Debate Transcripts

LB 490 (1995)

Select File

May 3, 1995


... will continue with the Select File agenda, LB 490.


CLERK:  (LB) 490, Madam President, on Select File has been discussed on April 27th.  When the Legislature left the bill, Senator Kristensen had amendment AM1609 pending.  (Senator Kristensen's AM1609 appears on pages 1644-45 of the Legislative Journal.) Senator, I have an amendment to that.  I don't know if you want to take that up now or....


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I...  yes, I think that's probably an appropriate time to do that.


CLERK:  Senators Hall and Kristensen would move to amendment their amendment.  (See AM1911 as found on page 1952 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Hall ...  or Sena ...  which one of you....?  Senator Kristensen, to open on the amendment to the amendment.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the Legislature.  LB 490, as we briefly got to it last week, Senator Hall and I had a discussion about the types of remedies that this Equalization Review Commission could enter for a county and Senator Hall had some concerns about making the remedy that you could only do revaluations and reappraisals of a county or within an area of a county only if there wasn't any other adequate remedy to resolve those disputes, and so between that discussion and now Senator Hall and I have sat down and discussed the matter and I believe have reached some conclusion and some compromise to that concept and this is a new Section 18 and you're going to have to look on the green copy, as well as part of the committee amendments, to do this, but what this resolves is that the commission can enter the orders that are appropriate to resolve the dispute but that it's not going to be excessive remedy compared to the problems that are there.  And so that...  that concern the people had was that you're going to take one small dispute and revalue a whole county could not occur.  The way that you get a revaluation of the entire county or of a class or of a subclass is only if there's no other remedy that's adequate to resolve the disputes and obviously one of those remedies may be that you have somebody could come in and say, well, gee, if you'd revalue every house in the county individually and wait for them all to do the dispute that that would be adequate.  That probably isn't the case either and that's the reason that we've come up with this amendment and the




end of it says if no other relief is adequate to resolve disputes, so if you can't solve it any other way then that's when you go and do it.  But the individual case that comes before the commission, obviously, you address that on an individual basis and only if.  the problem is so widespread that you can't do anything about it would you do these other remedies.  And so with that, that's this amendment to the amendment and there's others, there are other parts of LB ...  or of that amendment AM1609 that we'd want to discuss, but this particular amendment, and I'd yield the rest of the time to Senator Hall, but I believe that he's been very helpful to work with in this and I think we've, hopefully, resolved his problems and I think I can still live with what is done and it solves both of our problems and I'd yield my time to Senator Hall.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Hall, did you want to continue with...  ?


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Madam President and members of the Legislature, and thank you, Senator Kristensen.  The amendment that is before you in the form of AM1911 is one that I was able to work with Senator Kristensen on and I appreciate his willingness to address this issue because, as you remember, the green copy of the bill had a pretty broad granting of authority to the commission for purposes of reappraising a class or a subclass of property basically on one complaint or one disputed case and with the adoption of this amendment clarifying how those contested cases will be resolved, that they will first look at relief that is I guess equitable to the situation in front of us as opposed to in the ability of one case or one contested case revalue and entire class of property, as potentially they could still do in this circumstance, but I don't think that with the adoption of this amendment that that's a problem.  I think the safeguards are built in and I think that it does correct most of the concern I have with the measure and I do applaud Senator Kristensen for his willingness to work on this.  I would urge the adoption of the amendment and yield the balance of the time back to Senator Kristensen.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Kristensen.  He waives off.  Any...  Sen...  Okay, Senator Hall.  Any further discussion on the Kristensen amendment to the amendment?  Seeing none, Senator Kristensen, did you want to close?  He waives off.  The question is the adoption of the Kristensen amendment to the Kristensen amendment.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Record, please.




CLERK:  27 ayes, 0 nays, Madam President, on the adoption of the amendment to the amendment.


SENATOR CROSBY:  The amendment is adopted.  Before continuing on the amendment, I'd like to call the Senators' ittention to the north balcony where we have had as our guests some women from the senior ...  the Corrigan Senior Center in Omaha and under the south balcony, who has joined Ruth Blankenship, is Kathleen Cavanaugh, who is the mother to former Unicameral Legislator John Cavanaugh, and he was also a former Congressman, so if you'd all like to stand we'd like to welcome you.  Thank you.  Senator Kristensen, we're back to your amendment 1609.  Any further discussion on the Kristensen amendment?  Senator Hall, your light's on.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Madam President and members.  Senator Kristensen, the other issue and if we could discuss the concern that I raised last time we were at this ba...  on this bill and I apologize, it was a rare moment where I was a tad bit testy on the floor, which is unusual ...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I ...  I ...  I ...  that is unusual.  I know that's hard to believe.


SENATOR HALL:  ..but we were discussing the issue of how the mechanism for purposes of removal of the not only the assessor but the deputy assessor would work, and you had said that you would go do some research on the issue of how the deputy assessor would play into this mix, and I know the way it was drafted it...  I believe the amendment dealt with someone acting as -the assessor performing the duties of.  Can you clarify for me how this would...  would function in the proposal as it's before us?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I'll sure try and then maybe we can work out I think perhaps what at least the intent is, because we went back and found that this provision got put in the law in 1969 and it was to deal with, instead of being a punitive sort of remedy, was designed to sort of be a defensive remedy in the event that you had people that just looked at the state board or the tax commissioner and said, nuts to you, I'm not doing anything, and...  and that's where the history came about.  The deputy got, as I understand it, the deputy got put in in case the deputy got paraded up there or...  or was lost or the official was lost, and they said, okay, you make that decision




and, you know, I'm complying with your order but the deputy who's in charge of those things, she or he's not going to do that.  And so it was sort of one of those defensive remedies.  Instead of going out and maybe head-hunting somebody, it was done as that if you've got an order out there how do you make somebody comply with the order.  I think the ...  the protection that you want to have is that you don't have an assessor who goes out and says, look, deputy, you go do the henchman work, you go do the bad work and if anybody gets their...  their certificate removed it's going to be you and then you're not going to be eligible.  And, in effect, what the orders are, at least the orders are to be specific that the assessor is the one that's supposed to act and do the job.  If for some reason the assessor doesn't do it, the deputy assessor takes over and the county board says, don't you do it either or we're going to fire you or we're going to do something to you, then they're put in a rock and a hard spot.  That's designed to be that preventive remedy that you take over and it's not designed to go off and sort of makes a scapegoat out of the poor deputy assessor who may just happen to be there.


SENATOR HALL:  So, in other words, the rationale behind the change, and especially as it...  as I remember it's currently drafted, 'cause I don't have the amendment right here in front of me, but it says that there ...  there...  we also now allow for an appeals process should they be removed.






SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  That's...  that's correct.  If they are revoked or suspended they've got to have a proper hearing before the commission.  Then they also have an appeal ...


SENATOR HALL:  They appeal to district court?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ..decision to the Court of Appeals, right.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  And then there's the Administrative Procedure Act to do that.


SENATOR HALL:  Okay.  Thank you very much, Senator Kristensen.




I appreciate getting, that in the record for or purposes of how that aspect of the proposal will work.  That being the case, I rise in support of the Kristensen amendment as it's been adopted.  Thank you, Madam President.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Hall.  Your light is still on.  Would you like...  would you like to talk again?


SENATOR HALL:  You know, Madam President and members, I would.  You introduced those lovely ladies that were in the north balcony from Corriqan.  My Aunt Mary Ann is up there, Mary Ann Kurgan, with them, and I just would like to recognize her.  There she is.  And so any of you that have stories you'd like to tell about me, you can run up there and tell my Aunt Mary Ann.  I'm sure she'll call my mother and let her know, but with that...


SENATOR CROSBY:  She could probably tell us some stories about you too, huh?


SENATOR HALL:  Senator Crosby, she probably could.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Hall.  Any further discussion of the Kristensen amendment to LB 490?  Seeing none, Senator Kristensen, he waives closing.  The question is the adoption of the Kristensen amendment to LB 490.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Record, please.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays, Madam President, on the adoption of Senator Kristensen's amendment.


SENATOR CROSBY:  The amendment is adopted.  Anything further?


CLERK:  Senator Kristensen, AM1600.  I have a note you want to withdraw 1600, Senator.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  That is correct, Mr. Clerk.  I'd ask unanimous consent to withdraw.


SENATOR CROSBY:  It is withdrawn.


CLERK:  Senator Kristensen, I now have AM1673.  (Senator Kristensen's AM1673 is referred to on page 1738 of the Legislative Journal.)




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay, thank you, Madam President, members of the Legislature.  I divided these amendments into two piece's and two parts.  The first was the more substantive changes that we've been through and that Senator Hall's worked through.  The second amendment was designed to be one of those harmonization amendments and to go through and what we've done and if you'll see that particular amendment, if you look through it, many of these are the changes from the tax commissioner over to the property tax administrator.  There's a lot of harmonization that's done in there.  But I ...  there's a couple of changes that I ...  I want to make people aware of just so you understand if you'd happen to look through it and to read that.  We still leave, and when there is an exemption that's been denied, we make that appeal and that appeal will go to the Tax Equalization Review Commission and that's still consistent.  We want to make sure, though, that their homestead applications, the homestead program still belongs with the tax commissioner and that's where that's going to stay.  Things dealing with the cigarette taxes, instead of that going to the Equalization Commission that has nothing to do with it, we want to make sure that stays with the tax commissioner and then that's the type of harmonizing we've done.  Also, revenue estimating, we want to make sure that those duties remain with the tax commissioner.  We go through here, also we do change and give a statute of limitations on appeals to the Equalization Review Commission of 30 days.  That's...  that would be consistent with some of the other things we've done in the past with statute of limitations.  We also change one date for reporting of nonoperating railroad property from April 15th to January 1st.  That's consistent with reporting of other nonoperating property, like buildings and so on, that those dates become consistent.  We have one in there that deals with delinquent property taxes that you'll see and this is sort of a transition harmonization because there are going to be certain, as we switch over to this system, there is going to be a few refunds in the system and a few court cases that are in district court, they're still going to finish their way through and this is just allows them those refund appeals and allows for them to be completed in the transition to do so.  We also.  .  there is a provision in here leaving some of the original sections that were left out.  We ...  we have one from the original calendar bill, LB 452 specifically.  I want to ma...put a record into that of harmonization.  We left that out.  This is a specific change from the calendar bill.  It's our intention this bill will pass after that particular bill since it's already been signed into law, but it, in Section 163, restores the




original form that was originally left out of LB 452, which we did pass earlier.  So we want to make sure that that is in the record to be reflected and that corrects an error or something that we overlooked in the...  in the property calendar bill.  We also make come other reference changes from tax commissioner to property.  tax administrator.  We still leave, in terms of the motor vehicle tax, that also goes back over the property tax administrator.  The reappraisals, ag land valuation and Ag Land Valuation Boards, they're dealing now and they'll deal with the property tax administrator rather than the tax commissioner.  I believe that's a summary of the major changes and if anyone has any questions about "his particular amendment I'll be glad to try to answer them.  Thank you.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Kristensen.  Any discussion on the Kristensen amendment?  There are no lights.  You want to close, Senator Kristensen?  There's no lights.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes, I would.  I ...  I forgot one important thing, Madam President, and I do want to...  this also is for Senator Bromm and I'm sorry, Senator Bromm, I didn't get a chance to specifically speak to you.  You had pointed out one problem that you saw with centrally assessed properties and in the original green bill.  This harmonization basically goes and cleans up that section and so in this amendment, amendment number three corrects that wording that refers to the setting of centrally assessed property.  It strikes that ...  that this group will not do that equalization.  That equalization of centrally-assessed property is going to remain with the State Board of Equalization and I thank you for pointing that out.  That, from the bill that we had a year ago, that's one of the sections that I didn't catch and didn't get cleaned up and it is certainly not our intention for this Equalization Review Commission to do centrally-assessed property and we're going to leave that duty to the State Board of Equalization and, again, I would ask for the adoption of this particular amendment.


SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Kristensen.  The question is the adoption of the Kristensen amendment to LB 490.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  We're voting on the Kristensen amendment to LB 490.  Have you all voted?  Record, please.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays, Madam President, on the amendment.


SENATOR CROSBY:  The amendment is adopted.




CLERK:  Senator Vrtiska would move to amend the bill.  (Senator Vrtiska's AM1385 is found on page 1808 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR CROSBY:  Before we continue with that amendment, I'd just like to make two quick announcements.  Senator Engel has his daughter, Kathie Meyer, here from Omaha.  She's under the north balcony.  Would like to have you welcome her.  And earlier Senator Jones had Larry Shepperd, Jim Cook, Ruth and Frank Gessner from Mills, Nebraska, here as his guests.  Thank you.  Senator Vrtiska, on your amendment.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Thank you, Senator Crosby and members of the body.  I just am...  my amendment 1385 is a amendment that I've already discussed with Senator Kristensen and what it would do is lower the salaries of the member of the commission that's created by LB 490.  The way the bill is currently written, the members of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission would receive an annual salary equal to 85 percent of the Supreme Court justices.  Under AM...  under my amendment the changes to those salary would be as follows:  The chairman of the commission would receive a salary equal to 70 percent of the justice salaries, while the other two commissioners would receive a salary equal to 50 percent of the justice salaries.  In dollars and based on the current salaries of the Supreme Court, the bill currently would provide a ...  the commissioner a salary of $74,933.67 per year.  In comparison, under my amendment the salary of the chairman would be $61,710.08 per year and the salaries for each of the other two commissioners would be $44,078.63 per year.  The reason the chairman's salary is higher in the bill, the bill, as it's currently written, requires the chairman to be an attorney and I guess, in reality, I have to understand that a full-time attorney wouldn't take this...  wouldn't take the position for the salary that...  that I have set out for the other two members.  I'm sure if you read the bill you understand what the...  what the duties of the other two commissioners will be.  They were somewhat in the vein of a assessor and I'm not sure what all assessors in Nebraska get but many of them don't make 44,000 dollars a year and so I'm trying to get somewhere in that range for those other people.  I'm bringing the amendment because I feel that, while Nebraskans are interested in improving our tax equalization process and certainly that's the purpose of this whole process that we're going through, they're not interested in those improvements




being overly expensive.  I realize that with %.his approach there are some costs incurred and it's probably wise to have these commissioners be full time.  You'll have to also understand that under my amendment these salaries that I've se- out did not include the benefits that would be provided to the members, which is normal under all of our elected officials or I guess most of them and obviously that increase in benefits is also going to be increased cost to the taxpayers.  Based on the figures in the fiscal note, this amendment would save the taxpayers about 75,000 dollars a year in the beginning of the commission's life as compared to the way the bill reads now.  I believe this amendment is a reasonable cost adjustment to the bill without hampering the commission's ability to perform the bill as enacted.  As I said before, I've talked with Senator Kristensen about his amendment.  I don't know that he has any problems with it and I just hope that you will consider this as a practical way to start this.  I also have to indicate, as many of you know,.  that anybody that ...  this...  this is basically what I consider a starting salary and obviously there are increases that will incur as time goes by and, in order to keep these somewhere in line, I thought this would be a good starting point.  What my amendment actually does, instead of 85 percent, it lowers it to 70 percent.  and 50 percent, based on the two different approaches.  In other words, the chairman being an attorney and having to spend more time perhaps in the adjudication of cases certainly is, in my opinion, would be entitled to more money.  So this is what my bill does and if I have any time left I'll yield to Sentor Kristensen if he'd care to make any comments.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen, there's six minutes left.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the Legislature and Senator Vrtiska.  He has talked to me about this and I ...  and I told him that I probably would vote for this amendment because I think what's going to happen is that every bill that sits on Select File right now you're going to have to look at money, and the policy choice is are you going to be able to attract somebody decent for 44,000 dollars?  That's a policy choice.  And I don't think that you'd be out of line by saying, well, we may not, but at the same time the realities of this Legislature are we have spending priorities and to that case I've done two things with this bill.  Obviously, we're putting in if there's a lot of appeals with those small filing fees that are in there, that's going to generate some money to be able to




handle the masters and all those sorts of things, make this board be able to work.  I suppose the old adage is you get what you pay for may happen.  I would, Senator Vrtiska, remind you though that this is a set salary.  This is not like our employees.  This is not putting them on a pay grade and then they move up each year with experience; that this is set in stone and the only time that it moves is if there's ever an increase in the Supreme Court's pay and we've gone as...we've gone four years at some times without those increases, but, you know, people need to understand that that's where it's at.  If the body's uncomfortable with that I understand that, but I, between adding the filing fee and this reduction, this is my idea of...  I know I've got a bill on Select File that, because of the crunch of money I'm going to have to reduce and I think everybody else is going to have face that as your bill comes across Select File.  You're going to have to bite the bullet and do some things you don't want to do.  Senator Beutler tried to make that point this morning or yesterday, but it's probably true.  And so, instead of cutting the numbers, I'm willing to start off.  Let's see how this works and these people are going to have a tremendous amount of responsibilities and their burdens may be high, but you also got to realize that we pay the Governor of the State of Nebraska, what, roughly 60,000 dollars a year?  Seventy?  Goll, they are overpaid.  But we've got a number that we've got to...  we've got to live with.  I can live with Senator Vrtiska.  He wanted to lower this and so with that I would...  I would accept this amendment but I understand that people may have a legitimate difference of opinion and say that, you know, that's not enough payment or compensation for a board that's going to do this.  I, again, remind you that if the constitutional amendment passes that replaces the State Board of Equalization, at least for the record, Senator Vrtiska, I'm going to be in here as those duties increase.  If they take the place of the State Board of Equalization I think we have to review this, but if that doesn't happen I can live with your amendment and I'd accept it at this point in time and the rest of the body I think is free to do whatever you feel in terms Of compensation is appropriate.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Kristensen.  Senator, your light is on next.  Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Madam President, I have the floor, Senator Vrtiska.  I'm sorry.  (Microphone not activated.) ..tiska and the rest of the body, Senator Kristensen, 1 have a question.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.






SENATOR ROBINSON:  ..figures under Senator Vrtiska's amendment include benefits?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  No, Senator, those are salary numbers of base salaries.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Would they get benefits under this?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes, they're state employees.  Yes.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So that they would get...  they would get all the benefits of the state...




SENATOR ROBINSON:  ..employ...




SENATOR ROBINSON:  Who do they...  who's their boss?  What if they're doing a lousy...  what if that 44,000 dollar guy is doing a lousy job?  How are we going to take care of him and get rid of him?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, I assume that ...  that if she's not doing her job that what happens is that we've got the removal procedures that we just put in here in an amendment just a little bit ago that allows for the removal for misfeasance, malfeasance and then there's a...  an appeal process for the removal of those.  I


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Besides this, the salary figure, how much more money do we...  will we have in the A bill?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Can you give me just two seconds to look at that?  If you have some...






SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ..other comments, I'll drag that Well, you're going to have...  no, I don't have the A bill right...  You're going to have some appropriation obviously to set the office up.  We're looking at probably in the neighborhood of 550 over the biennium, if I'm...  if I'm...  and what I'm doing is I'm reading off that real quickly so let me...  if...  let me...  give me two...


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Over two years it's only...  it's 550?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Let me...  I need you to spend five seconds and look at this.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Why don't you go ahead and finish your and I'll punch my...




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ..light to give you the appropriate one.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  ..if you have 1,000 people that have problems and you got 1,000 people, who's going to pay for all that money to take care of those 1,000 people coming to complain about their...  ?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay.  Now that's ...  that's a different issue and we've attached that...  that 25 dollar filing fee to take care of that.  So if there's a large number of people appealing that small filing fee covers the cost of the masters to go off and do that, and if there's not many people appealing, obviously, that money's...




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ..not generated.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  So I have to give them my 25 dollars then, is that correct?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Right, but if you went to district court, of course, your filing fee is more than twice that.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  How much money does this save the counties?  Anything?  Will this bill save the counties any money?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, that's a hard question because I'm not sure which direction you're coming from.  It will do a better job of assessment.  and will do a better job of equalizing property tax values and, obviously, if you have better values equalized across the State of Nebraska that greatly benefits the counties because the property tax figures then are more accurate, more fair and then any aid distributions that come to counties based on those values is more fairly done.  It will relieve the load in the district court and to the extent that it will help a County that...  I mean if you have a lot of cases that get filed in district court it's going to alleviate that case load.  Is this a property tax savings?  I don't think it's fair to characterize this as a property tax savings bill.  I think this goes to a property tax fairness bill and that it's just not very fair if you don't have good equalization and it's not fair to the counties that went out and did their jobs and do their jobs, but this also allows for the individual ...




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ..taxpayer to...  to have their day in court without having to go to court.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  You think you can hire a good person with the abilities they should have to perform the two 44,000 dollar a year jobs when they have to move?  And I'm sure, presume they have to move to Lincoln, don't they?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, there's no...  I mean, they're going to be stationed out of there...




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ..but there's no requirement...




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ..they have to live here.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  That's on the low end.  1 mean, you know,




if I'd have my "rathers" I'd it much higher.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  How about the...  how about the 61,000 dollar person?  Will he be in Lincoln?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Not...  I mean there's no requirement that any of the group live in Lincoln.  okay?


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Will they have offices?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, they're going to have offices here, but they're also going to be out traveling around.  They can do that as well.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Okay.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Robinson.  Senator Vrtiska.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Yes, I just wanted to, Madam President and members of the body, I just wanted to remind the body that I think this is a good bill and I supported the bill from the beginning.  The only problem that I had with it is...  is I thought that at the outset that the cost was somewhat more than we could when we're looking at a time when everybody, as Senator Kristensen indicated, is looking at fiscal restraints and trying to save as much money as we can.  I know it's a roll of the dice whether, in fact, you can hire qualified people, but, as I indicated earlier, these jobs are somewhat similar on the order of what county assessors do now and as somewhat in the line of appraisers.  Some appraisers don't make that much in a year, obviously some make more, the same way with attorneys.  But I guess my idea was that if we could save 75,000 dollars and make it work, fine.  If we can't I suppose we have to go back and look at it, but this was just an idea that I had and I'm sure, as we move through this process in these latter days of the session we're going to find many people who are going to be scratching and trying to find some way to get this done.  And I have to tell you, in all honesty, one of my main reason for asking Senator Kristensen to allow me to put this amendment up was I felt like it would maybe help get the bill passed where otherwise I wasn't sure that we could get the bill passed and I do think it's an important bill, as he indicated, for equality among the taxpayers of the state and that's what these people's job is supposed to be and I thought that the idea, if we expected it to pass, needed to save as much money as it could




so, therefore, ore, that's why I put '%the amendment up and I.  would hope that you would support it.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.  Senator Chambers.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Madam President and members of the Legislature, I'd like to ask Senator Kristensen a question.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Senator Kristensen, this is a rhetorical question and I know the answer, but for the record, before I say what I want to say on the salary, do you consider the work that these people will do to be very important and essential?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, Senator Chambers, in terms of essential, will the world turn without them?


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  No, no, I don't mean ...  I meant...






SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Is it...  is it ...  is it demanding work that's essential for the system to work and operate better?




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes, I believe it is.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  So we're not talking about featherbed types of jobs here.  There will actually be substantive work done and it will require some ability to do it correctly.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes, and some ability to withstand public criticism.  This is not going to be a popularity contest.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Well, see, one of the amendments I was going to offer was that we provide a bullet-proof vest and a full suit of armor, but that's a little different.  That has to do with conditions of work.  And here's why I wanted to get that as a jumping off place.  In listening to the discussion here today and knowing the nature of this work, I'm not willing, even though Senator Kristensen is willing to go along with this, to




start out cheap.  What the Legislature does is start cheap, it stays cheap.  We could reach a point where everybody would acknowledge that there should have been a higher base salary to begin with.  When we try to raise it to the level that we agree to people are going to not look at the dollar amount.  They're going to say that percentage increase is just too much.  They should get it, but the Governor won't get an increase based on that percentage, the Judges won't, the state employees won't- and we will be in a position that we find ourselves with probation officers--everybody saying they should get a raise but they were kept low for se long that any time we make an effort to bring them to where everybody agrees -they should be we run into a brick wall.  So we are making a new departure with this bill.  I would rather that we start out giving a salary at least at the level that Senator Kristensen had envisioned and I want to ask him a question so that I ...  I'm sure that I understand Senator Vrtiska's chart.  Senator Kristensen, the top three boxes would be your recommendations in the bill right now.  Is that correct?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes, that's correct.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Thank you.  And, members, I would like to stay at that level.  Seventy-four thousand, nine hundred, thirty-three dollars is a real eye-opener if you're a member of the Legislature because we don't get anything, but when you consider the work that we do and the importance of the job we really should get more, even those of you that (laugh) I don't like.  You still should get more money.  There aren't many of you that I don't like, being honest.  Everybod...  sometimes you're my whipping boys, my whipping girls, my punching bags, my scapegoats, so all of you have some value so I'd like to see you get a higher salary.  (Laugh) I wanted to see who's listening.  That's the only way you get them to pay attention.  Now when I go back to talking about ':-he important thing, which is the salary, only Senator Kristensen and I will be listening and Senator Bohlke and Senator Hudkins.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I wouldn't get too carried away.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  But I haven't been persuaded by Senator Vrtiska that we ought to reduce the amount from the start.  Another thing that I am reluctant to do is tie the salary to that of the judges.  Again, I want to ask Senator Kristensen a question.






SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Senator Kristensen, as your bill is drafted, is there any relationship or a tie to these salaries and those of the judges?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I did it in terms oil duties.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  And if I could...  I'll punch my light on and give you more time.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  No, I meant as far as setting the salary, that it would increase with the judges.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, the reason I did that is because that I suspect that their work is much like that of a judicial nature.  In other words, they were like a three panel of the Court of Appeals, hearing appeals throughout the state, listening to those, having to make findings and using expertise in those areas.  And conceptually, that's where I began the salaries at, and I thought they were roughly worth that of a county court judge.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Okay.  And with that in the record, see I was going to be opposed to tying it to the judges.  But I read Senator Vrtiska's amendment, and I was thinking that by tying it to the judges was what caused him to lower the salaries.  The difficulty I have is that the judges may displease the Legislature and they may not...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.  Thank you, Senator Chambers.  Senator Schimek.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Yes, thank you, Madam President, members of the body, I think I'm going to give this one a red light, unless I hear good, strong arguments to make me change my mind.  Senator Chambers has touched on some of the things that I put my light on to say.  But one of the things that I think we need to think about is what kind of position these people who will be doing this work will be in.  And there will be political heat, there is no question about it.  They will have to have pretty tough hides.  And I think that we do not want someone for this kind of a position who is young, inexperienced, maybe willing to




take that job for $44,000, or in the case of an attorney $61,000, although to some attorneys I'm sure that would seem very good, but we want somebody, I believe, that's seasoned, that has a judicious kind of temperament, that can deal with the public, that ...  pardon me, Senator Bohlke?  Okay.  And I don't think that ...  I think that you can be penny-wise and pound-foolish, if you will, and you do get what you pay for.  I hate to go through all these cliches', but I guess they're cliches' because they're somewhat true.  And I think this is a very critical position that we are establishing here.  These people are going to be dealing literally in a sense with millions and millions dollars worth of property.  I think that we want somebody, a sound judgment.  I think that we ought to pay them for what we want them to do.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Schimek.  Senator Avery.


SENATOR AVERY:  Thank you, Madam President.  That was very interesting, Senator Schimek.  In terms of the dollars that they deal with and the dollars that we deal with in the budget is kind of the same thing we could use for our discussion.  But one thing I'd like to point out, and I, you know ....  reading the fiscal note here it states that the Department of Revenue, taxation department is going to have about $80,000 cost in terms of what 1 believe is employees that will do the work.  If these individuals, these commissioners are actually going to be like employees and really do the fact-finding, do the research, or the other scenario would be they use the system to get the information and they're decision-makers, that fact is then that ...  how much responsibility will they have?  They'll have responsibility, but actually how much physical or mental work will be done?  Will they rely on the Department of Revenue to do most of the fact-finding and work that they have?  Probably will.  So in terms of salary I think we have to be a little bit careful here of how high we set that.  And I am supportive of Senator Vrtiska's amendment to hold the line in light of the other A bills that we have, being fiscally responsible.  Another point I'd like to make or address is that we're probably in a situation now where we will see, or this body that we're creating will do a lot of work in the next two, maybe three years.  After that what's going to happen?  You know maybe we'll have things settled out, the water will be smoother, there won't be as many appeals.  I see...  I really see a reduction in the amount of appeals that may be coming before them.  If we get everything up to what is supposedly close to that 100 percent,




if that is done statewide then their workload, by rights, should be reduced and we've created an entity that at some time we may want to say, you know, reduce it someway in terms of people, or maybe you could eliminate it.  I think that Senator Kristensen has got a good point, that we do need the body there to make those decisions -and it's very important, in the next few years as we work to get to 100 percent in terms of valuation.  So I think it's real important that we consider Senator Vrtiska's amendment, and I'll be supporting it on those basis that I had stated.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Stuhr.


SENATOR STUHR:  Madam President and members of the Legislature, I, too, have a concern about being fiscally responsible, and I'm hearing that from constituents every time I visit with them.  So I think that I know that I will be supporting Senator Vrtiska's amendment, but I have a couple questions I'd like to ask Senator Kristensen.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.




SENATOR STUHR:  You know, I keep hearing about adding more, more commissions.  And will we be replacing, you know, will this be eliminating any other positions?  Or is this just another layer of bureaucracy, so to speak?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, understand where we're headed with these appeals.  Right now they have to appeal to the district court and quite frankly most people, that's an impossible task to get to district court.  It's going to be cumbersome, it's long.  And what we're doing is replacing the district court with a body that does this full-time, is more professional, will give you better values.  But we're also making it easier for the average citizen to appeal their property tax values and to achieve some inner county equalization.  Now is this just another board to go and oversee and study things?  No, I mean this really is replacing the court system.  Now they'll have an appeal to the Court of Appeals, but I think you can look to people and say, look, if you want a meaningful appeal of property tax valuations, you go to district court, you're going to wait two to three years, you've got judges that don't want to do that, you get 93 different opinions.  Here you've got one




board that's going to hear all of those and you're going to get more consistent appeals.  So am I doing away with judges?  No, but I'm probably taking the workload off the district court and I'm probably getting better opinions out of it.


SENATOR STUHR:  You made some remark about the Board of Equalization.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, that's the State Board of Equalization.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  That's a constitutional amendment that we've got that we'll probably vote on next year.  And if the State Board of Equalization is done away with, then this type of body is what replaces that State Board of Equalization.  But what they're doing now is getting up and sort of this is the practice and getting ready for the transition to move over to that.


SENATOR STUHR:  Okay.  Then do you see this commission as serving full-time?




SENATOR STUHR:  I mean they ...  they will be employed every day?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes.  yes, and they'll have more than enough to do, yes.


SENATOR STUHR:  All right, thank you.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Stuhr.  Senator Chambers, followed by Senator Kristensen.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Madam President, members of the Legislature, I'm going to begin by speaking in as well-modulated a tone as I can because I have to make a reference to something Senator Stuhr said.  And I kind of feel protective of my new seatmate and I don't want her to think that I'm going to be unduly harsh with her, even when I disagree with a position she has taken.  I'm going to make a quotation that we're all familiar with, and




I didn't make it up, but I think it applies.  Senator Vrtiska has an amendment which I think is offered in good faith.  Those who are supporting it, I believe, are operating from a position of good faith.  But having been in this Legislature as long as I have been, there is such a thing as being penny-wise and pound-foolish.  At this particular moment we might think it's being fiscally conservative in a wise and positive sense to say, start out cheap and don't give these people a salary commensurate with the work we expect them to do..  We determine the value we place on a position that we create by the compensation that we offer.  When we start out cheap, I'm going to repeat again and again, I ought to get one of those little birds whose song is just cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, and every time I stand let that little bird sing that first to remind us.  We will not do the right thing.  We're talking about three positions.  Unlike what Senator Avery suggested, these are waters which I don't think ever will be calm, they're always going to be troubled.  Sometimes they may be more troubled, other times a bit less, but there will always be trouble in these waters because nobody wants to do what they're going to be required to do.  And, Senator Avery, I'm so reluctant to really get into it, I won't even mention by name what it is we're talking about, but we all know what it is.  Senator Schimek was correct in mentioning the types of people we're not anxious about drawing to this position.  Some of us are in the Legislature out of a sense of dedication.  We know that $12,000 a year is not adequate compensation for what we do, but we're not here just as employees doing a certain amount of work in exchange for an established fee.  That is peanut money so that we can get a bag of peanuts and an occasional bottle of pop to sustain ourselves physically.  But because we are kept impoverished by the public does not mean that when we have the opportunity to set an appropriate salary for a position we are creating that we ought not do so.  Driving down here today I listened to public radio, the Iowa station.  They mentioned that the Iowa Legislature is drawing a salary now of $31,800 something and a per diem.  We don't get anything because we think cheap, we travel cheap.  If we're going to scrimp and cut corners we should not do it in those areas where important work is to be done.  We want this to be quality work, we want competent people.  If we pay peanuts, and this is what Armand Hammer said, you will get monkeys.  We don't want monkeys.  If all we were going to ask somebody to do...






SENATOR CHAMBERS:  ...  is have some bananas above their head, and in order to reach those bananas the monkey has to stack three boxes, one on top of the other, and take a three foot stick and knock down the banana, maybe this salary would be adequate for that.  But based on what we want done the salary suggested by Senator Vrtiska is inadequate, in my opinion.  So I will not support his amendment.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Chambers.  Senator Kristensen.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Madam I-resident, members of the Legislature.  Senator Vrtiska, if I could get you and Senator Chambers and maybe we can get this ironed out.  What I hear is the uneasiness about tying it, and now that we've discussed that there wouldn't be those raises or those increases on people on a permanent basis, is that we ought to take and make them state employees, like they are, but treat then like we would every other state employee, put them on a salary grade, and, Senator Chambers, would that be acceptable to you?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Chambers.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Madam President, members of the Legislature, Senator Kristensen, because I was slightly distracted, they would be in this position then they would get periodic increases, like everybody else?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, they'd be like every other state employee.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  But we'd start them off at whatever that salary gra ...  or find that grade that gets them started off that sort of satisfies what Senator Vrtiska wants to do, and that's start that grade lower than what I've got it anyway, but that they're treated like every other state employee.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Would it be a little higher than Senator Vrtiska's amount, or haven't you reached that?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, I don't have the salary grades right in front of me.






SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  But to take this discussion further, the appropriate place to do that is in the A bill.  In other words, don't put...




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ...  salaries in substantive law, and maybe that's not good policy anyway.  So what I'd suggest doing is striking out the references , tying it to the court and then before the A bill can pass I've got to get an amendment that this body is going to agree to, on an A bill it just wouldn't be a walkthrough, it would have to be a substantive discussion about what salary grades you're going to put those people in the A bill at.  Would that be acceptable to you?


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Yes, yes it would.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Senator Vrtiska, can that something you're comfortable doing?


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Senator Kristensen, I don't really have any problem as long as the salary range is somewhat common but...  somewhere in the area that I've been talking about without getting ...  and I think that we pretty much agree that we can come up with a grade that these people will be started at that will ...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  But that would be a policy choice that we'd make in the A bill.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Right, that's right.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Would you be comfortable about taking the reference to the Supreme Court out of this salary?




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  And not putting that ...  but determining in the A bill when that comes along what that salary grade ought to be?


SENATOR VRTISKA:  I'm agreeable.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay.  I'm going to try to draft an amendment that would ...  and if we want to ....  Mr. Clerk, could I ask a question, please.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Mr. Clerk, are there any other amendments filed after the Vrtiska amendment?


CLERK:  No, sir.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Senator Vrtiska, we could do one of' two things.  We could either withdraw your amendment and have you offer or I could offer an amendment to make that ...  strike that reference, or we could finish on with the discussion on your amendment and see if the body would accept....  It's probably cleaner if you withdraw yours and let's put a new one in there but we don't amend our own amendments.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Yeah, I think I agree with you, Senator Kristensen.  I don't have any problem with withdrawing my amendment.  My amendment was for the purpose of bringing out a point, and the point has been brought out.  And I think we can work together with what you're doing and I'll help you with.  And given that, I will ask for permission to withdraw my amendment.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The amendment is withdrawn.  We return to a discussion on LB 490.  Senator Vrtiska, your light is first.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  I just turned my light on because I was listening to Senator Chambers.  He thinks that I don't listen to him, but I do.  And I heard him talking about the salaries over in Iowa compared to ours.  And the thought came to me that according to his version then those people are three times better than we are because he said if you pay more you get more.  And using that logic, I guess those people are almost three times better than we are, and that kind of bothers me.  But if Senator Chambers wants to make that implication here that the senators over there are three times better than we are, I guess he has that right.  I certainly disagree with him, but I still...well I just disagree with him.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.  Mr. Clerk.




CLERK:  Senator Kristensen would move to amend, Madam President, by striking Section 5.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Kristensen to open on his amendment.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the Legislature.  Pursuant to the discussion we just had, Senator Vrtiska, if people will look at their ...  the green copy of LB 490, there is a one-sentence Section 5, and that talks about, each commissioner shall receive an annual salary equal to 85 percent of the salary set for the Chief Justice and the judges of the Supreme Court.  What I do, and then it talks about necessary expenses, that's still...  I mean that's still something that's going to occur.  All I'm doing is striking out that Section 5 because there are other references that would allow the expenses to be charged.  If I take that reference out that's just striking that section.  Then when the A bill comes through I'm going to go to fiscal and we'll ...  whoever is interested, but I'll go to you, to Senator Chambers, Senator Stuhr, if you'd like I'll come to you and show you those salary grades, and then we can have a policy discussion on the A bill about where the starting salary grade ought to be.  But then that would...that's probably better policy than to tie them to judges salaries anyway.  And with that, I would urge the adoption of this amendment.  Again, all it does is strike Section 5 of the green copy of LB 490, and to the extent that the E & R people want to make that reference, that's our intent to solely take that sentence out of the green copy.  And I would ask for the adopt'-ion of the amendment.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Kristensen.  Senator Lynch, to speak to the Kristensen amendment.


SENATOR LYNCH:  No, on the bill.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Schimek, to speak to the Kristensen amendment.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  Senator Kristensen, I just want to make sure that I understand what you're proposing here.  When you're talking about putting them on a salary grade, that's not...  is that a salary level that's already established for state employees?




And how high do those salary grades go?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, I don't know the maximum.  I know they go to at least salary grade 23, and that's here I'm going to have...  I think it's somewhat less than salary grade 23, but I'm going to have to find out what those are and put that in the A bill to start people with.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  But I'm talking about amount for...




SENATOR SCHIMEK:  I think the Fiscal Office has it there, if you'd...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay.  For example, salary grade 23 starts at 52,943.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Okay, so that would be...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  And the midpoint is 63,500, so that's (inaudible) ...


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  So that would be kind of in the range maybe.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, but that's ...  that's...  I didn't turn the page to see if there are other salary grades.  No.  And then it goes up to a maximum, the maximum you could ever get would be 74,120.


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  That would be with a number of years of experience, et cetera, et cetera.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, I don't know what all that goes into.  That's the...




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  That's the salary grade that you probably look at.  Now I don't...  and that's just my first glancing crab at this, so...


SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Well, I just wanted to make sure that...






SENATOR SCHIMEK:  ...  we're somewhere in the ballpark where I think it should be, because I disagree with Senator Vrtiska.  I don't believe that running for the Legislature is like taking a job which will be your families livelihood and will be a career perhaps or will be something that will impact on your car....  No, I know, but I don't think you can compare our salaries, Senator Vrtiska, with the salaries of somebody who would be in a job like this.  And I ...  and, Senator Chambers, I guess I feel the same way for your benefit, too.  So I just wanted to make sure that we're talking about something higher at least than what Senator Vrtiska is talking about, because I don't believe that's adequate.  With that, I don't have any other comments.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Schimek.  Senator Chambers.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Madam President, members of the Legislature, as Senator Kristensen pointed out at this juncture we're trying to arrive at a basis for establishing a beginning level of pay which then would be the basis for increases.  And I don't want us to tie it to any existing pay grade which would result in these people bumping a maximum amount which is less than what I think they should get.  So maybe we can work our way through and around that, but at least it would be different from tying to the judges salary and we could get away from these specific dollar amounts that are kind of holding us up at this point.  I would want to comment on what my friend, Senator Vrtiska, said.  He listens, but he didn't listen to everything (laugh) and he didn't listen well.  Senator Vrtiska, what I said is that the little bit of money we make should cause a person to realize that it's obvious we're not working this job like you would a salary job where you think that what you're being paid, $12,000 a year, is what this job should merit, that there's dedication involved in this because that's no money.  And I gave the example of the $31,000 in Iowa to show that in other states they regard this position that we hold as one worthy of morn compensation than the public deems us to be worthy of in Nebraska.  My statement about valuing a position now comes to the bill.  I wanted to make it clear that since we're creating a position we show the value we place on that position and the work to be done by means of the salary or the compensation that we accord the people who hold the position.  And I don't want us to travel cheap, cheap, cheap.  I'm going to support Senator Kristensen's amendment because it does get us away from where we are right now and allows us to proceed.




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Chambers.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President.  Senator Kristensen, could I ask a couple of questions.  There have been a lot of amendments and...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  I'm trying to get back to speed on a couple things here.




SENATOR BROMM:  We spent quite a bit of time here talking about the salaries of the commissioners.  Is there still a property tax administrator appointed under the bill?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes, yes, there is.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, and that property tax administrator's salary, well that administrator is appointed by the Governor, is that correct, with the approval of the Legislature?




SENATOR BROMM:  And the salary of that administrator would be, according to the fiscal note, would be around 67,275.  They actually would be a little bit mo...paid a little bit better than the commissioners, is that right?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yes, depending on where and what we go with them, yes.


SENATOR BROMM:  And is that salary tied into something or, I'm sorry, I probably should know that.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, I think that that's ...  and I don't know where the property tax administrator's salary comes, but I ...  it's...  it's modeled, I know, after the existing ...  after the existing person that sits over there right now in the Department of Revenue that's sort of a division head of property tax.  I mean in effect what we're doing is it's that same spot, we're




not really creating a new one.  We're designating that spot and then removing them out of the Department of Revenue.  So you really haven't created a new spot because you're probably going to take that out of the Department of Revenue's budget on the back end.  So in other words you're trans ...  you're just making them independent of the Department of Revenue.


SENATOR BROMM:  Do you know if that person's posit'-on now pays the same amount, or do you have an idea of whether it's...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I'm sorry, I just don't know.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, that's something we can find out.  I'll easily...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  We'll find that out.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, thank you, Senator Kristensen.  I ...  let me say that I really appreciate the work that Senator Kristensen has done on this bill.  I ...  I'm...  I ...  I have to confess to him that I'm struggling with it a little bit, and not because of anything he's done or not done, that's not the point at all.  I'm struggling with it from a...  from a mechanical and a philosophical standpoint and let me explain that a little bit.  Maybe this is the wrong time but I might as well get started.  I think you know in the next year or two we're going to see some changes in the property tax laws, we know we are.  There are going to be a couple constitutional amendments that are going to make changes.  We had LB 452, LB 452 earlier this session which was the work of the Revenue Committee and Senator Warner which changed the calendar for property taxpayers and the time for knowing their values from the Board of Equalization and their time for appeal.  And I think it's a very good bill.  I think it's something that's been needed for a long time.  Now having said that and also being cognizant of the fact we may have some constitutional amendments dealing with the Board of Equalization, dealing with the property tax system I am having a difficult time getting a level of comfort with creating this commission and placing something in statute which is the result of very good work, but placing something in statute that may not prove to be as necessary or useful or as best ...  or best use of %the money as it might be.  And I will go into this more perhaps on the bill.  But in terms of the...






SENATOR BROMM:  ...the question of salaries I will address that for just a minute.  If you're going to have a property tax system and you're going to have a good one and you're going to do it right, one of the main characteristics is to have competent people and good data to work with.  And so even though I'd like to...  I'd like to turn the screws down as tightly as we can, I think that if we're going to have a good system we're probably kidding ourselves if we think that we're going to hire extremely competent people for a less than adequate salary.  And the salary that Senator Vrtiska proposed isn't bad, I mean it's a pretty good salary, there are benefits.  I don't know if it's going to attract a high enough qualified person, but I do think you need to be able to do that.  And I wish we had some way of knowing what kind Of salaries it would take to get the kind of people we need.  I'm going to address the bill and the philosophical questions and that sort of thing a little bit more after we get by this amendment.  Thank you, Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Dierks would like to announce that the following guests are visiting the Legislature today, there are 34 eighth graders here from Newport, St.  Joseph's in Atkinson, and Holt County Rural Schools with their sponsors.  They are all in the north balcony.  Will you stand and be recognized, please.  Welcome to the Legislature.  Senator Lynch, to speak to the Kristensen amendment.  Senator Vrtiska, to speak to the Kristensen amendment.


SENATOR VRTISKA:  Madam President and members of the body, I rose for the purpose of entering into some debate with Senator Chambers and some of the remarks that he made.  But after thinking over very carefully I remember what my mother told me when I was a young lad, and she said, don't ever debate with somebody that's smarter than you are because you won't understand them, and don't ever debate with somebody that's dumber than you are because they won't understand you.  So, with that, I will relinquish my time and thank you very much.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Vrtiska.  Senator Abboud.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Yes, Madam President, colleagues, would Senator Kristensen yield to a question?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.






SENATOR ABBOUD:  Senator Kristensen, I've tried to follow your amendment.  Could you tell me what is the amendment going to do to the fiscal note on this bill?  Will it...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, it depends on what we do in the A bill, Senator Abboud.  What this amendment does is just strike the reference to tying them to the Supreme Court.  What we've talked about on the floor now with the people who have been interested is to, in the A bill, establish a salary grade or a comparable salary and treat them as a regular state employee and not treat them as a judge type pay system, as you know, that only gets changed like every four years or something like that.  And to the extent that that's really what they're doing, I think the majority of the people have been comfortable in saying treat them as a state employee, let's find the appropriate pay grade.  In any event, it's going to drive the...  I mean I think it's going to drive the A bill and the fiscal note down.  We also are going to drive the fiscal note down by charging the small fee for filing the appeals.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Okay.  A second question.  I've been listening to the bill and the question I would like to know is, or the answer to this question is, let's assume LB 490 becomes law of the state.  How will that impact my property taxes in Douglas County, or in any county around the state?  Are my property taxes going to go up as a result of the passage of this bill?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, Senator Abboud, it depends on what your individual property tax situation is.  Is your property and your home fairly and equitably valued with those in the same class?


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Well, what will it do...let's take ...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I mean if it is then you won't ...  you'll see no change.  If your property is over valued it's going to drive your value down if you...


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Well let's...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  ...if you protest.




SENATOR ABBOUD:  Let's ask a more broader question then.  What will 'it do to ...  to property taxes in Douglas County?  Do you have any idea what the reaction will be as a result of the passage of this bill?  Are property taxes going co go up or down for my county?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, this is not a dollar shift to Douglas County, it's also not a dollar shift away.  What this does is provide the taxpayers of Douglas County the opportunity for a cheap, more efficient and a better way to appeal their property tax values if they think that they've been wronged and will give them the chance to adjust their values.  This makes the system fair.  It doesn't deal with is your taxes going up or down, because that's what everybody talks about.  What we're trying to do is arrive at a fairer system, make it easier for people to appeal those property tax values if they think that they've been inequitably treated.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Well, I mean I ...  now you had a problem with allowing the district court of a particular, like in Douglas County our district court judges making the determination as far as valuation.  But I guess I have more confidence that I'll get a better valuation from my district court judge in Douglas County than from some bureaucrat down here in Lincoln.  And I guess I'm looking at this from the perspective that, yes, my taxes and the taxes in the particular counties will actually go up because you will have a loss of that local ...  local control, local authority that will be making the determination on the appeal.  I mean that's the way I view it as far as how it will affect the property taxes in my county and the counties across the state, because you'll take away that district judge which lives in the county and has to pay those taxes.  Now if I'm wrong on that assumption please correct me.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, I think that you are in this effect, one is that we've got how many district judges?


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Fifty-one or two.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay, we've got over 50 district judges, all of who have a different opinion as to what valuation equalization is, and they'll only decide the dispute that's in front of them.






SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  What this panel is this panel will get to see the entire state as a whole on equalization across the entire state.  That's what's so crucial, you won't get 50 different opinions as to what equalization is.  You still have your right to appeal to the Court of Appeals, so we're not doing away with your right to court.  But the average citizen, I'm sorry, just can't go and do it, they can't go to district court.  And this is going to give better, better opinions ....  It isn't that the judges aren't smart, don't get me wrong.  I mean Senator Chambers will tell you that, I mean I'll defend the judges until I'm blue in the face.  But I'm talking about the system of trying to become equalized and to give a view across the state and try to remove the politics or try to remove ...  you know, what judge is going to want to raise the ire of the people that vote on them, to retain them for office, if he's going to order everybody to have their property taxes raised?  Not going to do it, it's just part of being human.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  But they ...  but they'll only be determin...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.  Thank you, senators.  Senator Abboud.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Yes, Madam President.  I'll continue on with this.  Senator Kristensen, won't they only be determining the valuations that are being appealed?  This won't be any broad determination, this will 11 be on a case-by-case basis, right?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  This allows case-by-case, but it also allows for, for example, if there's a pattern or if there ...  and this is what Senator Hall and I had worked out about if there's...  if there's a broad problem with it ...  with a subdivision or a subclass or classes, in other words, if commercial property is valued higher than residential properties, a percentage of market value, that you're allowed to make those class changes.  And right now in district court you don't have that option.  You're only option is to go to the State Board of Equalization, and there's nobody that can do that except the big centrally assessed people.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  So they'll be making some policy decisions?  They'll go beyond a case-by-case basis, is that what you're telling me?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  They have the opportunity, but we put in a




proportionality remedy that talked about they only can give a remedy that is in proportion to the problem that existed.  For example, you got a poor-homeowner that's valued at 115 percent, the remedy isn't to go and revalue the entire county, it's to lower that particular taxpayer down to what the average is of similarly classified property.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  And that can happen at the current time, right, with the district judge making that decision?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, the district judge can do that.  but what happens if you've got a whole subdivision that's that way and the real issue is that the reevaluation hasn't occurred in 30 years?


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Where does the county assessors ...  where are they left in this situation?  Are they...let's assume that example that you just cited, and where does that leave the county assessor?  Is that usurping the power of the assessors office then?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, what power would I be taking from the assessor?


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Well, you're increasing or decreasing the valuations of other property owners.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  But that happens all along the line.  The power of the assessor remains the same.  The assessor still has the mass appraisal, the assessor still makes the initial determinations, the assessor still goes to the county board of equalization.  We haven't done anything to the assessor.  We're doing...this is the appeal process.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  So do you feel that the ...  you'll have a more...  I guess my concern stems from the press stories and other articles and discussions we've had on the floor about different counties not being valued to a high enough percentage compared to other counties.  And I'll cite my example of Douglas County, there's been discussion about whether or not Douglas County is valued at a high enough level in accordance with state statute.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay, but that's ...


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Would a bill like this affect my county?




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  It will affect the individual taxpayers in your county who can go and appeal.  See, what your county is facing is the State Board of Equalization, right?  They gave the order to increase?




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay.  This ...  this commission doesn't have the power to go in and order the entire county to raise their mass level.  That's still part of the powers of the State Board of Equalization.  That depends on whether the constitutional amendment ever passes as to whether that would ever change.  What this allows is the individual taxpayers to go up and appeal their valuations.  And if there is a class that's been mistreated they have the ability to change that class and to order that reevaluation.  The state board can't do that.  The district court can't do that.  This is a better tool to make that system a little more fair.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Okay, thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Abboud.  There are no further lights.  Senator Kristensen waives closing.  The question before you is the adoption of the Kristensen amendment to LB 490.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.


CLERK:  26 ayes, 0 nays, Madam President, on the adoption of Senator Kristensen's amendment.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Kristensen amendment is adopted.


CLERK:  I have nothing further on the bill, Madam President.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Is there any discussion?  Senator Lynch.


SENATOR LYNCH:  Madam Chairman, members, could I ask Senator Kristensen a...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.




SENATOR LYNCH:  Senator Kristensen, I'm curious about the number




of people that may or may not take advantage of this.  You have some idea, in Douglas County, how many people do not appeal now because they can't afford it?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, that's real hard...


SENATOR LYNCH:  Do you have some idea?  You don't...I.  ...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I really don't, Senator Lynch.  It's hard to say because that person sits and throws up their hands and says, I don't have a chance, and they don't do it.  I mean they don't go and regis...  so, no, I don't.


SENATOR LYNCH:  What are the fees that a citizen would have to pay, say if you had a $100,000 house round numbers, and you figured, the value ...  they figured, the owners of the house, that the value for that particular property was say $10,000 too high.  That means the taxes would be a percentage of that, around $300.  Would that be an interesting example of where somebody would say, well it's going to cost me $300 more a year in taxes, even if I get the whole $10,000 off that's all I'll save, but it's going to cost me $1,000 to hire a lawyer.  What kind...  is there any kind of an exercise you can go through without taking a lot of time...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yeah, I understand.


SENATOR LYNCH:'ve worked hard all afternoon on this, we're going to get to something else in a few minutes.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  (Laugh.) Don't grin.


SENATOR LYNCH:  What would the fees be?  What would you and Senator Bromm and Senator Hall and Senator Lindsay and Senator Beutler and everybody else charge that person to try to save that $300 a year in taxes?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, I think if you know, if you went all the way through trial you could spend as much as 5 to $10,000 in doing that.


SENATOR LYNCH:  That's what I was curious about.  Then in this case do you have any idea about how many ...  well in your county, how many ...  how many people do you think would ...  how many people have appealed to a higher court in your county from the Board






SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Well, in the last year everybody has thrown up their hands and decided they can't do that.  But you know the couple years prior we had a number of lawsuits filed in Kearney County back when the personal property tax things and when the remedy was that your valuations went to zero.




SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  And we have a number of people, everybody became extremely frustrated because those cases got set on thee district court backlog, they went to the bottom of the pile, nobody wants to get those things tried.  Everybody says, well we'll wait and see what the State Board does.


SENATOR LYNCH:  Yeah, (inaudible).


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  And they, quite frankly, Senator Lynch, the people in my district got tired of it and said the system is against us.


SENATOR LYNCH:  So you think the ...  what we don't know is exactly how many, but you do know the work ...  the responsibility or at least the opportunity is out there for some people that don't exist now.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yeah, I really do.  And you had a question earlier, in the last round of debate, about what happens if we have 25,000 appeals, that small filing fee we put in should be the regulator to help with those masters.  So if we don't have a lot of appeals, we don't spend much money.


SENATOR LYNCH:  Yeah, and the reason I stood up and I'll end with this because I know you only got two or three minutes left on it.  And hopefully I'm the last light.  But it's my understanding, I asked somebody out in the back who knows something about the values in Douglas County, how many people, how many citizens in Douglas County, if this existed, how many people in Douglas County appealed to this higher court from the Board of Equalization in Douglas County, and they said just one.  And that's the reason I asked that question, those series of questions that I did.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I suppose the other issue is how many of




them should have appealed.


SENATOR LYNCH:  Well, that's why I asked the first question.  Thank you very much.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Lynch.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President, fellow senators.  The bill, I think, as it exists now will make it a lot easier for people to appeal the valuation if they don't agree with it, maybe that's good and maybe it's not good.  But I can guarantee you, or at least it appears to me that there will be many more appeals than we've seen in the past.  Now there's going to be substantial money involved.  We are moving a property tax administrator, it may stay at the same salary, it may not.  We're going to have staff, we're going to have people.  I think anyone who's seen any commission that we've created in this state for the last umpteen years would have to agree that most commissions start out rather nominal and small and they grow, and they feed on themselves and we have more staff and we wind up with more people.  Because of the inconvenience and what have you we eventually wind up probably with having a section of this in the middle of the state, maybe one in the western part of the state.  And I'm not convinced at this point that we ought to do it.  As I indicated earlier we just passed LB 452 or we're in the process, and that...  and that will change the calendar for people to find out how their property is valued, it will give them a better opportunity after the State Board of Equalization does their job to determine whether or not they need to appeal their value to their county board of equalization, and I think it will result in a lot happier folks as far as the valuation is concerned.  In Douglas County, had we had the new calendar, those people would have had recourse to their county board of equalization.  And if their house was valued at 125 percent of value, the county board of equalization could have taken it down to 100 percent or 95 percent or whatever, and that would have been fair.  And no one could convince me that the county board of equalization wouldn't have done it if they had had the opportunity to.  The problem was they didn't have the opportunity, the calendar was all wrong.  So 1 really would like to give the new tax calendar a chance to work.  I would like to see whether or not the voters in fact do away with the State Board of Equalization.  I would like to see what kind of property tax reform we have in the next year or year and a half.  And it may be that after we see all that this will be the very




best idea and the very best system that we could have.  However, the other thing that I'm hearing in my particular legislative district, and I've got seven different county assessors, and I've tried to get feedback 'from them on how they perceive these problems, what they tell me are two things over and over, we need the rules in Lincoln at the Department of Revenue to stop changing.  We need a set of rules that we can depend on, are going to be stable, rules that we can adopt our policies to and when we send out a letter to our taxpayers we don't find out three weeks later that it's not right anymore, that there's a different rule now.  They want stability in regulation or rules from the Department of Revenue and this body.  Secondly, they need help in terms of financial help in bringing their appraised values up-to -date.  Most counties can't afford to do a reappraisal.  Last time our county had a mass reappraisal ...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  was 1967, 1967.  And arguably our county board should have put away a few thousand dollars a year every year after that until they...and done another reappraisal in 10 or 15 years, or whatever is appropriate.  But what I'm hearing is we need help and stability.  And I'm not hearing that we need another commission to take our appeals to, I'm not hearing that.  I also think that the State Board of Equalization has the ability to do everything that this bill in principle does, and that is equalize property uniformly throughout the state.  Now if the equalization results in a disparity like it did in Douglas County, then Douglas County Board of Equalization has to fix that problem within the county...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  and I think they would do that if they had the chance.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Abboud.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Thank you, Madam President, members.  Would Senator Kristensen yield to a question?


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.






SENATOR ABBOUD:  Senator Kristensen, I think I'm trying to boil down exactly what my major concern is with the bill.  And I understand the appeal process and making it easier for our citizens to appeal their property valuations.  And with that basic philosophy of the bill I support that.  My concern comes with the...there was language in the committee amendment and then it was changed with the Kristensen-Hall amendment that was just adopted, or adopted here on Select File, and the language that stated that if no other relief is adequate to resolve disputes the commission may order a reappraisal of property within a county and any area within a county or classes or subclasses.  So, this is a hypothetical situation I'm going to ask you.  Following this language in the bill and the amendment, if John Doe from Douglas County appeals his appraisal, and assuming, as you've stated here, the ...  that they feel that...I guess you've added some additional language here.  The relief here may be excessive compared to the problems addressed then the commission may order a reevaluation of the entire county because of this one case.  And I assume what you mean by class would be all of the residential classes within a county.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Right, right, or subclasses, right.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Right.  Now is that...  I mean is that a possibility?  And then the second one that you need to answer as well, if the county fails ...  the language in your bill also provides that if the county fails to enter into an approved reappraisal within 90 days the commission has the power to enter into a contract with a professional appraisal company to handle the appraisal of the...of this particular county.




SENATOR ABBOUD:  Now that ...  that ...  that ...  that could happen.  Tell me when that would not happen.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Okay, let's start with your first one that you got one taxpayer that comes in and they're complaining about their property value of their home.  Could that one taxpayer with one appeal cause countywide reevaluation?  Probably not, in fact I don't see an area where that could occur.  But if 10,000 of those individual one persons come in, obviously the problem is not just one house.  That's indications that there may be problems in a whole class, or in a neighborhood, or in a subclass of properties.  And that, when you take all those




together, those 10,000 people, that may be a real indication there's a problem.  But it could just be that that's ...  you know, and you've got so many houses in Omaha, but you know maybe 10,000 is about the average for what you miss on a ...  because you've got to do mass appraisals techniques.  You probably don't go house to house like many counties do.  And maybe ...  you know, that's the reason that I put that language in there.  And a lot of it's because of Senator Lynch's questions earlier that he was concerned that one taxpayer would cause the entire county reevaluation problems.  And I think this amendment is designed not to do that, that it's to be proportionately done with a problem that's to be addressed.  Because I agree, I don't want counties just being revalued because of one or two taxpayers, I probably don't want it for ten or twenty.  And in Omaha maybe, you know, 1,500 may be just the number of people that you can miss doing mass appraisal work.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  I guess when we talk about reappraisal it usually means, to most of those in Douglas County at least and maybe across the street, when they do reappraisal their taxes Usually go up.  And I guess that's where the concern comes from, from my perspective as well ...




SENATOR ABBOUD:  ...  as well as some of the other citizens in my county in that reappraisals never usually go down, but they always go up because of inflation and value of property, I guess, which they should be thankful for.  But it usually results in their taxes going up as well.


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I ...  I guess...


SENATOR ABBOUD:  I mean is there any assurances once they've done the reappraisal that their taxes won't go up as a result of it?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  But, Senator Abboud, you know we can't do that and the people need to understand that just because their appraisal, their value of their house goes up doesn't mean their taxes are going to go up.  The only way your taxes go up is if there's more spending.  It doesn't matter if your house is valued at $10 or $100,000, what matters is the level of spending and what that levy is.  So that...I mean that's the reason you can go to the coffee shop and hear a lot of complaining, but




you've got people in Omaha who really do need to have their properties examined because they're over 100 percent of market value, and that's not fair to those people, it's not fair to them at all.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  And they can't handle that ...  go through the normal process of the Board of Equalization and the...




SENATOR ABBOUD:  ...  and the appeal?




PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.  Thank you, Senator Abboud.  Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President.  Senator Kristensen, could I ask a question or...


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Kristensen.




SENATOR BROMM:  Senator Kristensen, in the materials that you handed out in background information for the bill, in late March, you indicated that the Governor had recently appointed a property tax advisory group to consider equalization issues, including proper target levels and performance standards.  In fact that group was appointed last fall some time, is that correct?




SENATOR BROMM:  And do you know whether or not that group has met and made a recommendation, any of the recommendations which they might have made might recommend this kind of commission, or are you aware of anything that they've...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  They've made a report, Senator Bromm, and I got to tell you the truth, I haven't read that report entirely.  I do know that one of the things that I saw is they recommended appointed assessors and, you know, at the local level to do away with the politics at the local level.  But to the extent, you know, what this bill is designed to do is try to take the




politics out of appraisals and out of equalization.  And to that extent, I mean the Governor is doing those things ...  you know, one is to try to alleviate some of the pressures that he gets from the State Board of Equalization.  But quite frankly, nobody wants to bite the bullet and try to talk about fairness in the property tax system and the equalization problems that we've got.  And it's just never happened in this state.


SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  My ques ...  the reason for my question is that I was curious as to whether or not we had a report, and my aide told me, just a couple minutes ago, that we ...  that a report was delivered perhaps to Senator Warner's office last Friday or Thursday.  And I don't know if the report is ready for distribution.  But I'd be interested, I guess, in knowing what that group might consider as remedies for the equalization problem.  I'm...  I'm concerned if we pass this and we keep the State Board of Equalization in place do we need all of this?  Do we need the State Board of Equalization?  Do we need the ...  this commission, the property tax administrator?  Centrally assessed property will still be handled differently.  You know how many tax appeals ...  how many tax appeals have there been to district court in the last year and in the last five years, for example?  Do you have any of that trend information available, Senator Kristensen, or ...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Those are numbers that people don't keep.  You know, I mean it's like how many MIP cases were filed last year.  I mean those are just numbers that courts don't keep.  But I suggest to you that we had a number of those that occurred during the personal property tax wars and people gave up, people said, look, I'm not getting any relief.  And the State Board of Equalization can't go in and do individual changes.  You know all they'll do is look at a county and either raise the county or lower the county.  And that's unfair to people.


SENATOR BROMM:  But isn't it true that now with 452, with the new tax calendar, people will know if their county is raised before their deadline for appealing their value is up?  And now after 452 goes into effect they will have a chance to go to their county board of equalization for relief, which we didn't have this last year in Douglas County...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  Yeah, that's true.


SENATOR BROMM:  ...or those counties that were raised above




100 percent?


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  That's true, but they don't ...  where do they go from there?


SENATOR BROMM:  Well, I suggest ...


SENATOR KRISTENSEN:  I mean that's the problem.


SENATOR BROMM:  I suggest that in most cases they don't have to go from there because I think the county board of equalization does a pretty good job.  And in our area and in the counties around our area we've had very few appeals to district court it's only been generally where there's a real legal question involved about whether the definition of the property or...




SENATOR BROMM:  ...  (inaudible) property, we've not had a lot of straight appeals based on valuation in the 20 years I've been there.  I was involved in the biggest appeal we ever had,, and that was when LT&T appealed their...the value of their personal property.  And we joined with several other counties and had.  a humongous lawsuit.  But on real estate values we've had very few appeals based on the value of the property.  And I admit that it's not easy to appeal something to district court.  On the other hand, I also think our county board of equalization has done a pretty good job.  And with the new tax calendar I think they'll have a chance to do an even better job in the future.  I'd...




SENATOR BROMM:  I submit that I think we need to wait with this idea.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Abboud.


SENATOR ABBOUD:  Yes, Madam President, colleagues.  I really have...  I appreciate all the hard work that Senator Kristensen has put in on this bill.  I think that he's really studied the issue.  And this may, in fact, be a problem in his county.  But I have not had a lot of constituents contact me telling me that we should raise their valuation up or lower it, for that matter.  They generally feel that their valuations are pretty adequate.




They feel that their levy should drop so that their tax rate drops on their property taxes.  But the valuation, at least in my particular district, has not been a big, big concern.  And I am somewhat disturbed about the loss of local control in the valuation process and the feeling that somehow politics plays a part in determining these valuations.  And I haven't seen that as a particular case.  I haven't seen that as a particular case in Douglas County, maybe it exists, I'm not aware of it.  I don't get complaints brought to me.  There's a greater concern that there's a lack of flexibility shown in our local board and when they reevaluate the property.  We did have valuation reevaluation in '85 and we're, I believe, going to be having another one, I'm not sure, as a result of the State Board of Equalization.  And that may have, in fact, solved a lot of the problems where the state board came forward and said we feel that these valuations are too low and you should do something about it.  I thought by the actions of the state board that that dealt with that problem.  And they seem to have been able to handle it.  And since we already have the State Board of Equalization, maybe there isn't a need to establish another bureaucracy in Lincoln to deal with the property tax problem.  That's a question to be answered by each one of us.  A greater concern is though what will be the perception of the public by the passage of this bill?  Will they perceive this as somehow raising their property taxes?  And I feel at a time when property taxes are of high concern to people across the state that's what we need to be looking at.  We need to be looking, at the perception of bills that we will be enacting.  And it appears that two people that I've been contacted by in my district, that this will be a way for property taxes to be raised by a commission, based in Lincoln, on their local county of Douglas.  Maybe I'm wrong on that.  A few years ago I passed a bill that provided for language which I hoped would keep the mill levy at the same proportional level as when the valuations were increased.  The bill was passed by the Legislature after a great deal of discussion.  And the bill was never followed by the governmental agencies.  And maybe what needs to occur is some additional language needs to be placed in the statute that will try to address the concerns of our citizens, that when valuations are revalued, when the property is revalued their levies tend not to drop but to remain the same, and as a result their taxes go up.  So there may be...  I may be looking at an amendment to be added onto this bill before its eventual passage by this Legislature.  And that will probably come, I assume, on Final Reading.  I do have a concern, I will not be voting to




advance the bill.




SENATOR ABBOUD:  I probably won't be voting against it either because I can understand why Senator Kristensen is trying to address some of the concerns.  But I believe this bill is much more far-reaching than I'm willing to support.  Thank you.


PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Abboud.  Seeing no further lights the question before you is the advancement of LB 490.  All those in favor say aye.  All those opposed nay.  LB 490 advances.  It is past four o'clock and we will now turn to Item 7 on the agenda.  And before we do that, items for -the record, Mr. Clerk.