Tri-Cities

McCook

North Platte

Scottsbluff

Tri-Cities

Country 96 AM 1430 KRGI 97-3 The Wolf

McCook

Coyote Country 93.9 The Zone True Country 102.1

North Platte

Rock 100 Country 93.5 TBD

Scottsbluff

KMOR-FM Sunny 99.3 Wild Country 106.9

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers are set to kick off a new session Wednesday with proposals to balance a tight state budget, lower property taxes and legalize medical marijuana in the face of a potential ballot measure.

The new, 90-day session will also usher in 13 new state senators who will reshape the officially nonpartisan Legislature in ways not yet known.

Here are some things to watch:

___

THE BUDGET

A persistent state revenue shortfall could create budget headaches once again for lawmakers, who have relied on Nebraska's rainy-day fund the last several years.

Nebraska faces a projected $95.1 million revenue shortfall in its upcoming two-year, general fund budget.

It's a tiny fraction of the roughly $9 billion total state budget and smaller than other recent shortfalls, but some lawmakers worry the downturn will continue and they won't have enough money left in the rainy-day fund to cover state expenses. The fund holds about $296 million, down sharply from the $729 million stashed away in 2016.

"I think we may be getting to the point where we can't afford to use any more of that," said Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer, of Norfolk.

In an interview last week, Gov. Pete Ricketts said tapping the cash reserve was appropriate given the downturn in agriculture, the state's largest industry. Ricketts has previously said he'd like to keep about $500 million in the rainy-day fund.

"The reason you have a rainy-day fund is to help cushion against economic downtimes," he said. "In agriculture, it's clearly raining."

Lawmakers will also debate how to pay for a voter-approved measure to expand Medicaid to an estimated 90,000 low-income residents. Ricketts said he will fit that expense into his budget proposal to lawmakers, but it's likely to crowd out other priorities over time.

___

PROPERTY TAXES

Lawmakers will try once again to address the complaints of farmers, ranchers and homeowners who have seen sharp increases in their local property tax bills.

The issue rises to the forefront nearly every year, but lawmakers seldom agree on how to pay for property tax cuts and who should receive most of the benefits.

"I'm relatively optimistic we can get something done this year," said Sen. Tom Briese, an Albion farmer who has introduced numerous property-tax proposals. "A lot more folks are realizing the gravity of the situation."

The biggest recipient of property tax dollars are K-12 public schools, particularly in rural districts that no longer qualify for state equalization aid because they contain too much valuable land. Farmers argue that they're paying higher property taxes even though lower commodity prices have reduced their incomes.

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, of Lincoln, said she understands the pressure farmers are facing and wants to help, but she also sees needs in her urban district.

"We have to work together," she said. "The conservative and rural members need to work with the urban senators and the progressives to really get something done."

___

ELECTING NEW LEADERS, SETTING THE RULES... AND MORE GRIDLOCK?

Lawmakers will choose new committee leaders in a secret-ballot election that's often full of surprises.

During the last elections in 2017, conservative Republicans won nearly all of the Legislature's leadership positions and tried to force through a change that would have made it harder for Democrats to win committee chairmanships in the future. Democrats and even some moderate Republicans blasted the moves as a partisan power grab, and the dispute brought the Legislature to a virtual standstill for 30 days.

The leadership votes were highly unusual in an officially nonpartisan Legislature, where committees are traditionally led by a mix of Republicans and Democrats. The new session will mark the first time lawmakers have formally addressed those issues since 2017.

Pansing Brooks said she's hopeful lawmakers will try to build coalitions more than they have in previous years.

"The original my-way-or-the-highway approach doesn't work," she said. "People are starting to realize it takes coalitions, it takes people working together."

___

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Nebraska lawmakers could face more pressure to legalize medical marijuana in some form, thanks to a group of senators and activists who are promising to put the issue on the 2020 ballot if nothing passes this year.

A newly formed ballot committee, Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, plans to launch a signature-gathering campaign, although organizers said they'd prefer that lawmakers address the issue. Sen. Anna Wishart, of Lincoln, a leading proponent, will introduce a medical marijuana bill this year.

Similar measures won approval last year in Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah, bringing the total to 33 states that have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes. Unlike past efforts in Nebraska that have faltered, the latest campaign is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that has helped lead five successful marijuana-related ballot measures.


-
Adanijah Gonzales, a sophomore at Scottsbluff High School, has been named the January 2019 “Rising Star.” Nebraska EHDI along with Nebraska Hands and Voices Guide By Your Side, recognizes Deaf and Hard of Hearing students who stand out as positive role models to their peers and in their communities with the Rising Star award. Adanijah was nominated for this award by one of her teachers who wrote the following: "I would like to nominate Adanijah Gonzales as the rising star for Nebraska hands and voices. Adanijah is a phenomenal leader, always going out of her way to help other students. She is a role model for all students in the Nebraska Regional Programs. She takes time to connect with younger students at activities, takes a leadership role during bus and van travel, and younger students are always excited to see her. Adanijah helped plan and lead a club for last year’s Camp Anderson, and she is already collecting ideas for the coming years camps. She is a 2 year Academic Bowl Team member for Nebraska West and has been an active participant in the Nebraska Regional Programs for over 7 years.

As a sophomore, she is already planning for college, has researched programs, and knows how to finish her high school career to set her on the path to being a Crime Scene Investigator. She is a focused student and participates in many clubs at Scottsbluff High School. She founded her school’s American Sign Language club and has led it since middle school.   

Adanijah always has a smile on her face and spreads laughter and positivity wherever she goes. She can see when someone is having a rough day and she takes time to connect with them and cheer them up. An all around awesome young lady, I believe Adanijah is very deserving of this award. The staff at Scottsbluff and her family are all very proud of her and know her future will be fantastic. "

-
Grand Island, NE - Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol arrested two people following two pursuits in the early morning hours Sunday on Highway 11 in central Nebraska.

The first pursuit occurred at approximately 1:00 a.m. in Hall County when a trooper stopped to check on a Chevrolet Impala that was parked on the shoulder of Highway 11. As the trooper approached, the vehicle fled the scene and the trooper initiated a pursuit. After a few minutes of driving at around 40 miles per hour, the vehicle stopped.

The driver, Hendrik Torres Rodriguez, 35, of Grand Island, was arrested for felony flight to avoid arrest, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and tampering with evidence. He was lodged in Hall County Jail.

The second pursuit occurred at approximately 5:00 a.m. when a trooper observed a Chevrolet Silverado traveling at 95 miles per hour on Highway 11 in Howard County. When the trooper attempted a traffic stop, the vehicle increased its speed and traveled through Cairo at more than 110 miles per hour. At one point during the pursuit, the vehicle was traveling at more than 130 miles per hour.

A short time later, the vehicle came to a stop after its engine caught fire. The driver, Jacob Sautter, 22, of Ord, was arrested for willful reckless driving, felony flight to avoid arrest, speeding greater than 36 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, and numerous traffic violations. He was lodged in Hall County Jail. 

-
Nebraska State Patrol Release 
The suspect of an officer-involved shooting incident is in custody following a multi-agency search in rural Howard County in the overnight hours of December 31 into January 1.

The incident began in the evening hours of December 31 when the Howard County Sheriff’s Office attempted a traffic stop near the intersection of Dannevirke Road and Page Road north of Elba. The suspect, identified as Luke Lefever, 30, of Broken Bow, then engaged the deputies with a handgun. During the exchange, Lefever was able to gain access to a Sheriff’s Office vehicle and fled south on Page Road. The suspect also gained access to a shotgun stored in the cruiser. The cruiser spun out and a second exchange of gunfire took place. The suspect then fled on foot. Officers from the St. Paul Police Department were also involved, but did not discharge their weapons.

At that point, troopers from the Nebraska State Patrol, deputies from the Howard County, Merrick County, Valley County, and Sherman County Sheriff’s Offices, St. Paul and Scotia police officers, and others arrived on scene and set up a perimeter. NSP SWAT was called in and the NSP helicopter was deployed to assist in the search. Using an NSP light armored vehicle (LAV), SWAT began searching the area.

With information gained by the NSP helicopter, SWAT was able to track the suspect into a creek bed east of Page Road. Upon locating the suspect, an NSP K9 was deployed to help take him into custody. The shotgun was found at the scene. Lefever was found with a gunshot wound to his left forearm and was showing signs of hypothermia. He was transported out of the area using the LAV and then transported to the St. Paul hospital for treatment. He was then transported by medical helicopter to St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln.

No officers were injured at any point throughout the incident. At the request of the Howard County Sheriff’s Office, NSP is leading the investigation. A determination of charges is pending and the suspect will be in custody while at the hospital.

Elba Fire and Rescue and St. Paul Rescue also assisted in the incident.

-
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's corrections director says the execution of convicted double-murderer Carey Dean Moore was similar to other executions he has witnessed, and Moore never appeared to be in pain.
Director Scott Frakes made the comments to a grand jury in sworn testimony released Thursday, nearly three weeks after the death investigation ended.
Frakes says Moore breathed heavily in August as the first of four lethal injection drugs was administered. He says Moore began to snore, but made no other sounds. He says everything he saw was consistent with his past experiences.
The Lancaster County grand jury concluded that Moore died of respiratory failure due to toxicity from multiple drugs.
The 60-year-old Moore was put to death for the 1979 murders of Omaha cab drivers Maynard Helgeland and Reuel Van Ness Jr.

-
Heavy snowfall and blizzard like conditions are being reported as a powerful winter storm moves through the middle of Nebraska.
The Nebraska Transportation Department closed Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 30 in both directions Thursday, from Grand Island to North Platte. It cited whiteout and other weather factors.
The National Weather Service has posted blizzard or winter storm warnings for several counties. Most of the warnings are scheduled to expire by Friday morning.
Six inches (15 centimeters) of snow was reported in Cozad and Elwood.

-

SCOTTSBLUFF – The City of Scottsbluff Sanitation Department would like to advise the public that we will be closed on Christmas Day Tuesday December 25, 2018 and New Year’s Day on Tuesday January 1, 2019.  Monday trash route will remain the same. Tuesday trash route will be picked up on Wednesday. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday routes will remain the same. West side recycling will pick up on Monday. East side recycling will pick up on Wednesday.   


Please call our office at 308-630-0985 if you have any questions regarding your trash, yard waste, or recycling pickups.



-

DECEMBER 18, 2018 (SCOTTSBLUFF, NEB.)  — Investigators with the WING (Western Nebraska Intelligence and Narcotics Group) Task Force have arrested two men and broken up a marijuana growing operation in Scotts Bluff County.

In the morning hours of Tuesday, December 18, the WING Task Force, with assistance from the Nebraska State Patrol, Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office, and the 1057 Military Police Unit, served a search warrant on a residence at 160283 CR 20, outside of Gering.

During the search, investigators found approximately 75 marijuana plants hidden behind a false wall in a potato cellar. Investigators also discovered a butane hash oil extraction lab, nine firearms, and a small amount of methamphetamine.

Robert Newton, 46, and William Burkhardt, 50, both of Gering, were arrested for cultivating marijuana, manufacturing hash, and possession of a controlled substance. Both men were lodged in Scotts Bluff County Jail. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be added.

The WING Task Force is made up of investigators from the sheriff’s offices and police departments that cover the eleven counties of the Nebraska panhandle and the Nebraska State Patrol.


-

The Scottsbluff Police Department is continuing the investigation into the fire that took place at 810 Ferdinand Place in the early morning hours December 16, 2018. At this particular time it is believed that the fire was intentional.  

The Scottsbluff Police Department is continuing to conduct interviews of persons that were near the scene at the time of the incident.   



-

DECEMBER 12, 2018 (SCOTTSBLUFF, NEB.)  — Two troopers were uninjured late Tuesday evening after the marked Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) cruiser they were driving was struck by another vehicle at an intersection in Scottsbluff.

The crash occurred at approximately 10:15 p.m. MT Tuesday, when the troopers were traveling westbound on Highway 26, proceeding through a flashing yellow traffic light. At that moment, a 2003 Dodge Stratus was traveling southbound on 5thavenue, ran the flashing red traffic light, and struck the passenger side of the patrol unit.

Both troopers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash and suffered no significant injuries. The three occupants of the Stratus also suffered no significant injuries. Both vehicles were totaled.

NSP asked the Scottsbluff Police Department to investigate the crash. Scottsbluff Police issued a citation for violation of a traffic signal to the driver of the Stratus.


-
Menards
Main Street Market