LB 72 clears up ambiguities in government bonds

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

LB 72 is designed to enhance access to capital markets for governmental entities by providing that general obligation bonds, notes, and other financing obligations of governmental entities have a statutory lien on bond pledged revenue sources. More simply put, this would create a statutory lien on government issued bonds to ensure that bondholders are paid first if the issuing government entity goes bankrupt.

LB 72 was introduced because current state law is ambiguous because it was unclear which of a city’s creditors would receive payment first in the event of a bankruptcy, a problem illustrated in 2013 by the bankruptcy of Detroit. Following a bankruptcy, the federal courts will often look toward state law to determine which of a city’s debtors are paid first. With LB 72 it would ensure that the bondholders have priority.

During floor debate it was explained that bondholders are providing a service to cities and other political subdivisions by loaning them money, in exchange for interest in order to build infrastructure projects. LB 72 would guarantee that government-issued bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing entity.

This bill was filibustered during first round debate and thus required 33 votes to end debate and ultimately passed on a 29-14 vote to advance from General File to Select File.

Another controversial bill we heard this past week was LB 68 which would erase the authority of Lincoln and other Nebraska communities to enact gun regulation laws, with a few exceptions for Omaha. During debate it was stressed that this bill protects “the fundamental right to keep and bear arms” by centering authority for gun regulation in the Legislature. This would end the patchwork of local laws that have been putting law-abiding gun owners in jeopardy of violating local regulations as they travel in the state. This bill was also filibustered during the first round of debate and did achieve the 33 vote’s necessary to invoke cloture and ultimately advanced to Select File on a 32-12 vote.

On both of these bills, I did support the cloture vote and ultimately voted to advance both bills to the next round of debate.

This week you will probably have heard our discussions are about property taxes, income taxes and the way we fund schools in the State of Nebraska meaning the TEEOSA formula. As of the writing of this article, I am seeing no consensus by the Legislature on any of these issues. I am hopeful during debate on these topics we can come to an agreement that will eventually bring relief to all tax payers in the State of Nebraska.

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.

My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.

You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.

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