April 8, 2016                                                                        Legislative Report Archive 

In This Issue


on Facebook

proptaxsfProperty Tax Relief Bills Advanced from Second Round
Two property tax relief bills introduced on behalf of Governor Pete Ricketts were debated and advanced to the final round of debate this week. On Wednesday, cloture votes were needed to conclude debate on LB959 and LB1067, the education funding component of the package and a learning community funding measure. On Thursday, LB958, the agricultural property tax credit bill, advanced after less than 45 minutes of debate.
As advanced from Select File, LB958 would grant $20 million in property tax credits to agricultural and horticultural lands. Beginning with tax year 2017, the Property Tax Administrator would determine the amount to be distributed to each county based on a ratio of the credit allocation valuation of the county compared to the credit allocation valuation in the state. The credit allocation valuation is defined as the taxable value for all real property except agricultural and horticultural land, 120 percent of taxable value for agricultural and horticultural land not subject to special valuation, and 120 percent of taxable value for agricultural and horticultural land that is subject to special valuation. Like the existing tax credit, which remains unchanged, county treasurers would calculate the distribution for each parcel. The total appropriation for both tax credits would be $224 million.
As promised during General File debate, Senator Mike Gloor, Chair of the Revenue Committee, offered an amendment to strike language from LB958 that would have limited community college levies. The amendment was adopted.Later, Senator Al Davis offered an amendment that would have reduced their maximum levy by one cent. He argued that community college levies had increased faster than the levies of other taxing entities. The amendment failed and the bill advanced.
Debate on the education funding piece of the property tax relief package was more contentious. Senator Ernie Chambers led a filibuster of LB959. As it eventually advanced from Select File, the bill would increase state aid to schools by more than $8 million. It would eliminate laws reducing state aid to schools levying less than 95 cents. The bill would also limit levies on special funds used for health, safety, and accessibility problems in schools. As originally introduced, LB959 would have tightened school budget and levy limits. LB959 appears on Tuesday's Final Reading agenda.
A cloture motion was also required to get to a vote on whether to retain the common levy for schools in Omaha's Learning Community. LB1067, as advanced from Select File, would preserve the Learning Community structure but revise funding mechanisms, including elimination of a common levy that redistributed funding across the Omaha area.
civilCivil Forfeiture Bill Placed on Final Reading
A bill to change how authorities seize suspected drug money advanced through the first and second rounds of debate this week. As amended and sent to Final Reading, LB1106 would require law enforcement agencies or prosecuting attorneys to provide an annual written report to the State Auditor listing the type of property seized, its description, the suspected crime, disposition of the property, and other information. The bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys from transferring any money or property to federal authorities unless the value exceeds $25,000, it is physically seized by a federal agent, or the person from whom the money or property was seized is the subject of a federal prosecution. Senators discussed the impact of civil forfeiture dollars on county and school budgets if federal agencies are involved and the seizure of assets before conviction.

Another bill advanced through two stages of debate this week was LB580, a measure to create an independent citizen's committee to assist the Legislature in redistricting the state after the 2020 census. The committee would redraw boundaries for six bodies: U.S. House, the Legislature, Public Service Commission, University of Nebraska Board of Regents, State Board of Education, and Nebraska Supreme Court. Each of the three legislative caucuses would certify the appointment of three persons to serve on the commission. No more than five members could be affiliated with the same political party. At least four public hearings would be held across the state before the maps would be sent to the Legislature for approval. Currently the redistricting plans are developed by the Legislature.
LB1094, a bill to revise provisions from last year's bill on prison overcrowding, was advanced from Select File on Thursday. An amendment was adopted to clarify that the bill only applies to sentencing occurring after the bill takes effect.
selfieBallot Selfie Measure Among Bills Sent to Governor
On Thursday afternoon the Legislature passed a handful of bills, including measures to allow ballot selfies and to require the development of model policies for body cameras worn by law enforcement officers.
LB874 would allow voters to voluntarily photograph their ballot after it is marked and reveal the photograph. These "ballot selfies" are often posted on social media. Existing law prohibits voters from showing their marked ballots to another person in a way that reveals the contents or the name of the candidates selected by the voter. Other provisions of LB874 would allow the display of yard signs on private property within 200 feet of a polling place or building designated as a place for voters to cast ballots, subject to local ordinance. The property could not be under common ownership with the property on which the polling place or building is located. Other sections of the bill address dates to mail ballots and procedures to petition on to the general election ballot. The date changes would take effect on June 1, 2016 and the rest of the bill would take effect three calendar months after the Legislature adjourns on April 20.
LB1000 would require the Crime Commission to develop model policies on the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement agencies. Agencies would have to either adopt the model policies or develop their own. Law enforcement agencies would also be required to adopt written policies on eyewitness suspect identifications. The bill would open grand jury proceedings for deaths occurring during apprehension or while in the custody of a law enforcement officer or detention personnel. If the grand jury reports a no true bill, the grand jury report, the no true bill, and a transcript would be available for public review.
LB1098 would increase the Legal Aid and Services Fund charged in court filings from $5.25 to $6.25. The Fund is administered through the Commission on Public Advocacy to provide grants for providers of civil legal services for low income Nebraskans.
LB1110 would adopt the Nebraska Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to reflect new federal legislation adopted last summer.
LB843 would grant immunity from prosecution for a prostitution offense if a law enforcement officer determines that the person is a victim of human trafficking. Other sections clarify that victims of sexual assault are not liable for the costs of forensic medical examinations. Instead, the Sexual Assault Payment Program Cash Fund would cover the cost.
LB686 would require the Revisor of Statutes to update the Nebraska Constitution after each legislative session if there are changes and publish a certified version with annotation.
lawBills Signed Into Law This Week
On April 6, Governor Pete Ricketts signed the following bills of interest to counties. Unless the bills carry an emergency clause or specific operative date, they are tentatively scheduled to take effect on July 21, which is three calendar months after the session adjourns.
LB784 allows counties to have more access to funds during the period between July 1 and the adoption of the budget on September 20. The bill harmonizes conflicting sections in 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 adds this language to the County Budget Act. Because the bill carries an emergency clause, it is already in effect.
LB725 eliminates filings of real estate transfer statements (Form 521) on all easements except certain conservation and preservation easements.

LB814 removes the mileage requirement from school driving permit applications for residents living outside of a city of the metropolitan, primary or first class. Existing law requires applicants to live at least 1.5 miles from the school attended.
LB875 requires county planning and public works departments to review planned unit developments located on property outside of the corporate boundaries of a second class city or village before approval of the development. This requirement applies to cities or villages of the second class that are located in whole or part within the boundaries of a county with a population between 100,000 and 200,000 that has adopted a comprehensive development plan and is enforcing subdivision regulations.
LB783 provides for permanent public power district license plates for motor vehicles and trailers operated by public power districts receiving annual gross revenue of at least $40 million. The plates will be issued in the county in which the district is headquartered. The bill becomes operative on January 1, 2017.
LB865 revises the definition of handicapped or disabled person for purposes of handicapped or disabled license plates and strikes outdated language.
snapSnapshots of County Issues
Daily Legislative Activities
Senators began the week with a motion from Senator Ernie Chambers to pull his aid-in-dying bill from the Judiciary Committee. LB1056, the Patient Choice at End of Life Act, did not receive the 25 votes needed to advance to the floor for debate and as a result is indefinitely postponed.
Most of Monday was spent debating and advancing General File bills. Because bills that are passed in the final few days of the session must be sent to Governor Ricketts no later than the 59th day (April 13) if vetoes are to be addressed on the final day, bills on General File had to be advanced no later than Wednesday, April 6 in order to have enough time for passage. Bills on Select File had to be advanced no later than April 7. The session will adjourn sine die on April 20. A legislative newsletter will not be published next week. A session wrap-up will be available in early May.
Only one bill and one appropriations bill advanced on Tuesday. Senator Chambers engaged in extended discussion on Tuesday morning during committee confirmations. Later, four hours of debate apiece were needed to reach full and fair debate before cloture motions could be made on bills on Game and Parks Commission fees (LB745) and medical marijuana (LB643). LB745 was advanced to Final Reading but the medical marijuana bill failed to achieve the needed 33 votes.
On Wednesday, Senator Chambers again engaged in extended debate on the first bill, LB901. Late in the morning, debate moved to the school financing (LB959) and learning community (LB 1067) components of Governor Ricketts's property tax relief plan. Cloture motions were needed to conclude debate on both bills.
Thursday's agenda began with advancement the agricultural tax credit property tax relief bill, LB958, from the second round of debate. Additional bills were advanced from Select File and Final Reading with only one measure requiring a cloture motion. After four hours of debate, LB824, a proposal to loosen wind energy regulations, advanced from Select File.
Next week senators will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will take up motions to suspend the rules and vote on final passage without further amendments, motion or debate of more than 40 bills and appropriations bills. The move is unusual, but offers the only chance for many bills to make it to the finish line. Some of the affected bills include creation of an infrastructure bank (LB960), regulation implements of husbandry on county roads (LB977), and appropriation of funds for riparian noxious weed management (LB1038). Bills that do not pass this year are categorized as indefinitely postponed and new bills will be introduced in 2017.  
Nebraska Association of County Officials
1335 H Street | Lincoln, NE 68508 | 402-434-5660
Join Our Mailing List