Ricketts to focus on property taxes and prisons in 2016


Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Gov. Pete Ricketts will push for a new property tax relief package when lawmakers reconvene this week as well as a $26 million proposal to add more beds to Nebraska’s overcrowded prison system.

Ricketts acknowledged that major tax reforms will have to come “one step at a time” over many years.

But the Republican governor expressed confidence that he and lawmakers will make progress despite a short legislative session, a looming budget


New Nebraska unemployment rules confusing some people

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s new rules for unemployment benefits are generally earning praise, but some people have been tripped up by one of the requirements.

Last fall, Nebraska increased the number of job contacts people must make each week to qualify for unemployment benefits to five from two. But the Omaha World-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1YVukYj ) that some applicants are missing a requirement that one of those contacts must be made through the state’s jobs site.

Maddy Hager said


Nebraska minimum wage to rise to $9 an hour in new year

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s minimum wage is increasing by $1 to $9 an hour in 2016.

The increase for non-tipped workers starts Friday. It’s up from $8 an hour in 2015 and $7.25 before that.

The minimum wage increase is the final phase of a two-step hike approved by voters in 2014 following a petition drive, the Lincoln Journal-Star (http://bit.ly/1JMdfcc ) reported. Nebraska’s last minimum wage increase before that was in 2009.

Kathy Siefken, executive director of the Nebraska Grocery


Authorities say remains in barrel those of Colorado man

BAYARD, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraskan accused of killing a Colorado man and stuffing the body into a barrel found in a creek remains in Wyoming to face charges in that state.

It’s unclear when 24-year-old Zachary Mueller, of Bridgeport, will return to Nebraska to face murder and weapons charges. He is accused of killing 33-year-old Pedro Dominguez, of Greeley, Colorado.

A farmer found the barrel in a creek near Bayard, Nebraska, on Dec. 4. Dominguez had been shot in the back of the head.



Memorial ride kicks off commemoration of Wounded Knee


Rapid City Journal

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Hunkering down after many hours of riding through the cold on horseback, Jean Fleury - the lead organizer of the Chief Big Foot Band Memorial Ride - took photos of the rising moon one day last week and thought about Wounded Knee.

It was there, 125 years ago this week, that the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry killed a large number of Oglala Lakota tribal members, an event considered by historians the final bloody chapter of the Indian Wars


Abolition of death penalty the top Nebraska story for 2015


Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Newspaper and broadcast members of The Associated Press have voted the Legislature’s abolition of the state’s death penalty as the top Nebraska news story for 2015.

The measure passed on May 20 with the unusual backing from conservative lawmakers who oppose capital punishment for religious, financial and practical reasons. A week later the senators overrode a veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts, who condemned the action and said: “My words cannot


New specialty Nebraska license plates to feature corn

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - State officials are now taking applications for a new Nebraska license plate that prominently features corn.

The specialty license plates will be produced if the state receives at least 500 applications for them with payment.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association developed the license plates with a large ear of corn in front of a field ready to be harvested.

The trade group’s president Larry Mussack says the license plates show support for Nebraska’s top crop and for


$9 minimum wage, tax breaks to go into effect in 2016


Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska residents earning the minimum wage will get a raise to $9 an hour when the new year begins, and farmers, businesses and zoos will get new tax breaks.

Eight state laws passed during this year’s legislative session will go into effect on Friday, as well as the final phase of the minimum wage ballot measure approved by voters in November 2014.

Here’s a look at the major changes and what they mean for the state:



Sidney’s former police chief continues to appeal verdict

SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) - Sidney’s former police chief has filed a challenge to his conviction and 30-day jail sentence for obstructing government operations.

The lawyer for Byron Wilkinson filed the appeal in the Nebraska Appeals Court earlier this month.

Wilkinson was convicted July 17, after pleading no contest. The charge stems from what state prosecutors said was Wilkinson’s failure to pursue a criminal case against then-city Public Works Director John Hehnke, after Hehnke’s ex-girlfriend

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