Articles of Interest

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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GOVERNOR CANDIDATE BOB KRIST CRITICIZES GOV. RICKETTS FOR CUTTING NU FUNDING

LINCOLN — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Krist criticized the Republican incumbent Tuesday for cutting state support of the University of Nebraska.

“We can and must do better for our kids and the state.” said Krist 

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ORGANIZERS SAY THEY HAVE SIGNATURES TO PUT MAYORAL TERM LIMITS ON BALLOT

Backers of an initiative to add language prohibiting Lincoln mayors from serving more than three terms said Tuesday they have collected enough signatures to put the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Organizers needed 3,800 Lincoln voters signatures and have collected 5,561 just days after current Mayor Jean Stothart made comments about running for re-election.

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DEMOCRATIC SENATE HOPEFUL RAYBOULD LAUNCHES STATEWIDE TV AD

Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Jane Raybould has released a new statewide television ad highlighting her work in her family's grocery store chain.

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JEAN STOTHERT MAY BE PONDERING ANOTHER RUN FOR MAYOR

“if you didn’t know this, just remember, there are no term limits for the office of mayor of Omaha.” said Stothert after mentioning that while she does not have an active campaign, beginning to save up for one would be the "smart thing to do".

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LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATE SAYS SHE'S RECEIVED RACIST SLURS AND THREATS

A legislative candidate said in a statement Friday that she has received threatening text messages since June, some containing the N-word.

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WEST OMAHA VOTERS WILL CHOOSE BETWEEN REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT, DEMOCRAT NEWCOMER FOR LEGISLATURE

Voters in a west Omaha legislative district will choose between an incumbent who describes himself as a compassionate conservative and a political newcomer whose familial experience inspired her run for office.

State Sen. Robert Hilkemann and Shannon Coryell are squaring off in the Nov. 6 general election to represent District 4.

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JUDGE WEIGHS DECISION ON WHETHER NEBRASKA VOTERS WILL SEE MEDICAID EXPANSION PETITION ON BALLOT

LINCOLN — A Lancaster County district judge heard arguments Monday in a case that could determine whether Nebraskans will get to vote on a Medicaid expansion proposal.

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KEYSTONE XL COMPANY MOVES TO CONDEMN SOUTH DAKOTA LAND

BUFFALO, S.D. (AP) — The company planning the Keystone XL oil pipeline is moving to condemn private land in South Dakota.

TransCanada Corp. has filed eminent domain petitions in state court against parcels of Harding County land owned by two families

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NEBRASKA OFFICIALS AGREE TO LICENSE LINCOLN DETOX PROGRAM

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lincoln will be able to maintain a program that serves as an alternative to jail for people arrested while extremely intoxicated.

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OMAHA'S UNFUNDED PENSION GAP WILL GROW TO $876 MILLION UNDER AN ACTUARY'S RECOMMENDATION

The City of Omaha’s unfunded pension liabilities will grow to an estimated $876 million under newly adopted recommendations, including lower assumed investment returns. And it’ll take a little longer for the pension funds to be fully funded.

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QUESTIONS SURROUND WHAT HAPPENED IN 14 MINUTES WITNESSES WERE BLOCKED FROM SEEING NEBRASKA EXECUTION

Whether the execution of Carey Dean Moore in Nebraska with a unique set of drugs went smoothly or not has been left to speculation, not only in the state but around the country — subject to the spin of opponents and supporters alike. 

Sen. Ernie Chambers sent a letter to Corrections Director Scott Frakes on Friday telling him those missing 14 minutes behind the curtain are, in the coming days and weeks, "going to assume as much significance and generate as much speculation as has the problematic 18.5 missing minutes from the White House secret tapes." 

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PEPSICO BUYS SELTZER RIVAL THAT VILIFIED IT

PepsiCo Inc. has agreed to buy one of its fiercest critics, seltzer-machine maker SodaStream International Ltd., for $3.2 billion, the latest move by the beverage-and-food giant to broaden its offerings beyond sugary sodas and salty snacks.

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MEDICAID EXPANSION PETITION CLEARS ONE HURDLE TO MAKING THE BALLOT

LINCOLN, Neb. — A proposal to expand Medicaid to more low-income Nebraskans has cleared one hurdle to appearing on the November ballot.

With signatures from 79 of the state’s 93 counties reported, the petition drive has exceeded the 5 percent mark in 42 counties 

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CEO OF NEBRASKA HHS WILL STEP DOWN IN OCTOBER FOR JOB IN TEXAS

LINCOLN — Courtney Phillips, the top official at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, will be leaving for a job in Texas this fall.

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Thursday evening that Phillips is taking a position as executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

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ECONOMIC TRENDS FROM THE CREIGHTON INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC INQUIRY

OMAHA, Neb. - Creighton University's monthly survey of supply managers and procurement experts in nine Mid-America states indicates that economic growth remains in a healthy range, and with elevated inflationary pressures.

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STATE SENATORS BRIEF SUPERVISORS ABOUT MEDICAID EXPANSION, OTHER ISSUES

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - State Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings told the Hall County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the proposed expansion probably will spur some workers to quit their jobs, where they are paying for an expensive health care plan, and go on Medicaid instead.

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EPA MOVES TO DRAMATICALLY CUT REGULATION OF COAL POWER PLANTS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration moved on Tuesday to dramatically scale back restrictions on climate-changing emissions from coal-fired power plants even as it acknowledged that it could lead to more premature deaths and serious illnesses.

The EPA said the move “empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation.”

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KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE COMPANY SEES NO DELAY FROM COURT-ORDERED STUDY MOVES TO CONDEMN S.D. LAND

LINCOLN, Neb. — A spokesman for the company seeking to construct the Keystone XL pipeline said Monday that a recent federal judge’s ruling should not delay the project, but a leading opponent said she remains confident that the $8 billion project will never be built.

Trans-Canada plans to begin construction in the second quarter of 2019.

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AUDIT SHOWS CONCERNS ABOUT $2.6 MILLION OUTSIDE STATE TREASURER BANK ACCOUNT

LINCOLN, Neb. - The Nebraska State Treasurer's Office maintained an outside bank account for seven years — worth $2.6 million — that apparently flew under most state accounting radar.

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GOVERNOR RICKETTS HAS RELEASED A NEW WEEKLY COLUMN

LINCOLN, Neb. - According to Governor Ricketts, "in our ag economy, biofuels are playing an increasingly important role in growing more opportunity for the next generation of farm families.  With economic uncertainty and low commodity prices, ethanol not only helps build reliable demand for our corn, but it also helps our country achieve greater energy independence.  Nebraska now has the capacity to produce over 2.5 billion gallons of ethanol." 

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IN SOYBEAN COUNTRY, TRUMP'S TRADE WAR WITH CHINA TESTS PATIENCE AND NERVES

TRUMBULL, Neb. — Doug Saathoff, whose great-grandfather began farming around Trumbull, Nebraska, in the late 1800s, planted his first soybean in 1996 and hasn’t lost money since. Even droughts haven’t hurt because there’s plenty of underground water.

Saathoff's profit streak is in danger however due to President Trumps recent trade war with China. Despite the hit soybean farmers like Saathoff may take, they still support the President and his policies. 

“He’s probably the only president who knew soybean farmers exist,” said the soft-spoken Saathoff. 

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BLUE WAVE OR RED RIPPLE IN 2018?

The stakes have never been higher. The Democrats seem determined to impeach Trump if they get control. But if the GOP retains control, Trump can do as he pleases for the remaining two years of his term.

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LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATE SUES STATE, ASKS FOR OPPONENT TO BE DISQUALIFIED

A legislative candidate from Lincoln sued two state officials this week, saying his opponent failed to complete a campaign form required by law and accusing the officials of looking the other way.

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NEWCOMER DEMOCRATS COMPETE FOR LEGISLATIVE SEAT IN NORTH-CENTRAL OMAHA

Two political newcomers seeking to represent north-central Omaha in the Nebraska Legislature share a lot in common.

Both are women and Democrats and neither have health insurance due to income levels that put each in Nebraska’s gap between Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Both support expanding Medicaid.

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3 CONTESTED REGENTS RACES ON BALLOT AS UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA FACES STATE BUDGET CRUNCH, CENSURE

Nebraska is one of the few states in which the public elects its university board of regents, and three of eight seats on the board are being contested in November.

A fight for more state money and a two-person campus clash that received national publicity landed UNL on the American Association of University Professors’ censure list, which universities and colleges strive to avoid. 

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DON WALTON: CONGRESSMAN SAYS AG PRODUCERS NOT ABANDONING TRUMP

Farmers and ranchers in western and central Nebraska are concerned about the negative impact that President Trump's trade and tariff policies are having on agricultural trade. Despite the challenges Rep. Adrian Smith says farmers know what Trump is trying to accomplish and have not given up hope. 

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CANDIDATES FOR CASS COUNTY SEAT IN NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE FOCUS ON PROPERTY TAXES

The two candidates for the Nebraska Legislature’s District 2 seat are hitting the campaign trail — including their fair share of community parades and county fairs.

The district is centered in Cass County but includes parts of southern Sarpy County and northeast Otoe County. In all, it includes three county seats — Plattsmouth, Nebraska City and part of Papillion. 

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LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES IN NORTHEAST NEBRASKA DISTRICT FIND COMMON GROUND IN PROPERTY TAXES

District 16 legislative candidates Ben Hansen and Chuck Hassebrook fall on opposite sides of the red-blue divide. But there’s little space between the two on what they agree is the main issue facing their farm-oriented constituents: property tax relief for owners of agricultural land.

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HOUSE CANDIDATES BACON, EASTMAN SHORE UP SUPPORT WITH MORE ENDORSEMENTS

Republican Rep. Don Bacon announced this week that he had nabbed the endorsements of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and all 10 mayors in the district, which is based in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

“Don Bacon earned this endorsement with his stance on policy issues that are already creating jobs and lifting wages right here in Nebraska,” Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said this week. 

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SEN. BOB KRIST, GOV. PETE RICKETTS SPAR OVER HHS PROBLEMS, INCLUDING SPENDING AND SEX ABUSED

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Krist thinks that he could handle the problems at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services better than Gov. Pete Ricketts, Krist said this week after a report on an audit that questioned $26 million in spending was released.

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RICKETTS DISCUSSES TARIFFS, GROWING NEBRASKA AT TOWN HALL MEETINGS

CENTRAL CITY — Gov. Pete Ricketts is hoping trade negotiations will wrap up prior to harvest before the impact will really start to be felt by Nebraska farmers.

He told a crowd at a town hall meeting in Central City on Thursday that he has been in constant communication with President Donald Trump’s administration about the potential effects agricultural and steel tariffs could have on producers and manufacturers in the state.

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HO-CHUNK, HORSEMEN LAUNCH ANOTHER PETITION DRIVE TO ALLOW CASINOS, POSSIBLY SPORTS BETTING, IN NEBRASKA

LINCOLN — Nebraska horsemen will again saddle up an effort with Ho-Chunk Inc., to allow casino gambling, and possibly sports betting, at the state’s Thoroughbred racetracks.

An agreement between the two groups, announced on Wednesday, would seek to place the issue on the 2020 ballot and would involve gathering tens of thousands of signatures beginning next year.

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AUDITOR'S OFFICE FAULTS STATE TREASURER STENBERG FOR OFF-BOOKS ACCOUNT

LINCOLN — State Treasurer Don Stenberg has been keeping more than $2.6 million in an off-the-books account, according to a new state audit.

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FIRMS THAT BOSSED AGRICULTURE FOR A CENTURY FACE NEW THREAT: FARMERS

Across the U.S. Farm Belt, the balance of power is swinging away from multibillion-dollar agribusinesses. For over a century, companies such as Cargill Inc. held sway over markets for U.S. corn, soybeans and wheat, quoting prices to farmers then marketing crops to food and beverage makers across the country. Now farmers are taking back control by pushing companies like Cargill for better quotes, or making their own deals with manufacturers.

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NEBRASKA EXECUTES INMATE USING POWERFUL OPIOID FENTANYL

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than two decades on Tuesday with a drug combination never tried before, including the first use of the powerful opioid fentanyl in a lethal injection.

This was the first lethal injection in Nebraska, which last carried out a death sentence in 1979 by using the Electric Chair.

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NEBRASKA STARTS FISCAL YEAR WITH MORE REVENUE THAN EXPECTED

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska has started a new fiscal year with $20 million more in state tax revenue than expected.The Department of Revenue reported Wednesday that the state collected $280 million in net revenue in July, which is nearly 8 percent above the state's certified forecast of $260 million.

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VOTERS TO DECIDE HALF-CENT SALES TAX HIKE IN NOVEMBER

Grand Island City Council unanimously approved Tuesday night the language that will put the issue on the general election ballot. The motion passed 9-0, with Councilman Jeremy Jones absent.

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MORFELD TO PROPOSE LEGISLATION THAT WOULD OUTLAW RETROACTIVE TERM LIMITS IN CITIES

State Sen. Adam Morfeld plans to introduce legislation next year that “would prevent term limits from being used as a partisan, political weapon against a specific local official.” 

Morfeld, a Democrat, weighed in on the Lincoln issue this week as paid circulators continued to gather signatures on a petition campaign to limit Lincoln's mayor to three terms.

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OMAHA STRIP CLUB OWNER GOES BACK TO COURT, SUES OVER PROTEST WITH SCANTILY CLAD WORKERS

LINCOLN — Facing a new city ordinance that bans nude dancing at bottle clubs, the owner of an Omaha establishment has filed another lawsuit, accusing state and Omaha city officials of unconstitutionally conspiring to close his nightclub.

One local club owner has taken steps to stay ahead of local laws by banning alcohol from his establishment. A move he says has reduced his business by 15%-20%.

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NEBRASKANS IN CONGRESS REACH CONSENSUS: TARIFFS, BAD; TRADE, GOOD

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse said the state is being harmed by “terrible” import taxes imposed by the Trump administration.

“It isn’t just that we in the federal government are taking some ill-advised steps with regard to trade,” Sasse said. “It’s that the public is really drifting on trade in ways that are dangerous for America but critically dangerous for Nebraska.”

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COURT ORDERS POPULAR PESTICIDE OFF THE MARKET

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration endangered public health by keeping the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos on the market despite extensive scientific evidence that even tiny levels of exposure can harm babies’ brains.

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DISCREPANCY OVER SAUDI OIL DATA COULD RATTLE MARKETS

Saudi Arabia has pressed independent energy analysts to alter their estimates of its oil production, people familiar with the matter said, a move that could put it in conflict with other members of the fractious Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The world’s largest oil exporter has told OPEC it cut output in July, according to delegates, but estimates from the U.S. government and independent agencies say it boosted production—amounting to a huge difference of as much as half a million barrels a day.

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RAIDS TARGETED BUSINESS ACCUSED OF HIRING, CHEATING ILLEGAL WORKERS IN NEBRASKA

O’NEILL, Neb. — Federal immigration enforcement officers swept into this rural area on Wednesday morning, detaining dozens of workers from a local tomato greenhouse complex, a potato processing facility and a cattle feedlot.

In Nebraska and elsewhere, the operation by Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials snared 133 workers suspected of being in the country illegally, as well as 17 people connected to an alleged conspiracy to exploit illegal labor for profit, fraud and money laundering.

Federal search warrants were served as far away as Las Vegas and Minnesota in connection with the conspiracy.

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IN SENATE RACE, DEB FISCHER WANTS HEALTH CARE CHOICES, JANE RAYBOULD WANTS TAX CREDITS

Get beyond the partisan talking points, and much of the federal health care debate concerns just three issues: rising health insurance premiums, out-of-pocket costs and access to quality health care.

These are the issues that Nebraskans say they want addressed. They don’t like deciding between paying the mortgage or paying for health insurance. They don’t like driving long distances to doctors. And they want more choices.

For these  voters, Nebraska’s Senate race between U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican, Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould, a Democrat, and retiree Jim Schultz, a Libertarian, could come down to which candidate best articulates the next steps for federal health care reform.

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DR. JAMES LINDER NAMED NEBRASKA MEDICINE'S CEO

A figure familiar to many Nebraskans has been named chief executive officer of Nebraska Medicine, the health system and clinical partner of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. James Linder, who has served for years as a practicing pathologist within the health system and had served as interim president of the University of Nebraska system, was appointed Monday in a unanimous vote of the Nebraska Medicine Board of Directors.

He replaces Dr. Daniel DeBehnke, who had held the post since 2016. The move, announced Wednesday, is effective immediately.

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DRUGMAKER FILES SUIT TO BLOCK NEBRASKA USING EXECUTION DRUGS

A Delaware pharmaceutical company has filed a lawsuit to prevent Nebraska from using lethal injection drugs next week in what would be the state's first execution since 1997.

The lawsuit filed late Tuesday by Fresenius Kabi, a manufacturer and supplier of intravenous generic drugs, said two of the drugs in Nebraska's execution protocol, cisatracurium and potassium chloride, are manufactured by the company. 

The lawsuit could delay Tuesday execution of Carey Dean Moore, who was sentenced to death for killing two Omaha cab drivers in 1979. Moore has stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him.

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VOTING RIGHTS GROUP SAYS NEBRASKA SHOUDL DO MORE VOTE-BY-MAIL

Nebraska's 2018 primary elections show more counties should adopt a vote-by-mail system, a nonpartisan voting rights group said Wednesday.

Civic Nebraska said a 24.3 percent statewide turnout in the May election is proof the state needs to do more to remove barriers to voting, said John Cartier, the organization's voting rights director. "Perhaps the most frustrating issue for both election officials and advocacy groups is when people don't turn out for elections," Cartier said.

With more than three-fourths of Nebraska's eligible voters foregoing casting a ballot, Cartier said the "current Tuesday-centered voter model is not very conducive to voting, with people now working multiple jobs and with lifestyles changing."

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DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE KARA EASTMAN FINDS COMMON GROUND WITH TRUMP ON TRADE

This might be the only time you read this sentence in The Omaha World-Herald: Democratic congressional candidate Kara Eastman agrees with Republican President Donald Trump.

In fact, Eastman is closer to Trump than the Republican incumbent, Don Bacon, on the issue of trade.

While neither Eastman nor Bacon is a fan of Trump’s tariffs, Bacon would like to see the country move toward more free trade, while Eastman favors some limits that she says protect American workers.

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NEW PROPERTY TAX RELIEF PETITION DRIVE SET TO BEGIN

A new billion-dollar property tax reduction petition proposal has been submitted to the Nebraska secretary of state with the goal of gaining a slot on the 2020 election ballot while applying pressure on the 2019 Legislature to act.

This proposal will come in the form of an amendment to the state constitution, Doug Kagan said, rather than as an initiative that would enact a law. Kagan heads Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, an organization that promotes limited government and fiscal restraint.

Initial language in the proposal would provide taxpayers with a state income tax refund or credit equal to 35 percent of local property taxes paid, beginning in 2021.

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AXTELL GRAIN DEALER FINED $10K

The Nebraska Public Service Commission on Tuesday levied a $10,000 fine against an Axtell seed business.

The PSC also prohibited Roberts Seed Inc. from engaging in any grain dealer activities without first obtaining a proper license to do so.

Tuesday's decision comes after a June hearing in Minden, during which representatives of Roberts Seed were required to show cause as to why the company should not be assessed civil penalties for operating as a grain dealer without a license. During that hearing, evidence was presented indicating the company committed 25 violations when it operated as an unlicensed grain dealer.

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SKIES DARKEN FOR DRUG MIDDLEMEN

Drug manufacturers seem perfectly comfortable with the Trump administration’s plan to lower drug prices. That should inspire an opposite reaction for supply-chain investors.

The Department of Health and Human Services is scrutinizing the system of rebates and discounts paid to middlemen as medicine flows from manufacturers to patients. Those middlemen, such as drug wholesalers, pharmacies, and pharmacy-benefit managers, are often compensated as a percentage of a drug’s list price. That creates a perverse incentive for higher list prices throughout the system.

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OVERTIME CLIMBS AT LINCOLN REGIONAL CENTER, STAFF SAY EXHAUSTION LEADS TO ATTACKS

LINCOLN- A patient attacked a DHHS employee at the Lincoln Regional Center June 8 -- hitting him repeatedly in the head.

In the aftermath of the attack, Ron Glover, a security specialist, asked for his supervisors to take him to see a doctor at an urgent care-type facility. He claims that didn't happen.

"I was told due to the severe lack of personnel, they could not do that," he said in an interview with KETV NewsWatch 7 Investigates. "For anybody to take me for medical attention, they would drop below standards of how many people are supposed to be in the building at any given time."

The Lincoln Regional Center is a mental health hospital, and subject to regulations about how many people are working on a shift.

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STATE AUDITORS QUESTION $26M IN CHILD WELFARE SPENDING

LINCOLN — State auditors are calling into question more than $26 million worth of Nebraska child welfare spending from last year.

A 98-page audit report, released Friday, listed the findings: payments made in error, overpayments, unauthorized payments, unreasonable costs and numerous other payments.

The audit found problems with both the Department of Health and Human Services and PromiseShip, formerly the Nebraska Families Collaborative. PromiseShip is an Omaha-based nonprofit that contracts with the state to manage child welfare cases in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

The audit concluded that the magnitude of concerns “give rise to questions regarding the need for, not to mention the propriety of” the state putting more money into child welfare.

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MAYOR, ADMINISTRATOR SAY EVEN DOUBLING CITY PROPERTY TAX LEVY WON'T SOLVE DIRE MONEY PROBLEMS

YORK – There’s a sudden mantra coming from city hall via the mayor and administrator: "The city has developed serious issues of financing. Even jumping the property tax levy from .19 to .45 won’t solve it."

During a special meeting of the York City Council Wednesday, Mayor Orval Stahr and City Administrator Joe Frei announced that all the city’s (unrestricted) reserves have been spent; the tax levy should be more than doubled in the next fiscal year; there should be freeze on all employee wages, steps and longevity pay; there should be no new hires; and more than $1 million has to be cut from the budget meaning no capital expenditures in any departments.

The council, department heads and residents in attendance received the news with a sense of surprise as past audits have come in favorably for past years and there have been no strong hints of financial armageddon . . . until now.

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NEBRASKA TO PHASE IN NEW BENEFITS CARD FOR WIC PROGRAM

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska is phasing in a new electronic benefits card for the program that services low-income women and children.

The card will replace paper checks between August and November for the Women, Infants and Children program. Once it's fully implemented, 340 grocery stores and pharmacies in Nebraska will be able to accept the cards. A handful of stores will only take checks during the transition.

The card works similarly to a debit card, except that the cardholder's account contains specific foods instead of a dollar amount. Specific food benefits are automatically deposited into a family's account at the beginning of every month.

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NEBRASKA WEIGHS FINANCIAL LITERACY EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers are looking for ways to increase financial literacy training in schools, an issue highlighted by a national report that gave the state a mediocre rating in its efforts to teach students how to handle money.

Nebraska offers a patchwork of courses with no uniform, statewide requirements for showing students how to balance budgets, invest wisely and manage their debt, state and industry officials say. A report last year by the Vermont-based Center for Financial Literacy gave the state a "C'' grade along with 11 other states. Twenty-four states received higher marks.

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AS CHINA THREATENS MORE TARIFFS, MIDLANDS LAWMAKERS AND FARM GROUPS SAY U.S. IS IN FOR UGLY FIGHT

WASHINGTON — Midlands lawmakers and farm groups reiterated their concerns Friday about ongoing trade disputes as China threatened a fresh round of tariffs on U.S. goods.

“Nobody wins a trade war,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. “Tariffs are going to hurt Nebraska agriculture and the way America should crack down on Chinese cheating is by leading a Pacific trade coalition.”

China’s threat on a $60 billion list of goods is just the latest round in the back-and-forth tariff battles that have been particularly hard on aspects of U.S. agriculture.

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$75M PLAN TO RENOVATE UNL'S COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING WINS APPROVAL

LINCOLN — By most accounts, the  buildings of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering are lacking.

One is old. One needs extensive renovation. One needs to be taken down, rebuilt and made bigger. The NU Board of Regents on Friday took a step toward getting those improvements done by approving an early plan and budget .

Regents material said a 2015-16 facilities analysis found the College of Engineering buildings “among the worst in the entire University of Nebraska system.” That includes two campuses in Omaha, one in Kearney and one in Curtis.

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NEBRASKA'S OBAMACARE INSURER SEEKS 3.7% INCREASE IN 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska residents who use the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace for health insurance could see a much smaller rate increase in 2019 compared with previous years.

Health insurer Medica says it is seeking a 3.7 percent increase in rates next year, which is sharply lower than in the past. Premiums for the state’s lone Obamacare insurer rose 31 percent last year and 53 percent in 2016. The new proposed rates were published Monday by the Nebraska Department of Insurance.

Medica Vice President Geoff Bartsh said the rate adjustment is smaller because premiums have caught up to growing medical expenses.

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IN CANADA'S GROCERY CARTS, A BOYCOTT U.S.A. MOVEMENT STARTS ROLLING

OTTAWA—Ticked-off Canadians, irked by U.S. metals tariffs and President Trump’s harsh words for their prime minister, are boycotting American products and buying Canadian.

“Usually we don’t pay that much attention to it,” said Garland Coulson, an entrepreneur from Spruce Grove, Alberta. “You tend to buy the products that taste good or you buy the products that are low in price where taste isn’t an issue.”

But the 58-year-old, who called the tariffs from Canada’s close trading partner a “slap in the face,” said he has in recent weeks put more Canadian products into his shopping cart.

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HOW CHINA IS EVOLVING FROM A MAKER OF COPYCAT MEDICINES INTO A PRODUCER OF COMPLEX DRUGS

NANJING, China—At a cancer conference in Chicago in June last year, a little-known Chinese startup stunned researchers with early results showing its experimental gene therapy was abating an aggressive form of blood cancer in patients back home.

Six months later, the startup, Nanjing Legend Biotechnology Co., received $350 million from Johnson & Johnson for the global rights to co-develop and market the experimental treatment. In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its testing on Americans, making it the first Chinese-developed gene therapy to receive such a signoff. The companies plan to kick off a U.S. trial later this month.

The collaboration between J&J and Legend shows how aggressively China is seeking to transform itself from a maker of cheap, copycat medicines into a producer of complex drugs—aided by looser regulations and government policies to fast-track innovation.

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EDITORIAL: TRUMPS CAR FREEDOM ACT

The Trump Administration’s deregulation is improving consumer choice and reducing costs from health care to appliances. Its proposed revisions Thursday to fuel economy rules continue this trend to the benefit of car buyers, not that you’d know it from the political hyperventilation.

Corporate average fuel economy (Cafe) standards are a relic of the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which sought to reduce oil consumption by requiring manufacturers to produce more efficient cars. But the law has outlived its purpose as shale hydraulic fracturing has made the U.S. the world’s largest oil producer.

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UNIONS TAKE A HIT AFTER SUPREME COURT DECISION

Public-sector unions are facing steep falls in revenue and trying to prevent the loss of members in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling.

In New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois, state governments have stopped collecting millions of dollars in agency fees following a high court ruling banning the practice. Before the ruling, public workers in 22 states who didn’t want to join a union were often required to pay agency fees, which cover collective bargaining costs and can equal as much as 90% of dues paid by members.

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CHURCH AND STATE HAVE COLLIDED DURING DEATH PENALTY DEBATE IN NEBRASKA

As Nebraska hurtles toward a solemn moment it has not experienced in 21 years, its public officials — and citizens — confront what may be tension between their personal views and the tenets of their religious faith. 

Sometimes, they conflict. Or may appear to do so. Sometimes, they require a choice to be made.

In America, the separation of church and state has established that the government is sovereign in settling that argument if and when it reaches the governing stage. 

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AS VATICAN SEEKS TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY, LOCAL BISHOPS URGE NEBRASKA TO HALT MOORE'S EXECUTION

LINCOLN — Hours after the Catholic Church changed its official teaching Thursday to fully reject the death penalty, a trio of bishops urged action to halt an upcoming execution in Nebraska.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is Catholic, said Thursday that he remains in support of capital punishment.

The Vatican announced that going forward, the death penalty is inadmissible in all cases and the church should work to abolish it worldwide. Previously, the church held that execution was allowable in rare cases to defend innocent lives from an “unjust aggressor.”

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NEWCOMERS VYING IN NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE'S DISTRICT 10 FOCUS ON TAXES AND SCHOOL FUNDING

Property taxes and funding for education are the most pressing concerns for two political newcomers vying to represent Nebraska’s Legislative District 10.

Matt Deaver, 43, of Bennington, and Wendy DeBoer, 44, of Omaha, are campaigning for the seat that will be vacated by incumbent Sen. Bob Krist, who is term-limited and running as the Democratic candidate for governor.

The district encompasses parts of Douglas County, including Bennington and part of northwest Omaha.

The two candidates grew up in Bennington together, attending the same schools one year apart through high school. From there, their paths diverged.

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THE PENSION HOLE FOR U.S. CITIES AND STATES IS THE SIZE OF GERMANY'S ECONOMY

For the past century, a public pension was an ironclad promise. Whatever else happened, retired policemen and firefighters and teachers would be paid.

That is no longer the case.

Many cities and states can no longer afford the unsustainable retirement promises made to millions of public workers over many years. 

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Links of Interest

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