Legislative Updates

NSEA Legislative Update - April 18, 2016

In This Update: 

  1. Override the Governor’s Veto of LB947
  2. NSEA Legislative Recap 2016

 

Override the Governor’s Veto of LB947

NSEA encourages our state senators to override the governor's veto of LB947, allowing recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to obtain professional licenses to practice their profession and contribute fully to our state. This legislation would enable lawfully present, work-authorized immigrants with the requisite education and qualifications to seek professional or commercial licenses in Nebraska.

As educators, we know our state’s future is brighter when we allow hard-working young people to follow their career dreams and practice their chosen professions right here in our state. We believe we must do everything we can to keep talented students in our state. It makes no sense to force these educated youth to other states to practice their professions. Instead, we should encourage them to stay in Nebraska and grow our economy.

We urge you to contact your state senator by this Wednesday, April 20, and ask them to override the veto of LB947 so young Nebraskans who are legally allowed to live and work in Nebraska can pursue their career goals.

 

NSEA Legislative Recap 2016

The 2016 Legislative Session is just two days from closing, with the gavel set to come down on Wednesday, April 20.  With the exception of a few possible gubernatorial override votes that day, all major work has been completed.

Public education avoided major spending lids and revenue growth caps included in the original versions of both LB958 and LB959.  Each bill went through major changes in order to advance them from committee. The committee amendments eliminated the harmful provisions in favor of minimal structural changes to the state aid formula in LB959, and a $20 million property tax rebate for agricultural land in LB958.

This year, senators approved an increase in state aid to education funding of more than $31.5 million. That 3.33 percent increase came through the passage of LB959 and LB1067.  Originally, the state aid budget was scheduled for $5.6 million in growth, or a miniscule 0.59 percent increase.

However, lawmakers included an additional $8.6 million in LB959 to enlarge the number of rural schools qualifying for equalization aid, and an additional $17.3 million in LB1067 to cover poverty and transitional issues as portions of the Omaha learning community are dissolved.  Here are the final numbers:

2016-17 TEESOA Appropriations

 

2015-16 Adjusted*

2016-17 Adjusted**

$ Increase

% Increase

LB 956 Deficiency Appropriations*

$946,539,662

$952,153,581

$5,613,919

0.59%

LB 959

 

$960,732,107

$8,578,526

0.91%

LB 1067

 

$978,046,107

$17,314,000

1.83%

Total TEEOSA

 

$978,046,107

$31,506,445

3.33%

 

 

 

 

 

* The amount actually used for TEEOSA payments came in at $946,539,662, a decrease of $4,111,963 over the 2015 original appropriation of $950,651,625.

** The amount of the original 2015 appropriation was $956,243,013, which is $4,089,432 higher than the 2016-17 Adjusted Appropriation of $952,153,581.

The entire session was hampered by an early revenue forecast shortfall of $120 million.  Much of the shortfall was covered by intergovernmental fund transfers and money from the state’s reserve fund.  Unfortunately, the shortfall also sidelined many educational funding proposals such as the Mentor Teacher Program in LB274, an NDE Behavioral Health Specialist in LB838, the Whole Child Project in LB1052, and additional funding for school mental health programs in LB443.  If the fiscal situation improves in the near future, there will be movement on these initiatives in 2017.

There were two successful bills on employment rights. LB83 allows employees to disclose their wages to co-workers without threat of reprisals from employers.  LB821 protects an employee and job applicant’s social networking website from forced access by an employer.

A proposal to eliminate the Court of Industrial Relations, LB1044, and another to prohibit paycheck deduction of union dues, LB288, were both killed in committee.

By and large, the Legislative Session was successful in that the ability for public schools to fund and provide quality public education in Nebraska was unimpeded in 2016.

General Education Bills

LB 274 (Hansen) Appropriate funds to the State Department of Education for mentor teacher programs

NSEA Position: Support. (NSEA Bill). Held in Appropriations Committee.

Appropriates $2,500,000 of general funds in FY2015-16 and $2,500,000 of general funds in FY2016-17 to the State Department of Education for mentor teacher programs per section 79-761.

LB 371 (Sullivan) Create and provide duties for the Nebraska Council for Educational Success

NSEA Position: Support. Failed to Advance on General File.

Creates the Nebraska Council for Educational Success. Council would make recommendations to: (1) Increase collaboration between publicly funded programs from early childhood through postsecondary education, (2) identify process for measuring progress of the strategic plan, and (3) and improve programs for early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education.

LB 617 (Larson) Adopt the Working to Improve Schools Act

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Education Committee.

Creates the Working to Improve Nebraska Schools Act. Requires school districts to develop individual reading improvement plans for students in kindergarten through grade three no later than 30 days after a deficiency in reading is identified based upon state-approved local or statewide assessments. Requires NDE to prepare an annual report showing student achievement in the state. Allows additional persons to qualify for teacher certificates in the state. Creates a School Recognition Program to provide financial awards to public schools.

LB 752 (Crawford) Create the Adult Career Pathways Task Force

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Creates a legislative task force to identify and study student transition from adult basic education, English language learner, and general educational development (GED) programs to career pathways, develop common performance measures across these programs to track student progress, and make policy recommendations to better align these programs with career pathways and with programs within the Department of Labor, the Department of Economic Development, and the Department of Correctional Services.

LB 868 (Krist) Require successful completion of a civics examination as a prerequisite to HS graduation

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Requires every high school student to correctly answer at least 70% of the questions on the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the U. S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services as a prerequisite to graduation beginning in the FY2017-18 school year. School districts may determine the method and manner in which to administer the test. A student may take the test, in whole or in part, at any time beginning in the ninth grade and may repeat the test or portions of the test as often as needed to achieve the required score. Students with individualized education plans may be exempted from the requirement. No fees may be collected to provide the test.

LB 874 (Murante) Change procedures for filling vacancies on school boards

NSEA Position: Support. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

Adopts the current Class V process for all school board classes, changing appointments to fill a vacancy on a school board to be for the remainder of the unexpired term.  Currently, if a vacancy occurs in the membership of a school board, the term of the appointee varies between the next primary election and elected at the following general election or until the unexpired term depending on the class of the school board. Amended by AM2385.

LB 930 (Scheer) Change provisions relating to statewide assessments and college admission testing

NSEA Position: Support. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

The Department of Education (NDE) shall reimburse each district in an amount equal to the difference between the district’s cost to pay the registration fees for eleventh grade students and administer such college admission test and the cost to the district of administering the statewide assessments. Lottery funds under the Act will be for the 2017-'18 school year only, after which the NDE should include the costs associated with administering the test under their annual budget request. The technical advisory committee created by the bill will review the "statewide assessment plan" and the "state assessment instruments" and the "accountability system" developed under the "Quality Education Accountability Act."  The statewide writing assessment ends after the 2016-'17 school year and thereafter the statewide reading assessment will include a writing component as determined by the state board. Amended by AM2280, and AM2836.

LB 1002 (Baker) Permit ESU boards to pay membership dues to associations of school boards

NSEA Position: Neutral. Approved by Governor on April 7, 2016.

Allow the board of any ESU the ability to use its funds to pay for membership dues in an association of school boards or boards of education.

LB 1004 (Cook) Changes to the Community Eligibility Provision and provide duties for NDE

NSEA Position: Support. Provisions amended into LB 1066.

Redefines free lunch and free milk students for purposes of the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) to include students who are provided free meals pursuant to the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This provision is an option in the federal National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs for school districts to offer free meals to all students in high poverty schools.

LB 1026 (Morfeld) Change provisions relating to education technology

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Education Committee.

Provides duties and responsibilities for the Educational Technology Center in NDE. It creates a position of PK-12 Chief Integration Officer to lead the work of the center. Requires the department to organize and develop a repository of digital education courses, learning objects and other digital resources. NDE is also to develop a statewide instructional improvement system that supports personal learning. The system is to include virtual educator standards; Nebraska meta tag standards; an open education resources library; digital books library; digital learning teacher certification process; and, integrated instructional resources connected to an education data dashboard system. The department is also to provide technical assistance to educators in accessing digital systems and resources.

LB 1062 (Krist) Provide for waiver of a certificate to administer as prescribed

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Education Committee.

Allows the Commissioner of Education to waive the requirement that a principal or supervisor of an accredited private, denominational, or parochial school hold a Nebraska certificate, but only after the governing body of the school has requested this and approved it by a majority vote.

LB 1065 (Sullivan) Change school provisions relating to the community eligibility provision

NSEA Position: Neutral. Provisions amended into LB 1066.

Increases the free lunch and free milk calculated students by 10% for schools that provide free meals to all students pursuant to the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The proposal also consolidates provisions allowing for information to be voluntarily provided by parents, other than on a school lunch application, to determine potential qualification for free or reduced-price meals and clarifies that such information is to be used for the sole purpose of determining eligibility when qualification for free or reduced-price lunches is a statutorily designated requirement.

LB 1066 (Sullivan) Change provisions relating to education

NSEA Position: Neutral. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

Annual technical bill for P-12 education.  Modifies provisions regarding the Step Up to Quality Child Care Act, enrollment option program, the temporary appointment of clerks for school board meetings, the cancellation of bus driver contracts for violations of traffic rules or regulations, the textbook loan program, and the Enhancing Excellence in Teaching Program. TEEOSA changes would clarify allocated income taxes, change the deadline for estimating state aid, and provide for lump sum payments of aid. The Center for Student Leadership and Extended Learning Act would be renamed the Center for Student Leadership and Expanded Learning Act and the provisions of the Act would be harmonized with the name change. Amendment incorporates concepts from LB 1004 and LB 1065 regarding the federal community eligibility provision (CEP), which allows all students to eat free without applications in qualified schools. Amended by AM2640, and AM2742.

LB 1074 (Kolowski) Appropriate funds to the State Department of Education

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Appropriations Committee.

Appropriates $1 million to carry out the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant Program Act. The Grant Program Act was created by LB 519 (2015), and provides grants to community-based organizations working with schools in high-need school districts to provide expanded learning opportunity programs.

 

School Finance Bills

LB 26 (Krist) Choice for the Advancement of Nebraska Children in Education Act

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Revenue Committee.

Creates the Choice for the Advancement of Nebraska Children in Education Act. The Act creates nonrefundable income tax credits for contributions to a scholarship-granting organization (SGO) that provides scholarships to eligible students to attend a private school in Nebraska. The same basic credits would be available to individuals (resident and non-resident), pass-through entities, estates or trusts, and corporations. The SGO is required to be a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, must have programs to grant scholarships to eligible students, will offer one or more scholarships, will provide scholarships without limiting the scholarships to students of only one qualified school, and is certified by the Tax Commissioner as a SGO.

LB 435 (Cook) Adopt the Time to Teach and Time to Learn Act

NSEA Position: Support. (NSEA Bill). Held in Education Committee.

Establishes a fifteen-member Class Size and Instructional Time Task Force. The task force is to direct a research project to assess class sizes and instructional time at school districts. On or before December 1, 2015, the task force is to make recommendations for creating incentives for school districts to reduce class sizes and increase instructional time. NDE is to analyze class size and instructional time data on behalf of the task force. Beginning in FY2016-17, the Time to Teach and Time to Learn Grant Program is established in NDE. School districts may apply for grants of up to $100 per impacted student and up to $500 per impacted teacher or principal for increasing time for teaching and learning.

LB 438 (Morfeld) Change distribution of sales and use tax revenue and create and provide for a fund

NSEA Position: Support. (NSEA Bill). Held in Revenue Committee.

Provides for 10% of the proceeds of the sales and use taxes derived from transactions occurring after January 1, 2016 from online purchases to be credited to the Excellence in Education Trust Fund. This excludes proceeds credited to the Highway Trust Fund, State Highway Capital Improvement Fund and Highway Allocation Fund. The Excellence in Education Trust Fund is created in the bill to provide a dedicated source of revenue to stabilize the total amount of state aid to schools under TEEOSA and to develop innovative educational grant programs for primary and secondary public schools. LB 438 provides for the Legislature to transfer funds from the Excellence in Education Trust Fund to fund TEEOSA aid whenever the Legislature determines it is necessary to provide additional funding.

LB 781 (Schumacher) Require school districts to prepare for closure of nonpublic schools

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

School districts shall place in reserve sufficient funds to cover 75% of the anticipated operating of absorbing such students for the ensuing three-year period.  Other procedures described for handling the transition of a closing nonpublic school.

LB 882 (Scheer) Change provisions relating to school budgeting

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Limits the ability to exceed the budget lid through local election to the lesser of 1% or the amount necessary to meet a budgeting shortfall. Excludes from basic allowable growth expenditures made to cash reserves. Prohibits carryover of the unused budget authority.

LB 883 (Scheer) Provide for foundation aid pursuant to TEEOSA

NSEA Position: Neutral. Indefinitely Postponed by Education Committee.

Phases in foundation aid over five years starting at $1500 per student and increasing to $3000 per student. Includes a "hold harmless" provision starting at 100% and decreasing to 0%. Eliminates options funding, summer school allowance, elementary site allowance, and averaging adjustment. Foundation aid would be included in the school districts' formula resources. Foundation aid could only be used to reduce the district's property tax levy. If foundation aid were used for any other purpose, the district would forfeit 25% of its foundation aid for each of the ensuing three years.

LB 958 (Gloor) Changes relating to budgets, the valuation of agricultural land, and levy limitations

NSEA Position: Neutral. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

The Committee Amendment AM2717, as amended, replaces the original provisions. Changes the allocation of the Property Tax Credit beginning in tax year 2017. New language increases the allocation for agricultural and horticultural land to 133% of taxable value. This has the effect of allocating the credit at full taxable value for ag land rather than the current 90% of taxable value. There is no change to the credit allocation for all other property, but new language provides that non-agricultural property will receive the same amount of credit for tax year 2017 as it received in tax year 2016. The provisions limiting community college unused budget authority were removed. Amended by AM2717, AM2807, and AM2814.

LB 959 (Sullivan) Change and eliminate provisions relating to school funding, budgets, and levy authority

NSEA Position: Neutral. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

The Committee Amendment AM2622, as amended, replaces the original provisions. Beginning with the 2017-18 school fiscal year, the minimum levy adjustment would be eliminated and the averaging adjustment would be calculated at the maximum amount regardless of the district's levy. In addition, the amendment would limit the existing provisions for Qualified Capital Project Undertaking Fund (QCPUF) to projects approved prior to the effective date of the act. A new section would allow new projects related to life safety, environmental hazards, accessibility barriers, and mold in existing school buildings and grounds to be funded under a lower $0.03 levy. Current projects would not be affected by the change. TEEOSA state aid funding increases by $17.2 million over the next two-years. The provisions limiting voluntary separation agreements were removed. Amended by AM2622, and AM2771. An emergency clause has been attached.

LB 1049 (Harr) Redefine terms to include students in virtual schools in the state aid formula

NSEA Position: Neutral.  Held in Education Committee.

Provides that virtual schools and virtual school programs must: be offered for credit; use distance learning technologies, primarily internet-based methods, to deliver instruction; involve asynchronous instruction; require students to demonstrate competency and to progress toward the next grade level and matriculate from kindergarten through high school graduation; and, require completion of state assessment tests. A virtual student is defined to be a student who is enrolled in a virtual school and who is not enrolled in any other public school district.

LB 1052 (Harr) State intent relating to appropriations for the Nebraska Whole Child Project

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Education Committee.

Enables schools to receive and keep the reimbursement from the federal government under the Medicaid in Public Schools (MIPS) Act. Takes $250,000 of the total amount received from the MIPS program and appropriates it to the Nebraska Whole Child Project. The Nebraska Whole Child Project is an interlocal corporation made up of school districts and ESUs. The objective of this program is to get the education and the medical communities to collaborate to address physical and mental health needs of children.

LB 1053 (Harr) Appropriate funds to the State Department of Education

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Appropriations Committee.

Appropriates $250,000 from the general fund to the State Department of Education for grants to the Nebraska Whole Child Project.

LB 1063 (Sullivan) Change provisions relating to state aid to schools

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Reduces the maximum levy for school districts based on the amount of student support aid to be received. Student support aid would replace allocated income tax distributions in the formula, but would not be counted as a formula resource. A designated percentage of the statewide income tax liability of resident individuals would be distributed to school systems based on the number of formula students. The designated percentage would be 3% for 2017-18, 4% for 2018-19, and 5% thereafter. In addition, the minimum levy adjustment and the levy criteria in the averaging adjustment would be eliminated, and the net option funding amount per student would be reduced to 85% of the current amount minus the student support aid that would be received by the district for the student.

LB 1064 (Sullivan) Change option enrollment and student fee provisions as prescribed

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Provides requirements for setting the capacity for special education programs and services with regard to option enrollment.  Modifies the Public Elementary and Secondary Student Fee Authorization Act.  Provides for strict interpretation of the act to minimize student fees and maximize equitable access, change the authorization for donations, and make the submission of student fees policies to the Department of Education an accreditation requirement.

 

Retirement and Employment Benefit Bills

LB 78 (Gloor) Changes to provisions under the Intergovernmental Risk Management Act

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Banking Committee.

Includes school districts and educational service units in the Intergovernmental Risk Management Act. The change has the potential to reduce costs for risk management services and insurance coverage for each entity that participates.

LB 447 (Mello) Change provisions relating to the Class V School Employees Retirement Act

NSEA Position: Support. (NSEA Bill). Approved by Governor on March 30, 2016.

Change provisions relating to the Class V School Employees Retirement Act - provides for OSERS Board of Trustees to have authority to make investment decisions, hire director of OSERS and legal counsel reports to Board.  Also changes selection of employee members to be elected by the plan membership. AM1979 filed to make the following changes: seven-member employee majority OSERS Board with director, attorney and staff under authority of OSERS Board.  Investment decisions will be transferred to State Investment Council.  Pension benefits for new OPS hires after July 1, 2016 will mirror benefits of Tier 2 members in the State School Retirement Plan. Amended by AM1979 and AM2282. Includes LB 805, LB 922, and LB 986.

LB 805 (Mello) Require a periodic study of retirement plans and a report filing by political subdivisions

NSEA Position: Neutral. Provisions amended into LB 447.

Pertains to political subdivisions which offer defined benefit retirement plans. Requires political subdivisions to conduct an experience study at least once every 4 years and electronically file the most recent study with the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee.

LB 922 (Kolterman) Change terms of Public Employees Retirement Board members as prescribed

NSEA Position: Support. Provisions amended into LB 447.

Changes terms of PERB members to ensure better continuity between incoming new members and outgoing members due to the expiration of their terms.

LB 986 (Neb. Retire. Sys. Cmmt.) Changes to an annual valuation report and experience study

NSEA Position: Support. Provisions amended into LB 447.

Change duties of the Public Employees Retirement Board relating to an annual valuation report and experience study.  Provides for greater oversight by the Legislature for the retirement system.  Provides for an experience study at least every four years.  Current law provides for one every five years.

LB 1069 (Haar) Provide duties for state investment officer for investment in energy-related companies

NSEA Position: Oppose. Indefinitely Postponed by Retirement Systems Committee.

Requires the Nebraska Investment Council to create a plan to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy and report such plan to the Governor and the Legislature by December 15, 2016. The Council estimates that based on their current asset allocation, the cost to sell out of such securities and to replace them would be about $20 million, if done immediately. A longer liquidation time frame of 10 to 15 years would minimize losses.


Behavioral Health and Special Education Bills

LR 413 (Watermeier) Create the Task Force on Behavioral and Mental Health

NSEA Position: Support. Resolution Adopted February 29, 2016.

Creates the Task Force on Behavioral and Mental Health. The task force comes about as a result of a Legislative Performance Audit report that found there needs to be additional study of ways to reduce behavioral and mental health care service gaps.  The task force would consist of seven members, including the chairperson of the Health & Human Services Committee or his or her designee, the chairperson of the Judiciary Committee or his or her designee, the chairperson of the Appropriations Committee or his or her designee, and four additional members of the legislature to be appointed by the Executive Board.

LB 443 (Bolz) Redefine support services for purposes of the Special Education Act

NSEA Position: Support. (NSEA Bill). Held in Education Committee.

Provides that support services for purposes of the Special Education Act may include access to mental health services offered at a school or elsewhere, including, but not limited to, assessments, family education services, and programs designated by the Division of Behavioral Health of the Department of Health and Human Services. Support services are assistance to help a student benefit from a school district’s general education curriculum and to avoid the need for more expensive special education placement and services. Currently, the State Board of Education is allowed to allocate up to 10% of the general fund appropriation for the reimbursement of the excess costs of special education services for support services (flex funding).

LB 800 (Bolz) Appropriation to the State Department of Education for job-driven training and education

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Appropriations Committee.

Provides that $1.5 million shall be appropriated from the General Fund to the adult education section of the State Department of Education for FY2016-17 to implement job-driven training and education components of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The funds may also be used for college and career readiness initiatives, college and career readiness curriculum alignment, support of partnerships with American Job Centers, staff development, instructional capacity, outreach and technology.

LB 826 (Davis) Change provisions relating to reimbursement under the Special Education Act

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Education Committee.

Requires the NDE to reimburse school districts at least 80% of the total excess allowable costs for special education programs and support services provided in the prior year. If the appropriation is in excess of 80%, then the funds shall be prorated at the higher percentage. Current law which authorizes up to a 10% annual increase in aid for special education programs is repealed. The bill has an emergency clause, so it will be effective for FY 2016-17.

LB 838 (Bolz) Appropriation to the State Department of Education for an educational specialist

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Appropriations Committee.

Provides that $163,092 of general funds shall be appropriated to NDE for FY2016-17 to fund an educational specialist to provide technical assistance on behavioral and mental health needs. The technical assistance is to include research of national efforts aimed at intervention strategies, development of an inventory of existing learning supports for students, analysis of existing evidence-based practices, identification of needed services and the development of recommendations for schools.


Employment Rights Bills

LB 83 (Cook) Change the definition of employer relating to wage discrimination on the basis of sex

NSEA Position: Support. Approved by Governor on March 30, 2016.

Provides that under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act, an employer cannot require nondisclosure by an employee of his/her wages. Establish and protect Nebraska employees' right to voluntarily disclose their own wages. Preserves Nebraska employers' right to preserve proprietary information, trade secret information, and other legally privileged information. Amended by AM2191.

LB 288 (Ebke) Prohibit public employers from making certain deductions from wages

NSEA Position: Oppose. Indefinitely Postponed by Business and Labor Committee.

Prohibits public employer collective-bargaining agreements from containing provisions that require or allow deductions of dues from public employee's wages. LB 288 prohibits public employers from deducting dues from public employee's wages on behalf of a union, collective-bargaining organization, or other professional association, except those agreements entered into prior to the effective date of the act

LB 821 (Larson) Adopt the Workplace Privacy Act

NSEA Position: Support. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

Provides that no employer shall require that an employee or applicant provide any user name or password to gain access to their social networking site account, or require an employee or applicant to log onto their social networking in the presence of the employer, or require that the employer be added to their social networking site as a friend. Amended by AM2210, and FA113.

LB 1044 (Ebke) Terminate the Commission of Industrial Relations

NSEA Position: Oppose. Indefinitely Postponed by the Business and Labor Committee.

Terminates the Commission of Industrial Relations on July 1, 2017. Provides that the termination of the commission does not eliminate or in any way restrict the right of employees to strike.

 

Postsecondary Education Bills

LB 232 (Kolterman) Adopt the College Choice Grant Program Act

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Education Committee.

Adopts the College Choice Grant Program Act to be administered by the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. Under the act, financial aid awards are to be made to eligible students as defined in the act. Administration of financial aid awards is to be undertaken by the Coordinating Commission in conjunction with eligible postsecondary educational institutions. Under provisions of the bill, eligible postsecondary institutions are defined as nonprofit institutions not controlled or administered by any state agency or political subdivision which are located in Nebraska and are accredited by a regional accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Interpreted by Attorney General Opinion 15-012.

LB 685 (Bolz) Adopt the Student Loan Repayment Tax Credit Act

NSEA Position: Support. On General File.

Establishes a non-refundable tax credit of 50% of student loan repayments made on behalf of an employee by an employer. Each employer is eligible for the credit up to $1,800 per employee, and may qualify for the credit for up to 20 employees per business. The bill reserves 25% of the allowed credit for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The bill permits for credits of $1.5 million per fiscal year. In order to qualify an employee must either have graduated from a college or university located in Nebraska or have graduated from a high school in Nebraska and then graduated from a college or university in another state and returned to Nebraska. Pending amendment AM2475.

LB 691 (Morfeld) Adopt the Teacher Education and Health Care Professions Student Grant Program Act

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Education Committee.

Provides for awards made directly to eligible students in Education and Health Care Professions demonstrating substantial financial need and shall be administered by the Postsecondary Coordinating Commission in conjunction with eligible postsecondary educational institutions.

LB 713 (Stinner) State intent relating to appropriations for the Access College Early Scholarship Program

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Appropriations Committee.

Provides sufficient funding in the Access College Early Scholarship program so that the percentage of students in poverty who have access to dual-credit options while in high school will be comparable with non-poverty students.

LB 726 (Sullivan) Require information relating to federal student loans as prescribed

NSEA Position: Neutral. Approved by Governor on April 6, 2016.

Implements the requirement for public postsecondary education institutions within the state to provide student specific, federal student loan information to their students on a yearly basis. This bill allows the required institutions to provide the specified data in whatever manner they choose appropriate. The provision of student specific loan data on an annual basis has been shown to reduce the amount of excessive loan borrowing in the state of Indiana and other states. Implementation date is 2017-18. Amended by AM1882.

LB 734 (Watermeier) Change residency provisions to Neb. National Guard members for college tuition

NSEA Position: Neutral. Approved by Governor on March 9, 2016.

Changes the provisions relating to residency requirements for state postsecondary educational institutions. Includes any student that is currently serving in the Nebraska National Guard as a resident.

LB 755 (Watermeier) Appropriate funds to the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State Colleges

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Appropriations Committee.

Appropriates $16.8 million in fiscal year 2016/17 from the General Fund for capital construction projects at the three state colleges. The bill contains intent language for the appropriation of an additional $33.6 million during the following biennium. The capital construction projects include an addition and renovation of the Math Science building at Chadron State College, an addition and renovation of the Theater/Event Center at Peru State College, and the renovation of Benthack Hall and construction of the Applied Technology Center at Wayne State College.

LB 852 (Cook) Appropriate funds for aid to community colleges

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Appropriations Committee.

Appropriates $6,000,000 from the General Fund for Aid to Community Colleges. The amount to be appropriated would be in addition to the existing Aid to Community Colleges appropriation for 2016-17. Provides additional aid to Community Colleges to be used for core operating budgets.

LB 906 (Lindstrom) Adopt the Law Enforcement Education Act authorizing tuition waivers

NSEA Position: Neutral. Approved by Governor on March 30, 2016.

Allows law enforcement officers in the State of Nebraska to receive a 30% tuition waiver to any state university, state college, or community college in the State of Nebraska. The officer must maintain satisfactory performance with his or her law enforcement agency, be working toward an associate or baccalaureate degree, and meet all admission requirements.


Omaha Learning Community Bills

LB 739 (Smith) Eliminate certain taxing authority of learning communities

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Repeals the common levy and special building fund levy authorized for school districts in the learning community. The calculation of state aid (TEEOSA) on a collective basis for school districts in the learning community is eliminated.

LB 903 (Baker) Change and eliminate provisions relating to learning communities

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Eliminates the common levy and restores core services dollars to ESU 3 and ESU 19. Districts within the LC would have state aid calculated independently rather than as a learning community. Maintains two sets of LC levy authority for elementary learning centers (with a limitation of 10% to be used for ELC employees), early childhood education, Coordinating Council expenses, juvenile justice and attendance issues and for pilot projects.

LB 904 (Baker) Provide for school districts to opt out of a learning community

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Permits a school district with a population of 12,000 or fewer residents to opt out of the learning community upon a majority vote of the members of the district's school board. The district would be required to rejoin the learning community when its population exceeds 12,000.

LB 967 (Kintner) Change learning community provisions relating to enrollment and levies

NSEA Position: Neutral. Held in Education Committee.

Eliminates learning community common levy and special building fund levy. Eliminates restrictions and special provisions for option enrollment in learning community (nexus to diversity plan and low income). Eliminates special school reorganization and transportation provisions for districts located in a learning community. Eliminates special state aid provisions for school districts in a learning community (each receives aid based on district characteristics). Eliminates diversity plan requirements for learning communities. Retains learning community levy for elementary learning centers.

LB 1067 (Sullivan) Change provisions relating to learning communities

NSEA Position: Neutral. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

Modifies provisions related to learning communities, address community achievement issues, and adjust option enrollment provisions. Changes to learning communities would include removing school board members from learning community coordinating councils, eliminating common levies and providing transition aid, converting open enrollment students to option enrollment students, eliminating learning community coordinating council duties in the reorganization process, and adding a learning community administrator to the Educational Service Unit (ESU) Coordinating Council. Provides for community achievement plans and funding to bring districts, ESU's, and learning communities together for the purpose of addressing achievement equity and achievement barriers across the community. Option enrollment changes would apply to all school districts and would include requiring district policies regarding transportation for option students, allowing districts to offer free transportation (instead of a reimbursement) to option students qualifying for free lunches, and including option enrollment and open enrollment information on the fall membership report. TEEOSA state aid funding increases by $29.2 million over the next two-years. Amended by AM2781, and AM2875.


Other Bills of Interest

LB 692 (Morfeld) Adopt the Student Online Personal Protection Act

NSEA Position: Neutral. On General File.

Implements the Nebraska version of a Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA), which would prohibit technology companies who are invited into schools from using student data for targeted advertising or creating student profiles for non-educational purposes such as for providing credit or insurance. Pending amendment AM1883.

LB 710 (Hughes) Change provisions relating to hazing

NSEA Position: Support. Approved by Governor on March 30, 2016.

Currently, Nebraska has a law which only prohibits hazing by post-secondary students. LB 710 extends the same protections to younger students. It also expands the definitions of hazing activities. Amended by AM1846.

LB 717 (Groene) Change provisions relating to the assessment and valuation of real property

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Revenue Committee.

Provides for assessment of all classes of property based on a five year rolling average of sales assessment ratios. For real property the measure of central tendency shall be determined using five years of sales preceding the assessment date and shall exclude the sales that constitute the lowest 20% of assessment ratios.  Interpreted by Attorney General Opinion 16-007.

LB 749 (Lindstrom) Change an income tax exemption relating to social security benefits

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Revenue Committee.

Raises threshold income for applying state income tax to Social Security to $60,000 for single individuals and $75,000 for married couples filing jointly.  It also phases the tax in over a range of incomes.

LB 769 (Garrett) Change provisions relating to firearms

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Judiciary Committee.

Allows certain businesses and entities, including schools, to set their own policies pertaining to Gun Free Zones and concealed handgun permit holders. The statutory prohibition on concealed carry at Law Enforcement stations and offices, detention facilities, prisons, jails, and courtrooms remain intact.

LB 773 (Stinner) Create the Early Childhood Workforce Development Task Force

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Education Committee.

Creates the Early Childhood Workforce Development Task Force which brings together leaders from the business community, the early childhood education field (including child care, Head Start, and school districts), higher education, state government and the private sector to assess the current early childhood workforce and make recommendations for growing this workforce.

LB 814 (Friesen) Change a requirement for issuance of a school permit

NSEA Position: Neutral. Approved by Governor on April 6, 2016.

Current law provides that to be eligible for issuance of the school driving permit, an individual must be younger than 16 years and 3 months and older than 14 years and 2 months of age, live more than 1.5 miles from the school that is attended, and either reside outside a city of the metropolitan, primary, or first class or attend a school which is located outside of a city of the metropolitan, primary, or first class. The bill would strike from the eligibility criteria the requirement that an applicant for the permit live a distance of 1.5 miles from the school attended.

LB 863 (Schilz) Adopt the Wind Energy Expansion Act

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Natural Resources Committee.

Creates the Wind Energy Expansion Act; State Energy Office to develop criteria to designate counties as Wind Energy Friendly; to provide technical assistance and data to counties to establish wind energy expansion plans and encourage wind energy development.  (Could accelerate wind energy development on school lands and expand revenues for teacher professional development).

LB 889 (Mello) Adopt the School Readiness Tax Credit Act

NSEA Position: Support. Passed on Final Reading. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

The Committee Amendment AM2490, replaces the original provisions.  It removes both the business expense credit and the individual (parent) credit.  It changes the staff credit by reducing the credit amounts, inserting a "floor" or starting point for eligibility based on a minimum certification and by excluding certificated teaching and administrative staff from the definition of eligible staff so as to exclude school district staff.  It changes the program credit by reducing the credit amounts, eliminating eligibility for Step 2 programs and adds "or operates" to the definition of child care and education providers to include nonprofit child care and education providers. A five-year sunset is imposed on the credits along with a $5 million annual cap and makes the provider credit nonrefundable.  Amended by AM2490.

LB 918 (Murante) Provide for the redistribution of motor vehicle taxes as prescribed

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

Provides that one percent of motor vehicle tax proceeds will be credited to the Vehicle Title and Registration System Replacement and Maintenance Cash Fund. These proceeds are currently allocated to counties (22%), school districts (60%) and cities (18%). The bill also provides for the VTRSRM Cash Fund to include fees collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles from participation in any multistate electronic data security program. The bill is operative on July 1, 2016.

LB 940 (Johnson) Adopt the Tax Stabilization Act

NSEA Position: Oppose. Held in Revenue Committee.

Freezes real property tax value at the level of assessed valuation on January 1, 2016 for a three-year “stabilization period” which is to begin January 1, 2017 and run until December 31, 2019, unless “reform legislation” is passed by the Legislature then the stabilization period shall end on December 31 of the year in which such legislation is passed.

LB 975 (Kolterman) Adopt the Child Welfare Services Preservation Act

NSEA Position: Neutral. Unanimous consent on General File to Bracket until April 20, 2016.

Prohibits the State of Nebraska from taking any action that would materially alter the terms or conditions of a child placing agency's funding, contract or license as a result of the agency's refusal to provide or facilitate child welfare services based on the agency's sincerely held religious beliefs. Proposed amendment AM2667.

LB 1013 (Gloor) Change tax on cigarettes and tobacco products and provide for distribution of proceeds

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Revenue Committee.

Raises the cigarette excise tax by $1.50 from the current 64 cents to $2.14 per pack of twenty cigarettes. New revenue would be used for property tax relief and health care cash funds.

LB 1032 (McCollister) Adopt the Transitional Health Insurance Program Act and duties for DHHS

NSEA Position: Support. Indefinitely Postponed on General File.

Creates the Transitional Health Insurance Program Act. Provides health coverage to a newly eligible population of adults ages 19-65 with incomes below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) in a way that utilizes the private health insurance market, emphasizes personal responsibility, leverages employer-sponsored insurance, strengthens Nebraska’s health care system, emphasizes job training and employment, and supports transitioning individuals off public programs and into private coverage as they advance economically.

LB 1037 (Brasch) Change property tax provisions relating to agricultural land and horticultural land

NSEA Position: Oppose. Unanimous consent on General File to Bracket until April 20, 2016.

Adds the farm site and farm home site to the definition of agricultural and horticultural land. The result would be that any farm site and farm home site lying in or adjacent to and in common ownership or management with other agricultural and horticultural land would also receive the benefit of being valued at 75% of its market or special value. However, the dwellings, the buildings, and other enclosed structures lying on the farm site or farm home site will continue to be valued at 100% of their market value.

LB 1059 (Crawford) Changes the Community Development Law and the Local Option Muni Econ Dev Act

NSEA Position: Support. Approved by the Governor on March 30, 2016.

Requires that prior to entering into a redevelopment contract that includes the use of tax-increment financing (TIF), a business must certify a good faith estimate of the total amount of tax incentives the business expects to receive under the Nebraska Advantage Act for any such application. Amended by AM2067, and AM2323.

LB 1086 (Davis) Change provisions relating to student self-management of asthma or anaphylaxis

NSEA Position: Neutral. Approved by Governor on April 7, 2016.

Amends 79-224 (Asthma or anaphylaxis condition; self-management by student; conditions; request; authorization.) to include that in addition to a physician, "other health care professionals who prescribed the medication for the treatment of a student's" asthma or anaphylaxis may sign the medical authorization required for a student to administer their own medication while at school under this section.

LB 1087 (Davis) Change sales tax provisions relating to the definition of engaged in business in this state

NSEA Position: Support. Held in Revenue Committee.

Modernizes the tax code to better reflect how retailers operate today by updating the definition of a retailer doing business in the state to reflect the exponential expansion of online commerce and related technology, and the competitive disadvantage faced by retailers located in the state who must collect sales tax on transactions. Extending sales tax collection obligations to all retailers who choose to compete in Nebraska’s marketplace will put all sellers on the same competitive field and relieve residents of their obligation to track, report, and submit annual use tax on internet purchases.