Week 5 of the 2nd session of the 105th Legislature consisted of days 17 through 20 this session.

Week five of the 2nd session of the 105th Legislature resumed on Tuesday, January 30th after a recess day on Monday, January 29th. Recess days at the Legislature provide staff members an opportunity to catch up on responsibilities and prepare for future hearings, floor debates, and constituent concerns. I thank the many constituents who have reached out to our office to provide feedback, thoughts, and concerns about potential legislation. It’s a blessing to serve the people of District 16.

On Tuesday, I presented LB 766, a bill in the Agriculture Committee that would make a clarification in Nebraska fence law. Under current fence law, adjacent agricultural landowners share a mutual obligation for the construction and maintenance of fences built on the property boundary. Most of the time, neighbors are able to agree on the need for a fence and how to share the costs and responsibility for its construction and upkeep.

On those rare occasions where adjacent landowners cannot agree, the fence law provides that a landowner may file a fence dispute claim in county court. This bill changes a provision that requires neighbors to provide written notice that a landowner requests their contribution to the fence work.

A recent court ruling applying this portion of the fence law revealed an ambiguity regarding when such notice is required to be given. The bill would make it clear that notice is required before a landowner begins constructing a fence.

Additionally, it would provide that a fence dispute claim could not be filed until at least 30 days after the notice is given in order to give neighboring landowners an opportunity to reach a resolution before a landowner could proceed with the legal remedy.

The Governor testified in front of the Revenue Committee Wednesday, January 31st on his proposed bill to provide Nebraskans with property and income tax relief. LB 947, introduced by Senator Jim Smith of District 14, would restructure existing property tax credits as a refundable credit on state taxes, eliminating the ability of out-of-state landowners to claim the credits. The bill also lowers the top individual income tax rate from 6.84 percent to 6.75 percent in tax year 2019 the top corporate marginal tax rate from 7.81 percent to 6.75 percent in tax year 2019 and appropriates $10 million to the Job Training Cash Fund by Summer 2019.

LB 947 is the result of tremendous collaboration between public, private, rural, and urban groups and individuals. It is supported by the Department of Agriculture Director, Steve Wellman, and ag groups such as Nebraska Farm Bureau who say that over time the plan will provide tax credits equal to 30% of the total property tax burden. This bill is the most realistic opportunity for tax relief before the Legislature this year and offers tax relief for all Nebraskans.

On Thursday, February 1st LB 51 was debated. The bill, proposed by Senator Schumacher of District 22, intended to establish a bidding process relating to property tax liens, was bracketed until April 18th on a vote of 26-14. A special thank you goes to all the individuals and groups who visited our office for Conservative Legislative Day.

On Friday, Feb. 2nd confirmation reports were heard and passed from the Natural Resources, Judiciary, Nebraska Retirement Systems, Health and Human Services, and the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committees. Legislative committees hold hearings for appointments for state agencies that require confirmation. These committees then provide recommendations for the Legislature to confirm the appointments. Among appointees confirmed was Colonel John Bolduc as Superintendent for the State Patrol.

Please contact me, my Administrative Aide Courtney McClellen, my Legislative Aide Jacob Campbell or the Agriculture Committee Research Analyst Rick Leonard with questions or concerns.

Sen. Lydia Brasch represents District 16 in the Nebraska Legislature. She can be reached at 402-471-2728 or lbrasch@leg.ne.gov.

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