Legislative Updates

NSEA Legislative Update - Feb 5, 2016

In This Update: 

  1. Say No on LB958 and LB959 – No Lids on Kids!

  2. Committee Hearing Schedule

  3. Review of Recent Public Hearings

  4. NSEA Legislative Dinner – Save the Date – Monday, March 7

 

Say No on LB958 and LB959 – No Lids on Kids!

Nebraskans value good schools and safe communities. They are a key part of our state's strong economy. LB 958and LB 959 would severely limit spending by school districts, counties, and cities by imposing severe spending limits. The bills would also cap the aggregate statewide growth of agricultural land to 3 percent, causing the revenue base for K-12 schools to crumble, resulting in significant cuts to education.

LB958 and LB959 together would:

  • Create huge shortfalls for schools and other local governments -- $144 million this year alone for K-12 public schools, had those bills been in place.

  • Increase property taxes for home and commercial property owners – up to 20 percent in some parts of the state.

  • Cut taxes for urban-area ag land owners while leaving farmers and ranchers in more rural parts of the state faced with higher property tax levies or deep cuts to schools and other services Nebraskans need.

     

The public hearing for LB959 is Tuesday, Feb. 9,

at 1:30 p.m. in the Education Committee.

By completing the online form at this web link you will send your email to the members of the Revenue Committee and the Education Committee. Urge lawmakers to reject these damaging proposals and ask them instead work to create policies that ensure quality public education for all Nebraskans

 

Committee Hearing Schedule for the Week of Feb. 8

Unless otherwise noted, hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. and are live-streamed via NET and can be accessed online by clicking here.

Monday, Feb. 8, 2016

Executive Board – Room 2102 (12:00 pm)

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

NSEA Position: Support.

Establishes the Task Force on Behavioral and Mental Health in order to study issues relating to the adequacy of the Behavioral Health System, including monitoring the progress of the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health in conducting a statewide needs assessment and developing a strategic plan.

Education Committee – Room 1525 (1:30 pm)

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

NSEA Position: Neutral.

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

NSEA Position: Support.

Helps schools and school districts in Nebraska to implement the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), at their option. CEP allows schools in high-poverty areas to feed all their students school meals without charge, and without the need for a meal application.  Ensures that schools that elect to take up CEP are able to maintain state aid levels, by providing data measures to determine their share of state aid under the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA).

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

NSEA Position: Neutral.

Modifies definition of free and reduced price lunches (based on new federal laws) as applicable to learning communities.

Business and Labor Committee – Room 2102 (1:30 pm)

LB 821 (Larson) Adopt the Workplace Privacy Act

NSEA Position: Support.

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.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016

Education Committee – Room 1525 (9:00 am)

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

NSEA Position: Monitor.

Provides that in addition to the student's physician granting authorization so may any other health care professional who prescribed the medication for treatment.

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

NSEA Position: Support.

Appropriates $250,000 from the General Fund for fiscal year 2017-18 to NDE, for Program 158, to provide grants to the Nebraska Whole Child Project established as a joint entity under an agreement pursuant to the Interlocal Cooperation Act.

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

NSEA Position: Monitor.

The board of any educational service unit in this state may pay from its funds an amount to be determined by the board for membership dues in associations of school boards or boards of education.

Appropriations Committee – Room 1524 (9:00 am)

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

NSEA Position: Support

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 852 (Cook) Appropriate funds for aid to community colleges

NSEA Position: Support

Appropriates an additional $6,000,000 from the General Fund for FY2016-17 to provide additional aid to Community Colleges to be used for core operating budgets.

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

NSEA Position: Support.

Appropriates an additional $24,187,940 from the General Fund for FY2016-17 to provide additional aid to Nebraska State Colleges to be used for renovation and construction projects.

Retirement Committee – Room 2102 (12:00 pm)

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

NSEA Position: Oppose.

Changes investments to ones that support clean energy corporations and divest of fossil fuel related corporations.

Education Committee – Room 1525 (1:30 pm)

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

NSEA Position: Oppose.

Places further restrictions on ESU and school budgets. Eliminates exceptions to the budget lid, including court judgments, retirement contribution increases, 2% additional growth by 75% board vote, and for voluntary separation agreements (phased out of exception over five years). Caps additions to unused budget authority to 5%. Eliminates levies for bonding for reduction of environmental hazards, accessibility projects for those with disabilities and qualified capital purpose fund projects.

LB 882 (Scheer) Change provisions relating to school budgeting

NSEA Position: Neutral.

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.

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

NSEA Position: Neutral.

Creates student support aid (SSA) for each district which is paid from property taxes; SSA reduces the maximum levy cap applicable to school districts and learning communities; SSA based on the statewide average cost per student multiplies by formula students; SSA amount is based on an allocated income tax percentage – beginning with 3% of tax liability in 2017-18 and up to 5% of income tax liability when fully phased in.

Appropriations Committee – Room 1524 (2:00 pm)

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

NSEA Position: Support.

Appropriates $1,500,000 from the general fund to the State Department of Education for job-driven training and education components in the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

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

NSEA Position: Support.

Appropriate $163,092 for an educational specialist with NDE to provide technical assistance on behavioral and mental health needs.

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

NSEA Position: Support.

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

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

NSEA Position: Support.

Appropriates $1 million to carry out the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant Program Act.

 

Review of Public Hearings for Week of Feb. 1

Monday, Feb. 1, 2016

Education Committee – Room 1525

LB 1026 (Morfeld) Change provisions relating to education technology

NSEA Position: Support.

Creates the Educational Technology Center within NDE to organize and develop a repository of digital education courses, learning objects, and other digital resources aligned with state standards.

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

NSEA Position: Neutral.

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.

LB 1066 (Sullivan) Change provisions relating to education

NSEA Position: Monitor.

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.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016

No public hearings due to inclement weather.  Rescheduled for following week.

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016

Revenue Committee – Room 1524

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

NSEA Position: Support

Creates a series of tiered tax credits relating to early childhood education. Proposes 4 categories of credits that would become effective on or after January 1, 2017: a credit for parents, a credit for early childhood programs, a credit for the early childhood workforce, and a credit for businesses that support eligible programs. The tax credits would be directly aligned with Nebraska's Step Up to Quality program that is administered by the Nebraska Department of Education in coordination with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016

Judiciary Committee – Room 1113

LB 710 (Hughes) Change provisions relating to hazing

NSEA Position: Support.

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

Revenue Committee – Room 1524

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

NSEA Position: Oppose.

Changes provisions relating to budgets, the valuation of agricultural land, and levy limitations.  Growth in the assessed value of agricultural is limited to 3% annually if the aggregate agricultural land valuation for the whole state is more than 103% of the aggregate value for the prior year.

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

NSEA Position: Oppose.

Provides for assessment of all classes of property based on a five year rolling average of sales assessment ratios.

LB 940 (Johnson) Adopt the Tax Stabilization Act

NSEA Position: Oppose.

Creates a tax stabilization period, during which time assessed values may not increase over the prior year. School districts may increase their levies by the same percentage as state budget growth, up to the maximum levy limit.

Natural Resources Committee – Room 1525

LB 863 (Schilz) Adopt the Wind Energy Expansion Act

NSEA Position: Support

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).

Friday, Feb. 5, 2016

Retirement Committee – Room 1525 (12:00PM)

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

NSEA Position: Support.

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.

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.