Nebraska Afternoon Summary 5/20/15

State lawmakers passed a measure today (Wednesday) to abolish the death penalty by a large enough margin to override a threatened veto by Governor Pete Ricketts. The measure passed 32 to 15 in the state’s unicameral legislature. It would replace the death penalty with a sentence of life in prison. The Lincoln Journal Star reports if lawmakers override the expected veto, Nebraska would become the first conservative state to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973. The repeal vote was bolstered by conservatives who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons and say it is a waste of taxpayer money.

Governor Pete Ricketts has signed a new two-year budget that includes 408 million dollars in state money for property tax reductions. The Republican governor announced today (Wednesday) that he approved the eight-point-seven billion dollar package without vetoes. He says the budget met his goals of increasing property tax relief and slowing state spending increases. The budget includes an increase in state aid for property tax reductions, education and prison expenses. The 408 million dollars approved will go to Nebraska’s property tax credit fund, which uses state money to offset local property taxes. Lawmakers approved the budget last week.

Omaha-based ConAgra Foods has agreed to pay 11-point-two million dollars in criminal fines and forfeitures to settle a charge that the company shipped salmonella-tainted Peter Pan peanut butter from its Georgia plant more than eight years ago. ConAgra agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of shipping adulterated food, a misdemeanor, and pay eight million dollars in fines plus three-point-two million in forfeitures. In 2007, a salmonella outbreak linked to the company’s Sylvester, Georgia, plant that produces Peter Pan peanut butter was blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states. The company recalled all of its peanut butter.

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