Legislative Updates

NSEA Legislative Update – Friday, April 27, 2018

In this Update:

  1. Governor Vetoes Student Behavioral Health Investment
  2. No Special Session on Property Taxes
  3. Epilogue: The 2018 Legislative Session
  4. Education and School Finance Bills Enacted into Law


Governor Vetoes Student Behavioral Health Investment

On Monday, April 23, the governor vetoed LB998 which would have created the Collaborative School Behavioral and Mental Health Program. The program would place social workers inside Educational Service Units to connect students and families, in both public and private schools, to resources with in their communities. The program would have been entirely paid for by private funds.

Sen. Lynne Walz, the introducer of the proposal, responded to the veto as follows:

I am appalled the Governor would veto a bill that helps so many children and families. There were so many people who worked with us on this legislation. We worked with behavioral and mental health experts, school administrators, teachers, social workers, and concerned parents on LB998. Our office received over a hundred letters of support. This is a program that was needed and well supported.

I am in shock that a program intended to help children, with no cost to the state, would draw this level of opposition. Now, thousands of children will not have access to services they need because our governor is out of touch with the people he is supposed to represent.

An alliance of education groups, including the NSEA, partnered to support a suite of bills that included LB998. Those eight bills represented an investment in Nebraska’s future that would help public schools raise performance.  Other members of the alliance included the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB), the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, Stand for Schools, and the Baptist Pastors and Ministers Conference of Omaha.


No Special Session on Nebraska Property Taxes

The Nebraska Legislature will not hold a special session on property taxes. Secretary of State John Gale reported that too few senators joined in a request for a special session for one to be convened. The special session would have convened next week if 33 lawmakers had requested a session to resolve the property tax disparity.

The request launched a process by which senators can call themselves into special session. Sen. Tom Brewer submitted the request, which was signed by 13 senators, to Gale’s office last week. As per state law, Gale surveyed remaining senators on whether they wanted a special session. Only one additional lawmaker supported the request.


Epilogue: The 2018 Legislative Session

Reviewing the 2018 Session by the introduction and movement of bills, the Legislature introduced 469 legislative bills this year.  An additional 440 bills carried over from the 2017 session. The Legislature passed 142 bills, and four bills that were passed were vetoed.  The Legislature also indefinitely postponed 10 bills and withdrew 7 bills.

Bills become effective on July 19, 2018, three calendar months after adjournment, unless they include a specific operative date or an emergency clause in which case they become effective the day after they are signed by the Governor. Because this is the second session in the biennium, bills that did not pass will not carry over to the 2019 Legislative Session.  Bills will need to be reintroduced next year to be considered again.

Eight senators will not return in 2019. Term limited senators are Lydia Brasch, Burke Harr, Bob Krist, Tyson Larson, Paul Schumacher and Jim Smith. Roy Baker and Sen. John Keuhn did not file for re-election.


Education and School Finance Bills Enacted into Law

A number of bills were voted upon during the last day of the 2018 legislative session on Wednesday, April 18.  The Governor vetoed three bills, LB449, LB873 and LB998, on Monday, April 23.  The Legislature was unable to override them because it has already adjourned for the year.  Here is a list of the education and school finance bills enacted into law during the 2018 Legislative Session:

LB738 (Lindstrom) Change taxation provisions relating to income for social security benefits

NSEA Position: Support (Prioritized with AM1789 – approved by Governor)

Provides for the indexing of the amounts used for the social security adjustments to income at the same rate used for the indexing of individual income tax brackets. The current threshold is $58,000 for married filing jointly returns and $43,000 for all other returns. By FY2021-22, it would eliminate $3.937 million annually in state revenue. AM1789 extends the effective date from tax year 2019 to tax year 2020.

LB791 (Ebke) Change Nebraska State Patrol employees' bargaining rights

NSEA Position: Oppose (Prioritized with AM2708 and AM2880 – approved by Governor)

Makes changes to the State Employees Collective Bargaining Act regarding the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) to eliminate certain conflicts of interest and to provide for accountability and transparency in NSP investigations. Removes NSP sergeants from the collective bargaining unit and places them in the supervisors’ unit. Removes disciplinary and investigative procedures of the NSP from the scope of collective bargaining.

LB803 (Stinner) Change provisions for kindergarten, Step Up to Quality Childcare Act

NSEA Position: Oppose (Prioritized with AM1719 – approved by Governor)

Changes provisions related to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs. The bill provides that pre-kindergarten programs may serve children until enrollment in kindergarten. Currently, they may offer services until the child reaches age 5. LB 803 also requires school districts to provide full-day kindergarten beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

LB874 (Urban Affairs) Change the Community Development Law

NSEA Position: Support (Prioritized with AM1823 and AM2057 – approved by Governor)

Makes a number of changes to provisions in the Community Development Law related to tax-increment financing (TIF), including changes to record keeping, annual reporting of TIF projects to the Department of Revenue, cost reimbursements, substandard and blighted designations, cost-benefit analyses, auditing of TIF projects, and public notices and public hearings for TIF projects.

LB931 (Howard) Provide requirements for opiate and controlled substance prescriptions

NSEA Position: Monitor (Prioritized with AM1849 and AM2228 – approved by Governor)

Would generally prohibit medical practitioners prescribing opioid pain relievers for a patient younger than nineteen from prescribing more than a "seven-day supply" for such patients. A practitioner desiring to prescribe opioids to such a patient for the first time would also be required to discuss with reason for the prescription and the risks associated with opioid use to the patient's parent or guardian. AM1849 includes provisions of LB933 and LB934.

LB953 (Albrecht) Change lump-sum settlements under Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

NSEA Position: Monitor (Prioritized with AM1779, AM2742, AM2762 & AM2885 – approved by Governor)

Portion of the settlement regarding medical expenses and Medicare's interests must be approved by the court if the employee's attorney affirms that the resolution of payment of disputed medical, surgical, or hospital services is in conformity with the compensation schedule and for the best interests of the employee or his or her dependents. The court would not be required to approve other areas of the settlement.

LB957 (Lowe) Provide procedures for payments under Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act

NSEA Position: Support (Prioritized with AM1952, AM2659, AM2673 & AM2818 – approved by Governor)

Permits payment to be paid by check in addition to direct deposit, prepaid card, or similar electronic payment system. Payment by a method other than the method in which the employee was paid his or her wages can only be done upon agreement between the employee and the employer, workers' compensation insurer, or risk management pool.

LB1005 (Kolterman) Change county and school retirement provisions

NSEA Position: Support (Prioritized with AM2204 and AM2560 – approved by Governor)

Changes county and school retirement provisions. Employers in the County and School Employees Retirement Plans are currently allowed to withdraw from the respective Plan.  However, there are no current statutory provisions that authorize the PERB to calculate the funding impact for the benefits of the affected terminated members, nor is there authority for PERB to assess that liability and related costs on the withdrawing employer. Establishes a process for County and School Plan employers that are contemplating business decisions that would result in withdrawal from the Plan.  Also, affected employees who are terminated from the Plan would be considered fully vested.  Within 90 days of the entity’s withdrawal, the affected members will be considered inactive. AM2204 incorporates LB698, LB699, LB700 and provisions of AM1758 to LB548 clarifying the OPS retirement required contribution amount.

LB1034 (Riepe) Change facility standards for school-age child care programs

NSEA Position: Support (Prioritized with AM2322, AM2573 and AM2676 – approved by Governor)

Allows school-age child care programs operating in the same facility as an accredited or approved school under the Department of Education regulations that meet those standards for the care and protection of children to be deemed to meet licensing standards for licenses issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.  AM2322 includes provisions of LB344, LB686, LB894, LB924 and LB1057.

LB1052 (Pansing Brooks) Require instruction and teacher education related to dyslexia

NSEA Position: Support (approved by Governor)

Requires that each student who is identified as exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia receive evidence-based structured literacy instruction with fidelity using a multisensory approach as provided in the technical assistance document adopted by NDE. Provides that a school district will not require a medical diagnosis for dyslexia in order to receive intervention services. Requires the NDE to develop and distribute a technical assistance document for dyslexia providing information about the characteristics of dyslexia, associated conditions of dyslexia, indicators of dyslexia, and the screening, progress monitoring, evaluation, instruction, and intervention for dyslexia.

LB1070 (Brewer) Change election requirement for school districts with fewer than 25 high school students

NSEA Position: Support (approved by Governor)

Changes election requirements in school districts which have an average daily membership of less than 25 students in grades nine through twelve which maintain the only high school in the county. Current law requires an annual districtwide election to continue operation of a high school with less than 25 students. Provides for the issue to be voted upon every four years. In the intervening years, the school board shall annually determine if such a districtwide election is necessary.

LB1078 (Crawford) Require reporting of sexual abuse allegations as prescribed

NSEA Position: Support (Prioritized with AM2318 and AM2434 – approved by Governor)

Extends this reporting requirement to all allegations of sexual abuse of a state ward, juvenile on probation, juvenile in a detention facility, and juvenile in a residential child-caring agency. Requires DHHS to include the following additional information in its annual report to the Health & Human Services Committee: The number of sexual abuse allegations that occurred for children being served by the Division of Children & Family Services and placed at a residential child-caring agency. AM2434 includes LB411

LB1081 (Education Committee) Nebraska Department of Education Technical Bill

NSEA Position: Support (Prioritized with AM2593 and AM2823 – approved by Governor)

Requires a learning community coordinating council to submit an annual financial report to NDE on or before January 31 of each year. Requires a learning community to have an annual audit but authorizes the State Auditor to determine if a less frequent audit is appropriate, but not less than once every three years. Eliminates requirements for schools to submit poverty and limited English proficiency plans beginning in FY2018-19. Eliminates the cap on the number of priority schools which may be designated by the State Board of Education at any one time. Removes the cap and states that no less than three schools may be designated at any one time.  AM2823 includes LB651. The bill provides best practices in reading instruction. The third-grade retention provision originally contained in the bill was removed entirely.

LB1090 (Smith) Change provisions relating to inflation adjustments, and deductions

NSEA Position: Neutral (Prioritized – approved by Governor)

Beginning with tax year 2018, that the personal exemption credit shall be multiplied by the total of the child credits and dependent credits taken on the federal return, plus two for those taxpayers filing a married filing jointly tax return and plus one for other returns. For tax year 2018, the credit amount is $134. For tax year 2019 and thereafter, the credit amount is to be adjusted for inflation based on the percentage change in CPI-U. The credit is available for any person who cannot be claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s return. Would increase state revenue by $326 million in FY2018, and $257 million in FY2019.

LB1110 (Vargas) Require annual reporting of school performance scores and classifications

NSEA Position: Support (approved by Governor)

Amends the Quality Education Accountability Act to provide “annual” classification school and school district performance and requiring that classification and reporting occur on or before December 31 of each calendar year.