to be permanently licensed in the county in which the district is headquartered. Public power districts requested introduction of the bill. Other entities with vehicles located a multiple sites across the state testified to request the same flexibility for their registrations.
The committee also heard bills to provide for a Breast Cancer Awareness license plate (LB844), change veteran's notation on driver's licenses (LB964), and require all driver's license examinations to be in English (LB688). The committee has not taken action on the bills heard this week. None of the bills were designated as priorities.

Health and Human Services Committee
LB998, which was considered by the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, would require the availability of emergency mental health services, including establishing five crisis centers across the state within three years.Additionally, a hotline would be established to provide statewide information relating to access to inpatient beds for behavioral health services in Nebraska. A related bill, LB780, was heard by the Judiciary Committee.
LB952 would require county boards to provide emergency medical services to residents of the county. County boards would be authorized to contract with others to provide such services; however, in the absence of such an entity, the county board would potentially be required to create its own emergency medical services provider.

Neither bill received a priority designation.  
snapSnapshots of County Issues
Daily Legislative Activities
Public committee hearings on all introduced bills will conclude on March 3. Following a recess day on March 4, full days of debate will begin on Monday, March 7. The budget bills for the second half of the biennium must be placed on General File by March 9, the 40th day of the session. The Appropriations Committee's preliminary budget report is available here. The plan is subject to change due to the projections of the Economic Forecasting Advisory Board that is scheduled to meet today after press time.
Beginning on March 10, the Legislature will work through the lunch hour on the last day of the work week and adjourn early to mid-afternoon. A series of late nights have been tentatively scheduled starting March 15. On those days, the Legislature will recess for 20 minutes around noon and adjourn by 7:00. Adjournment sine die is scheduled for April 20.The session calendar is available here.
On Monday, senators will convene at 10:00 a.m. to take up seven bills on Final Reading and a series of Select File consent calendar bills.The agenda is available here.

Bills Debated on General File
Debate on 2016 senator priority bills continued this week. Some of the bills of interest to counties not addressed elsewhere include:
LB683 was introduced and prioritized by Senator Joni Craighead. It would align Nebraska's homestead exemption criteria with eligibility for federal veterans benefits. The bill would allow surviving spouses of veterans who remarry before age 57 to retain their current homestead exemption status. The bill advanced from General File.
LR35 would enact a resolution to petition Congress to call a convention of the States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The convention would only occur after 34 states pass the same application and 38 states would need to approve any new amendments. The measure was recommitted to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on a 25-18 vote.
LB704 would clarify that counties and cities must keep a copy of their local building or construction code available for use and examination by the public as long as the code is in effect. The bill was prioritized by the Urban Affairs Committee. It advanced from General File.

Bills Advanced from Select File
LB954 would clearly grant the Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare access to sealed records for purposes of investigations being conducted by that office. The office is charged with providing legislative oversight, ensuring accountability, and identifying systemic issues within Nebraska's child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The bill is an Executive Board priority measure. It advanced from Select File on Wednesday.

Bills Signed by Governor Ricketts
Governor Pete Ricketts signed a number of bills this week. Following are some of the bills of interest to counties.

LB695 clarifies procedures for returning ballots in sanitary and improvement district elections.
LB131 returns fees retained by county treasurers for collecting taxes and special assessments from sanitary and improvement districts (SIDs) to a two percent rate. A 2015 Nebraska Supreme Court case held that statutory language limits collection fees to one percent. LB827 was introduced to set the rate at two percent and was amended into LB131 on General File. Original provisions of LB131 prohibit SIDs from spending assets that are used by a municipality to determine the feasibility of an annexation.
LB775 is a technical bill requested by the Department of Revenue. It changes the factor used to calculate motor vehicle taxes from the year of acquisition to the year placed in service. It also clarifies that trailers and semitrailers are tangible personal property that are exempt from taxation.
LB876 allows all public bodies to record votes using an electronic voting device. Existing provisions of the Open Meetings Act list the public bodies that can use such devices, including counties, municipalities, learning communities, joint public agencies and others.
LB136 prohibits the sale, possession, and use of flying lanterns. 
LB474 creates specialty Mountain Lion Conservation license plates.

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hrgschedCommittee Hearing Schedule for Next Week
Every bill introduced by the Legislature is the subject of a public hearing. Following is a hearing 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. Hearings will conclude on March 4 and the Legislature will begin full days of debate.

Monday, February 29
Transportation and Telecommunications Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB938 (Smith) Adopt the 911 Service System Act and transfer funds from the Enhanced Wireless 911 Fund to the 911 Service System Fund

Wednesday, March 2
Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee
Room 1507, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB779 (Schumacher) Change provisions relating to the partisan status of certain political subdivision offices
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB707 (Coash) Increase the number of judges of the separate juvenile court
  • LB848 (Pansing Brooks) Change provisions relating to courts
  • LR398CA (Bloomfield) Constitutional amendment to provide for election of judges and eliminate the merit plan for selection of judges

Thursday, March 3
Judiciary Committee
Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LB769 (Garrett) Change provisions relating to firearms
  • LB681 (Schnoor) Change certain violation and penalty provisions under the Concealed Handgun Permit Act
  • LB1090 (Hansen) Require notification of law enforcement by the Nebraska State Patrol of denials of handgun certificates as prescribed
  • LB815 (Stinner) Change provisions relating to petitions for removal of a person's firearms-related disabilities or disqualifications
  • LB971 (Gloor) Change provisions relating to restoration of seized firearms

Nebraska high school seniors who are the children, stepchildren, or under the legal guardianship of county officials or employees are encouraged to apply for one of twelve $1,000.00 NACO scholarships.  Additional information and the application form can be found on the front page of the NACO website.  The scholarship application deadline is March 1, 2016. 
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