Some doubt bill’s ability to ‘shift back’ rural tax load

Nebraska’s main property tax problem seems pretty clear: Farmers and ranchers are paying a much higher portion of the local property tax bill than they did a few years ago. But, after an afternoon-long hearing, it’s also pretty clear there is a lot of disagreement on how to solve the problem.

Father whose daughter died from carbon monoxide poisoning lends voice to proposal on detectors

He cites his daughter’s death as a state senator seeks new standards for installing  carbon monoxide detectors. 

Ricketts says state will make improvements on puppy mill enforcement

Gov. Pete Ricketts, in a conference call with reporters, said the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and its director, Greg Ibach, are taking steps to improve its inspection and enforcement programs to address the concerns raised by Hearts United for Animals.

State of the Judiciary address

Chief justice: Funds for prison alternatives are helping criminals stay clean and saving taxpayers millions

Money approved last year to expand Nebraska’s alternatives to prison already is showing results, Chief Justice Michael Heavican told lawmakers Thursday.

Senator withdraws bill that unintentionally repeals citizens' public records rights

LINCOLN — A bill that would have limited access to public records in Nebraska has been withdrawn.

Ernie Chambers rips proposed $35 fee increase for marriage license

A proposal to raise the fee from $15 to $50 ran into a firestorm of opposition Wednesday from State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who promised to prolong debate on the idea until it is withdrawn.

Retirees, veterans appeal to lawmakers for larger tax incentives

Military veterans and retirees asked state lawmakers Wednesday to further reduce their taxes and make Nebraska more competitive with neighboring states that have more generous tax breaks.

Legislative Bills 38, 39 could help prevent what cyclists fear most: getting hit or killed

Puppy mill foes fight reappointment of Nebraska agriculture director

The opponents told state lawmakers that Ibach has allowed “cruel neglect” of animals at dog breeding operations to continue, and even worsen, under his watch.

Bill to restore smoking in Nebraska cigar bars makes it out of committee

LINCOLN — Cigar smokers moved a step closer to again being able to light up in specially licensed bars.

Opponents find 'no last call' bill a little hard to swallow

Despite testimony from eight opponents and no proponents, bill’s introducer says it would allow free market system to work.

Proposal would allow for faster-paced keno

The renewed effort to expand gambling in the state draws out opponents who call the changes unnecessary.

'Nebraska 150' license plate bill advances to Legislature

Nebraska is one step closer to creating new license plates that would recognize the state's 150th anniversary.

Chance or skill?

Lawmaker, bar-game distributors target 'Skill Touch' slot machine seen as illegal

Legal-game distributors back imposing taxes on ones like "Skill Touch" to get rid of them.

Sponsor says he didn't know bill limited Nebraskans' access to public records

A legislative bill that would limit Nebraskans’ access to public records wasn’t vetted thoroughly and will be amended, its sponsor said Friday.

Bill would allow electric-powered bikes in bike lanes, bike paths

Senators advanced the proposal on Monday with a 33-0 vote.

Ricketts calls for more property tax relief, military-friendly moves in State of the State speech

The new governor outlined a budget that would put an additional $60 million a year into the state’s property tax credit fund. The increase would bring the total available for property tax credits to around $200 million annually.

No last call for alcohol? Few seem to think that will happen

State Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill proposed a bill on Jan. 15 that would allow bars and liquor stores to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if that’s what owners want.

Senators call for passing bills to fix Nebraska's 'broken prison system'

At least 10 bills have been introduced this session to address the ills at the Department of Correctional Services, and the five senators at a Friday press conference said the proposals could change significantly, depending on input of the state’s new prison director.

Omaha area school chiefs grateful for legislation to overhaul Learning Community

Many of the superintendents’ recommendations for reducing the cost and improving the effectiveness of the Learning Community are embedded in legislation proposed by State Sen. Kate Sullivan. But she didn't propose dropping the common tax levy.

Gun permits to protect private schools spur debate during legislative hearing, attract major foe — Ernie Chambers

A bill heard by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday would allow private schools and colleges to decide whether the holders of concealed gun permits can serve as school security.

With legislative bill proposed by Sen. Mello, ride-sharing debate moves into new lane

Mello’s Legislative Bill 629 covers driver background checks, vehicle inspections, age and insurance coverage requirements, liability, record-keeping and operating fees, and gives the Nebraska Public Service Commission the authority to regulate ride-sharing services.

With Nebraska Legislature's more conservative bent, voter ID measures face clearer path in ’15

The more conservative makeup of the Nebraska Legislature adds steam to two bills as hearings begin today

Medical marijuana legalization bill introduced for first time in Nebraska

State Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue and three other senators introduced Legislative Bill 643, a measure titled the "Cannabis Compassion and Care Act."

Bill would grant driver's licenses to many young immigrants

State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha announced his proposal to roll back former Gov. Dave Heineman's policy of denying driver’s licenses to immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were children. 

Prison reform, Learning Community, charter schools among topics of legislative bills introduced Wednesday

Nebraska lawmakers wrapped up bill introduction for the year Wednesday, and other subjects covered by proposed legislation were regulation of ride-sharing services, a ban on the use of hand-held cellphones while driving and legal poker games.

Read Gov. Pete Ricketts' State of the State speech

Ricketts delivered his first State of the State speech Thursday.

New bills in Legislature deal with discrimination against gay Nebraskans

One would ban employment discrimination, one bars discrimination against potential foster parents and one would allow two unmarried people to adopt a child together.

Proposal to require bacterial meningitis vaccine for Nebraska 7th-graders gets support at legislative hearing

The bill, introduced by State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, would require all incoming Nebraska seventh-graders to be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. It also would require a booster vaccine for students after age 16.

Party buses would be regulated like bars under proposed bill

If party buses operate like bars on wheels, they should be regulated like bars on main street.

State of the State: Ricketts to propose boosting property tax credit fund by $60 million

Property tax relief is expected to take center stage when Gov. Pete Ricketts delivers his first State of the State speech.

Lawmaker gears up for push to improve bicycling safety laws

State Sen. Rick Kolowski has introduced two measures in the Nebraska Legislature; one seeks a larger cushion of safety between bikes and cars sharing the roadway and the other proposes stiffer penalties for hitting cyclists.

Watch live: Gov. Pete Ricketts' State of the State address

Follow along with video and tweets beginning at 10 a.m.

Nebraska Farm Bureau endorses 4 property tax measures

President Steve Nelson said Tuesday that the bills would ease the financial burden on producers.

Papillion state senator introduces bill to abolish Learning Community

State Sen. Bill Kintner introduced Legislative Bill 421 on Friday, which would eliminate the Learning Community while continuing to freeze metro-area school district boundaries. Kintner has the governor on his side.

Lawmakers fight to restore smoking in Nebraska cigar bars

Some state lawmakers are working to again exempt cigar bars from the state's public smoking ban — after the Nebraska Supreme Court declared lawmakers' first attempt to allow cigar patrons to light up unconstitutional.

Bills introduced in Nebraska Legislature include bid to end alcohol sales hours

Nebraska bars could do away with last call and liquor stores could help people party all night if one state lawmaker has his way.

Saying Nebraska has 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,' senators push for wind energy incentives

A group of senators are pushing for better incentives to encourage construction of wind farms in Nebraska, including a first-ever production tax credit. 

Bill would eliminate sales tax for Nebraska zoos, aquariums

Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha introduced a bill Friday to exempt zoos and aquariums from the tax. The bill would benefit Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, ranked No. 1 in the world this summer by travel website TripAdvisor.

Struggle for Nebraska prison fixes begins in earnest

On Wednesday, a proposal was introduced to spend $261 million on prison construction, while a national organization provided its final report on alternatives to incarceration that would avoid that eye-popping price tag.

2 bills proposed

Sex trafficking, edible marijuana are new Nebraska AG's top targets

New Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson called on state lawmakers Thursday to protect the state from the “terrible social experiment” that is legalized marijuana and to better guard children from human and sex traffickers.

Move to make leadership votes public falls short in Nebraska Legislature

Senators voted 12-33 against a motion to use public, roll call votes when choosing the new legislative speaker and committee chairmen.

Nebraska won't have mountain lion hunting season in 2015

Nebraska will not have a mountain lion hunting season this year, but the State Game and Parks Commission is launching an extensive three-year research project to study cougars.

Liquor licenses for cigar bars won't permit indoor smoking

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission's two members voted Wednesday to uphold recent action by their executive director to give cigar bars new liquor licenses minus the language that permits indoor smoking. 

Douglas County Republican Party leader proposes censuring State Sen. Bob Krist

The Omaha lawmaker voted against public roll call votes for Legislature leadership posts. 

Senator says bills to support veterans could help Nebraska keep Offutt Air Force Base

LINCOLN — Six state lawmakers unveiled bills Wednesday aimed at better supporting military veterans and their families in Nebraska.

In G.I., Platte Institute's Jim Vokal says prospects for tax cuts are strong

Help is on the way.

Among the bills introduced Wednesday: Death penalty repeal, raise sales tax for property tax relief

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers introduced his latest proposal to end capital punishment in Nebraska with Legislative Bill 268. The bill would replace the death sentence with a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole. It also would apply retroactively to the 11 inmates currently on Nebraska’s death row.

Nebraska Legislature's Rules Committee rejects proposal to drop secret ballots

But the push to switch to public, roll-call votes for speaker and committee chairmen may not be over for this year.

Scholarship tax credit bill back on the table in Nebraska Legislature

The proposed scholarship program might have helped keep open some of the Catholic grade schools that the Omaha Archdiocese has had to close in recent years by providing an alternative funding source, bill author Sen. Bob Krist says.

Legislative roundup: Bills offer judges more flexibility in sentencing criminals

Judges would get more discretion in sentencing criminals under a pair of bills introduced in the Nebraska Legislature Monday. The measures mark the first of what are expected to be several pieces of legislation addressing the state’s burgeoning prison population.

World-Herald editorial: New legislative session, new players

Nebraska state government has opened a new chapter on a positive note.

Gov. Ricketts: The future of our state continues to depend on our ability to pull together

Gov. Pete Ricketts used his Thursday inauguration address to broadly repeat his stated goals of cutting property taxes, strengthening the economy, opposing unreasonable regulations and improving career and vocational education.

Larson introduces bill to restore smoking in cigar bars and tobacco shops

State Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill said that his Legislative Bill 118 would not expand smoking to any new venues, just restore the status quo prior to what he called “a poorly written” Supreme Court opinion.

Legislative roundup: Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy’s bill would halt obesity testing in schools

Some 113 bills were proposed on the first day of bill introduction in the Legislature. We offer summaries of a few of them. 

Legislative roundup

Abortion clinics would be subject to tougher standards under bill proposed by Sen. McCoy

Legislative Bill 114 would require any clinic doing five or more abortions per month to be licensed as an ambulatory surgical center.

Full text of Gov. Pete Ricketts' inaugural speech

The new governor's speech was titled “We can grow Nebraska.”

2015 session kicks off

Nebraska lawmakers stick with age, experience in choosing Kearney Sen. Hadley as speaker

State Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney, a 72-year-old former college professor and administrator, was elected to the Legislature’s top leadership post on a 30-19 vote.

18 rookies in Nebraska Legislature start from scratch with new speaker, new governor

There’s an air of uncertainty and anticipation as the 90-day session of the Nebraska Legislature begins today. The 18 new state senators will take their seats in the 49-seat unicameral Legislature, and a new governor, Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts, will take office Thursday.

Nebraska cigar bars must go smoke-free when new liquor licenses arrive; senator plans new proposal

State Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill said he will introduce a measure that would allow cigar smoking in specially licensed bars and would pass constitutional muster. He said the bill would not create any new exemptions to the state smoking ban.

Outgoing speaker says Legislature's last session was 'rancorous,' 'politically charged'

This week, Greg Adams will be leaving public service and starting a new chapter in his life. The outgoing Speaker of the Legislature reflected on eight years as a state senator in a World-Herald News Service interview.


New faces, familiar focus in Nebraska Legislature

The newcomers have varied backgrounds but similar priorities: property tax relief and prison reform.

Nebraska, Iowa veterans will get a day to bend ears of state lawmakers

Veterans in Iowa and Nebraska will have the opportunity to speak with legislators on matters that affect them during legislative days at each state’s Capitol.

Q&A: Nebraska Legislature 101

The 104th Legislature convenes Jan. 7 in Lincoln. Here are a few details about how the body operates.

Fixing Nebraska's prison system is ‘No. 1 priority’ for coming legislative session, State Sen. Mello says

There's no lack of proposals for change, though the prospects for a bill to change good time rules are uncertain.

Some districts miss out on aid for poor students, including $15M that OPS left on the table this school year

OPS disregarded the millions — and five other Learning Community districts didn’t use all the poverty money they could have gotten under the current state aid formula — while other districts maximized their claims. An OPS official said the district takes a conservative approach to claiming poverty aid because of the penalties for overclaiming.

Raise in Nebraska's minimum wage, parts of juvenile justice overhaul among new state laws, changes for 2015

Among the other laws that went into effect Thursday: Spouses of severely disabled veterans could receive additional perks and Nebraska becomes the nation’s last state to create a public guardian office for vulnerable people who can’t make decisions on their own. 

Q&A with Mayor Stothert: Beginning Jan. 5, new trash pick-up days for 75% of Omahans

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said Tuesday on the World-Herald’s “10 Minutes With the Mayor” that residents can put out an unlimited number of trash containers for the first week or two because of the change.

State school aid may spark rural-urban struggle

]The Learning Community wants to use state money to end the common levy, while agriculture-heavy areas hope for property tax relief.

Momentum increases for property tax changes for Nebraskans

Gov.-elect Ricketts and lawmakers have heard the calls for an overhaul, but how is the question


Cougar hunting: 2015 season will hinge on cats’ population, another repeal attempt in Legislature

2015 season will hinge on cats’ population data and another repeal attempt in the Nebraska Legislature

Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts reappoints 3 state officials

They are John Albin, the commissioner of labor; Darrell Fisher, executive director of the Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice; and Ruth Sorensen, the property tax administrator within the Nebraska Department of Revenue.

Councilor Pete Festersen urges interim deal on ride-sharing ahead of legislation

Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen is urging the Nebraska Public Service Commission to work with ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft to develop an agreement that would let the companies legally operate in the state while lawmakers prepare to take up the matter in the forthcoming legislative session.

Lathrop slams Heineman criticism of prison investigation report

State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, who led the seven-month investigation into troubles in the state prison system, blasted recent criticism of the probe by Gov. Dave Heineman as “fictions and falsehoods.”

A day after Nativity scene erected, atheist sign posted in State Capitol

Scott Braley, a Lincoln electrical contractor, said he felt compelled to provide an atheist message after learning about the Nativity scene, placed in the Capitol by a Catholic-associated group, the Thomas More Society.

OPS board preparing for potential charter schools bills in Nebraska Legislature

School board members don’t want to be caught by surprise by any new measures in the next legislative session, which starts next month.

Outgoing HHS CEO says AccessNebraska report was overly harsh

Kerry Winterer, the chief executive officer of HHS, said in a letter released Friday that he “strongly” objected to a legislative report’s conclusion that the nearly seven-year-old AccessNebraska system was “largely a failure.”

No protests over Nebraska State Capitol Nativity scene; is a Festivus pole on the way?

While Nebraska’s display hasn't been controversial so far, efforts to place Nativity scenes at other state capitols have inspired competing displays and even funny business.

HHS audit uncovers $15 million in unused federal funds, Foley says

In a Dec. 10 letter to HHS, Mike Foley said that an as-yet completed audit uncovered about $15 million in federal funds over the past two years that could have been spent by the agency.

Report: AccessNebraska system is 'largely a failure'; committee blames Heineman administration

An unsparing report released Tuesday said Nebraska’s call center system for processing public benefits applications has been underfunded from the start and its goals frustrated by a lack of planning and poor implementation.

Nebraska Legislature's probe blames leadership vacuum, Gov. Heineman in prison mess

A legislative investigation of scandals within the state prison system released Monday blamed Gov. Dave Heineman for a lack of leadership in managing chronically overcrowded facilities.

Scribner cattle feeder replaces outgoing Sen. Janssen in Legislature

Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts announced during a ceremony Friday at the State Capitol that he selected David A. Schnoor from a list of five applicants to fill the District 15 seat in Dodge County.

Panel proposes regular review of state’s tax incentive programs

A legislative committee recommends that Nebraska review its tax incentive programs, such as the Advantage Act, every three years to make sure the incentives are meeting goals to create new jobs and boost the economy.

Former Red Oak, Iowa, school board member joins Senate race

The race for U.S. Sen.-elect Joni Ernst’s vacated Iowa State Senate seat now has six contenders.

5 apply to replace Sen. Charlie Janssen in Legislature

Janssen was elected state auditor this fall and will be leaving the Legislature. He has not announced a date for stepping down but will have to resign by Jan. 7, when the Legislature convenes.

Legislators support Ricketts' idea of donor-funded searches for 3 key state agency leaders

But the Nebraska Democratic Party says that using "special interests" isn’t the "Nebraska way."

Inmate furloughs helped public safety and state's budget, ex-Corrections chief Houston says

Bob Houston said this week that he supported greater use of parole and long-term furloughs to help address chronic prison overcrowding. 

Ricketts taps private funds to help pay for searches for 3 key state agency leaders

Pete Ricketts is soliciting private donations through the Greater Omaha Chamber Foundation to pay for executive search firms that would screen candidates to head the State Departments of Health and Human Services, Correctional Services and Economic Development.

More robust end-of-life directives put patients in charge of their care

Most commonly called physician orders for life-sustaining treatment, these end-of-life documents translate treatment wishes of people with terminal or serious medical conditions into doctor's orders that carry across health care settings, from the patient's home to the hospital.

State loses leverage to get some Nebraska inmates' DNA

The Nebraska Supreme Court rules that a law taking away good time credit was wrongly used in one inmate's case.

Democratic official calls for special prosecutor to probe Nebraska prison scandals

Party Chairman Vince Powers said testimony from Parole Board Chairwoman Esther Casmer conflicted with accounts given by Gov. Dave Heineman last month. 

Legislature's investigation committee

Chairwoman says Parole Board felt pressured by ex-prisons chief, Heineman's top aide to release more inmates

In testimony Tuesday before a special legislative committee, Esther Casmer, chairwoman of the Nebraska Parole Board, also said she felt that she and a fellow board member were threatened with losing their jobs.

Taking aim at state's record book

Ernie Chambers could become state’s oldest senator since at least 1937

Nebraska’s longest-serving and arguably best-known state senator could be headed for more legislative records. State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha plans to seek re-election in 2016; it would be his 12th time running to represent north Omaha in the Legislature.

City Council to Nebraska Legislature: Public safety is Omaha's No. 1 priority

The council has approved a legislative agenda that puts a heavy emphasis on the state’s criminal code, including penalties for fake guns and changes in the good time law.

Stothert, Heineman tout $28M in Omaha-area road projects

The projects on Interstates 80 and 680 were funded by a 2011 law called the Build Nebraska Act. That law, which sets aside a quarter of a percent in sales taxes for roads, is projected to bring in about $1.2 billion over 10 years.

Omaha City Council readies proposals for legislative session

Public safety and tax incentives are common themes for 2015.

Nebraska Supreme Court won't reconsider elimination of smoking-ban exemption for cigar bars

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the state’s motion to reconsider an Aug. 29 ruling that threw out the cigar bar and tobacco shop exemptions to the statewide smoking ban.

UNMC willing to oversee medical study of hemp oil to treat seizures

An important ally has joined the push to legalize the use of hemp oil extract to treat uncontrollable seizures.

Heineman, Ricketts say lawmakers should consider scrapping Learning Community

At a news conference today at the State Capitol, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said the Learning Community "really hasn't worked out the way everybody envisioned."

Nebraska Legislature

Pete Ricketts can expect a more comfortable shade of red in Statehouse

Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts should have plenty of friends in the Nebraska Legislature next year to help pass his conservative agenda.

Legislature essentials

Nebraska Legislature links

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