Articles of Interest

IRAN SANCTIONS WON'T FUEL OIL PIRCES FOR LONG

IRAN - Anticipation of U.S. sanctions on Iran drove oil prices to multiyear highs last month, but the crude being pumped to replace Iran’s supply and easing demand growth from a slowing global economy could push them lower again.

Lower oil prices may be good for U.S. consumers and businesses at a time when inflation is starting to tick up, boosting inflation-adjusted income for households and profit margins for energy-consuming businesses. However, they could sting the nation’s energy producers who have become important drivers.

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STATE, FEDS RIGHTLY TACKLE OPIOID ABUSE

WASHINGTON - Opioid addiction has become such a serious problem that it can only be remedied through effective and coordinated measures. That’s why we are pleased to see the joint efforts at both the state and federal level in recent weeks to combat this crisis.

President Donald Trump signed the “Support for Patients and Communities Act” on Oct. 24, which promises $8.5 billion this year for opioid-related programs.

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LEGAL BATTLE CLOUDS OPENING OF NEW CARTER LAKE CASINO

CARTER LAKE - Just by opening its doors on Thursday of last week, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska’s Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake has beaten the odds.

The new gambling parlor had been pitched as a moneymaker for the Poncas for more than a decade, a way of bringing in money that can help the tribe rebuild after losing its federal recognition for a quarter-century. Along the way, though, the Poncas gathered some powerful adversaries.

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AFTER DEMOLISHING CONDEMNED HOUSES, LAND CAN LANGUISH. OMAHA LAND BANK, CITY WANT TO CHANGE THAT

OMAHA - For years, Marilyn Tunstall has dealt with troubled properties on either side of her well-kept home in north Omaha.The problems didn’t stop when the city demolished one of the long-vacant houses earlier this year. The house, near 42nd and Maple Streets, was replaced with overgrown weeds, some 8 feet high, and debris, Tunstall said.

“I want to live next door to neighbors who care about what they’ve got,” she said. City officials are hoping to do a better job reusing the vacant lots that remain after they tear down properties that have been deemed unsafe.

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FDA PLANS TO SHARPLY RESTRICT SALES OF FLAVORED E-CIGARETTES

NEW YORK - The Food and Drug Administration plans to sharply restrict the sale of most flavored pod-style e-cigarettes, effectively pulling them from most convenience stores and gas stations and requiring strict age verification controls for online sales, according to senior FDA officials.

The actions, expected to be announced as early as next week, are aimed at limiting access to the e-cigarettes most popular among children, whose use is surging.

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NEW YORK EYES BAN OF FLAVORED E-CIGARETTES

NEW YORK - The Cuomo administration is planning to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes as soon as next year—putting New York at the forefront of growing efforts around the country to rein in the products.

The state Department of Health posted regulations on Wednesday banning the sale or possession of flavored e-cigarettes, citing an “alarming increase of e-cigarette use among New York’s youth” and a desire to “protect our youth from a lifetime addiction to nicotine.”

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FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S KEYSTONE XL PERMIT

WASHINGTON - A federal judge in Montana on Thursday blocked the Trump administration’s permit allowing the Keystone XL pipeline and barred any construction of the long-delayed project until completion of a supplemental environmental review.

Siding with environmentalists and indigenous rights groups, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris ruled that President Trump’s 2017 cross-border permit of the pipeline expansion by TransCanada Corp. to take oil from Alberta to Nebraska hadn’t considered all impacts as required by federal law.

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IRRIGATION COMPANY THAT BEGAN IN GARAGE HAS GROWN INTO ONE OF THE STATE'S LARGEST COMPANIES

LINDSAY — A lot of reminiscing and button-popping pride.

That’s what took place Thursday as Lindsay Corporation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the sale of the first Zimmatic center pivot machine on Nov. 6, 1968. The company was started by Paul Zimmerer and his sons, Art and Bernie, who were co-owners.

Paul Zimmerer opened a blacksmith shop in 1955 and sold modified car engines to be used on irrigation wells. His idea became the foundation of one of Northeast Nebraska’s largest companies, Lindsay Corp.

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U.S. OIL PRICES ENTER BEAR MARKET

U.S. - U.S. oil prices slid for a ninth straight session Thursday, hitting an eight-month low and entering a bear market amid worries over rising global output and signs of deteriorating demand.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery ended 1.6% lower at $60.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, putting the front-month contract about 21% below its recent high. Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell 2% to $70.65 a barrel, roughly 18% below its peak.

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RURAL-URBAND DIVIDE SHOWS IN NEBRASKA VOTE TO APPROVE MEDICAID EXPANSION

OMAHA - Yes, there was an urban-rural divide in the vote to approve Medicaid expansion. And there’s no doubt Democrats were far more supportive than Republicans.

But dig into the numbers behind the 53 percent victory for Initiative 427, and it isn’t so simple. Some figures offering insight into Tuesday’s vote. Rural Nebraska indeed went strongly against the measure, as only eight of the state’s 93 counties supported it. It passed in Douglas and Lancaster Counties with more than 60 percent of the vote. Sarpy County was solidly in favor with nearly 54 percent. It also passed in Dakota, Thurston and Burt, contiguous counties in northeast Nebraska, as well as Scotts Bluff and Dawes in the Panhandle.

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DEMOCRAT'S BIGGEST WINS ARE IN STATEHOUSES

Democrats pulled off a significant victory on Tuesday night. No, it wasn’t taking back the House in Congress. It’s what they did in state legislatures around the country.

Democrats made strides in a number of statehouses. They seized control of seven legislative chambers, flipping the State Senates in Colorado, Maine, and New York; the House in Minnesota; and both chambers in New Hampshire. Connecticut’s Senate, previously evenly split, is now held by Democrats. They broke Republican supermajorities in Michigan and Pennsylvania’s Senates and both chambers in North Carolina.

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RICKETTS SEEKS APPLICANTS TO NEBRASKA LEGISLATIVE SEATS

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts is seeking qualified applicants for two Nebraska legislative seats that became available after the incumbents were elected to other offices. Ricketts announced plans Thursday to appoint replacements for state Sen. Dan Watermeier, of Syracuse, and Sen. John Murante, of Gretna. Watermeier was elected to the Nebraska Public Service Commission in Tuesday's election, and Murante was elected state treasurer.

Watermeier represents Legislative District 1 in southeast Nebraska, including Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Richardson and portions of Otoe County. Murante represents District 49 in Sarpy County.

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FIRST DEMOCRAT JOINS LINCOLN MAYOR'S RACE AFTER SUCCESS OF TERM-LIMITS AMENDMENT

With Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler unable to run for re-election because of the successful term-limits amendment, the field of potential mayoral candidates is growing larger, particularly among Democrats. City Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird announced on Facebook on Thursday morning that she would enter the race.

"Excited to announce I'm running for Mayor of Lincoln! More to come soon. Thank you to all who have encouraged me to take this step," her post said.

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20-YEAR PLAN TO DEVELOP CAPITOL CAMPUS CALLS FOR NEW OFFICE CONSTRUCTION

LINCOLN - A 20-year state government plan for the area around the Capitol recommends several new office buildings, including a Justice Center to house the Supreme Court and supporting agencies. 

The vision for the development of a Capitol campus, in the works since 2016, was led by architectural, real estate and engineering consultants with the Department of Administrative Services and the city of Lincoln. It was completed in May, but only recently released. The aim of the plan is to consolidate space, bring agencies and employees that are now somewhat spread out closer to the Capitol and provide a more attractive workplace to help in recruiting new staff to take the places of retiring state employees.

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ELECTION SHIFTS HEALTH-CARE LANDSCAPE

WASHINGTON - The midterm elections abruptly shifted the health-care landscape across the country, strengthening the position of the Affordable Care Act while resulting in a divided Congress that could mean most changes unfold on the state level.

Health care was the No. 1 issue among voters this election, according to an AP survey of about 90,000 people. The voting results suggested a rebuke to repeated Republican efforts to roll back the health law, and that many Americans care deeply about issues such as coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.

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GOV. RICKETTS, WITH ELECTION BEHIND HIM, GETS READY FOR NEW TERM

LINCOLN - Gov. Pete Ricketts prepares for a second term with a new legislature coming to the Capitol and Medicaid expansion approved by the voters.

Ricketts says he observed some of the growing urban-rural split nationally during the campaign across Nebraska and says some of the split in the Unicameral breaks along urban-rural lines more than party lines. State lawmakers have resisted expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act even since the ACA became law. Former Gov. Dave Heineman opposed expansion. So did Ricketts. Voters, though, approved it, giving Initiative 427 53% of the vote Tuesday. Ricketts says expansion will have to fit within a strained budget, because he won’t raise taxes.

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U.S. RE-IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN OIL, BANKING AND SHIPPING SECTORS

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration issued waivers on Monday to eight governments, exempting them from sanctions on Iranian oil that took effect at midnight.

China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey received waivers that would allow them to continue “temporary” imports of Iranian crude without facing penalties, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday morning.

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NEBRASKA CORRECTIONS DIRECTOR NAMES NEW CHIEF OF STAFF

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's corrections director has appointed a new chief of staff who will oversee many of the department's operations.

Scott Frakes announced Friday that Laura Strimple began the job earlier this week. Strimple previously served as the department's communications director and an assistant Nebraska secretary of state under Secretary John Gale. Strimple began her career in broadcasting and worked in both Lincoln and Omaha for more than 15 years as a news producer. She fills a vacancy left by Dawn-Renee Smith, who was recently promoted from chief of staff to deputy director for programs at the Department of Correctional Services.

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CHALLENGE TO KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE ROUTE GOES BEFORE THE NEBRASKA SUPREME COURT

LINCOLN — Attorneys for opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline and TransCanada squared off on the morning of November 1st before the Nebraska Supreme Court in a lawsuit that could erect a new roadblock to construction of the $8 billion project.

Landowners who oppose the pipeline, as well as environmental groups and Indian tribes, are seeking to nullify the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s 3-2 approval a year ago of a pipeline route across Nebraska.

The lawsuit claims, among other things, that TransCanada didn’t formally seek approval of the “mainline alternative” route that was approved, and didn’t prove that the pipeline is in the public interest of the state.

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TUESDAY'S MIDTERM ELECTION TURNOUT IN NEBRASKA IS HIGHEST SINCE 1994 BUT NOT HISTORIC

LINCOLN - Nebraska voters turned out at their highest level for a midterm election since the Republican "Contract with America" wave of 1994. But voter enthusiasm couldn't match that historic turn of the U.S. House. Nor could Nebraska's 56 percent turnout, as of Wednesday's vote tally, reach the level of a presidential election.

Nationally, Democratic enthusiasm in the 2018 election turned control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Across the country, Democrats are in line to gain about 28 seats so far in the House — more than enough to control the chamber.

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MAYORAL TERM LIMITS IN LINCOLN, IMMIGRATION ORDINANCE IN SCRIBNER ARE AMONG BALLOT MEASURES OK'D

LINCOLN —On Tuesday, Lincoln voters, by 53 percent to 47 percent, approved a ballot initiative that blocks Beutler, one of the state's highest-ranking Democrats, from seeking election to a fourth term next year. It would limit Lincoln mayors to three, four-year terms. Among those who had lobbied against the term limits proposal was Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, a Republican, who said it was wrong to target a specific elected official with such an idea.

The head of the Nebraska Democratic Party, Jane Kleeb, said Wednesday the party was assessing what steps are needed to put the issue on the ballot in Omaha in the wake of approval of a mayoral term limit referendum in Lincoln.

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FORMER SEN. LATHROP RETURNS TO NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE, TWO INCUMBENTS OUSTED

LINCOLN — In a night of upsets, a former legislative heavyweight returned to the Nebraska Legislature and two incumbent state senators were ousted Tuesday. incumbent state senators were ousted Tuesday. Former State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha became the second person to return to the Legislature after being term-limited out of office four years ago. The only previous returnee has been Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, although others have tried to come back.

Lathrop defeated the incumbent, Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston, in one of the most expensive and hard-fought legislative campaigns of the year. Riepe had succeeded Lathrop in the District 12 seat representing the Millard and Ralston areas.

Republicans lost one seat to Democrats while gaining one by defeating the sole Libertarian in the officially nonpartisan body. Two seats were too close to call at press time. Meanwhile, candidates backed by Gov. Pete Ricketts had decidedly mixed outcomes. Three who got money from the governor prevailed in their election battles while two candidates lost and two were in races too close to call.

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CLOSE 2ND DISTRICT HOUSE RACE GOES TO REP. DON BACON. KARA EASTMAN CONCEDES EARLY WEDNESDAY

SARPY COUNTY - The midterm blue wave hit a Sarpy County firewall as Congressman Don Bacon earned a second term in the House of Representatives by fending off a challenge from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. His opponent, 47-year-old Kara Eastman, conceded the election shortly before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

"I will speak to Congressman Bacon this morning. I appreciate his service to our country. I hope this race highlighted the need to listen to the residents of the second district, and to put people first."

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PETE RICKETTS DEFEATS BOB KRIST TO RETURN TO GOVERNOR'S MANSION FOR SECOND TERM

OMAHA — Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts easily won four more years Tuesday to continue his work on slowing the growth of state government while seeing if he can deliver a big fix on property taxes. Ricketts never trailed in election returns Tuesday, turning back a challenge from State Sen. Bob Krist, the Democrat who billed himself as a bipartisan leader best positioned to solve prison overcrowding and high property taxes.

“I’m grateful to have the support of Nebraskans to continue building on our foundation the next four years” Ricketts said, delivering his victory speech to supporters at the Regency Marriott in Omaha about 90 minutes after the polls closed.

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NOT SO FAST IN CLOSE RACES: DOUGLAS, SARPY STILL HAVE THOUSANDS OF VOTES TO COUNT

DOUGLAS COUNTY - The candidates in a handful of extraordinarily close races Tuesday in Douglas County should wait to celebrate victory or concede defeat. As many as 11,000 votes are yet to be counted, said Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse.

About 6,000 to 7,000 early ballots that arrived to the office on Tuesday, either in drop boxes or by mail, before the 8 p.m. deadline will be checked for signatures and counted on Friday. Another 4,200 or so provisional ballots will be checked over the next week and tallied by Nov. 16.

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FORMER SECRETARIES OF STATE TROUBLED BY POLITICAL DISCOURSE

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Former presidential Cabinet members Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell said they're horrified by the anger, tribalism and distortions that stain current politics.

Albright joined the retired Army general during a lecture Tuesday at Creighton University in Omaha. The former secretaries of state blamed the nation's toxic discourse for the pipe bombs mailed last week to several of President Donald Trump's critics and for the massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

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FIERY IOWA DERAILMENT CAUSED BY BROKEN RAIL, POOR REPAIRS

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal investigators determined that a broken rail caused the fiery 2017 train derailment in northwest Iowa that released 322,000 gallons of ethanol.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled Tuesday that Union Pacific's maintenance was inadequate before the March 2017 derailment near Graettinger, Iowa, and Federal Railroad Administration inspectors didn't do enough to identify flaws in the track.

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LINCOLN MOTHER SAYS MEDICAID EXPANSION 'WOULD CHANGE EVERYTHING' FOR HER AND HER CHILDREN

LINCOLN — Gaps in health coverage have haunted Lora Curry for the past several years. At times, the Lincoln mother of three has qualified for Medicaid. Once, she made enough to afford private insurance through the federal health exchange. Other times, the 52-year-old has had to get by without coverage, relying on low-income clinics and praying for good health.

“It means I need to stay well,” Curry said.

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RICKETTS FIRES ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIRECTOR FOR ALLOWING BULLYING, HARASSMENT IN AGENCY

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts fired the state's director of administrative services Thursday for failing to take action against a problem employee.

The governor announced the action against Byron Diamond during a press conference call. 

He said he terminated Diamond because the director had not dealt with a temporary employee who had been bullying, sexually harassing and discriminating against women in the workplace. The temporary employee also was fired Thursday.

Ricketts said Diamond had tried to resign but he refused to accept the resignation.

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NEBRASKA 'FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS' AGAINST OPIOID ADDICTION, BUT CONCERN REMAINS FOCUS OF FEDERAL ROUNDTABLE

GAGE COUNTY - The misuse of the potent painkilling opioids in rural Nebraska requires continued proactive attention, though fatal overdoses from the drugs aren't as prevalent here as in other states, a USDA official said Tuesday. 

Opioids are being prescribed at a higher rate here than the national average, said Karl Elmshaeuser, the USDA's state director of rural development. 

In 2015, prescribers here wrote 1.4 million opioid prescriptions, a rate of 72.8 prescriptions per 100 people, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That compares to a national rate of 70 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons. 

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EPA ALLOWS FARMERS TO KEEP USING BAYER'S CONTROVERSIAL WEEDKILLER

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency will continue to allow farmers to spray crops with a controversial weedkiller, while tightening restrictions, the agency said.

The EPA extended by two years its approval of XtendiMax, a version of the herbicide dicamba made by Bayer AG, which some farmers and researchers have blamed for damaging millions of acres of crops over the past two years.

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ELECTION OUTCOME WILL LIKELY DETERMINE FATE OF FARM BILL

Grand Island, NE — The Farm Bill hangs in the balance, as Americans go to the polls. And even though the federal policy recently lapsed, the check is still in the mail for some farmers, as part of the federal safety net.

Ag Economist Brad Lubben said there’s been no consensus on the Farm Bill.

He said, “We seem to be in a stalemate and there's not much give and take on negotiations because each side is perhaps hoping its leverage will get better, well -- one of those will get better and one won't and we'll see if that triggers a final conclusion to the Farm Bill.”

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KAWASAKI DISCUSSING RESTRUCTURING RAILCAR DIVISION AFTER HUGE LOSSES

LINCOLN - The parent company of Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing reported huge losses in its rail car division — largely because of issues at its U.S. operations based in Lincoln — and the head of the company suggested it could exit the business altogether.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries on Tuesday reported an overall loss of 3.5 billion yen, or about $31.6 million, for the first two quarters of its fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

However, its rolling stock division, which is the one that makes train cars, lost more than $78 million during the six-month period, much of it because of cost overruns and other problems at its U.S. operations, which are based in Lincoln and employ several hundred people.

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THEOBALD, SMITH OFFER DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES FOR 3RD DISTRICT

Every two years voters in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District head to the polls to select the person they want to represent them in Congress. On Nov. 6, 3rd District voters will choose between Republican Adrian Smith, who is seeking his sixth two-year term in Congress, and Democrat Paul Theobald, who is making his first run at representing the 3rd District.

During the primaries, Theobald was unopposed. Smith faced three opponents but came out on top with 65.7 percent of the vote.

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HERE'S HOW MUCH CANDIDATES FOR NEBRASKA'S LEGISLATURE ARE SPENDING IN HOPES OF GETTING ELECTED

LINCOLN — By early this month, legislative candidates from greater Nebraska had spent more than $1.06 million campaigning for seats in the Legislature, according to reports filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

Thirteen legislative seats outside the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas are on the Nov. 6 ballot, and three of them are held by uncontested incumbents. Snapshots of campaign spending for each of the legislative races are listed, based on reports filed by the campaigns that reflect campaign finances through early October.

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CLOSE TO 30 PEOPLE SPEAK AT HEARING ON INITIATIVE 427

Supporters of Nebraska Medicaid expansion believe it’s an easy choice. Why not bring coverage to people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, especially when the federal government will pay for most of it?

Opponents say Medicaid already serves the people it was meant to serve, and that expanding coverage would put the state’s fiscal future in jeopardy. Members of both groups spoke at a hearing Tuesday night that drew about 80 people to College Park. Close to 30 people spoke at the event, which was hosted by Secretary of State John Gale. It was the third such hearing in Nebraska. One was held in each of the three congressional districts.

On Tuesday, voters will have the opportunity to vote on Initiative Measure 427.

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PLATTE INSTITUTE SAYS RAISING OTHER TAX REVENUES IS THE KEY TO PROPERTY TAX CUTS IN NEBRASKA

LINCOLN — An Omaha-based free-market think tank has come out in favor of raising other tax revenues to achieve property tax reductions in Nebraska.In a new policy brief, the Platte Institute concluded that it would be politically impossible to cut state and local spending enough to provide significantly lower property taxes.

Instead, the brief, “Get Real About Property Taxes,” suggests broadening the sales tax by covering more services and eliminating some exemptions. The increased revenue would be used to reduce an equal amount of property taxes, so that Nebraskans are not paying more total taxes.

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TARIFFS MAY CROWN CORN AS KING AGAIN

American farmers hit by the U.S.-China trade battle are preparing to reshape the U.S. Farm Belt by planting more corn and less soybeans next year over a land mass potentially equal to the size of Connecticut.

For decades, corn was U.S. farmers’ crop of choice, its tall stalks carpeting the Midwestern landscape. Soybeans, shorter and bushier, began decades ago as a niche crop raised on less acreage but came to rival corn in recent years because of growing demand from China.

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NEBRASKANS ALREADY ARE PAYING $250 MILLION OF EXPANDED MEDICAID - IN OTHER STATES

NEBRASKA - Much of the opposition to expanding Medicaid in Nebraska has been based on its cost to state taxpayers — and it is sizable at roughly $50 million a year. But Nebraskans are already paying more than 10 times that for Medicaid expansion — in other states. That’s what a World-Herald analysis found is Nebraska taxpayers’ share of federal dollars paid to expand Medicaid for people in other states — including Iowa — that have already expanded the program.

Voters will decide Nov. 6 whether Nebraska should join 33 other states and expand its Medicaid program to cover about 90,000 more adults.

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NEW NEBRASKA TAX REVENUE FORECAST COULD MAKE TAX CUTS, RESTORATION OF SERVICES HARDER TO DO

LINCOLN — A Nebraska tax revenue forecast issued Friday could dampen hopes for cutting property taxes and restoring services in the next state budget. The new forecast leaves the state with a $232 million shortfall between projected revenues and estimated expenses through June 30, 2021. But State Sen. John Stinner of Gering, the Appropriations Committee chairman, said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about the state’s fiscal picture.

But State Sen. John Stinner of Gering, the Appropriations Committee chairman, said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about the state’s fiscal picture. He said the shortfall is based on estimates that state spending will grow at 4.8 percent during the two-year budget cycle ending June 30, 2021. Stinner said he expects lawmakers to hold that growth to a “more reasonable level” when they craft the state budget. Lawmakers will undertake that duty during the 2019 legislative session, which begins in January.

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LOCAL VIEW: NO EASY PATH TO REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES

NEBRASKA - It seems like everyone has an answer to Nebraska’s property tax problem, especially in campaign season. But in a new report on property tax reform, we find that many frequently proposed solutions have been attempted at least once before in Nebraska’s history.

Perhaps most dramatically, voters actually repealed the statewide property tax in 1966, and senators replaced the levy with income and sales taxes.

Fifty years later, even after adjusting for inflation, property tax collections per person in Nebraska are higher than ever. Plus, the state has added and increased many taxes.

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BUSINESS OWNERS CAN TEAM UP ON INSURANCE, IF STATE ALLOWS IT

NEW YORK — As small business owners shop for 2019 health insurance, some will for the first time have the chance to join forces and buy cheaper insurance — depending on which state they're in.

New rules that began going into effect last month allow sole proprietors and other business owners without employees to form what are known as association health plans, or AHPs. But while the Trump administration has touted the rules as a breakthrough, many owners will be disappointed to learn their states' insurance laws will limit their ability to join the plans.

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AREA OFFICIALS DISCUSS CHALLENGES OF KEEPING MENTALLY ILL OUT OF JAIL

FREMONT - Lieutenant Kurt Bottorff of the Fremont Police Department says that a growing number of the department’s calls deal with situations where he believes mental health plays a role—incidents ranging from drug use to violent situations.

“What we’re seeing out there is a lot of stress on the community, times are hard for certain people — the stress builds up and that’s where some mental health breakdowns can take place,” Bottorff said. “Their behavior ends up being a law violation and they’re sometimes jailed because of it instead of addressing the core problem.”

With the help of Lutheran Family Services, the Fremont Police Department has recently attempted to take aim at the problem, by becoming one of only two departments in the entire state of Nebraska to hire a crisis response co-responder—a licensed mental health practitioner who works directly in the police department two days per week, responding to 911 calls alongside officers when she believes mental health may be playing a role.

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ALTRIA TO PULL ITS E-CIGARETTE PODS FROM MARKET

RICHMOND, VA - Tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. is pulling its pod-style e-cigarette devices from the market and discontinuing the sale of many e-cigarette flavors to combat underage use—a move that puts pressure on upstart Juul Labs Inc., which has grown rapidly by selling such products.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned of a public-health crisis from widespread use of e-cigarettes by children, and threatened to ban a broad swath of flavored products.

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PONCA TRIBE'S NEW CASINO IN CARTER LAKE IS SET TO OPEN NOV. 1

CARTER LAKE - The Prairie Flower is getting ready to bloom.

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska’s new casino in Carter Lake will open at noon on Nov. 1, said Larry Wright Jr., the tribe’s chairman, following a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. Tribal members will get an advance tour Wednesday.

The 9,500-square-foot Prairie Flower Casino is on 5 acres of land at Ninth Street and Avenue H, about 3 miles north of downtown Omaha. It will feature 200 slot-style machines, a full-service bar and a snack bar but no table games for now, at least. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for people 21 and older.

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LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR EDITORIAL: KOLTERMAN, HANSEN, DORN, EBKE BEST FOR LEGISLATURE

Four of the six Lincoln-area seats in the Nebraska Legislature that are up for election this year feature contested races.

Incumbent Sens. Adam Morfeld and Patty Pansing Brooks are running unopposed in their districts, which cover much of central Lincoln. To join them in the Capitol, the Journal Star editorial board endorses Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman (District 24), Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen (District 26), Gage County Commissioner Myron Dorn (District 30) and Crete Sen. Laura Ebke (District 32).

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BOB KRIST EMPLOYS GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN TO TRY TO UNSEAT RICKETTS

OMAHA -- From the patio of his house in northwest Omaha, Bob Krist can see the No. 1 tee box for The Players Club, with its rolling fairways, sculptured bunkers, natural waterways and wetlands.

Every once in a while a golf ball thumps into Krist's backyard, but he hasn't played the course much himself in the past year. He's been busy traveling the state on a grassroots campaign to become Nebraska's 41st governor, limiting Gov. Pete Ricketts to one term. 

At the same time, Krist is nearing the end of what will be 10 years in the Nebraska Legislature representing northwest Omaha's and northern Douglas County's District 10. With what he has learned through law-making and the inner workings of the state in that time, he says, he's ready for the administrative side of politics. 

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GOV. RICKETTS POINTS TO CONSERVATIVE RECORD, FISCAL RESTRAINT

LINCOLN - Gov. Pete Ricketts has been a governor-on-the-go, crisscrossing the state for speeches, community events and business and agricultural tours, leading trade expansion missions to China, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Denmark and Belgium.

On a personal level, Ricketts has displayed seemingly boundless energy, enthusiasm and optimism during the four years since he was elected in November 2014. 

His explosive laugh has become a signature trademark across the state.

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DEAD ANIMAL ALLEGEDLY LEFT AT EASTMAN CAMPAIGN ADDRESS

OMAHA, Neb. — With just over a week to the election, Kara Eastman said her campaign was targeted: a dead animal was left at the home of her finance director. She said the entire campaign is upping security amid attacks on elected officials around the country.

“I opened it up and there was the murdered possum,” Dave Pantos, Eastman’s finance director, said.

Pantos said he is shaken after a disturbing drop off at his home. As Eastman's finance director, his home is the mailing address for her campaign.

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GOP PLANS GET OUT THE VOTE RALLY NEXT WEEK

LINCOLN — Luminaries of the Nebraska Republican Party, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse and Rep. Adrian Smith, will be making stops across the state late next week as part of a Get Out The Vote Rally Tour.

The party announced the tour begins 7:30-8:30 a.m. Friday at 4th Avenue Coffee at 612 Fourth Ave. in Holdrege. The tour also is scheduled at 4:45-5:35 p.m. in the corporate hangar at Kearney Regional Airport at 4845 Airport Road.

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OMAHA WORLD HERALD EDITORIAL: TIMM, NEARY ARE STRONG CANDIDATES FOR THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

Nebraska’s elected State Board of Education has important duties. It helps chart the state’s course of a range of issues including testing, accountability and school safety. The eight-member board oversees the state education commissioner and the state Department of Education, which carries out regulatory and administrative functions.

Two board seats are up for election. We recommend Patricia Timm, the incumbent in District 5 (southeast Nebraska), and Deborah Neary, the challenger in District 8 (midtown Omaha westward in Douglas County).

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OMAHA FIRE UNION ENDORSES DON BACON IN NEBRASKA'S 2ND DISTRICT RACE

OMAHA - The Omaha fire union has thrown its support behind Republican Rep. Don Bacon over Democratic challenger Kara Eastman.

The group cited Bacon’s support for a cancer registry for firefighters at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the passage of a bill he sponsored, named after slain Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco, that would waive the residency waiting period to become a citizen for surviving family members of first responders who die in the line of duty.

“He’s a person who gets things done in a way that’s approachable with great civility,” said Fire Union President Steve LeClair. He praised Bacon for having “an open door and open mind.”

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OMAHA WORLD HERALD EDITORIAL: DEB FISCHER IS A SKILLED LEGISLATOR DESERVING RE-ELECTION TO THE SENATE

WASHINGTON - A recent observation from former Nebraska State Sen. Tim Gay of Papillion highlights a key strength of U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer.

“Those people like Deb, who don’t run to the cameras, that’s why they’re leaders in the Legislature and the Senate,” says Gay, a former committee chairman who served in the Nebraska Legislature at the same time as Fischer.

In short, Fischer — both during her two terms in Lincoln and now in Washington — has shown that she’s a legislative workhorse, not a show horse. Colleagues, across partisan lines, have long made that observation about Fischer’s legislative approach.

Her dedication and legislative skill serve Nebraska well and warrant her election to a second term in the Senate.

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OMAHA WORLD HERALD EDITORIAL: RICKETTS HAS PUSHED AGENCIES TO BETTER SERVE THE PUBLIC; HE DESERVES RE-ELECTION

LINCOLN - Changing state government’s operational culture for the better and achieving major gains in efficiency and customer service are complex, difficult tasks. Gov. Pete Ricketts, to his credit, has carried out big improvements in the operations of Nebraska government during his first term.

Governors often come up far short in that regard, but Ricketts, in many cases, has achieved notable successes. He generally has handled budget-tightening well in the face of the state’s major revenue challenges. These are central reasons why he’s worthy of a second term.

Ricketts’ administration turned around the performance of AccessNebraska, which handles applications for a variety of services and was long beset with major problems. The program now ranks eighth-best for payment accuracy. The federal government recently awarded the state a $639,063 bonus for its performance, the first such payment to the state in seven years.

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OMAHA POLICE OFFICERS BACK FORMER STATE SEN. STEVE LATHROP AFTER OUTSIDE AD ATTACKS HIM ON CRIME

OMAHA - The last image the attack ad offered was the familiar tattooed face of Omaha quadruple murderer Nikko Jenkins.

The spot, a rare television advertisement in a local legislative race, by an outside group, criticized the criminal justice bona fides of former Omaha State Sen. Steve Lathrop, a lawyer who, until he was term limited in 2014, served as vice chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

Its message sped up an endorsement Monday from the union that represents Omaha police officers. The Omaha Police Officers Association endorsed Lathrop, matching endorsements from the unions that represent Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies and Nebraska State Patrol troopers.

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CHUCK HAGEL ENDORESES REP. DON BACON IN OMAHA-AREA HOUSE RACE

WASHINGTON — Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., has landed the backing of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

While both men are Republicans, Hagel was known for bucking his party on particular issues — most notably the Iraq War — during his two terms representing Nebraska in the U.S. Senate. In addition to Bacon, Hagel is supporting some Democratic candidates this cycle, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Hagel worked with both senators during his time as defense secretary. He described all of the candidates he’s supporting as individuals committed to bipartisanship and civility at a time when those qualities are desperately needed.

“I see what’s happening to our country, I see what’s happening to our politics,” Hagel said. “I’ve never seen this country so divided — so bitterly, bitterly divided. And I was in Washington during Watergate.”

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NEBRASKA'S ES&S AMONG ELECTION FIRMS QUESTIONED IN AP REPORT

OMAHA - The ultimate gatekeepers of U.S. election integrity may well be its weakest security link. A trio of privately held companies sells and services more than 90 percent of U.S. election systems. But the companies have long stressed convenience for their customers over product security, according to security experts and election officials.

That complicates efforts to detect a repeat of Russia's 2016 election meddling, or other intrusions by sophisticated hackers.

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VOTER TURNOUT IN NEBRASKA EXPECTED TO TOP 50 PERCENT

BEATRICE – Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, overseeing his final Nebraska election, today predicted a 56% voter turnout, in next Tuesday’s General Election.  Gale said Nebraska has set a record of nearly 1.22 million voters registered. Gale spoke before a Beatrice Rotary Club Lunch audience on Thursday.

Gale said there are significant races and issues to decide….and he urged voters not to get complacent.  More than 70,000 early ballots issued had not been returned, as of Thursday, out of a total of some 213,000.

Gale says issues or races at all levels can generate interest for an election.

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LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR EDITORIAL: MEDICAID EXPANSION IS RIGHT FOR NEBRASKA

LINCOLN - When the first house of state government, the Nebraska Legislature, has been unable to pass meaningful policy changes, the second house has increasingly had its say on the ballot.

This year, one statewide measure awaits voters: Initiative 427, which would put Nebraska in the company of 33 other states that have expanded Medicaid. The end result would make an estimated 90,000 Nebraskans eligible for Medicaid and allow the state to receive hundreds of millions in federal funds – which it currently pays into without receiving any – with a smaller state investment.

An examination of the ballot initiative’s numbers and impact show that it will clearly benefit Nebraskans without breaking the bank. Given the data and the anticipated benefit for hospitals in rural areas, the Journal Star editorial urges voters to say yes to Initiative 427.

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JESSICA MCCLURE: 'WE CAN'T WIN IF WE DON'T TRY'

LINCOLN - Jessica McClure is at work in her space on the second floor at Turbine Flats on Y Street, where a warren of small and start-up businesses occupy offices that spread into an entrepreneurial beehive. 

McClure's task is not unlike a start-up as she attempts to revive Democratic fortunes in eastern Nebraska's 1st Congressional District, challenging a seven-term Republican congressman in a district that hasn't elected a Democrat in 54 years. 

Campaign finance reports help define the challenge: McClure has raised about $57,000 for her campaign; Republican Jeff Fortenberry had almost $1.9 million in cash on hand in his campaign war chest at the end of September and will have most of it still there untouched after Election Day.

McClure's cash on hand entering October totaled $1,142.77.

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STATE LAW ALLOWS EMPLOYEES TO LEAVE WORK ON ELECTION DAY TO VOTE

LINCOLN, Neb. - Two weeks from today is Election Day. Today, 1011 learned some teachers were worried whether they'd be able to vote, after Lincoln Public Schools scheduled parent teacher conferences at three elementary schools on Election Day.

Nebraska Statute 32-922 requires employers to give employees a two hour consecutive window to leave and vote on Election Day if they want to do so. Lincoln Public Schools was getting around that by encouraging the affected teachers to vote early. 

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FORTENBERRY SAYS HIS SENIORITY BENEFITS CONSTITUENTS

LINCOLN - Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, the senior member of Nebraska's congressional delegation with almost 14 years in Washington under his belt, believes he is better positioned now than he's ever been to effectively represent the interests of his constituents.

The 1st District Republican congressman points to growing seniority, a key House Appropriations Committee assignment along with a subcommittee chairmanship that puts him at the appropriations leadership table.

And a Republican president in the White House whose administration is accessible and responsive.

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LAST FINANCE REPORTS SHOW KARA EASTMAN NARROWING CASH GAP WITH DON BACON

OMAHA - Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., entered the last few weeks before Election Day with $650,000 in the bank, while Democratic challenger Kara Eastman had about $400,000 for the final stretch.

From Oct. 1 to Oct. 17, Bacon had raised about $120,000, compared with about $325,000 for Eastman, according to the last campaign finance reports.

He’s still ahead of her in overall fundraising, though — $2.7 million to $2.4 million

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Q&A WITH THE TWO CHALLENGERS RUNNING FOR SEN. JOHN KUEHN'S SEAT

KEARNEY — A farmer and an attorney are campaigning to replace incumbent state Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell as the representative of District 38 in the Nebraska Legislature. Dave Murman farms near Glenvil and Marsha Fangmeyer practices law in Kearney. District 38 encompasses southwest Buffalo County and all of Clay, Franklin, Kearney, Nuckolls, Phelps and Webster counties.

Murman and Fangmeyer answered questionnaires from the Kearney Hub. 

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WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM? DIGGING INTO DON BACON KARA EASTMAN'S CAMPAIGN FINACE REPORTS

OMAHA - Nebraska's 2nd District congressional candidates have drastically different fundraising strategies, and both say what they're doing shows they have grassroots support. Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican, has tapped into the traditional donors: some individuals but also a healthy dose of companies, industry groups and congressional leaders.

Democrat Kara Eastman, a former nonprofit executive, has not taken the traditional path to fundraising. She's rejected contributions from for-profit corporations, instead leaning heavily on progressive groups to connect her with donors from around the country.

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INCUMBENT AUDITOR CHARLIE JANSSEN SEES CHALLENGE FROM MILLENNIAL CANDIDATE JANE SKINNER

Nebraskans will make a choice for state auditor in the Nov. 6 general election between an incumbent who's had some bad publicity of late, and an Omaha librarian who has never been elected to a political office. 

Incumbent Charlie Janssen, who also served in the Nebraska Legislature, had to apologize in September when an investigation by the Omaha World-Herald revealed he took long lunches, eating and drinking beer in a Lincoln bar and grill during work hours. Sometimes the lunches lasted as long as three hours, the report said. 

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EDITORIAL, 10/24: VOTERS SHOULD RE-ELECT RICKETTS

During the last four years, Nebraska has endured its share of difficult times – many of which resulted from a downturn in agriculture, the state’s largest industry.

In that time, Gov. Pete Ricketts shepherded the Cornhusker State through multiple years of belt tightening and across-the-board cuts. The job was far from easy, yet Nebraska has emerged in a strong position to thrive.

Because of his performance during this challenging time, Ricketts is receiving the Journal Star editorial board’s endorsement for his re-election campaign.

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EDITORIAL, 10/25: RAYBOULD IS BEST CHOICE FOR SENATE

In Lincoln, we’ve seen both candidates for the U.S. Senate seat up for election this November in action.

Deb Fischer was an effective senator and committee chair in the Nebraska Legislature before winning election to Congress six years ago. Jane Raybould has served on the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners and Lincoln City Council while unsuccessfully seeking the post of lieutenant governor in 2014.

In this election between two qualified women, the decision comes down to whether the incumbent or the challenger offers the best vision for Nebraska going forward.

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MYSTERY ORGANIZATION AIRING ADS OPPOSING MEDICAID EXPANSION

LINCOLN- Television commercials supporting a Nov. 6 ballot initiative to expand Medicaid for an estimated 90,000 low-income Nebraskans hit airwaves across the state more than a week ago.

Insure the Good Life, the political action committee backing Initiative 427, purchased more than 900 time slots on television stations in Lincoln, Omaha and central Nebraska to air the 30-second spot by Election Day, according to Federal Communications Commission records. 

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NEBRASKA VOTERS TO DECIDE MEDICAID EXPANSION

Grand Island, NE — Whether or not to expand Medicaid comes before Nebraska voters, and it could have far reaching consequences. It's an issue retired hospital administrator and former state senator Mike Gloor knows well, and he says it would help tens of thousands of working poor.

“These are people that we know, thank goodness there aren't lots and lots of them. But there are enough that this particular initiative can make a difference,” Gloor said, saying these aren’t people sitting around home, but people in low pay jobs, or working part time jobs.

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PROPERTY TAXES ARE HIGH PRIORITY FOR CANDIDATES

COLUMBUS - The rural and urban split gets brought up a lot when it comes to decisions made by the Nebraska Legislature. It also could be an issue in some of the individual legislative districts given the background of the candidates, such as District 22.

Former longtime Columbus Mayor Mike Moser and Pilger area farmer Doug Oertwich, who also is a longtime member of the Stanton County Public Power District board, are facing each other.

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CORN, SOYBEAN HARVEST STILL AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

NEBRASKA - Despite a weather setback that has kept farmers out of the fields, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said the corn and soybean harvest in Nebraska continues to be ahead of schedule.

The USDA said corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 13 percent fair, 48 percent good and 32 percent excellent as of Sunday. Corn mature was 95 percent, near the 91 percent both last year and for the five-year average. Harvested was 25 percent, ahead of the 16 percent last year, and equal to the average.

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EDITORIAL: U.S. ECONOMY IS GREAT AGAIN

Competitiveness: It might not make a lot of mainstream newspapers, so let us inform you: The World Economic Forum just ranked the U.S. as the world's most competitive economy for the first time since 2008. A lot has happened since then, but mostly the U.S.' No. 1 ranking is a result of the surprise election of Donald Trump.

It's also yet another bit of evidence for why policies truly matter. The last time the U.S. stood atop the WEF global ranking of 140-plus countries, President Obama had just been elected. But he had yet to sign the growth-killing Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare bills, or a wasteful "stimulus" of nearly $1 trillion. For the next eight years, the U.S.' competitiveness ranking slid, pretty much until Trump was elected 

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U.S. STEEL INDUSTRY GETS WHAT IT WANTS ON TARIFFS

U.S. steel producers, which prevailed in their push for the Trump administration to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, have also proved equally effective—and far more effective than many other industries—at avoiding tariffs they don’t want.

Steel producers petitioned the U.S. Trade Representative in September for relief on 132 tariff lines, primarily for raw materials and chemicals used in the steelmaking process that members of the Steel Manufacturers Association import from China. They were able to get 66, or half, of them removed from the final list. 

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OPPD PROPOSES GOALS OF 50% RENEWABLES, 20% CUT IN 'CARBON INTENSITY'

OMAHA - The Omaha Public Power District board is stepping in to stop the fight over OPPD’s next major environmental policy — and trying to send both sides home as winners. The utility’s updated proposal weaves together the competing approaches of customers who want OPPD to set specific goals for how much renewable energy it uses and those who would rather the district reduce its carbon footprint, however possible.

The board’s latest draft of Strategic Directive 7 does both, setting a “long-term goal” of OPPD providing at least 50 percent of its retail electricity from renewable sources while also aiming to reduce the utility’s overall “carbon intensity” by 20 percent from 2010 to 2030.

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JUDGE REDUCES JURY AWARD AGAINST BAYER'S ROUNDUP TO $78.5 MILLION

SAN FRANCISCO - A California judge on Monday reduced by more than $200 million a jury verdict linking Bayer AG’s BAYRY -3.23% Roundup weedkiller to cancer but upheld the jury’s findings that the company acted with malice.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos said the $250 million in punitive damages awarded by the jury must be slimmed down to match the $39.25 million in compensatory damages that the jury found appropriate. If the plaintiff agrees to the reduction by Dec. 7, no new trial is needed.

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FRACKERS' NEXT BOTTLENECK: OIL EXPORT TERMINALS

TEXAS - As pipeline bottlenecks crimp the U.S. shale boom, some companies are racing to address the next potential constraint on American oil output: the terminals to export crude to foreign markets.

Oil exports have been a key release valve for U.S. producers in the three years since Congress lifted a longtime ban on overseas crude sales. Exports topped 2.1 million barrels daily in September and are projected to approach four million barrels within two years, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

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LEARNING COMMUNITY COUNCIL SETS UP NONPROFIT FUNDRAISING ARM

OMAHA - The Learning Community will be passing the hat to expand its programs. It will be a small hat, at first, says Lorraine Chang, chairwoman of the Learning Community Council. Eager to expand programs for disadvantaged kids, but under a tax cap, the Learning Community Council on Thursday night approved creating a nonprofit fundraising foundation. The vote means the council can file the paperwork and appoint a foundation board of directors. Once a foundation is set up, it can begin to identify donors and projects, she said. The council will go slow at first, to “get the basics down” and do it right, she said.

”We have a long way to go before we can say we’ll go to this donor or that donor,” We really won’t know that for a while. My sense is we’re going to start small, just like when we created the Learning Community. It’s taken us 10 years to get to where we are. Hopefully it won’t take that long.”

She said she’s not concerned that the foundation will compete against area school foundations for funding. Many school districts have foundations that raise money to supplement their budgets.

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STATE BELIEVES NEW POLICY WILL IMPROVE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM

GRAND ISLAND - A new practice from the state Division of Children and Family Services seeks greater engagement from parents and other family members in raising children. Under the system, Children and Family Services representatives will work with families to choose the right supports for the children.

“Is there an uncle that your children like to visit with? Is there an aunt that spends Saturday afternoons with the children?” CFS Director Matt Wallen said.The goal is to find “natural supports” in a family or neighborhood. The family can safely turn to those people if there’s a crisis or a concern, Wallen said. The new system, which was discussed at a Tuesday meeting in Grand Island, is called Safety Organized Practice. The three-hour meeting, part of a statewide tour, was attended by children and family specialists, supervisors, attorneys, judges, educators and service providers.

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TESLA TO BRING PORTION OF MODEL 3 PRODUCTION TO CHINA NEXT YEAR

Tesla,  which reported its first quarterly profits in two years Wednesday, is looking to extend its earnings streak by bringing its new Model 3 to customers beyond North America. And part of that plan involves accelerating its manufacturing plans in China. 

Tesla  saw its revenue skyrocket to $6.8 billion in the third quarter (and a $312 million profit) thanks to sales of its new Model 3 vehicle, despite production bottlenecks and more recent issues with delivery logistics. The company was able to achieve that profitability milestone just through sales in the U.S. and Canada. That leaves two other massive markets on the table. Cue Europe and China. Tesla said Wednesday it will start to take orders for the Model 3 in Europe and China before the end of 2018. Tesla said it will begin deliveries of the Model 3 to Europe early next year. 

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ROTARIANS HEAR FROM STATE CHAMBER, BLUEPRINT NEBRASKA ON LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

GRAND ISLAND - Rotarians were able to hear about the upcoming legislative session as it related to business at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry gave an update to members of the Grand Island Noon Rotary Club on where they stand on legislative issues. Joseph Young, executive vice president of the Nebraska Chamber, said the organization tracks between 250 and 400 bills every legislative session. He said these bills primarily affect either workforce development or the Nebraska business community.

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LOTTO SALES SURGE MEANS MORE CASH FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS, SCHOLARSHIPS, NEBRASKA STATE FAIR

NEBRASKA - There’s only a tiny chance that a lucky prize winner from Nebraska or Iowa will end up claiming the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpots, which this week ballooned to a combined $2.2 billion. What is certain, though, is that some of the cash Midlanders plunked down for lotto tickets in the past week — or any week, for that matter — will be recycled back to worthy causes in the two states.

About $1.50 out of every $2 lotto ticket is plowed back into prize money or covers the administrative costs of operating the lottery. The remainder is dedicated to specific needs as is set out in state statutes.

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LINCOLN STATE SENATOR TO PROPOSE LETTING 16-YEAR-OLDS VOTE IN NEBRASKA

LINCOLN — Nebraska already allows 16-year-olds the freedom of the open road. Now, a Lincoln state senator wants to give them the chance to choose state and local leaders and decide ballot issues. 

State Sen. Anna Wishart created a buzz Wednesday when she announced that she plans to offer a constitutional amendment next year that would lower the state's voting age to 16.

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NEBRASKA'S ECONOMIC FORECAST DIMS SLIGHTLY FOR FIRST TIME IN 11 MONTHS, UNL INDICATOR FINDS

LINCOLN - A University of Nebraska-Lincoln index that predicts the state's future economic growth has declined for the first time in nearly a year.

Nebraska’s leading economic indicator fell 0.35 percent in September, its first decline since October 2017. Because the indicator predicts economic conditions six months in the future, the decline "suggests that Nebraska’s economic growth, which is currently quite strong, will slow in the coming months,” economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at UNL, said in a news release.

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LINCOLN SENATORS IDENTIFY PRIORITIES; NEBRASKA CHAMBER OUTLINES GROWTH STRATEGY

LINCOLN - Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln said Wednesday that one of her top priorities for the 2019 legislative session will be "making up for lost ground" in terms of funding for the University of Nebraska and programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Bolz is a member of the Legislature's Appropriations Committee.

Workforce development will also be high on her list next year, Bolz said during a state legislative forum breakfast hosted by the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce that featured remarks by Lincoln senators. 

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SARPY COUNTY BOARD, ASSESSOR TAKE DISPUTE TO LINCOLN

SARPY COUNTY - A longstanding dispute between the Sarpy County Board and the Sarpy County Assessor’s Office is headed to the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission in Lincoln. Sarpy County Assessor Dan Pittman has filed an appeal with the commission concerning 51 valuation reductions granted by the Sarpy County Board acting in its role as the Sarpy County Board of Equalization.

The board voted 5-0 to grant the reductions to owners of rural agricultural land who protested the “first acre” rule used by Pittman to assess their land values. Under that rule, Pittman assesses the “first acre” of their land, on which a house typically sits, at a higher rate than their unimproved agricultural acres

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PETE RICKETTS COMMITS TO FULL TERM IF RE-ELECTED; CRITICS SAY HIS WEALTH SHIFTS POWER AT CAPITOL

LINCOLN — Some past Nebraska governors have been cagey when asked about their political futures. Pete Ricketts has opted for the direct approach.

The first-term Republican governor says questions about where he will office, at least until 2023, may cease.

“If the people of Nebraska will vote me in for a second term, I’m staying,” he said in a recent interview with The World-Herald. “All four years.”

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COUNCILWOMAN CYNDI LAMM WILL RUN FOR MAYOR

LINCOLN - City Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm has officially announced her intention to run for Lincoln mayor.

Lamm announced her decision early Sunday online and by video on her website and social-media accounts, describing her teenage years, when she dropped out of high school and her later decisions to return to school and to college.

“I’ve lived in Lincoln a lot of years and I’m living proof of what we can accomplish in our city,” Lamm said in a news release about her candidacy. “There’s so much more we can do. That’s why I’m running to be your mayor.”

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BACKERS RAISE NEARLY $3 MILLION FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION VOTE

LINCOLN - Backers of a ballot issue expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income Nebraskans have raised nearly $3 million, dwarfing the minimal spending of opponents. The Insure the Good Life campaign as of Oct. 2 reported raising $1.7 million for the Nov. 6 ballot measure that would provide health insurance coverage for more than 90,000 low-income Nebraskans, most of them among the working poor.

But Adam Morfeld, a state senator from Lincoln who is serving as a paid consultant for the campaign, said the organization has since collected an additional $1.1 million in contributions.

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EDITORIAL: NEBRASKA STATE AUDITOR CONTEST IS PROBLEMATIC THIS YEAR

LINCOLN - The World-Herald, on rare occasion, has refrained from endorsing in a particular election contest when we find that both candidates fell short of the needed standard. That’s our stance on this year’s race for state auditor.

State Auditor Charlie Janssen indulged in inexcusable behavior by repeatedly spending long hours at a Lincoln sports bar during work hours. Through such selfish, unprofessional action, he showed tremendous disrespect to the public and to his staff. Such behavior was the very opposite of what Nebraskans should expect from a highly paid state official and, indeed, from any adult.

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BOB KRIST'S POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE DRAWS PRAIS FROM SOME, CHARGES OF FLIP-FLOPPING FROM OTHERS

LINCOLN — State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha took less than six months to assert his political independence after being appointed to the Nebraska Legislature. At issue was a politically explosive proposal to cover prenatal care for the unborn children of illegal immigrants.

Then-Gov. Dave Heineman fought the idea vigorously, saying taxpayer dollars should never be used for illegal immigrants.

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EDITORIAL: WATERMEIER, SCHRAM WORTHY CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

LINCOLN - The Nebraska Public Service Commission oversees a wide range of state regulatory action. The five-member commission makes major decisions affecting telephones, Internet service, taxicabs, grain elevators and pipelines.

Two PSC seats are on the November ballot in their respective districts, and we find that two Nebraskans with extensive public service backgrounds — State Sen. Dan Watermeier in District 1 in southeast Nebraska, and Commissioner Tim Schram in District 3 in the Omaha area — offer the strongest capabilities for service on the commission.

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ALL FOUR NATIVE TRIBES ENDORSE KRIST, RAYBOULD

All four Native tribes in Nebraska have announced their support for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bob Krist, Democratic Senate nominee Jane Raybould and three other Democratic candidates. It's the first time the four tribal nations, the Ponca, the Omaha, the Santee Sioux and the Winnebago, have jointly endorsed a slate of Democratic candidates.

The endorsements followed a tribal meeting at the Winnebago Reservation.

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FREE SPEECH, CONTROVERSIES AT CENTER OF NU DEBATE

LINCOLN - Restrictive and byzantine policies governing free speech and expression on University of Nebraska campuses helped instigate a high-profile incident between an undergraduate and a graduate student lecturer last year, free speech experts said Saturday.

A new "Commitment to Free Expression" adopted by the NU Board of Regents in January did nothing to solve the problem, the panel at the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska's annual meeting said, with some members adding it may in fact lead to more problems in the future.

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ROUT TO TEST PENSIONS' CRASH PROTECTION

NEW YORK - Large pension funds are snapping up Wall Street protection against a market crash, but it isn’t clear the products will help limit losses in the current pullback. Worried their portfolios were too risky, public-pension managers in California, Hawaii and Rhode Island have shifted more than $25 billion over two years or so into "crisis-risk offset" strategies, while others are in the process of such moves. 

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SAUDI ARABIA HALTS $200 BILLION SOLAR PROJECT - IER

RIHYAD - Saudi Arabia has put on hold a $200 billion project to build the world’s biggest solar-power-generating station. The project would have generated about 200 gigawatts of electricity by 2030—more than three times what the country needs every day—beginning with about 7.2 gigawatts within two years.

 The project had not gotten off the ground before it was halted because of high costs and logistical issues. Saudi energy officials had not decided on the solar project’s key details—the land that would be used, the structure of development, or whether it would receive subsidies from the state.  The project’s first phase was expected to cost up to $1 billion. The Saudi kingdom is currently working on a broader, more practical strategy to increase renewable energy that it will announce in late October.

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UNION PACIFIC WILL CLOSE NEBRASKA PANHANDLE LOCOMOTIVE REPAIR SHOP

MORRILL, Neb. (AP) — Union Pacific plans to close its locomotive repair shop in the Panhandle’s Scotts Bluff County.

Company representatives say the shop just southeast of Morrill will close by the end of January. They say the decision was based on business needs. The company is working with unions on what the closing will mean for workers. The facility has a staff of 68.

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SHORTAGE OF QUALIFIED WORKERS IS HAMPERING NEBRASKA'S ECONOMIC GROWTH

LINCOLN- Nebraska’s job growth slowed in 2016 and 2017 to nearly zero and is flat again this year, partly because many jobs are going unfilled. That’s one reason the state is ranking 49th out of 50 in economic growth this year.

Nebraska requires about 50,000 new and “improved” workers — those with the knowledge, skills and experience to qualify for higher-paying jobs — each year to fill potential job openings, but the state’s post-high school education system issues about 24,000 degrees and certifications.

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LEADER OF STATE'S LARGEST AGENCY LEAVES BEHIND ACCOMPLISHMENTS, COMPLAINTS

LINCOLN- The leader of the state's largest agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, worked her last official days this past week in Nebraska. As Chief Executive Officer Courtney Phillips leaves the state for a similar job in Texas, she counts among her accomplishments development of business plans for the department; more mental health services for children, youth and families; and improvements to the call center system for Nebraskans to access public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid.

But she also leaves behind an agency emptied of many longtime public employees who had worked their way up over 10 to 30 years to be managers or administrators. Over the past couple of years they have been fired, asked to resign or retire, or left, they said, to preserve their own mental health.

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PARTNERSHIP FOR HEALTHY LINCOLN: GRANT WILL HELP REDUCE HEALTH DISPARITIES AMONG MINORITIES

LINCOLN- A five-year, $3.3 million federal grant will allow Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln to continue its work to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities in Lincoln.

The grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will build on a similar-sized grant aimed at reducing health disparities among low-income residents, said Bob Rauner, president of Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln. The organization partners with community agencies to send common messages about healthy lifestyles, such as being more active, eating healthy foods and the benefits of breastfeeding, Rauner said.

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GOVERNORS OFFICE RELEASE: CUTTING RED TAPE FOR FARM FAMILIES

LINCOLN - With new technology and innovative farming techniques, modern day agriculture is more critical than ever to growing opportunities in Nebraska.  Whether you work in a biotech lab, operate a combine in a field, or refinance loans at a bank, agriculture reaches into nearly every aspect of our economy, accounting for about a quarter of the jobs in Nebraska. 

 Right now, Forbes ranks Nebraska the fourth best state for business and fourth best state for regulatory climate.  Building on this strength is key to continuing the momentum we have experienced in growing Nebraska.  To this end, I have been working to make state government more customer friendly for our farm and ranch families and to cut red tape at the federal level.

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MEDICAID EXPANSION WOULD CREATE JOBS AND ECONOMIC BENEFITS, STUDY FINDS

LINCOLN — Expanding Medicaid in Nebraska would create almost 11,000 jobs and generate $1.3 billion annually of new economic activity, according to results of a study released Monday.

In the study, economics professor Allan Jenkins and management professor Ron Konecny of the University of Nebraska at Kearney updated their cost-benefit analysis of Medicaid expansion from 2015. Jenkins said the new analysis incorporated findings from the 33 states that have expanded their Medicaid programs since 2014.

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NEBRASKA REVENUE PICTURE LOOKING UP AFTER FIRST-QUARTER TAX COLLECTIONS ARE HIGHER THAN EXPECTED

LINCOLN — A new state report shows that Nebraska’s financial picture brightened considerably during the first quarter of the state’s fiscal year, and one official credited federal tax cuts.

The Nebraska Department of Revenue released figures Monday showing that the state collected $63.3 million more tax revenue than expected from July 1 through Sept. 30. Net receipts for the three months were up 5.5 percent for the period. Last month alone, the state collected $45 million — or 9.9 percent — more than had been projected.

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NEBRASKA DEMOCRATS HAVE NO ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE

LINCOLN-Nebraska voters will see only one name on the ballot under attorney general: Republican incumbent Doug Peterson. Democrats had nominated attorney Van Argyrakis, but he stepped down after he was charged in connection with an attempted strangulation of his father. Argyrakis pleaded guilty in September to abuse of a vulnerable adult and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Democrats had said that they planned to find a replacement. But the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office said no name was submitted before the deadline.

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FIRST DISTRICT CANDIDATES HAVE DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO SUPPORTING NEBRASKAN FAMILIES

LINCOLN- It’s all about family for each candidate in the First District U.S. House of Representatives race this fall. For incumbent Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln, a Republican, supporting families produces a more united society.

“The strength of our nation ultimately depends upon the strength of our families and communities,” he said.

Democratic opponent Jessica McClure of Lincoln said her motivation for entering the race is to make sure families in eastern Nebraska, including her own, get the representation and rights they deserve.

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2ND DISTRICT CAMPAIGN ON TRACK TO BE MOST EXPENSIVE AFTER KARA EASTMAN RAISES $1.25 MILLION

OMAHA-Democrat Kara Eastman raised an eye-popping $1.25 million during this year’s third quarter in her bid to unseat Republican Rep. Don Bacon.

That amount nearly triples the amount that she’s raised so far and surpasses the amount that all recent 2nd Congressional District challengers had raised at this point in their campaigns. In fact, the candidates are on track to spend more than any two candidates combined in any previous 2nd District race. That doesn’t include money that outside groups are spending separately from the campaigns.

Bacon raised about $550,000 during the same third quarter, July 1 to Sept. 30.

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HOUSE CANDIDATES DON BACON, KARA EASTMAN FIND LITTLE TO AGREE ON IN WORLD-HERALD DEBATE

OMAHA-Republican Congressman Don Bacon and Democratic challenger Kara Eastman found almost no common ground in their first debate of the political season.

They clashed over every issue, including Russia and taxes.

The candidates also repeated their disagreement over the future of health care in the country, one of the major differences between the two campaigns. Eastman repeatedly sought to portray Bacon as unable to stand up to national Republicans to fight for the district. Bacon said that her statements were examples of problematic vitriol in politics today.

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DEMOCRATIC SUPER PAC BYPASSES KARA EASTMAN TO SUPPORT IOWA'S CINDY AXNE

WASHINGTON — A key Democratic super PAC has opted to devote its final-stage Omaha ad spending in support of Iowa House candidate Cindy Axne rather than Kara Eastman. The House Majority PAC is set to spend $228,000 on broadcast advertising and $18,000 on cable advertising in the Omaha market in the coming weeks.

Those ads could have supported Eastman, the former nonprofit executive running against incumbent GOP Rep. Don Bacon in Nebraska’s 2nd District.

Instead, the PAC has decided to spend its ad money on Axne, who is running against incumbent GOP Rep. David Young in Iowa’s 3rd District, which includes Council Bluffs.

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DEB FISCHER IS A TEAM PLAYER IN PUBLIC AND A FIGHTER BEHIND THE SCENES

LINCOLN — Two words still chill the spines of those who stood between U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer and her political goals, whether on the school board, in the Legislature or in the Senate.

“Listen, honey.”

That’s when you knew the discussion was done, said Fischer friend and former Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood of Norfolk. Her mind was made up. People soon learned what Fischer meant, whether they were on her side or tangling with her: Support her idea, help her improve it or get ready to fight her for votes.

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TWO SEATS UP FOR GRABS IN NEBRASKA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION RACE

LINCOLN-With longtime Public Service Commissioner Frank Landis retiring, the district that includes Lincoln will have a new representative for the first time in 30 years.

Political newcomer Christa Yoakum is facing off against former state Sen. Dan Watermeier to represent District 1, which covers Lancaster, Gage, Cass, Otoe, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee and Richardson counties.

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AFTER BACKING RICKETTS 4 YEARS AGO, NEBRASKA TROOPERS UNION NOW ENDORSES BOB KRIST FOR GOVERNOR

LINCOLN — Lingering vacancies in the ranks of the Nebraska State Patrol and concern over what many considered an unjust disciplinary firing last year prompted the nearly 400-member trooper union Thursday to endorse Bob Krist for governor.

"Our state troopers work hard in a dangerous, demanding job," said Brian Petersen, president of the State Troopers Association of Nebraska. "They deserve leadership that is accountable and responsible, not a governor who passes the buck and tries to place the blame on rank and file."

The same union endorsed Pete Ricketts four years ago when he was the Republican nominee for governor. The governor's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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PETE RICKETTS, WHO PUTS NET WORTH AT ABOUT $50 MILLION, HAS KEPT MANAGING INVESTMENTS AS GOVERNOR

LINCOLN — The top gun in Nebraska politics saw a financial opportunity in a company that markets the skills of former fighter pilots.

Tactical Air Support Inc., which has an office in Omaha, supplies aviators and aircraft to play the role of the enemy in training missions with U.S. military squadrons. Rather than maintaining a separate fleet of adversarial aircraft and pilots, the Pentagon finds it easier to buy “red air.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts held the investment — and more than 100 others — through his first term in office. Despite the complexity and breadth of the governor’s investment portfolio, a state ethics commission says the governor’s stakes in things like red air have so far raised no red flags.

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GOVERNOR, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES APPEAR AT JEWISH COMMUNITY CANDIDATE FORUM

Several candidates for Nebraska’s top offices answered questions about Israel and anti-Semitism on Sunday in a first-of-its-kind forum at Temple Israel.

About 400 people were in the crowd on the campus of the Tri-Faith Initiative as Rabbi Brian Stoller moderated a gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional forum.

Legislative candidates in Douglas County were also allowed to make a speech to the crowd.

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EDITORIAL: MORE ENDORSEMENTS FOR LEGISLATURE: MURMAN, PEDERSON, HUGHES

Property tax relief, K-12 funding, business incentives, balancing the budget — those are among the difficult challenges the Nebraska Legislature will need to address next year. We’re encouraged by the overall strength of candidates running for the Legislature this fall; many districts have two capable contenders. Here are our recommendations in the final three contests.

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KIRST ON GOP VIDEOS: RICKETTS SHOULD HAVE 'WATCHED' BEFORE RELEASING

Omaha, NE.—Gov. Pete Ricketts should have “watched that video” before releasing it.

That’s just part of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Krist’s first public and on-camera comments regarding three videos and charges by the Nebraska Republican Party that Krist, a state senator for the past ten years, has a drinking problem and has been drinking on the job.

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UNFAMILIAR NATIONAL FACE TARGETS FORMER LAWMAKER LATHROP

Omaha, NE.—TV attack ads are nothing new but there’s an unfamiliar face on the attack in one key Nebraska race.

It’s the Lathrop-Riepe legislative battle in Ralston and southwest Omaha. And that unfamiliar face belongs to the little known Washington D.C. based Republican State Leadership Committee.

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NORTHEAST LINCOLN 'LOCALLY FOCUSED' ON LEGISLATIVE RACE, CANDIDATES SAY

State Sen. Matt Hansen said he's spent his first term ensuring the priorities of voters in Lincoln's 26th District are represented on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature.His challenger, Robert Van Valkenburg of Lincoln, said he'll bring honesty and integrity to the seat if elected to represent most of northeast Lincoln, plus a swath of Lancaster County.

Hansen, a registered Democrat in the officially nonpartisan Legislature, easily defeated the Republican Van Valkenburg in May's primary election, earning 77 percent of the vote.

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EDITORIAL: MORE ENDORSEMENTS FOR LEGISLATURE: MCCOLLISTER, KOLTERMAN, HANSEN, DORN

The Nebraska Legislature will need to address complicated issues next year, striving for consensus on property tax relief, K-12 funding, business incentives and balancing the budget. We’re encouraged by the overall strength of candidates running for the Legislature this fall; many districts have two capable contenders. Here are more of our recommendations

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EDITORIAL: MORE LEGISLATURE ENDORSEMENTS: CLEMENTS, HILKEMANN, HUNT, ARCH, HASSEBROOK, LINDSTROM

There are 19 contests in this fall’s election for the Nebraska Legislature. Here are more of our recommendations in those state legislative contests.

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FIVE OF OUR ENDORSEMENTS FOR THE LEGISLATURE: THIBODEAU, DEBOER, LATHROP, EBKE, GRAGERT

The Nebraska Legislature has a lot on its plate for the 2019 session. Issues include property tax relief, K-12 funding changes, addressing Medicaid expansion if approved by voters this fall and revamping business incentives — all while balancing the state budget at a time of limited revenue growth.

It’s crucial that the Legislature be solutions-focused. Nineteen state legislative seats will be on the Nov. 6 ballots in their respective districts. We’re encouraged by the overall strength of candidates this year; many legislative contests feature two worthy contenders. In editorials starting today, we offer our recommendations.

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RICKETTS, KRIST MEET WITH NO OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE

OMAHA — Gov. Pete Ricketts and Democratic challenger Bob Krist met on the same stage Sunday, probably for the last time, and the result featured less fireworks and more a controlled burn.

The Republican governor and the Democratic nominee stood at separate podiums before a polite audience that was largely composed of members of the congregation of Temple Israel in west Omaha to separately answer a few prepared questions with no opportunity for interchange or rebuttal.

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BOB KRIST - WITH NET WORTH OF ABOUT $350,000 - FALLS IN MIDDLE CLASS

LINCOLN — State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, the Democratic candidate for governor, lives a solidly middle-class life.

Krist himself estimates his net worth at “roughly $350,000,” considerably less than his Republican opponent for the state’s top office.

As required by state law, he has filed a statement with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission every year since he became a state senator in 2009. The statements show little change from year to year.

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LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CANDIDATE QUESTIONS RICKETTS' RECORD ON DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT AGAINST WOMEN

LINCOLN — The Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor said Thursday that Gov. Pete Ricketts is “out of touch with the women of Nebraska and indifferent to claims of discrimination and harassment” in state government.

Ricketts’ campaign rebutted the charges.

State Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont made the statements during a press conference in the State Capitol, flanked by several women and a few men.

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CANDIDATES IN SOUTH-CENTRAL NEBRASKA LEGISLATIVE RACE SEEK TO EASE RELIANCE ON PROPERTY TAX

Voters in south-central Nebraska’s 38th district this year have a choice of who will represent them in the Legislature for the first time since 2006. In the two elections since, the candidate ran unopposed.

Dave Murman, a Republican, and Marsha Fangmeyer, a Democrat, are hoping to represent the U-shaped district that includes Clay, Franklin, Kearney, Nuckolls, Phelps and Webster Counties and part of rural Buffalo County.

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OMAHA, LINCOLN MAYORS UNITE AGAINST TERM LIMITS; STOTHERT SAYS PROPOSAL 'DIRECTLY' TARGETS BEUTLER

Republican Mayor Jean Stothert of Omaha came out swinging Thursday against a term-limits campaign in Lincoln that is widely viewed as being aimed at the capital city’s Democratic mayor, Chris Beutler.

“Our work as mayors of Nebraska’s two largest cities is nonpartisan,” Stothert said in a joint appearance with Beutler. “I have sincerely appreciated working with you, mayor, on many issues that we share common interest. ... I am here to encourage the voters of Lincoln to reject the so-called mayoral term-limit proposal that is on your November ballot.”

Stothert, who is considering seeking a third term as Omaha mayor and could potentially face a term-limits challenge in her own city, called the Lincoln effort “a slick way to kick Mayor Beutler out of office at the end of this term.”

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BACON, EASTMAN AGREE SOCIAL SECURITY IS RUNNING OUT OF MONEY. HERE'S THE DIFFERENT WAYS THEY'D FIX IT

Republican Rep. Don Bacon and Democratic challenger Kara Eastman don’t even agree on the extent of the Social Security system’s solvency problems.

Bacon argues that Social Security will become “insolvent” by 2034 and that something needs to be done now to fix it. He suggests making some cuts to benefits, including increasing the full retirement age for people who are currently younger than 40.

Eastman calls the solvency issue a “modest funding gap” and wants to solve it by lifting the cap on incomes subject to Social Security taxes. She said if anything, Social Security benefits should be increased, not decreased.

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IN SOUTHWEST NEBRASKA, STATE SEN. HUGHES, CHALLENGER MALCOM DIFFER ON TAXES, MEDICAID

Stephanie Malcolm wants to offer voters in her southwest Nebraska legislative district a choice on the ballot. Her opponent, Dan Hughes, would have run unopposed if not for her efforts.Hughes is a well-funded Republican incumbent in District 44, which covers 10 counties and includes the cities of McCook, Imperial and Curtis. 

Malcolm, a registered independent from Palisade, said she hopes she inspires others to get involved through her “grassroots extreme” campaign. “You don’t have to be a superhero to get involved in the process,” she said. Hughes said he offers experience in handling legislative procedures and building coalitions. A farmer from Venango, Hughes is chairman of the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee.

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IN WEST OMAHA LEGISLATIVE RACE, THIBODEAU AND CAVANAUGH HAVE SIMILAR BACKGROUNDS, OPPOSITE POLITICS

LINCOLN — The candidates battling over west-central Omaha’s District 6 legislative seat look very similar on the surface.

Both are professional women with varied career backgrounds. Both are married, have three children and are Catholic. Both are Omaha natives related to well-known politicians.

But Machaela Cavanaugh and State Sen. Theresa Thibodeau disagree on almost every political issue confronting Nebraska, including Medicaid expansion, tax cuts, the death penalty and abortion.

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RICKETTS WAGING $3M RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Gov. Pete Ricketts appears to be waging a $3 million campaign in his bid for re-election to a second term.

As the latest campaign finance filings began to stream into the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, the governor's campaign reported nearly $2.4 million in expenditures and $892,000 in cash on hand as of Oct. 2.

The governor's campaign war chest includes a $930,000 loan from Ricketts. 

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UNDER OPPD PROPOSAL, CLEANER AIR COULD COME QUICKER - BUT IT MAY COST MORE

Local air could be cleaner quicker, and electricity could cost more when natural gas prices climb if the Omaha Public Power District adopts a proposed shift next week in its long-term approach to environmental stewardship.

Instead of aiming its long-term goal at generating a certain percentage of local electricity from renewable sources, as it has since 2015, OPPD is considering a policy that would reduce the amount of carbon released while producing each megawatt of electricity for ratepayers.

This might sound like a distinction without a difference. It’s not.

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PART OF SARPY COUNTY HAS SAT UNTOUCHED FROM DEVELOPMENT. A NEW LINE WILL CHANGE THAT.

Sarpy County is poised to lay the underground work that will eventually open up a wide expanse of land to development — residential, commercial and industrial.

The project — installing sewer lines in an area that previously had none — has been a long time coming. Now county leaders hope it keeps Sarpy booming.

After all, without a humble sewer line, there can be no housing subdivisions, mixed-use destinations or data centers. You might say all life in this part of the county will flow from these new sewer lines.

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TRUMP RALLY CROWD CHANTS 'LOCK HER UP!' ABOUT SEN. FEINSTEIN

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Chants of "Lock her up!" rang once again throughout an Iowa arena as President Donald Trump rallied supporters Tuesday night.

But this time, the staple of Trump's 2016 campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton had a new target: California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

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THE "KAVANAUGH EFFECT" ON MIDTERMS

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - We are now exactly one month out from midterm elections and both sides seem increasingly fired up. The newest reason: the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U. S. Supreme Court.

Will it change how men and women traditionally vote?

President Trump certainly believes so as he hits the road Monday to Iowa among a handful of other stops this week.

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EXXON PUTS UP $1 MILLION TO BOOST CARBON TAX

Exxon Mobil Corp. , once a powerful skeptic of global warming, will now be among the first oil companies to put money into the fight to make climate change a political priority in Washington.

The U.S.’s largest energy producer will commit $1 million over two years to promote a national tax on carbon as a way to address the environmental issue. The funding will back an initiative designed to appeal to the Republicans who now control Washington, and may open the door for Exxon’s peers in the oil industry to follow.

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KEYSTONE XL OPEN HOUSE DRAWS COMMENTS FROM BOTH SIDES, COMPLAINTS FROM OPPONENTS

After putting their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline on the record, Bold Nebraska pipeline fighters walked out of a U.S. Department of State open house Tuesday, calling the process a sham because it wasn't a true public hearing.

The State Department instead planned a three-hour, open-house format public meeting on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement on the proposed "mainline alternative" route approved by the Nebraska Public Service Commission on a 3-2 vote last year.

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TRUMP TO ALLOW YEAR-ROUND SALES OF HIGH-ETHANOL GASOLINE; 'GREAT NEWS FOR NEBRASKA,' RICKETTS SAYS

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is moving to allow year-round sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol, a boon for Iowa and other farm states that have pushed for greater sales of the corn-based fuel.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce he is lifting a federal ban on summer sales of high-ethanol blends during a trip to Iowa on Tuesday.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska Ethanol Board and commodity organizations in the state hailed word of the pending announcement. 

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A NEBRASKA PAROLE BOARD GAVE AN INMATE ANOTHER CHANCE. THEN A WOMAN WAS KIDNAPPED AND KILLED

A female runner threatened by a gunman years before had no intention of speaking at his November 2017 Nebraska Board of Parole hearing.

In an email to the board, the Omaha woman wrote that she suffers lasting effects from the encounter with Jeremiah Connelly and did not want to devote “time and energy” to him.

“You had no right,” she wrote in the email, read aloud at the hearing by a Parole Board member. “I fear things now that I did not fear before. You stole my positive view of the world and how I thought people should act to one another. You deserve to stay in jail.”

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IN JAIL FOR TRESPASSING, MENTALLY ILL OMAHA WOMAN NEVER MADE IT OUT

Susan Kiscoan refused to leave a doctor’s clinic just north of downtown on Sept. 14, 2017.After directing her to get out several times, Omaha police arrested her for trespassing — a misdemeanor that typically results in a $25 fine or a day in jail.

For Kiscoan, it effectively became a death sentence.

Over the next two weeks, the schizophrenic 45-year-old Omaha woman sat in jail, sometimes desperate, sometimes defiant, sometimes despondent.

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MASSIVE $84 MILLION STATE COMPUTER PROJECT HALTED TO FIND OUT IF IT WORKS

LINCOLN — The State of Nebraska has suspended work on a massive new social services computer system, opening the possibility that the project that has already cost nearly $60 million could be scrapped.

The legal counsel of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services last month gave a cease and desist letter to the contractor working on a new Medicaid eligibility and enrollment system and ordered its workers to vacate their work space in a state office building.

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A YEAR AFTER SUPREME COURT SEALED FATE OF WHITECLAY BEER STORES, REFORMS STILL NEEDED, ACTIVIST SAYS

A year after the Nebraska Supreme Court closed the door to further alcohol sales in Whiteclay, activists think reforms are still needed in and around the village in northwest Nebraska.

Among their concerns: the ongoing effects of alcoholism and fetal-alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) on the nearby Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, several unexplained deaths in Whiteclay, and possible bootlegging in surrounding communities.

Last week, on the anniversary of the court's decision, activists gathered in Whiteclay to discuss their next steps.

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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION REPEALS TRAIN SAFETY RULE; CRITICS CALL ACTION 'RECKLESS'

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has repealed a safety regulation governing trains that carry large quantities of oil, sparking new fears among state officials and environmental activists that devastating oil spills could be more likely.

The Department of Transportation announced last week that trains carrying flammable liquids such as crude oil and ethanol would no longer be required to install electronically controlled pneumatic braking systems, an Obama-era rule instituted to decrease the chance of derailments.

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BELLEVUE MAN DOESN'T USE GASOLINE OR PAY FOR ELECTRICITY AND HASN'T SET OUT TRASH FOR 3 YEARS

Planet Earth doesn’t know Don Preister exists.

He uses no gasoline, pays the Omaha Public Power District nothing, mows his lawn with one of those once-ubiquitous hand-pushed manual mowers, puts out recyclables but no trash or yard waste, and that small amount of puzzling trash — like used plastic pens — gets placed into orange “energy bags” that are delivered to a Kansas agency that breaks down petroleum-based products for re-use as “plastic lumber.”

“I have not set out trash for three years,” Preister said last month.

“I set out a recycling container every other week. I don’t ever set out any kind of yard waste. I don’t ever set out trash now, so, essentially my carbon footprint is zero.”

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NEBRASKA EARNS ANOTHER $1.7 MILLION IN FEDERAL BONUSES AFTER FIXING STATE'S FOOD STAMP SYSTEM

LINCOLN — Nebraska has earned another $1.7 million in federal performance bonuses after regaining its top-tier ranking in processing food stamp applications.

Officials announced Thursday that the state will get nearly $1.35 million for fiscal year 2017 and $335,846 for the previous year.

Nebraska earned the money for above-average accuracy in denying applications and ending benefits to households that do not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The state ranked second-best nationally in 2017 and fourth-best in 2016.

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UNMC HELPS CREATE ROAD MAP TO TREAT STAPH INFECTIONS THAT CUT ANTIBIOTIC USE

One of the challenges of treating patients with staph bacteria in their bloodstreams, a potentially deadly infection, is to figure out the “sweet spot.”

Too little antibiotics, and the drugs won’t get the job done, said Dr. Mark Rupp, professor and chief of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s infectious diseases division. Too much, and they can not only cause side effects but also drive antibiotic resistance.

So researchers, including a team at UNMC, tested a clinical algorithm that helps doctors sort patients by the complexity of their infections and determine what course of drugs they need. Rupp described the algorithm as a kind of road map to help guide clinicians down the treatment pathway.

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PRESIDENT TRUMP NOMINATES BRIAN C. BUESCHER AS FEDERAL JUDGE FOR DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump nominated Brian C. Buescher of Omaha, Nebraska to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) recommended Mr. Buescher to the president for this judgeship.

“Brian Buescher has had a successful legal career. His background, experience, and judicial philosophy are the reasons I recommended him to President Trump for this judgeship. I look forward to a fair and swift Senate confirmation process so that Mr. Buescher can soon serve on the Nebraska federal bench,” said Senator Fischer. 

Currently, Buescher is a partner at Kutak Rock LLP where he leads the firm’s agribusiness litigation team. He also practices in the areas of environmental, food law, real estate, product liability, and banking. Buescher graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics. He received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

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DEMOCRATS' FUED ESCALATES, FINDS CRUCIAL VOTES IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Omaha. NE.—The feud between two top Democratic officials, first reported by News Channel Nebraska, is now bleeding into an early voting controversy with threats of potentially dire Election Day consequences for Democrats up and down the ballot, most significantly Congressional hopeful Kara Eastman.

In an email to her party’s candidates in Douglas County, Democratic County Chair Crystal Rhoades accuses Democratic State Chair Jane Kleeb of “jeopardizing every single candidate in this county.”

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SEWER AGENCY PICKS PAPILLION AREA AS FIRST BENEFICIARY

The Sarpy County and Cities Wastewater Agency voted unanimously Sept. 5 to designate an area bounded roughly by 60th and 84th streets south of Highway 370 as the first place that sewer infrastructure will be installed.

Don Kelly, chairman of the Sarpy County Board, who also serves as chairman of the wastewater agency, said the area was chosen because it offers the best opportunity for rapid growth.

“This first segment alone will add 760 acres for industrial development and 1,760 acres for residential development,” Kelly said in a news release.

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VOTERS WILL DETERMINE MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR 90,000 NEBRASKANS

Nebraska voters will decide next month whether Medicaid coverage should be extended to an estimated 90,000 adult Nebraskans, most of whom work in low-paying jobs.

They include food service and retail sales workers who do not qualify for Medicaid assistance now and cannot afford to purchase private health care insurance. After seven years of frustration and failure in the Legislature, supporters launched an initiative petition drive that collected more than 100,000 signatures statewide to place the issue on the November ballot and hand the decision over to Nebraska voters. 

While supporters argue that the proposal would fuel an economic boom in the state by accessing more than a billion dollars in federal funding while extending needed health care coverage to Nebraskans described as the working poor, opponents contend that state matching fund costs would disrupt the state budget and crowd out other spending priorities.

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NONPROFIT THAT AIMS TO LOWER DRUG PRICES IS 'DISRUPTION' THE INDUSTRY NEEDS, CHI HEALTH EXEC SAYS

First hospitals had to hunt down or find work-arounds for certain types of IV fluids that were in short supply. More recently, some pain medications have been hard to get.

To address shortages and high prices for some older drugs, a group of seven large health systems and three philanthropic groups recently launched a new nonprofit generic drug company called Civica Rx.

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NEBRASKA'S STATE COLLEGES HAVE A NEW LEADER

A South Dakotan with ties to Nebraska received the nod Monday to serve as chancellor of Nebraska’s state college system.

The State College Board of Trustees named Paul D. Turman its next leader late Monday afternoon. The trustees oversee Wayne, Peru and Chadron State Colleges, and Turman will be the CEO of that system.

“I’m just excited for the opportunity,” Turman, 46, said in a brief interview.

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THE FUTURE OF ELECTRIC CARS IS BRIGHTER WITH ELON MUSK IN IT

Elon Musk’s decision to settle fraud charges against him — by paying a $20 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission and agreeing to step down as the chairman of Tesla, the company he co-founded — is the best possible outcome for both investors in Tesla and anyone who cares about the future of electric vehicles.

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4 OMAHANS NOMINATED TO REPLACE MARK ASHFORD ON DOUGLAS COUNTY DISTRICT COURT BENCH

Gov. Pete Ricketts has been given four Omahans to choose from to replace Douglas County District Judge Mark Ashford.

Ashford died unexpectedly on Aug. 1 after suffering a stroke. The state’s Judicial Nominating Commission announced Monday that it was sending the names of four Omahans to the governor for him to consider appointing to replace Ashford:

» Patrick Guinan, a partner at Erickson Sederstrom, a law firm with offices in Omaha and Lincoln

» Judge Thomas Harmon, appointed to the Douglas County Court in 2011

» Jim Masteller, a prosecutor in the Douglas County Attorney’s Office

» Andrew J. Wilson, a lawyer at Gross & Welch, an Omaha firm specializing in litigation and business law.

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WASHINGTON TIMES RETRACTS COLUMN THAT FLOATED MURDER CONSPIRACY ABOUT OMAHA NATIVE SETH RICH

WASHINGTON — The Washington Times retracted and apologized on Monday for an op-ed column that made erroneous statements about the slaying of Seth Rich, an Omaha native and a Democratic National Committee staff member who has been the subject of a right-wing conspiracy theory.

The conservative news outlet withdrew the column, published in March, that asserted that Rich and his brother Aaron downloaded DNC emails and sold them to the website WikiLeaks.

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LOCAL AGENCIES HAVE SIX DRONES, AT A COST OF $90,000

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Department on Friday used its new drone to search a cornfield for a runaway student from a nearby school. Within an hour the department had its unmanned aerial system airborne and searching the field near 70th Street and Old Cheney Road, said Sheriff Terry Wagner.

The drone did not help in finding the girl. A citizen spotted her, called and deputies found her as she was leaving the field, Wagner said.But this is exactly the kind of operation where drones are helpful, Wagner said.

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RICKETTS SAYS NEW STATE BUDGET WILL FOCUS ON PROPERTY TAXES

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has set to work on a new state budget proposal he says will focus on property taxes and K-12 school funding, two of the many competing priorities lawmakers will consider in 2019.

The Republican governor, who is up for re-election this year, is reviewing new budget requests submitted by state agencies this month and developing a two-year package to present to the Legislature in January.

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NEBRASKA LEGISLATOR WANTS TO GIVE SCHOOL DISTRICTS OPTION TO ARM TEACHERS

LINCOLN — A Nebraska lawmaker plans to introduce legislation giving local school boards the option of arming teachers or other school staff.

State Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings said the testimony at an interim study hearing Friday convinced him that there is interest in the idea as a way to deter or stop school shootings. His proposal would not require districts to arm staff. It would mandate special training for staff that do carry concealed weapons at school.

“It’s a tool in the toolbox,” he said. “School safety is not a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter issue.”

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HOW CALIFORNIA GAVE NEBRASKA ETHANOL PRODUCERS A BOOST - AND WIND GENERATORS TOO

Three turbines twirled in the Nebraska wind, turning the village of Fairmont, for a brief time, into a 100 percent renewable-energy community.

More importantly, those General Electric turbines have the potential to raise the value of ethanol made from Midwestern corn by a Fairmont plant and shipped to West Coast markets because of a California law aimed at reducing carbon pollution.

“The less carbon emissions you’re creating, the less fossil fuel you’re burning in the process of making your product, the better off you’ll be,” said Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board.

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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SUES OVER CALIFORNIA NET NEUTRALITY LAW

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill reinstating Obama-era open-internet rules in the state, and the Justice Department responded almost immediately with a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the federal government, not the states, should oversee the internet, and California had “enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”

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DEMOCRAT KARA EASTMAN PICKS UP ENDORSEMENT FROM OBAMA IN 2ND DISTRICT HOUSE RACE

Obama, the Democratic president who left office in 2017, issued his second round of 2018 endorsements for federal and state candidates Monday.

“I’m proud to endorse even more Democratic candidates who aren’t just running against something, but for something — to expand opportunity for all of us and to restore dignity, honor, and compassion to public service,” he tweeted. “They deserve your vote.”

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FARM, RANCH GROUPS HIT RICKETTS HARD ON LACK OF PROPERTY TAX RELIEF IN ENDORSING KRIST FOR GOVERNOR

Two Nebraska farm and ranch organizations say the inability of Gov. Pete Ricketts to address property tax relief has led them to endorse Bob Krist, the Democratic candidate for governor.

In a campaign event Thursday in Grand Island, Krist received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farmers Union Political Action Committee (NEBFARMPAC) and the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON). Along with the lack of meaningful property tax relief for farmers and ranchers, John Hansen, NEBFARMPAC secretary and president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, was also critical of how, he said, Ricketts has abused Nebraska’s state’s unique one-house, nonpartisan Legislature.

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NEBRASKA AUDITOR'S LONG BAR LUNCHES COULD BE THE BREAK HIS DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER NEEDS

LINCOLN — The race for Nebraska state auditor, thought to be noncompetitive only a couple of weeks ago, is a whole new ballgame following revelations that incumbent State Auditor Charlie Janssen was spending long hours at a sports bar during work hours.

Democratic challenger Jane Skinner — a political novice who filed because no one else had — said before a World-Herald story documenting the current auditor’s office schedule that she doubted she could even afford yard signs for her campaign.

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PARRIS ADVOCATES FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, MEDICAID, PRISON REFORM

Twenty-three years in the U.S. Air Force, which he concluded as supervisor of Offutt Air Force Base’s RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance mission, taught Jeff Parris to focus on the job.

“We didn’t care if somebody was Republican, Democrat, non-partisan, we all worked together to get the mission done,” he said. “I think that has given me a mindset so that when I get down to the Legislature I will be able to work with everyone, no matter who it is.”

Parris, 49, is seeking election to the Nebraska Legislature from District 14, which consists largely of the cities of Papillion and La Vista.

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JOHN ARCH TAKES LONG VIEW, SEEKS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

John Arch prefers to plan than to react.

It’s a philosophy he said has guided his 30-year career in health care administration, including 25 years running Boys Town’s health care division.

And it’s a philosophy he said he will bring to the Nebraska Legislature should he be elected on Nov. 6 to represent District 14, which consists largely of the cities of Papillion and La Vista.

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PREDICTIONS OF A 'KAVANAUGH WAVE' IN NOVEMBER. BUT FOR DEMOCRATS OR GOP?

WASHINGTON — The country is closely following the Brett Kavanaugh saga, but will it sway voters in November?

In an era when the everyday deluge of news coming out of Washington can often feel too overwhelming, the Senate hearing last week to examine allegations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee seems to have broken through to an unusual degree.

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KRIST SAYS BELLEVUE WOULD BENEFIT FROM MEDICAID EXPANSION

Expanding the federal Medicaid program in the state of Nebraska need not be a budget buster and could enable the state to cover many more people — including underserved military veterans — for less money than the state already spends.

So said Nebraska State Sen. Bob Krist Sept. 13 during a town hall meeting at the Bellevue Volunteer Firefighters Hall.

Krist, 61, who represents various areas of northern Douglas County in the Legislature, is the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor who will face off Nov. 6 against Republican incumbent Pete Ricketts.

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UBER REACHES $148M SETTLEMENT WITH STATES; NEBRASKA TO GET $700K

Nebraska will receive $700,000 from the $148 million settlement Uber has reached with the states.

Uber, the California-based ride sharing company, has reached the settlement with all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office reported the settlement reached after Uber delayed for a year to tell its drivers hackers had gained access to some of their personal information. Uber learned in 2016 personal information had been obtained on about 600,000 of its drivers nationwide. It didn’t report the breach until November of last year.

Uber also has agreed to strengthen its corporate governance and data security practices to help prevent a similar occurrence in the future, according to the AG office.

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ATTORNEYS GENERAL, INCLUDING NEBRASKA'S, LOOK AT TECH GIANTS' PRIVACY PRACTICES

WASHINGTON — A meeting of federal and state law enforcement officials Tuesday could presage investigations of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, stemming from allegations that the tech giants fail to protect users’ private data.

The gathering had been designed to focus on the way social media platforms moderate content online, following complaints from President Donald Trump and other top Republicans that Silicon Valley companies seek to suppress conservative users and views online.

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HOUSE PASSES CITIZENSHIP BILL, NAMED FOR KERRIE OROZCO, FOR IMMIGRANT SURVIVORS OF FIRST RESPONDERS

WASHINGTON — It’s been more than three years since a wanted fugitive’s bullet made Hector Orozco a single father. Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco was attempting to serve a felony warrant when the fugitive opened fire, fatally shooting her.

Hector, who is from Mexico, has been left to raise their now-3-year-old daughter Olivia, along with his two children from a previous marriage, as he continues to pursue U.S. citizenship. Hector’s attorney, Kristin Fearnow, told The World-Herald this week that the family is doing as well as can be expected now.

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CORN HARVEST AT 9 PERCENT; SOYBEANS AT 13 PERCENT OUT OF FIELD

LINCOLN — Harvest progress for Nebraska corn and soybeans were at or near the double-digit level as of Sunday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Corn progress was at 9 percent and 13 percent of the soybeans were out of the fields.

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URBAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HEARS TESTIMONY ON LAND BANKS AT G.I. INTERIM HEARING

Nebraska state senators were able to get testimony from Central Nebraskans during an interim hearing Tuesday at College Park.

The Legislature’s Urban Affairs Committee hosted the hearing. State Sens. Matt Hansen, Sara Howard and Dan Quick attended the interim hearing. This year marked the fourth consecutive year the committee has held hearings outside of the State Capitol during the interim.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the committee heard testimony on three interim studies. LR400, an interim study to examine issues related to the Nebraska Municipal Land Bank Act, attracted considerable testimony.

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STATE LEADERS WELCOME SOUTH KOREAN TRADE DEAL AS FARMERS BEGIN HARVEST

Gov. Pete Ricketts and Sen. Deb Fischer welcomed a new U.S. trade deal with South Korea Tuesday. News of the trade agreement comes as U.S. and China are engaged in a trade war that could impact the prices farmers receive as they head to the fields for a record corn and soybean harvest.

Ricketts thanked President Donald Trump for the signing of the trade agreement between the two countries.

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LPS CONTRIBUTES $309,000 TO CLCS IN ADDITION TO MONEY FROM NEW INTERLOCAL

The Lincoln Board of Education approved spending $309,000 to help pay for supervisors at the 26 before- and after-school programs called Community Learning Centers.

The amendments to the contracts with the agencies that run the programs — the Malone Center, Lincoln Parks and Recreation, Civic Nebraska, Family Service and the YMCA — take place each year after Lincoln Public Schools sets its budget.

Tuesday's board approval allocated district funds and finalized the budgets of those agencies, said CLC director Nola Derby-Bennett.

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FARMERS' BAILOUT CHECKS START ARRIVING AS TRUMP'S TRADE WAR ESCALATES

WASHINGTON — The federal government has given $25.8 million to farmers this month under a program designed to help them weather President Donald Trump’s international trade battle, a spokesman for the Agriculture Department said Friday.

The money represents some of the first payments of what the Trump administration said will be a $12 billion bailout, which aims to help farmers cope with retaliatory tariffs foreign countries have imposed on their products. Those retaliatory tariffs have dimmed demand for U.S. products overseas and resulted in a domestic supply glut that has deflated some prices at home.

From Sept. 4 through Thursday, the USDA had received 39,447 applications for aid. The department has approved 7,851 thus far, the USDA official said.

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ATTORNEYS GENERAL FROM NEBRASKA, OTHER STATES ASKING DEA TO TIGHTEN MANUFACTURING OPIOIDS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Attorneys general from Nebraska and 10 other states are asking the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to further tighten the manufacture of opioids.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office says the DEA's preliminary quotas for 2019 don't reflect the federal agency's position that demand shouldn't be equated with legitimate need. He said he believes the proposed quotas are still excessive, even with a 10 percent reduction.

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KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE'S ALTERNATIVE ROUTE WOULD HAVE MINIMAL IMPACT, STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS

LINCOLN — The U.S. State Department, in response to a judge’s order, has reported that operation of an alternative route for the Keystone XL pipeline would pose “negligible to minor” threats to groundwater and other natural resources.

The 340-page report says safeguards used by pipeline developer TransCanada would most likely prevent a leak from causing extensive contamination of ground or surface water along the so-called “mainline alternative route” approved last year by the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

“Prompt cleanup response would likely be capable of remediating the contaminated soils before the hazardous release reaches groundwater depth,” the report says.

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STATE COLLEGE SYSTEM NAMES FINALISTS FOR LEADER'S POST

A Nebraska state senator, higher education officials from South Dakota and Missouri, and the president of a small college in Texas are the finalists for chancellor of Nebraska’s state college system. Dr. John Kuehn, a veterinarian and state senator from Heartwell, is among the foursome.

Also in the running:

» Thom Chesney, president of two-year Brookhaven College in Texas.

» Rusty Monhollon, assistant commissioner for academic affairs at the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

» Paul Turman, system vice president for academic affairs, South Dakota Board of Regents.

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OPEC AIMS FOR CRUDE OIL BELOW $80 AMID DISAGREEMENT OVER QUOTAS

ALGIERS, Algeria—OPEC producers largely agree that oil prices above $80 a barrel would be too high. But there is widespread disagreement on how the cartel and its allies should contain crude prices once U.S. sanctions banning Iranian oil sales take effect in November.

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and a Russia-led alliance are meeting in the Algerian capital on Sunday to debate options for stabilizing prices, which have soared 40% in the past year. At the same time, some OPEC member nations also want to hold to a deal, forged in June, that loosened previously agreed production cuts.

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SURGING DEMAND INFLATES PRICE OF MARIJUANA ETF

Investors in a popular marijuana fund have been overpaying for their shares this week as demand for pot stocks surged.

The $629 million ETFMG Alternative Harvest exchange-traded fund owns shares in about 35 companies, including Canadian cannabis growers, a Spanish manufacturer of cigarette papers and the maker of Miracle-Gro fertilizer, according to FactSet. The ETF ended Thursday’s session at $43.01 a share, 41 cents above the value of its underlying assets, according to data from Bloomberg LP. The spread narrowed to 14 cents a share Friday.

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LONGTIME NEBRASKA PRISON ADMINISTRATOR PROMOTED TO POST OVERSEEING TRANSITIONAL PROGRAMING

LINCOLN — Dawn-Renee Smith, a longtime state prison administrator, has been promoted to a deputy director’s post that oversees community corrections and re-entry services.

Smith has been with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services since 2005 and most recently served as chief of staff under State Corrections Director Scott Frakes. Previously, she had been the agency’s communications director and liaison with the Nebraska Legislature.

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WITH RULE CHANGE REJECTED BY GOVERNOR, SOME NEBRASKA TEACHERS-IN-TRAINING LEFT IN LIMBO

The rule change in question — which requires a governor's signature — would have adjusted the passing requirements on a proficiency exam required to be admitted into any of the state’s teachers colleges. 

Education advocates hoped the change would eliminate a barrier for good education candidates and help increase the teaching workforce; the governor was concerned it would reduce standards. 

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NEBRASKA SEN. ANNA WISHART WILL INTRODUCE MEDICAL CANNABIS BILL IN EARLY 2019

Nebraska State Sen. Anna Wishart says she’s going to give her colleagues that opportunity in early 2019 when she introduces another medical cannabis bill. While filibusters have extinguished four prior legalization measures in Nebraska, the Lincoln Democrat said she’s working on a new proposal. Although she tried to pass a resolution to put the issue on the ballot earlier this year, Wishart said she’s convinced that a legislative approach would be better for the state.

One of the leading opponents of past medical marijuana proposals in Nebraska says he’s at least willing to consider a new bill.

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NEBRASKA LAWMAKERS TO SEEK REDISTRICTING CHANGES IN 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The once-a-decade process of redrawing legislative and congressional districts will face fresh scrutiny and a new sense of urgency next year as Nebraska legislators decide whether to overhaul the effort to reduce partisanship.

Democrats and some Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature say that the current process, which will begin again in 2021, is too self-serving because it lets incumbent lawmakers design their own districts and those held by political allies in Congress. Others maintain the state constitution requires legislators to redraw district boundaries and turning over even partial responsibility to others would violate the spirt of the law.

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LOW UNEMPLOYMENT, SLOW WAGE GROWTH BRING RENEWED LABOR STRIFE

The strengthening economy and tight labor market are giving workers more confidence to demand employer concessions through strikes.

In recent weeks, unionized hotel housekeepers in Chicago, distillery workers in Kentucky and crane operators in Seattle have all walked off the job to pressure employers for better pay and benefits.

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OIL PRODUCERS DEBATE BEST WAY TO CONTAIN CRUDE PRICES

ALGIERS, Algeria—OPEC producers largely agree that oil prices above $80 a barrel would be too high. But there is widespread disagreement on how the cartel and its allies should contain crude prices once U.S. sanctions banning Iranian oil sales take effect in November.

The lack of a consensus highlights inequities between oil-producing countries that can boost output beyond current levels and those that can’t. The former group would like to see a rise in demand. The latter prefer higher oil prices.

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NEBRASKA SENATOR TO COMPETE IN WORLD SNIPER EVENT

When Nebraska state Sen. Tom Brewer tells you he's a straight shooter, he's not kidding. The retired Nebraska National Guard colonel won a world sniper championship 20 years ago. On Wednesday, Brewer, 60, was on a plane to Bulgaria to try to reclaim that trophy.

"Keep in mind, I was old then. Everybody was in their 20s, so I’m really old now," Brewer said. But with age comes wisdom."This is a thinking man's game," Brewer said.Brewer, who has won dozens of national and international shooting competitions, has had to use his skills in real combat. In Afghanistan in 2003, he held off scores of Taliban insurgents, even after being shot six times.Then, in 2011, on his sixth tour of duty, he was wounded again in Afghanistan.

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INTERIM FCC VOTES TO LIMIT LOCAL SAY ON SMALL-CELL WIRELESS DEPLOYMENTS; LINCOLN AFFECTED

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday voted to limit the ability of cities and states to regulate the deployment of small-cell wireless installations on public infrastructure and in public right-of-way. The FCC voted 4-0 at its monthly meeting to, among other things, limit the fees local governments can charge and institute a "shot clock" limiting how long the local review process can take.

The FCC said the move is necessary to facilitate the deployment of infrastructure necessary for 5G and other advanced wireless services. The vote, "underscores the FCC’s commitment to ensuring that the United States wins the global race to 5G," the FCC said in a news release.

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MORE ENDORSEMENTS LINE UP FOR DON BACON, KARA EASTMAN IN 2ND DISTRICT HOUSE RACE

Republican Congressman Don Bacon and Democratic challenger Kara Eastman are continuing to battle over labor and other support, with each announcing a host of endorsements this month. Bacon has gotten the support of the local and national chapters of the Laborers’ International Union of North America and National Electrical Contractors Association; Air Line Pilots Association, International; 21 Republican state senators and eight Republican county sheriffs, including both in the 2nd Congressional District.

 For her part, Eastman has received support from the Nebraska Alliance for Retired Americans, a group of retired union members; the Human Rights Campaign and the national group Social Security Works; and the state Democratic Party’s LGBTQIA+ caucus.

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IN NEBRASKA'S 3RD DISTRICT RACE, ECONOMY AND HEALTH CARE DIVIDE REP. ADRIAN SMITH AND PAUL THEOBALD

WASHINGTON — Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and his Democratic challenger, Paul Theobald, have different takes on the economic situation currently facing Nebraska’s sprawling and largely rural 3rd District.Theobald points to median incomes below national levels, a hurting agricultural sector and counties that have lost population since Smith took office in 2007.

“What has he done about that?” Theobald said. Smith, meanwhile, says that Republican actions to roll back regulations and cut taxes have prompted a wave of opportunity and that the district is poised to grow.

“I truly believe that workers are better off today than they were a year ago, definitely two years ago,” Smith said.Smith has represented the deep-red district for more than a decade, voting reliably with GOP colleagues. That includes support for repealing the Affordable Care Act, which Smith says is responsible for higher premiums and fewer choices.

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OPIOID EPIDEMIC A POLITICAL ISSUE AHEAD OF MID-TERMS

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - In countless communities the sound of sirens is part of the soundtrack to a movie playing on repeat.

Overdoses. Deaths. And a cycle hard to break free from...but for so many families it’s reality.

“We see more and more deaths being attributed to opiates and illicit drugs than ever before. It’s of epidemic proportion and we’re going to lose a whole generation,” said Sen Joe Manchin, West Virginia, a state with the highest rate of opioid related overdose deaths in 2016

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GOP ATTACK AGAINST KRIST DISPUTED BY 21 LEGISLATIVE COLLEAGUES

Twenty-one current or former state senators, including half a dozen Republicans, on Friday disputed this week's GOP attack against Sen. Bob Krist, declaring that "we have never seen him impaired by alcohol in any way when he was in service to the State of Nebraska."

"The attack against him is completely without merit," they said in responding to a news release issued by the Nebraska Republican Party accusing Krist, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, of "heavy drinking" during legislative business hours.

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2 NORTHEAST NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE CANDIDATES MOSTLY AGREE; 1 QUESTIONED OVER RESUME, PROTECTION ORDER

LINCOLN — Two state legislative candidates seeking to represent northeast Nebraska are touting their experience and backgrounds in seeking to replace term-limited State Sen. Tyson Larson. But questions have been raised about certain details included on the résumé posted by one of the candidates, Keith Kube of Crofton, and about a protection order filed against him that was later dismissed.

Kube, an investment adviser, is squaring off with Tim Gragert, a military veteran and Creighton School Board member, to represent District 40, which sprawls across six rural counties, and includes the communities of Bassett, O’Neill, Ponca and Hartington. Gragert and Kube, both registered Republicans, placed one-two in a six-way primary in May.

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DON BACON STANDS BEHIND GOP TAX OVERHAUL; KARA EASTMAN SAYS ITS A GIVEAWAY TO THE WEALTHY

WASHINGTON — Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., says his party’s tax overhaul has delivered crucial relief to individual Nebraskans and a much-needed boost to economic growth. His Democratic challenger, nonprofit executive Kara Eastman, says the measure represents an egregious giveaway to big corporate interests and the country’s super-wealthy. Prepare to hear a lot about taxes from the two candidates in Nebraska’s Omaha-based 2nd District, the state’s most competitive congressional race.

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BOTH BOB KRIST AND PETE RICKETTS WANT TO LOWER PROPERTY TAX BILLS. BUT HOW?

LINCOLN — The hottest issue in the Nebraska governor’s race is the same one that voters have complained about for decades and that has bedeviled state policymakers for equally as long.

Demands for property tax solutions have gotten louder and more insistent over the last decade, as agricultural land tripled in value and the proportion of funding for school and other local government operations from the state declined.

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BLUE STORM RISING?

Democrats are hoping President Trump will feel Clinton’s pain seven weeks from now. But can control of the U.S. House of Representatives realistically go to the Democrats? How about the Senate -- will it change hands? Hundreds of public opinion polls, thousands of newscasts, and millions of words will be expended on this topic between now and Nov. 6 as party professionals and election gurus pore over the 35 Senate races state-by-state while scrutinizing each competitive congressional district.

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MORE VOTERS WANT DEMOCRATS TO CONTROL CONGRESS - POLL SHOWS

The Democratic Party’s political advantage has grown in the home stretch of the midterm campaign, powered by strong support among women and a majority looking for a change from President Trump’s course, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.

Less than two months before Election Day, 52% of registered voters said they would prefer Democrats to control Congress, while 40% preferred Republican control. That 12-point lead expanded from an 8-point Democratic edge in August.

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RICKETTS 'KNEW ABOUT KRIST BUT...

Omaha, NE.—In an exclusive interview with News Channel Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts says when it comes to three controversial videos regarding his Democratic rival, State Sen. Bob Krist, Ricketts knew about the videos before they were released by the Nebraska Republican Party.

At the same time Gov. Ricketts he says he won’t comment on them. Why? Because he says he hasn’t seen them.

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OPIOID CRISIS EMERGES AS A DOMINANT CAMPAIGN THEME

In the past four years, the opioid crisis has grown from an afterthought in political campaigns to an important issue in some of this fall’s biggest midterm races, according to television advertising data from Kantar Media/CMAG

An analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that, so far in 2018, ads containing opioid messaging have aired in congressional and gubernatorial races more than 50,000 times across 25 states. At this point in 2014, there had been only one political TV ad touching on the topic that aired 70 times—in Kentucky’s Senate race. The ads’ messages include promising more funds for treatment and stopping the inflow of opioids from elsewhere, among other things.

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'THRIVING CHILDREN, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES' CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON 'COMMUNITY VITALITY ISSUE' OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

KEARNEY — As a member of the Nebraska Board of Education, Lisa Fricke said she knows early childhood education is important. Upon seeing the crowd gathered Monday at the Younes Center for a conference on the topic, she was encouraged to see that others from across the state believe so, too.

“Early education gives students a head start to be successful because it gives them social skills, it gives them the literacy that they need, the language that they need and it just reinforces skills that will make them not only successful in kindergarten, but for life,” Fricke said. Attendees from 74 communities across the state of Nebraska — from Ogallala to Falls City — traveled to Kearney for a conference on early childhood education and economic development, a first-time event for the seven organizations sponsoring the conference.

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FORMER STATE SEN. DON DWORAK REMEMBERED AS A DOER

LINCOLN — As a state senator, Don Dworak was a tough guy to pigeonhole. He was a Republican delegate for Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980, but he was also was a political ally of Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers in opposing the death penalty. In 1978, he switched parties to run as a Democrat against then-incumbent GOP Gov. Charlie Thone, then dropped out of the race after meeting Bob Kerrey, the Democrat who went on defeat Thone.

“He could work with, and be great friends with, people of different political stripes,” said Dworak’s son, Tony. “They enjoyed each other and could get a lot done for Nebraska. He said it’s a shame that the partisanship has increased so much these days.”

Don Dworak died on Monday at a Columbus hospital after battling several health issues. He was 83.

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NEBRASKA STATE SEN. KOLTERMAN, CHALLENGER NANTKES FOCUS ON PROPERTY TAXES, EDUCATION FUNDING

Mark Kolterman is a Republican incumbent in the Legislature who says he can offer experience in addressing the state’s issues and continuity in the district’s representation. Stephanie Nantkes is a Democratic challenger bringing her background as a retired teacher and offering what she says is a willingness to listen in solving problems.

They are running for the Legislature’s District 24 seat representing three counties — Seward, York and Polk — west of Lincoln.

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lOUISIANA pIPELINE PROTESTERS CHARGED WITH FELONIES THANKS TO HARSH NEW LAWS

In the wake of the 2016 protests at Standing Rock, many states, including Oklahoma, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, made moves to prevent similar demonstrations against pipelines on their own land. As the final leg of the Dakota Access Pipeline nears completion in Louisiana, the effects of this industry backlash are becoming apparent.

Starting on August 1st, the passage of a new law deeming oil pipelines “critical infrastructure” in Louisiana has made trespassing on a pipeline construction site a felony with a sentence of up to five years in prison. Organizers say that at least 10 activists have now been arrested under the new law while protesting  the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which will bring crude oil from North Dakota into Louisiana.

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82-YEAR-OLD PERENNIAL CANDIDATE TAKES ON NEBRASKA'S YOUNGEST STATE SENATOR

Northeast Lincoln voters in November will choose between the Nebraska Legislature’s youngest member and a familiar, 82-year-old challenger.

Incumbent Matt Hansen, a registered Democrat seeking re-election to a second term, is 30. His challenger, 82-year-old registered Republican Bob Van Valkenburg, has run for this seat nearly every election since 1982, so far unsuccessfully.

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SENATE CANDIDATES FISCHER, RAYBOULD, SHULTZ SAY IMMIGRATION SYSTEM BROKEN, OFFER FIXES

The need for fixes to the federal immigration system is as clear to the voters who want to build a wall as it is to those who would rather lower barriers to entry.

The difficulties come when policymakers dig into the details. Should Congress limit so-called chain migration or continue to legally favor letting new Americans and legal residents bring family members living abroad? How much, if at all, should legal immigration be increased?

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DON BACON, KARA EASTMAN FACE OFF ON ISSUES OF IMMIGRATION, HEALTH CARE AT OTOC FORUM

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Democrat Kara Eastman faced questions Monday on immigration, health care and a changing climate in front of a standing room-only crowd of more than 350 people.

On many topics, they sounded similar notes at the Omaha Together One Community forum in Omaha. Immigration was the main area of common ground between Bacon, a first-term incumbent, and Eastman, a member of the Metropolitan Community College board.

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FACED WITH CALLS FOR AUDITORS RESIGNATION, REPUBLICANS LEVEL DRINKING CHARGE AGAINST KRIST

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts rejected calls for the resignation of the state auditor on Monday, saying that if he had a direct employee who was taking three-hour lunches at a sports bar during work hours, as State Auditor Charlie Janssen did, he would “counsel them” before taking more serious steps.

“That’s what progressive discipline is all about,” said Ricketts, in his first extensive comments on The World-Herald’s investigation of the auditor’s work habits.

“We would have asked them to make changes, similar to what Charlie has promised to make, and would have gone from there,” the governor said.

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100 LIQUOR MAKERS FIGHT FOR EQUAL FOOTING ON MILITARY BASES

Spirits companies have fought for decades to convince consumers and regulators that liquor should be treated the same as beer and wine. Now they’re taking on the U.S. military.

The Defense Department this summer began allowing military commissaries—the equivalent of grocery stores on bases—to sell beer and wine for the first time but not vodka, whiskey and other types of liquor. The ruling sparked an outcry among spirits makers who have since lobbied lawmakers to ensure their products can be sold in commissaries, too.

At stake isn’t so much revenue but reputation.

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OIL SPILL AT CENTER OF LEGAL BATTLE WORSE THAN EARLIER ESTIMATED, STUDY FINDS

A subsea oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico may be spilling much more oil than previously understood, according to a new government study, raising the stakes in a legal battle between the federal government and a small Louisiana oil company.

Between 250 and 700 barrels of oil per day are leaking into the Gulf at the the site where Taylor Energy Co.’s oil platform collapsed in Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the new analysis concludes—and the same location where a persistent sheen of oil on the surface has appeared ever since.

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NEBRASKA PROPERTY OWNERS WON'T SAVE AS MUCH ON TAXES THIS YEAR

LINCOLN — Nebraska property owners will save a little less on property taxes this year as the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund has to stretch a little more.

State revenue officials announced Friday that the fund will provide credits worth $86.50 per $100,000 of valuation for homes and businesses. That means that the owner of a $150,000 house will get $129.75 subtracted from his or her tax bill. Credits for agricultural land will be $103.81 per $100,000 of valuation, meaning that a farmer owning property valued at or $1,500,000 would get $1,557.15 subtracted.

Property tax credits last year were $87.95 for residential and business property and $105.56 for farmland. The credits shrink as property valuations increase statewide. Valuations grew by 2.04 percent from last year to this year, according to state revenue officials.

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NEBRASKA DEMOCRATS DEMAND THAT AUDITOR JANSSEN RESIGN; OTHERS SAY POSITION SHOULD BE APPOINTED

LINCOLN — Nebraska Democrats stepped up the pressure on State Auditor Charlie Janssen, calling on him to resign and to repay taxpayers for the time “he wasted while sitting in a bar drinking beer.”  On Saturday, state Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb also criticized Janssen’s fellow Republican officeholder Gov. Pete Ricketts for not asking the state auditor to quit. 

“This is outrageous,” Kleeb said. “This is coming from the Republican Party, which used the tag line ‘drain the swamp’ in the last election cycle. Yet Charlie Janssen is the poster child for the swamp.” 

Janssen has been under fire since Friday, when The World-Herald reported that he had a pattern of late arrivals at work, short stays at his State Capitol office and long lunches involving beer drinking during work hours at a Lincoln sports bar. 

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REPORT FINDS 'DISTURBING' INCREASE IN SEXUAL ABUSE, SUICIDE AMONG NEBRASKA CHILDREN IN STATE CARE

Reports of sexual abuse and suicidal behavior among children in the care of the state increased again last year, according to a report issued this week by the state’s watchdog over Nebraska’s child welfare system.

Julie Rogers, the inspector general of Nebraska child welfare, described the increase as “disturbing” in a statement accompanying the report.

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HUMANE SOCIETY'S $14 MILLION PROJECT AIMS TO 'TRANSFORM' EXPERIENCE FOR THE ANIMALS, TO THE PUBLIC

Alleviating animals’ stress and shortening their stay at the Nebraska Humane Society shelter are among the goals of the group’s $14 million renovation project. The project “will transform the way we’re sheltering animals but also how we’re serving and educating the public,” Chief Executive Officer Nancy Hintz said.

More than 37,000 square feet of existing space at 89th and Fort Streets will be renovated, Hintz said. The shelter last was renovated 20 years ago.

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CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY PLANS NEARLY $100 MILLION PROJECT IN PHOENIX

Creighton University plans a major expansion of its health sciences programs 1,300 miles from Omaha. The university announced Tuesday that it will build a nearly $100 million health sciences campus in Phoenix.

This will increase Creighton’s presence in Phoenix, giving students in its health sciences programs more training opportunities. Creighton says the Phoenix area also is underserved by the medical profession, and the Omaha university will help fill that need.

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WINNERS AND LOSERS FROM CAPITOL HILL'S SCHOOL SPENDING AGREEMENT

After months of wrangling, top lawmakers for the education budget struck a deal to fund the U.S. Department of Education for the upcoming fiscal year. It's not a done deal, because it still needs to pass the House and Senate, and President Donald Trump then has to sign it. But through this agreement, members of Congress who oversee spending are sending the Trump administration a pretty clear signal about what they want to pay for and how much they want to pay.

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HOW MUCH DOES YOUR STATE COLLECT IN SALES TAXES PER CAPITA

States collecting the least in state sales taxes per capita are Virginia ($467), Colorado ($514), and Georgia ($531). In each case, a combination of low rates and relatively narrow bases contributes to low collections per capita. For example, only two states have a narrower sales tax base than Virginia, and Colorado’s state sales tax rate–2.9 percent–is lowest in the country. 

States collecting the most in state sales taxes per capita are Hawaii ($2,244), Washington ($1,862), and Nevada ($1,451), although Hawaii’s sales tax base is broader than economists recommend, applying not just to final consumer products and services, but also to many business-to-business transactions. This results in multiple layers of taxation on the same product or service. At 6.85 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, Nevada and Washington’s state sales tax rates are among the 10 highest in the country, and their bases are among the 15 broadest, contributing to high collections per capita.

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NEBRASKA CANNABIDIOL OIL STUDY REPORT SHOWS BENEFIT TO PATIENTS

A cannabidiol oil study authorized by the Nebraska Legislature in 2015 has shown the majority of 23 patients in the study have benefited from the cannabis derivative. 

The study was authorized by a bill (LB390) introduced by Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue, and was passed the same year a bill (LB643), introduced by Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue, got through a first round of debate, then was withdrawn at the end of the session by its sponsor.

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STATE PRISON SYSTEM SEEKS FUNDS FOR NEW STAFF, BETTER FACILITIES

LINCOLN — The state prison system is seeking a slight increase in funding to add more staff and improve facilities at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln.

Department of Correctional Services submitted its budget request for the next two fiscal years. It seeks funding to add 52 new corporals and sergeants over that period and to purchase an electronic system to track health records. The department also proposes to spend $14 million to expand the kitchen, library and dining room at the penitentiary. 

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AS THE BEER KEEPS FLOWING, SALES ARE GROWING IN NEBRASKA

According to the information posted, the state fell just short of the 1.5-million-gallon mark in 2017, with sales coming in at more than 1.46 million.For context of how fast those sales are growing, that's more than twice the amount sold in 2013 and more than three times the amount sold in 2010. 

With Green Flash opening its brewing location in Lincoln and June, Cosmic Eye set to open its brewery soon and several other locations around the state either already opened or coming online in the next few months, expect that number to keep climbing.

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COALITION WANTS SAFE GUN-STORAGE ORDINANCE IN LINCOLN

A coalition of Lincoln residents who believe the city should require gun owners to responsibly store their guns in their homes will bring their case to the Lincoln City Council later this month.

Lincoln schools responded to the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting by adding more school resource officers, practicing lockdown drills and asking students to keep an eye on peers for signs of trouble, said Amanda Gailey, president of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence.

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TRUMP TO ANNOUNCE NEW TARIFFS ON CHINESE IMPORTS

The Trump administration plans to announce within days new tariffs on as much as $200 billion in Chinese goods, further pressuring Beijing before high-level, U.S.-China talks set for later this month, say people familiar with the matter.

President Trump’s decision—to go into effect within weeks—is designed to give the U.S. more leverage in discussions with China over allegations that Beijing coerces American firms into handing over valuable technology to Chinese partners. But the decision’s timing risks deepening the already bitter trade fight by starting another tit-for-tat round of tariffs.

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AUDITOR JANSSEN SAYS HE REGRETS ACTIONS, ISSUES APOLOGY

LINCOLN- State Auditor Charlie Janssen acknowledged Friday a report in the Omaha World-Herald that showed he spent long lunch hours -- sometimes more than three hours -- at a Lincoln bar eating and drinking beer. 

Over a period of 20 working days since Aug. 15, the newspaper reported observing Janssen spending lengthy lunches 10 times at the Brewsky's location at 16th and South streets. 

Janssen, who is up for reelection this year, issued a news release on Friday acknowledging the reports are true and apologizing to Nebraskans for his choices in how he has spent many of his work days. 

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STATE AUDITOR SPENDS 3-HOUR LUNCHES IN SPORTS BAR, WORLD-HERALD INVESTIGATION FINDS

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s top government watchdog often has spent more of his Lincoln workday at a sports bar than at his State Capitol office.

A three-month investigation by The World-Herald of State Auditor Charlie Janssen found a pattern of late-morning arrivals at his Capitol office, long lunches lasting up to three hours or more involving beer drinking, and little evidence that he was at the office in the afternoon.

In the past month, over the course of 20 working days, the newspaper observed the state auditor 10 times spending lengthy lunches at Brewsky’s, a popular sports bar about 15 blocks south of the State Capitol.

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AS ELKHART, IND., GOES, SO GOES THE NATION, AND ELKHART IS NERVOUS

ELKHART, Ind. — The tables were filled at the Chubby Trout restaurant and the local craft beer flowed. The Flippin’ Cow was packed too, with diners overlooking Simonton Lake. Small manufacturing companies were advertising for workers, offering health insurance and retirement accounts.

But Elkhart, with about 55,000 residents and a 2.3 percent unemployment rate, is also a bit nervous. The city calls itself the “RV Capital of the World” — more than 80 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States are made in Elkhart and the surrounding area, according to the RV Industry Association — and Mr. Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are increasing costs, diminishing demand and causing concern that a 10-year boom cycle could be waning.

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SEN. BEN SASSE'S NEW ETHICS REFORM BILLS TARGET LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE BRANCHES

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse says a great way for Congress to honor the legacy of Sen. John McCain would be to actually accomplish something worthwhile — approving a package of robust ethics measures to start cleaning up D.C. “Every election cycle, people run saying that we need to do swamp draining, and as soon as they’re elected and they transition from campaigning to governing, nobody ever really does it,” Sasse told The World-Herald. “And public trust continues to fall.”

The Nebraska Republican said he’s been working for months on the proposal he unveiled this week with five major components:

» Ban Cabinet members and their families from soliciting donations from foreign sources.

» Require presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

» Institute a lifetime ban on members of Congress making money from lobbying.

» Prohibit members of Congress from buying or selling stocks while in office.

» Create a public database of congressional HR settlements, speed up their disclosure and increase personal financial liability for the offenders.

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DON WALTON: DRAMATIC CHANGE UNDERWAY IN NEBRASKA

A rather startling look at undergoing change in Nebraska framed an Open Sky Policy Institute symposium last week about the need to attract new people to the state and develop an adequate and growing workforce.

69 of Nebraska's 93 counties are losing population today and 60 counties are recording more deaths than births. These drastic changes in population make welcoming and retaining a workforce very important. 

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HIGH FEES HAMPERING WIRELESS DEPLOYMENT IN LINCOLN, COMPANIES SAY

Verizon Wireless partnered with Lincoln on a "small-cell" wireless project last year to replace about 30 downtown light poles with its own specially made poles. These poles would help boost Verizon's speed and capacity in the Lincoln downtown area.

Verizon paid a $1,500 permit fee and an annual fee of $1,995 per pole. They have since declared that they will not be expanding this project due to the large fees that Lincoln imposes. 

“Verizon recently concluded that it would not deploy additional small cells in Lincoln, NE, at this time because of the $1,995/year attachment rate,” the company said. 

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FDA CHIEF CONSIDERS BAN OF ALL FLAVORED E-CIGARETTES

Calling a surge in teen use of e-cigarettes an epidemic, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said he is considering pulling all flavored e-cigarettes from the U.S. market.

After years of declining U.S. smoking rates, sales of e-cigarettes have jumped in the past year, fueled in part by online startups selling vaporizers and nicotine-laced liquids. The most popular brand, Juul, sells refills with mango, cucumber and creme flavors. Each $4 pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

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U.S. BUSINESSES RAMP UP LOBBYING AGAINST TRUMP'S TARIFFS

WASHINGTON—From California apple growers to Maine lobstermen, businesses are joining forces to try to persuade President Trump that tariffs are hurting U.S. industries.

On Wednesday, organizations representing thousands of companies in industries including retailing, toy manufacturing, farming and technology plan to announce they are cooperating on a lobbying campaign called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland to oppose tariffs.

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NEBRASKA PRISONS FACE 'STAFFING CRISIS,' ACCORDING TO LATEST OVERSIGHT REPORT

LINCOLN, Neb. -- A staffing crisis continues in Nebraska's prisons. That's one of many findings in the latest report released Wednesday morning from the Dept. of Corrections inspector general.

The 2018 report finds 8 of 10 corrections facilities with overtime hours trending higher. In the past decade, spending on overtime doubled. For the 2016-17 fiscal year it totaled $13.3 million. 

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FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS STATE PATROL TO MAINTAIN STATUS QUO, KEEP JUVENILES OF STATE'S SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY

A federal judge has ordered Nebraska to maintain the status quo and keep juveniles who weren't tried as adults off the state's sex offender registry for now, despite conflicting court rulings.

This decision gave temporary reprieve to dozens of individuals who received letters from the Nebraska State Patrol.

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SUPREME COURT CLEARS THE WAY FOR NEBRASKANS TO VOTE ON MEDICAID EXPANSION

LINCOLN — Supporters of a Medicaid expansion proposal cheered Wednesday after the Nebraska Supreme Court cleared away the last obstacle to voters having a say on the measure.

The proposal, known as Initiative 427, will appear on the ballot in November after Sec. of State John Gale officially certified 105,000 signatures; over 20,000 more than needed. 

The proposal would cover single adults and couples without minor children who cannot qualify for Medicaid now. 

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TRIBES: TRUMP ILLEGAL APPROVED OIL PIPELINE FROM CANADA

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Native American tribes in Montana and South Dakota sued the Trump administration on Monday, claiming it approved an oil pipeline from Canada without considering potential damage to cultural sites from spills and construction.

The line would carry up to 830,000 barrels (35 million gallons) of crude daily along a 1,184-mile (1,900-kilometer) path from Canada to Nebraska. The route passes through the ancestral homelands of the Rosebud Sioux in central South Dakota and the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes in Montana. 

"The tribes are talking about cultural sites, archaeological sites, burial grounds, graveyards — none of that has been surveyed and it's in the way of the pipeline," said Natalie Landreth 

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FISCHER HOSTS TRADE REPRESENTATIVE ON AG TO EXPLAIN TRUMP'S STRATEGY: 'WE'VE GOT TO GET IT RIGHT'.

About 50 Nebraska agricultural stakeholders met privately Monday in Omaha with the Trump administration’s chief negotiator on agricultural trade.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Commodity Groups want more information about the administrations long term trade strategy and would like that strategy to include deals with Mexico and Canada.

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EPA TO ROLL BACK OBAMA-ERA METHANE RULES

The Trump administration is about to propose its latest rollback of Obama-era climate rules, moving to ease requirements for oil and gas companies that were designed to limit leaks of the heat-trapping gas methane, administration officials said.

The EPA proposal aims to ensure oil and gas companies have more time to assess and safely repair infrastructure, often in remote locations, according to a draft summary of the proposal. 

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STATES LOOM AS A REGULATORY THREAT TO TECH GIANTS

State attorneys general are emerging as a new regulatory threat to the U.S. companies that dominate the internet.

“I think the companies are too big, and they need to be broken up,” Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Thursday in a radio interview. 

States are putting together a legal strategy to take on companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet (Google) over alleged antitrust violations and data-privacy abuses, and over what some Republicans say is a suppression of conservative speech.

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CHEAP CUSTOM-MADE VERSIONS OF HIGH-COST DRUGS SPUR BACKLASH

A new kind of drugmaker is emerging to meet demand for lower-priced medicines by custom-making drugs, sparking pushback from federal health regulators and legal challenges from traditional pharmaceutical companies.

Companies selling custom-made versions of costly drugs—a practice known as “compounding”—say they are meeting demand for alternatives to high-priced drugs. 

Pharmaceutical companies and the FDA are looking into regulating these compounding companies more heavily.

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OIL MARKET TURNS TURBULENT HEADING INTO FALL SEASON

The oil market is at a crossroads after its worst week in almost two months prompted many investors to reassess whether global growth will continue stoking demand for fuel.

West Texas Intermediate slid 2.9%, the biggest weekly decline since July, to $67.75 a barrel. Brent, the global barometer for crude, ended last week 1% lower at $76.83, after nearing an almost four-year high. 

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PASSING FARM BILL IS AN URGENTLY PRIORITY FOR FISCHER, NFU

CHAPMAN — As Nebraska farmers get ready to harvest record corn and soybean crops, getting a new farm bill passed and the nation’s trade concerns resolved is a high priority for Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service projected net farm income to be $65.7 billion in 2018, a $9.8 billion, 13 percent decrease from 2017. 

“We have to know that crop insurance is taken care of as part of the safety net. It is the one priority I hear from producers across the state.” Fischer says.  

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NEBRASKA LAWMAKERS SEEK MONEY FOR SMALL-TOWN DEVELOPMENT

Nebraska lawmakers are hunting for new revenue sources to pay for a small-town revitalization program that restores historic buildings, recruits new business and promotes communities to ensure the effort survives amid cuts to much of the state budget.

Supporters will make their pitch to the Legislature's Urban Affairs Committee on Sept. 25 at a hearing in Grand Island. 

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JAIL DIRECTOR SAYS PEOPLE WAIT FOR MONTHS FOR A BED AT LINCOLN REGIONAL CENTER

People with serious mental illness sit in the Lancaster County jail for months — an average 69 days last winter, 73 days in May — waiting for a bed at the Lincoln Regional Center.

The jail has had inmates who do not understand where they are, who think the staff is pumping gas into their cell or placing poison in their food or trying to kill them in some other way, said Brad Johnson, Lancaster County jail director. 

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APPEAL IN LEGISLATIVE SUBPOENA FIGHT FANS DISCORD AMONG NEBRASKA LAWMAKERS

LINCOLN — A legal slugfest between two branches of Nebraska state government has ratcheted to the next level, fueling disagreement among senators over whether the fight should continue.

The constitutional clash involves an unprecedented lawsuit by Attorney General Doug Peterson to quash a subpoena issued in April by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.  

The original subpoena was in relation to the first lethal injection in Nebraska which took place August 14th. 

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KPS RECOMMENDING TAX INCREASE TO COMBAT EVER-DECLINING STATE AID

KEARNEY — As a way to combat ever-declining state aid, the Kearney Public School District is recommending that the school board increase the tax levy by 1 cent at its meeting Monday night.

The district’s recommendation is to raise the levy from $1.21 per $100 of assessed valuation to $1.22. The increase would add about $2.7 million to the budget.  

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NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE UPDATES HARASSMENT POLICY, WILL PUBLISH NAMES OF THOSE WHO TAKE TRAINING

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Legislature’s workplace harassment policy was amended Friday in an attempt to make more senators and staff undergo training to prevent incidents of sexual harassment or abuse.

The update amends the 26 year old policy by extending the definition of sexual harassment to include “electronic/social media contact”. 

“I don’t know that it’s perfect, but it’s better than (what) we have now,” said State Sen. Jim Scheer 

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WANT WARREN BUFFETT AS YOUR TENANT? HIS OFFICE BUILDING IS FOR SALE IN OMAHA

Kiewit Plaza, a 15-story office building at 36th and Farnam Streets that recently went up for sale for a price that likely will top $20 million.

Kiewit Corp. built the 176,000 sq. ft. structure in 1961 and plans to start construction on their new headquarters this spring and move out by 2021.

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ELECTRIC CARS WILL BE ON DISPLAY DURING SUNDAY EVENT ON CREIGHTON CAMPUS

Electric cars and electric-assisted bicycles will be on display in the Skutt Student Center ballroom, 2500 California Plaza, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is part of National Drive Electric Week.

For more information about the Omaha-area Drive Electric Week, visit www.sierraclub.org/nebraska/ndew 

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TESLA ERUPTS IN CHAOS AFTER SENIOR EXECS LEAVE, MUSK TOKES UP

The turmoil at Tesla Inc. has reached a fever pitch, with the news that two senior executives are leaving Elon Musk’s electric-car maker emerging hours after he smoked marijuana during a podcast interview streamed live online.

CAO Dave Morton gave notice that he would be leaving, just one month after joining the company. Head of HR Gabrielle Toledano, who has been on leave, also expressed plans to leave the company. These announcements caused Tesla stock to drop close to 6 points, resulting in the companies lowest closing point in the last 5 months. 

“Since I joined Tesla on August 6th, the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations,” Morton said.

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TV ADS IN NEBRASKA SENATE RACE: FISCHER TAKING NO 'BULL'; RAYBOULD ON THE ATTACK

LINCOLN — Three weeks after Democratic Senate candidate Jane Raybould released her first statewide television advertisement, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican, hit the airwaves Wednesday with tough talk for Washington, D.C. Fischer’s ad evoked the memorable “Make ‘em Squeal” TV spots run by fellow first-term Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, before her 2014 election.

Fischer’s new ranch ad stops short of castrating hogs — the squealing bit Ernst used to grab buzz for her race — but it carries a similar message from Fischer, a former Nebraska state senator. It uses cattle as a backdrop for the senator to say she has no patience for the “bull” of Capitol power players.

The ad’s not-so-subtle message to Nebraskans, including her opponent: Washington hasn’t changed me.

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SUPREME COURT CLEARS THE WAY FOR NEBRASKANS TO VOTE ON MEDICAID EXPANSION

LINCOLN — Supporters of a Medicaid expansion proposal cheered Wednesday after the Nebraska Supreme Court cleared away the last obstacle to voters having a say on the measure. The State Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit filed by former State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial and Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft that sought to keep the measure off the Nov. 6 ballot.

The proposal, which will appear on the ballot as Initiative 427, already met the requirements for collecting petition signatures.Supporters submitted almost 137,000 signatures of registered voters in early July. Last month, Secretary of State John Gale certified almost 105,000 signatures as valid, far more than the 84,000 required to put the measure before voters.

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ORGANIZER CALLS OFF NEBRASKA GUBERNATORIAL DEBATE PLANNED FOR WAYNE STATE COLLEGE

LINCOLN — The organizer of a planned gubernatorial debate at Wayne State College has called off the event. Luke Virgil, executive director of Wayne Area Economic Development, sent out the official word about the cancellation on Wednesday afternoon. The economic development group was going to sponsor the Sept. 21 debate.

But the event had appeared increasingly unlikely as the campaigns for Gov. Pete Ricketts, the Republican incumbent, and for State Sen. Bob Krist, the Democratic challenger, traded accusations in the days prior.

The two camps were unable to reach agreement about key details, including the television station that would broadcast the event, the moderator and the format.

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HOUSE INTEL PANEL CHAIR DEVIN NUNES IS COMING HERE TO RAISE MONEY FOR BACON

Rep. Devin Nunes of California, a high-profile Republican congressman who’s known for his support of President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation, is coming to Omaha to raise money for Rep. Don Bacon.

Nunes is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and attended a private fundraiser for Bacon on Monday night.

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AFTER TOUGH PRIMARY FOR NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE, EBKE AND BRANDT SET SIGHTS ON NOVEMBER

A bruising spring primary left voters in southeast Nebraska’s Legislative District 32 with a choice between an incumbent senator and a farmer to represent them in the Legislature.

The seat covers Fillmore, Thayer, Saline and Jefferson Counties, and the rural southwest corner of Lancaster County. 


The Nebraska Republican Party spent nearly $25,000 on attack mailings against Ebke, who was elected as a Republican in 2014. While Brandt has found himself attacked by a Virginia based organization called the "10th Amendment Project" who has possible ties to Governor Pete Ricketts. 

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NEBRASKA SEN. SASSE SAYS HE 'REGULARLY' MULLS LEAVING

WASHINGTON — Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said Sunday that neither his Republican Party nor the Democrats stand for "very much more than being anti" and that's why he often thinks about becoming an independent.

Sasse considers himself a conservative independent but is committed to seeing the party of Lincoln and Reagan get back to doing real work and developing a long term vision for the party centered around the 1st amendment. 

"The main thing that the Democrats are for is being anti-Republican and anti-Trump, and the main thing Republicans are for is being anti-Democrat and anti-CNN." 

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MORE U.S. CITIES BRACE FOR 'INEVITABLE' HACKERS

Hackers are constantly probing for “the one flaw overlooked” in Houston’s computer networks, the official responsible for safeguarding the fourth-largest U.S. city’s system said.

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EDITORIAL, 8/22: AGREEMENT TO KEEP THE BRIDGE OPEN IS A WIN-WIN

Following months of uncertainty, local and state officials found a solution palatable to both sides to ensure The Bridge remains open after receiving its state licensure.

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AUDIT FAULTS NEBRASKA WELL-DRILLER REGULATOR FOR LAX OVERSIGHT, FEE COLLECTION

LINCOLN — A state program that regulates well drillers has dug itself a hole through lack of spending oversight and fees too low to cover expenses, according to a new state audit.

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NEBRASKA PROPERTY TAX DEBATE; "EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE"

Finding a way to cut property taxes is a major issue in Nebraska, and the legislature has been unable to find any agreements in the past couple of sessions. Tied into that are disagreements over the level of state aid to education.

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OIL GAINS AS TROPICAL STORM CHURNS IN GULF

U.S. oil prices rose Tuesday as tropical storm Gordon barreled through the eastern Gulf of Mexico, forcing offshore oil producers to cut production and sparking concerns refinery activity may also be affected.

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IN RACE FOR STUDENTS, COLLEGES OFFER TO MATCH TUITION AT RIVAL SCHOOLS

Escalating the heated battle for students, some private colleges are offering to match public in-state tuition.

Both large public and private schools are offering out of state students the tuition benefits of in state students.

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AFTER OMAHA MURDER CASE CRUMBLES, LAWMAKER CALLS FOR TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR WITNESS TAMPERING

By noon Wednesday, State Sen. Justin Wayne had received a handful of phone calls from constituents disheartened by the dismissal of murder charges against the man accused of killing decorated Army Sgt. Kyle LeFlore.

As it is now, any defendant who tries to influence a witness faces the lowest possible felony — and just one year in prison. Wayne says the current legislation effectively rewards intimidating witnesses. He is proposing new legislation which would make the punishment equivalent to the original crime. 

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THE POLITICIANS ARE COMING FOR SILICON VALLEY

Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook chief operating officer, and Jack Dorsey, the founder and chief executive of Twitter, will be lightly pummeled about their responsibility for election meddling by foreign powers and the related use and abuse of fake news on their enormous communications platforms.

A representative from Google and its parent company Alphabet declined the offer to attend, but did offer up their companies top lawyer.

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TARIFFS MAKE DOING BUSINESS CHALLENGING FOR LOCAL COMPANIES SUCH AS CHIEF INDUSTRIES AND BLUEPRINT ENGINES

Tariffs make doing business challenging for local companies such as Chief Industries and BluePrint Engines.

A strong harvest means farmers will likely want to store their corn and soybeans while they wait for prices to rise. This is great news for domestic agribusiness as one company rep said "it has become increasingly difficult to compete for business overseas."

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NUMBER OF FOSTER KIDS IN NEBRASKA FALLS AFTER TWO YEARS OF INCREASES

The Foster Care Review Office’s latest annual report showed an 8.8 percent decrease in state wards in out-of-home care during the 12 months ending in June.

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NURSING HOMES STRUGGLE WITH NEW MEDICAID RATES; NUMBER OF FACILITIES DOWN IN NEBRASKA

“There was a number of issues, but particularly problematic was Medicaid reimbursement,”

Matney’s Colonial Manor has not closed its doors. But five other Nebraska nursing homes have shut down this year. That’s more than in any of the previous five years, and 2018 is not yet finished. 

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CITY OF LINCOLN STUDYING GETTING WATER FROM OMAHA'S WATER UTILITY

More than 100 years ago, city leaders decided there was not enough groundwater in the Lincoln area to support a growing city.

Now city leaders are again planning ahead 20-25 years, when there may not be enough water in the Platte well field to satisfy the water demands of a still-growing Lincoln. 

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EU SAYS IT IS OPEN TO MORE U.S. BEEF IMPORTS

BRUSSELS—The European Union said Monday that it was willing to start talks with Washington on increasing U.S. beef imports, a move aimed at cementing a trade truce agreed upon in July.

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IRRIGATION TECHNOLOGY HAS FUELED STATE'S CROP PRODUCTION GROWTH

At next week’s Husker Harvest Days, farmers will get a chance to view and experience the most modern agricultural technology on the market.

Over the last 41 years, farmers have seen exponential growth in new crop varieties and technologies that has led to the most productive era of agriculture in history.

Corn production has increased from 762.750 million bushels to 1.8 million since 1978.

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LOW PRICES, TARIFFS, FARM BILL DEADLINE ALL TAKE TOLL ON FARMERS THIS HARVEST SEASON

SHELTON — A projected record Nebraska harvest of corn and soybeans won’t be enough to generate profits for many farmers struggling with low market prices made worse by tariffs and the uncertainty of the economy.

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NEBRASKA AG LEADERS DEFINE ISSUES WEIGHING ON FARMERS

KEARNEY — The many issues currently affecting net farm income — low market prices, trade wars, regulatory limits on ethanol, a new farm bill — might be enough to keep crop and livestock producers up at night.

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TO PAY ARENA DEBT, RALSTON LOOKS TO RAISE TAXES, CUT STAFF AND EQUIPMENT IN UPCOMING BUDGET

Higher taxes and cuts to city departments could be on deck in Ralston as the city grapples with paying down its arena debt as well as other rising costs.

The rough draft of the city budget calls for increased property tax, eliminating 2 full time positions, and other minor public works changes.

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EDUCATIONAL EVENTS TO TEACH ABOUT NUCLEAR WASTE SHIPPING

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Educational road shows are being held to teach the public about waste produced from nuclear energy that could be shipped through Nebraska and other states this fall.

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DHHS: NEBRASKA RANKS SECOND IN NATION FOR SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

Thousands of public schools across the United States have chronic student absence rates that affect 30 percent or more of their students, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Nebraska ranks 2nd, being beaten out by North Dakota, for best attendance rates.

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NEBRASKA ECONOMIC GROWTH RATE EXPECTED TO SLOW DOWN IN UPCOMING MONTHS

The state’s fast-paced economic growth rate is expected to slow down in the coming months. That’s according to a recent study on economic indicators by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Economic growth is not expected to stop, however the expedient rate is difficult to maintain with Nebraska's population growing slower than the national avg. 

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LAWMAKER GETS FIRSTHAND LOOK AT COUNTY BUDGET STRUGGLE

McCOOK, Neb. — As Nebraska Sen. Dan Hughes waited for his time slot on the agenda of the Red Willow County commissioners meeting Monday morning, he witnessed commissioners’ struggle to make a new budget balance.

One of the commissions chairmen, Earl McNutt, explains the struggles his county faces and the important of inheritance taxes to their budget. 

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NEBRASKA LAWMAKERS ADDRESSING FAST-SPREADING TREE PROBLEM

Nebraska lawmakers are looking for new ways to fight a fast-spreading tree species that crowds out other plants, destroys valuable ranchland and threatens the Great Plains from Texas to the Dakotas.

Without natural prairie fires these Eastern Red Cedars have spread out of control and turn grasslands into barren patches of dirt by stealing sunlight and water supply.

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OIL COULD SURGE 30% INTO THE MID-$90S WITHIN MONTHS, CREATING $4 PER GALLON GAS: ENERGY EXPERTS JOHN KILDUFF

Energy expert John Kilduff counts Iran sanctions as the top reason West Texas Intermediate (WTI) could climb as much as 30 percent by winter, and that could spell $4 a gallon unleaded gasoline at the pumps.

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RAYBOULD QUESTIONS SEN. FISCHER'S RISING NEW WORTH; FISCHER SAYS INTEGRITY IS UNDER ATTACK

Democratic Senate candidate Jane Raybould is escalating her attacks on Republican Sen. Deb Fischer’s votes, corporate campaign donations and personal finances.

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INSIDE FACEBOOK'S 'ARMS RACE' TO PROTECT USERS AHEAD OF MIDTERM ELECTIONS

The mission is to protect Facebook's and Instagram’s billions of users from more foreign interference in their news feed during the upcoming midterm elections.

"in 2016 over 126 million Americans were exposed to incendiary posts from Russia-linked accounts, pages, and ads."

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COMMENTARY: HERE'S ONE REASON TRUMP'S AVERAGE APPROVAL RATING IS GOING UP

A year of virtually non-stop negative media attacks and self-inflicted political wounds, and the president is more popular? How does that happen? To quote Joe Biden from the 2008 campaign trail, "It all comes down to one three-letter word: 'Jobs.'"

On Labor Day 2017, Trumps approval rating was 38.5%. After a year of investigation headlines his approval rating a year later is 42%. 

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8 QUESTIONS FOR THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS: A BLUE WAVE OR NOT?

Campaign 2018 begins the final stretch this week. All but a few states have finished their primaries, and the general election ballots are set almost everywhere. The stakes are difficult to overstate.

The November elections could see a shift in power in Washington, this article walks through the 8 questions that will be answered in November.

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DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Several Nebraska Democratic Candidates for public office gathered in Norfolk for a meet and greet to discuss the upcoming election and future of the party in the state.

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DON BACON AND KARA EASTMAN TAKE SIMILAR STANCE ON TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE

Both the Republican and the Democrat running in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District are willing to buck their base on the issue of the investigation into President Donald Trump.

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TWO CANDIDATES FOR SECRETARY OF STATE OFFER SHARPLY DIFFERENT VIEW OF VOTER ID

Secretary of state candidates Bob Evnen, a Republican, and Spencer Danner, a Democrat, both say they want the same thing for Nebraskans: elections that are free, fair and secure.

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CALIFORNIA LAWMAKERS VOTE TO MANDATE CARBON-FREE ELECTRICITY GENERATION

California passed legislation Tuesday that would make it the first large state to mandate completely carbon-free electricity generation, with a target of 2045.

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COMPANIES GET $41 MILLION FROM FCC TO PROVIDE RURAL BROADBAND IN NEBRASKA

Nearly 9,000 rural Nebraska homes and businesses will get access to high-speed internet for the first time, the Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday.

Four companies will receive more than $41 million from the Connect America Fund to bring broadband internet to about 8,900 properties in dozens of counties in the state over the next 10 years.

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MEDICAID EXPANSION CHALLENGE DISMISSED; WILL BE ON NOVEMBER BALLOT

Lancaster County District Court Judge Darla Ideus on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to the Medicaid expansion petition initiative, allowing the initiative to be placed on the November ballot.

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SUCCESSFUL TRADE MISSION TO VIETNAM RETURNS TO NEBRASKA

Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and NDA staff were in Vietnam Aug. 6-10 to promote Nebraska agriculture and introduce potential buyers and distributors to Nebraska beef. Gov. Pete Ricketts said Vietnam is one of the “fastest growing economies in the world.”

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RICKETTS, FARM GROUPS SEEKING STRONG RFA COMMITMENT

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts, past chair of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, has submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2019 under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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NEBRASKA, IOWA OFFICIALS SEE TWO-WAY DEAL WITH MEXICO AS A GOOD STEP BUT WANT CANADA INCLUDED, TOO

The news that the United States and Mexico have reached a preliminary two-way deal on trade was praised Monday by Nebraska and Iowa officials as an important first step to restoring certainty for the nation’s farmers and ranchers. The deal reworks a 24 year old agreement made through NAFTA.

“I’m pleased to see President Trump making good on his promise to provide better certainty for Nebraska farmers and ranchers,” said Sen. Deb Fischer 

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NEBRASKA SIDES WITH MICHIGAN FUNERAL HOME THAT FIRED TRANSGENDER WOMAN

LINCOLN — Fifteen states have joined Nebraska’s lead in backing a Michigan funeral home’s right to fire a transgender employee.

State Attorney General Doug Peterson filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week on behalf of the 16 states, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the funeral home’s case.

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PONCA TRIBE ANNOUNCES CARTER LAKE CASINO NAME, OPENING PLANS

The casino will be named Prairie Flower Casino after the daughter of former Chief Standing Bear. The chief’s daughter, Prairie Flower, died during the tribe’s forced removal from their land to Oklahoma. 

The casino is set to open in late October.

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U.S. TO PAY FARMERS $4.7 BILLION TO OFFSET TRADE-CONFLICT LOSSES

China, Mexico, the European Union and other trade partners have levied tariffs on U.S. farm goods from soybeans to pork to apples, leaving growers vulnerable during a downturn in the agricultural economy.

Farmers have been awaiting this announcement since aid was promised to them in July.

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NEW 'STATE-OF-THE-ART' VETERANS' HOME NOW OPEN; COMPLETE WITH 225 BEDS, CHAPEL, LIBRARY AND MORE

KEARNEY, Neb. — A 10-building campus that is the new Central Nebraska Veterans Home was praised Saturday for its home-style layout and modern rehabilitation equipment.

“I’m amazed,” said World War II veteran Robert Larson, 93, of Kearney, who toured the new facility with his son Eric. 

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GOV'T ACTS TO STOP HIGH-TAX STATES FROM SKIRTING $10K CAP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has laid down rules aimed at preventing residents in high-tax states from avoiding a new cap on widely popular state and local tax deductions. The action under the new Republican tax law pits the government against high-tax, heavily Democratic states in an election-year showdown.

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HOW TWO MUSK DECISIONS IN 2016 PUT TESLA INTO TROUBLE

The two moves by Mr. Musk changed the direction of Tesla, leading directly to its growing financial distress and to the investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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FORMER STATE SEN. STEVE LATHROP FACES INCUMBENT MERV RIEPE IN HIGH-PROFILE LEGISLATURE RACE

LINCOLN — A prominent Democrat and an ally of Gov. Pete Ricketts are going head-to-head in a high-profile election battle over the Millard- and Ralston-area legislative seat.

Former State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, the Democrat, won the primary election. But Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston, the Republican, believes he can turn the vote around in November.

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INCUMBENT JOHN MCCOLLISTER, CHALLENGER JACKIE COLLETT DIFFER ON RESTRUCTURING OF STATE REVENUE

McCollister, 71, has identified rebalancing Nebraska’s tax revenue streams as his priority, including finding a better way to fund schools. Currently, he’s the vice chairman of an economic task force that’s trying to determine what type of proposal it can move forward. It’s one of several groups working on potential plans.

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GOV. PETE RICKETTS, SEN. BOB KRIST TUSSLE ON MEDICAID, DEATH PENALTY, PRISONS, TAXES, AND MORE

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Property taxes took center stage at a debate between Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and his Democratic challenger, State Sen. Bob Krist, here Thursday.

The two sparred in front of a Nebraska State Fair crowd of some 435 people, many sporting red Ricketts T-shirts, at The World-Herald/KMTV debate.

The candidates answered questions about, among other issues, Medicaid expansion, the death penalty, prisons, medical marijuana, leadership and trade. Both took shots at the other at times, but the tone remained civil throughout.

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PETE RICKETTS RECEIVES NE FARM BUREAU ENDORSEMENT

At a press conference Sunday morning, in the Nebraska Building at the Nebraska State Fair, Ricketts was designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NEFB-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee.

“Gov. Ricketts has proven time and again that he knows how important trade is to Nebraska and has worked hard to build international relationships and expand market opportunities”  Steve Nelson, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau, said. 

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RAYBOULD CALLS FISCHER 'PART OF THAT PROBLEM' IN SENATE DEBATE, WHILE FISCHER TOUTS ACCOMPLISHMENT

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould spent much of an hourlong debate Monday accusing U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican, of serving the interests of her party and its donors over the needs of most Nebraskans.

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FISCHER AND RAYBOULD TACKLE HEALTH CARE, IMMIGRATION, GUN CONTROL AND MORE IN FIRST DEBATE

GRAND ISLAND — Most of Monday’s back-and-forth between Sen. Deb Fischer and Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould stayed inside the issues-oriented lines of the nationally televised debate.

Raybould took the offensive early calling out Fischer as a "reliable vote for special interests over policies that would help Nebraskans".

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EDITORIAL: KRIST CAMPAIGNS NEED TO OFFER SUBSTANCE, NOT CLICHES AND ATTACK ADS

Nebraska’s contest for governor this year features two strong candidates: Gov. Pete Ricketts, Republican, and State Sen. Bob Krist, Democrat.

These two contenders are experienced and well equipped to speak knowledgeably about state issues. Ricketts is completing his first term as governor, and Krist has served for 10 years in the Nebraska Legislature. They have an important opportunity to serve Nebraskans well in coming weeks, and they better not blow it.

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NEBRASKA AFL-CIO GOES FOR KARA EASTMAN AS DON BACON TROUTS FIFTH LABOR ENDORSEMENT

Democrat Kara Eastman and Republican Don Bacon are fighting over labor support in the 2nd Congressional District race.

The labor group represents 23,000 Nebraskans.

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OMAHA FIRE UNION ENDORSES DEB FISCHER, A RED FLAG FOR JANE RAYBOULD

Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould’s problem with organized labor is growing. That’s a warning flag for a Democratic candidate trying to unseat a Republican incumbent in red-state Nebraska’s Senate race.

Sen. Deb Fischer, Rayboulds oponent, secured the support of a labor union which represents firefighters and paramedics.

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Links of Interest

Nebraska Government

nebraska congressional delegation

National Organizations

Nebraska Newspapers

Nebraska Elections

National Lobbying Resources