12-1301. Director of Veterans' Affairs; state veteran cemetery system; powers and duties; Veteran Cemetery Construction Fund; Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund; Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Operation Fund; created; use; investment.

(1)(a) The Director of Veterans' Affairs shall establish and operate a state veteran cemetery system. The system shall consist of a facility in the city of Grand Island, subject to subdivision (b) of this subsection, and may include a facility in Box Butte County. The director may seek and expend private, state, and federal funds for the establishment, construction, maintenance, administration, and operation of the cemetery system as provided in this section. Any gift, bequest, or devise of real property and any acquisition of real property with the proceeds of a donation, gift, bequest, devise, or grant from an individual, an organization, a corporation, a foundation, or a similar entity or from a nonfederal governmental agency for the cemetery system shall be subject to the approval requirements of section 81-1108.33 notwithstanding the value of the real property. All funds received for the construction of the cemetery system shall be remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the Veteran Cemetery Construction Fund. Any funds remaining in the Veteran Cemetery Construction Fund following the completion of construction of the facilities comprising the state veteran cemetery system shall upon such completion be transferred to the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund, and the Veteran Cemetery Construction Fund shall thereafter terminate.

(b) Beginning on August 7, 2020, the Director of Veterans' Affairs shall negotiate with the city of Grand Island to acquire an exclusive option for the transfer of title to the former Nebraska Veterans' Memorial Cemetery in the city of Grand Island and land adjacent to the cemetery, as identified in the required program statement, owned by the city of Grand Island. After being granted funding assistance from the National Cemetery Administration, the director shall accept from the city of Grand Island, at no cost, title to the real estate described in this subdivision in order to establish a state cemetery for veterans. The director shall prepare an initial program statement and make a request to the Legislature for funding as required by section 81-1108.41. The expenses of the initial program statement shall be paid from the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Operation Fund.

(2)(a) A trust fund to be known as the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund is hereby created. The fund shall consist of:

(i) Gifts, bequests, grants, or contributions from private or public sources designated for the maintenance, administration, or operation of the state veteran cemetery system;

(ii) Any funds transferred from the Veteran Cemetery Construction Fund following the completion of construction of the three facilities comprising the state veteran cemetery system; and

(iii) Following the termination of the Veteran Cemetery Construction Fund, any funds received by the state from any source for the state veteran cemetery system.

(b) No revenue from the General Fund shall be remitted to the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund. The Legislature shall not appropriate or transfer money from the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund for any purpose other than as provided in this section. Any money in the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act. No portion of the principal of the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund shall be expended for any purpose except investment pursuant to this subdivision. All investment earnings from the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund shall be credited on a quarterly basis to the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Operation Fund.

(3) There is hereby created the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Operation Fund. Money in the fund shall be used for the operation, administration, and maintenance of the state veteran cemetery system. The fund may be used for the expenses of the initial program statement under subdivision (1)(b) of this section. Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act.

(4) The Director of Veterans' Affairs may make formal application to the federal government regarding federal financial assistance for the construction of any of the facilities comprising the state veteran cemetery system which is located in a county with a population of less than one hundred thousand persons when he or she determines that the requirements for such assistance have been met.

(5) The director may make formal application to the federal government regarding financial assistance for the construction of any facility comprising a portion of the state veteran cemetery system located in a county with a population of more than one hundred thousand persons when sufficient funds have been remitted to the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Endowment Fund such that (a) the projected annual earnings from such fund available for transfer to the Nebraska Veteran Cemetery System Operation Fund plus (b) the projected annual value of formal agreements that have been entered into between the state and any political subdivisions or private entities to subsidize or undertake the operation, administration, or maintenance of any of the facilities within the state veteran cemetery system, has a value that is sufficient to fund the operation, administration, and maintenance of any cemetery created pursuant to this subsection.

(6) The director may expend such funds as may be available for any of the purposes authorized in this section.

(7) The director, with the approval of the Governor, may enter into agreements for cemetery construction, administration, operation, or maintenance with qualified persons, political subdivisions, or business entities. The director shall provide lots in the cemetery system for the interment of deceased veterans as defined by the National Cemetery Administration of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The director shall provide lots for the interment of those veterans' spouses, minor children, and unmarried adult children who were physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support. Section 12-501 does not apply to the state veteran cemetery system.

(8) The Veteran Cemetery Construction Fund is created. Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act.

(9) The director may adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out this section. The rules and regulations shall include requirements for proof of residency, cost of burial if any, and standards for cemeteries, including decorations and headstones.

Source:Laws 1999, LB 84, § 1; Laws 2004, LB 1231, § 1; Laws 2005, LB 54, § 2; Laws 2005, LB 227, § 1; Laws 2006, LB 996, § 1; Laws 2009, LB154, § 1; Laws 2011, LB264, § 1; Laws 2017, LB331, § 18; Laws 2020, LB911, § 1.
Effective Date: August 7, 2020

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