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This Hour: Latest Nebraska news, sports, business and entertainment

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Federal disaster aid to help June storm recovery

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for Nebraska, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding from June 14 to June 21.

Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in a dozen counties including Cedar, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Franklin, Furnas, Harlan, Kearney, Phelps, Stanton, Thurston, and Wayne. The federal money may be used for emergency work and for repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.


Experts: Nebraska should look deeper at incentives

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Two tax policy experts say Nebraska needs to look beyond jobs and wages when studying whether the state's tax incentives actually work.

Experts from the Pew Charitable Trusts told lawmakers Thursday that tax incentives may help some industries add jobs, while doing little to benefit others.

Pew policy director Robert Zahradnik says tax breaks for certain industries, such as retail, may only displace existing workers because they aren't likely to attract out-of-state residents.

Zahradnik says lawmakers should also ask whether demand is growing in the targeted industry, whether targeted businesses are likely to export their goods and services, and whether they need the incentive to expand.

The Legislature's Performance Audit Committee is looking at ways to evaluate Nebraska's tax incentive programs.


Maxwell drops out of Nebraska congressional race

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A tea party activist in Omaha says he gathered enough signatures to get onto the November ballot for Nebraska's 2nd District congressional seat, but he decided not to run.

Former state Sen. Chip Maxwell, of Omaha, held a news conference Thursday and said he had more than the 2,000 signatures he needed to get his name on the general election ballot as an independent.

Maxwell announced in May that he would enter the race after Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Terry's lackluster primary win over GOP challenger and political unknown Dan Frei. Frei drew more than 47 percent of the vote, despite being outspent 20-to-1 by Terry.

Maxwell says he's backing out of the race over fears that the Republican vote would be split, giving Democrat Brad Ashford the seat.


Former UNL student sentenced for computer hacking

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - An Omaha man has been sentenced to six months in prison for computer fraud for breaking into databases of the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska State College System.

Daniel Stratman, who is 23, will be allowed to serve his sentence on work release. He also must serve a 3-year term of supervised release and pay more than $107,000 in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg says in a statement a computer security breach was discovered in May 2012. An investigation led investigators to Stratman, then a senior at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

A search warrant of his residence and forensic examination of his computers verified that he had damaged the integrity of the protected computer systems and records maintained by the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska State College Systems.


Nebraska bar suspended for serving teen who died

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska bar has received a 35-day suspension of its liquor license for serving alcohol to an 18-year-old who later died in a car crash.

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission handed down the penalty Thursday against the Fire Barn Sports Bar and Grill in Waterloo.

The suspension came in response to the Dec. 3, 2012, death of Jacob Dickmeyer. Dickmeyer was killed in a crash after a night of heavy drinking at the bar with another underage friend.

Amanda Heiman, the waitress who served the two, was found guilty of procuring alcohol for a minor resulting in death. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years of probation.

Co-owner Steve Franson says the bar plans to pay off the suspension, which is allowed under Nebraska law.


Omaha day care owner fined $500 in abuse case

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - An Omaha day care owner accused of failing to report child abuse has been fined $500.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jennifer Schmaderer, owner of Grow with Me Day Care, was sentenced on Thursday. She'd pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge.

Authorities say Schmaderer didn't report the 2012 actions of Sarah Cullen, a former employee at the day care. A report by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says Schmaderer was told by other employees of four incidents in which Cullen was rough with children. Schmaderer's attorney says her client misunderstood the law about reporting such incidents

In March Cullen was found guilty of child abuse resulting in death. A child under her care as a nanny in late February 2013 died after suffering a fractured skull and massive bleeding.


August trial planned for man convicted of abuse

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The second trial for Scottsbluff man whose 2012 convictions on first-degree sexual assault of a child and four counts of felony child abuse were overturned by the Nebraska Supreme Court will be held in late August.

Eric Rocha, who is 36, was convicted in February 2012 by a jury and sentenced to 40 years to life.

Investigators say a young girl was sexually assaulted for two and her brothers, ages 3, 5 and 10, were choked and often beaten.

Rocha's convictions were thrown out last week because his trial attorney hadn't sought to have separate trials on the sex abuse and child abuse charges.

KNEB radio reports an exact date hasn't been set but Scotts Bluff County District Court Judge Leo Dobrovolny says the trial will take four days.


Nebraska officials call for early education

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln's public safety director and an Omaha state senator are calling for an expansion of early education as a way to prevent crime.

Public Safety director Tom Casady and state Sen. Burke Harr spoke Thursday at the Justice and Law Enforcement Center in Lincoln.

Their remarks came with a new report from a Washington-based group, "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids." The report notes that Nebraska has more than 5,000 adults incarcerated.

The group is part of the Council for a Strong America, an organization that promotes investments in child care and education programs.

Casady says children with a good start are less likely to struggle in school and turn to crime later in life.


5 public school districts talk mergers in private

PLAINVIEW, Neb. (AP) - Five public school districts in northeast Nebraska are considering merging, but so far officials are meeting in private to discuss the possibilities.

The Norfolk Daily News says reporters were turned away from Wednesday's meeting of representatives from the Bloomfield, Creighton, Osmond, Plainview and Wausa districts.

None of the districts sent enough board members to the meeting to make it automatic that the meeting be public under state law.

Plainview News Publisher Brook Curtiss plans to file a complaint with the Nebraska Attorney General's office over the closed meetings.

Plainview Superintendent Richard Alt says all of the districts involved will consider whether to make future meetings open to the public.

Minutes from the closed meetings are posted online afterward.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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