The new year has brought changes for owners of utility and farm trailers in Nebraska.
From January 1, owners of utility or farm trailers will be asked to include the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of their utility or farm trailer when registering their trailer for the first time, or when renewing their registration.
If the trailer does not have a VIN, or if the VIN is unknown, the County Treasurer office will provide one. The County Treasurer will also provide a decal to display the assigned VIN on the trailer at no additional cost to the owner.
“This is an important step to bringing the registration of utility and farm trailersinto line with other, similar types of trailer,” said Rhonda Lahm, Director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles. “By including the VIN, or allocating a VIN to a trailer which doesn’t have one, we are able to track ownership of trailers more accurately. In the event of theft, a VIN displayed on the trailer and registration document will assist in pairing the trailer with its owner.”
Currently, Nebraska residents are not required to provide a VIN to the County Treasurer office when registering a utility or farm trailer.
In 2017, there were 184,770 utility and 81,784 farm trailers registered in Nebraska.
“Without a VIN recorded on the registration document, it can be a challenge to track ownership of a trailer,” said Betty Johnson, Administrator of the Driver and Vehicle Records Division. “We have been working closely with County Treasurer offices and agricultural groups to prepare for the upcoming changes. Existing utility and farm trailer owners do not need to do anything until their trailer registration is renewed. At that time, they can renew their trailer as normal and include the trailer VIN to ensure it is properly registered. The new information will ensure greater consistency in how trailers are registered and result in us providing a more comprehensive service to our customers.”
New trailer registration is completed at the owner’s local County Treasurer office.
Renewals can be completed online at dmv.nebraska.gov, by mail, or at their local County Treasurer office.
Nebraskans started the new year with some new laws taking effect.
Starting January 1, 2019, Nebraska’s child passenger laws changed:
• Children must ride rear-facing up to age 2 or until they reach the upper weight and height limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer;
• Children up to age 8 must ride in a correctly installed car seat or booster seat;
• Children up to age 8 must ride in the back seat, as long as there is a back seat equipped with a seat belt and it is not already occupied by other children under 8 years of age.
• Children ages 8-18 must ride secured in a seat belt or child safety seat.
The violation carries a $25 fine, plus court costs.
Online Sales Tax
Nebraska will start collecting online sales tax from outside retailers who sell to Nebraskans, according to the Nebraska Department of Revenue. New Year’s Day is the deadline for larger online retailers to start collecting sales taxes from Nebraska residents although some sites, including Amazon, had already previously started doing so.
Nebraska Tax Commissioner Tony Fulton said the state plans to enforce the law on businesses with more than $100,000 worth of sales or at least 200 separate transactions in Nebraska during the year.
Gas Tax Increase
Nebraska’s motor fuel tax rose from 28 cents per gallon to 29.6 cents, a rate that will be in effect from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2019.The rate is automatically adjusted to comply with provisions of a 2015 law that gradually increased the state gas tax rate from 27 cents per gallon.
The gas tax increase was enacted by the Legislature to provide additional funding to help complete expressways and replace rural bridges as part of the roads program.
On the federal level, a new law requires hospitals nationwide to list the cost of their standard services online in a way that’s easy for patients to access.
Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) worked diligently over the final weeks of 2018 to remove dozens of impaired drivers from Nebraska roads. The annual holidays “You Drink & Drive, You Lose” campaign resulted in 64 arrests for drunk or drugged driving.
During the enforcement, which ran from December 14 through January 1, troopers and dispatchers worked overtime hours in the effort to keep Nebraska roads safe for all travelers. The operation resulted in 61 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and three arrests for driving under the influence of drugs. The effort included high visibility patrols in all parts of Nebraska.
“The holidays should be filled with positive memories,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “Impaired driving not only puts yourself at risk of injury or death, but also poses a risk to everyone else on the road. Our troopers and dispatchers worked hard over the last several weeks to take impaired drivers off the road, and ensure safe roads for all of Nebraska.”
In addition to the drunk and drugged driving arrests, NSP issued citations for speeding (1,055), driving under suspension (75), no proof of insurance (54), minor in possession (13), open container (35), no seat belt (57), and improper child restraint (15). Troopers also arrested 66 people for possession of drugs and six for reckless driving.
During the campaign, troopers helped 787 motorists in need of assistance, many coming during the strong snow storm that struck Nebraska last week.
The “You Drink & Drive, You Lose” campaign is made possible thanks in part to a grant for $25,000 from the Nebraska Department of Transportation – Highway Safety Office.
Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) declared an unusual event at its Cooper Nuclear Station at 9:04 Saturday morning. The utility declared the emergency classification when site personnel discovered a hazardous gas environment in the basement of the plant. While investigating the gas, safety and plant personnel detected a fire within a pipe chase.
The station’s fire brigade extinguished the active fire at 9:51 a.m. but additional responders have been brought in to monitor the piping, assess any equipment damage, provide engineering support, and maintain a fire watch in the area until there is no long any potential for a fire to restart.
At no time did plant conditions threaten public safety, and the plant remained stable and operating during the event.
A NOUE is defined as unusual events, minor in nature, which have occurred or are in progress which indicate a potential degradation in the level of station safety at the station. If placed on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being the least serious level of an emergency and 4 being the most serious level of an emergency, a NOUE would equal a 1.
In situations like this, plant personnel follow an emergency response plan and notify appropriate local, county, state, and federal agencies as part of their processes.
Cooper Nuclear Station is located three miles southeast of Brownville near the Missouri River. It is owned and operated by the Nebraska Public Power District, with headquarters in Columbus. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) will be looking to remove drunk drivers from the road during the final two weeks of 2018 as part of a nationwide “You Drink & Drive, You Lose” campaign.
“The holidays are a wonderful time to travel, be with family, and celebrate,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “The last thing we want is for this festive time to be marred by tragedy. That’s why our troopers will be diligently watching for drunk drivers and taking them off the road.”
The “You Drink & Drive, You Lose” enforcement runs from Friday, December 14 through Tuesday, January 1. Troopers across all regions of the state are participating, along with many other law enforcement agencies in Nebraska. NSP’s portion of the enforcement effort is made possible thanks in part to a grant for $25,000 from the Nebraska Department of Transportation – Highway Safety Office.
“Drunk drivers present a danger to anyone on the road,” said Bolduc. “Anyone who plans to drink should plan ahead and take advantage of many options available to get home safely without getting behind the wheel.”
Motorists who see a reckless, impaired, or dangerous driver are encouraged to report it to the Nebraska State Patrol by calling *55 from any cell phone. During a similar enforcement in 2017, troopers arrested 67 impaired drivers and another 28 for reckless driving.
Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) and many other agencies have responded to several bomb threats in communities around Nebraska today. No devices have been found and the threats are believed to be associated with others reported through the nation today.
The Nebraska Information Analysis Center (NIAC), led by NSP, has been in contact with the FBI as well as law enforcement agencies in numerous other states since the first reports of bomb threats in the region.
At this point, there are no reports that any explosive device has been found associated with these threats. NSP is aware of numerous threats made in Omaha, Lincoln, McCook, Peru, Fremont, Falls City, and Dewitt. None of those threats are deemed to be credible.
NSP and NIAC are working with federal authorities to determine the origin of the threats.
The first flu-related death in Nebraska this season has occurred in the North Central District Health Department region, which covers Antelope, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha, Knox, Pierce and Rock Counties. A second death has also occurred in the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health department region. Both people were over 65.
Flu is slowly increasing across the state.
“Flu can be life-threatening disease for some people and it can make any of us sick,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist with DHHS. “That’s why we recommend flu vaccine for everyone—from babies 6 months and older to adults 100 and over. It’s our best protection against the flu,”
Vaccination can reduce flu-related illnesses, visits to the doctor, missed work & school and flu-related hospitalizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and it’s extremely important they receive vaccine:
Flu vaccine is safe, effective and rigorously tested. The most common reaction people may experience from a flu shot is soreness and redness at the injection site. After vaccination, it takes about two weeks for the body to build immunity.
Flu shots are still being offered across the region. Check with your local clinic or call the health department at 402-336-2406.
In addition to vaccination, protect yourself from the flu and other winter illnesses by:
For more flu information, visit the NCDHD website at www.ncdhd.ne.gov, DHHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov/flu or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu.
UPDATE: Vivian Svehla has been located.
* * *
An Endangered Missing Advisory has been activated to determine the whereabouts of Vivian Svehla.
The Harlan County Sheriff's Office is attempting to locate Vivian Svehla, a 79-year old-white female. She was last seen wearing black pants, a white shirt and a maroon jacket. Svehla is 5 feet tall, 182 pounds with white hair and blue eyes.
Svehla is missing from Alma, Nebraska, and suffers from dementia. If you have information about Vivian Svehla please call 911 or the Harlan County Sheriff's office at 308-928-2147.
The CDC is warning everyone to not eat, serve or sell ANY romaine lettuce while the investigation on the E. Coli outbreak continues.
This includes whole heads of lettuce, hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, organic romaine and salad mixes with romaine. Romaine has been linked to 32 E. Coli O157 infections in 11 states.
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