Local News

State Sen. Mike Groene Wednesday introduced his “microTIF” bill meant to encourage owners of older homes and commercial buildings to fix up or replace them.

The North Platte lawmaker threw Legislative Bill 1021 into the hopper on a day that saw lawmakers give first-round approval to carryover bills by Groene and Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon.

As introduced by Groene, LB 1021 would allow “expedited review” of proposals for the “repair, rehabilitation or replacement of an existing structure” in municipal areas already declared “substandard and blighted.”

Properties in such areas are eligible for tax increment financing, which generally sets aside taxes generated by the increase in a redeveloped property’s taxable value to cover new infrastructure and certain other costs.

In describing his concept recently, Groene said he hopes to enable a streamlined TIF-like approach — one aging building at a time — where appropriate in North Platte and elsewhere.

Here’s how it would work under LB 1021:

» Eligibility: Structures would have to be at least 50 years old and inside “substandard and blighted” areas in counties of less than 100,000 people or “extremely blighted” areas anywhere in Nebraska.

» Cost: Individual projects could cost no more than $250,000 for a single-family home, $1 million for a commercial or multifamily building or $10 million for a structure on the National Register of Historic Places.

» Application: The property owner would submit a standardized project application form and approved building permit to the city or village. Doing so could cost no more than $50 per project.

» Approval: The city council or village board “shall then approve” the project if all requirements are met.

» Tax refund and time frame: If the county certifies the project complete within two years of its approval, the city or village then would refund property taxes generated over that time by the increase in its taxable value.

In other legislative action involving regional senators:

» Lawmakers gave 35-0 initial approval to Groene’s LB 148, which would require local governments to hold required budget hearings during special meetings instead of regularly scheduled ones.

Local governments would have to provide “a reasonable amount of time” for public comment during budget hearings, Groene said in introducing his bill.

Other provisions of LB 148 would mandate budget hearings by interlocal public bodies receiving “occupation taxes” of the type collected by the Nebraska Cooperative Platte Republican Enhancement Project.

The bill also would require that all public local government meetings be advertised in “a newspaper of general circulation” within its service area.

Some local governments have been posting their required legal notices only online, Groene said. They still could post online notices under LB 148, but if their chosen newspaper also has a website, notices would have to appear in both its print edition and on its website.

» Brewer’s LB 582, which would expand the definition of the crime of possessing a stolen firearm, won 43-0 advancement to the second of three rounds of consideration.

Existing law imposes up to 20 years in prison for anyone who “possesses, receives, retains or disposes” of a stolen firearm “knowing that it has been or believing that it has been stolen.”

The definition would be extended under LB 582 to those who “should have known or had reasonable cause to believe” the firearm was stolen unless they had “intent to restore it to the owner.”

Brewer has designated LB 582 his priority bill for the 2020 session.

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