November 28, 2015

Crash in Panhandle takes the life of teenager

A traffic wreck in the Panhandle has claimed the life of a teenager.

The Nebraska State Patrol reports 16-year-old Lane Malmberg, a student at Gordon-Rushville High School, died in the two-car crash near Gordon in Sheridan County.

According to NSP, Malmberg was traveling west on 670th when he ran a stop sign at the intersection with Nebraska 27. A car driven by 42-year-old Robert Mungo on 27 struck the Malmberg vehicle in the intersection. Malmberg died at the scene. Mungo suffered minor injuries.


Medical marijuana sponsor rejects slippery slope arguments

Sen. Tommy Garrett makes notes during this past session's debate of his medical marijuana bill.

Sen. Tommy Garrett makes notes during this past session’s debate of his medical marijuana bill.

A state senator pushing for Nebraska to legalize medical marijuana says he will continue to push for the change in the upcoming legislative session.

Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue dismisses charges that his bill would lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, similar to how a ballot initiative in Colorado paved the way in that state.

“Completely different bill and the fact that it’s a clear path from medicinal to recreational, give me a freaking break, that’s obscene,” Garrett tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “It’s like they’re making this out to be the big bogeyman. We’re looking to help people who are sick and ailing and other prescription medications are not working for them.”

An undercover drug investigator from Colorado came to the state Capitol recently to warn Nebraska lawmakers to be careful when considering legislation to legalize medical marijuana.

James Gerhardt with the Thornton Police Department said Colorado has been frustrated in its attempt to regulate marijuana growing and use since the state legalized recreational marijuana. He said adoption of medical marijuana led to the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Garrett says he bases his bill on a law passed in Minnesota and hopes to answer the questions legislative opponents raised during the last session.

Garrett says he felt like he was building support for his bill during the legislative session when other factors interfered.

“We were being filibustered last year and during that filibuster, it was the same time that the legislature had overridden the governor’s veto on the death penalty, and a lot of my colleagues were taking a lot of heat from their constituents and everything and they just didn’t want this additional heat of the medical marijuana; to be taking heat on that,” according to Garrett.

Garrett says no one is arguing for recreational use of marijuana.

LB 643 won preliminary approval after first-round debate on a 27-12 vote during this year’s legislative session. Eight senators abstained from the vote. Garrett says he will bring the same proposal before the Unicameral next year.


Winter hits Nebraska hard on Thanksgiving, begins to loosen grip

NDOR traffic camera, I-80 York Overpass

NDOR traffic camera, I-80 York Overpass

Winter hit Nebraska hard on Thanksgiving.

A mixture of freezing rain, sleet, and snow fell throughout the state as temperatures steadily dropped throughout the day.

The winter storm has passed through the state for the most part.

The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly cloudy day today with a slight chance of light snow in southern Nebraska, and light freezing drizzle or light snow in central and western Nebraska.

Highs might dip to 10 degrees in eastern and central Nebraska, from the teens to the low 20s in the west to the mid to upper 20s for the remainder of the state.

The possibility of more freezing rain or snow remains in the forecast throughout the weekend.

At 5am, the National Weather Service reported it was cloudy and 18 degrees in Scottsbluff, clear and 8 in Chadron in the Panhandle. North Platte records 18 degrees under cloudy skies. It is cloudy and 20 in McCook. In northern Nebraska, Valentine has cloudy skies and 14 degrees. In mid-Nebraska, Broken Bow checks in with fair skies and 19; Grand Island reports 20 and cloudy. It is cloudy and 18 in Hastings, Kearney, Norfolk, and Wayne.

Mixed precipitation is still falling in Lincoln, where it is 22 degrees. It is 21 and cloudy at Eppley Airfield in Omaha. Nebraska City has clouds and 23.

For road conditions, click here for the Nebraska Department of Roads website.

Sen. Fischer sticks with call to halt Syrian refugee program (AUDIO)

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer

United States Sen. Deb Fischer sticks with her call to halt the Syrian refugee program until it is thoroughly reviewed.

Fischer calls for a pause to the Syrian refugee program, saying there should be zero tolerance for risk.

“I think a good review of those procedures is important, because we have to determine if they should be enhanced,” Fischer tells reporters in a conference call. “As you know, there is a different situation on the ground in Syria. It’s a unique situation with these refugees.”

Fischer says President Barack Obama’s criticism of those calling for a halt are inappropriate.

“Nebraskans are fearful,” according to Fischer. “Nebraskans are fearful of the situation we have in the world and I believe we’re in that situation, because of the lack of strategy from this administration and the lack of action from this administration.”

The United States House has approved a measure demanding stronger vetting before Syrian refugees enter the country in response to reports that at least one of the terrorists involved in the massacre in Paris slipped into Europe among Syrian refugees.

The legislation would require the head of Homeland security and the FBI as well as the national intelligence director to certify to Congress that each Syrian or Iraqi refugee entering the country poses no security threat.

The Obama Administration says the bill would create significant delays without enhancing meaningful additional security and the president has threatened to veto it should it make it to his desk. Democrats in the U.S. Senate have threatened to filibuster the measure.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

University of Nebraska officials hope to avoid MU-type protests

UNL_entrance_studentsUniversity of Nebraska officials hope to prevent the disruptions that have occurred on campuses throughout the country from happening on the Lincoln campus.

UNL Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Juan Franco, says university officials try to keep communication lines open, both formally with different groups and informally in one-on-one discussions with students.

“We try to determine what’s on their mind, what’s troubling them,” Franco tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “We try to arrange it so that they feel comfortable coming to us. I think, to a larger extent, it’s work. We’re not perfect, of course.”

Many campus disruptions have been far removed from Nebraska, with a big exception. The University of Missouri erupted with protests that both the officials at the Columbia campus and those with the university system as a whole failed to adequately address concerns expressed by African-American students. Protests simmered to a boiling point when the Missouri football team threatened to boycott its game with BYU if the issues weren’t addressed. The president of the system resigned. The chancellor of the Columbia campus is stepping down.

Franco believes a lack of communication has been a big factor in those campus disruptions.

“Certainly that’s one of the things we try to keep in mind,” Franco says. “The students are smart. And they know there is no easy solution to a lot of these things, but they want to know that the administration cares that the administration is trying to do something.”

Franco says the university wants to provide a safe environment for minority students while upholding the principles of free speech for all students.

“We don’t want to tell people they can’t say certain words or censure them,” according to Franco. “We simply want them to be respectful.”

Franco says it boils down to creating the appropriate culture.

“And that’s what we’re struggling with is to make sure that the culture here at UNL is one that allows for those two things to happen; free exchange of ideas, but in a respectful way, in a civil way. That’s how a democracy should work.”