Nebraska News

Police respond to report of shooting at Omaha lake
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Police say someone has been shot at Standing Bear Lake in northwest Omaha. Officers responded to a report of a shooting around 2:50 p.m. Monday. The person who was shot was transported to the Nebraska Medical Center in serious condition. Police remained at the scene to search for a suspect. No arrests have been made at this time. No further information has been released.

Regulators relax scrutiny of Nebraska nuclear plant
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal regulators are relaxing inspections of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant after nearly four years of heightened scrutiny. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday the power plant owned by the Omaha Public Power District has improved enough to return to the agency's normal oversight program. Since 2011, Fort Calhoun has faced additional inspections and oversight. The plant, which sits about 20 miles north of Omaha, was also shut down from April 2011 to December 2013 for repairs and inspections. It initially shut down for routine maintenance, but significant flooding in 2011, a small fire and a series of safety violations forced it to remain closed. The NRC will hold a public meeting on April 9 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Thompson Center to discuss Fort Calhoun.

Nebraska lawmakers to debate proposed ban on flying lanterns
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — State senators will debate whether to outlaw small flame-powered paper air balloons in Nebraska. A legislative committee voted 7-0 on Monday to advance a bill that would ban the sale, possession and use of paper lanterns. The lanterns are made of flame-retardant paper and lifted by hot air from open flames at their bases. They're often released into the sky at memorials or celebrations. But the bill's advocates say the lanterns create dangerous fire hazards if they land in neighborhoods or dry fields. If the bill passes, violators would face a $100 fine. Hot air balloons large enough to carry people would be not included in the ban. The bill is LB136.

Attorney: Omaha company won't refund clients for vouchers
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An attorney for an Omaha event planning company says customers who purchased travel vouchers from the business won't be reimbursed any time soon. Steve Lefler, attorney for the owner of Creative Creations, said Monday that consumers shouldn't expect refunds or for unused vouchers to be honored. Creative Creations purchases the vouchers for airline flights at a reduced rate and resells them to the public. The vouchers sparked protest last week when hundreds of customers discovered their vouchers wouldn't be honored because the company had overbooked flights. Only a limited number of vouchers can be redeemed each month. The Better Business Bureau says more than 500 complaints valued at nearly $500,000 had been received as of Monday morning. Lefler says it wasn't the company's intent to take advantage of the customers.

BNSF railroad adds new safety rules for crude oil trains
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — BNSF railroad has started taking additional safety measures for crude oil shipments because of four recent high-profile derailments in the U.S. and Canada. The railroad said Monday that is slowing down crude oil trains to 35 mph in cities with more than 100,000 people and increasing track inspections near waterways. The Fort Worth, Texas, based railroad also is stepping up efforts to find and repair defective wheels before they can cause derailments. BNSF spokesman Michael Trevino says these additional safety efforts began in response to the recent derailments. One was earlier this month near Galena, Illinois, and the Mississippi River. The number of rail accidents remains relatively small compared to total rail traffic, but fiery accidents involving crude oil are increasing because U.S. and Canadian oil production is booming.

Douglas County fined for violating child labor laws
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal agency has fined Douglas County for violating child labor laws by letting four teenagers load a wood chipper last summer. The U.S. Department of Labor issued $3,100 in fines after discovering that four underage employees operated a wood chipper while temporarily working on a maintenance crew for the county engineer. Child labor laws allow only adults to do this. The Douglas County Board is slated to approve payment of the fines Tuesday. Construction and maintenance manager Tom McDonald says the permanent employee in charge of the wood chipper didn't know minors weren't allowed to load it. McDonald says a workers' compensation claim filed after one of the teens bruised a finger prompted the Labor Department's investigation and subsequent fines.

Nebraska term-limit expansion measure wins initial approval
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A ballot measure that could give Nebraska lawmakers an extra four years in office has won initial approval in the Legislature. Senators gave the constitutional amendment proposal first-round approval on Monday with a 27-12 vote. The current proposal would allow lawmakers to serve up to three consecutive four-year terms in office, if voters approve it. Lawmakers have to approve it twice more. Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus says his proposal could be changed to allow two consecutive six-year terms instead. Term limits went into effect in 2006 under a voter-approved constitutional amendment that limited lawmakers to two consecutive four-year terms. Schumacher says the extra time is important to preserve institutional knowledge in the one-house Legislature. The measure is LR7CA

Creation of Lutheran high school considered for Columbus
COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — Parents, community members and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod churches in Nebraska are considering opening a Lutheran high school in Columbus. An informational meeting was held last week to gauge interest in the school. There are Lutheran schools in Columbus, but they do not teach students beyond the eighth grade. Melanie Gustafson, a mother of four, said a conversation with other parents sparked the idea for a high school. The process for creating the school includes seeking approval from the church councils and conducting a feasibility study to gauge interest in the school and evaluate what resources are available. The study will also establish if there are enough students to sustain the school. It is not currently known where the school would be located or what the cost of tuition would be.

Nebraska Sen. Chambers' ISIS statement provokes more debate
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska senator's comment comparing police to the Islamic State terrorist group is continuing to provoke debate in the Legislature. The comment by longtime state Sen. Ernie Chambers came up again on Monday and filled up most of the Legislature's morning debate time. Many lawmakers condemned the comments during debate last week. During a committee hearing this month, Chambers said "my ISIS is the police" because officers are licensed to kill and pose a threat to his neighborhood. Chambers said he isn't a man of violence, but if he carried a gun, he would use it as protection against police and would want to shoot first and ask questions later. Chambers has refused to apologize for the comments.

Senators advance measure to protect pregnant employees
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska mothers-to-be will have better employment protection under a bill headed to a final vote in the Legislature. Senators advanced a measure Monday that would require employers to acknowledge physical limitations of pregnancy and make accommodations for employees. The bill also would bar discrimination against pregnant women in employment practices like hiring or firing. The bill by Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha won second-round approval on a voice vote. Mello says the bill complies with a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold an appeals case by a pregnant woman who asked for job accommodations similar to those available to workers with physical disabilities. The bill is LB627.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press