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(AP) - The contract between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and Catholic Health Initiatives is set to expire Sunday after the two sides failed Friday to agree on rates. The failed bargaining means that starting Monday, people who visit doctors or hospitals in Nebraska associated with the Catholic Health Initiatives network will have to pay more if they have insurance from Blue Cross. Blue Cross says CHI Health, which used to be called Alegent Creighton Health, routinely charges 10 to 30 percent more than other Omaha hospitals. CHI Health says those figures are misleading and it believes its total cost of treatment is lower, even if certain services cost more. A Blue Cross spokesman says no other negotiation meetings are scheduled this weekend before the contract is set to expire Sunday.


(AP) - The Nebraska Supreme Court has struck down two exceptions to the state's public smoking ban, dealing a blow to cigar bars and tobacco shops, but sparing the exception for some hotel guestrooms that allow smoking. The decision Friday came in the case of Big John's Billiards, an Omaha pool hall, whose owner sued after Nebraska enacted a statewide public smoking ban in 2009. The law bans smoking in all public buildings and private businesses, including bars and restaurants. However, the law provided exceptions for cigar bars, some hotel rooms and tobacco-only retailers. In a split decision, the state's high court found that the exception for hotel rooms is permissible, because hotel guestrooms are akin to private homes. But it found the exceptions for cigar bars and tobacco retailers unconstitutional.


(AP) - Nebraska lawmakers are still looking at ways to measure how well the state's business tax incentives work. A special committee met at the Capitol on Thursday to hear from business groups and tax experts about Nebraska's tax programs. The committee was formed earlier this year amid concerns that state law is too vague in explaining what each tax break should accomplish. Business groups say the tax incentives have helped grow the state's economy, and they urged senators not to make the application process to difficult. Some groups suggested that senators focus the tax incentives toward areas with high unemployment or a large number of unfilled jobs. Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, the committee chairman, says lawmakers could have some early recommendations by September.


(AP) - State Sen. Ernie Chambers has told Gov. Dave Heineman in a letter that the governor would be incapable of running the University of Nebraska system. Heineman has applied to replace system President J.B. Milliken, who has become chancellor of the City University of New York. Heineman must leave office in January because of term limits. The Lincoln Journal Star says ( ) Chambers' 42-page letter also went to the university's Board of Regents. Chambers told Heineman the letter's purpose was to show "why you are not possessed of the temperament, disposition, character or overall qualifications to serve as the president of the university and to suggest that you terminate your vain pursuit." Heineman's spokeswoman Jen Rae Wang says the governor doesn't have a response for Chambers.


(AP) - A farm implement plant in Grand Island intends to cut nearly 240 more jobs. CNH Industrial American on Thursday said the layoffs of 170 full-time company staffers and 68 agency employees assigned to the plant will be put on indefinite layoff. The layoffs are expected to begin in October and be completed in November. CNH North America spokeswoman Kathleen Prause says the layoffs reflect the declining market demands for its equipment. In May the company said it would cut 200 third-party agency positions because of reductions in orders. The plant makes combine harvesters and self-propelled windrowers. Prause said Friday that those 200 positions have not been restored. She declined to how many people will be employed at the plant after the fall layoffs are completed.


(NRG)- The state-of-the-art Wellness Center at the University of Nebraska at Kearney opened its doors to the public with a grand opening and ribbon cutting Wednesday afternoon. In his opening remarks, UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said its a historic day for the campus and community and added the facility will benefit many groups, most importantly, UNK's students. Other speakers at the event included College of Education Dean Ed Scantling, Kinesiology and Sport Sciences Chair Nita Unruh, UNK Student Body President Connor Schulte and former President Jordan Gonzalez. The $6.5 million Wellness Center is a new 19,000-square-foot facility east of Cushing Coliseum. The center includes program and research space, in addition to a large fitness center for students. The facility adds nearly 10,000 more square feet for exercise machines, weights, exercise and fitness classes. Aerobic and weight equipment are in separate areas, and a new fitness studio features classes such as Zumba and yoga. A 30-foot rock-climbing wall is also located in the fitness center.


(AP) - A grand jury will review the shooting at a fast-food restaurant in Omaha that killed a robbery suspect and a crew member from the TV show "Cops." Omaha's police chief says police and prosecutors have reviewed video of Tuesday's shooting and found that the officers "had no choice" but to open fire after robbery suspect Cortez Washington pointed what looked like a real gun. It turned out to be a pellet gun. Officers shot and killed Washington and a shot slipped past the bulletproof vest that sound man Bryce Dion was wearing. Dion is the first crew member of the long-running show to be killed while filming police in action. Chief Todd Schmaderer says it is "ridiculous" to suggest the officers overreacted knowing that cameras were recording them. Schmaderer says his department is taking Dion's death very hard.


(AP) - A Nebraska man has died in an all-terrain vehicle crash at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes in eastern Idaho. The Freemont County Sheriff's Office says Phillip J. McDonald of Hastings died Wednesday at the area popular with ATV and motorcycle riders. Authorities received a report of a crash at about 1:30 p.m. Emergency responders pronounced McDonald dead at the scene. Authorities didn't say how the crash happened or if McDonald was wearing a helmet.


(AP) - A 24-year-old man has been convicted of attempted sex assaults on three girls in Buffalo County. The Kearney Hub says ( ) Christopher Reeves pleaded no contest on Tuesday. He faces up to 60 years in prison. Authorities say the girls were 14 and that the incidents occurred in Kearney and Buffalo County. Buffalo County prosecutor Melanie Young says Reeves met one of the girls through Facebook, another during Kearney's Cruise Nite and already knew the third girl.


(AP) - Broken Bow voters will decide this fall whether to change the form of their city's government. Signatures on a petition calling for a change have been confirmed, and the measure will go on the Nov. 4 ballot. A booming economy in Broken Bow prompted calls for a city manager who would oversee the central Nebraska's city's development. Many of the city's current management duties are handled by the mayor, acting on advice from a city administrator. A city manager would have power to act on the city's day-to-day business, like the CEO of a major business. The City Council would act as a board of directors, focused on a long-term vision.