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Lincoln's City Council unanimously banned profiteering from and price gouging of items like food, cleaning products and other essential items during times of emergency Monday.

Councilman James Michael Bowers didn't offer specific examples of profiteering happening in Lincoln, but he and other council members heard from several people concerned about the scarcity of items and shortages of protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

Under Bowers' proposal, Lincoln police have the power to issue tickets to sellers suspected to have unreasonably marked up food, water, building materials or cleaning supplies during an emergency. 

And the city attorney can seek a court order blocking further sales and compelling compliance with the ordinance, under Bowers' proposal.

If Omaha can have a city ordinance outlawing ticket scalping, Lincoln should have a law banning this kind of profiteering of vital items during an emergency, he said. 

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office investigates complaints of price gouging by businesses, and to date, it has not taken legal action against any businesses for suspected profiteering. 

Violating Bowers' ordinance would be akin to a speeding ticket in Lincoln, and each day a price-gouged item remained for sale would be considered a new offense. 

No one testified in opposition to the ordinance at a public hearing last week.

The council voted 5-0 to pass the ordinance with Councilmen Roy Christensen and Bennie Shobe not participating in the virtual meeting.

Latest updates on coronavirus in Lincoln and nearby

See the latest news as more coronavirus cases are identified in Nebraska.

Ramadan, an important month in the Islamic calendar wherein Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, is commencing during an uncertain time due to social distancing measures. While the usual traditions that come with this month are currently not an option, Muslims in Lincoln are finding unique opportunities to connect with their faith.

Among the changes the company is instituting are providing face coverings and requiring employees to wear them, making time clocks touchless and monitoring employees for fever.

The Elton John concert scheduled for Pinnacle Bank Arena on June 9 has been postponed and is being rescheduled for 2021, although no new date has been set.

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At middle and high schools across the city, teachers made signs and hung decorations and put on costumes and played music to help students note the end of a school year where dining room tables and bedroom desks became the classroom.

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This year would have marked the 153rd annual community Fourth of July celebration in Seward, which first put on an event in the local town square in 1868.

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Gov. Ricketts said he has tried to balance restrictions with a regional loosening of mandates that preserves citizen willingness and responsibility, an approach sometimes described as "the hammer and the dance." 

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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