Nebraska News

New Nebraska law could help put medical marijuana on ballot
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Advocates for medical marijuana will try to take their campaign to Nebraska voters next year if lawmakers don't act, and a new state law could make their job easier. Supporters say they're gathering signatures to place the issue on the November 2016 ballot. A law signed last week allows petition organizers to pay circulators by the signature, instead of by the hour. Critics of the previous rules say many groups don't have the resources to pay circulators by the hour. Petition organizer Bryan Boganowski says getting the marijuana measure on the ballot would still be hard, but the new law would help. A measure scheduled for a vote Monday in the Judiciary Committee would allow medical cannabis in liquid, pill, or liquid vapor form, but it couldn't be smoked.

Counties get grants for disability election equipment costs
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Secretary of State has announced that 48 county election offices will receive reimbursements totaling nearly $50,000 to help cover costs associated with the use of voter disability equipment during the 2014 general election. The money is provided to the Secretary of State's office through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. AutoMARK machines allow voters with visual impairments and other disabilities to cast their ballots privately and without assistance as early voters or at the precinct on Election Day. The total amount for 2014 came to $48,204. Counties were awarded $36,677 in 2012 and $41,000 in 2013.

Program finds students with rural ties for medical school
PONCA, Neb. (AP) — A special Nebraska program continues to give high school students from rural areas a shot at medical school in the hope they will return home. Natalie Leader graduated from the Rural Health Opportunities Program a few years ago and now owns her own dental practice in Ponca. The Sioux City Journal reports Leader grew up in Wayne and was attracted to the program that offers a full scholarship for undergraduate work and early admission to medical school. Leader says she couldn't imagine living and working in a big city. The program began in 1990. Since then 420 students have graduated and 65 percent of those are practicing medicine in Nebraska. Students aren't obligated to work in rural areas but many do.

Former union official sentenced for stealing over $100,000
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A former union official who was convicted of embezzling more than $100,000 from the group he led has been sentenced to eight months of prison and house arrest. The Lincoln Journal Star reports Ray Lineweber was sentenced Friday for stealing from the United Transportation Union between 2008 and 2012. Lineweber apologized for the mistakes he made while leading the union's Nebraska State Legislative Board 30. U.S. District Judge John Gerrard says Lineweber had a secret Office Depot credit card he used to buy over $27,000 of gift cards, computers, a television and other items. He also falsified expense records. The total loss was $102,907. Lineweber will serve four months in prison and four months of house arrest. He was also ordered to pay restitution and complete community service.

Lincoln police officer hurt while breaking up fight downtown
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Lincoln police officer was injured while breaking up a fight outside the downtown bars early Sunday. Police Capt. Jeri Roeder said the officer suffered a cut above his right eyebrow while trying to arrest the men in the fight, but he will be OK. One of men involved in the fight resisted officer's attempts to arrest him. Officers used a stun gun to subdue the 24-year-old. Roeder says alcohol was a factor in the incident. The 24-year-old was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, assaulting an officer and failing to comply.

Nebraska Game and Parks' shooting center to reopen
LOUISVILLE, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Game and Parks' shooting sports center will reopen April 25 for spring weekend sessions. The Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Education Complex is situated at Platte River State Park. The park sits just west of Louisville (LOO'-ihs-vihl), along the Platte River in eastern Nebraska's Cass County. The complex offers a wide variety of shooting sports disciplines. The complex will begin its summer season on May 23, when it will be open daily through Aug. 9. A park entry permit is required.

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