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106th Nebraska Legislature, First Session, Adjourns Sine Die

The First Session of the 106th Nebraska Legislature convened on January 9, 2019. Bill introduction concluded on January 23, 2019. The Legislature adjourned sine die six legislative days early on May 31, 2019.

Provided below are summaries of 4 bills of interest following the conclusion of the First Session and the final statuses of an additional 24 bills that we tracked in the areas of energy/renewable energy, real estate/financial transactions, tax, telecommunications, healthcare, economic development and government/municipal law.

HIGHLIGHTED BILLS

LB 155, as introduced, eliminated the legislative declaration that the use of eminent domain by a governmental entity to provide transmission lines and other facilities for privately-developed renewable energy facilities is a public use. LB 155 was an attempt to harm private wind energy development by removing its "public use" eminent domain protections. On behalf of our clients, we opposed the bill in its original form and collaborated on an amendment, which passed with 44 votes. The amendment, AM 1380, added additional language that lessens the impact on wind developers by providing a rebuttable presumption that the use of eminent domain for privately-owned transmission lines is a public use. On May 17, the Governor signed LB 155, as amended by AM 1380, and it becomes effective on August 15, 2019. Here is the bill in its entirety.

LB 218, as introduced, exempted electric generation, transmission, distribution and street lighting facilities owned by a political subdivision from taxable personal property. On behalf of our clients, we opposed the bill in its original form and collaborated on an amendment. The amendment changed the bill in its entirety by amending the definition of real property to include electric generation, transmission, distribution and street lighting facilities in the definition, as opposed to the initial bill that exempted the same from sales tax. On May 23, the Legislature passed the bill on Final Reading with an emergency clause. On May 29, the Governor approved the bill. The bill became effective on May 29, 2019. Here is the bill in its entirety.

LB 700 would require that any person that owns, operates, or manages a wind energy conversion system be responsible for all decommissioning or reclamation costs necessary for the removal of the system. On March 19, the Natural Resources Committee designated LB 700 as its priority bill. LB 700 would require wind energy developers to cover all costs associated with removing wind energy conversion systems. On April 5, the Committee placed LB 700 on General File with an amendment. The amendment would:

  • require that wind turbine owners provide landowners with information on materials and equipment that will remain on their land when a turbine is decommissioned;
  • require that every wind agreement executed on or after January 1, 2020, provide for the removal of below grade foundation material and equipment upon decommissioning, but excludes wind turbines that will be used for repowering within 24 months;
  • require that voids left from removal be restored to pre-installation condition or an improved condition per agreement between the landowner and turbine owner; and
  • allow political subdivisions to enact standards that meet or exceed the requirements of LB 700.

LB 700 remains on General File and the full Legislature will debate the bill during the Second Session, which begins on January 8, 2020. We will continue to oppose LB 700 on behalf of our wind energy development clients.

LR 14CA amends the Nebraska Constitution to authorize municipalities to pledge property taxes for up to twenty years if more than one-half of property in a redevelopment project area is extremely blighted. The bill enables the Legislature to pass legislation that allows for five additional years of tax-increment financing (as opposed to the normal fifteen years) in areas of great need for redevelopment. LB 648 proposes such legislation and the Legislature will debate LB648 during the Second Session. On March 7, the Urban Affairs Committee placed LR 14CA on General File. On March 19, the Urban Affairs Committee designated LR 14CA as its priority resolution. Senator Groene filed FA 26, which sought to amend LR 14CA to allow municipalities to pledge property taxes if 100% of the property is extremely blighted as opposed to more than one-half; however, the amendment failed. On April 5, LR 14CA, advanced to Initial Enrollment and Review. On April 10, Senator Groene filed an amendment providing that a high rate of unemployment and poverty must factor into the designation of an extremely blighted area; the amendment was adopted. LR 14CA advanced on Enrollment and Review for Engrossment. On April 18, LR 14CA was signed by the President/Speaker and presented to the Secretary of State. Here is the constitutional amendment in its entirety.


ADDITIONAL BILLS

Energy/Renewable Energy

LB 76 (amends provisions relating to the nameplate capacity by basing nameplate capacity upon renewable energy facilities' alternating current capacity): The Revenue Committee placed LB 76 on General File on March 13. LB 76 remains on General File and the Legislature may debate the bill during the Second Session.

LB 285 (appropriates $200,000 from the State's general fund to conduct an electric transmission and infrastructure study focused on policy and future needs to encourage and facilitate the development of renewable energy facilities in Nebraska): On January 17, the Legislature referred LB 285 to the Natural Resources Committee. On March 5, the Committee held a hearing on March 14. LB 285 remains in the Natural Resources Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 302 (merges the Nebraska State Energy Office with the Department of Environmental Quality under a newly-formed Department of Environment and Energy and merges the statutes relating to the governance and operations of the separate departments): On March 15, LB 302 passed on Final Reading with an emergency clause. The Governor signed it on March 21. LB 302 will take effect on July 1, 2019, and begins the process for the State of Nebraska to take over a portion of the permitting process under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Here is the bill in its entirety.

LB 621 (prevents homeowners associations from adopting and enforcing covenants that prohibit installation of a solar energy collector or solar energy system, while additionally proving a civil cause of actions for violations by homeowners associations): On January 25, the Legislature referred the bill to the Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on February 21. LB 621 remains in the Judiciary Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 704 (allows the State Energy Office to continue implementing energy efficiency and consumption policy for the state and for the Department of Administrative Services to use an appropriation of $50,000 for the fiscal year 2021-22): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 704 to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, which held a hearing on March 15. LB 704 remains in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.


Real Estate/Financial Transactions

LB 30 (amends the Professional Landscape Architects Act to update and modernize professional standards of landscape architects): On February 22, the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee placed LB 30 on General File with an amendment. The amendment removed enhanced criminal penalties, clarified the bill, and removed some internship requirements. LB 30 remains on General File and the Legislature will debate the bill during the Second Session, which begins on January 8, 2020.

LB 602 (adopts the Domestic Stock Insurance Company Division Act, which would create employment opportunities by improving the competitive position of domestic stock insurance companies): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 602 to the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee. The Committee held a hearing on March 12. LB 602 remains in the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 633 (amends provisions related to public information about real property that counties have an interest in, while preventing disclosure of residential addresses and the names of such real property, and requiring that the county registers of deeds keep such information confidential unless requested in writing): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 633 to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, which held a hearing on March 1. LB 633 remains in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 689 (prohibits sellers and lessors of real estate from refusing to sell or lease property based upon sexual orientation, gender identity, or citizenship status): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 689 to the Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on March 1. LB 689 remains in the Judiciary Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.


Tax

LB 601 (changes the property tax exemption relating to education, religious, charitable and cemetery organizations by eliminating an exclusion for property used for the sale of alcohol for more than twenty hours per week): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 601 to the Revenue Committee. The Committee held a hearing on March 27. LB 601 remains in the Revenue Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 614 (amends revenue and tax provisions, specifically increasing tax on alcohol and spirts manufactured and sold by wholesalers in Nebraska, while additionally creating supplemental aid to school districts equal to 0.0433 percent of the statewide average general fund operating expenditures): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 614 to the Revenue Committee. On February 11, Senator Crawford filed an amendment. The amendment had no substantive impact on the bill. The Committee held a hearing on March 1. LB 614 remains in the Revenue Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.


Telecommunications

LB 29 (allows healthcare providers to establish provider-patient relationships and prescribe medications via telecommunication services): On March 21, the Governor approved the bill. LB 29 will take effect on June 19, 2019. Here is the bill in its entirety.


Healthcare

LB 110 (legalizes medical marijuana in Nebraska via adoption of the Medical Cannabis Act): On May 10, the Judiciary Committee placed LB 110 on General File with an amendment. The amendment clarified sections of the bill as the "Medicinal Cannabis Act" and provided definitions under the Act. A number of senators filed amendments to this bill, and it failed to advance from General File. LB 110 remains on General File and the Legislature may debate the bill during the Second Session.

LB 597 (requires administrators of assisted-living facilities to report any incident involving violence, any injury that requires urgent medical treatment, and any incident involving bed bugs to the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Health and Human Services): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 597 to the Health and Human Services Committee. The Committee held a hearing on March 1. LB 597 remains in the Health and Human Services Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 659 (amends the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, specifically removing cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 659 to the Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on February 20. LB 659 remains in the Judiciary Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.


Economic Development

LB 136 (adopts the Density Bonus and Inclusionary Housing Act, which provides real estate developers municipal concessions and/or incentives for incorporating affordable housing units as part of a development project): The Legislature referred this bill to the Urban Affairs Committee. The Committee held a hearing on February 19. LB 136 remains in the Urban Affairs Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 310 (amends the statutes governing state historic tax credits): On March 19, the Revenue Committee placed LB 310 on General File with an amendment. The amendment required recipients of the credit to pay a fee equal to 0.275% of the credit amount to the Department of Revenue for the cost of processing applications. LB 310 remains on General File and the Legislature may debate the bill during the Second Session.

LB 604 (authorizes the High-Wage Jobs and Capital Investment Creation Fund by which the fund could be used for grants, loans, or other types of economic assistance to eligible entities): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 604 to the Business and Labor Committee, which held a hearing in February. LB 604 remains in the Business and Labor Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 613 (changes the sunset provisions for tax credits under the New Markets Job Growth Investment Act and the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act from December 31, 2022 to July 1, 2019): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 613 to the Revenue Committee, which held its hearing on March 6. LB 613 remains in the Revenue Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 648 (amends the Community Development Law to provide that a redevelopment authority may not prepare a redevelopment plan that would divide ad valorem taxes for a period of more than fifteen years unless the municipality declares more than fifty percent of the property in the redevelopment area to be extremely blighted): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 648 to the Urban Affairs Committee, which held a hearing on March 5. LB 648 remains in the Urban Affairs Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.

LB 720 (adopts the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, which would modernize Nebraska's economic development platform to encourage new business to relocate in Nebraska and retain existing business, amongst other things): On May 10 to May 24, several Senators submitted amendments to the bill. On May 24, Senator Kolterman invoked a motion for cloture which failed. LB 720 remains on Select File and will be debated by the full Legislature during the Second Session, which begins on January 8, 2020.

LB 724 (amends the Nebraska Advantage Act to require that at least one half of domestic corporations' board of directors be women): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 724 to the Revenue Committee, which held a hearing on March 15. LB 724 remains in the Revenue Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.


Governmental/Municipal Law

LB 731 (requires cities of the metropolitan class to include an energy element in a comprehensive plan when adopting or updating a comprehensive plan): On March 14, the Urban Affairs Committee placed LB 731 on General File with an amendment. The amendment extended LB 731 to apply to counties. LB 731 remains on General File and will be debated by the full Legislature during the Second Session, which begins on January 8, 2020.

LB 736 (provides that after January 1, 2020, a city council may not impose an occupation tax or a license fee greater than twenty-five dollars annually): On January 25, the Legislature referred LB 736 to the Government, Military and Veterans Committee, which held a hearing on February 28. LB 736 remains in the Government, Military and Veterans Committee, and must be advanced from the Committee in the Second Session in order to be debated by the full Legislature.


A final updated chart of all First Session bills related to related to municipal law, real estate, renewable energy, liquor, finance, healthcare 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.

David C. Levy
Michael D. Sands
Addison E. Fairchild

1700 Farnam Street | Suite 1500 | Omaha, NE 68102 | 402.344.0500