Judge in Texas blocks federal rules change for gay couples AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas has blocked temporarily federal rules that would have expanded medical leave benefits to some gay couples. In a 24-page ruling filed Thursday in Wichita Falls, Texas, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor granted a preliminary injunction that stays expansion of the definition of "spouse" under the Family and Medical Leave Act to include same-sex couples. Texas filed suit last week to block Friday's implementation of the change. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that complying with the new regulations would have forced state agencies to either violate federal rules or a 2005 gay-marriage ban in the Texas Constitution. Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska joined the lawsuit. A Justice Department spokeswoman says the opinion was under review and it's not immediately clear how many states are affected.
Colorado to defend pot law for 1st time DENVER (AP) — Colorado is defending its pot law for the first time Friday in a filing due to the U.S. Supreme Court. Friday is the deadline for Colorado to respond to a legal challenge from Oklahoma and Nebraska. The lawsuit challenges Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana and is one of four lawsuits that aim to dismantle the young industry. Colorado's neighbors claim that the 2012 pot legalization vote has sent the drug flooding across Colorado's borders. Three other lawsuits have been filed since Nebraska and Oklahoma sued. One was filed by a hotel owner in Colorado who argues legal weed is hurting his business. Another is from a southern Colorado landowner who says legal weed is hurting property values. The fourth lawsuit comes from county sheriffs in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.
5 people watched for Ebola in Nebraska still healthy OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The American aid workers brought to Nebraska who were exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone continue to show no symptoms of the deadly virus. Nebraska Medical Center spokesman Taylor Wilson said Thursday that all five of the individuals who were brought to Omaha earlier this month for monitoring continue to do well. Wilson said local health officials will determine when the individuals can be released from monitoring. Ebola has a 21-day incubation period. The health care workers were exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone when one of their colleagues became ill with the deadly virus. They are all staying on the Nebraska Medical Center's campus while they are being monitored. The Omaha hospital treated three patients with Ebola last fall in its specialized biocontainment unit.
Nebraska senators delay vote to repeal prairie dog law LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers have postponed a vote on bill that would prevent counties from killing black-tailed prairie dogs when residents complain about the animals on their property. Lawmakers adjourned for the week on Thursday without taking action. Sen. Al Davis, a rancher from Hyannis, is trying to kill the measure. The 2012 law gives counties the power to adopt management programs to keep them from spreading. Advocates say the animals are an important native species and the current law infringes on private property rights. Opponents say counties have the right to intervene because prairie dogs ravage ranchland by digging holes that can injure cattle and damage equipment. Senator Galen Hadley, the speaker of the Legislature, says debate on the bill will continue early next week. The bill is LB 128.
Omaha metro area getting closer to population of 1 million OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area is edging closer to having a population of 1 million after eclipsing 900,000 people for the first time last year. The World-Herald reports that U.S. Census Bureau data places the metro area's population at an estimated 904,421 people. The Omaha metro area includes Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Washington and Saunders counties in Nebraska; and Pottawattamie, Mills and Harrison counties in Iowa. David Drozd of the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Center for Public Affairs Research and chamber of commerce officials say there are benefits to hitting the one million mark. According to them, some larger businesses and high-end retailers will only consider locating to cities with more than a million residents. According to Drozd, Omaha, which is the 60th-largest metro in the United States, should reach 1 million by 2023.
Iowa softball coach convicted of 4 counts of sexual abuse COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A western Iowa youth softball coach accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old friend of his daughter has been convicted of four counts of sexual abuse. The Omaha World-Herald reports that 47-year-old John Osborn, of Council Bluffs, was found guilty Thursday of third-degree sexual abuse in a nonjury trial. He faces up to 40 years in prison at his May 1st sentencing hearing. Council Bluffs police say the girl and Osborn began exchanging text messages in June and had phone conversations about sex. Court documents show the girl reported that she and Osborn engaged in sexual acts in July when the girl stayed at Osborn's house for a sleepover with his daughter. Osborn has denied willingly touching the teen and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Father sues former Husker after son's fundraiser LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A father has sued a former University of Nebraska football player who hosted a fundraiser for the man's son, claiming he didn't receive money raised at the November event. Dan Walker filed the lawsuit last week against P.J. Smith, safety for the Huskers from 2009 to 2012, and Scott Wuethrich. Walker alleges the men withheld most donations made on his 11-year-old-son's behalf, who's recovering after being hit by a truck in October. Walker claims Smith and Wuethrich kept all donations except for $1,031, which he says he used to buy Christmas gifts for his six kids. The lawsuit seeks compensation for all money raised at the fundraiser or later by selling donated items. Smith, Wuethrich and lawyers declined to comment or didn't return calls from the Lincoln Journal Star.
Fremont police: 8-year-old girl's death not suspicious FREMONT, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say the death of an 8-year-old girl who was injured before being involved in a Fremont collision does not appear to be suspicious. The Fremont Police Department said in a news release Thursday that officers were dispatched a little after 7:15 p.m. Wednesday to handle a report of a vehicle collision. The officers were told after they arrived that someone involved already had been taken to Fremont Health Medical Center. The officers learned at the hospital that Eva Imus had died. Police say the girl sustained a head injury in an accident at a Fremont residence prior to the traffic accident. An autopsy has been planned and the case remains under investigation, but police say Eva's death appears accidental.
Scottsbluff man convicted of beating girlfriend's 3-year-old SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — A 25-year-old Scottsbluff man has been convicted of beating his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter. Court records say Cody Olbricht was found guilty on Wednesday of intentional child abuse resulting in serious injury. Sentencing is scheduled for May 1st. Records say the girl was hospitalized in September after her grandmother noticed the girl had a fever and was lethargic and vomiting. Doctors determined the girl had several injuries, including a lacerated liver and a brain contusion. A court document says Scottsbluff police inspected the home and found little food in the refrigerator. Police say clothes and bedding in the girl's room were stained with urine and stank. The girl's mother, 25-year-old Cassandra Miller, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of negligent child abuse. Her trial is scheduled to begin July 6th.
31-year-old shows up in Nebraska court nearly 12 years late COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — A 31-year-old man finally has faced the music in court for possessing alcohol when he was a 19-year-old. The Columbus Telegram reports that John Stokes was stopped for speeding Tuesday night and held because a bench warrant was issued in August 2003 after Stokes missed a court date. He was 19 on July 5, 2003, when he was given two liquor citations. On Wednesday Judge Frank Skorupa asked Stokes, "Did you think we'd forget about you?" Stokes, who was appearing via a video link from the Platte County jail, told the judge he was unaware of the missed court date more than 11 years ago. Skorupa fined Stokes a total of $400 after prosecutors dropped one of the liquor charges and Stokes pleaded guilty.
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