Nebraska News

Nebraska judge agrees to halt condemnations for Keystone XL
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska judge has issued a temporary order to stop a Canadian company from seizing access to land in one eastern county to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The ruling Thursday by York County Judge Mary Gilbride was expected. Pipeline builder TransCanada has said it agreed to put the project on hold because of several pending lawsuits by landowners. Company spokesman Mark Cooper has said TransCanada will ask county judges to delay actions on other eminent domain cases until the lawsuits are resolved. Earlier this month, a judge blocked TransCanada's efforts in northern Nebraska's Holt County. The proposed pipeline needs President Barack Obama's approval before it could be built across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska to connect with existing pipelines. It'd carry more than 33.6 million gallons of oil daily.

Omaha chief says robbery suspect shot in back by officer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer says a robbery suspect killed this week by police was shot in the back and that internal affairs and grand jury investigations will determine whether the shooting was justified. Danny Elrod died Monday night after being shot by Officer Alvin Lugod. Authorities later determined that Elrod was unarmed. Schmaderer detailed the events of the shooting during a press conference Thursday. The chief says Elrod robbed a nearby store of money, then refused police commands to show his hands and get on the ground. Schmaderer said Elrod repeatedly told officers on the scene that he had a gun and repeatedly reached for his waistband, as though he had a weapon. Schmaderer said Elrod was shot as he turned and grabbed the top of a fence.

Nebraska senators kill bill to expand family planning
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A bill that would allow more women to qualify for Medicaid family planning services has stalled in the Nebraska Legislature. Supporters fell two votes short Thursday of the 25 needed to advance it, while 21 lawmakers opposed it. Senator Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha says his measure would have prevented unwanted pregnancies, saving the state millions each year and significantly reducing the number of abortions in Nebraska. It also would have funneled some of those savings to the Every Woman Matters program, which funds cancer screenings and mammograms for women ages 40 to 64. Opponents argued the bill's savings were only hypothetical, and described it as a partial Medicaid expansion. Abortion opponents said the bill was the incorrect way to effectively reduce abortions. The bill is LB77.

Nebraska lawmakers to debate pay for petition circulators
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Placing a ballot question before voters could get easier under a bill Nebraska lawmakers will debate this year. The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee voted 7-0 Thursday to advance a proposal that would let petition organizers pay circulators by the signature. A 2008 ban on signature-based compensation forces groups to pay petition circulators hourly. Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, who introduced the measure, says most citizen groups don't have the resources to pay circulators hourly. Paying by the signature creates an incentive for circulators to gather more, although some critics argue that it encourages fraud and aggressive behavior. Committee chairman Sen. John Murante of Gretna says advancing the bill could help to avoid lawsuits that may arise if the ban stays in place. The bill is LB367.

Gov. Ricketts signs bill to save Nebraska cigar bars
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed a bill designed to keep the state's cigar bars in business. The new law approved Thursday authorizes cigar smoking in licensed establishments. It was introduced after the Nebraska Supreme Court struck down a 2009 law that allowed patrons to smoke cigars in cigar bars and shops. Before the August ruling, indoor smoking was allowed in cigar bars, hotel guest rooms and tobacco-only retailers. The law by Senator Tyson Larson of O'Neill makes clear that state lawmakers intended to create a legal exemption for those establishments so they could continue to operate. It's written so it will stand up to the court's review. The bill is LB118.

Nebraska Sen. Chambers renews push to ban cougar hunting
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's longest-serving senator is pushing once again to end the state's mountain lion hunting season. Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha argued Thursday that the population in Nebraska is so small that there's no need for a state hunting season to manage the animals. The Game and Parks Commission estimates that 22 mountain lions lived in Nebraska's Pine Ridge region as of June 2014. The commission opposes the bill, saying it should have the authority to manage the population. Chambers says the 2012 law that allowed mountain lion hunting was based on irrational fears. If the Natural Resources Committee doesn't advance it, he says he'll use procedural tactics to try to pull it from the committee or attach it as an amendment to other bills. The bill is LB127.

2 confirmed for new terms on Nebraska college system board
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Legislature has confirmed the reappointment of two members to the Nebraska State College System board of trustees. The board chairwoman, Michelle Suarez of Lincoln, and Jess Zeiss of Omaha, have been given new, six-year terms. Suarez and Zeiss were confirmed on Thursday. The seven-member board provides governance and policy oversight of system. The system boasts more than 9,000 students total on college campuses in Chadron, Peru and Wayne.

Nebraska patrol releases names of 3 killed in I-80 wreck
COZAD, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska State Patrol has released the names of three people who were killed and five who were injured in a collision on Interstate 80. The accident occurred Wednesday evening near Cozad when a westbound sport utility vehicle crossed the median and struck an eastbound car. On Thursday the patrol identified the fatalities as the SUV driver, 16-year-old Anthony Hill, and two passengers, 41-year-old Regina Hill and 67-year-old Dennis Alexander. All three were from Cozad. Two other passengers, 19-year-old William Alexander, of Cozad, and 44-year-old Kathryn McReynolds, of Eustis, were flown to a Kearney hospital. The three people in the car were taken to a Lexington hospital. They were identified as the 54-year-old driver, Denton Tatman, and 51-year-old Lisa Tatman, both of Crawford, Colorado, and 3-year-old Mariah Tatman, of Omaha.

Jurors find Nebraska man guilty of girl's death in 2008
GERING, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska man has been convicted of fatally beating of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter. After just over an hour of deliberation Thursday, jurors in Gering found 28-year-old Dustin Chauncey guilty of child abuse resulting in the death in the killing of Juliette Geurts in July 2008. Investigators dismissed two other charges against Chauncey because of the statute of limitations. Chauncey and Juliette's mother, Charyse Geurts, were living together when the girl was found dead in her crib. Autopsy results revealed she died from internal organ damage caused by blunt force trauma. Following the guilty verdict, the court ordered that Geurts, who was being held for refusing to testify Wednesday, be released and any contempt proceedings be dismissed. A sentencing hearing for Chauncey has been set for April 10th.

Nebraska-Omaha tops IPFW 73-67
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Tre'Shawn Thurman scored eight points in the second half to help rally Nebraska-Omaha to a 73-67 win over IPFW Thursday night. CJ Carter scored 12 points, Mike Rostampour and Kyler Erickson scored 11 apiece, and Devin Patterson added 10 for the Mavericks (10-17, 4-11 Summit League), who trailed 36-28 at halftime. The Mavericks rallied to a 52-51 lead after a 13-2 run capped by Erickson's 3-pointer, then pulled ahead 61-55 after Thurman's jumper. Thurman and Patterson combined for 11 points in the final 3:59. Steve Forbes and Max Landis scored 13 apiece for the Mastodons (15-13, 8-7), who have lost two straight. Michael Calder and Mo Evans each scored 11 and Joe Edwards added 10. Omaha led briefly but the Mastodons pulled ahead 15-13 on a layup by Joe Reed and pulled away on an 11-4 run to lead by eight at halftime behind Edwards' 10 points.

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