Nebraska senator proposes ‘Right to Farm’ amendment

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A state senator from rural Nebraska has proposed a ballot measure to guarantee farming and ranching rights in the state constitution.

Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell introduced an amendment Wednesday that would prevent state officials from passing restrictions on agricultural technology and livestock production without a compelling state interest.

Missouri and North Dakota passed similar “Right to Farm” measures after rural lawmakers argued that farming needed to be

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Nebraska lawmaker proposes stricter seat belt safety law

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska law enforcement could pull over drivers who are not wearing their seat belts under a measure proposed in the Legislature.

Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha introduced a bill Wednesday that would change not wearing a seat belt from a secondary to a primary offense.

Current Nebraska law allows police to ticket drivers who aren’t buckled up, but only if they have first been pulled over for another infraction. The law applies to front seat drivers and young children.

Krist’s

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State regulators again approve Keystone XL oil pipeline

By JAMES NORD

Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - State regulators approved again on Tuesday the portion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would go through South Dakota, despite the project’s stalled status at the federal level.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission’s decision also hinges on a requirement that TransCanada Corp. get a presidential permit for the project. President Barack Obama blocked the pipeline in November, but it could be revived under the next

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Nebraska lawmakers elect new retirement committee chairman

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers have chosen a new chairman to the committee that reviews bills related to public employee retirement benefits.

Senators on Wednesday elected state Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward. Kolterman replaces state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, who led the committee until he resigned last year to take a new job in Washington.

The Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee focuses on legislation that affects the retirement benefits of state, county and school district

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Nebraska begins 2016 session with looming budget shortfall

By GRANT SCHULTE and ANNA GRONEWOLD

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers kicked off the 2016 session Wednesday with an expected focus on property taxes and a looming state budget shortfall.

Senators, staff members and other onlookers filled the legislative chamber at the outset of the short, 60-day session, which will require lawmakers and Gov. Pete Ricketts to fill a projected $110 million shortfall in the current state budget.

Ricketts has identified property tax cuts

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Prosecutor, lawmaker want grand jury deliberations opened

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A veteran prosecutor and Nebraska state senator want the veil of secrecy lifted from grand jury investigations into police shootings.

Sen. Ernie Chambers said he’ll work with Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine on legislation that would let open the doors to the jury hearings. Under Nebraska law, grand juries must review the actions of officers and jailers whenever someone dies in custody or in the process of being apprehended.

Chambers is on the Legislature’s Judiciary

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Taxes, prisons, roads surface as big issues in 2016 session

By GRANT SCHULTE

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers will convene a new session with a long priority list but significant obstacles that could undermine some of what they hope to accomplish.

With just 60 days scheduled for the session, which starts Wednesday, lawmakers and Gov. Pete Ricketts will have to fill a projected $110 million state budget shortfall in a relatively short time. A slowdown in state revenue could widen the gap, making it even harder to pass

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Report: Nebraska overuses solitary confinement for juveniles

By GRANT SCHULTE

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska is overusing solitary confinement for juveniles and has no statewide policies or oversight to ensure that the punishment is applied uniformly at different facilities, according to a report released Monday.

The report by the ACLU of Nebraska says some juveniles have been placed in isolation for minor rule violations, such as talking back to staff members, having too many books or refusing to follow directions.

The group also

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Mild earthquake rattled central Nebraska, authorities say

BROKEN BOW, Neb. (AP) - Federal authorities say a mild earthquake has rattled central Nebraska.

U.S. Geological Survey website says the 3.5 magnitude quake struck just after 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 4 about 10 miles northeast of Broken Bow in Custer County. No damage or injuries have been reported.

The temblor could be felt as far away as Grand Island.

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