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107th Nebraska Legislature, Second Session – Legislative Update

on Monday, 14 March 2022 in Dirt Alert: David C. Levy, Editor

The Second Session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature convened January 5, 2022. Bill introduction concluded January 20, 2022. The deadline for priority bill designation was February 22, 2022. As of Monday, March 14, 2022, there are 20 days left in the session. The session concludes on or before April 20, 2022.

An updated chart of all Second Session bills related to economic development, energy and renewable energy, government and municipal law, healthcare, real estate and financial transactions, taxation, and telecommunications is available here.

In our first update, available here, we addressed 45 bills from days one through seven of bill introduction. In our second update, available here, we identified 34 additional bills of interest. Below is an update on select bills.

 

Priority Bills

LB 701 (Williams) proposes to amend certain deadlines in the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act and the Nebraska Advantage Research and Development Act. The deadline to file a new application under the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act would be December 31, 2027. Businesses could claim credits on their tax returns or similar filings until December 31, 2032. This bill also extends the Nebraska Advantage Research and Development Act by one year. Businesses could receive credit until December 31, 2023. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee. On January 28, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On March 1, 2022, the Committee adopted AM 2087 amending LB 701 into LB 730. The Revenue Committee selected LB 730 as its priority bill on February 22, 2022. The Committee advanced LB 730 to General File on March 1, 2022.

LB 800 (Urban Affairs Committee) proposes to amend provisions in Nebraska Revised Statutes Chapter 14 governing cities of the metropolitan class. Consisting primarily of clean‑up provisions, this bill corrects terminology and harmonize internal statutory references. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On January 18, 2022, the Committee held a hearing the bill.

The Urban Affairs Committee selected LB 800 as its priority bill on February 17, 2022. On March 2, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 2035. The amendment includes additional clean‑up changes and restores references to daily legal newspapers inadvertently struck from the bill.

LB 804 (Hughes) proposes to increase the annual limits on compensation to the Nebraska Power Review Board’s members. Members receive compensation on a daily basis not to exceed a certain amount annually. The member who represents the Power Review Board on the Southwest Power Pool Regional State Committee receives $250 per day, and this bill would raise the annual limit on total pay for such compensation from $20,000 to $35,000. For board members’ Southwest Power Pool activities, this bill would also raise aggregate pay to $40,000. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee. On January 19, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On March 3, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File. The Speaker of the Legislature, Senator Hilgers, selected LB 804 as one of his priority bills. On March 2, 2022, the Legislature placed the bill on Select File.

LB 937 (Geist) proposes to appropriate $88,500 from the General Fund to the Legislative Council to purchase REMI Tax-PI economic modeling software. On January 11, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On February 1, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

The Legislative Audit Committee selected LB 937 as its priority bill on January 26, 2022. On February 11, 2022, the Appropriations Committee advanced the bill to General File.

LB 977 (Slama) proposes to appropriate $29 million of federal funds to the Department of Economic Development to expand electrical system capacities and enhance redundancy and resilience. The money comes from federal dollars allocated by the American Rescue Plan of 2021. On January 12, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On February 16, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

Senator Slama selected LB 977 as her priority bill on February 22, 2022.

LB 998 (Wayne) proposes to amend provisions in the Municipal Inland Port Authority Act. In any city or county that has not established an inland port authority, this bill would authorize nonprofit economic development corporations to instead create such an authority. This bill also authorizes inland port authorities to provide grants to businesses located within their districts. On January 13, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On February 15, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On February 16, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 1939. The amendment strikes the provision authorizing a port authority to grant funds to any business located within the boundaries of the inland port district. The Speaker of the Legislature, Senator Hilgers, selected LB 998 as one of his priority bills. The Legislature placed it on Select File on March 3, 2022.

LB 1045 (Bostelman) proposes to amend the qualifications for a person to serve on a public power and irrigation district’s board of directors. Against a general rule that no employee of such a district may serve on its board of directors, section 70-618(2) presently provides an exception for high level managers in limited circumstances, such as when a director has resigned or taken unpaid leave.[1]  This bill would remove that exception, meaning that no district employees, including high level managers, could serve on the board of directors. On January 20, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the ­­­­Natural Resources Committee. On February 2, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

The Natural Resources Committee selected LB 1045 as its priority bill on February 22, 2022. On March 1, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 2081. The amendment is a white copy Committee amendment that contains LB 1045, LB 1047 (with AM 2049) and LB 1058 (with AM 1921).

LB 1047 (Bostelman) proposes to strengthen the Power Review Board’s energy‑forecasting requirement. The bill would require that the Board include, in its biennial report, a 20‑year forecast for both summer and winter peak load conditions. In addition, the bill would require any firm electric generation plant that lacks the capability to store a 45‑day supply of fuel on site to identify how it plans to obtain such fuel during load periods.

LB 1058 (Brewer) proposes to require any public power supplier that retires, permanently shuts down, or substantially alters or reduces the base load capacity of a base load unit before the end of its contract life to pay a severance to permanent employees terminated because of such action. The bill would also require such supplier to make payments in lieu of taxes to the political subdivisions who would have received tax money from the project for either a period of 10 years or a total of $50,000,000, whichever is greater. AM 1921 adds “100 MW” to qualify the baseload units to which LB 1058 is applicable and clarifies that the incentivized amount is a fee, not a tax.

LB 1073 (Wayne) proposes to amend sections of Chapter 58 to establish a Department of Housing and Urban Development as an executive department of state government to address state housing needs. This bill would also create a Housing Advisory Commission who would provide an annual report on the status of housing in the state. On January 21, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On February 15, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

Senator Hansen selected LB 1073 as his priority bill on February 22, 2022. On February 22, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with amendment. The amendment is a white‑copy amendment that replaces the bill. It would require the Governor to apply for all federal funds for emergency rental assistance under the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

LB 1099 (Bostelman) proposes to create the Hydrogen Hub Industry Work Group. The Director of Economic Develop would appoint members from the manufacturing or industry, agriculture, transportation, and energy industries. The Work Group then would apply to the U.S. Department of Energy for designation as one of the four regional clean-hydrogen hubs authorized under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. On January 21, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee. On February 9, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

Senator Bostelman selected LB 1099 as his priority bill on February 14, 2022. The Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 1895. The amendment removes the effective date and allows the Governor to select the members of the working group instead of the Director of Economic Development in compliance with the Nebraska State Constitution. The amendment also removes the requirement that members of the working group be members of the manufacturing or industry, agriculture, transportation, and energy industries. Finally, the amendment removes the ability to appropriate funds from the General Fund.

The Legislature placed the bill on Select File on March 2, 2022, and advanced it to Final Reading on March 8, 2022.

LB 1102 (Bostelman) proposes to adopt the Environmental Response Act. Under the Act, the Department of Environment and Energy would receive funding and authorization to clean up releases of pollutants in the state. The Department could also elect to issue orders requiring any persons responsible for the release to clean it up.

If a responsible person failed to pay as required under the Act, the Department could issue administrative penalties. The Department could also issue a lien on the responsible person’s property. Exceptions to liability would apply, however, for releases caused by acts of God, acts of war, or acts of an independent third party. A responsible party could also avoid liability by voluntarily remedying the contamination in accordance with Remedial Action Plan Monitoring Act.

In many respects, this Act would resemble the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. On January 21, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee. On February 3, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On February 23, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 1893. The amendment harmonizes the term “release” with the same term in applicable federal and state environmental standards and transfers $300,000 to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. It also adds plant and animal life to the definition of property for purposes of harmful effects. Finally, it removes the Director’s authority to waive cleanup requirements for third‑party volunteer cleanup. The Speaker of the Legislature, Senator Hilgers, selected LB 1102 as one of his priority bills on February 23, 2022.

 

Bills Out of Committee

LB 695 (Blood) proposes to amend statutes relating to conditional use permits and zoning exceptions. This bill prohibits counties from issuing conditional use permits or zoning exceptions to persons who are delinquent on their real property taxes. This bill also requires any authority seeking development proposals to decline contracts with redevelopers who are delinquent in paying property taxes. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On January 25, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On February 8, 2022, the Committee moved the bill to General File with AM 1742. As amended, the bill prohibits counties from issuing conditional use permits or redevelopment contracts if applicants are delinquent for more than 180 days on the property included in the permit application or redevelopment contract. Finally, the bill allows a city, county, or village to waive the prohibition if the delinquent taxes are in dispute, on appeal or the result of an administrative error.

LB 724 (M. Hansen) proposes to amend the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act. The bill funds an affordable housing action plan as part of an economic development program. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On January 18, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill. On February 22, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File.

LB 727 (M. Hansen) proposes to amend the procedure for election of the board of trustees to sanitary and improvement districts. Consisting primarily of clean-up provisions, the bill corrects the statute when referring to elections by reaffirming elections occur every 6 years after the first election of trustees and at each election thereafter. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On February 22, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill. On February 23, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File.

LB 742 (Erdman) proposes to amend the Open Meetings Act. The bill allows public entities to keep minutes as electronic records. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred the bill to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. On February 1, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill. On February 15, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File.

LB 791 (Lowe) proposes to broaden the duties of certain county surveyors. Under this bill, in any county with 100,000 to 150,000 inhabitants, a county surveyor who qualified as a professional engineer or registered land surveyor could also serve as the ex officio county engineer. This would expand that threshold. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. On January 28, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill. On February 3, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File.

The Legislature placed the bill on Select File on February 16, 2022. The Legislature placed the bill on final reading on March 2, 2022.

LB 799 (Urban Affairs Committee) proposes to amend the Municipal Density and Missing Middle Housing Act. The bill would update income limits in accordance with the Housing and Urban Development Income Limits Documentation System as they existed on January 1, 2022. It also requires reports on the percentage of areas within the corporate limits of a city that permit the construction of multifamily housing and middle housing. Such reports need to include information about zoning and about whether construction may proceed absent additional permit requirements. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On January 18, 2022, the Committee held a hearing. On February 22, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File.

LB 842 (Brewer) proposes to amend the Civic and Community Center Financing Act to include officially recognized tribal governments as eligible applicants. This bill defines tribal government as the officially recognized government of any Indian tribe, nation, or other organized group or community exercising self-government powers and eligible for federal services due to their status as Indians or any Indian tribe located in the state and recognized as an Indian tribe by the state. The term also includes any economic development corporation owned or chartered by a tribal government. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On February 1, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On March 2, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 2033. As amended, the bill strikes reference to tribal economic development corporations from the definition of tribal government.

LB 908 (McDonnell) proposes to expand the use of virtual conferencing under the Open Meetings Act. Under this bill, a public body could hold a meeting by virtual conferencing so long as the meeting’s subject would also be the subject of a later in‑person meeting, no final action would occur at the virtual meeting, and the public received notice and an opportunity to participate. On January 11, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. On February 16, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On February 22, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 1950. The amendment would clarify that the new authority to use virtual conferencing under LB 908 does not diminish the authority previously granted in statute for public bodies to use virtual conferencing in other circumstances.

LB 915 (Wayne) proposes to amend the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act. Under the bill, no nonprofit development organization that previously received funding under the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act could receive an additional grant unless the organization expended at least 75 percent of the funds from the previous grants. On January 11, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. On February 16, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

On February 16, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File with AM 1860. Under the amendment, the bill would reduce the grant to expending at least 50 percent of the funds from the previous grant or grants. The amendment also increases the maximum grant amounts under the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act from $1,000,000 to $10,000,000 for any single grantee through Fiscal Year 2022‑2023.

LB 991 (Morfeld) proposes to appropriate $500,000 to the Department of Transportation to study whether a high-speed commuter rail between Omaha and Lincoln would be feasible. On January 13, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On January 27, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill. On February 11, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File.

LB 1176 (Bostar) proposes to amend the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Act to require any member of an entity receiving an affordable housing tax credit to have been admitted as partners or members, or to have acquired their shares, on or prior to February 15th of the year in which they file their tax return or amended return. This bill would also allow an insurance company to receive a credit on the tax imposed in the Act. On January 21, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee. On February 9, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill. On February 17, 2022, the Committee advanced the bill to General File.

 

Bills of Special Interest

LB 743 (Erdman) proposes to amend the Open Meetings Act. This bill would extend closed session requirements to subcommittee meetings of any public body. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. On February 9, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 775 (Brewer) proposes to amend the Integrated Solid Waste Management Act to prohibit land disposal of wind turbine blades and their component parts. On January 10, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee. On January 19, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB940 (M. Hansen) proposes to appropriate $200,000,000 for housing development. Four increments of $50 million would go to the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund, the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Fund, the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The money under this bill comes from the federal American Rescue Plan of 2021. On January 11, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On February 15, 2022, the Committee held a hearing the bill.

LB944 (McCollister) proposes to amend provisions relating to revenue and taxation. The bill introduces a new formula for calculating the sales tax levy on the furnishing of electricity services. Beginning July 1, 2023, the new formula would require each electricity service provider to determine and report its carbon intensity factor, pursuant to the Climate Registry’s Electric Power Sector Protocol, each year. The State Tax Commissioner would calculate the statewide carbon intensity factor and the sales tax levy for the next year would be set based on how the current year’s statewide carbon intensity factor compares to the statewide carbon intensity factor established on July 1, 2023. On January 11, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee. On February 25, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 1046 (Bostelman) proposes to amend the election procedure for certain public power districts’ boards of directors. Beginning in 2024, the bill would require those districts to divide their territories into four equal subdivisions. Each subdivision would then elect one board member. They would serve alongside five members at large, appointed by the Governor. These nine board members, in total, would serve staggered six-year terms. Under the bill, the Governor would also appoint a chief executive officer for each district. On January 20, 2022, the Legislature referred the bill to the Natural Resources Committee. On January 27, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 1070 (Williams) proposes to appropriate $20,000,000 of federal funds to the Department of Economic Development to award grants for infrastructure related to rural workforce housing authorized by the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act. The money under this bill comes from the federal American Rescue Plan of 2021. On January 20, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On February 15, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 1071 (Williams) proposes to appropriate $30,000,000 from the General Fund to the Department of Economic Development to fund the workforce housing grant program. On January 20, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On February 8, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 1134 (Morfeld) proposes to amend statutes relating to political accountability and disclosure to include a member of a board of directors or an employee of a corporation organized under the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act. On January 21, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. On February 25, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 1142 (Vargas) proposes to appropriate $25,000,000 of federal funds to the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority to support the development of affordable housing units through the four‑percent and nine‑percent federal low-income housing tax credit programs. The money under this bill comes from the federal American Rescue Plan of 2021. On January 21, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On February 15, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 1146 (Friesen) proposes to amend the Interlocal Cooperation Act to require only members of the governing bodies of the public agencies party to an agreement to comprise the membership of any separate legal or administrative entity. The bill would require eligible voters of the public agencies to approve the creation of a joint entity. It would also require eligible voters of the public agencies to approve bonds issued for any building or infrastructure project. On January 21, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. On February 11, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

LB 1252 (Vargas) proposes to appropriate $20,000,000 of federal funds to the Department of Economic Development to support the development of middle-income housing in urban areas authorized by the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act. On January 24, 2022, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee. On February 15, 2022, the Committee held a hearing on the bill.

All bills are on the Legislature’s website at http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/. Please contact us if you have any questions about these bills or any other bills the Nebraska Legislature is currently considering. Thank you.

[1] All references are to the Nebraska Revised Statutes.

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