Tri-Cities

McCook

North Platte

Scottsbluff

Tri-Cities

Country 96 AM 1430 KRGI 97-3 The Wolf

McCook

Coyote Country 93.9 The Zone True Country 102.1

North Platte

Rock 100 Country 93.5 TBD

Scottsbluff

KMOR-FM Sunny 99.3 Wild Country 106.9
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska is likely to face a prison overcrowding emergency next year that will force state officials to consider releasing all eligible inmates, a prospect some lawmakers fear would endanger the public.
Nebraska corrections director Scott Frakes acknowledged Friday that his department will probably fail to meet a mandatory deadline to reduce the state's prison population by July 1, 2020, triggering the emergency.
Frakes said prison officials have more work to do after members of a legislative committee repeatedly asked him if he believed the goal was still attainable.
"Based on the current population, it's doubtful," Frakes said to the Legislature's Judiciary Committee.
The deadline imposed by the Legislature requires the Department of Correctional Services to lower its inmate population to 140 percent of what its facilities were designed to hold. If the department falls short of that target, the prisons will fall into an automatic "overcrowding emergency" that will force state officials to consider paroling all eligible inmates right away.
Lawmakers set the deadline as part of a 2015 prison reform package to hold the corrections department accountable in its efforts to reduce prison crowding. The package was designed to reduce the number of inmates by placing more emphasis on parole and rehabilitation, but it hasn't yet produced all the desired results.
As of last month, Nebraska's prison overcrowding was worse than when lawmakers approved the 2015 reform package. The prisons housed 5,338 inmates in facilities that were designed to hold 3,375, placing the population at roughly 158 percent of its design capacity, according to the Department of Correctional Services.
Sen. Steve Lathrop, chairman of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, said he was concerned that state officials will end up "staring at an emergency" if they don't act now to release more inmates in a safe, controlled manner.
"Tell us what you need, because this is a concern," said Lathrop, of Omaha.
The law allows parole board members to deny parole if they believe inmates pose a "very substantial" risk of violence or are deemed likely to violate parole.
Frakes said he takes the issue seriously and promised he and his staff will "do everything we can" to reduce the inmate population. But he gave lawmakers no recommendations other than approving the budget request Gov. Pete Ricketts unveiled last week on his behalf.
The request seeks $49 million for two new high-security units at the Lincoln Correctional Center, which Frakes said would help relieve overcrowding by adding space for 384 new beds. Construction likely wouldn't be complete until 2023 at the earliest — two years past the deadline.
Frakes said the new units would allow corrections officials to place the state's most dangerous inmates in one central location in Lincoln, where they'd be less likely to cause problems that make it harder to rehabilitate other prisoners. High-security inmates are currently housed at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln and the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, a facility in rural southeast Nebraska that struggles to fill job openings.
Sen. Wendy DeBoer, of Omaha, said the longer-term approach is good but voiced concern that prison officials aren't doing enough to address the immediate problem.
"I feel a little bit like we're in a house that's on fire, and we're installing fireproof tiles," she said.
Frakes said some factors that fed the overcrowding are beyond his control, including a small percentage of inmates who refuse to participate in rehabilitative programs. Corrections officials also have no influence over the number of inmates that are sent to their facilities, he said.
Nebraska Board of Parole Chairwoman Rosalyn Cotton has said her board is working to release as many parole-eligible inmates as possible, but doesn't want to compromise public safety just to meet the deadline.
Sen. Kate Bolz, of Lincoln, said lawmakers may also want to look at state agencies outside of corrections, such as parole, probation and the court system, to help reduce the inmate population.

-
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A passenger plane slid off an icy runway at Omaha's airport on Friday as freezing drizzle coated thoroughfares across much of the state ahead of expected snow and high winds.
Eppley Airfield officials said via Twitter that no one was injured when the Southwest Airlines plane from Las Vegas went off the end of the runway after landing just after 2 p.m. Friday. The incident led authorities to close the airport Friday afternoon and suspend all flights for more than two hours.
"Airport fire crews are working with Southwest to deplane the passengers and take them to the terminal," the airport's Twitter account read.
The airport reopened shortly before 5 p.m., but airport officials warned that most flights would continue to be delayed.
Freezing drizzle and mist cut visibility and slicked roads and sidewalks in much of the eastern half of Nebraska on Friday as residents prepared for a second straight weekend of harsh winter weather.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for much of the state, with snow expected by Friday evening into Saturday. The service had expected snowfall of more than 7 inches (18 centimeters) in some areas, but adjusted that downward by Friday afternoon to 1-to-3 inches (2.5-to-7.5 centimeters).
Of more concern were high winds of up to 30 mph (50 kph) expected late Friday and into Saturday that could whip up snow, cutting visibility and pushing high-profile vehicles off slick roads. Artic air is expected to move into the state behind the storm, sending wind chills to as low as 20 below zero on Saturday and Sunday.
Schools in the Omaha area canceled or cut classes short Friday in anticipation of the storm.

-
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said he'll be making a "major announcement" on the government shutdown and the southern border on Saturday afternoon as the standstill over his border wall continues into its fifth week.
Democrats are now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to ports of entry from Mexico but nothing for the wall, a House aide said, as the party begins fleshing out its vision of improving border security.
After days of bitter clashes between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was unclear if the twin developments represented serious steps toward resolving the nasty partisan fight or posturing. But they were the first tangible signs of movement in a dispute that has caused a partial government shutdown, which Saturday was entering its record 29th day.
Trump's refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion he wants to start constructing that wall, which Democrats oppose, has prompted the shutdown.
The White House declined to provide details late Friday about what the president would be announcing. But Trump was not expected to sign the national emergency declaration he's been threatening as an option to circumvent Congress, according to two people familiar with the planning.
Instead, Trump was expected to propose the outlines of a new deal that the administration believes could potentially pave the way to an end to the shutdown, according to one of the people. They were not authorized to discuss the announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The move, amid a shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks, represents the first major overture by the president since Jan. 8, when he delivered an Oval Office address making the public case for his border wall. Democrats have said they will not negotiate until the government reopens, raising questions about how Trump might move the ball forward.
Democrats were proposing $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges, who currently face large backlogs processing cases, and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the Democratic House aide said. The money is to be added to spending bills, largely negotiated between the House and Senate, that the House plans to vote on next week.
In addition, Democrats were working toward adding money for more border security personnel and for sensors and other technology to a separate bill financing the Department of Homeland Security, but no funds for a wall or other physical barriers, the aide said.
It was possible Democrats would unveil that measure next week as the cornerstone of their border security alternative to Trump's wall, the aide said. Earlier Friday, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who chairs the House Appropriations Committee's homeland security subcommittee, said in an interview that some Democrats were asking leaders, "What is our plan?"
The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the details publicly. The Democrats' spending plans were first reported by The New York Times.
In a video posted on his Twitter feed late Friday, Trump said both sides should "take the politics out of it" and "get to work" to "make a deal." But he also repeated his warnings, saying: "We have to secure our southern border. If we don't do that, we're a very, very sad and foolish lot."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said only that Trump was "going to continue fighting for border security" and "going to continue looking for the solution" to end what the administration had repeatedly referred to as a "humanitarian and national security crisis at the border."
While few would argue that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the demand for entry by migrants and the Trump administration's hardline response overwhelm border resources, critics say Trump has dramatically exaggerated the security risks and argue that a wall would do little to solve existing problems.
Trump will be speaking from the Diplomatic Room at 3 p.m.
Trump's Friday evening tweeted announcement came after Pelosi, D-Calif., on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip. The White House said there was no such leak.
It was the latest turn — and potentially the most dangerous — in the high-stakes brinkmanship between Trump and Pelosi that has been playing out against the stalled negotiations over how to end the partial government shutdown.
And it showed once again the willingness of the former hard-charging businessman to hit hard when challenged, as he was earlier this week when Pelosi suggested postponing his State of the Union address until after the shutdown.
It was an unusually combative week between the executive and legislative branches.
Tensions flared when Pelosi suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a grand Washington tradition — and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats — that was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 29.
Trump never responded directly. Instead, he abruptly canceled Pelosi's military flight on Thursday, hours before she and a congressional delegation were to depart for Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops.
Trump belittled the trip as a "public relations event" — even though he had just made a similar stop in a conflict zone during the shutdown — and said it would be best if Pelosi remained in Washington to negotiate to reopen the government.
Pelosi, undeterred, quietly began making her own preparations for the overseas trip.
But on Friday, Pelosi said her plan to travel by commercial plane had been "leaked" by the White House.
"The administration leaked that we were traveling commercially," Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol. She said it was "very irresponsible on the part of the president."
She said the State Department told her "the president outing" the original trip made the scene on the ground in Afghanistan "more dangerous because it's a signal to the bad actors that we're coming."
The White House said it had leaked nothing that would cause a security risk.
Denying military aircraft to a senior lawmaker — let alone the speaker, who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, traveling to a combat region — is very rare.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California slammed Trump for revealing the closely held travel plan, calling it "completely and utterly irresponsible in every way."
Some Republicans expressed frustration. Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted, "One sophomoric response does not deserve another." He called Pelosi's State of the Union move "very irresponsible and blatantly political" but said Trump's reaction was "also inappropriate."

-
Grand Island, NE - Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts made numerous stops throughout the state on Monday. One of his stops was in Grand Island at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. Listen to Governor Ricketts and some of the comments he made talking about his four major pillars. 

Gov. Ricketts Speaks In Grand Island

-
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement on a resolution approved by the U.S. Senate to affirm the First Amendment and the No Religious Test Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The resolution was introduced by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

“Thank you to Senator Sasse for his leadership in the U.S. Senate to reaffirm the key role religious freedom plays in the public life of the American Republic,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Recently, we saw Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Mazie Hirono question a judicial nominee’s qualifications based on the nominee’s religious affiliation.  This line of attack is a prejudiced assault not only on the individual nominee, but also on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  I am encouraged that the U.S. Senate has backed Sen. Sasse’s resolution, and I renew my call for the swift confirmation of Brian Buescher as the next federal judge for Nebraska.”

Today is observed as Religious Freedom Day in Nebraska and across the United States.  The Governor recently hosted faith leaders at the Nebraska State Capitol to sign a proclamation highlighting the day.  More information about the Governor’s proclamation can be found by clicking here.

-

-

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is set to take the oath of office for his second and final term.

The Republican governor will take the oath at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Capitol. He will deliver his annual State of the State address to lawmakers on Tuesday.

Other top state officials are slated to take the oath of office Thursday. They are Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Stephanie Stacy, Secretary of State-elect Bob Evnen, State Treasurer-elect John Murante, State Auditor Charlie Janssen and Attorney General Doug Peterson.

Also taking the oath are Public Service Commissioner Tim Schram, State Board of Education members Maureen Nickels and Robin Stevens, and University of Nebraska Board of Regents Elizabeth O'Connor, Rob Schafer and Barbara Weitz.


-
Lincoln, NE - Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers is renewing his push to abolish the death penalty after his last successful attempt was overturned by voters in 2016.

The longtime Omaha senator introduced a repeal bill Thursday on the Nebraska legislative session's second day.

Nebraska received national attention in 2015 when the Legislature overrode Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto and ended capital punishment. Death penalty supporters responded with a ballot campaign that placed the issue before voters, who reinstated the punishment. Ricketts donated $300,000 of his own money to the campaign.

Nebraska executed its first inmate since 1997 last year, using a never-before-tried combination of drugs. Prison officials refused to identify their supplier, prompting lawsuits that accused them of violating Nebraska's public-records laws.

Chambers has fought for decades to abolish capital punishment.

-

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers are set to kick off a new session Wednesday with proposals to balance a tight state budget, lower property taxes and legalize medical marijuana in the face of a potential ballot measure.

The new, 90-day session will also usher in 13 new state senators who will reshape the officially nonpartisan Legislature in ways not yet known.

Here are some things to watch:

___

THE BUDGET

A persistent state revenue shortfall could create budget headaches once again for lawmakers, who have relied on Nebraska's rainy-day fund the last several years.

Nebraska faces a projected $95.1 million revenue shortfall in its upcoming two-year, general fund budget.

It's a tiny fraction of the roughly $9 billion total state budget and smaller than other recent shortfalls, but some lawmakers worry the downturn will continue and they won't have enough money left in the rainy-day fund to cover state expenses. The fund holds about $296 million, down sharply from the $729 million stashed away in 2016.

"I think we may be getting to the point where we can't afford to use any more of that," said Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer, of Norfolk.

In an interview last week, Gov. Pete Ricketts said tapping the cash reserve was appropriate given the downturn in agriculture, the state's largest industry. Ricketts has previously said he'd like to keep about $500 million in the rainy-day fund.

"The reason you have a rainy-day fund is to help cushion against economic downtimes," he said. "In agriculture, it's clearly raining."

Lawmakers will also debate how to pay for a voter-approved measure to expand Medicaid to an estimated 90,000 low-income residents. Ricketts said he will fit that expense into his budget proposal to lawmakers, but it's likely to crowd out other priorities over time.

___

PROPERTY TAXES

Lawmakers will try once again to address the complaints of farmers, ranchers and homeowners who have seen sharp increases in their local property tax bills.

The issue rises to the forefront nearly every year, but lawmakers seldom agree on how to pay for property tax cuts and who should receive most of the benefits.

"I'm relatively optimistic we can get something done this year," said Sen. Tom Briese, an Albion farmer who has introduced numerous property-tax proposals. "A lot more folks are realizing the gravity of the situation."

The biggest recipient of property tax dollars are K-12 public schools, particularly in rural districts that no longer qualify for state equalization aid because they contain too much valuable land. Farmers argue that they're paying higher property taxes even though lower commodity prices have reduced their incomes.

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, of Lincoln, said she understands the pressure farmers are facing and wants to help, but she also sees needs in her urban district.

"We have to work together," she said. "The conservative and rural members need to work with the urban senators and the progressives to really get something done."

___

ELECTING NEW LEADERS, SETTING THE RULES... AND MORE GRIDLOCK?

Lawmakers will choose new committee leaders in a secret-ballot election that's often full of surprises.

During the last elections in 2017, conservative Republicans won nearly all of the Legislature's leadership positions and tried to force through a change that would have made it harder for Democrats to win committee chairmanships in the future. Democrats and even some moderate Republicans blasted the moves as a partisan power grab, and the dispute brought the Legislature to a virtual standstill for 30 days.

The leadership votes were highly unusual in an officially nonpartisan Legislature, where committees are traditionally led by a mix of Republicans and Democrats. The new session will mark the first time lawmakers have formally addressed those issues since 2017.

Pansing Brooks said she's hopeful lawmakers will try to build coalitions more than they have in previous years.

"The original my-way-or-the-highway approach doesn't work," she said. "People are starting to realize it takes coalitions, it takes people working together."

___

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Nebraska lawmakers could face more pressure to legalize medical marijuana in some form, thanks to a group of senators and activists who are promising to put the issue on the 2020 ballot if nothing passes this year.

A newly formed ballot committee, Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, plans to launch a signature-gathering campaign, although organizers said they'd prefer that lawmakers address the issue. Sen. Anna Wishart, of Lincoln, a leading proponent, will introduce a medical marijuana bill this year.

Similar measures won approval last year in Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah, bringing the total to 33 states that have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes. Unlike past efforts in Nebraska that have faltered, the latest campaign is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that has helped lead five successful marijuana-related ballot measures.


-
Troopers and dispatchers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) have successfully resolved an incident on Interstate 80 near Wood River.

The incident began when a trooper was notified of a vehicle that had been swerving while traveling eastbound on I-80 near Kearney. After locating the vehicle, the trooper attempted a traffic stop, but the vehicle continued driving eastbound. At that time that trooper observed a firearm inside the vehicle.

As the Ford F-150 pickup continued eastbound the driver called 911 and reached the Buffalo County 911 Center. He was transferred to NSP dispatchers who spoke with him for several minutes and were able to connect him with an NSP crisis negotiator.

Troopers conducted a controlled pursuit and were able to successfully use spike strips to deflate at least one of the pickup’s tires near the Wood River exit. The vehicle exited I-80 at mile marker 300, where NSP negotiators remained in contact.

After conversations for more than an hour, the subject voluntarily left the vehicle and was taken into custody at approximately 11:25 a.m. The subject has been taken into Emergency Protective Custody.

There were no injuries to anyone involved in this incident. The NSP Aviation Support Division, Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office, and Wood River Fire and Rescue assisted in this event.

-
BG&S Transmissions
Home Federal Bank