Session Review: Banking, Commerce and Insurance

Real estate regulation and property appraisal topped the list of issues considered by the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee this session.

Lawmakers passed a bill that allows the Nebraska Real Estate Commission to assess fines against unlicensed individuals conducting activity that requires a real estate license.

LB691, sponsored by Schuyler Sen. Chris Langemeier, creates a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per day, or the amount of commissions earned without a license, whichever is greater. The penalties can be assessed only after deliverance of notice and an administrative hearing before the commission.

The bill passed 47-0.

A bill that makes changes to the Nebraska Real Property Appraiser Act also was approved.

LB931, sponsored by Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan, addresses the authority of the Appraisal Standards Board and the Appraiser Qualifications Board to establish criteria for the state regulator of real property appraisers.

The bill requires that courses of study for credentialing purposes be taken at degree-awarding institutions. It was amended to include provisions of LB818.

Also sponsored by Sullivan, LB818 allows a broker’s price opinion (BPO) or a comparative market analysis (CMA) prepared by a real estate licensee to be used to obtain, extend or modify financing in a non-federally related transaction. The bill requires that a BPO or CMA be signed and dated and include a disclosure that the evaluation is not an appraisal.

LB931 passed 45-0.

Senators passed a bill that repeals and replaces Nebraska’s current Limited Liability Company (LLC) Act. LLCs are businesses that provide limited liability protection for their partners and federal partnership taxation for their owners.

LB888, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, clarifies the duties of loyalty and care that members owe the company and one another and their ability to define and limit those duties. The bill also provides for perpetual duration of the company and preserves the distinction between manager-managed and member-managed LLCs while giving new attention to the authority of members to bind the company.

The bill includes provisions from LB730, introduced by Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh, which clarify language regarding changing orders entered by a court on behalf of a judgment creditor of an LLC member.

Finally, the bill clarifies that a judgment creditor is prevented from receiving any management interests in the company.

LB888 passed on a 49-0 vote.

A bill proposing a linked deposit loan program fell short of the requisite votes needed to advance from select file.

LB297, introduced by Fullerton Sen. Annette Dubas, would create the Nebraska Beginning Farmer and Small Business Linked Deposit Loan Act, which would offer linked deposit loans not to exceed $250,000 to eligible farmers who have a net worth not exceeding $500,000. Total loan amounts would be limited to $2 million in fiscal year 2011-12, $4 million in FY2012-13 and $4 million in FY2013-14.

LB297 failed to advance on a 22-12 vote.

The committee also held public hearings on bills dealing with prescription drug costs, rural tourism and media job training. None of the three bills advanced from committee.

LB1017, sponsored by Bellevue Sen. Abbie Cornett, would have limited the amount health insurance companies can charge for certain prescription drugs. The bill would have prohibited the creation of specialty drug tiers that require payment of a percentage of prescription costs and would have limited out-of-pocket expenses for certain prescription drugs.

Introduced by Sen. Tom Hansen of North Platte, LB1068 would have created the Rural Tourism Development Program to promote agri-tourism and ecotourism in rural Nebraska, including activities such as farm and ranch tours, horseback riding and branding.

Under the bill, the state Department of Economic Development would have administered the program, which would have provided loans to small tourism businesses in counties with fewer than 100,000 residents.

Finally, LB1074, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Heath Mello, would have added certain media production companies to the state Department of Economic Development’s job training grant program.

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