Howard Lamb, 91, the 'epitome of a citizen legislator'

Funeral services are set Monday for Howard Lamb, who served in the Nebraska Legislature from 1977 to 1993 and considered running for governor in 1986.

World-Herald editorial: Protecting the people’s house

It’s a sad sign of the times that Attorney General Doug Peterson is raising the need for Nebraska to re-examine how it secures the People’s House.

World-Herald editorial: A time for fiscal restraint

If Nebraska lawmakers needed more evidence of the need for continued fiscal prudence, two bits of recent news hammered home the point. First, October’s state general fund tax revenues came in nearly 5 percent below predictions. Second, a survey of rural Midwestern bankers reported a third straight month of economic decline.

New program lets Nebraska families save $14,000 tax-free for disabled children's expenses

On Thursday, state officials announced the signing of a contract that will allow families with disabled children to establish savings accounts to save for their future, much like families can now participate in state savings accounts for college expenses.

Nebraska attorney general's plan to add metal detectors at State Capitol met with skepticism

Gov. Pete Ricketts, in a statement, said he “opposes limiting public access to the State Capitol, the people’s building.”

Five years after leaving politics, former Sarpy official seeks Legislature seat

Joni Albrecht, then living under her maiden name Joni Jones, served on the Papillion City Council for eight years, followed by four years on the Sarpy County Board. 

Appointed State Sen. David Schnoor will run to keep seat

State Sen. David Schnoor of Scribner was appointed in December to represent Dodge County. He replaced former Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, who stepped down after being elected state auditor.

Medical marijuana proponents hope Nebraska follows in Minnesota's footsteps

Minnesota’s medical cannabis program is considered one of the most restrictive among the 23 states where therapeutic use of the plant is legal. Opponents to legalizing it in Nebraska, however, view the effort as little more than dressing pot in a lab coat.

Death penalty 
petition drive was most successful near Norfolk, site of 2002 murders that put 3 on death row

The World-Herald’s analysis shows that the petition effort collected signatures from 92 of Nebraska’s 93 counties. More than 10 percent of registered voters signed a petition in 74 counties.

World-Herald editorial: Maintaining fiscal discipline in Lincoln

Look around the country, and it’s not difficult to find examples of state governments that have badly fumbled the management of their budgets.

State officials propose 'veterans court' as prison alternative for vets who commit crimes

Like a drug court, the veterans court would use intensely supervised treatment programs, work requirements and frequent drug tests as an alternative to prison.

Elkhorn-area farmer Bill Armbrust throws hat in ring for Legislature

Elkhorn-area farmer Bill Armbrust announced Monday his candidacy for the Nebraska Legislature in District 39.

Prison officials target solitary confinement, mental health treatment in effort to avoid another Nikko Jenkins

Eleven months ago, a special investigative committee called the episode “a total failure of leadership and a textbook example of the administration of state government at its worst.”

Retired BNSF Railway worker to seek Nebraska Legislature seat

Rick Vest is seeking the seat held by state Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, who is leaving office in 2017 because of term limits.

Panel grills Nebraska corrections director, calls his plan for prisons 'a sham'

A panel of state lawmakers criticized State Corrections Director Scott Frakes' response to problems, his purchase of lethal-injection drugs from a dubious source in India and a lack of communication with the Legislature.

New shakeup on the way for Nebraska juvenile justice system

The proposed change would resolve a separation-of-powers clash between the judicial branch and the Legislature that has been brewing for several months.

Bellevue councilwoman Carol Blood to run again for Legislature

"I will be a voice for this district's priorities, including safer neighborhoods, stronger schools, and sustaining a robust business community," Blood said.

Retired railroad worker to run for Nebraska Legislature

Rick Vest is seeking the seat held by state Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, who is leaving office in January 2017 because of term limits.

Innovation Campus: UNL officials put $25 million more in state support on hold

Wednesday, the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee held a hearing as part of an interim study launched after the university asked it to help boost construction at the Lincoln research park.

UNL faculty oppose ending gun-free zones

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's faculty leadership is opposing a state senator's proposal to eliminate gun-free zones on college campuses.

Branstad had the authority to close state mental health centers, Iowa judge rules

The lawsuit, filed by the head of Iowa’s largest public employees union and 20 Democratic lawmakers, said that closing the centers in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant was illegal because Iowa law requires the state to operate them.

Stothert backs extending Omaha's wheel tax, but City Council rejects pressing idea in Legislature

City Councilman Franklin Thompson — with Stothert’s support — proposed that the council ask the Legislature to restore the city’s ability to assess its wheel tax on people who live outside the city limits but within the city’s zoning area.

Nebraska, Iowa senators vote against budget agreement that would lift debt limit, increase spending by $80 billion

The four U.S. senators from Nebraska and Iowa, all Republicans, voted against the budget agreement approved in the early hours Friday.

Harvey Perlman defends dorm alcohol ban; senator says UNL leaders are hypocritical

“My sense is Nebraska families would prefer to send their students to a university that did not allow alcohol in campus housing,” Chancellor Harvery Perlman said. Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill noted than leaders obtain “hundreds” of special liquor licenses from the state to serve alcohol at campus events.

Tecumseh staff's pay, mandatory overtime in spotlight at hearing on troubled Corrections department

Employees at the Tecumseh State Prison are settling into a “new normal” five months after a deadly prison riot, a union official told state lawmakers Friday.

OPS board member Tony Vargas to seek South Omaha seat in Legislature

Vargas, a registered Democrat, is seeking the South Omaha seat held by State Sen. Nicole Fox. 

Ricketts says Nebraska continues to work with DEA to import lethal injection drugs

Until the drugs are obtained, the governor declined to speculate on whether an execution could take place before voters decide the future of capital punishment in November 2016.

Erdman – this time Steve – running for District 47 Legislature seat

Erdman, 65, a registered Republican, will compete for the post now held by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, who is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. He is the father of former State Sen. Phil Erdman, who represented the same district from 2001 to 2009.

Nebraska lawmaker: 'Get rid of the gun-free zones' at schools, churches, elsewhere

"This has gotten to the point of madness," Bellevue Sen. Tommy Garrett says in response to a national epidemic of mass shootings.

When Gov. Ricketts puts on his Cubs fan cap, Nebraska state troopers tag along to ballpark

The governor said his use of troopers at such events is no different from when troopers accompanied past governors on personal vacations, on trade missions to China and even on dates with movie stars.

World-Herald editorial: Policing human trafficking saves lives

People often speak about prostitution as a “victimless” crime. Try telling that to a 12-year-old whose body was traded to a stranger.

In pursuit of a killer: Push is on for better tracking of prescription drugs to stem overdoses

The more Kevin Neumann dug into his son’s past, the more he discovered about Trey’s secret use of opioid painkillers and about the growing numbers of other Nebraskans who abuse legal medications. 

Death penalty supporters put repeal on hold till 2016 vote

A pro-death penalty group has submitted enough valid signatures to postpone the repeal of capital punishment and place a referendum on the issue on the November 2016 ballot, it was confirmed Friday.

Learning Community Council votes to hire Keith Rohwer as interim CEO

Rohwer, an Omaha education consultant and former superintendent of Nebraska City Public Schools, will be paid $8,333.33 a month — that’s the equivalent of $100,000 a year, but he’s not expected to work a full year.

Nebraska lawmakers hope for new 
K-12 funding

Schools rely on property taxes, but legislators are divided on alternatives.

State Sen. Kate Bolz launches campaign for second term

Bolz, a 36-year-old Democrat, was elected in 2012 to serve south-central Lincoln’s 29th District.

Health care disparities challenge Nebraska

Longevity from one ZIP code to another can differ by 10 years, a Nebraska conference hears.

Group starts collecting signatures to legalize casino gambling at Nebraska racetracks

Former State Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha, one of the group’s leaders, said one petition proposes a state constitutional amendment allowing for games of chance.

New home for many mentally ill in Nebraska? Jail

There’s just not room in the state to care for many, who end up behind bars instead, lawmakers are told at interim hearing.

Former State Sen. Gene Tyson, 84, 'didn’t suffer fools,' loved to win debates

“He thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Legislature,” his son said Monday morning. “He loved a good debate because he loved to prove people wrong. He had his opinions, and he believed they were always the right ones.”

UNL officials quizzed over Nebraska Innovation Campus' finances, future

Lawmakers challenge request for $25 million in additional funding for research park.

Chambers ponders bill on medically assisted death, likely to face stiff opposition

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha most likely will try again next year to pass legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill people.

Sales tax funds could join cities’ incentive toolkits for projects like Crossroads redevelopment

A state senator from Omaha said he plans to propose legislation next year that would create a new type of incentive to be used for major projects that cost about $200 million or more -- such as the redevelopment of the Crossroads Mall.

GOP political adviser who worked with AG on executions joins death penalty opponents

LINCOLN — A veteran conservative political adviser who worked for Nebraska’s attorney general during the state’s last three executions has joined the effort to preserve the repeal of capital punishment.

World-Herald editorial: 2 painful reminders that small stuff adds up fast in state government

Both involved the largest state agency, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which serves the state’s most vulnerable people and spends more than one-third of the state’s general fund budget.

World-Herald editorial: Another chance to reject casinos in Nebraska

Pro-gambling forces, who’ve seen Nebraska reject casinos and many other forms of expanded gambling before, now say they want to save the state’s ailing thoroughbred horse racing industry.

Pro-death penalty group raised, spent more than $900K on petition drive to put issue before voters

Nebraskans for the Death Penalty raised $260,985 from July 28 to Sept. 21, according to a report filed Monday with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. The sum was on top of the $652,000 it had raised earlier.

Their sons died from drug overdoses, and now they're pushing for immunity for 911 callers

Karen Linder of Omaha and Kim Brown of Davenport, Iowa, hope their experiences will help persuade lawmakers to grant immunity from prosecution to those who call 911 during a potential overdose.

Plan to provide Nebraskans with paid family, medical leave draws scrutiny in Legislature

State Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue said she is looking into the idea of a Nebraska paid family leave program that would operate much like unemployment insurance.

13-year-old was a champion of insurance coverage for autism therapy

Matthew Jankovich died in his sleep of a seizure, his mother said, even though a recently implanted vagus nerve stimulator had seemed to be controlling the epilepsy that accompanied his autism.

Legislature brainstorms how to pay for schools without relying on property taxes

A legislative “supercommittee” came up with plenty of ideas Thursday for reducing Nebraska’s heavy reliance on property taxes to pay for K-12 schools.

$946 million backlog

Nebraska looks at infrastructure bank to address unfinished expressways

Wednesday’s public hearing was the first in a series planned by the Transportation Committee on the road- and bridge-building needs of the state and local governments.

Like Uber, Lyft 
now can operate legally in Nebraska

The Public Service Commission approved Lyft’s application under a law approved earlier this year by the Nebraska Legislature. Uber won approval in July.

Oil, gas regulations to get new scrutiny in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A proposed wastewater dumping site in western Nebraska is prompting lawmakers to take a new look at the state's oil and natural gas regulations, which opponents say are too lax.

Third candidate announces bid for Legislature's District 25 seat

Suzanne Geist hopes to represent east Lincoln and northeastern Lancaster County. The seat is currently held by State Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln, who is term limited and cannot seek re-election.

Legislators open Pandora's box: sex education

Members of the Education Committee get an earful at an interim study hearing; some speakers contend that Nebraska schools do a poor job of educating students about relationships and sexual health and call for  comprehensive sex education, while others argue for abstinence-based instruction.

Retired teacher from South Omaha to run for Heath Mello's legislative seat

Carol Krejci taught social studies for 25 years at Omaha Central High School and at Ralston High School before that.

Audit concludes that when it comes to making rules, state agencies need better rules

A performance audit looked into whether State Corrections officials and other state agencies sidestep a process that requires public notice and hearings before an administrative rule can be changed or adopted.

Gov. Ricketts to 'wait and see' on Ralston aid; also promises plan for property, income tax cuts

Gov. Pete Ricketts, in an interview Wednesday, didn’t rule out the possibility of additional state assistance for the City of Ralston.

Elmshaeuser to run for Panhandle Legislature seat

Karl Elmshaeuser, an economic developer from Ogallala, announced Thursday that he is a candidate for the District 47 seat in the Nebraska Legislature.

Lincoln attorney announces bid for Nebraska Legislature

A Lincoln attorney has announced a bid for the Nebraska Legislature in a district that includes eastern parts of the city and Lancaster County.

New Nebraska laws in effect today: Higher marriage fees, underage drinking, nurse practitioners

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A host of new laws took effect Sunday in Nebraska, leading to changes ranging from costlier marriage licenses to expanded opportunities for nonviolent prisoners to be released for parole and probation.

World-Herald editorial: Serious issue, sober debate

The Nebraska Constitution is clear.

Ralston Arena plan: Legislative bailout for taxpayers a long shot, lawmakers say

In response to the arena’s financial problems, Ralston Mayor Don Groesser will propose a 34 percent property tax increase and a new restaurant tax in the city.

After narrow loss in 2012, Mike Hilgers to run again for Nebraska Legislature seat

Mike Hilgers will take a second run at representing northwest Lincoln in the Nebraska Legislature.

Fortenberry takes complaints of slow mail delivery to U.S. postmaster; days later, his town hall invites get delayed

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska recently sent a letter to the U.S. postmaster sharing Nebraskans’ grievances over slow mail delivery. Then, just days later, Fortenberry found himself with a major snail mail gripe of his own.

UNL prof, lawmaker offer free test drives of Tesla eletric cars

The owner of the trio of Teslas, Donald Cox, a visiting professor of electrical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, offered the free test drives along with his friend, State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, to show people the potential of electric cars.

ACLU asks feds to investigate Nebraska officials for trying to obtain lethal injection drug

Nebraska officials continue to try to import a fresh batch of sodium thiopental from India, despite at least five letters and emails from federal agencies stating that the drug is prohibited from entering the country, according to information the ACLU said it obtained through a public records request.

Appointee's job is no obstacle to her serving in Nebraska Legislature

Newly appointed State Sen. Nicole Fox of Omaha will not have to quit her day job to serve in the Nebraska Legislature.

Nutrition specialist to finish Jeremy Nordquist's term in South Omaha legislative district

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Nicole Fox's appointment Tuesday morning. She was sworn in soon after to replace State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, who resigned the District 7 seat to take a job in Washington, D.C.

Man found in Capitol with cut on arm taken to Lincoln hospital

LINCOLN — State Capitol authorities were still investigating why a man with a cut on his arm was inside the building on Tuesday.

Ex-Grand Island City Administrator Zachary Zoul, 57, running for legislative seat now held by Mike Gloor

After working for 17 years in local government, Zoul has spent the last 18 years in the hotel management, property development and real estate. 

Under 'direct primary care' plan, patients would pay flat rate in lieu of health insurance

Nebraskans could have a new option for getting basic health care under legislation planned by an Omaha lawmaker: Pay a flat monthly fee to the family doctor, typically $40 to $100, and sidestep insurance.

Nebraska families may launch medical marijuana ballot initiative — despite lawmakers' vow to address issue next session

Parents with sick children who lobbied for a measure that stalled in this year's session of the Nebraska Legislature have formed a new nonprofit, Nebraska Families 4 Medical Cannabis, to explore a citizen-led petition drive.

Most testify in support of 200-bed Hastings prison for mentally ill inmates

If the state decides to build a proposed $42 million facility here to treat mentally ill inmates, this central Nebraska community would welcome it with open arms.

Both sides brace as decision on Keystone XL pipeline nears

A federal permit decision on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline could come any time, based on a spate of recent reports.

Nebraska has issued 1,300 driver's licenses to kids of people living in U.S. illegally

Nebraska was the last state to withhold driver’s licenses from those accepted into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

‘Staggering’ cost of death penalty is a debate line no one claims

Arguments for and against capital punishment have cited a 2008 quote about its alleged effect on taxpayers

Real estate agent from Fremont to seek District 15 legislative seat

Lynne Walz of Fremont, a real estate agent and former school teacher, announced Thursday that she will seek election to represent District 15 in the Nebraska Legislature.

Stricter state benefits requirements may soon call for jobless to make 5 contacts a week with employers

Under proposed changes to the state’s “work search” requirements, Nebraskans on unemployment would be required to make five contacts a week with potential employers, up from the current two a week.

Ernie Chambers, David Kofoed find common ground: They both oppose death penalty

The state senator and the disgraced former crime lab director exchanged letters recently discussing their shared beliefs on the death penalty.

Record $14 million spent on lobbyists for Nebraska Legislature

Jack Gould said he believes the major factors driving up spending include the growing number of groups hiring lobbyists and growing compensation for lobbyists.

Grace: In death penalty crusade, Pete Ricketts not as in sync as he thinks

The church is not as vocal or absolute on the issue as it is on, say, abortion. This may explain why Catholics are split on the death penalty and why some — like Ricketts — even find justification for it in church teaching.

Vitamin store agrees to stop selling product with BMPEA

Attorney General Doug Peterson announced Thursday that the state has reached agreement with Vitamin Shoppe to ban the sale of products containing BMPEA, an amphetamine-like substance.

Kearney City Councilman Bob Lammers is running for Nebraska Legislature seat now held by Speaker Hadley

Lammers, 60, will seek the District 37 seat now held by Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.

Former Omaha Fire Chief Mike McDonnell running for legislative seat now held by Heath Mello

McDonnell, a 49-year-old Democrat, was an Omaha firefighter for 24 years, including the last six as chief. He retired in 2013 and is now teaching at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Retired teacher Ardel Bengtson announces plans to run for Legislature

Ardel Bengtson, 67, of South Sioux City, will seek the 17th District seat now held by State Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins.

Parents of woman killed by Nikko Jenkins join effort to get death penalty on ballot

“Unfortunately, there are a few individuals in this world who are just purely evil, and no amount of resources or medication provided to them is going to change it,” said Teri Roberts, whose daughter, Andrea Kruger, was murdered in 2013.

In runs for Legislature, three are in familiar territory

Anna Wishart, 30, a legislative aide, and Dick Clark, 34, a former policy aide to the governor, have both announced their candidacies in Lincoln’s 27th District; Larry Scherer of Raymond, the director of research with the state teachers union and a longtime former committee counsel at the State Legislature, is campaigning in District 21.

World-Herald editorial: Nebraska sets good example on budgets

The past month saw a scramble by about two dozen states to complete their budgets before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

With American Heroes Park, Bellevue is turning industrial land into a must-see nature spot

A fishing pier and paved walking trail are in the works for American Heroes Park, the former site of a power plant in Bellevue.

Grand Island electrical utility mechanic will run for District 35 legislative seat

Dan Quick, an electrical utility mechanic and union leader, has announced that he will run to represent Grand Island’s District 35 in the Nebraska Legislature.

Chambers criticizes Ricketts for donating $100,000 to death penalty effort

State accountability commission says it's unusual but not illegal for a governor to contribute to a referendum drive; Chambers says governor is trying to "buy influence," while Ricketts says he might give more money to the cause.

Ricketts seeks applicants for Jeremy Nordquist's South Omaha seat in Legislature

Nordquist, a Democrat, served seven years representing Legislative District 7, which includes the downtown area. He resigned to work as chief of staff for Rep. Brad Ashford.

Ricketts defends donation to death penalty petition group

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that he feels strongly that voters should be allowed to decide whether to keep capital punishment in the state.

Ernie Chambers calls Madison County attorney 'The Bungler,' alleges he cost taxpayers $1.3M

Chambers sent the Norfolk newspaper a copy of a June 25 memo he wrote in which he criticized Smith after the county attorney was featured in a newspaper article saying the Legislature’s repeal of the death penalty in Nebraska was a disgrace. Asked about the memo, Smith took issue with Chambers’ statements and questioned the newsworthiness of the memo itself.

Nebraska Sen. Nordquist submits resignation; headed to job with Ashford

Jeremy Nordquist's final day in office is Tuesday. The lawmaker was first elected to the Legislature in 2008, representing part of downtown Omaha and the South Omaha district. He announced last month that he is moving to Washington to serve as Rep. Brad Ashford's chief of staff.

Pete and Joe Ricketts have contributed $200,000 to pro-death penalty group

Nebraskans for the Death Penalty released some preliminary figures Friday on contributions and expenditures, ahead of a Tuesday deadline to report its financials to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

Nebraska Legislature candidates jump into 2016 race early; term limits mean some key state senators can't seek re-election

The Nebraska Legislature will see another round of turnover in the 2016 election, with 12 of its 49 seats opening because of term limits. The 12 seats include those of Sens. Kathy Campbell, Ken Haar and Colby Coash. Thirteen incumbents will have the chance to seek re-election. 

Lincoln doctor Les Spry to seek District 25 legislative seat

The kidney specialist is running for the legislative seat now held by State Sen. Kathy Campbell, who cannot run again because of term limits.

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