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Summaries from Days 1-5 of Nebraska Bill Introduction

on Friday, 13 January 2023 in Dirt Alert: David C. Levy, Editor

The First Regular Session of the 108th Nebraska Legislature convened on January 4, 2023.  As of January 13, 82 legislative days remain in the session.  The Legislature will adjourn sine die on June 9, 2023.

Bill introduction will conclude on January 18.  Through the first five days of bill introduction, we identified 36 bills warranting particular attention.  Below are summaries of those bills.  A chart is at this link

LB 21 (Wayne) proposes to increase the number of city council members in cities of the metropolitan class from seven to nine.  This increase would take effect beginning with the 2025 general election.  At least six weeks prior the filing deadline for a city council or mayoral candidate in the 2025 general election, the city council of a city of the metropolitan class would have to divide the city into nine city council districts of a “compact and contiguous territory.”  On January 9, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 33 (Jacobson) proposes to allow the mayor of a city of the first or second class to vote on any matter requiring either a majority vote of the city council if (a) the city council has divided equally or (b) the city council cannot reach a majority due to the absence, vacancy or abstention of one or more members.  On January 9, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 44 (Dungan) proposes to adopt the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact.  This Act would create a commission to identify and develop opportunities for passenger-rail improvements in Nebraska.  The Act directs the commission to do so in concert with certain states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.  Before Nebraska may join a compact with any of these states, the Legislature must approve such partnership via another bill.  On January 5, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

LB 45 (Dorn) proposes to establish the Revitalize Rural Nebraska Grant Program and create the Revitalize Rural Nebraska Fund.  This program would allow a city of the first or second class or a village to apply to the Department of Environment and Energy for a demolition grant for dilapidated commercial property.  This bill would give priority to cities of the second class and villages.  Upon receiving a grant, the city or village would have 24 months to demolish the dilapidated commercial property.  On January 9, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 49 (Dungan) proposes to prohibit the imposition or enforcement of any covenant or other land restriction prohibiting the installation or use of solar energy infrastructure.  This bill also would find solar and wind energy sources are a necessary alternative to fossil fuels.  On January 5, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Judiciary Committee.

LB 90 (Day) proposes to eliminate tax incentive performance audits for the Nebraska Advantage Act and the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act.  This bill would also update the code designations under the North American Industry Classification System, including those definition for “high-tech firm” and “renewable energy firm.”  On January 9, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Executive Board.

LB 98 (Jacobson) proposes to amend the Community Development Law to delay approval of certain redevelopment plans and potentially limit cities’ indebtedness capacities.  The bill would require the city’s governing body, after first proposing a blighted and substandard designation for an area, to adopt a resolution declaring that substandard and blighted conditions exist in the area under study.  Only then could the governing body declare the area to be a substandard and blighted area without further public hearing.  Additionally, authorities could only incur indebtedness related to the redevelopment in the lesser of the agreed-upon costs of the redevelopment project or the amount of estimated project taxes generated over a 15-year period.  The bill also specifies certain conditions under which a governing body could deny a redevelopment plan, including (i) failure to comply with the Law’s requirements, (ii) approval would exceed the governing body’s designated annual limit and (iii) inconsistency with the city’s comprehensive redevelopment plan.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 100 (Erdman) proposes to amend the ImagiNE Nebraska Act by adding “Waste Water Treatment and Disposal” to the business activities eligible for incentives under the Act.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 113 (McDonnell) proposes to appropriate an additional $10,500,000 in each of the next two years to the Department of Economic Development.  The funds would aid the Community and Rural Development Program in contracting with the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority for developments eligible under 4 percent and 9 percent federal low-income housing credits.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 118 (Brandt) proposes to decrease the minimum investment amount for livestock modernization or expansion to receive a refundable credit under the Nebraska Advantage Rural Development Act.  Under this bill, the minimum investment amount would decrease from $50,000 to $10,000 for all applications filed on or after January 1, 2024.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 119 (Bostelman) proposes to define “eligible telecommunications carrier” under the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act consistently with federal law.  Under 42 U.S.C. section 214(e), a state commission may designate a common carrier as an eligible telecommunications carrier if it offers certain services and advertises the same using media of general distribution.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

LB 120 (Bostelman) proposes to eliminate Nebraska Revised Statutes sections 70‑1029, 70-1030, 70-1031 and 70-1033.  Those provisions authorized a 2014 Power Review Board study to identify opportunities for electric transmission improvements.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 133 (Cavanaugh, J.) proposes to make any entity, whether public or private, that exercises the power of eminent domain a “public body” subject to the Open Meetings Act.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 134 (Cavanaugh, J.) proposes to require any state or municipal authority, before installing small wireless facilities, to notify adjacent property owners or residents and ensure such installation complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is consistent with traffic and right-of-way restrictions.  On January 10, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

LB 155 (DeBoer) proposes to amend the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act that limits the State of Nebraska or any agency, county, city, village or other political subdivision’s ability to (a) impose or collect a tax, fee or rate on a communications service provider authorized to operate in a right-of-way by federal, state or local law, (b) adopt or enforce any regulations or requirements on the placement or operation of communications facilities in the right-of-way by the communications service provider or (c) regulate any communications services.  This addition clarifies that the existing limitation does not apply to the activities of a communications service provider that are outside the scope of the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

LB 164 (McKinney) proposes to update the state building code with reference to certain sections of the 2021 International Building and Residential Codes.  This bill would similarly update minimum standards for municipal building codes.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 166 (Bostelman) proposes amendments to the Transportation Innovation Act to require contracting agencies to disclose in their requests for proposal how they intend to evaluate proposals.  Specifically, contracting agencies would need to disclose desired criteria such as experience, available resources and historic reasonableness of costs.  Such historic reasonableness of costs must carry at least 50 percent of contracting agencies’ evaluative weight.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

LB 170 (McKinney) proposes to redefine “blighted area” under the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority Act in accordance with the Community Development Law.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 171 (McKinney) proposes to eliminate sections in the Metropolitan Utilities District Act providing for an “outside member” on the board of directors of a metropolitan utilities district.  This bill provides that the seven members of the board of directors of a metropolitan utilities district will be chosen by the registered voters within each respective election subdivision of the district and that terms of the members will be staggered.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 175 (Dungan) proposes to adopt the Residential Tenant Clean Slate Act.  Under the Act, a tenant could petition a trial court for an order granting “clean slate relief.”  Such relief would require the court to seal the tenant’s eviction records and prevent their dissemination.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Judiciary Committee.

LB 186 (Cavanaugh, J.) proposes to adopt the Unlawful Restrictive Covenant Modification Act.  Under the Act, any person whose property is under a restrictive covenant that violates Nebraska Revised Statutes section 20-318 may petition the Register of Deeds to modify the covenant.  Section 20-318 enumerates discriminatory and other prohibited practices in leasing or conveying real estate.  The Register of Deeds must consult with the County Attorney and, if the modification is appropriate, replace the offending covenant with the modification.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Judiciary Committee.

LB 187 (Cavanaugh, J.) proposes to require that before any unrepresented tenant in Lincoln or Omaha faces a residential or mobile-home eviction proceeding, the court must appoint counsel for the tenant.  The county must pay for the cost of such counsel.  The landlord’s summons must also notify the tenant that he or she will have access to appointed counsel.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Judiciary Committee.

LB 208 (Bostar) proposes to prohibit counties from prohibiting the use of residential property for short-term rentals.  This bill defines short-term rentals as residential properties that tenants rent for no longer than 30 consecutive days at a time.  Under this bill, a county may only regulate such properties for a legitimate health and safety reason or to prevent illegal activity.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 209 (Bostar) proposes to provide certain tax exemptions to data centers.  This bill exempts from personal property tax any computers and related equipment that a person operating a data center in the state acquires and uses in the operation or maintenance of the data center.  In addition, this bill exempts from sales and use tax any tangible personal property, electricity or other fuel or computers and related equipment that the data center purchases for use.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 211 (Blood) proposes to adopt the Property Tax Circuit Breaker Act.  The Act would provide a refundable income tax credit for qualifying agriculture taxpayers and qualifying residential taxpayers with limited income available to pay property taxes.  To carry out this exemption, the Department of Revenue would receive $74,000,000 in each of 2024 and 2025.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 213 (Slama) proposes to extend the application deadline under the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act to December 31, 2026, and to extend allocation of such credits therein to December 31, 2031.  This bill additionally would limit eligible expenditures to costs incurred for improvement of historically significant real property located in a city of the second class or village.  The original program was available to projects throughout Nebraska.  Also, under the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act, this bill would reduce the required percentage of matching funds for applicants in a city of the second class or village.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 223 (McKinney) proposes to amend the Municipal Density and Missing Middle Housing Act to incentivize cities to adopt an affordable housing action plan, implement such plan and transmit evidence of the same to the Urban Affairs Committee.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 224 (McKinney) proposes to adopt the Aid to Municipalities Act.  The Act would provide state aid to municipalities in the form of grants which may be used to pay for infrastructure projects within the municipalities.  The Act would appropriate $15,000,000 to the Department of Economic Development annually to allocate to municipalities for qualifying infrastructure projects.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 235 (Wayne) proposes an amendment under the ImagiNE Nebraska Act to redefine “economic development area” as any area that (1) exceeds 150 percent of the average statewide unemployment rate and (2) falls below the poverty rate in at least 20 percent of its area.  This would entitle residents and developers in such areas to certain tax advantages, including taxpayer-sponsored childcare.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 246 (McKinney) proposes to subject any sanitary and improvement district within the extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction of a municipality to the municipality’s comprehensive development plan, affordable house action plan, municipal zoning regulations and other reasonable planning requirements.  In addition, the sanitary and improvement district would need to obtain prior approval from the municipality for any new plans or contracts under Nebraska Revised Statutes section 31-740.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 248 (Vargas) proposes to prohibit residential landlords from discriminating against renters on the basis of any “lawful source of income.”  Under this bill, lawful source of income includes income from social security, child support, foster care subsidies, alimony, veterans benefits, any form of housing assistance payments or any form of government subsidy or assistance.  This bill would also create the Landlord Guarantee Program, which would provide grants to reimburse eligible landlords for unpaid rent or damages arising from residential tenancies.  The Equal Opportunity Commission would have $50,000 from which to award such grants.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 249 (Briese) proposes to amend the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act to permit nonprofit development organizations to apply for more than one grant, subject to a $5,000.000 limit on grant awards over a two-year period.  In addition, the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund would receive $20,000,000.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 255 (Brewer) proposes to limit certain public power districts’ ability to develop renewable energy resources.  This bill would prohibit Omaha Public Power District, Lincoln Electric System and Nebraska Public Power District from exercising their power of eminent domain to acquire any property for renewable energy generation.  This bill would also limit the definition of “privately developed renewable energy generation facility” to remove any facilities that the foregoing entities own, and it would prohibit those entities from becoming a qualified owner in any new C-BED project or submitting any special generation application for renewable energy generation under Nebraska Revised Statutes section 70-1014.01.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 267 (Brewer) proposes to adopt the Critical Infrastructure Utility Worker Protection Act.  The Act requires the Governor, upon declaring a civil defense emergency, disaster or emergency, to provide critical infrastructure utility workers with adequate protection and care, including priority access to personal protective equipment, medical screening, testing, preventive health services, medical treatment and any U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines.  The Act defines “critical infrastructure utility worker” in accordance with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 4.1.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 270 (McKinney) proposes to require residential landlords to replace any lead service lines on the premises with modern service lines.  Additionally, this bill would require any municipality that has adopted a rental registration ordinance to notify tenants of any code violations the municipality finds.  Before condemning a rental property for violations of code, the municipality would need to meet with tenants and have a plan for providing their housing, food, transportation, moving expenses, and legal services.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

LB 278 (Walz) proposes to require the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, to apply for state and federal grants that will help to build safe, affordable and accessible housing for individuals with disabilities.  The Legislature has not yet referred this bill to a committee.

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