Neb. statewide education vision bill advanced
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lawmakers on a Nebraska education committee are looking for new long-term goals for the state's K-12 schools and colleges.
Senators voted 33-0 to advance the bill on Tuesday that would create a "statewide vision" for education.
Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, chairwoman of the Education Committee, says its members will reach out to various groups to help determine what the state's goals and priorities should be for education. Possible changes include changes to the state aid formula for schools.
At least three public hearings would be held as part of the process. The committee would issue its report to the Legislature before the end of the year.
The bill is LB1103
Neb. patrol names first female troop area captain
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A female lieutenant for the Nebraska State Patrol has been promoted to captain in command.
The patrol said in a news release Tuesday that 46-year-old Brenda Konfrst has been moved up as captain in comment for Troop A-Omaha. She is the first woman to become a troop area commander in the agency's history.
Konfrst is a nearly 24-year veteran of the agency. She served in field services and investigative services divisions. She started her career as a traffic trooper.
Konfrst takes over for Major Brett Friesz. He was recently promoted to Investigative Services Major at state headquarters in Lincoln.
Proposed e-cigs ban for Nebraska minors advances
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska minors could soon be banned from using e-cigarettes.
Lawmakers voted 28-0 Tuesday on a measure that would prohibit minors from using the product, and prevent stores from selling them to anyone under 18.
Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber, who introduced the legislation, says there hasn't been enough study to know if e-cigarettes are safe.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that give users a puff of vapor, typically containing nicotine and sometimes flavorings such as fruit or mint. Users can vary the amount of nicotine.
Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln says the devices should be available to help minors quit smoking.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that at least 27 states have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
The bill is LB863
TAX BRACKETING BILL
Lawmakers advance Neb. income tax indexing bill
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lawmakers have advanced a bill to ensure that Nebraska's income tax brackets keep pace with inflation.
Senators voted 36-1 on Tuesday on a measure designed to reduce what income-taxpayers would have to shell out over time.
Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney, chairman of the Revenue Committee, says the bill will eliminate a hidden tax increase imposed when incomes rise with inflation. The income growth pushes many taxpayers into higher brackets, where they pay more.
Sen. Norm Wallman of Cortland was the only senator to vote against the bill. Wallman says reducing state revenue will cause local entities to raise property taxes to make up the difference.
The bill would also exempt Social Security income that falls below certain thresholds.
The bill is LB987
BABY DIES-NANNY CHARGED
Omaha nanny found guilty in baby's death
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A jury has found an Omaha nanny guilty in the death of a 4-month-old baby under her care.
The Omaha World-Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1lwzXtG) the jury of four men and eight women on Tuesday found Sarah A. Cullen guilty of child abuse resulting in death.
Cullen had been caring for Cash Bell in late February of 2013 when the baby suffered a fractured skull and massive bleeding. Cash died five days later after being removed from life support at a hospital.
The 25-year-old Cullen offered several stories as she tried to explain the baby's injuries.
Sentencing is set for May. Cullen faces a sentence ranging from 20 years to life in prison.
Report: 25K Nebraskans enrolled in health plans
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A new report says more than 25,000 Nebraskans have signed up for private health insurance plans through the federal website.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday released new enrollment data from Oct. 1 through March 1. The report says 25,582 Nebraskans have selected a plan.
Statewide, more than 54,300 Nebraska residents are eligible for plans through the federally facilitated marketplace.
Nationally, about 4.2 million people have enrolled in plans using the federal website. Approximately 31 percent of those nationally were age 34 or younger.
PRISON VAN CRASH
Nebraska to pay $2M for fatal prison van crash
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska officials have agreed to pay $2 million to the family of a Lincoln woman who was struck and killed by a state prison van driven by an inmate.
The settlement will go to the husband and son of 47-year-old Joyce Meeks, who was killed in the crash on June 25 in Lincoln. Lawmakers gave initial approval to the payment on Tuesday as part of the state's annual claims bill.
The inmate driver, Jeremy Dobbe, was seen speeding and swerving erratically before he struck Meeks' vehicle. Dobbe was driving to transport inmates as part of a state work-release program.
The lawsuit by Meeks' husband, Leonard Meeks, and son, Martell Buchanan, alleges that Dobbe was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or some other intoxicating substance.
The bill is LB949
Neb. man arrested after trying to steal snakes
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A 19-year-old Nebraska man is facing several charges after police caught him carrying a large snake after a break-in at an exotic pet store.
Omaha police say the front door to Bart's Exotic Pet Store and Aquaponic Supply was smashed around 8:40 a.m. Monday.
The business' alarm went off. When officers arrived, numerous snakes were loose inside the store.
The 19-year-old fled out the back of the store with the snake, and was caught after a short pursuit. He is facing charges of burglary, cruelty to animals, and obstructing a peace officer.
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