Nebraska tax reform measure headed to final vote
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska tax measure that could benefit high-tech start-up companies and uninsured medical patients is headed to a final vote in the Legislature.
Lawmakers gave second-round approval Thursday to a bill that would repeal Nebraska's alternative minimum tax, and allow businesses to spread losses over 20 years to reduce their state tax burden.
Senator Paul Schumacher of Columbus says Nebraska is 1 of only nine states that still impose the alternative minimum tax. He says it hurts residents with high medical bills that are tax-deductible.
Lincoln CPA John Cederberg says the measure may not be enough to positively attract new businesses, but it will eliminate a negative factor. Cederberg says the measure will improve Nebraska's tax ranking, a top priority of Governor Dave Heineman.
The bill is LB308.
WELFARE WORK SUBSIDY
Neb. work-subsidy pilot bill heads to final vote
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A proposed work-subsidy program aimed at Nebraskans who qualify for welfare is headed to a final vote in the Legislature.
Lawmakers gave the bill second-round approval on Thursday.
The measure by Senator Sue Crawford of Bellevue would create a pilot program to subsidize employment for parents or young people who make as much as 200% of the federal poverty level. The subsidies would taper off six months.
Supporters pointed to similar measures that have succeeded in other states, while some critics cast it as unnecessary government spending.
Crawford says the bill helps low-income people gain work experience and increase their earning potential.
The pilot program would end after four years.
The bill is LB368.
Neb. lawmakers advance human trafficking bill
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska bill that would expand protections for human trafficking victims has won first-round approval from lawmakers.
The bill that advanced on Thursday focuses heavily on minors of both sexes who are coerced and sometimes forced into the sex trade.
Senator Amanda McGill of Lincoln says the law should reflect that young people often aren't entering the sex trade by choice.
The measure would define human trafficking as a form of child abuse, offer an affirmative legal defense for human trafficking victims charged with prostitution, and provide immunity to minors who could otherwise face charges.
Lawmakers say they plan to continue addressing the issue. Senator Colby Coash of Lincoln says he's concerned that the penalties for johns still aren't enough to dissuade them.
The bill LB255.
Columbus police investigating death as homicide
COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - Columbus police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in a south neighborhood house as a homicide.
Police Captain Todd Thalken tells the Columbus Telegram that the man's body was found Wednesday.
Police are not releasing the man's death or details about how he died.
The house's owner said the man had lived in the house for about eight years, but declined to comment further.
OKLAHOMA TORNADO-NEBRASKA HELP
Neb. rescue team returns home after Okla. tornado
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A search and rescue team from Nebraska has returned home after helping with tornado damage in an Oklahoma City suburb.
The Nebraska Task Force 1 was scheduled to return to Lincoln Thursday afternoon. The full 82 members of the urban search and rescue team arrived Tuesday morning in Moore, Oklahoma to help with operations in the wake of a deadly tornado on Monday.
The team includes firefighters from both the Lincoln and Omaha fire departments. There are civilian members who are doctors, structural engineers and heavy rigging specialists. There also are five canine search specialists and six dogs.
Lincoln Fire Chief John Huff says the team successfully completed its assignments without injury or incident.
Neb. student suspended over vandalism of yearbook
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Lincoln middle school student has been suspended from school for marring the photo of another student by labeling it with an offensive three-letter acronym.
Now, school officials are asking students and parents to "immediately mark out these letters" next to the seventh-grade Irving Middle School student's photo in the yearbooks they received Friday.
Principal Hugh McDermott confirmed that the eighth-grade boy responsible was suspended for five days. But the suspension began Thursday - the last day of school for students this year - so it's unclear whether his suspension will continue next year when he begins high school.
McDermott says school officials learned of the yearbook vandalism only after the annuals were handed out. By then, it was too late to fix.
Kearney prof. accused of possessing child porn
KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - A University of Nebraska-Kearney professor has been accused of possessing and distributing child pornography.
The Kearney Police Department arrested 52-year-old Joseph Benz late Wednesday. The Attorney General's Office says a cyber-crimes unit had been investigating him.
Authorities searched the psychology professor's home on Tuesday. One computer uncovered up to 20,000 questionable image files, and investigators are looking into at least two other computers.
Benz has been charged with three counts each of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. He is at the Buffalo County Jail.
Records do not list an attorney.
CHILD PORN-MAN FLEES
Neb man who fled after child porn charges returns
COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - A 35-year-old Columbus man who fled the area after being charged with having and sharing child pornography has turned himself in, telling a judge he left to see his dying father.
The Columbus Telegram says Christopher Fleming was charged last month with 16 child pornography counts and an arrest warrant issued, but Fleming could not be found.
Fleming turned himself in to Platte County authorities on Tuesday. At a bond hearing on Wednesday, Fleming told a judge that he knew he was wanted by authorities, but fled to Texas to spend time with his dying father.
He remains jailed on $500,000 bail. His next court appearance is set for May 30th.
FOOTBALL FIELD VANDALISM
Vandalism irreparably damages new Beatrice field
BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - Authorities are looking for those responsible for irreparably damaging the Beatrice High School football field's new artificial turf by spreading at least 100 pounds of birdseed over it.
School officials and police say several large bags of birdseed were ripped open and spread over the field sometime last weekend. To do that, whoever was responsible would have had to scale a 6-foot outer fence and 4-foot inner fence.
Coaches at Beatrice High School discovered the birdseed Monday.
Activities director Neal Randel says the birdseed has gotten into the fibers of the turf and that it can't be removed without pulling up the crumb rubber that supports the turf.
The $2.3 million field was constructed last year and dedicated in August.
11 a.m. kickoff for Neb game vs Illini on Oct. 5
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska's homecoming game against Illinois on October 5th will kick off at 11 a.m.
The Big Ten Conference on Thursday announced start times for this football season's homecoming games. Television coverage will be announced later.
The game against Illinois will be Nebraska's first with the Illini since a Cornhuskers' victory in Champaign in 1986. Nebraska holds a 7-2-1 advantage in the series.
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