Couple accused of neglecting cattle in Nebraska Panhandle

HARRISON, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska Panhandle couple have been accused of neglecting cattle.

Court records say 25-year-old Calinda Vantine and 33-year-old Calvin Vantine are charged with felony animal neglect resulting in death or injury. Calinda Vantine said Wednesday that they couldn’t comment until checking with their attorney. A preliminary hearing for them is scheduled for Feb. 5.

Chadron radio station KCSR reports ( ) that a state investigator says the Vantines, of


Nebraska senators advance bill to encourage organ donations


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Legislature easily advanced a bill to encourage drivers to be organ donors despite a six-hour debate about “forced speech” and misleading language.

Lawmakers voted 32-8 Tuesday on a measure by Syracuse Sen. Dan Watermeier that would require applicants for drivers’ licenses or ID cards to answer whether or not they would like to be an organ donor.

When Nebraskans register for licenses or ID cards, answering the question is optional. Only 55


Ricketts proposes ‘structural’ changes for property taxes


Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and two key lawmakers unveiled a plan Tuesday designed to address the underlying causes of rising property taxes.

The proposals would tighten spending and levy limits on local governments and restrict the assessed growth in farm- and ranchland property values. They also would cap the growth rate of school district spending and the amounts that districts can stash in their cash reserves.

Property taxes are


Iowa, Nebraska post record corn and soybean crops

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - It is a record year for Iowa and Nebraska crop farmers.

The final harvest report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Iowa farmers brought in 2.5 billion bushels of corn, 4 percent higher than the 2009 record. Iowa has led the nation in corn production for 22 consecutive years. The average per-acre yield of 192 bushels also is a new record.

Soybean farmers did very well too producing a record crop and the nation’s largest soybean bounty, beating


Bill would allow forced entry into cars to save an animal

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Good Samaritans who break into a locked car to save a pet could be shielded from criminal charges and lawsuits under a proposal in the Nebraska Legislature.

Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha introduced a bill Tuesday that would grant immunity to a person who damages a vehicle to save an animal locked inside.

The measure would only apply if there was no other reasonable way to save the animal, and if the person believed the animal was in imminent danger.

The bill would also


Nebraska bill would create veterans’ treatment court

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska lawmaker is pushing for a special new court that would focus on veterans.

Sen. John McCollister of Omaha introduced a bill Tuesday that would create the court for a three-year pilot project in Douglas County.

Veterans’ treatment courts have gained popularity in recent years as a way to treat current and former service members who are charged with minor offenses and suffering from service-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

The bill would


Nebraska lawmakers reject effort to open leadership votes

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers have once again rejected an effort to open their committee leadership votes to public scrutiny.

Senators voted down a proposed rule Monday that would have required them to disclose their votes when electing committee leaders and a speaker. Senators vote publicly on bills and amendments, but choose legislative leaders using a secret ballot.

Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion introduced the measure as he has in past years, arguing that lawmakers should be


Nebraska presses preventative measures for school safety

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s school security director wants districts to improve security by identifying and reporting potential attackers before they strike.

The Omaha World-Herald ( ) reports that Jolene Palmer is recommending a set of guidelines that call for school districts to use “behavioral threat assessments” standards to identify and report suspicion or concern.

The recommendations, developed by a committee that included Nebraska teachers and law enforcement


Bill would require Nebraska students to pass civics exam

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska could require high school students to pass the federal government’s civics exam for United States citizenship if a bill in the Legislature becomes law.

Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha introduced a measure Monday that would require students to answer at least 70 percent of the test’s questions correctly before they graduate. If passed, the bill would go into effect during the 2017 school year.

The Joe Foss Institute, a civic education group that champions the measure

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