Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal safety regulators have proposed fining Family Dollar Stores more than $300,000 for what the regulators say are safety violations at an Omaha store.

A news release from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday that inspectors found two serious violations, four repeat violations and one "other than serious" violation at the Family Dollar Store at 3552 Leavenworth St.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing an unexpected challenge in meeting the needs of the many people affected by this spring's widespread flooding and violent storms: a strong economy.

Tasked with responding to natural disasters that seem ever more frequent and destructive, the agency finds itself further challenged by the robust job market and an inability to match what the private sector can offer, in many cases.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Health officials in eastern Nebraska are taking steps to control mosquito populations that carry West Nile and other diseases as a wet spring has led to more breeding grounds for the biting insects.

The Douglas County Health Department says it's using mosquito larvicide in potential breeding sites or stagnant waterways to help curb the spread of West Nile virus. The department is also trapping mosquitoes every other week. Trapped mosquitoes are counted and tested for Zika, West Nile virus and Chikungunya at the Nebraska state public health lab.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An office employee at a prison in Lincoln is recovering after being assaulted by an inmate over the weekend.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said the woman was attacked Saturday afternoon at the Lincoln Correctional Center.

Officials say an inmate, who hasn't been identified, entered an office and began hitting the staff member on the head and face. He also choked the woman, who sustained bumps and bruises and a concussion.

Other inmates helped the staff member by calling for help on a radio.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials are urging members of the public to leave baby wild animals alone even if they appear to be abandoned.

Commission officials say lone fawns, birds or mammals may appear to be abandoned or injured, but in many cases the mother is off feeding or drinking and will return. In some cases, other deer will adopt an orphaned fawn.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha principal accused of not immediately reporting a teacher's suspected sexual abuse of three students has quit his job.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Omaha school board voted Monday night to end the pay and benefits on July 31 for 49-year-old Eric Nelson, who'd been principal at Fontenelle Elementary School. One of his teachers, Greg Sedlacek, pleaded guilty May 6 to three counts of sexual assault of a child. Nelson was placed on leave after Sedlacek's arrest.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald has returned more than $12,000 to the American Red Cross — one of thousands to see unclaimed property held by the state turned over to rightful owners.

Fitzgerald presented a check for $12,300 Thursday to the humanitarian assistance group.

Fitzgerald's office says more than $377 million in unclaimed property in Iowa is waiting to be claimed. That included more than $61 million in Polk County alone.

The amount of water being released into the lower Missouri River will remain at a high level because of all the rain that fell in the area over the last month.

A statewide trade group representing commercial, industrial and public works construction contractors says it has established a $5 million endowment that will fund programs to attract people to construction trade jobs.

Master Builders of Iowa has created a nonprofit board that will each year fund projects that introduce students and adults to the building trades and help attract them to training programs to be a carpenter, electrician, welder or plumber.

Health insurance costs are surging for students and staff enrolled in plans offered by the University of Nebraska.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that more than 5,000 students and faculty are facing a nearly 20% hike to their premiums next year.

Individual plan costs are rising from $2,588 to $3,067. Family plans are increasing from $7,357 to $8,958. The university's provider is United Healthcare.

One of the bills vetoed would have allowed a special committee to develop a plan to get as many people as possible to participate in the 2020 Census.

Ricketts said Tuesday that the bill gives inappropriate authority to a single program with no guidance, parameters, duties or goals. He notes that many local government and organizations already have "Complete Count" committees in place.

 An attempt to override Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert's veto of a ban on most single-use plastic bags by retailers has failed. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the override vote Tuesday by the City Council was 4-3, falling one vote short. The ban measure's sponsors, Councilmen Pete Festersen and Ben Gray, say they were unable to sway a fifth council member to switch positions.

Universities in Nebraska and Iowa are seeing an uptick in humanities courses in some medical schools.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the University of Nebraska at Omaha got the green light last month to offer a major in medical humanities. The subject areas include art, philosophy, ethics, religious studies, and the history of medicine among others. Faculty members at Creighton School of Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center say studying humanities can promote empathy and help students learn to listen.

A new report says a May survey of business supply managers suggests economic growth will slow over the next three to six months in nine Midwest and Plains states.The report issued Monday says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 54.3 last month from 55.9 in April. The figure was 58.2 in March. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says tariffs and flooding have harmed several states.The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth.

A cryptocurrency pioneer is behind a more than $4.5 million charity bid to have a private lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The Glide Foundation said in a news release Monday that the top bidder was Justin Sun, founder of Tron and CEO of BitTorrent. The online auction raises money for the Glide Foundation's work to help the homeless in San Francisco.

The House has given final approval to a long-delayed $19.1 billion disaster aid bill. That clears the way for the measure to be sent to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.

The chamber approved the legislation 354-58. It's aimed at helping communities around the country bounce back from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires.

The bill languished for months over disputes including additional aid for Puerto Rico, which Trump opposed. He also wanted $4 billion to deal with migrants at the Southwest border, which will await a future bill.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An anonymous bidder has offered more than $4.5 million to have a private lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, shattering the previous record of nearly $3.5 million set in 2012 and 2016.

An online auction that raises money for the Glide Foundation's work to help the homeless in San Francisco ended Friday night on eBay with a winning bid of $4,567,888.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts isn't giving up his push to lower property taxes even though lawmakers rejected several proposals this year.

With the 2019 session now over, the Republican governor says he plans to meet with key lawmakers this summer in search of a new property tax compromise before the Legislature reconvenes in January.

But Ricketts is standing firm in his opposition to any proposal that lowers one tax by raising another.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The family of former state Sen. Don Pederson says he died Sunday at his home in Lincoln. He was 90.

His wife, June Pederson, said Pederson died of pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed May 14.

Pederson served in the Nebraska Legislature from 1996 to 2007. He was appointed in September 1996 to replace David Bernard-Stevens, who had resigned. He was elected later in 1996 and won re-election in 1998 and 2002. He was barred from running again because of a state law limiting state senators to two terms.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The University of Nebraska Board of Regents has named a longtime administrator and faculty member as the school's interim president-elect.

The board announced Thursday that it will name Susan M. Fritz the university's interim president following the departure of current President Hank Bounds, who will leave Aug. 15. Fritz will hold the position while the board conducts a national search for the next president.

Fritz will be the first woman to lead the university since the system was created 51 years ago.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Flooding along the lower Missouri River will likely worsen in the days ahead because the amount of water being released into the river is increasing because of the recent rain.

But officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say the river will remain below the levels it hit in March when flooding caused significant damage in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says Iowa could be headed toward a law eliminating the use of cellphones while driving.

A hands-free bill didn't advance this year but could come back again next year, and Reynolds says she supports the idea if lawmakers send it to her.

She signed a proclamation Tuesday declaring this "end distracted driving week" in Iowa.

The Nebraska Fire Marshal's office has determined a lightning strike caused the fire that destroyed a fertilizer plant and injured three people.

The office said in a news release Friday afternoon that the fire at Cooperative Producers Inc. dry fertilizer plant at Hastings has been declared "natural in origin." The state office says it was aided by the Hastings Fire Department and three other departments, as well as Adams County Emergency Management, in investigating the cause of the fire.

photo courtesy of Emily Chen-Newton KIOS News

Only weeks after reopening in the wake of historic flooding along the Missouri River in March, Interstate 29 on and off ramps for Highway 2 in southwest Iowa have again closed due to flooding.

Highway 2 connects southwest Iowa to Nebraska City, Nebraska, over the Missouri River. The Omaha World-Herald reports that as of Saturday morning, floodwater was covering the ramps to the highway from I-29.

Nebraska lawmakers will end their session this week with a new state budget and dozens of laws passed, but many priorities fell by the wayside and sent senators back to the drawing board.

A few of those measures could end up before voters in the 2020 general election. In most cases, lawmakers will work over the summer and fall to tweak their bills in hopes of winning more support in next year's session.

A bill that would require Nebraska abortion providers to give women information about possibly continuing their pregnancy after taking the first of two abortion drugs is headed to a final vote in the Legislature.

Lawmakers advanced the measure Thursday through a second-round Thursday despite criticism that the information isn't backed by scientific evidence. The vote was 36-9 after supporters overcame a legislative filibuster.

Opponents say the bill is premised on a faulty and unethical study.

Wisconsin is also considering a similar bill.

The Senate has passed a long-overdue $19 billion disaster aid bill to help to a number of states and Puerto Rico recover after a series of hurricanes, floods and wildfires.

The widely-backed legislation passed by an 85-8 vote.

Republican leaders agreed to a demand by Democrats to toss out President Donald Trump's $4.5 billion request to address a record influx of Central American migrants who are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and elsewhere and coming to the United States.

Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, are investigating an assault on a Muslim woman as a possible hate crime.

Police tell the Lincoln Journal Star that the 18-year-old victim was walking Wednesday night in west Lincoln when two white men approached her, made derogatory comments and threats and then knocked her to the ground and kicked her. No arrests had been reported by Thursday afternoon.

Police Chief Bliemeister said his agency "will not tolerate hate crimes."

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has vetoed a proposal that would have banned groceries, big-box stores and other retailers from handing out single-use plastic bags.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that Stothert vetoed the measure on Wednesday, because she questioned the measure's effectiveness in fighting litter.

The measure would ban bags from all retailers larger than 10,000 square feet by 2022.

One of the ban's sponsors, Councilman Pete Festersen, has said he would pursue a veto override. That would require one more vote that the ban got when it passed 4-3.

Lawmakers have advanced a proposal to replace Nebraska's largest tax incentive for businesses with a newer program despite concerns from some who want to focus first on property taxes.

The bill won first-round approval yesterday on a 29-5 vote after supporters overcame a legislative filibuster.