Nebraska Lawmakers pass state funding to help pay Gage County judgment

BEATRICE – A bill that would allocate $4 million in state funding over two years to aid Gage County in paying off a huge federal civil judgment, has been passed by the Legislature.

LB 103 was passed on a final reading vote yesterday, of 44-3, with two members present, but not voting.

Senator Myron Dorn’s bill, if signed by Governor Pete Ricketts, would provide $2 million in each of the next two years to aid Gage County in paying off a more than $30 million judgment, to six persons or their estates, wrongfully convicted in a 1985 murder and rape, in Beatrice.  DNA evidence cleared the so-called Beatrice Six, with evidence pointing to a lone drifter as the killer, who died in Oklahoma in 1992.

Gage County has been using a combination of property tax revenue and countywide sales tax to pay down the judgment, placing its property tax rate at its maximum.  The county also used insurance policy settlement funds toward paying the judgment.  Prior to passage of the bill, about half of the overall judgment had been paid. 

Since the bill carries the emergency clause, it would go into effect immediately, if signed by Governor Pete Ricketts.

Dorn named LB 103 his priority bill, for this session.