Campaign rule violators could be charged hearing costs

Violators of Nebraska’s campaign accountability laws could be ordered to pay hearing costs in contested cases under a bill advanced from general file March 31.

LB176, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery, would allow the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission to issue an order requiring a person who has violated the Political Accountability and Disclosure Act to pay hearing costs in a contested case. Funds received would be deposited in the commission’s cash fund.

A Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee amendment, adopted 29-2, would limit the bill’s provisions to only violators who do not appear personally or are not represented by counsel at a hearing.

Avery said the change was made to address concerns that the bill as introduced would discourage accused violators from contesting a finding to avoid being required to pay hearing costs if they lost. As amended, the bill likely would reduce the commission’s reliance on general fund appropriations by approximately $2,000 per year, Avery said.

“It’s a modest amount of money,” he said.

Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh questioned whether the amount of money saved through enacting LB176 would be worth the resources expended to pass it.

“We aren’t doing anything that puts us money ahead,” he said.

The bill advanced to select file on a 26-3 vote.

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