Nebraska News

Union Pacific furloughs about 900 workers as shipments slow
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Union Pacific has furloughed about 900 railroad workers because shipping demand has been weaker than expected. The Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad said last month that it had begun reducing rail crews and storing some locomotives because shipping volume had been weaker than expected this year. Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said the recent furloughs were also part of the railroad's effort to align its workforce with the current market. The number of shipments Union Pacific has been delivering so far this year is down about 3 percent, which includes a 30 percent drop in coal carloads. The Association of American Railroads says rail traffic nationwide is down less than 1 percent, but coal shipments are nearly 7 percent lower.

Nebraska ends ban on driver's licenses for immigrant youths
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Legislature has overridden the governor's veto and ended the nation's last ban on driving privileges for young people brought into the United States illegally as children. Senators in the one-house Legislature voted 34-10 to override Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has backed the strict policy of his GOP predecessor to deny the licenses. President Barack Obama announced an executive action in 2012 that gives the youths a Social Security number, a two-year work permit and protection from deportation. Although a few states initially announced that they would deny licenses to those youth, only Arizona and Nebraska ultimately adopted policies to exclude them. A court blocked Arizona's law in July. Supporters of the plan in Nebraska say the youth shouldn't be penalized for their parents' actions.

Nebraska death penalty backers consider challenges to repeal
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Death penalty supporters are looking to challenge the Nebraska Legislature's landmark repeal vote. The Nebraska attorney general's office said Thursday it plans to challenge part of the law that prevents the state from executing 10 current death row inmates. Attorneys plan to argue that the law violates the state constitution, which gives the Board of Pardons exclusive power to change final sentences. Senator Ernie Chambers, the new law's sponsor, says the measure makes clear that the Legislature isn't changing the sentences. He says the law merely removes the death penalty as a punishment, meaning the state has no legal way to carry out executions. Senator Beau McCoy of Omaha says he is also considering a ballot initiative to reinstate capital punishment.

Ricketts appoints new state chief information officer
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has appointed a new state chief information officer. Ed Toner will start in the job on June 9th, replacing current acting state CIO Brenda Decker. Toner is the director of IT Global Information and Operations at First Data in Omaha. He previously worked at Ameritrade, the company where Ricketts served as an executive. Toner holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution from Texas A and M University. Ricketts says Toner's private-sector experience will help state agencies find new innovations, efficiencies and cost savings. Toner's annual salary will be $170,000.

Western Nebraska bicyclist killed after being hit by truck
BRIDGEPORT, Neb. (AP) — Police say a western Nebraska bicyclist has died after being hit by a truck pulling a trailer. The Nebraska State Patrol says 44-year-old Jason Kraeger, of Bridgeport, died Wednesday while riding his bike on Highway 385 near Bridgeport. The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reports Kraeger was riding when he was hit by a truck driven by Santos Gomez, of Alliance. The truck was pulling a corn trailer. Kraeger was pronounced dead at the scene. He was wearing a helmet.

Agency says it's investigating worker death in Nebraska
ELGIN, Neb. (AP) — A federal agency says it is looking into the death of construction worker in northeast Nebraska. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the 40-year-old worker, whom it did not name, died Wednesday morning. The agency says the worker was operating a 90-ton crane along a county road, when the crane slipped into the ditch, overturning and killing the worker. A message left for Antelope County Attorney Joseph Alber, who also serves as the county coroner, was not immediately returned Thursday. OSHA said Thursday that the worker was employed by Tradesman International of Omaha, and was working for Wanzek Construction Incorporated of West Fargo, North Dakota on the construction of a wind farm near Elgin. OSHA said it will also investigate complaints alleging other hazards to workers at the site.

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