Session Review: Executive Board

A special legislative committee will conduct a thorough study of Nebraska’s tax code as a result of legislation considered by the Legislature’s Executive Board.

LR155, introduced by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, authorizes the newly-formed Tax Modernization Committee to provide a final report to the Legislature and the governor by Dec. 15, 2014.

The committee will consider fairness, competitiveness, simplicity and compliance, stability, adequacy and complementary tax systems as it evaluates Nebraska’s current tax code.

The committee comprises the members of the Revenue Committee and the chairperson of the following committees: Appropriations, Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture and Planning. Two other members of the Legislature will be selected to serve on the committee by the Executive Board of the Legislative Council.

Omaha Sen. Sara Howard introduced LB242, passed 48-0, which requires that state agencies adopt new rules and regulations in a timely manner. After a new rule or regulation is passed by the Legislature, the relevant state agency currently is required to hold a public hearing. The agency then must adopt and promulgate the rule or regulation within one year of the public hearing date.

Under the bill, if an agency has not adopted and promulgated a rule or regulation within three years of the operative date, the standing committee with subject matter jurisdiction shall hold a public hearing. It also ensures that no state agency could enforce a rule or regulation without a public hearing and final approval of either the governor or secretary of state.

The requirements in LB242 apply to legislation enacted before, on or after the effective date of the bill.

LB612, introduced by Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher, requires the state Department of Revenue to present economic development incentive reports to two legislative committees.

The bill requires the department to appear once every two years before a joint hearing of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Revenue committees to present the reports. Supplemental information requested by three or more committee members must be provided within 30 days after the request.

Senators passed the bill on a 47-0 vote.

Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell introduced LR31, considered and adopted by the Executive Board, which reauthorized the appointment of senators to the Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight Committee. The committee was created in 2009 to provide oversight of programs created in the wake of the state’s safe haven crisis to assist families and children in need of behavioral health services.

The following senators were appointed:
• Sens. Jeremy Nordquist and Kate Bolz from the Appropriations Committee;
• Sens. Kathy Campbell and Sue Crawford from the Health and Human Services Committee;
• Sens. Colby Coash and Amanda McGill from the Judiciary Committee; and
• Sens. Bill Avery, Annette Dubas and Pete Pirsch.

The committee is authorized to meet with representatives of the state Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Children’s Commission and other interested parties and may hold public hearings and issue reports as warranted.

Oversight functions will be transferred to the Nebraska Children’s Commission when the Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight Committee’s authorization expires in January 2014.

Finally, LR20, introduced by Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop and passed 39-0, reconstitutes the Developmental Disabilities Special Investigative Committee of the Legislature through the current biennium. The committee first was assembled in 2008 to address a number of issues at the Beatrice State Developmental Center that led to a loss of federal funding.

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