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Associated Press

Lincoln Journal Star

A bison calf born last month at a safari park near Omaha is now on full display at the park, where it is roaming the grounds with its mother and the rest of the herd. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the auburn-colored calf was born May 11 at the park's Bison Plains. Bison young are lighter than adults and don't turn the characteristic dark brown of bison until they are several months old. Zookeepers have not directly interacted with the calf and do not yet know if it's male or female. The calf brings the herd's total to 32.

KOLN

A Nebraska county that was ordered to pay $28.1 million to six people wrongfully convicted of murder may be able to cover the balance of the federal judgment in the next three years, much sooner than first expected. The Beatrice Daily Sun reports that Gage County officials had initially predicted that it would take nine years to pay off the legal judgment. The change in schedule came after state lawmakers and Gov. Pete Ricketts approved $4 million in state money this year to help the county.

Omaha World Herald

Nebraska restaurants can now offer carry-out alcohol permanently under a new state law inspired by Gov. Pete Ricketts’ efforts to help struggling businesses during the pandemic. Ricketts announced that he signed the measure into law. It went into effect immediately. The governor issued an executive order to allow carry-out alcohol in March 2020 to aid restaurants that were struggling financially because of the pandemic and mandatory social distancing restrictions. The order proved popular with the public, and some restaurants reported that it had helped their sales.

Gage County

A Nebraska county that was ordered to pay a $28.1 million legal judgment for sending six innocent people to prison will get $4 million from the state to help pay it off. Gov. Pete Ricketts signed off on the payment on Tuesday, despite raising objections to a 2019 measure that allowed Gage County to impose a half-cent sales tax without voter approval to pay some of the debt. Ricketts says he approved the new law because of the additional economic impact of the pandemic on county residents.

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska lawmakers have ended a historic session marked by major tax cuts, a grant program to expand high-speed internet service and regulations to clear the way for the state’s new casino industry. But they left major work unfinished, most notably the once-a-decade ritual of redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative districts. That means they'll have to return to the Capitol later this year. The session was also shaped by the coronavirus pandemic and bitter disputes over how to use excess money in the state budget.

Wikipedia

The University of Nebraska has netted $400 million in financing through the sale of municipal bonds to be used for a growing list of renovations and replacement projects. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the sale took place Wednesday, and money garnered will go toward an $800 million backlog of projects at campuses in Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney, as well as the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

The New York Times

Nebraska lawmakers have approved a corporate income tax cut designed to bring the rate closer to the one paid by small business owners, despite objections that the lost revenue could be used for other purposes. Senators voted the measure through its third and final vote, 42-1, and sent it to Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who’s expected to sign it. The measure would drop Nebraska’s top corporate income tax rate from 7.81% to 7.25% over two years.

NOISE Omaha

Seven people are under arrest after a group left pig heads outside the Omaha police union building.  Police say the incident took place on Saturday when dozens of people gathered in the Omaha Police Officer's Association's parking lot near 134th Street and Cryer Avenue.  Authorities say the group of demonstrators left three severed pig heads wearing police hats in the parking lot, and those who were arrested face charges including failure to disperse, trespassing and unlawful assembly.  The incident took place following what was advertised as a "pig roast" at Montclair Park.

Nebraskans receiving Social Security income will pay less in taxes on that income each year until it’s fully exempt in 2030, under a bill that won final approval from lawmakers. Lawmakers passed the gradual tax phase-out on a 41-0 vote. It now heads to Gov. Pete Ricketts, who’s expected to sign it. The bill by Sen. Brett Lindstrom, of Omaha, would reduce the taxes paid on Social Security income by 5% this year, 20% next year and 30% in 2023. The exemption would continue to grow until it hits 100% in 2030.

KETV

The search for an autistic 11-year-old boy in eastern Nebraska grew more dire Thursday as the boy remained missing for a third day and officials moved the search to nearby bodies of water. Ryan Larsen has been missing since Monday morning, when he walked out of his elementary school in La Vista, which lies just southwest of Omaha. Police say the child has a history of hiding from his family and authorities. La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten tells the Omaha World-Herald that police have had to find the boy at least half-a-dozen times, but that he’s never been missing for days at a time.

Omaha World Herald

The Omaha City Council has passed a resolution brought by newly-reelected Mayor Jean Stothert that condemns discrimination and hate and calls for Omaha leaders to be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. The resolution is largely symbolic, as it enacted no policy changes. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the resolution drew praise, but also criticism from some who said city leaders need to do more than offer lip service to combating discrimination.

NPR

Mask mandates are expiring in several of the state’s largest cities as more people continue to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. Lincoln’s mask mandate will expire at the end of Thursday, Omaha’s will disappear at the end of next Tuesday and in the Omaha suburbs, Ralston ended its mandate earlier this week. The state has seen infection rates come down as vaccinations have become more widely available. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska decreased over the past two weeks, going from 198.71 new cases per day on May 3 to 100.14 new cases per day on Monday.

Millions of dollars of federal funding is being awarded to Nebraska airports.  The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced that Nebraska airports would receive 12-point-six-million-dollars in grants through the Fiscal Year 2021 Airport Improvement Program.  Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff, McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport and Broken Bow Municipal Airport are among the Nebraska airports that will receive money for improvements including runway and taxiway upgrades, navigational aids and snow removal equipment.   

KLKN-TV

Gov. Pete Ricketts is predicting a return to normal in Nebraska’s K-12 schools by this fall after a year of coronavirus restrictions that included mask-wearing in classrooms and remote learning. Ricketts says the state appears to be in good shape with its vaccination efforts and virus-related hospitalizations, which have now fallen below 100 statewide. He made the comments as he encouraged Nebraska’s new high school graduates to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

Times Of India

Nebraska health officials said an extremely contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in India has been confirmed in the state. The first case of the virus variant, officially known as the B.1.617 variant, was found in a Lancaster County resident who has ties to international travelers. The discovery of the new variant comes as the state was reporting a relatively small number of new cases of the virus. Nebraska health officials said Wednesday that 1,368 new virus cases had been reported over the past week, down slightly from 1,397 cases the week before.

UNO Gateway

Republican incumbent Jean Stothert has sailed to a third term as Omaha's mayor, capturing the vote 2-to-1 over Democratic challenger and commercial real estate broker RJ Neary in Tuesday's city election. Neary conceded the race by 9 p.m. Tuesday, and Stothert declaring in her victory speech that she would be focused on continuing the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and making the city more inclusive and safe. The 67-year-old Stothert pushed through her campaign following the death of her husband of 40 years in March.

A sweeping bill that would shield Nebraska businesses and local governments from coronavirus-related lawsuits has won initial approval from state lawmakers, despite some complaints that senators haven’t done enough for workers who were at risk. Lawmakers advanced the proposal, 39-3, through the first of three required votes. The measure would bar pandemic-related lawsuits against businesses or governments as long as they were following federal public health guidelines. At least 29 other states have enacted laws addressing the issue, including 12 that are similar to the Nebraska proposal.

Nearly half of Nebraska’s adult population has now been vaccinated against the coronavirus. The state said Monday that 49.6% of the population aged 16 and up has now been fully vaccinated and more than 1.5 million doses of the shots have been administered across Nebraska. The campaign to distribute the shots continues to make progress across the state although the pace of vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks as demand has weakened.

Nebraska will get roughly $1 billion in aid under the federal government’s plan to help states hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Treasury Department announced a state-by-state funding breakdown for President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, an effort to restore jobs lost during the pandemic and replenish the coffers of governments that saw huge declines in tax revenue. The plan will distribute $350 billion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments.

Tampa Bay Times

Police in Omaha have issued a public warning about counterfeit painkillers circulating in the area that investigators say have led to several overdose deaths. Police say the counterfeit Oxycodone pills actually contain the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Police say the illegally pressed pills range in color from blue to green and have an “M” imprinted on one side and “30” imprinted on the other side. The pills are intended to mimic a 30 mg dose of Oxycodone.

North Platte Telegraph

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is ramping up his crusade for the meat industry by endorsing a new “beef passport” program to promote meat eating, a few weeks after he blasted Colorado’s governor for a resolution encouraging its residents to eat less. Ricketts, a Republican, cast meat as essential to his state’s economy and the nation’s food security. He criticized “radical environmentalists” and Bill Gates for promoting alternatives, such as synthetic, lab-grown meat, and for arguing that the global meat production system isn’t sustainable.

KLKN

State health officials say a south-central Nebraska woman who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has died of the disease. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday in a news release that the woman was in her 80s and had underlying health conditions. Officials with Two Rivers Health District, based in Kearney, said the woman lived in the district and was recently hospitalized for more than two weeks well after receiving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Center For American Progress

State lawmakers have rejected an attempt to steer more money into Nebraska’s small, rural K-12 schools, many of which receive little aid from the state because they have few students and are surrounded by valuable farmland. Supporters of the bill argued, however, that it isn’t fair for farmers to shoulder most of the cost of their local schools while districts in Omaha, Lincoln and other cities get hundreds of millions of dollars in state assistance. Larger schools say they have more students and greater needs.

Metropolitan Community College

 A Nebraska community college is using federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for tuition and books for high schoolers from the state to take courses this summer. The Omaha World-Herald reports that officials at the Metropolitan Community College hope their newly approved offer will pull in thousands of students. The college saw about a 15% drop in summer enrollment from 2019 to 2020, said Bill Owen, the college’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

Reddit

Federal officials are giving Nebraska more than $50 million to work on a Niobrara River dam that collapsed during the disastrous March 2019 flooding, killing a man who lived just below it. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the award Friday. The money is intended to cover 75% of the cost of the project, with the rest to come from state and local sources. The 93-year-old Spencer Dam was overwhelmed in a surge of ice boulders, with some chunks measured up to 2 feet thick and 20 feet long.

News Channel Nebraska

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s next chancellor will be the first Asian American to hold an executive leadership position in the state’s university system. The University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents unanimously endorsed Joanne Li as UNO’s new chancellor on Saturday. University of Nebraska President Ted Carter said the 56-year-old Li is a proven leader with a record of significant accomplishments. For instance, the graduation rate at Florida International’s College of Business, where Li was dean, improved from 29% in 2017 to what is expected to be a 70% rate this year.

Allstate

Domestic violence victims who are living with their abuser in a rental property could break their lease and leave without penalties under a bill that won final approval from Nebraska lawmakers. Senators passed the measure through the last of three required votes, 43-3. The bill by Sen. John Cavanaugh, of Omaha, includes other tenant protections, such as requiring landlords to give at least 24 hours of notice before entering a tenant’s apartment.

Omaha World Herald

A 114-year-old Nebraska woman who has taken the title of America’s oldest living person says what she wants most is to eat with her friend after a year of pandemic restrictions. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Thelma Sutcliffe, of Omaha, was born on Oct. 1, 1906. The Gerontology Research Group said she became the nation’s oldest living person and seventh-oldest in the world on April 17 when Hester Ford, a 115-year-old woman, died in North Carolina.

NET Nebraska

Nebraska’s population grew at the same rate as the rest of the nation for the first time in at least 120 years, breaking the cycle in which the state consistently trailed the United States average. New U.S. Census numbers show Nebraska’s population increased 7.4% between 2010 and 2020, matching the national growth rate in the same period. The state had grown at slower pace every decade since at least 1900. David Drozd of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research says he had expected Nebraska’s growth to slightly lag the national growth rate.

PBS

Nebraska plans to immediately resume using Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after federal health officials decided the shot’s benefits outweigh a rare risk of developing blood clots. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced the decision on Monday. Federal health officials gave the OK to resume using the shots Friday.

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