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Wheel tax faces legal challenge

A group of concerned commuters is going to court to fight Omaha's new $50 wheel tax on employees who work in the city but live elsewhere. The tax is set to take effect Jan. 1. The Omaha Wheel Tax Coalition, led by Bellevue City Council president Carol Blood, says the new tax violates a state statute because it would be deducted from employees' paychecks. The group is also examining...

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State senators preparing Arizona-style immigration laws

Two state senators announced Dec. 28 that they are separately drafting new Arizona-style immigration laws to give local police more power to identify and deport illegal immigrants in advance of Nebraska’s 2011 legislative session, which begins Jan. 5. Charlie Janssen, of Fremont, and Tony Fulton, of Lincoln, told the Associated Press they couldn’t elaborate on their proposals as the bills...

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GOP committee has Nelson in its sights

A leader of the National Republican Senatorial Committee told CNN on Dec. 29 that Sen. Ben Nelson's reelection bid could be one of five key races that could lead to a Republican majority in the Senate in 2012. NRSC executive director Ron Jesmer said Nelson is "in serious trouble and kind of in a league of his own." Nelson has toed the line between political parties, taking fire in Nebraska for...

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39 House reps write in support of Keystone XL

Nearly three weeks after 28 congressmen wrote to urge Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to carefully consider the environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, 39 members of the House have signed a letter touting the economic benefits of the project. The U.S. State Department is currently debating approval of a building permit for the TransCanda-owned pipeline with a decision...

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Republican poll shows Nelson trailing in 2012 race

A new poll by a right-leaning consulting group released Dec. 22 shows Sen. Ben Nelson trailing a pair of potential challengers for the Senate seat in 2012. Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies — a firm that claims to offer data solutions for the GOP — commissioned the poll of 1,789 "likely 2012 voters" and found Nelson's overall approval rating at 43 percent. The poll also showed that 52...

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Fortenberry named chair of ag committee

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was named chair of a House Agriculture Committee subcommittee on Dec. 22. The 1st Congressional District representative — covering most of eastern Nebraska minus the Omaha metro area — will head the Department of Agriculture's subcommittee on operations, oversight and credit. Fortenberry, who has been a member of the Ag Committee since 2005, will take over the new role...

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Recall ruling set for Thursday

Douglas County District Court Judge Peter Bataillon is expected to rule whether or not Mayor Jim Suttle will face a recall election at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 23. Bataillon spent the past three days hearing arguments from attorneys for anti-recall group Forward Omaha and the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee over whether the recall group violated state laws while collecting signatures to force the special...

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Lawmakes list options for state cuts

How will Nebraska close its projected $986 million budget gap over the next two years? Nebraska's state senators submitted their ideas for prospective budget cuts on Dec. 16. The 69-page document lists a wide range of potential money-saving measures, including delaying equipment purchases to staff and funding cuts to various state programs. Some of the recommendations made by the committee...

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