Urban affairs omnibus bill vetoed over land bank provisions

Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed an omnibus Urban Affairs measure April 23 that would have addressed a wide range of laws governing municipalities in Nebraska.

LB873, as introduced by the Urban Affairs Committee, would have made a variety of clean-up changes to state law related to the governing of cities, including clarifying terms and eliminating antiquated and unnecessary language.

The governor focused his objections on provisions included in the bill to expand land bank authority statewide. A land bank is a tax-exempt political subdivision that acquires, manages and develops vacant and tax-delinquent properties.

Originally introduced by Grand Island Sen. Dan Quick as LB854, the provisions would have allowed any Nebraska municipality to create a land bank under the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act and clarified that land banks may enter into agreements under the Interlocal Cooperation Act for the joint administration of multiple land banks.

Currently, only municipalities in Douglas and Sarpy counties are eligible under state law to create land banks.

Lawmakers passed the omnibus bill on a 26-15 vote April 18, the final day of the 2018 session.

In his veto message, the governor said land banks are unelected entities that create an additional layer of government vested with “exceptionally” broad powers—including the ability to issue debt without a vote of the people. He said expansion of those powers statewide is unnecessary.

LB873 included provisions of six additional bills:
• LB735, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood, which would have clarified that municipalities have the authority to enter into an interlocal agreement with a county in which the extra-territorial zoning jurisdiction of the municipality is located to provide for joint and cooperative action to abate, remove or prevent nuisances within the ETJ;
• LB748, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, which would have clarified references to municipal population thresholds, providing that such thresholds are met based on either the most recent federal decennial census or the most recent revised certified count by the U.S. Bureau of the Census;
• LB756, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld, which would have prohibited municipalities from adopting or enforcing an ordinance or regulation that prohibits the use of a property as a short-term rental, unless necessary to protect public health and safety;
• LB765, introduced by the Urban Affairs Committee, which would have amended sections of law governing first class cities to clarify that they apply only to first class cities;
• LB768, introduced by Quick, which would have authorized first- and second-class cities and villages to make grants and loans under the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act for early childhood infrastructure development; and
• LB880, introduced by Hansen, which would have required cities to include an early childhood element in their comprehensive plans no later than Jan. 1, 2022, either when adopting a new or updating an existing comprehensive plan.

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