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AGO Opinion 98035

Deadline for Filing of County Petitions Seeking Adjustments to Classes or Subclasses of Property Under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1504.01 (Supp. 1997), as amended by 1998 Neb. Laws, LB 306.
Opinion 98035

DATE: August 20, 1998

SUBJECT: Deadline for Filing of County Petitions Seeking Adjustments to Classes or Subclasses of Property Under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1504.01 (Supp. 1997), as amended by 1998 Neb. Laws, LB 306.

REQUESTED BY: Mark P. Reynolds, Chairman Tax Equalization and Review Commission

WRITTEN BY: Don Stenberg, Attorney General

L. Jay Bartel, Assistant Attorney General




The Tax Equalization and Review Commission ["TERC" or the

"Commission"] has requested our opinion concerning the

interpretation of an amendment to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1504.01

(Supp. 1997) altering the date for the filing of petitions by

counties requesting an adjustment to a class or subclass of

property. Section 77-1504.01, prior to its amendment by 1998 Neb.

Laws, LB 306, § 22, provided that petitions by counties seeking

adjustments for classes or subclasses of property were to "be filed

with the commission on or before August 4." LB 306 amended the

statute to provide that such petitions "must be filed with the

commission on or before August 1." LB 306 was signed by the

Governor on February 12, 1998, and, having been passed with an

emergency clause, became effective on February 13, 1998. Your

question is whether, due to the amendment to § 77-1504.01 which

changed the date by which counties must file petitions requesting

the Commission to make adjustments to classes or subclasses of

property, the Commission may consider and act on petitions filed

after August 1, 1998.




A fundamental principle of statutory construction is to

attempt to ascertain legislative intent and to give effect to that

intent. County of Lancaster v. Maser, 224 Neb. 566, 400 N.W.2d 238

(1987). The reasons for the enactment of a statute, and the

purposes and objects of the act, may be guides in attempting to

give effect to the intent of lawmakers. State v. Jennings, 195

Neb. 434, 238 N.W.2d 477 (1976). "In the absence of anything

indicating to the contrary, statutory language should be given its

plain and ordinary meaning." Hickenbottom v. Hickenbottom, 239

Neb. 579, 590, 477 N.W.2d 8, 16 (1991). In construing a

legislative act, resort may be had to the history of its passage

for the purpose of determining legislative intent. Georgetowne

Ltd. Partnership v. Geotechnical Services, Inc., 230 Neb. 22, 430

N.W.2d 34 (1988).




The plain language of § 77-1704.01, as amended by LB 306,

§ 22, requires that petitions by counties seeking adjustments of

classes or subclasses of property "must be filed with the

commission on or before August 1." (emphasis added). This

language is mandatory, and demonstrates the Legislature intended to

require counties to file such petitions on or before August 1 in

order for the Commission to have jurisdiction to act on a request.

The statute does not grant the Commission any discretion to accept

petitions filed after the specified deadline.




We note, however, that August 1, 1998, fell on a Saturday. As

the Commission was not open to receive filings on that date, a

question arises as to whether petitions filed on the next business

day (Monday, August 3), were timely filed.




The general statute regarding computation of time provides

that "the period of time within which an act is to be done in any

action or proceeding shall be computed by excluding the day of the

act, event, or default after which the designated period of time

begins to run." Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-2221 (1995). "The last day of

the period so computed shall be included unless it is a Saturday,

[or] a Sunday,. . ., in which event the period shall run until the

end of the next day on which the office will be open." Id.




While the computation of time provision in § 25-2221 refers to

"any action or proceeding", the Nebraska Supreme Court has applied

the statute "not only to matters in litigation, but also to

statutes." State ex rel. Wieland v. Beerman, 246 Neb. 808, 811,

523 N.W.2d 518, 522 (1994); see also Ruan Transport Corp. v.

Peake, Inc., 163 Neb. 319, 79 N.W.2d 575 (1956); State ex rel.

Smith v. Nebraska Liquor Control Comm'n, 152 Neb. 676, 42 N.W.2d

297 (1950). Thus, "[a]lthough the term `action or proceeding'

generally refers to business before a court or judicial officer,

the term is not restricted in application to those actions which

occur within the walls of a courtroom" 246 Neb. at 811, 523 N.W.2d

at 522.




"It has been held that where an act must be performed a

certain number of days `before' an event, or `on or before' a

specified date, the time for performance is postponed to the next

business day when the final day falls on a Saturday or Sunday." 86

C.J.S. Time § 29 (1997). The Nebraska Supreme Court applied this

principle in State v. Tasich, 242 Neb. 870, 873, 496 N.W.2d 538,

540 (1993), "hold[ing] that when a statute requires an act to be

done a certain number of days before a known event, the fact that

the last day for the action to be done in order to give the

appropriate number of days, falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal

holiday postpones the time for performance to the next following

business day."




Thus, as § 77-1504.01, as amended, required counties to file

petitions with the Commission "on or before" August 1, and August

1 fell on a Saturday, we believe that petitions received by the

Commission on Monday, August 3, the next business day following

Saturday, August 1, were timely filed. Petitions received by the

Commission after that date, however, were not filed within the time

prescribed by statute.




For the reasons stated previously, while we believe the

language of the statute, as amended, is clear, we also note that

this change was discussed, albeit briefly, during legislative

debate on LB 306. The history reflects that the Legislature was

aware of the change in the date for filing petitions under § 77-

1504.01, and that moving the date from August 4 to August 1 was

apparently done to facilitate the TERC's proceedings.

Specifically, Senator Wickersham, Chairman of the Revenue

Committee, in discussing Committee amendments which included the

change in the date for filing petitions under § 77-1504.01, stated:




We are moving a deadline for county petitions to TERC for

an adjustment of changes in classes of valuation. We had

it stated, in the original amendment to 306, that that

had to be done by August 4th, we are moving that back to

August 1st, after discussions with TERC. The August 1st

date would have allowed them, in practice, as a practical

effect, only one day to hold hearings on the protests.

That's the other component of the amendment that I think

is necessary to bring to your attention.




Floor Debate on LB 306, 95th Leg., 2d Sess., 11304 (February 5,

1998) (Statement of Sen. Wickersham).




In sum, we conclude that the amendment to § 77-1504.01 by LB

306, § 22, requires that petitions by counties for adjustments to

classes or subclasses of property be filed on or before August 1.

For 1998, as August 1 fell on a Saturday, we further conclude that

this would operate to extend the time for counties to file

petitions with the Commission until the next business day, Monday,

August 3. Petitions filed after that date would be untimely, and

should be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.




Very truly yours,




DON STENBERG

Attorney General








L. Jay Bartel

Assistant Attorney General