Nebraska Governor signs civil rights judgment funding bill to aid Gage County

BEATRICE – Governor Pete Ricketts has signed a bill that will provide state funding support to Gage County, as it continues to pay off a massive federal civil rights judgment to six people wrongfully convicted of a 1985 murder and rape.

Ricketts signed LB 103, the priority bill of Senator Myron Dorn of Adams, which cleared the legislature with a veto-proof vote of 44-3.

Legislative Clerk Patrick O’Donnell Wednesday morning read a communication to state lawmakers from Ricketts, about LB 103.

"It is tragic that Gage County law officers violated the civil rights of the Beatrice Six. It is tragic that the county did not have the proper insurance to assist and instead the county raised property taxes to pay this federal judgment. Notwithstanding the policy problem created by 103, I have signed the bill for one reason. What we have just withstood during the pandemic caused a financial hardship for many Nebraskans including Gage County."

The proposal will provide funding of $2 million over each of the next two state fiscal years, to aid paying the more than $30 million to the so-called “Beatrice Six”.
The county is using property tax revenue, sales tax revenue and insurance settlement funds to pay the judgment…..with about half of the total amount now paid.