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107th Nebraska Legislature, First Session

on Friday, 15 January 2021 in Dirt Alert: David C. Levy, Editor

The First Session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature convened on January 6, 2021.  As of Friday, January 15, there are 82 days left in the session, which concludes on June 10, 2021. 

Bill introduction concludes on January 20, 2021.  Following days one through five of bill introduction, we identified 21 bills warranting particular attention.  Below are summaries of those bills:

LB 194 – Expansion of the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitilization Act:

LB 194 proposes to amend the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitilization Act to expand eligible projects, increase limits on project credits, and repeal current deadlines.  The bill relaxes project eligibility requirements for Nebraska Historic Tax Credits (“NHTC”).  

First and foremost, LB 194 increases the credit percentage.  Currently, the credit is 20 percent of eligible expenditures up to a maximum of $1,000,000 for any project.  Under the bill, the credit would be 25 percent of eligible expenditures for qualifying properties in counties that include a city of the metropolitan or primary class.  For all other counties, the credit would be 30 percent of eligible expenditures.   In all cases, the maximum credit for any project is increased from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000.  

Next, the bill expands eligibility.  It removes an exception which prohibits eligibility for single-family detached residences.  It also expands the definition of a qualifying “improvement” by lowering the eligibility threshold to projects with a total cost of $5,000 or greater.  In addition, eligible expenditures may now include engineering fees and costs generally related to historical preservation which the recipient may incur up to six months prior to application.

Finally, the bill repeals the current NHTC filing deadline of December 31, 2022.  On January 12, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Revenue Committee.

Additional Bills:

LB 9 proposes to amend provisions relating to the annexation of land by cities and villages and amends provisions relating to special valuation of agricultural or horticultural land therein.  The bill creates an exception allowing cities and villages to annex land which would be contiguous with the corporate limits but for a contiguity interruption by land owned by a natural resource district or the federal government.  The bill also authorizes special valuation of agricultural or horticultural land in certain circumstances.  On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 25 and LB 99 LB 25 proposes to amend the Community Development Law by increasing the period for dividing ad valorem taxes to 20 years for “extremely blighted areas.” LB 99 would exclude extremely blighted areas from percentage limitations for blighted area designation.  The current repayment period for Tax Increment Financing (“TIF”) is 15 years.  On November 3, 2020, Nebraska voters approved LRCA 2 authorizing a TIF repayment period of 20 years for areas where more than 50 percent of properties are extremely blighted.  LB 25 seeks to codify the same.  

LB 99 would exclude extremely blighted areas from the maximum percentage of property a municipality may designate as a blighted area.  Said percentage limits would otherwise preclude many municipalities from reaching the aforementioned 50 percent threshold necessary to authorize a 20-year TIF repayment period.  On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred both bills to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 40 proposes to adopt the Rural Projects Act.  The Act provides matching grant funding to qualifying nonprofit developers of industrial rail access business parks.  On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 72 proposes to amend the Nebraska Liquor Control Act to provide for the sale of alcoholic liquor not in its original package, such as a mixed drink or cocktail, for off-sale consumption. This bill will codify the Governor’s Executive Orders issued at the beginning of the pandemic to support restaurants, bars, breweries, and farm wineries by allowing for the sale of to-go mixed beverages. On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the General Affairs Committee.

LB 80 proposes to amend the Nebraska Liquor Control Act to decrease annual shipping license fees for out of state producers seeking to sell products in Nebraska.  On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the General Affairs Committee. 

LB 81 proposes to authorize sanitary and improvement districts to own, construct, and maintain public parking facilities.  On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 83 proposes to amend the Open Meetings Act to authorize virtual conferencing during meetings of public bodies.  On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 96 proposes to amend provisions related to sanitary and improvement district hearings to require delivery of notice by mail or e-mail to resident property owners and posting of notice in public locations.  On January 11, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.  

LB 139 proposes to adopt the COVID-19 Liability Protection Act.  The Act limits civil liability in specified circumstances for injuries or damages sustained from exposure to COVID-19.  Prior to recovery for civil damages, the Act requires a plaintiff to prove that his or her injuries resulted in hospitalization or death and were the result of the gross negligence or willful misconduct of the defendant.  The Act also imposes a statute of limitations of two years for such claims.  Of note to this publication, under the Act, a property owner or tenant would not be liable for the COVID-19 exposure of invitees or permittees in the absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct.  On January 12, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Judiciary Committee.   

LB 156 proposes to adopt the Municipal Inland Port Authority Act.  The Act establishes inland port districts in qualifying municipalities near rivers, rail lines, highways, and airports. It further authorizes inland port authorities to plan and develop said districts.  The inland port authorities would be exempt from state and local taxes.  On January 12, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 168 proposes to eliminate authorization for creation of sanitary and improvement districts on or after July 1, 2021.  On January 12, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 228 and LB 265 propose to amend the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act.  LB 228 would extend the maximum term of assessment contracts whereby a municipality finances an energy project in exchange for a property owner’s agreement to pay an annual assessment.  The bill also allows the use of assessments to reimburse or refinance the costs of an energy project.  

LB 265 would exempt municipalities that have created a clean energy assessment district but do not have any active energy projects from the Act’s reporting requirements.  On January 14, 2021, the Legislature referred these bills to the Urban Affairs Committee.  

LB 233 proposes to require peer-to-peer car-sharing platforms to pay sales and use tax on the value of the short term rental price.  On January 13, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Revenue Committee.   

LB 257 proposes to amend provisions relating to vacancies on public power and irrigation district boards by authorizing said boards to fill any vacancies therein. On January 13, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. 

LB 266 proposes to adopt the Renewable Energy Standards Act.  The Act authorizes public power suppliers to construct or purchase renewable energy production facilities and to enter into contracts to purchase electricity from said facilities.  The Act also mandates that suppliers must achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  However, suppliers may opt out of said carbon emissions standard with a declaration that it will negatively affect operations.  On January 14, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Natural resources Committee.  

LB 267 proposes to amend provisions relating to municipal counties.  The bill sets forth procedure for the creation of municipal counties by merger or consolidation of one or more counties and a city of the metropolitan class.  Said municipal counties would be subject to governance by interjurisdictional planning commissions.  The bill also eases budget restrictions related to such governance.  On January 14, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee.   

LB 295 proposes to repeal the current prohibition on the sale of alcoholic liquor to a person in a motor vehicle. The purpose of this bill is to facilitate drive-through sales of alcoholic beverages. On January 14, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the General Affairs Committee.

LB 311 proposes to amend provisions relating to a microdistillery license.  The bill increases the amount of liquor a microdistillery may produce from 10,000 to 100,000 gallons per year.  This bill was requested by a distillery owner who had to halt production in 2020 due to the current statutory cap, which is one of the lowest in the nation.  On January 14, 2021, the Legislature referred the bill to the General Affairs Committee.   

An updated chart of all First Session bills related to related to economic development, energy and renewable energy, government and municipal law, healthcare, liquor, real estate and financial transactions, and taxation is located here. All bills are available on the Nebraska Legislature’s website at http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/.  Please contact us if you have any questions about these bills or any others the Nebraska Legislature is currently considering.  Thank you.

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