Obama stresses State of Union themes in Nebraska

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE

Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Stressing themes from his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged the country to respond to economic and other societal changes with confidence instead of fear.

Alluding to the fierce campaign to succeed him that’s taking place in neighboring Iowa, Obama told a crowd of 11,000 at the University of Nebraska-Omaha that ``I like talking about hope and all the good stuff that’s going on.’’ The first votes in

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Ricketts requests property tax reform, no Medicaid expansion

By GRANT SCHULTE

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts urged lawmakers Thursday to pass a package of bills meant to slow the statewide growth in property taxes and to reject any proposals that expand Medicaid under the federal health care law.

“We need to grow Nebraska’s economy, create more and better paying jobs, keep our kids and grandkids here, and attract people from all over the country to come and make Nebraska their home,” Ricketts said, outlining his

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Bill would waive drug charges during medical emergencies

By ANNA GRONEWOLD

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska lawmaker is proposing a legal immunity for drug-users who call for help during a medical emergency, saying America’s rising rates of drug overdose deaths demand it.

Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln will introduce a bill this week that would shield users from possession charges if they seek help for themselves or someone else who is overdosing.

Morfeld said too many drug-users won’t call 911 in life-threatening emergencies

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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 (http://bit.ly/1SOM5sz ) that a state investigator says the Vantines, of

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Nebraska senators advance bill to encourage organ donations

By ANNA GRONEWOLD

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

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Ricketts proposes ‘structural’ changes for property taxes

By GRANT SCHULTE

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

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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

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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

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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

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