The 1994 Legislative Session

 

The Complete History of the Nebraska Tax Equity
and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA)
Policy History Navigation


LB 1066 - State Investments LB 76 - Election Law
LB 1290 - Adjusted Valuation LB 1310 - Technical Cleanup

 


LB 1066 - State Investments

Legislative Bill 1066 took members of the Nebraska Legislature in an unusual yet interesting area of debate in 1994.  Issues such as apartheid in South Africa and the "troubles" in Northern Ireland are not typical items of business for the Nebraska Legislature.  Nevertheless, ten years earlier, in 1984, Nebraska was the first state to pass legislation formally condemning the practice of apartheid in South Africa.1 This action was credited to Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who, ten years later, would pursue another piece of legislation designed to take a political stand on international issues.

As introduced, LB 1066 would repeal statutory restrictions on investment of Nebraska funds in financial entities having business relations in South Africa.2  "Passage of LB 1066 signals the closing of an old book and - I hope, the dawning of new and better days relative to affairs within South Africa," Senator Chambers wrote in his Statement of Intent.3 Initially, LB 1066 had nothing to do with the ongoing battle between the Catholics and Protestants, between unionists and nationalists of Northern Ireland and its occupation by the United Kingdom.  This particular facet of the bill would make an otherwise slam-dunk bill into one of controversy and heated debate.  And, although only in a minor way, LB 1066 would ultimately have an impact on the state aid formula for public education in Nebraska.

The public hearing for LB 1066 was held before the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee on February 1, 1994.  Don Mathes, State Investment Officer, spoke favorably but very briefly on behalf of the Nebraska Investment Council, saying simply, "It eliminates restrictions which we think is a good idea."4  Stan Sibley, representing the Omaha Public Schools Retirement System, also supported the bill and urged the attachment of the E-clause to expedite the legislation.  Said Sibley:

I understand that a number of the pension funds and so forth are moving their funds out of the South African Free International Trust, that's leaving fewer funds in there.  To delay seems not to be unnecessary, and I would urge you to put the "E" clause on.5

Senator Chambers also arranged to have Eric Broekhuysen, the South African Consulate-General in Chicago, appear at the hearing to support the legislation and provide a more detailed account of the current situation in his country.

Document Archive
LB 1066: Investments in South Africa
 
Bill Summary Statement of Intent
Chronology Hearing Transcripts
Com. Statement Exec. Session Votes
Slip Law  
 
Fiscal Notes:   Jan. 26, 1994
  Apr. 8, 1994
 
Floor Transcripts:    
General File   Mar. 3, 1994
Select File   Mar. 17, 1994
  Apr. 7, 1994

Had the legislation, as advanced from committee, relate specifically and only to the matter for which it was originally introduced, the bill would have likely sailed through the legislative process.  On Select File, however, the debate heated up considerably.  On March 17, 1994, St. Patrick's Day no less, Senator Tim Hall stood before the body to request adoption of his amendment related to Northern Ireland.6  The amendment was co-sponsored by Senator Chambers and Senator John Lindsay and essentially held the contents of LB 705, a bill related to investments in Northern Ireland.7  Introduced by Senator Hall in 1993, LB 705 had been advanced to General File by the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee.8

LB 705 and, subsequently, the Hall amendment to LB 1066 would propose adoption of the "MacBride principles" that represented an affirmative action measure for purposes of individuals who happen to be members of a religious minority, in this case the Catholics in Northern Ireland.9  As stated by Senator Hall, the amendment would require the State Investment Council to "invest in corporate stocks or obligations in a manner to encourage corporations that in the state investment officer's determination pursue a policy of affirmative action in Northern Ireland."10  The amendment also required the Investment Council, whenever possible, to sponsor, cosponsor or support shareholder resolutions designed to encourage corporations in which the state investment officer has invested to pursue a policy of affirmative action in Northern Ireland.11 Senator Hall reported that 15 other states had already adopted similar laws.

The Hall amendment would be adopted by a 28-0 vote on April 7, 1994 when Select File debate resumed.12  LB 1066 would withstand several motions to derail the bill during the evening of April 7th, but the measure would eventually advance to Final Reading.  On April 14, 1994, LB 1066 passed by a 34-5 vote.13

As passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Nelson, LB 1066 made a number of substantive changes to investment practices by the State Investment Council.  The bill also made a series of citation corrections in various state statutes.  One of these corrected sections was found within the laws related to the school finance formula, in this case, concerning the maintenance of the School District Income Tax Fund and the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Fund.  The technical change simply struck the statutory citation to the investment laws and, in its place, listed the "Nebraska Capital Expansion Act" and the "Nebraska State Funds Investment Act" by name.14  This particular modification had no substantive effect at all.

Table 38.  Summary of Modifications to TEEOSA
as per LB 1066 (1994)

Click to view file


Source:  Legislative Bill 1066, in Laws of Nebraska, Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994, Session Laws, comp. Patrick J. O'Donnell, Clerk of the Legislature (Lincoln, Nebr.: by authority of Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State), § 94, p. 36 (911).

LB 1290 - Adjusted Valuation To Top

Legislative Bill 1290 (1994) was originally introduced as "a very simple bill," according to its sponsor, Senator Jerome Warner of Waverly.15  And he was correct, at least in the beginning of the 1994 Session.  The original purpose of the bill was to delay by one year, from 1994 to 1995, the requirement for the Department of Revenue to compute the adjusted valuation of property for each school district for purposes of calculating state aid.16  What this meant, of course, was a second delay in the implementation of the provision under LB 1059 (1990) for the equalization of property values from school district to school district.  In 1991, the Legislature passed LB 829, which, in part, delayed this component of the new school finance formula until 1994.17

Document Archive
LB 1290: Use of adjusted valuation in TEEOSA
 
Bill Summary Statement of Intent
Chronology Hearing Transcripts
Com. Statement Exec. Session Votes
Slip Law  
 
Fiscal Notes:   Feb. 3, 1994
  Mar. 18, 1994
  Apr. 12, 1994
 
Floor Transcripts:    
General File   Feb. 23, 1994
  Feb. 28, 1994
  Mar. 9, 1994
Select File   Apr. 5, 1994

The idea behind LB 1059 was to require the Department of Revenue to establish the adjusted valuation for each school district essentially by determining what should be rather than what isthe assessed property value.  The adjusted valuation figures would be used to calculate state aid in order to create an even playing field among school districts.  Property assessment had become, and perhaps remains, as much an issue of politics as it is an issue of utilizing proper assessment practices.  County assessors, as elected officials, varied in their assessment practices, leaving significant disparities in property valuation from county to county, and, consequently, from school district to school district.  (Assessment practices have become more stabilized and centralized in recent years.)

The idea behind LB 1059 was to consider, at least for purposes of calculating state aid, all real property at adjusted value as determined by the Department of Revenue.  However, as often the case, the problem was funding.  In 1990, the Department of Revenue estimated the cost of establishing actual valuation of property on a school district to school district basis would require more than a half million dollars of additional agency budget authority, mostly for new staff.18  In addition to the staffing issue, the department quite frankly had to determine how best to accomplish the objective, which was easier said than done.  The central problem, as Senator Warner explained at the hearing for LB 1290, was that "the comparisons of value of property and classes of property are to be done by school district" for purposes of calculating state aid, but the only available data was county-by-county, not district-by-district.19 In the meantime, the intended effects of the equalization component of LB 1059 would be held up so long as the district-by-district data was not available for computing state aid.

For his part, Senator Withem, the chief sponsor of LB 1059, was willing to go along with the three-year delay passed under LB 829 (1991).  But he was less than enthusiastic to go along with the additional one-year delay in 1994 as proposed by LB 1290.  During the hearing for LB 1290 on February 8, 1994, Senator Withem dispatched his legislative aide, Marsha Babcock, to speak on his behalf.  Her testimony presented support for the bill, but with strong reservations.  She said the Governor and his administration had failed to take proper leadership of the situation in order to prevent another delay.  She also took note that the Governor failed to include any additional funds in the mid-biennium budget recommendation for the Department of Revenue to hire the staff it required to complete the objective.  "That presents the question as to whether or not there was a sincere attempt on the part of the administration to address this particular issue with the funding that was necessary in order to accomplish the mission," she said.20

Tax Commissioner Berri Balka also appeared at the hearing in a neutral capacity and to respond to questions from members of the committee.  Initially, he said only that his presence was requested by Senator Warner, and had no formal statement to offer about the pending legislation.  This put members of the Education Committee in the position of having to ask questions in order to glean any useful information from the commissioner.  Senator Ardyce Bohlke of Hastings asked if an additional one-year delay would be the last delay, or if this would become an ongoing saga of delays and more delays.  Balka said one year would be enough and, in the meantime, his department would provide to the Department of Education the "best information" available with regard to assessment data.21 This information would be available by March 1, 1994, a date that would play a pivotal role in the outcome of LB 1290.

Balka alluded to some issues concerning the meaning of "best available assessment practices" in order to establish adjustment factors for purposes of calculating state aid.  Somewhat perplexed, several senators wondered aloud why, if there was confusion about policy, had it taken three years to seek clarification.  Senator Bohlke asked, "[H]as there been an attempt prior to this to try and get a further clarification as to the wording [in the law]?"22  To which Balka replied:

I think it's not necessarily what I would like.  I guess it's trying to find out what the public policy of the state is and that, I don't think if you use the language as it exists, may not be clear and is subject to, I guess, open debate as to what that might mean.  So if we want to put a rest to that, that's why I'm saying, yes, it needs to be done.  No, as far as I know, the department has not asked for a clarification up to this point.23

His answer was less than comforting to some members of the committee, although his elusiveness may have been due to the threat of a lawsuit against the state.  In a discussion with Balka during the hearing, Senator Bob Wickersham seemed to bolster the Tax Commissioner's concerns, saying, "[Y]ou've indicated that the language is imprecise and I absolutely agree with you, in fact, I wonder if it's so imprecise that it can't be implemented at all."24 Accordingly, several senators, specifically Senators Warner and Wickersham, would eventually take it upon themselves to help the department understand what was expected under the school finance laws.  And LB 1290 would serve as the vehicle to provide this clarification.

The Education Committee wasted no time in its disposition of the bill.  Immediately following the hearing on February 8th, the committee met in executive session and voted to advance the bill, without amendment, to General File on a 6-0 vote.25 At this time, the bill only sought to delay the requirements upon the Department of Revenue by one additional year, as suggested by Senator Warner.  The issues and questions yet to unfold were whether the data to be released by March 1st would closely approximate what was expected from the Department of Revenue and whether the Governor's office would be forthcoming on the additional budget authority for necessary department staffing.

The advancement of LB 1290 was not welcome news to everyone.  "I'll be madder than hops," said Senator Scott Moore, referring to the proposed delay.26  Senator Moore was one of the original sponsors of LB 1059 and had waited patiently for the full and complete implementation of the new school finance formula.  "When you're distributing $370 million in state aid, it's important we do it fairly," Moore said, "If these valuations aren't adjusted and equalized, it's not done fairly."27  Senator Warner agreed with the fairness issue, but this, in his opinion, was a matter of making sure the assessment procedures were conducted accurately and legally.  "If we go ahead," said Warner meaning not to delay for another year, "I think it's good grounds for a lawsuit, which I don't think the state could win."28 With these remarks, the sides were essentially drawn for the early stages of debate on LB 1290.  Senator Moore, joined by Senator Withem, advocated moving ahead with the assessment process as outlined in LB 1059.  Senator Warner, joined by Senator Wickersham, advocated an additional one-year delay.  In the end, both sides would give and take.  In addition, several events would occur to help resolve the matter, at least as far as the Legislature was concerned.

General File debate of LB 1290 began on February 23, 1994 at which time Senator Moore immediately launched the first of two bracket motions.  Senator Moore's first bracket motion would have delayed initial debate until March 1st, the date by which the Department of Revenue promised to submit at least preliminary assessment data to the Department of Education.29 Moore wanted the body to wait until the data could be reviewed prior to any legislative action on LB 1290.  He said the delay was never publicly request by the Department of Revenue nor was the department short of funds or staffing to conduct the necessary procedures.  Moore admitted his concern that the data to be submitted on March 1st may or may not be sufficient, but that it was worth waiting until the data could be analyzed.

Warner opposed the bracket motion and said he did so on the grounds of "policy."30  What Warner meant was that even if the Department of Revenue was able to produce data as promised, there was no reason to believe the data would be accurate since the department, itself, would not have all the current data, including enrollment data, to complete the objective.  "I don't know what the impact of the numbers [would be on school districts]," said Warner.31  Senator James Monen of Omaha came to Warner's assistance on the argument against the bracket motion.  Senator Monen, who prioritized LB 1290 for the 1994 Session, agreed with Warner that the proposed delay represented "good educational policy."32  But Monen took it a step further, saying:

What is at question here is the integrity of 1059.  Is it going to work the way it was intended to work or are we going to let the failure of the Department of Revenue or whose ever failure it is to properly assess this property, comparing by school districts rather than by some delinquent assessments or old assessments or stale assessments compared with current assessments and by that accident result in a failure of the integrity of 1059?33

Senator Wickersham also opposed the bracket motion and based his objections on some technical aspects, issues he would eventually attempt to remedy through LB 1290.  "There are problems with the process that is currently in statute," Wickersham said, referring to the issues of vagueness and ambiguity to which Tax Commissioner Balka had alluded at the public hearing.34

On a roll call vote, the Legislature rejected the bracket motion on a 20-24 vote.35  The absence of a majority, one way or another, had not escaped the attention of Senator Warner, who had reason to worry the bill may not have sufficient votes to advance.  But Warner also knew, as did Senator Wickersham, the debate was about to take a step in a different direction.  Following the failure of the bracket motion, Senator Wickersham offered an amendment to LB 1290 that would significantly expand the scope of the bill.36 The Wickersham amendment, co-sponsored by Warner, was filed on the day of the debate, so very few had any advance notice of its contents.

As explained by Wickersham, the amendment would accomplish four objectives:  (1) establish the "best assessment practices" that were to be used by the Department of Revenue in determining values; (2) establish the valuation standards for the property that would be valued under those practices; (3) implement an appeal process if a school district was dissatisfied with the values; and (4) establish limits on the remedies that were available to the protesting school districts in the event they do not accept the values.37 In essence, the Wickersham amendment was meant to eliminate any ambiguity as to what was meant by the provisions of LB 1059 passed four years earlier.  If the Department of Revenue needed clarification as to what was originally meant, the Wickersham amendment would offer such clarification, and then some.

The Wickersham amendment would help the Department of Revenue understand what was expected, but the department would still receive another year to put the process into place.  Therefore, while opponents of the bill may have appreciated the clarification language, they would remain opposed to the idea of waiting another year to receive district-by-district adjusted property valuation figures.  Senator Curt Bromm of Wahoo, for instance, joined those opposed to the one-year delay.

During discussion of the Wickersham amendment, Bromm said he believed three political concerns were involved with the move to delay, and none of the concerns were valid in his opinion.  First, the figures due by March 1st "may not be perfect" in the sense that they may not be "as accurate as the law intended."38  Second, some legislators may be "afraid" that the adjusted valuation may hinder, not help the school districts within their own legislative district.39  The third reason for a delay, according to Bromm, involved the "political ramifications of implementing the law," referring to county assessment practices.40  Said Bromm:

Those counties and areas [that] have not been doing their job of updating their land values are getting a windfall to the detriment of those who are sticking their political necks out.  The assessors out there that are doing their jobs are, in effect, penalizing their areas because they've updated their values.  That is so blatantly unfair that I think if you took it to court, it would be a slam dunk.  If you're worried about going to court, I think there is litigation there that would be a slam dunk.41

Senator Warner did not deny the inconsistent practices by county assessors.  Instead, Warner said the political reasons offered by Senator Bromm actually supported the purpose of another delay.  "What is wrong with the system now is the fact it rewards those school districts that lie in counties [where county assessors] have not done their job and it penalizes those who have," Warner said.42

The Legislature adjourned on February 23rd before a vote could be taken on the Wickersham amendment.  On February 28th, the body once again took up debate on LB 1290.  The Wickersham amendment was sidelined temporarily when a second priority motion, by Senator Moore, was made to bracket the bill until March 2nd.43  This time the bracket motion was meant to offer the Legislature time to sift through the data that had been submitted by the Department of Revenue on February 25th.  Moore said:

[T]he fact remains that none of us know, shall I say the doability of those numbers and standing up to court challenges, changing state aid and so on.  And so I think it's important that we take a time-out, so to speak, have an opportunity to have the leaders of the Legislature of this issue or the entire body to have a chance to sit down with the administration and the Department of Revenue and the Department of Education, look at these numbers, have the experts in the field in both those departments tell us whether or not this data is good, whether or not this data is defendable, and more importantly what I want to know is does the administration in the Department of Revenue and the Department of Education feel that there is a need for a delay.44

Moore stopped short of swearing by the data offered by the department, but he did insist that the data was both delivered on time and was, as required, within the proper school district-by-district format.  Moore would eventually withdraw the bracket motion, and, after more debate, the Wickersham amendment was adopted on a 29-1 vote.45  Perhaps seeing the wisdom in waiting a few more days, Senator Warner then requested and received unanimous consent to bracket his bill until March 2nd.46

Following the successful bracket motion, three events would occur to shape the outcome of LB 1290.  The first would occur on March 9th when the Legislature took up General File debate for the third time and agreed to advance the bill on faith.  By this time, the battle lines were clearly drawn.  There were those who favored the one-year delay to make sure the Department of Revenue properly prepared adjusted property valuations based upon each school district.  There were those who favored moving ahead with the law, as it stood, and utilize the data already submitted by the Department of Revenue.

Both sides, perhaps, had good policy intentions.  The Moore-Withem camp was correct in that the policy directives under LB 1059 had simply not been met.  Moving ahead with the data, then available, was, as Withem said, "[T]he right thing to do because delay just begets another delay."47  The Warner-Wickersham camp, on the other hand, also was correct in that use of the available data would result in inaccurate results since the data would be applied to outdated student membership figures.  Senator Warner, in particular, was instrumental in creating enough doubt in the minds of his colleagues concerning the data to gain a crucial, yet very close vote to advance the bill to the next stage of debate.  After passionate speeches by both sides, the bill was advanced by a 25-19 vote.48

Table 39.  Record Vote, Advance LB 1290 (1994) to E&R Initial

Voting in the affirmative, 25:
Abboud Cudaback Hillman McKenzie Wehrbein
Ashford Dierks Kristensen Monen Wesely
Beutler Elmer Landis Pedersen Wickersham
Coordsen Hall Lindsay Rasmussen Will
Crosby Hartnett Matzke Warner Witek
 
Voting in the negative, 19:
Avery Bromm Fisher Jones Schellpeper
Bernard- Byars Haberman Lynch Schmitt
Stevens Day Hudkins Moore Vrtiska
Bohlke Engel Janssen Robinson Withem
 
Present and not voting, 3:
Chambers Preister Schimek    
 
Excused and not voting, 2:
Pirsch Robak      

Source:  Neb. Legis. Journal, 9 March 1994, 1072.

"The argument isn't over, obviously," Warner said after the vote.49  But within a day, a second event would occur to secure a relatively peaceful resolution to the issue.  On March 10th, the Legislature took up General File debate on LB 991 (1994), the mainline mid-biennium budget bill.50  Fresh from the debate on LB 1290 a day before, the Legislature took steps to give the Department of Revenue the necessary funds to complete the adjusted valuation process for purposes of calculating state aid.  The Legislature voted to restore $473,000 in the budget bill to the department in order to hire staff and implement the process necessary to complete the objective.51  "By doing this, a couple of years down the road it will come back to us in better data on which to base distribution of state aid to schools," said Senator Moore.52  In fact, it was Senator Warner who originally championed the cause of additional funding for the department by introducing a separate bill, LB 1289 (1994), to appropriate necessary funds.53 Warner's bill never advanced from the Appropriations Committee, but it helped to draw attention to the issue as evidenced during the debate on LB 1290 and LB 991.

The third event to shape the outcome of LB 1290 perhaps best represents the democratic, political process in action:  a compromise.  Between the advancement of LB 1290 on General File (March 9th) and the commencement of debate on Select File (April 5th), the two opposing camps united to formulate a win-win situation for both sides.  Senators Warner, Wickersham, and Withem joined forces to draft an amendment, which would embody various remedies to the concerns expressed during previous debates.54  Senator Withem articulated the situation leading up to the compromise amendment:

If you recall, on 1290 there was a strong difference of opinion with Senators Wickersham and Warner on one side of the issue, indicated that they felt that the data that has been gathered by the Department of Revenue certified for this year was not adequate.  On the other side, you had Senators Moore and Withem arguing that if we delay then that will send the wrong message and it will be prelude just to future and future delays.55

The middle ground, Withem said, was to utilize current student membership data and to move forward with the adjusted valuation process immediately.  Relieved of the tension surrounding the bill, the Legislature adopted the compromise amendment on a unanimous 25-0 vote after a very short discussion during Select File consideration of LB 1290.56  Shortly thereafter, the bill was advanced to Final Reading by voice vote.57

As amended, LB 1290 provided that state aid would be calculated using the adjusted valuation for the property tax year ending during the school year in which the aid is to be paid beginning in 1994-95.  The bill also provided for the use of prior year student information rather than data two years in arrears.  Beginning in 1994, the Department of Revenue was required to provide the Department of Education with adjusted property valuation by school district based upon adjustment factors for each class of property.  The adjusted valuations would be used to compute state aid beginning in school year 1994-95, which did not leave anyone much time to prepare (state agencies and school districts alike).  The bill provided a mechanism for school districts to file objections to adjusted valuations with the Tax Commissioner who must then hold hearings on the objections.58

The final impact on each school district was not immediately known upon the passage of LB 1290 on April 13, 1994.59  As the Legislative Fiscal Office reported on April 12th:

The changes in the valuation and student information used in the state aid calculation will alter the distribution of aid between school districts beginning in 1994-95.  Generally, schools with valuations increasing greater than typical would lose aid and those with adjustments less than typical will gain equalization aid.60

But the initial problem was simply meeting the deadlines imposed in the bill.  LB 1290 was signed into law on April 19th and became operative one day later.  The Departments of Revenue and Education had to work fast and furious to meet the July 15th deadline to certify state aid to school districts.  And, as it turned out, the certification results would not make everyone happy.

School districts began receiving state aid certifications a few days prior to the stated deadline imposed under the new law.  But this was still very late for school districts trying to plan for the upcoming school year, which began in August.  School officials could only make educated guesses at what their district would receive in state aid for the ensuing school year.  But when the certification notices were finally received, some school officials probably wished LB 1290 had never passed.  Some school districts, large and small, rural and urban, received dramatic cuts in state aid due to the imposition of the adjusted valuation data.  Loup City Public Schools lost approximately half its state aid compared to the year before, Kearney Public Schools lost 9%, and Grand Island Public Schools lost 6% of its state aid.61

But where there are losers of state aid, there also are winners.  For instance, Omaha Public Schools gained $7 million in state aid over the previous year.62  Minden Public Schools gained 18% in state aid compared to the previous year.63  Just why some districts gained or lost state aid was puzzling to school officials and policymakers alike.  Pam Roth of the Department of Education explained the matter as an "interplay" of various factors, including district valuation and student population.64  "A great many of these increases and decreases in state aid are completely unrelated to LB 1290," Warner said, "The state formula was designed not to be stable but to respond to changes in school districts' needs."65  In any event, the only recourse for many school districts was to raise property tax rates to compensate for the lost state support, which eventually helped to push the Legislature toward capping property tax levies.  The issues of unpredictable state aid and the need to cap property tax rates would surface and re-surface in legislative debates within the two years following the passage and implementation of LB 1290.

Table 40.  Summary of Modifications to TEEOSA
as per LB 1290 (1994)

Click to view file


Source:  Legislative Bill 1290, in Laws of Nebraska, Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994, Session Laws, comp. Patrick J. O'Donnell, Clerk of the Legislature (Lincoln, Nebr.: by authority of Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State), §§ 3-9, pp. 1-6 (1295-1300).

LB 76 - Election Law To Top

Another two bills passed during the 1994 Session had only technical or minor substantive impact on the school finance system.  The first of these, LB 76 (1994), was a rewrite of the Nebraska election laws.  The second was LB 1310 (1994), which represented the technical cleanup bill for the Department of Education.

Document Archive
LB 76: Recodification of election law, Chapter 32
 
Bill Summary Statement of Intent
Chronology Com. Statement
Slip Law  

Sponsored by Senator Ron Withem, LB 76 was originally introduced during the 1993 Session.  The bill was the result of an election law recodification process officially begun in 1988 when the Legislature's Executive Board contracted with former state senator Steve Wiitala to undertake the project.66  The Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee advanced the legislation to General File late in 1993 where it remained until the beginning of the 1994 Session.  One of the controversial provisions of the bill would have created a separate state agency to administer state elections.  This provision was removed from the bill prior to advancement to the first stage of debate.67  The Legislature eventually passed the bill on April 14th by a 39-2 vote.68

Naturally, it was not the mere recodification of the election laws that would produce so much controversy, but rather the major substantive election law changes that legislators desired to tack onto the measure.  One of the major issues, for instance, related to the Electoral College and how Nebraska's five votes would be counted in presidential elections.  In 1991, the Legislature changed the system so that one vote would be awarded to the winner within each congressional district, and the other two votes would be awarded to the overall winner of the popular vote in the state.  At the time only Nebraska and Maine used such an approach.69 During debate on LB 76, an attempt was made to revert Nebraska to the "all-or-nothing" approach used by the state prior to 1991.  The attempt failed, but it helped to make LB 76 a much more controversial bill than it may have otherwise been.

Among other changes to Nebraska's election laws, LB 76:  (i) restricted the use of voter registration lists and provided a warning for misuse; (ii) allowed persons unable to go to the polls on election day to cast an absentee ballot; (iii) prohibited special elections within 30 days before or 60 days after a regular election; (iv) restricted the use of initials for petition purposes; (v) allowed defeated primary candidates to petition on the ballot if a vacancy exists; and (vi) authorized homeless persons to use the county clerk's office as an address for voter registration purposes.70  The bill also incorporated the "Motor-Voter" provisions found within the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.  This permitted people to register to vote while obtaining their drivers' licenses.71

LB 76 also was important in that it made some changes to election laws that were used by political subdivisions to place issues before their respective electorates.  It clarified the manner in which individuals were elected to local boards of education within various classes of school districts.  The only specific change made to the school finance system, however, was purely editorial in nature.  The measure simply changed a reference concerning special elections to the "Election Act."72  The amended section pertained to special elections to exceed a district's applicable spending limitation.

Table 41.  Summary of Modifications to TEEOSA
as per LB 76 (1994)

Click to view file


Source:  Legislative Bill 76, in Laws of Nebraska, Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994, Session Laws, comp. Patrick J. O'Donnell, Clerk of the Legislature (Lincoln, Nebr.: by authority of Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State), § 608, p. 155 (162).

LB 1310 - NDE Technical cleanup bill To Top

Legislative Bill 1310 (1994) represented the annual technical cleanup bill for the Department of Education.  The legislation was introduced by the Education Committee and designated a Speaker priority bill.73

Document Archive
LB 1310: NDE Technical cleanup bill
 
Bill Summary Statement of Intent
Chronology Hearing Transcripts
Com. Statement Exec. Session Votes
Slip Law  
 
Fiscal Note:   Feb. 4, 1994
 
Floor Transcripts:    
General File   Mar. 11, 1994
Select File   Apr. 8, 1994
Final Reading   Apr. 13, 1994

LB 1310 was somewhat unique among technical bills in that it never became the "Christmas tree" that so many technical bills become.  Lawmakers typically use technical cleanup bills to hang ornaments, other related or unrelated amendments.

Among other provisions, LB 1310 changed the filing deadline for annual school district budgets from August 25 to September 1, deleted requirements for the department to collect information on wages paid by school districts to substitute teachers, changed the deadline for filing verification of annual inspection of school buses from October 1 to July 31, and repealed the requirement that school districts submit requests for services from educational service units on forms prescribed by the Commissioner of Education.74

In relation to the school finance system, LB 1310 made only one change, and this pertained to the filing of duplicate copies of annual budgets.  Prior to this legislation, school districts were required to file duplicate copies of annual budgets with both the State Auditor and the Department of Education.  However, the department did not deem it necessary to receive such duplicate copy.  As stated by Dennis Pool, representing the Department of Education, the change was made "in order to save the local districts, time, money and reduce the volume of paper stored and retained at NDE."75

Table 42.  Summary of Modifications to TEEOSA
as per LB 1310 (1994)

Click to view file


Source:  Legislative Bill 1310, in Laws of Nebraska, Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994, Session Laws, comp. Patrick J. O'Donnell, Clerk of the Legislature (Lincoln, Nebr.: by authority of Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State), § 16, p. 8 (1322).



1 LB 553 (1984), introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers, passed on a 28-19 vote and was approved by Governor Kerrey.  LB 553 placed restrictions on the investment of state funds in firms that conduct business in South Africa.
2 Legislative Bill 1066, Eliminate certain restrictions on investment of public Rinds in South Africa and change provisions for investments in N. Ireland, sponsored by Sen. Ernie Chambers, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, title first read 12 January 1994.
3 Senator Ernie Chambers, Introducer's Statement of Intent, LB 1066 (1994), Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, 1 February 1994, 1.
4 Committee on Banking, Commerce and Insurance, Hearing Transcripts, LB 1066 (1994), Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, 1 February 1994, 5.
5 Id., 6.
6 Neb. Legis. Journal, Hall-Lindsay-Chambers AM3685, 16 March 1994, 1256-57.
7 Legislative Bill 705, Provide duties for the state investment officer with respect to corporations doing business in Northern Ireland, sponsored by Sen. Tim Hall, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 1st Sess., 1993, title first read, 21 January 1993.
8 Neb. Legis. Journal, 24 March 1993, 1161.
9 Legislative Records Historian, Floor Transcripts, LB 1066 (1994), prepared by the Legislative Transcribers' Office, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 17 March 1994, 10934.
10 Id., 10933.
11 Neb. Legis. Journal, Hall-Lindsay-Chambers AM3685, 16 March 1994, 1256-57.
12 Id., 7 April 1994, 1807-08.
13 Id., 14 April 1994, 2068-69.
14 Legislative Bill 1066, in Laws of Nebraska, Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994, Session Laws, comp. Patrick J. O'Donnell, Clerk of the Legislature (Lincoln, Nebr.: by authority of Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State), § 94, p. 36 (911).
15 Committee on Education, Hearing Transcripts, LB 1290 (1994), Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, 8 February 1994, 7.
16 Legislative Bill 1290, Change provisions relating to calculation of state aid to schools under the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act, sponsored by Sen. Jerome Warner, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, title first read 20 January 1994.
17 LB 829, Session Laws, 1991, § 32, p. 41 (2269).
18 The estimate by the Department of Revenue called for an additional $553,936 for expenses to hire necessary staff to complete the process of determining actual value of real property on a school district-by-district basis.  Fiscal Impact Statement, LB 1059 (1990), 26 March 1990, 3.
19Hearing Transcripts, LB 1290 (1994), 8 February 1994, 22.
20 Id., 14.
21 Id., 17.
22 Id., 20.
23 Id.
24 Id., 7-8.
25 Committee on Education, Executive Session Report, LB 1290 (1994), Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, 1.  Senators Bohlke, Janssen, Monen, Rasmussen, Warner, Wickersham voting yes; Senator McKenzie present, not voting; and Senator Beutler absent, not voting.
26 Henry J. Cordes, "Moore: Delay Of School Aid Law Not Fair," Omaha World-Herald, 9 February 1994, 11.
27 Id.
28 Id.
29 Neb. Legis. Journal, 23 February 1994, 822.
30 Legislative Records Historian, Floor Transcripts, LB 1290 (1994), prepared by the Legislative Transcribers' Office, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd  Leg., 2nd Sess., 23 February 1994, 9338.
31 Id.
32 Id., 9339.
33 Id.
34 Id., 9340.
35 Neb. Legis. Journal, 23 February 1994, 823.
36 Id., Wickersham-Warner AM3360, 822.
37Floor Transcripts, LB 1290 (1994), 23 February 1994, 9347.
38 Id., 9356.
39 Id.
40 Id.
41 Id., 9357.
42 Id.
43 Neb. Legis. Journal, 28 February 1994, 902.
44Floor Transcripts, LB 1290 (1994), 28 February 1994, 9478-79.
45 Neb. Legis. Journal, 28 February 1994, 902.
46 Id.
47Floor Transcripts, LB 1290 (1994), 9 March 1994, 10155.
48 Neb. Legis. Journal, 9 March 1994, 1072.
49 Paul Hammel, "Delay in Adjusting Aid Wins 1st Round," Omaha World-Herald, 10 March 1994, 24.
50 Legislative Bill 991, Appropriate funds for state government expenses, sponsored by Spkr. Ron Withem, req. of Gov, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, title first read 10 January 1994.
51 Neb. Legis. Journal, 10 March 1994, 1119.
52 Bill Hord, "Funds Restored for Data on Valuations," Omaha World-Herald, 11 March 1994, 11.
53 Legislative Bill 1289, Appropriate funds to the Department of Revenue, sponsored by Sen. Jerome Warner, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, title first read 20 January 1994.
54 Neb. Legis. Journal, Warner-Wickersham-Withem AM4339, 5 April 1994, 1719.
55Floor Transcripts, LB 1290 (1994), 5 April 1994, 12394.
56 Neb. Legis. Journal, 5 April 1994, 1733.
57 Id.
58 Legislative Bill 1290, in Laws of Nebraska, Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994, Session Laws, comp. Patrick J. O'Donnell, Clerk of the Legislature (Lincoln, Nebr.: by authority of Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State), § 7, p. 5 (1299).
59 LB 1290 passed with the E-clause by a 41-0 vote.  Neb. Legis. Journal, 13 April 1994, 2016-17.
60 Nebraska Legislative Fiscal Office, Fiscal Impact Statement, LB 1290 (1994), prepared by Sandy Sostad, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, 12 April 1994, 1.
61 Jackie Kroeger, "Law's Effect Became Known Only This Week," Omaha World-Herald, 13 July 1994, 1.
62 Jackie Kroeger, "Aid Figures A Shock To Schools Omaha Wins, Others Lose in New Formula," Omaha World-Herald, 13 July 1994, 1.
63 Jackie Kroeger, "Law's Effect Became Known Only This Week," 1.
64 Id.
65 Jackie Kroeger, "Law Blamed For Funding Uncertainty Senators Say School Finance Now Fairer," Omaha World-Herald, 15 July 1994, 1.
66 Senator Ron Withem, Introducer's Statement of Intent, LB 76 (1993), Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 1st Sess., 1993, 17 February 1993, 1.
67 Henry J. Cordes, "Committee Advances Election Law Revision," Omaha World-Herald, 28 April 1993, 12.
68 Neb. Legis. Journal, 14 April 1994, 2057.
69 Leslie Boellstorff, "Electoral-Vote Change Rejected," Omaha World-Herald, 18 March 1994, 15.
70 Nebraska Legislative Research Division, "A Review: Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994," September 1994, 39.
71 Id.
72 Legislative Bill 76, in Laws of Nebraska, Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994, Session Laws, comp. Patrick J. O'Donnell, Clerk of the Legislature (Lincoln, Nebr.: by authority of Allen J. Beermann, Secretary of State), § 608, p. 155 (162).
73 Legislative Bill 1310, Change provisions relating to schools and the issuance of passes for school district and community college activities, sponsored by Education Committee, Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, title first read 20 January 1994, 417.  Neb. Legis. Journal, 25 February 1994, 875.
74 "A Review: Ninety-Third Legislature, Second Session, 1994," 30.
75 Committee on Education, Hearing Transcripts, LB 1310 (1994), Nebraska Legislature, 93rd Leg., 2nd Sess., 1994, 8 February 1994, 97.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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