Legislature: This Week in Review

March 13, 2018

LINCOLN--Lawmakers this week debated bills dealing with sales tax for online retailers, emancipation of minors and how keno revenue would be handled, among other bills.

A bill to require some online retailers without physical locations in Nebraska to collect and remit sales tax if their gross sales exceed $100,000 a year was debated on March 6. LB 44. Introduced by Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, the bill would also require a retailer who does not collect state sales or use tax to notify Nebraska purchasers that the tax is due and to send them a notice by Jan. 31 of each year showing the total amount paid for taxable items. A penalty of $10,000 could be applied to a retailer who fails to send the notifications. Watermeier filed a motion to invoke cloture ending debate, which succeeded with a vote of 35-8. Senators then voted 34-7 to advance the bill to final reading.

Lawmakers considered a bill on March 7 that would allow certain Nebraska minors to seek emancipation from their parents or legal guardians. LB 714, introduced by Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, would allow minors at least 16 years of age to seek legal emancipation. Howard said many teens are able to support themselves and have been doing so for some time, but don’t have the support of an adult to help with things like purchasing a vehicle or opening a checking account. After a motion for emancipation is filed, a judge would determine if the teen would be able to manage his or her finances and obligations. Parents or legal guardians would have 30 days to file an objection to the petition for emancipation. Senators advanced the bill to a second round of debate with a 35-0 vote.

A bill that would change how keno revenue is handled in Nebraska was considered on March 7. LB 724, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, would allow keno operators to combine keno funds with all other funds. As it stands now, operators must keep keno funds in separate bank accounts. Under the bill, the state tax commissioner would be able to permit the electronic transfer of keno funds from a sales outlet’s general business account to the bank account of a lottery operator, county, city or village no later than five business days after funds were collected.Currently funds must be deposited in four business days. Senators voted 28-0 to advance the bill to the second round of debate.

A bill that would raise the age children in Nebraska are required to use a car seat was debated on the floor March 8. LB 42, sponsored by Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha, would increase the age children are required to use a car seat to 8 years old. Currently in the state of Nebraska, children must use a car seat until age 6. The bill would also require children up to the age of 2 to use a rear-facing car seat, or until the child has outgrown the height and weight requirements for the specific car seat. Senators advanced the bill to the second round of debate with a 36-3 vote.

Lawmakers considered a bill on March 9 that would improve 911 access throughout the state. LB 993, sponsored by Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, would create the 911 Service System Advisory Committee to help the Nebraska Public Service Commission upgrade the emergency calling system. The upgrades would allow public safety answering points to receive 911 calls via voice, text or video. Currently, 80 percent of 911 calls are made from wireless phones, however the current system cannot locate where a caller is calling from, Friesen said. The new system would allow first responders to know where to go in cases where callers do not know their location. Senators advanced the bill to the second round of debate on a 39-0 vote.

Contact McCartney Martin at nns.mmartin@gmail.com