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State senator wants Ricketts, AG to turn over documents related to State Patrol problems

LINCOLN — A state senator has formally asked the governor and attorney general to turn over public records related to problems at the Nebraska State Patrol.

Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, chairwoman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said Monday that she made the requests under the state’s public records law. The letters seek information related to a June 30 decision by Gov. Pete Ricketts to fire the agency’s superintendent and place six officers on paid administrative leave.

The intent of her request is to help lawmakers decide whether legislation related to the patrol should be introduced when the Legislature convenes in January, Ebke said. She also sent letters to Col. John Bolduc, the patrol’s new superintendent, and Jason Jackson, the state’s chief human resources officer.

“I don’t think any of us wants to go down the path of an investigative committee if we don’t have to,” she said. “I’m not saying we won’t end up there.”

Read more: http://www.omaha.com/news/nebraska/state-senator-wants-ricketts-ag-to-turn-over-documents-related/article_1dfe2c1a-ef3a-5b04-aa3e-5142ae6ffaf5.html

Controversial Keystone XL pipeline route across Nebraska is approved, but hurdles likely remain

LINCOLN — Nine years after it was first proposed, the Keystone XL pipeline was granted a route across Nebraska on Monday.

But it was not immediately clear whether the pathway — an alternative route not preferred by TransCanada — will prompt construction of the controversial project.

Instead of celebrating the approval, the Canadian pipeline developer issued a short statement that it was still “evaluating” Monday’s approval, which promises to increase the expense and delay for the $8 billion project.

“As a result of today’s decision, we will conduct a careful review of the (Nebraska) Public Service Commission’s ruling while assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer.

Read more: http://www.omaha.com/news/nebraska/controversial-keystone-xl-pipeline-route-across-nebraska-is-approved-but/article_58ad0982-cbe1-11e7-8db6-07270bf564b6.html

Jury deliberating in trial of Waterloo man accused of sending threatening tweets to Sen. Joni Ernst

CEDAR RAPIDS — Federal Bureau of Investigation agents testified Tuesday a Waterloo man admitted sending three tweets “that could be perceived as threatening” to U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in August.

Special Agent Thomas Reinwart testified in U.S. District Court he and another agent interviewed Joseph H. Dierks outside his workplace, Sub City, in downtown Waterloo, on Aug. 18. Dierks admitted to agents he sent the three tweets over Twitter to one of Ernst’s accounts on Aug. 16.

Reinwart and another agent said Dierks told them he wanted to get her attention because he wanted her help to join the military. Because of his age, 34, he would need a waiver from a higher-ranked officer — like Ernst, who is a retired lieutenant colonel from the Iowa Army National Guard.

Dierks is charged with three counts of transmitting a communication containing a threat in interstate commerce. The criminal complaint shows Dierks sent the tweets to Ernst and admitted he knew they would be viewed as threatening.

Read more: http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/jury-deliberating-in-trial-of-waterloo-man-accused-of-sending/article_3c4514fd-3253-579c-92e4-b1ff580ca75b.html

College football teams are worried about GOP tax reform

For more than 30 years, colleges and universities have leaned on an obscure tax rule that allows sports boosters to make tax-deductible contributions to their teams. Athletic fundraisers around the country say that’s an advantage that generates millions in annual revenue – and one that’s threatened by Republican tax legislation.

The issue revolves around donations that confer the right to buy top-tier football and basketball tickets. Modeled after seat licenses in pro sports, these “contributions” have historically been 80 percent tax deductible and have become one of the three main revenue streams in college sports. Ticket sales and money earned from media rights are the other two.

The bill approved by the House Thursday would remove the tax incentive tied to those donations. Congressional tax writers say other kinds of tax relief in the bill are more important. “If seat license revenue is important to state-based colleges and universities, then states themselves can provide this tax benefit rather than federal taxpayers,” a House Ways and Means Committee spokesperson said in an email.

A plan being debated in the Senate includes a similar measure. If passed, the change would make effectively make those contributions more expensive, and colleges and universities fear that would have a chilling effect on giving.

Read more: http://www.salina.com/zz/shareable/20171121/college-football-teams-are-worried-about-gop-tax-reform

Kansas Gov. Brownback delegates budget planning, Cabinet pick to Lt. Gov. Colyer

Gov. Sam Brownback’s plodding exit from Kansas politics led Tuesday to disclosure of Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer’s assumption of a prominent role in developing new state government budget recommendations and in selection of a new Cabinet secretary to manage social programs.

Colyer cannot be sworn in as governor until Brownback is affirmed by the U.S. Senate to a job in the administration of President Donald Trump, but informal transfer of power reflects a desire to raise Colyer’s profile in anticipation of replacing Brownback before the end of the year. It also could bolster Colyer’s candidacy for the 2018 Republican nomination for governor.

Brownback requested Colyer take the lead in formulating the budget proposal to be submitted in January to the 2018 Legislature, said Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr.

“Gov. Brownback determined that it would be appropriate for the lieutenant governor to handle the budget to ensure a smooth transition,” Marr said.

Read more: http://cjonline.com/news/state-government/local/2017-11-21/kansas-gov-brownback-delegates-budget-planning-cabinet-pick

2 Minnesota lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct resign

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Two Minnesota state lawmakers — a Democrat and a Republican — will resign from office following accusations of sexual misconduct, officials said on Tuesday.

Republican state Rep. Tony Cornish announced he intends to resign around Dec. 1. His announcement came shortly after an attorney for Democratic state Sen. Dan Schoen told the Star Tribune that Schoen would announce his resignation and address the allegations during a Wednesday news conference

In a statement, Cornish, from Vernon Center, said he has reached an agreement in principle with an unnamed female lobbyist who told Minnesota Public Radio News that Cornish had propositioned her for sex dozens of times and once forced her into a wall in an attempt to kiss her. Cornish said the agreement calls for him to apologize and resign. In the statement, Cornish said he apologizes for his "unwelcome behavior."

Earlier Tuesday, attorney Paul Rogosheske said Schoen will resign following a string of sexual misconduct allegations. The 42-year-old first-term senator had faced widespread calls to resign from his Cottage Grove-area seat since allegations of sexual harassment first surfaced earlier this month.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/nation-world/article185904543.html

Animal activists disrupt Utah governor's turkey pardon

SALT LAKE CITY -- Two animal-rights activists disrupted the Utah governor's Thanksgiving pardoning of a turkey Tuesday, rushing the podium and shouting as the CEO of a turkey plant spoke to a crowd of mostly children.

The two men rushed past Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the 40-pound turkey named "Grateful" sitting placidly on a table nearby, demanding to speak to the CEO and shouting "Show us all the barns!"

Video from KUTV showed Herbert's security detail restrained the men and state troopers escorted them away from the afternoon ceremony in Salt Lake City.

Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Todd Royce said the two unidentified men were not arrested but cooperated with troopers and left the Capitol.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/nation-world/article185917703.html

Christie says he wishes he eliminated sick-leave payouts

TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he wishes he was able to do away with state payouts to public pensioners for unused sick leave.

Christie spoke Tuesday during his regular radio call-in show on 101.5 FM and says he doesn't know how the Legislature can "live with itself" for failing to end the project.

A legislative effort to stop the practice of sick-leave payouts fizzled in 2010 when Christie vetoed a proposed $15,000 cap on payouts. He wanted them totally eliminated but the Democrat-led Legislature refused.

He says the failure to end the practice costs the state $2 billion.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article185953793.html

Former state seismologist testifies officials coerced him to alter research on induced quakes

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s former lead seismologist has testified he was pressured by officials at the University of Oklahoma to suppress findings linking earthquakes with fracking wastewater disposal.

In a deposition taken on Oct. 11, Austin Holland alleges he was reprimanded for publishing a peer-reviewed journal article connecting the two and was pressured to alter his findings by Larry Grillot, former dean of OU’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, and Randy Keller, the former director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Holland said his decision to leave OU and the Oklahoma Geologic Survey in 2015 was a direct result of pressure from his employers.

“I don't know if ‘angry’ is the right word, but just disappointed … that I'd spent my time working towards something, and I thought I was in my dream job, and then I couldn't be a scientist and do what scientists do, and that's publish with colleagues,” he said.

Read more: http://www.normantranscript.com/news/former-state-seismologist-testifies-officials-coerced-him-to-alter-research/article_d8383864-cb20-11e7-8206-2bc32ae1169a.html

Automatic tickets for uninsured drivers coming soon as Oklahoma works out license-plate scanner deal

Oklahoma finalized a deal this week with a company to use license-plate scanners to catch uninsured drivers, and the firm expects to issue an eventual 20,000 citations a month starting as early as next year.

The program, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, involves setting up automated scanners on highways around the state to detect uninsured vehicles and mailing their owners a citation with a fine of $184, according to the District Attorneys Council.

Gatso USA, a Beverly, Massachusetts-based company that specializes in red-light-running and speeding detection systems, will initially get $80, or 43 percent, of each fine. Its cut will decrease to $74 after two years and $68 after five years, according to a contract approved by the state after more than six months of legal review and negotiation.

The company could expect to bring in $1.6 million a month if the 20,000-citations-a-month estimate is accurate.

Read more: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/state/automatic-tickets-for-uninsured-drivers-coming-soon-as-oklahoma-works/article_d40042f9-74c8-55d0-9d0a-d18154941b87.html
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