LB 1001 (1992)
April 6, 1992
SPEAKER BAACK: No objection, so ordered. We will now proceed to LB 1001.
ASSISTANT CLERK: Mr. President, LB 1001 was introduced by Senators Horgan, Lynch, Nelson, and Will. (Read title.) The bill was read for the first time on January 9th of this year, was referred to the Retirement System Committee. They report the bill to General File with committee amendments, Mr. President.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Nelson, for the committee amendments on LB 1001.
SENATOR NELSON: The committee amendments are rather significant to the bill, and yet very simple. In essence, the bill calls for a percentage of 1.65, the current rate, to be increased to .170 in the Omaha School District. I have mixed emotions on this and I will try to explain what my...what I've tried to do my homework and this also was brought to us by the state public ... or the state teachers retirement request, and that was to increase their retirement factor 1.65, up to 1.80, which would have been a 9 percent increase in retirement benefits. I think most if you know that was not passed out of the Retirement Committee. I may help some of you out, or some of you that are new on the floor. The teachers retirement is figured on the basis of the last, or the highest three years, which is usually the last three years of teaching time .165, times the years taught. So, in essence, that's what their retirement is. The difference in the two systems, I did not, I will tell you personally, in the committee did not support striking this
portion. But the committee amendments do strike it. Some of the difference being is on the state system. And we went quite in depth last fall, a committee that I put together of probably about 10 to 12, maybe 15 people that were interested in various issues of the teachers, and the teachers retirement , and all retirement systems, and trying to compare two systems together. So, this is somewhat we found, and this has a lot of do with this committee amendment. The first place is this is fully funded. The old story, okay, it's funded today, but not tomorrow. That is not true in the Omaha system. It would be true in the state system. The state would have an unfunded Lability. They have been very fiscally sound in their retirement system. As an example, in 1982 they used a career average to figure their retirement system, and for that reason they accumulated some reserve resources. At that time, and I'm not pitting against the state, but I do want to know ... the body to know that there is a difference. One does not necessarily follow tile other. But, of course, the consideration in the Retirement Committee was once you give it to one group, and I will tell you I don't care whether it's the judges, or the Highway Patrol, or the state employees, once you've given that it's very, very difficult to hold the line. Arid we have to be fiscally responsible. When I look back in Washington, D.C., that's part of the problem that our federal deficit is Such that it is, because of those promises that maybe the money is here today, but I will guarantee you it's unfunded liabilities down the road. And that's what we do have in the Nebraska school public retirement system. But Omaha is different. And I 'm not standing up here protecting Omaha, but they are ... the reserves are there. There is nothing that they're asking for in this bill that the money is not there for the current ones that are in the system, and that they will be funded during their ... well, whatever their need or their lifetime. They also, as I said again, when the state retirement system or the schools ask for 1.8, Omaha knew that they could not afford that, and they simply did not go along with it. Back in 19 ... it was 1982, before they raised their retirement, and the state raised theirs in 1968. And the state was paying out, at that time, 3.50 percent of all pay was what the teachers were assessed. So, there is a difference in the systems. This is going to be fiscally sound. I have reservations in supporting 1.65 to the 1.7. But I just want the body to know, but that's what the committee amendments would do is they would then move that back to the state employees retirement system, teaching. . . school system, from 1. 70 to 1.65. And that is 3 percent is what it does figure out to
be. But again I want you to definitely understand there's a difference in the employees contribution. For example, in the state retirement, in 1951, it was 5 percent of the first $3,600, Omaha it was 5 percent of $5,000. So, in one way it's hard for me to stand up and defend one system and not the other. But Omaha would not be offering this if it was not fully funded and would not create, or if It would create an unfunded liability. So there is a difference. But you folks will have to make up your mind, and I'm sure Senator Horgan will speak on this a little bit more. There is a difference, but that's what the committee amendments do, they would remove the...going to ... from 1.65 to 1.70, and would reverse back to the same as the state employees. And that's simply what the amendments do.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Nelson. Senator Horgan, on the committee amendments.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. As Senator Nelson said, I rise in opposition to the committee amendments to LB 1001. And I think Senator Nelson did a good job explaining why the committee amendments ought not to be adopted. We have two retirement systems in Nebraska for public teachers, and -vie have the state system, which is under statute, and we have the Omaha system, which is under statute. And the Omaha system predates the state system, and that's why Omaha has its own separate system. And the Omaha system is funded by the employees and by the local school district. The state system is separately funded by the teachers in those other districts and the school districts, but the statutes treat them differently. And the Omaha system and the school system come to the Legislature separately and ask for increases in their factors for retirement when they're able to actuarially substantiate that they have the money in the system to do that. That has been the procedure since at least 1951, and is the procedure in 1992. The committee amendment, for some reason, said, and the discussion in the committee, as I understand it, was, well if we give it to the Omaha system then the state system is going to come in. And that very well may be true. But if the state system can come in and substantiate actuarially that they have the money to increase the factor, then they ought to be able to do that. The Omaha system comes in now, has actuarially substantiated that they can afford an increase in the factor, it's fully funded, there's no increase in tax dollars, there's 110 increase in the commitment of the local school district, and so I really am at a loss as to why the committee believed that
there was a need to do this other than the concern that the' state system will come in following Lis and say that OPS got it, so we ought to have it. The difference is, and the argument that you need to recognize is that the state system and the OPS system should get the increase in their factors when they can afford it, when they can actuarially substantiate that they I-lave the money in the system. OPS is able to do that. They have actuarial statements that substantiate it. The school board is in support of it, and so there really is no reason to set this type of precedent, and I would encourage the members of the body to oppose the committee amendment, which keeps the factor at the flat level and does not allow the retired teacher-, who have put money into this system and have saved for their retirements, to get the money that is their due. And it makes good sense to say if you can actuarially substantiate the ability to increase your retirement benefits, that in your retirement years you're going to get those increases and cost of living adjustments that help you after you've put in a number of years working. in a system. And so I would encourage you to seriously consider the committee amendments and to reject them. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Horgan. Senator Wesely.
SENATOR WESELY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members. I rise in behalf of the committee amendments and wish to commend Senator Nelson and the Retirement Committee for recognizing the interrelationship on retirement issues. Senator Horgan says the only reason you'd want co stand with the committee and support these committee amendments is because of the interlinking of the benefits on the Omaha School District could eventually be reflected with the other school districts, in the teacher retirements, for the rest of the state. If that's the only reason, that's a good enough reason for me, Senator Horgan, because as Chairman of the Retirement Committee I saw, time and again, the whipsawing between the various factions, as one would take a step forward on retirement benefits, arguing they've got the money, everything is fine, let's just go ahead and do it, the next group would watch, wait patiently, and then their turn would come the next year, then they'd come in and say, well you gave the benefit to them, we deserve the same benefit, and we'd like this in addition. And so they would tip the ante a little bit more. And the next group would come in and say, see what they got, now we deserve the same thing, and we'd like just this little piece more. And time and again, back and forth, back and forth, we've seen a ratcheting tip. If we had a situation where,
across the board, for all teachers in the state, we had the ability to move up the retirement benefit to the level that you'd like to under your bill, fine. I think that would be great. But once you take the step forward for the Omaha teachers, to give them that retirement benefit and increase that level, you're going to have to recognize the rest of the teachers will be in, they'll have a legitimate claim to ask you for an additional benefit. And I don't know if we've got the resources. Maybe Senator Nelson knows if we've got the resources in the bank to pay for it. I'm not so sure. Arid, of course, even the Omaha situation looks good now, but what if the economy drops, what if the investments they've made do not hold, what are the other problems we face down the road? And certainly we're glad to see it in good financial shape. And there is much in this bill that's beneficial. But the element that was picked out by the Retirement Committee to not be approved within your bill is a worthy step to take forward, to again preserve some equity in the system. Arid this is an issue that will be coming up with the Lancaster County employees, they would like very much to have a plan that would increase themselves significantly above other counties, and I've resisted that. Even ... I'm not doing this just because of Omaha, but this is a philosophy I've had in retirement. You've got to have equity in retirement benefits because you can't ignore the fact that one retirement group will be asking for whatever benefit you give another retirement group. It just works its way up every time in that fashion. In Lancaster County we're trying to hold the line on that. You'll see an amendment on that at a different stage. I'd ask the body to hold the line on this as well, and to support the committee on the committee amendments and advance the rest of the bill, and recognize the committee has identified a problem and has dealt with the problem, and the committee amendments should be supported.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Wesely. Senator Pirsch.
SENATOR PIRSCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members of the body. Senator Wesely talks about ratcheting up, each retirement system is completely different. And the Omaha School Employees Retirement System is completely different from the Nebraska School Employees Retirement System. As a matter of fact, it began in 1909, the Nebraska School Employees did not come along until 1945. And when we talk about the differences, let's remember also that the Omaha system, because it did start first, is in a separate statute by itself, and there is no other
Nebraska school district that compares in student population. And also there is no other Nebraska school district that has the degree of diversity that the Omaha Public Schools have. When we talk about the... the 1.7, we are talking about a completely independent system who, because of their investment and the participation by their employees of the school system, have an actuarially sound retirement system, and indeed because those Omaha Public School employees have been contributing to that extent, they should benefit from their participation and from the wise investments that their retirement fund has done. They should not be penalized because other retirement systems might look at that. We have united support for this increase and the actuarial study shows that even projected in the future, as Senator Nelson has indicated, is indicative that this is a strong fund. I think it's the fair thing to do. These employees have contributed over the years, their fund call support it. And because they are completely different they should be allowed to benefit from their retirement system. I took LB 1001 as a priority bill because, I think, this is the time to do this, and I think this is the amount to do this. And I would hope that the body would agree that they should reject the committee amendments and pass oil LB 1001.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Pirsch. Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. President, members of the body, I want to congratulate Senator Nelson. I thought you did a superlative job distinguishing between the two systems. I had to get a ... sort of got a smile on my face when Senator Wesely got up and talks about holding tile line. I wish lie would ... I wish he would have that philosophy in all areas of state government. I hope he's listening. Senator Nelson, I think you used the term, and Senator Wesely used the term about ratcheting LIP. I know as I've looked at the different retirement systems there's a plethora of different items that do not match, as far as one the one retirement system to the other. Like early retirement, I know there's a number of different options out there. I think Douglas County employees can retire at 55. 1 don't see any ... I've never noticed any looseness on the Retirement Committee's thinking in awarding early retirement on a hit and miss basis. In fact, over the years I think they've done a pretty good job. And as you said, there is a difference between the Omaha School System's Retirement Program and the Nebraska State Teacher-, Retirement Program. They're sound fiscally, the money is there, why would you deny this? Sure,
you can sing dooms day all day long, like Senator Wesely. missed you, Senator Wesely, you left. I said you brought a smile to my face when you said hold the line. I guess I should repeat that again because I would like to see that statement many more times in all phases of state government. So ... but I will say it was a breath of fresh air for me to hear you say that. Now, the Nebraska Retirement System cannot afford to go up, so the answer is simple, they shouldn't go up if they can't afford it. Besides, under the leadership of Senator Nelson, we're going to have an interim study on all the retirement programs, which I think is a good move. So, I would go on record in voting against the committee amendments because I think the Omaha teachers retirement program has proven that it's fiscally sound and they're fiscally ready for this move. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Senator Rasmussen.
SENATOR RASMUSSEN: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I also rise in opposition to the committee amendments. I think most of the points have been well made by other senators, but I just simply want to reiterate that although there is ... there may be a trend for when one retirement benefit happens that the other organization looks to get the same kind of benefits for them., the fact remains that even though they may be interested in that, that they can only do it when they are actuarially sound. In fact, if we look at the history of when Omaha gets their retirement benefits, as opposed to when the state organization does, we do not see a close, at least in a timely way, interrelatedness between those benefits, that they have typically been four or five years apart. And even when they have been close, it has been because the ... that one has the money in order to provide those kind of benefits. I think because they are separate systems, because the primary factor in determining whether or not they can look at these kinds of increases for the retirement, is that this money belongs to them and it is their system that we're talking about, and it should not be connected with the state system at this particular point in time. And I would urge you that the most logical thing to do would be to reject the committee amendments. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Rasmussen. Senator Horgan.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. Senator Rasmussen's comments were right on target. You know, we need to
recognize who's money this is, who's retirement it is, who's put the money into the system. And if you look at the history of the separation between the Omaha system and the state system. each system, has come into this Legislature and has had the ability to get approval for factor increases when they've been able to substantiate the ability to fund it. In 1984, the state system came in and got a factor increase, from 1.50 to 1.65. it took Omaha another 4 or 5 years, took them 5 years, 1989, before Omaha came in and raised ... got raised tip from 1.5 to 1.65. it only makes good sense that we allow these systems to advance their factors when they have the ability to do it. The Omaha system, the teachers in the Omaha system did not have the advantage of the increase in the factor for five years, because their retirement system could not afford it. Their retirement system now, in 1992, can afford a factor increase. The state system may or may not be able to afford it. And it is up to them, when they can afford it, when they're actuaries tell them they can afford it, to come to the Legislature and ask for the factor increase. It would be irresponsible for us to not increase the factor when they've put the money in there for this very purpose, as it would be irresponsible for us to raise the factor if the money wasn't there. But there's no question, there'-, no debate, there's no argument about the ability for this factor to be raised and for the money to be there. And so to try and now link these two systems together, when the history has been that they're not ... they've not been linked, there is a 5 ... you need to listen to the fact that there was a 5 year difference in the 2 systems, 1984 to 1989, and it was a disadvantage to OPS. The state factor was higher than the OPS factor. But when the OPS retirement system had the money in it, they came in, 1989, they got the raise. They're able to come in now because of some good times, economically, in their retirement system, some wise, some prudent judgment of their investments, and they're able to get a factor increase. To 7stem isn't getting that, at this point in time would be just as ridiculous as it would have been co punish the state system for five years because OPS couldn't have afforded it in the eighties. So, I ... I encourage you to not accept the committee amendments. This money belongs to the retired teachers, they've put their money into -it and they're entitled to the factor increase when the actuarial facts bear it out. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Horgan. Senator Nelson, you're next.
SENATOR NELSON: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have to take a little exception with Senator Pirsch that the systems are not the same. Actually, when you get ... well there are a lot of points in one system that is the same in the other. For example, Omaha, the current members rate is set in statute, and that's at 5.8 percent, and the state's is on a variable. And I think their ... their contribution rate is, I believe, 6.5, yes, 6.52, and it's matched 101 percent by the employer. I fully agree that the money is there with Omaha, an actuarial study done. But again it does fly in the face of our Nebraska Retirement Systems as adopted, the general principles, and that is to evaluate the changes in this proposal, I will have to tell you, is in conflict. That simply is the increase from 1.65 to 1.70. So, I ... I have to say it's up to the body, really, to make that decision . I got to agree with Senator Wesely, once you grant it, you grant it with ... to all. The Omaha system and the ... with the ... there are some COLA increases, and they would not grant those. We'll talk about that in the bill a little bit later, a 3 percent increase. Their system is sound. And they ... they have different, I'm not saying anything against the state investment people, but there are some differences and there are different comparisons, comparison of the rates of the two show that there's the Omaha system and the state system. Actuarial assumptions on salary increases, retirement rates and withdrawal rates, the state system assumes a higher salary increase per year than Omaha, a higher retirement rate at age 60, and a much lower withdrawal rate. So there are ... there are differences in the system. The ... the state ... Omaha does not pay on part-time employees, the state does on 15 or more hours per week. The unfunded liabilities on the state now is, I think, $32 million and anytime, remember, we went to early retirement a few years back. And whenever you do something that is not actuarially set up to do it, you're going to create an unfunded liability. The state's share in the unfunded liability of the contribution needed is $4,900,000 ... 932,000, as I said. So, I think it's up to the body to make up their mind if they want to make this move, for the Omaha system. It's a difficult one. I did tell the Omaha system I would explain it as carefully as I could, explain it that they are actuarially sound. The body has to make up their mind whether or not they want to take that risk of, I guess my favorite saying, once you start it, there's no stopping. But the Omaha system has not moved as rapid as the state , and they are fiscally sound and the employees have paid into it, and that money is there, and the actuarially it will
show that it will not be a liability that they cannot, or that they do not have the money there right now to ... to support it.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Nelson. Senator Wesely.
SENATOR WESELY: Just briefly, Mr. Speaker, members. Again, I understand why there's a strong desire and support for adopting the bill without these committee amendments, but I again rise in support of the committee amendments. It's simply, when you've been on the Retirement Committee and you've seen the big picture, you've seen all the different groups with their desire for improved retirement benefits, you realize you've got to...have to have some rational basis to make decisions. And that rational basis in the Retirement Committee has always been these principles we've adopted. And one of those principles is equity, equity across systems. Yes, it's a different system. The Omaha school teachers are in a different system than the rest of the state, but they're very similar in many ways. And there's an equity question, and that equity question even applies to other types of public employees who look at that system and have aspirations as well. And so every decision you make can't be looked at in isolation. It's got to be looked at in the context of retirement plans and benefits. 'And if it makes sense, and it follows the, principles, and it's affordable, then you take that step and you try and do what you can to help improve retirement benefits. But where it's out of step, where it doesn't follow the principles, you're heading for trouble because once you break that ground and move into an area where you make decisions based without some solid ground and logic, you're heading for trouble, not only in this area, but in other areas as well. And so in retirement at least we've tried to maintain these principles. I'd ask you to retain them once again and support the committee amendments. And I'll give the rest of my time to Senator Nelson.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Wesely. Senator Abboud. Senator Nelson, excuse me.
SENATOR NELSON: I ... one other thing, particularly for the new senators, or if you've not served on Retirement Committee, one other thing that I must... must tell you, and we're ... my concern is COLA's for the older retirees, not only in the public system but the Omaha system. Once you take that retirement there is no increase like there are ... there is in other systems. But, in essence, the teachers that are retiring today are receiving an
increase in retirement because of the increase in teachers salaries, whether it be...I don't know what's consistent, 4, 5, 6 percent, that they are, by using the last 3 years, they are increasing their retirement considerably, the ones that are increasing today, even if you stayed with the 1.65. You take a 5 percent increase in salary and a $30,000 salary, you have increased that retirement. On the Omaha it's not all that many dollars, I think it was 1,360 to 1,320 in the average retiree. So, again, I certainly appreciate Senator Wesely helping me explain the difference. And I guess it's up to the body. But once you do it, it's pretty hard to ... pretty hard to reverse it.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Nelson. Senator Abboud.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Question. Question.
SPEAKER BAACK: The question has been called. Do I see five hands? I do. We will now vote on ceasing debate. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, to cease debate.
SPEAKER BAACK: Debate has ceased. I will go to Senator Nelson to close on the committee amendments.
SENATOR NELSON: I've tried to explain it as honest and fair as I can, and to help the people understand what ... how the retirement systems are figured and what is involved here. I don't think that I can say anything more, and I will let the body make their decision. I ... I could not hide the fact that I'm... I'm not comfortable with this, but again, on the other hand, I did support it out of committee because I knew the Omaha system was different and it is ... it is actuarially sound. And the state system, it's altogether a different picture. You're not talking about that many employees. But I'll give the rest of my time to Senator Horgan.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Horgan.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Senator Nelson, for having a little bit of your time. I 'd. . Senator Nelson is being very honest and forthright with You when she tells you that she has mixed emotions about this. And the real issue is are we getting locked into something where we're going to ratchet up the state system simply because we're moving the OPS system. I would
encourage you to look at what the history is. And the history is that there is a several year lag between the two systems on when they move their factor. The state system, again, moved their factor in 1984, OPS moved theirs in 1989. They both came to the Legislature and asked for it, the Legislature gave it to them when their actuarial consultants told them that they I-lad the money there to do it. LB 1001, without the committee amendment, creates no unfunded liability to the retirement system, and that's important to recognize. This is fully funded, the money is there. The actuarial statements prove that the money is there and the reserve is sufficient to account for any increases that occur. So I encourage you not to begin something that we have never done before, which is to go back nearly a century in this state and begin to lock these two systems together, because they've not been locked together before. In the past we have always moved them tip when they had the money there. The state system has the money there. If they come in next year and they ask for the money, it's important to recognize that and allow them to have it, probably. But this is the OPS system. This is the money the teachers have put into that system. They're entitled to the money that their actuaries tell them is there for their retirement years, and Senator Nelson would like a little bit of rebuttal time and I would yield back to her. Thank you.
SENATOR NELSON: I don't call it rebuttal time, because I have mixed emotion on this. But I do want to tell you also my concern in separating the systems is you do have teachers that transfer from the Omaha system to the public system ...
SPEAKER BAACK: One minute.
SENATOR NELSON: ... or vice versa. And so ... and actually you're ... they're not buying into the same system. But you do have teachers that will go from either the public or the Omaha School District. I just wanted to mention that to you.
SPEAKER BAACK: You have heard the closing on the committee amendments. We will now vote on the committee amendments to LB 1001. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We're voting on the committee amendments. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 3 ayes, 16 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the committee amendments.
SENATOR WARNER PRESIDING
SENATOR WARNER: The committee amendments are not adopted. Senator Horgan, do you wish to open on the bill to ... we go to the amendments?
SENATOR HORGAN: You can go to the amendments, Mr. President.
SENATOR WARNER: Thank you. Mr. Clerk, are there amendments on the desk?
CLERK: Oh, yes, Mr. President, there are. I have amendments, first of all, by Senator Baack. Senator, AM3526.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Baack.
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes, Mr. Chairman arid colleagues, the amendment I am proposing to you is actually LB 41 which I introduced a year ago too and it was referred to the Retirement Committee. They held a hearing on the bill. It's actually ... it was actually LB 632, 1 think, two years before that. So it's been introduced a couple of different times. Arid what this bill ... what this amendment would do , it would allow a person who had already signed a contract to serve as a school employee, and this is part of the key is he had already signed... lie or she had already signed a contract to serve as a school employee, when they were drafted into the service they would be credited ... they would be allowed to be credited for the time served in the armed forces, and ... when they are determining their benefits that they get from the school retirement plan. Arid the reason that I'm doing this, there's only, as far as we know right now, there's only five that qualify in the State of Nebraska that actually had signed contracts and would now be qualified to be part... to use those years in the school retirement program as they retired. And the reason that I am doing this is these...these people were kind of caught in the middle of the system. They didn't actually serve as a teacher before they left for the service but they actually... but they didn't get the benefits of the GI bill either after ... when they got out because they did not actually serve as a teacher before but they had signed their contracts when they were drafted into the service. And, as far as I know, there is five of these people in the state that would qualify. My amendment does have some buyback provisions in it but my understanding is Senator Nelson is going to have an
amendment that takes those buy-back provisions out because that does create some problems with the ... with the way that the retirement system works on the buy-out provisions. With that, I would be happy to answer any questions. The Retirement Committee did advance LB 41. It is sitting on General File. Arid, as far as I know, it affects four people in the State of Nebraska. Two of them happen to live out in my area. One of them lives in Senator Withem's area, I think another one in Senator Hartnett's, are the areas that we know of. Those are the four and there may be one other one that we're aware of. With that, I would be happy to answer any questions if I could. If not, I would just urge the adoption of the amendment.
SENATOR WARNER: There's an amendment on the desk to the amendment, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Nelson would move to amend Senator Baack's amendment. (The Nelson amendment, AM3780, is found on page 1741 of the Legislative Journal.)
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: All right. My amendment, and I am amending Senator Baack's amendment, first of all I would have to tell you in committee last year and this year we were not too happy with this bill. It kind of opens that gate allain. I was going to teach but I didn't teach, but then 1 ... you know, to buy credits, and I will tell the body there is no end, absolutely no end to the request to buy-in into the teacher's retirement system and it is good for anyone that does. But, as Senator Baack says, I think maybe someone thought in committee but he's probably done the work and it won't make any different whether were talking about 4 or 5 or 14. Fourteen was somewhat the ballpark figure that was talked about. I look at this as very, very special legislation for a very, very minute people. And that's the reason that I have trouble supporting it. My amendment would strike ... would strike the portion in Section 3, and what ... and the reason for that being is it would require a member of the school employees retirement system seeking credit for military service to purchase that service within one year of the effective date of the act by paying to the retirement system an amount equal to the amount that the member would have contributed, plus the school district's contribution and the interest which would have accrued. That seems good and that seems simple and if the employee was willing to do that, what's
the problem? The problem is such. It has been determined that this purchase of service requirement would adversely affect the other members that were teaching and had to... and purchased their military credit time because they had to... in order to receive the credit Would be we would retroactively have to go back and require others to pay that same both sides of the contribution for the credit. And tinder the current statute, credit for military service is available to members of the school employees retirement system and for public service interrupted by military service. There are no requirements for such purchase. And I guess that if the body decides to pass this amendment, I will not be supporting it, but if they decide to pass it, it's better to give those five employees or five people the benefit than it is to go into the problem of having to refigure all of the other retirees that have purchased it.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Robinson, do you wish to speak to the Nelson amendment?
SENATOR ROBINSON: I would rise to oppose the Nelson amendment. I think Senator Baack thoroughly understands this and I think it's a step in the right direction. Thank you.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Horgan, do you wish? Waives off. Senator Nelson, your light is next.
SENATOR NELSON: Boy, I hate to ... I thought I explained it fully to Senator Robinson what the problem is and LB 41 would extend the military service credit to the members of the retirement system. Gosh, lie says I'm right, but I wanted to explain what all...what all the problem that we entailed. And that's the reason for the amendment. It just simply is not feasible to go back and refigure 01 make all of those pay for this contribution.
SENATOR WARNER: There are no further lights. Senator Nelson, do you wish to close on your amendment to the Baack amendment?
SENATOR NELSON: I think it's ... I've fully explained it. if you ... and I will not be supporting this amendment but if you decide to support it, then I suggest that you support my amendment because it just is simply too much to ask the other retirees to go back and pick Up those contributions which they have done on a different basis.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Nelson has closed. The motion is the adoption of the Nelson amendment to the Baack amendment. Those in favor vote aye, opposed nay. A simply majority of those voting. Have you all voted? Clerk, record.
CLERK: 21 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Nelson's amendment to Senator Baack's amendment.
SENATOR WARNER: The motion carried, the amendment is adopted. Is there further discussion on the Baack amendment? Senator Nelson, your light is still on. There are no further lights. Senator Baack, do you wish to close on adoption of your amendment as amended?
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes, Mr. Chairman, and colleagues, just very briefly, Senator Nelson's amendment did clean up some problems that would have been caused had we had the buy-back provisions in there. I think it was good to add that provision to my amendment. My amendment, again, only affects a very few people in the state, four, possibly five. Senator Nelson said something about 14, I'm not aware of those. And having introduced the legislation for four years in a row, I would guess that they would have contacted me had they been involved in this. So I think it's only four or five people that this affects. And I think it's just good policy to allow those people to use their years in the service because they had signed a contract before they were drafted. And I would ask for the adoption of the amendment.
SENATOR WARNER: Those in favor of the Baack amendment vote aye, opposed nay. Have you all voted? It requires 25 votes. Have you 411 voted? Senator Senator Baack.
SENATOR BAACK: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I would ask for a call of the house and I would accept call-in votes.
SENATOR WARNER: Request for a call of the house. Those in favor vote aye, opposed nay. Clerk, record.
CLERK: 18 ayes, 0 nays to go Linder call, Mr. Clerk.
SENATOR WARNER: The house is under call. Members, please record your presence. The house *is under call. Please record your presence. Call-in votes are authorized when the members get here.
CLERK: Senator Kristensen voting yes.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Beutler, Senator Bernard-Stevens. Senator Dennis Byars. Senator Lindsay, Rasmussen, Robak, Conway, Schellpeper. Senator Schmit, Senator Robak, Senator Hefner, Senator Will. Call-in votes are authorized for adoption of the Baack amendment.
CLERK: Senator Schmit voting yes. Senator Bernard-Stevens voting yes.
SENATOR WARNER: Clerk, record.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 1 nay on adoption of Senator Baack's amendment, Mr. President.
SENATOR WARNER: The motion is carried and the amendment is adopted. I raise the call. Are there further amendments on the desk?
CLERK: Yes, Mr. President.
SENATOR WARNER: We raised the call, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: The next amendment I have is by Senator Baack, AM3934. (The Baack amendment appears on page 1868 of the Legislative Journal.)
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Baack.
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes, Mr. Chairman and colleagues, the amendment that I am offering now is an amendment that clears up a problem that has developed with tile choice legislation, the open enrollment legislation that we passed a number of years ago. Last year, we allowed for choice for students who had attended their resident district for two years and they moved to a different district, we allowed them to continue to attend the school district in their original resident district because we did not want children to have to change districts just because ... just because they moved to a different district. This amendment would allow their siblings that would be in either kindergarten and the first grade to also attend. Arid I ... and the reason that I offer this bill is that these students cannot meet the two-year requirement where they have lived in ... where
they have been going to school for two years already in a district because they're either in the first grade or they're in kindergarten. And I think one of the goals that we have in choice is to keep families together and to try to have the family work as a unit, especially as to how their children attend school. And this would simply allow this to happen. There are very few students in the state that would qualify for this. And my understand is even Lincoln and Omaha, even with the restrictions that they have on choice because of growth, are not opposed to this amendment because it does allow the family to stay together and it would allow the siblings to attend the ... to all attend the same school district. So, with that, I would urge your adoption of the amendment.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Crosby.
SENATOR CROSBY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members, Senator Baack, would you just answer a quick question for me?
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes.
SENATOR CROSBY: This just came to my mind as you were talking. I know that you and I have talked that the choice bill has worked good or bad, I guess, even beyond your original, expectations, right?
SPEAKER BAACK: That's correct.
SENATOR CROSBY: And you feel like it is working well.
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes, I do.
SENATOR CROSBY: But there are more requests than you thought there would be.
SPEAKER BAACK: Well, not really. I was actually anticipating all along that we would be shooting for about I percent of the student population and we're barely over that now.
SENATOR CROSBY: Okay. But what are some of the reasons, I mean, I guess I'm interested since a family... since a student goes...an older student goes why is it important? I mean, is it ... what are the reasons that some of them are asking to go to the other school? I guess that's what I want to know.
SPEAKER BAACK: You mean as far as the siblings go or as far as the original...
SENATOR CROSBY: Well, no, but why is ... like an older student is going from... then why? What are their ... what are their reasons? Just a couple different reasons.
SPEAKER BAACK: The largest. . . the largest category of reasons is the music programs that are offered in another school district,...
SENATOR CROSBY: Music.
SPEAKER BAACK: ... which actually surprised me. I though t it would be more ... more on the academic side.
SENATOR CROSBY: Uh-huh.
SPEAKER BAACK: But that is one of them that is the highest number have chosen because of the music programs.
SENATOR CROSBY: Yeah. So then it is ... I understand your part about the siblings. I just thought it would be interesting for us to know when we're voting on this today the reason ... the big reason for so many requests. Thank you.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Hall.
SENATOR HALL: Thank you, Senator Warner, and members, if Senator Baack would respond to a question.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Baack, do you yield?
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes, Senator Hall.
SENATOR HALL: Senator Baack, does this amendment deal with the issue of that I spoke to you about with the family that I'm familiar with where the older brother was able to opt in but then the younger sibling was not able to?
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Hall, my understanding is Senator Horgan is going to offer an amendment that deals specifically with that situation. This one does not. This one is a little more limited in scope, but Senator Horgan is going to offer one that does and I will be supportive of that.
SENATOR HALL: And that's going to be to this bill?
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes.
SENATOR HALL: Thank you very much.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: Mr. Speaker, not that I have necessarily an objection to Senator Baack's amendment but I think we're stretching the germaneness just about as far as that polyester piece of rag could be stretched on this amendment. And I will guarantee you in these retirement bills we're finding a lot of that in the next ... this bill and the other bill that's on Select File. This bill has to do with a one-time periodic increase in current retirees. That's the 3 percent increase I spoke about, the multiplier fact that we talked about, a change in preretirement joint and survivor option to allow it to become more effective automatically after 20 years and allows employees to buy in their time from other public school systems. So I ... boy, I don't know, not that I have a lot of objection, I will leave it up to the body, but it sure stretches germaneness. I guess I would ask for ... well, I'll let Senator Baack decide. I'm not ... I'm not tough on this one but it's ... probably isn't germane.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Baack, I think Senator Nelson was asking a question. I don't believe she had asked the Chair to rule on germaneness but I think she wants some comment from you.
SENATOR NELSON: I don't think it's germane.
SPEAKER BAACK: Well, then if you don't care that much, I think it is. (Laughter.)
SENATOR NELSON: I'll remember that when I want a vote.
SENATOR WARNER: I see no further lights on. Senator Baack, do you wish to close?
SPEAKER BAACK: I will waive closing.
SENATOR WARNER: Closing has been waived. The motion is the adoption of the Baack amendment. Those in favor vote aye,
opposed nay. Requires 25 votes. Have you all voted? Have you all voted? Senator Baack.
SPEAKER BAACK: Well, I'm not very good at begging. Mr. Chairman, I would...I would simply ask for a call of the house and I will accept call-ins.
SENATOR WARNER: Call of the house has been requested. Those in favor vote aye, opposed nay. Clerk, record.
CLERK: 16 ayes, 0 nays to go tinder call.
SENATOR WARNER: The house is tinder call. Members, please return to the Chamber. Pending is the Baack motion. Call-in votes are accepted. Members, please record your presence. Senator Beutler, Lindsay, Senator Wehrbein, Kristensen. We'll take in call-in votes but TIM going to leave the house under call because we're wasting a lot of time.
CLERK: Senator Hartnett voting yes. Senator Coordsen voting yes.
SENATOR WARNER: Clerk, record.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 0 nays on the adoption of Senator Baack's amendment.
SENATOR WARNER: The motion is carried. The amendment is adopted. Are there further amendments on the desk?
CLERK: Mr. President, there is. The next amendment I have is by Senator Wickersham. (The Wickersham amendment appears on page 1874 of the Legislative Journal.)
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Wickersham.
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Is this AM3951? Mr. Clerk, is this 3951?
CLERK: AM3951, yes, sir.
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Okay, thank you, Mr. Clerk. Colleagues, this is originally LB 1151 or, I'm sorry, and it was heard in the committee. I don't think there were any objections to it. It simply didn't get advanced. Senator Withem, I think will indicate that it is not a controversial subject matter. It is
very technical in nature. It has simply to do with what you do with a Class I school district when you have a dissolution of that district or you have a dissolution of a Class VI district and you have had affiliation with a Class VI district. After we had a portion of the hearing on this bill, Senator Warner, for one, had to ask the question, well, what does it really do? And it is rather technical in nature, dealing, as I say, exclusively with what happens with a Class I or a Class VI when you have a dissolution of those districts and you've had affiliation of the Class I district. So, with that, I would just urge adoption of the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK PRESIDING
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Wickersham. Before we go any further, I would like to encourage my colleagues, if they are in the Capitol or in their offices or wherever to please come to the floor so we can continue to conduct business. I know some of them are going to eat, except try to keep enough people here so we can continue to work on some of these amendments to this bill. I would encourage you to do that. Time is of the essence. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, the amendment that Senator Wickersham has before you was first introduced as a bill to the Education Committee and I-lad a favorable public hearing. For some reason, I was surprised when Senator Wickersham indicated that the bill was still in committee. I thought this was one of the bills that we had advanced. We had talked about it a number of times, I think, in Executive Session but never did advance the bill onto General File. But we feel as though it is a very, very technical measure dealing with what happens when this whole affiliation process has taken place and then we have dissolution of Class I districts, something that we probably need in the statutes, an eventuality that will probably be coming more often than we've had in the past and I simply urge you to adopt the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. I will raise the call but I want people to stay close to the Chamber. I will raise the call for now but please stay close to the Chamber so we can continue to conduct business. Anyone else wishing to discuss the amendment? Senator Wickersham, do you wish to close? Waives closing. We will now vote on the amendment by Senator Wickersham. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote
no. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Wickersham's amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted. I will raise the call right now but, members, please ;tay close to the Chamber. Please stay close so we can continue to conduct business. Mr. Clerk, the next amendment.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Warner would move to amend. Senator, AM3950.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Warner.
SENATOR WARNER: Mr. President and members of the Legislature, this is an amendment which also includes some other bills, plus some new matter that was held before the Appropriations Committee. One is LB 1071 which Senator Dierks, I believe, was the introducer and it would permit that school board members, Board of Education, can be reimbursed for their actual arid necessary expenses rather than a per them as is currently authorized. But the schools do not have clear statutory language to provide such a standard such as other governing boards do have for reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses. They have used ... do have the authorization, as I indicated, for per- them which sometimes is utilized but is less clear and precise than the actual arid necessary expenses. Also, it includes LB 1072 which was an adjustment in the current statute which has provided the school district the authorization to levy a tax for the removal of asbestos. And this would ex ... and there is a special levy for that purpose. This would expand not to levy authorization but the utilization of that for the purpose of eliminating the accessibility barriers within the school buildings or grounds as is required by the disability act that we have discussed on a variety of occasions relating to other factors as well. It also would include that they could eliminate environmental hazards as well, including the use of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority which is a concept that is not new. And all of these are areas that would be authorized if they had to do it and all these are instances which are ... in which they essentially have no choice but to bring ... to come into compliance. Again, it does not increase the specific authorized levy for those purposes. It does, however, exempt for this specific levy only, for the
construction levy that they could exceed their lids or limit only to the extent mandated by federal and state statutes and regulations. As you know, currently that in no effect allows them to change in their operating levy or the limits on their operating levy but it would apply in this restricted area of their construction levy in order that they could comply with these mandates. As you know, the mandates for disability must be accomplished under existing federal act by January 26, 1995 and this extends the same responsibility also to the community colleges which are subject to the same kinds of conditions and also have a maximum construction levy that they can levy but not necessarily just for this purpose and with this purpose they could also exceed the lid for that construction levy in order to meet those mandates for which they have no, in fact, have no option. So I would move adoption of the amendment. Be glad to explain the bill further if there are questions.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Warner. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, these are bills again heard before the Education Committee. One of them, as. a matter of fact, this is the second year that it's been around. There was a glitch in the statutes regarding the payment of school board members' expenses. This is a provision to deal with ... to deal with that. The other provision is one dealing with ... it actually began several years ago as a special fund for asbestos removal, special levy for asbestos removal. It grew then into other environmental hazards and now it is ... Senator Warner is proposing that it also be able to deal with ADA cases. In a very general sense, this is becoming kind of a building levy fund to deal with all of these mandated types of federal programs and they all do fit together and in both cases the Education Committee felt that these were worthy pieces of legislation. As a matter of fact, I think one or both might even have Speaker priority status. And so there's ... we heard little or no controversy and I certainly plan on supporting them.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Nelson, you're next.
SENATOR NELSON: Gosh, I didn't know my light was on and Senator Chizek hasn't been around, so I'm not sure, maybe Kate did it. I'm not sure who did it, but I do support these bills and this is another one that germaneness is stretched clear to the end. But that's the only way we can get this cleared up real fast, so
I have no problem. And I will talk to, I don't know who, but thanks.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thanks, Senator Nelson. Senator Abboud.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Yes, Mr. President, colleagues, would Senator Warner yield to a couple of questions? Senator Warner, I didn't have a copy of the amendment and apparently it wasn't handed out and it was not printed in the Journal. And so I went down to the Clerk's desk and read through the amendment Could you tell me which bill numbers were amending into LB 1001?
SENATOR WARNER: I indicated in my remarks, Senator, that it was 1071 and 1072 and then I said, in addition, this also affects community colleges with the same concept that was in 1072 that those special levies could be the construction levies that they have as would be true of the K-12 could be extended to the requirements of the Americans for Disability Act as well as hazardous material.
SENATOR ABBOUD: And the level of...the level of increase as far as with the use of property...
SENATOR WARNER: The ... the bill does not amend the current authorized levy with the exception that these construction, where they're mandated to do some of these things can exceed the lid as it would pertain to their construction levy or the levy limit, in some cases, in order to be able to comply.
SENATOR ABBOUD: When yo (interruption).
SENATOR WARNER: But that does not affect their operating budget lids.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Now when you address the American Disabilities Act, are you referring to the federal legislation mandating the removal of barriers for individuals that are handicapped?
SENATOR WARNER: I'm sorry, Senator, I
SENATOR ABBOUD: Well, I was just trying to tie down here maybe more for legislative history than anything else the ...
SENATOR WARNER: Sure.
SENATOR ABBOUD: ... authorization or the use of this money is in compliance with the federal law dealing with the American Disabilities Act, the federal law.
SENATOR WARNER: Correct. The federal Americans for Disability Act, and also it deals with hazardous material abatement which could be by state statute, specifically it limits it only to the extent mandated by federal or state statute or regulations in these two areas.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Okay. Are you aware of any mandating by the state in regard to this American Disabilities Act?
SENATOR WARNER: No, but there could be some in hazardous material.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Okay, thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Abboud. Senator Wesely.
SENATOR WESELY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was just looking over LB 1072, trying to quickly identify what changes are occurring here. I introduced the original bill which provided for the asbestos abatement fund which was developed and emerged eventually as a hazardous waste envi ronmental. . not hazardous waste but environmental hazard fund, and so I can see, as Senator Withem said, this is an evolution of the ... of the issue. I guess, Senator Warner, is there any change to the original underlying statute? I was looking here and I see some changes in some wording but I'm ... there's really no impact outside of adding another element to that fund's ability to be used for. Isn't that correct?
SENATOR WARNER: I believe that is correct. I'm reviewing this to be certain but I believe that is ... yes, that is correct.
SENATOR WESELY: I mean, this amendment is essentially the bill, right? There's not (interruption).
SENATOR WARNER: Yes.
SENATOR WESELY: Okay.
SENATOR WARNER: In LB 1072?
SENATOR WESELY: Yeah.
SENATOR WARNER: Yes, except this only related to schools, K-12 systems, and the amendment expands it to include the community colleges...
SENATOR WESELY: Oh, I see.
SENATOR WARNER: ... which have a comparable ... could have a comparable requirement and they have a similar levy limitation on for construction.
SENATOR WESELY: Okay, thank you very much.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Wesely. Any other discussion on the amendment offered by Senator Warner? Seeing none, Senator Warner, you waive closing. We will now vote on the amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We are voting on the amendment by Senator Warner. Have you all voted? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 28 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Warner's amendment to the bill.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted.
CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Wickersham would move to amend. Senator, I have AM3683. (See pages 1970-74 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK; Senator Wickersham.
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This amendment is a very simple one. It just changes the section that defines public school, for purposes of determining who is eligible to contribute and participate in the teachers' retirement fund. This amendment arises out of a rather special situation and I will have to confess that I had something to do with creating it. Fifteen years ago ... well, even before I here you create these problems and then you come here and solve them. Fifteen years ago I created a nonprofit corporation and the purpose of that was to have teachers deliver special ed services to school districts in the Sioux County and Dawes County area. That's all it was for. The only members of the corporation are the public schools that participate in the program and share the teachers
April 6. 1992
that do special ed. The teachers that work for the nonprofit corporation contributed for a number of years to the school retirement fund and participated. In fact, they did that for six years and then an administrator of the fund decided, for some reason, that they were not eligible and would no longer allow them to participate and contribute. So we want to change the definition with just a couple of words. We're just going to insert so that it's including schools or other entities and we would insert the words other entities established, maintained and controlled by the school boards of local school districts and schools under the control of the Nebraska... management of +-he Nebraska state colleges and Board of Regents and so forth. It simply broadens that definition so that we can have the teachers who work for that nonprofit corporation controlled exclusively by public school districts eligible to participate in the teachers' retirement fund, something they did for six years tinder current law but, tinder a reinterpretation of that by the administrator, they were no longer allowed to participate this year. It's a very limited change and I would urge your support for the amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank You, Senator Wickersham. Discussion of the Wickersham amendment. Senator Pirsch.
SENATOR PIRSCH: Thank you. A question of Senator Wickersham, if he would yield.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Wickersham, would you respond, please?
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Yes.
SENATOR PIRSCH: Senator Wickersham, this applies to the Nebraska teachers' system. Is that correct?
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Yes.
SENATOR PIRSCH: Would this apply also to the Omaha Public School retirement system?
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: I can't tell you. I'm not that much of an authority on that subject-. Perhaps...I just have to confess that I do not know. It's applicable to the School Employees Retirement Act, which I think is applicable only to schools outside the Omaha system, but maybe some...I, frankly, do not know.
SENATOR PIRSCH: Okay, perhaps someone else will know and speak on this then.
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Somebody out there is shaking their head no.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Pirsch. Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: I guess my light is on this time. Omaha and the public system is different so this would not necess ... my answer to Senator Pirsch, this would not apply to the Omaha system. However, I do have ... and I don't have the amendment in front of me. What page is that on, Senator Wickersham? Pardon? I've been ... a little question, I think it says other entities, and when we say other entities I get real scared because that could be a lot more than what we ... what we anticipated than a little ... one co-op. While I'm stuttering and talking along, can you help me out on that, Senator Wickersham?
SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Well, the other entities is modified by established, maintained and controlled by the school boards of local school districts and schools under the control and management of the Nebraska state colleges and the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. it's a part of that phrase so it's all modified by that. Whatever these entities are, and I guess they could be partnerships, trusts, I don't think we have any of those, but it is clearly modified by the words established, maintained and controlled by the school boards of local school districts. So these are creatures of those school districts. They control them. They're the ones that created them., They're the ones that maintain them. They're the ones that operate them.
SENATOR NELSON: Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Nelson. Senator Horgan.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And simply to answer Senator Pirsch's question, I went outside and visited with the representative from the Omaha Public Schools and they said, no, they would not be affected. Senator Wickersham's amendment deals ..,ith school districts in a different section of the statutes and, therefore, the Omaha Public Schools would not be included in this amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Horgan. Any other discussion on the Wickersham amendment? Senator Wickersham, do you wish to close? Waives closing. We will now vote on the Wickersham amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We are voting on the Wickersham amendment. Have you all voted? We are voting on the Wickersham amendment. Have you all voted? Have you all voted on the Wickersham amendment? Have you all voted on the Wickersham amendment? Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Wickersham's amendment.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted. The next item.
CLERK: Mr. President, the next item is by Senator Dierks. Senator, AM3941, I have a note that you wish to withdraw that amendment and offer instead 4066.
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Dierks.
SENATOR DIERKS: Mr. Speaker and members of the body, this amendment is a stripped-down version of the Department of Education's technical clean-up bill, LB 1125. And that was the Education Committee priority bill. The amendment is technical. It's noncontroversial and it just provides for changes in the statute. Those changes are, one, that they harmonize school. finance reporting dates, they clarify the budget authority of districts that have been involved in merger, dissolution and annexation. Harmonize certification dates of valuation of property. Harmonize the penalties to school districts for late reporting. Clarifies the calculation of nonresident high school tuition for merged or affiliated Class I property. Clarifies the Class I audit requirements and harmonizes those assets with LB 119 which was passed earlier in the session. It makes a distinction between and defines suspended and revoked certificates. Provides for subpoena power to the Commission of Education to conduct investigations as required in 79-1283. Permits the appeal of the rejection of an enrollment option application by the resident district. Clarifies payment of transportation of option students. Harmonizes the tiered cost per student of those students residing on Indian land with federal law and excludes revenue from the textbook loan program and some funds received from LB 701, the Preschool Handicapped Intervention Act of '91 from accountable receipts in the state
aid formula. I should explain to you, first of all, you had two handouts, one is AM3941. We have substituted for that AM4066. And the only thing that we've stricken from the one that you have is the words "Auditor of Public Accounts" in Section 7, on page 18, 1 believe. Line 13 strikes Auditor of Public Accounts. That particular amendment, we found out this morning, would have a fiscal note with it and the other. . otherwise the amendment has no fiscal impact. So, in order to make this less controversial, we just struck that portion of the amendment that would call for a fiscal note for the Auditor of Public Accounts. So the sheet that was handed out to you calls for it. it's dated April 2, '92 on *the top and the Department of Education technical amendments lists the sections as well as the amendments or what the amendments do in LB 1125. And we are trying... we are attempting to amend that on ... it's a technical clean-up bill for the Department of Education. I will go through that if you wish. I have told you what the difference is in what you have been handed there. The only thing we have done is on Section 7, on the second page, we have amended out the Auditor of Public Accounts on line 13. And if you go with me again through that, on Section 1, you will find that a on page I of your amendment, front page of this handout we have. Section 2 is on pages 3, 4 and 5 of your amendment. Section 3 is on page 5 of your amendment. Section 4 is on page 6. Section 5 is on page 7 and 8. The first part of Section 5 is on 7 and 8. The second part is on page 10. Section 6 is on pages 13. Section 7 is on pages 17, 18 and 19. And then there is a little correction there because when the bill was ... when the amendment was redrafted the section numbers were changed so on your third page of this handout Section 8 becomes Section 15 and that's on page 19. Section 16 becomes ... or Section 9 becomes Section 16, and that's at the top of page 20. Section 10 becomes Section 17 and that's the middle of page 20. Section 18 is on page ... that's Section 11 becomes Section 18; that's on page 21, 22 and 24. Section 12 becomes Section 19; that's on page 24. Section 13 becomes Section 20; that's on page 25. Section 14 becomes 21; that on page 33. Section 15 becomes Section 22 and the first part of that section is on page 34, the second part is on page 35, and the third part is at the top of page 36. Then Section 16 becomes Section 23 and that's in the middle of page 36, and then all of page 77. And, lastly, Section 17 becomes Section 24 and that's on pages 38 and 40. With that, I think I will just stop and if you have questions about these particular sections, I will be glad to talk about them with you. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Dierks. Senator Withem.
SENATOR WITHEM: Mr. Speaker, I only rise to give a little bit of the legislative history of this proposal. For the last three or four years, because we've been making lots of changes in state aid to education and the affiliation bill, the choice bill, other aspects, the people over in the Department of Education who are charged with the responsibility of implementing these discover and continue to discover and probably will into the next year that a particular provision of the statutes here, on one hand, doesn't necessarily dovetail as well as it could or should with the preexisting statute or some other bill that we've passed somewhere along the line. Each year then, after the last two or three years, they brought in the bills that are highly technical in nature that really only deal with harmonizing provisions of dates by which terms need to be reported, definitions, matters such as that, that do make a significant difference to the people in the department that are carrying out the provisions of the statute and if they aren't clarified, may make real differences to people out in the field who are impacted by these but they are, you know, highly technical. They're difficult to understand and they really do not raise any levels of controversy. The department did have, in LB 1125 that was introduced, they did have a number of provisions that could have raised the ire of some members of the body or another member of the body dealing with things like the in-lieu-of -taxation as a result of the revenue from rental of school lands and other provisions along that line. They have, to the best of my ability to discern here, they have gone through and peeled out anything that could potentially serve as a controversy in anything that can wait until later years. We really have a bare-bones amendment here. I appreciate Senator Dierks offering this. It is really, LB 1125 was the bill. number. It is an Education Committee priority bill and what Senator Dierks is offering you here is really the bare bones of what is needed to have the department carry out these statutes that we passed in the last several years. So I urge you to support it.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Withem. Any other discussion on the Dierks amendment? Seeing no one, Senator Dierks, do you wish to close? Waives closing. We will now vote on the Dierks amendment. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. We are voting on the Dierks amendment. Have you all voted?
Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Dierks' amendment to the bill.
SPEAKER BAACK: The amendment is adopted. The next item.
CLERK: Mr. President, the next amendment I have is by Senators Horgan and Hall. AM4017. (The amendment appears on pages 1975-77 of the Legislative Journal.)
SPEAKER BAACK: Senator Horgan.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members, this is the amendment that Senator Baack and Senator Hall talked about earlier. Senator Hall has cosigned onto it. What it does ... and copies of it have been handed out to you. For those students who have opted out of their local schools and are choicing out to go to another school system, this amendment allows their siblings to go to that also... to opt out of their local school district also. So if you have a student who is in District A and goes to District B, this amendment would allow all the siblings who then follow to go to District B. It's agreed to by most of the school districts. The Omaha Public School District and the Westside School District have agreed to this. And what It does is it keeps the philosophy that Senator Baack talked about in his earlier amendment of keeping families together and allowing students and siblings to all go to the same schools. And I would encourage you to support the amendment. Thank you.
SENATOR WARNER PRESIDING
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Hall.
SENATOR HALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members, I rise in support of Senator Horgan's amendment. He was gracious enough to allow me to sign on, although he was skeptical at first that it may hurt the amendment. The issue is a real life issue. It's not just a fabrication or that this is a potential problem. It's happened to a friend of mine. He's had one son who's been allowed into the district, District 66, in this case. The sibling daughter was not allowed in. It's not just an issue of convenience in terms of where the kids go to school, where they're dropped off, it's an issue of if choice is good for one sibling, it only makes sense that the choice be the same within
that family unit. And I don't need to say anymore, just that I urge the body to allow the families to stay together just in their choice of education, if you will. With that, I would yield the balance of my time to Senator Baack.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Baack.
SPEAKER BAACK: Mr. Chairman and colleagues, I, too, rise in support of this amendment in spite of the fact that Senator Hall signed on. I will still support this amendment. I think it is ... when we're looking at educational opportunity for children, and that's what open enrollment and choice was all about was providing the best educational opportunity, I think we do that by facilitating the fact that of having all of the family... all of the children in the family be allowed to go to the same school district. And this simply opens that up and allows them to do that so we don't ... so we don't restrict siblings from following into the same school district that their ... that their brothers and sisters may have choiced into. This will allow that to happen and I think it's a good ... it's good policy. Thank you.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Senator Baack, would you yield to a question?
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Baack, do you yield?
SPEAKER BAACK: Yes.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: I understand it's not your amendment but since you are the principal introducer of the choice legislation, I wanted to ask you the question. What happens, for ... for a minute go through the process with me, if a family who has a senior, was able to opt in, or junior, was able to opt in but the sibling is a seventh grader, and that school district has decided, because of rules we put in under choice legislation, that the seventh grade was an unusually large class that they have at the time, it fit the criteria where they could close that particular area to choice and it fit the standards for a good rationale not to take option students. Why... why should we ... why should we make an exception in this particular rule and I'm just kind of curious, if we ... if we set the standard for when they should ... when they should not be able to
go in and this would violate that standard, would You go through a justification of that for me, besides something that it's nice to keep families together.
SPEAKER BAACK: Well, that is ... that is the main justification for it and I think that, you know, we do provide for that exception in this case because it could happen that a school district was full and they could be at capacity and they could be defined as at capacity, but they would still have to allow the sibling in under this... under this amendment, they would still have to allow the siblings to attend that school district. And I ... I think it's just good policy from the standpoint that I think the children should be allowed to go to the same school from the same family and I just think that that's good policy to do that.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Walk through me then, again, the idea of the choice legislation. Let's assume, as the discussion you had earlier, that the eleventh grader that was allowed to opt in used music for their justification as coming in, the other student opted to use it for some different reason which allowed, at this point, so the school district could say, no, we're full for that ... from that particular area, for the most part, even though there's different criteria and different needs for students to be opting into districts, You still feel it's ... because you have five or six maybe kids in the same family they all should be able to go. And the other part of that question would be even if the school district has to add to faculty, has to add a section or whatever, because now they are at risk, maybe there's three or four students in elementary, for example, that they would have to opt in, even if it adds additional burden to that school district, we should go ahead and make an exemption on that portion?
SPEAKER BAACK: Well, Senator Bernard-Stevens, I do think it's good policy to make that exception in this case. And I suppose there might be all instance or two where you might have that happen. I can't imagine that you would have to add faculty in very many cases for something like this to happen. I can't imagine you're going to find that many siblings that are going to be following. We already allowed ... last year we already allowed, if you had been in the school district for two years, we already allowed all of that to take place. So a lot of the siblings are already ... already following their siblings in the school districts now. This is a very, very limited exception.
So I think that you're not going to find a tremendous lot of people using this but I think it's worth the exception to keep those children going to the same school district.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Senator Baack. I wanted you to answer those questions because those have been the questions that have been asked me about the particular amendment or at least the proposing of this particular amendment and I wanted to get those responses at least on the record. And, with .that, I will be very supportive of the amendment as well.
SENATOR WARNER: Is there further discussion? If not, Senator Horgan, do you wish to close?
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I would just encourage the body to support the amendment which allows... Senator Baack and Senator Bernard-Stevens had the conversation, to allow families who want to opt out to go to...to use choice to go to another school system, to allow those siblings to also go. And I think it is good public policy and there are families, indeed, that you could think of that have two or three or four more children and if the school system is attractive to one of their siblings, it may, indeed, be attractive to all the siblings and the opportunity to go and make that choice may not be available unless all of the children in the family were allowed to make that decision. And so I would encourage the body to support the amendment. Thank you.
SENATOR WARNER: Those in favor of the Horgan amendment vote aye, opposed nay. Have you all voted? Have you all voted? Clerk, record.
CLERK: 27 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Horgan's amendment.
SENATOR WARNER: The motion is carried, the amendment is adopted. Are there further amendments?
CLERK: Mr. President, I am pleased to say I have no further amendments at this tire. (Laughter.)
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Horgan, I am pleased to recognize you to advance the bill.
SENATOR HORGAN: Thank you, Senator Warner. I am pleased to
have offered the opportunity to everyone to move bills of interest to them and would not know how to begin to explain the bill but would remind the body that this started out as a bill for the Omaha Public School system, retirement system, which allows some adjustments in their retirement figures. There has been good debate, I think, on the number of amendments on the floor, mostly noncontroversial and technical in nature, and I would encourage the body to advance the bill. Thank you.
SENATOR WARNER: Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: I was a shade disappointed. I know Senator Horgan has got a bill here that will take a little bit of time to read but this bill is more than just the first factor that we talked about, the 1.65 to the 1.70. And it does allow for costs of benefits, improvements in their retirement which is actuarially, as I explained, Sound. It would actually allow ... and I think the body must be aware of this, cost of living adjustment which is a COLA and how much would they receive. And the retirees would be increased 3 percent for annuities first paid on or after September 1st of 1990, but on or before October 1, 1991, 6 percent for annuities first paid on or after September 1, 1989, and ... but before September 1, 1990 and 9 percent increase in annuities for retirement. Now they, have actuarially allowed for this one-time increase. When would the cost of living adjustments be made? And they would be made September 1st of 1992. And there's another thing that the formula multiplier is also increased for the 67 public employment retirement systems, all provide Social Security cover in that, so there is more in this bill than...and I think I would be ... would not be doing my duty as Retirement Chairman to ... not to let the people know that this bill does have other factors in it. And I guess anyone is certainly... I will answer any other questions, But it does do more than just what we did discuss earlier.
SPEAKER BAACK PRESIDING
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Nelson. Any other discussion on the advancement of LB 1001? 'Seeing none, Senator Horgan, do you wish to close?
SENATOR HORGAN: I think I better stop while I 'm ahead and encourage the body to advance the bill. Thank you.
SPEAKER BAACK: Thank you, Senator Horgan. We will now vote on the advancement of LB 1001. All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote no. Record, Mr. Clerk.
CLERK: 26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the adoption of Senator... of the motion to advance the bill, I should say.
SPEAKER BAACK: The bill is advanced. Items for the record, Mr. Clerk?