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Summaries from Days 6-10 of Nebraska Bill Introduction

on Tuesday, 24 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 25, 75 legislative days remain in the session.  The Legislature will adjourn sine die on June 9, 2023.

Bill introduction concluded on January 18.  In our last update, we analyzed 36 bills from days one through five of bill introduction.  Days six through ten produced an additional 55 bills warranting particular attention.  Below are summaries of those bills.  A comprehensive chart of the bills of interest to this newsletter is at this link.

LB 278 (Walz) proposes to require the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority and the Department of Economic Development to use their best efforts and collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain state and federal grants to build affordable and accessible housing for individuals with disabilities under the Olmstead Plan. On January 12, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 287 (Brewer) would prohibit the creation of any joint public agency on or after October 1, 2023.  On January 11, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 289 (Bostelman) proposes to amend the powers of an agency created under the Municipal Cooperative Financing Act to include the power (1) to own, operate or lease advanced metering infrastructure technology and to provide for advanced metering infrastructure services and (2) to provide services related to information technology, physical security, physical infrastructure management, regulator reporting and administration regarding publicly owned utility and municipal infrastructure systems.  On January 13, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee. 

LB 292 (Cavanaugh, M.) would amend the Jobs and Economic Development Initiative Act, which last year appropriated funds for the Department of Natural Resources to develop a lake between Lincoln and Omaha.  This bill would prohibit political subdivisions from annexing land necessary for the lake, and it would prohibit the state from using eminent domain to acquire land for the project.  On January 13, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 299 (Linehan) proposes to amend the Interlocal Cooperation Act to limit the ability of a joint entity that includes a Nebraska school district or educational service unit to issue bonds without the approval of the majority of the qualified electors within the school district or educational service unit.  The bill also proposes notice requirements and limitations on the election.  On January 13, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Education Committee.

LB 312 (Lowe) would add provisions for the withholding of money due to noncompliance with budget limits and annual audits.  This bill would codify that a governmental unit would continue to forfeit state aid until State Treasurer received notice of compliance from the Auditor of Public Accounts.  The bill would further prohibit any governmental until to for future distributions of state aid if the government unit failed to reach compliance within twelve months after notice of delinquency.  On January 13, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 322 (Linehan) proposes to prohibit any joint public agency created on or after October 1, 2023 from exercising any power or authority relating to tax.  On January 13, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 325 (Dungan) would amend the State Tort Claims Act and Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act to immunize the state and political subdivisions from claims alleging a failure to control or protect a person over whom the state or political subdivision has taken charge.  On January 13, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Judiciary Committee.

LB 359 (Hughes) proposes to amend the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act to require the Public Service Commission to publish notices of grant application deadlines on its website.  On January 17, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

LB 360 (Cavanaugh, M.) would adopt the Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Procurement Act to deter and identify fraud, waste and abuse in the state’s procurement system across all state agencies.  On January 17, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 389 (Linehan) proposes to amend the Community Development Law to prohibit the a parcel of real property to have any ad valorem taxes divided as part of a redevelopment project if such parcel’s taxes had previously been divided during the preceding fifty years.  On January 17, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 394 (Erdman) would standardize damages calculations in eminent domain proceedings and give a premium to owners of agricultural land.  Damages presently equal the fair and reasonable market value of the damages.  Douglas Cnty. Sch. Dist. No. 10 v. Tribedo, LLC, 307 Neb. 716, 726 (2020).  This bill would codify that rule for non-agricultural land and allow for reasonable severance damages and abstracting expenses.  For agricultural land, however, this bill would set damages at two times the fair market value of the condemned property, in addition to reasonable severance damages, abstracting expenses and the replacement costs for any dwellings, garages, sheds, barns, wells, septic systems, fences and other permanent structures.  On January 17, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Judiciary Committee.

LB 399 (Brewer) proposes to subject private renewable energy developers to additional oversight by the Power Review Board.  Nebraska Revised Statutes section 47-1014.02 permits certain privately developed renewable energy generation facilities to commence construction upon filing a notice to the Board.  This bill, however, would first require an application for such facilities and a hearing and opportunity for public comment before the Board.  After the hearing, the Board could approve or deny the application.  On January 17, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 412 (Geist) would amend the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act to permit the Public Service Commission to allocate federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to any portion of a local exchange area containing a city of the second class or village.  On January 17, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

LB 424 (DeBoer) proposes to address the fragmentation of housing related issues among multiple state agencies by consolidating and creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The bill would also create the Housing Advisory Commission to Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Effective July 1, 2024, all duties of the Housing Division of the Department of Economic Development and certain duties of the Department of Economic Development would transfer to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  On January 18, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 446 (Bostar) would adopt the Peer-to-Peer Vehicle Sharing Program Act.  Effective in 2024, his Act would regulate business platforms that connect private vehicles with individuals wanting to rent them.  Under the Act, the business platform would need to assure financial responsibility and insurance coverage for the vehicles, collect and verify records pertaining to use and revenue from shared vehicles, verify certain safety information regarding each driver and shared vehicle and disclose certain information to each driver.  On January 17, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 450 (Brewer) proposes to amend the Integrated Solid Waste Management Act to prohibit the land disposal of wind turbine blades and their component parts.  On January 18, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 462 (Conrad) would redefine the term “workforce housing” in the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act to include owner-occupied housing units that cost no more than $330,000 to construct.  The Act previously capped this standard to no more than $275,000.  On January 18, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 476 (Wayne) proposes to adopt the Public Entities Investment Trust Act.  The Act would authorize the creation of a trust to provide an investment pool to any governmental, public or quasi-public entity.  Eligible investments under the Act include any investment not prohibited by state law or Article XI, Section 1, of the Constitution of Nebraska.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 477 (Wayne) would appropriate $100,000,000 to the Omaha Streetcar Authority to help establish, maintain and operate the Omaha streetcar.  The bill would express a preference for one-half of the money to go toward developing a North Omaha line.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee.

LB 481 (Raybould) proposes to adopt the Housing Incentive District Act. The Act would allow cities and counties to assist directly in the financing of public improvements that would support housing in areas that experience housing shortages.  Prior to designating a housing incentive district, the cities and counties must conduct a housing needs analysis to determine what, if any, housing needs exist within the proposed incentive district and adopt a resolution that depicts the area and the findings of the analysis.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 504 (Aguilar) would appropriate $25,000,000 in each of the next two years to the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund to provide workforce housing grants under the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act.  The bill also proposes to appropriate $25,000,000 in each of the next two years to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to finance loans, grants, subsidies, credit enhancements and other financial assistance for community affordable housing projects.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee.

LB 505 (Bostar) proposes to reduce the standard vehicle registration fee for plug-in hybrid vehicles and adjust certain excise taxes for vehicle fuels.  For gas, diesel and ethanol power vehicles, the excise tax would equal $.09 per gallon, and for electric-powered vehicles, the excise tax would equal $.03 per kilowatt hour used for charging.  The bill would also permit commercial electric vehicle charging stations to offtake energy directly from renewable energy generators. On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 515 (Walz) would adopt the Rural Economic Development Initiative Act. Under the Act the Economic Development Grant Program would be established for the issuance of grants to counties to use to hire an additional employee to assist with economic development measures in the county.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 530 (McKinney) proposes to amend the Nebraska Housing Agency Act.  The bill would require two of the seven commissioners of a local housing agency be elected by adults who receive direct assistance from the local housing agency.  The five other commissioners would remain appointed by the chief elected official of the city.  Additionally, all commissioners of a local housing agency established by a city of the metropolitan class elected or appointed would serve for a term of four years.  The bill would also require the executive director of a housing agency established by a city of the metropolitan class to be elected by adults who receive direct assistance from the local housing agency.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 531 (McKinney) would amend the Economic Recovery Act.  The bill would remove the responsibility of the Economic Recovery and Incentives Division of the Department of Economic Development to develop a coordinated plan and grant application and scoring process regarding the use of funds derived from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 or other federal or state sources.  The bill would also prioritize the use of grants used within the boundaries of a city of the metropolitan class.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 532 (McKinney) proposes to amend provisions of the Community Development Law relating to extremely blighted areas and the removal of substandard and blighted area designations.  The amendment would require an area’s designation as extremely blighted to remain valid for at least 25 years, unless removed prior following a review by the governing body of the city.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 534 (Slama) would appropriate $150,000,000 of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to the Department of Environment and Energy to provide grants for small and rural communities to address nitrate in drinking water.  The Department would administer the funds via the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to facilities at which drinking water test levels are above 10 parts per million of nitrate.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee.

LB 541 (Lowe) proposes to provide for the nomination and election of public power and public power and irrigation district directors on a partisan ballot.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 559 (Blood) would allow the electronic filing of statements of financial interests under the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 563 (Dorn) proposes to appropriate $250,000 in each of the next two years to the State Historical Society.  The bill would direct the Society to contract with programs that provide educational programming and technical expertise related to downtown or maintstreet revitalization, business growth and historical preservation.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Appropriations Committee.

LB 565 (Bostelman) would appropriate $250,000 in each of the next two years to the Department of Economic Development to award grants for Nebraska Public Power District to apply for a regional clean hydrogen hub designation and associated federal funding.  This follows from Nebraska Revised Statute section 66-2301, which the Legislature adopted last year.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 566 (Bostelman) proposes to direct the Natural Resources Committee to study the economic impacts of an increased reliance on intermittent renewable energy.  The Committee would need to support a report to the Legislature by November 15, 2023.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Executive Board.

LB 567 (Bostelman) would redefine “reliable or reliability” under Nebraska Revised Statutes section 70-1001.01 to mean the ability of an electric supplier to supply the aggregate electric power and energy requirements of its electricity consumers at all times under normal operating conditions.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 568 (Bostelman) proposes to adopt the Nuclear and Hydrogen Development Act.  The Act would require the Department of Economic Development to create a Nuclear and Hydrogen Industry Work Group, with representatives from the community colleges, state universities, nuclear and hydrogen industries, public power districts and Legislature.  The Group would determine the workforce training needs of the nuclear and hydrogen industries and establish grant criteria for supporting those needs.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 569 (Bostelman) would prohibit any member of a county board of county planning commission, including such member’s immediate family, from having a financial interest in a contract for development, construction, management or operation of a Nebraska electric generation facility or in the land underlying such facility.  The bill clarifies it would not affect the validity of existing contracts.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 594 (Hardin) proposes to allow for the creation of local government investment pools for the purpose of investing the funds of two or more political subdivisions.  The local government investment pool would have the power and authority to invest and reinvest funds in commercial paper that meets the requirements set forth in the bill.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 621 (McDonnell) would expand eligible activities under the Site and Building Development Fund to include grants to governmental subdivisions and Nebraska nonprofit organizations for the construction of an outdoor soccer stadium with a capacity of no more than 10,000 seats.  The bill also proposes to appropriate $50,000,000 from the Cash Reserve Fund to the Site Building Development Fund on July 15, 2023. On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 622 (McDonnell) proposes to redefine “covered property” in the Sports Arena Facility Financing Assistance Act to include any real property, as of the date of application, is part of a project previously approved under the Act or a project previously approved under the Convention Center Facility Financing Assistance Act. The bill also proposes to expand the definition of “Eligible sports arena facility” to include any large public stadium in which initial occupancy occurs on or after March 1, 2025. The bill also proposes to define “Large public stadium” as a publicly owned open-air facility that primarily includes an outdoor field that may include some indoor areas used for competitive sports.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 623 (McDonnell) would redefine “eligible sports arena facility” in the Sports Arena Facility Financing Assistance Act to include any enclosed, temperature-controlled building owned by a public entity or nonprofit organization that is primarily used for live music performances with a capacity of at least 2,500, but no more than 3,500 people.  On January 19, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 629 (McKinney) proposes to amend the definition “workforce housing” in the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act to include owner occupied housing units that have a “total housing construction cost” of at least $125,000 but not more than $275,000.  The amendment would exclude infrastructure improvements, lot acquisition and similar construction preparation costs from the calculation of “total housing construction cost.”  The bill also proposes to transfer a yet to be determined amount of money to the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Fund. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 633 (McKinney) would require the Department of Economic Development to contract with a private contractor which has a headquarters in Nebraska to market financial incentives provided by the State of Nebraska for key industries in Nebraska.  The financial incentives to be marketed would include, but not be limited to, those created under the Business Innovation Act and the Site and Building Development Act. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 636 (Albrecht) proposes to prohibit political subdivisions from enacting regulations that have the effect of restricting or prohibiting the types of permissible fuel sources by natural gas utilities, natural gas transmission companies or propane providers. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 637 (Albrecht) would amend the Open Meetings Act to require public meetings, except during closed sessions, to permit members of the public to speak at each meeting. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 644 (McDonnell) proposes to appropriate $80,000,000 from the Cash Reserve Fund to the Site and Building Development Fund for fiscal year 2023-24 and fiscal year 2024-25.  The appropriated funds are to be placed in a subaccount and be used to support identifying, evaluating and developing large commercial and industrial sites and building infrastructure to attract major investment and employment opportunities. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.

LB 662 (Ballard) would amend the Right to Farm Act to prohibit most nuisance actions against agricultural operations.  Under the bill, the only such nuisance actions that could stand are those brought by a person who either (a) owns a majority interest in real property that is within one-half mile of the defendant and affected by the alleged nuisance or (b) can show a violation of federal, state or local law.  Commonly accepted agricultural practices, as well as employment of new technology or changes in the type of farm product produced, could not give rise to nuisance liability. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Agriculture Committee.

LB 691 (Linehan) proposes to require all project-related costs for natural gas and water utilities related to the construction of a fixed rail or streetcar system in a city of the metropolitan class to paid for by the city or the owner of the fixed rail or streetcar system.  Project-related costs under the bill include all necessary utility work required for the construction of the fixed rail or streetcar system and include engineering services performed for all gas and water utility work. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 692 (Linehan) would adopt the Good Life Transformational Projects Act. The Act would all for state assistance to political subdivisions for the development and redevelopment of eligible areas within the state by authorizing cities and villages to establish good life districts.  The amount of state assistance would be limited to a designated portion of state sales tax revenue collected within such good life district.  Commencing July 1, 2023, the sales tax levy would be 6.00% on transactions occurring within a good life district. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 697 (Conrad) proposes to amend the definition of improvements under the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act to mean a rehabilitation, preservation or restoration project that contributes to the basis, functionality or value of historically significant real property and that has a total cost which equals or exceeds $5,000.  The bill would also increase the nonrefundable tax credit under the act to (1) twenty-five percent of eligible expenditures for historically significant real property located in a county that includes a city of the metropolitan class or a city of the primary class and (2) thirty percent of eligible expenditures for historically significate real property in any other county.  The maximum credit allocated to any one project under the bill would increase to $2,000,000.  For calendar years beginning after January 1, 2025, the bill reduces the total amount of credits available under the act to $12,000,000, of which $4,000,000 would go for applications seeking an allocation of credits of less than $100,000. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

LB 707 (Dungan) would create the Transforming Cities of the Primary Class Program to award up to $10,000,000 in grants to cities of the primary class for the purpose of constructing housing to address affordable housing needs.  The bill proposes to appropriate $10,000,000 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 712 (Hardin) proposes to create the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Deployment Fund to support incorporated municipalities and extraterritorial jurisdiction to address certain deficiencies to support the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Deployment and Minuteman III Decommissioning and Disposal Accommodation if Nebraska is selected for the headquarters.  The bill also proposes the appropriation of $20,000,000 from the Cash Reserve Fund to the Ground based Strategic Deterrent Deployment Fund. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB 714 (Cavanaugh, J.) would amend provisions of the Nebraska Affordable Housing Act to allow for-profit entities to receive assistance under the Nebraska Affordable Housing Act, but only for new funds as of January 1, 2023 that have been transferred from the General Fund or Cash Reserve Fund to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The bill would also appropriate $25,000,000 from the General Fund for fiscal year 2023-24 and fiscal year 2024-25 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Health and Human Services Committee.

LB 725 (Dungan) proposes to prohibit certain electric companies and electric cooperative corporations from using ratepayer proceeds to campaign or lobby in elections. Violation of that ban could result in a criminal prosecution. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 726 (Dungan) would adopt the Nebraska Electric Consumer Right to Transparency and Local Control Act.  The Act would require each electric utility to publish the following information on its website: (1) board meeting dates, times and locations; (2) board meeting agendas; (3) board meeting minutes; (4) current rate schedules and fees, rents and other charges; (5) a full and complete statement of receipts and disbursements of the electric utility; (6) the fiscal year budget; (7) service territory, if applicable; (8) a list of all board members; (9) board member district and subdistrict boundaries; and (10) a method by which to contact board members and the electric utility’s staff. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Natural Resources Committee.

LB 746 (Cavanaugh, M.) proposes to amend the Community Development Law to restrict the division of taxes if the total amount of ad valorem taxes to be generated for any redevelopment project exceeds $20,000,000, unless the question of dividing the taxes has been submitted at a primary, general or special election and approved by voters. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee.

LB 756 (Vargas) would amend the definition of improvements under the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act to mean a rehabilitation, preservation or restoration project that contributes to the basis, functionality or value of historically significant real property and that has a total cost which equals or exceeds $5,000.  The bill would also increase the nonrefundable tax credit under the act to (1) twenty-five percent of eligible expenditures for historically significant real property located in a county that includes a city of the metropolitan class or a city of the primary class and (2) thirty percent of eligible expenditures for historically significate real property in any other county.  The maximum credit allocated to any one project under the bill would be increased to $2,000,000.  For calendar years beginning after January 1, 2024, the bill would reduce the total amount of credits available under the act to $12,000,000, of which $4,000,000 would go for applications seeking an allocation of credits of less than $100,000. On January 20, 2023, the Legislature referred this bill to the Revenue Committee.

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