Sen. Burke Harr
District 08

Welcome

January 8th, 2014

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 8th legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Burke Harr

Study Shows More Research is Needed When it Comes to Reducing Impaired Driving In Nebraska

November 20th, 2012

Lincoln, NE–As many Nebraskans celebrate the start of the Holiday season this week, statistics show that too many people will make the poor choice of drinking and driving.  Sen. Harr stated: “In order to gain a better understanding of how to prevent drinking and driving, we need an effective review of Nebraska’s DUI statutes.  We need to determine what works and what doesn’t work.”

Today, Nebraska State Senator Burke Harr, Legislative District 8, submitted the findings on Legislative Resolution 249 (LR 249) to the Judiciary Committee.  LR 249 examines the cost and prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving in Nebraska, evaluates how Nebraska is addressing the problem, and compares Nebraska’s efforts to the 13 states that border Nebraska or who are members of the current Big Ten Conference.  LR 249 is the first comprehensive study of Nebraska’s DUI laws since 1991.  The last comprehensive study on Nebraska’s DUI laws was LR 84, a report by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.  LR 84 was an overview of Nebraska DUI laws in relation to other states, but it did not examine their effectiveness in preventing drinking and driving.  Between 1991 and the present, the Legislature passed over 120 changes to its statutes regarding driving under the influence.  The Legislature has made no efforts to determine the effectiveness of these changes.

LR 249 makes several recommendations for the Legislature to consider.  LR 249 recommends the Legislature research the effectiveness of current statutes to prevent drinking and driving and reduce recidivism, to evaluate best practices, and learn what can be done besides increasing penalties.

Sen. Harr will bring the findings of LR 249 to the Judiciary Committee next session and suggest implementation of the findings of the study.

Legislation to Require Professional Development Training for Public School Board Members

August 7th, 2012

Lincoln, NE – Nebraska State Senator Burke Harr, Legislative District 8, announced he plans to introduce legislation requiring public school board members obtain professional development training.

During the interim session, Senator Harr’s office has studied how public school boards can be more effective. Harr stated, “This legislation is not being introduced as a reaction to the recent events involving Omaha Public Schools, but I think those events highlight the importance of having well informed school board members with a clear understanding of their responsibilities. If this legislation passes, Nebraska will join nineteen (19) other states that require some type of professional development training for public school board members. Nebraska’s public school board members will be another group of professionals, like attorney’s and physicians, that must undergo regular professional development training.”

The proposed legislation would require public school members to receive training concerning:

  • The powers and duties of school board members;

  • Compliance with public records laws;

  • Compliance with education standards;

  • The financial and fiduciary duties of school board members;

  • Financial planning training;

  • Education law;

  • Labor law; and

  • Ethics training.

In addition, public school board members would be required to obtain training on the topic of their district’s:

  • Staffing levels;

  • Demographics;

  • Drop out rates;

  • Graduation rates;

  • Truancy levels; and

  • Assessment scores.

Bill Introduced to Protect Cities Money

January 9th, 2012

Senator Burke Harr, Legislative District 8, introduced a bill to change provisions relating to sales

and property tax exemptions for a 63-20 Corporation (“63-20 Corporation,” as defined below).

The Property Assessment Division of the Nebraska Department of Revenue (the “Department”)

revised existing law regarding exemption from sales and property taxes. The Department

determined that a 63-20 Corporation is not property of the government nor its governmental

subdivision and therefore, not entitled to an exemption from sales and property taxes.

A 63-20 Corporation is a private, non-stock corporation formed under the Nebraska Nonprofit

Corporation Act. A nonprofit corporation must be for a lawful purpose other than for pecuniary

profit, including, without limitation, any charitable, benevolent, educational, civic, or scientific

purpose. Charitable purposes include “lessening the burdens of government,” which can be

accomplished when a nonprofit corporation provides a benefit or service traditionally offered by

the State or its governmental units. Like other nonprofit corporations, no dividends are paid and

no part of the income or profit of a 63-20 Corporation may be distributed to its members,

trustees, or officers. A 63-20 Corporation is regulated by the State Attorney General for

compliance with the Nonprofit Act, by State tax authorities for compliance with the requirements

relating to their state income tax exemption, and by the Internal Revenue Service for compliance

with the requirements relating to their federal income tax exemption and the issuance of taxexempt

debt.

A 63-20 Corporation issues bonds to generate money to acquire, construct, and equip public

buildings, which are then leased to the sponsoring governmental unit in exchange for lease

payments sufficient in amount to pay the debt service on the bonds. When the bonds are paid at

maturity, which coincides with the expiration of the lease, title to the building must be

transferred to the governmental unit.

The Department’s determinations contradict current case law and research has found no other

state that interprets a 63-20 Corporation’s sales and property tax exemptions in this manner.

Cities rely on this manner of financing for the construction of public buildings, including

hospitals, libraries, auditoriums, convention centers, city halls, court houses, and schools.

Without this bill, the City of Omaha estimates the city and MECA will pay at least an extra $7.5

million dollars in sales and property taxes per year. The City of Norfolk estimates that they

would have to pay an additional $24,000 to $36,000 per year in property taxes for 20 years if its

lease-purchased city hall is subject to property tax.