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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Preservationists win some, lose some in Nebraska (07/16/14)
You win some, you lose some. Folks in Lincoln have lost an important piece of history to the University of Nebraska's whims and preservationists in Omaha have apparently lost a battle to save a couple historic buildings from the Mutual of Omaha wrecking ball...
Should voters decide the minimum wage? (06/18/14)
These words are being written on a 5-year-old Macintosh computer, using 4-year-old software, the image eventually finding its way onto a 50-year-old press to be distributed around the southwest corner of an 150-year-old state. The technology is functional and well-taken care of despite its age, but someone was needed to invent it, get it working, and restore it to working order when something inevitably goes wrong. (Keeping the state in order is a question for another time.)...
Arrogance or ignorance? (06/11/14)
Who among us would use stationery from our current employer to apply for another job? To say nothing of using the time, physical resources and personnel of our current employer to make the announcement that we were seeking said job. Apparently the lame duck governor of Nebraska who wants to be the president of the University of Nebraska system. ...
Lessons to be learned from botched execution (06/04/14)
Count me among those people who have changed their mind about the death penalty. Sure, the recent bungled execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma had something to do with it. Sure, listening - repeatedly - to the arguments against the death penalty by Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha had something to do with it...
The primary election is over; can we all get along? (05/28/14)
Nebraskans have survived what has to be one of the meanest ever primary elections, fueled in large part by more than $3 million in campaign funds from organizations outside the state and from the personal coffers of several millionaires running for office...
More than just big-ticket items (05/14/14)
As usual, a look at the numbers is the best way to determine just exactly what happened during the recently concluded second session of the 103rd Nebraska Legislature. Over the two years that constitute a full session -- 90 days the first session and 60 days the second -- lawmakers looked at 1,115 bills and 82 accompanying appropriations measures. ...
Can prison reform survive property tax relief? (04/09/14)
In the waning days of the Second Session of the 103rd Nebraska Legislature, one has to wonder if spending money on prison reform can survive a lame duck governor who has already vetoed millions of dollars to allegedly provide property tax relief. The Legislature's Judiciary Committee has advanced a measure (LB907), which appears to address numerous problems with the system, and is broadly aimed at reducing recidivism. ...
Clock keeps tickin' but many issues unresolved (03/12/14)
Status quo. With only weeks remaining in the Second Session of the 103rd Nebraska Legislature, the Latin term meaning the existing state of affairs takes on an all-too-familiar presence. Filibustering and political posing have taken a toll on progress in the officially non-partisan body. It appears that a number of key issues could be left unresolved...
Lawmakers consider additional educational choice (02/26/14)
As a kid growing up in small town Nebraska I went to the elementary school closest to my house, the only junior high school and the only high school in town. I had many of the same teachers as my older siblings. I ate the same, one--choice meal as my classmates, and I liked it. Because there wasn't any choice...
Yes, Virginia, the Legislature has done something (02/20/14)
By the numbers, progress in the short session of the 103rd Legislature may seem slow. With more than a third of the 60-day session already expired, one questions whether all that has been broadcast and printed really amounts to much. Daily talk of filibusters and threats of filibusters and the actual filibusters themselves make news. ...
Chambers sets a snare in tax debate (02/05/14)
Maverick veteran lawmaker Ernie Chambers is at it again, this time in an unlikely arena, the debate on taxes. To the joy of some and the bewilderment of others, the proclaimed atheist state senator has offered a bill (LB675) that would end the property tax exemption for Nebraska churches. The man who sued God back in 2007 is, once again, quoting the Bible to prove his point. Wait, an atheist quoting the Bible? Not surprising to me...
Lawmakers mourn a colleague; Ernie Chambers defends big cats (01/15/14)
Catching up on a few things. Lawmakers mourned the loss of former colleague Jennie Robak, who was struck and killed by a car in a grocery store parking lot in Lincoln. The 81-year-old Robak represented the Columbus area from 1989 to 2003. The feisty Democrat was the mother of six children, including former Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak who presided over the Legislature for six years while her mother was a state senator...
Who's in, who's out; time to update your list (01/08/14)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- Remember that list we made last August to keep track of who's running for what in the May primary? Well let's get it updated and see where we stand now that the Legislature has convened its second session and we are heading toward the actual primary where we can considerably shorten certain parts of the list...
Governor, lawmakers prepare for short session (12/31/13)
The short session (60 days) of the 103rd Legislature starts in one week. It's the last shot for Governor Dave Heineman and 16 of the 49 state senators who are term-limited. The senators are wrapping up 8 years. Heineman, who has served longer than any other Nebraska governor, is finishing 10...
Tax struggle begins before Legislature convenes (12/26/13)
We mentioned a national real estate survey (http://bit.ly/1dapvFO) last month that found McCook to be one of the top towns for affordable housing. We expressed the opinion that creating jobs to support the families who needed that housing was the next most important piece to the puzzle for our community's success...
The importance of being vetted (12/17/13)
"Haste Makes Waste." I have that reminder on a slug of 72 point lead type made on a Ludlow by the first publisher for whom I worked after leaving journalism school 44 years ago. It showed up on my desk at the Nebraska weekly where I worked after I failed to catch a page proof that resulted in the same grocery store ad running on the back of both sections, at the expense of the second grocery store whose ad didn't appear. ...
It's that awkward time of year (12/12/13)
We've entered that awkward lull in news in the Capital City -- the few cold weeks between the regular Cornhusker football season and the beginning of the Legislature. The discussion of the 8-4 Husker season will only last a couple weeks. There will be a slight bump during the revelation of bowl game assignments, but it's hard to get too excited about playing the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Spam and Cheese Casserole Bowl...
Sometimes, preservation is the best answer (11/20/13)
A few weeks ago, I shared some ideas from the former director of one of the state's most philanthropic private foundations who urged Nebraska lawmakers to dip into the state's $679 million cash reserve fund to invest in community development to make the state even more attractive to outsiders...
Time to update your list of candidates (11/13/13)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- A couple months ago I suggested how you might make a list to keep track of who is running for what in the 2014 primary election, or at least the race for governor and U.S. senator. So, if you followed my suggestion and took a large sheet of paper divided into grids with a wide column for Governor and one for U.S. ...
A new look at community development (11/06/13)
The former director of one of the state's most philanthropic private foundations has urged Nebraska lawmakers to consider investing in community development as the state becomes more attractive to outsiders. The Legislature created a long-range planning committee four years ago to assist state government in identifying emerging trends, assets and challenges and to look at the long-term implications of decisions made by lawmakers. ...
Cattle deaths spell tragedy on the High Plains (10/30/13)
There's never a good time for a blizzard in the High Plains ... but there are some really bad ones. The bookend blizzards in January 1949 were probably the most historic of the worst ones. An estimated 500,000 farm animals died in that storm as ranchers were contemplating spring calving on the cusp of economic recovery from World War II...
Lincoln to take look at good time laws (10/23/13)
Kids know if they behave in church they're likely to get a treat, or money. Do well in school, same thing. Do well in life; good things will come your way. We reward good behavior for good people. But what about bad people? Can rewards make a difference in how they behave? The Nebraska State Corrections System has used "good time" for years to help reward inmates who behave well and also to give them an early release date, which eases prison overcrowding. ...
Thousands pack Nebraska town for world-class auction (10/09/13)
What happens when four months of hype on the world stage meets a northeast Nebraska community of 1,700 people? Well, in the case of Pierce and the much ballyhooed Lambrecht Chevrolet automobile auction, folks from the area step up to the plate and the History Channel turns it into a three-hour documentary, "History Made Now: Wheels of Fortune."...
Entertainment, football and politics (09/25/13)
A colleague once said that Nebraska football is what happens between sessions of the Legislature. Note that I didn't distinguish college football. Perhaps some of that and a lot of political football as well. With the opening of Lincoln's new sports and entertainment venue -- The Pinnacle Bank Arena -- there are a number of common threads adding to the entertainment that football and politics have to offer...
Lawmakers take still another look at tax incentives (09/11/13)
State lawmakers continue to ponder whether tax breaks given to large corporations to locate or expand in Nebraska are really beneficial. It's a discussion that rears its head every year (or so it seems) as the pros and cons about LB775, the Employment and Investment Growth Act passed in 1987, are considered by yet another legislative committee or two. ...
Tearing down history to make way for progress (08/28/13)
Another Nebraska community has demolished an historic brick school building so it doesn't stand in the way of progress. Despite recent efforts to save the building and its twin across town, local officials said hallelujah when the dilapidated property was purchased from a stubborn owner after years of negotiating...
Politics 2014: Who's in, who's out -- make a list (08/21/13)
Time was when the State Fair and/or Labor Day was the traditional time for announcing candidacy for statewide office in Nebraska. Said announcements were often "events" designed to get the most spin out of the announcement. With the popularity of social media, such news is now often spread in tweets whenever...
Public involvement in tax reform (08/14/13)
During a lengthy legislative hearing some years ago, a reporter friend said, "Nothing screws up the public hearing process like the public showing up." It was a joke of sorts. But the press corps understood that public engagement, while vital to the democratic process, could be cumbersome. ...
Are Nebraskans aware of personal finance? (08/07/13)
During a week when State Auditor Mike Foley apologized for inappropriately characterizing low-income people as poor money managers, a national report gave Nebraska high schools a failing grade for the way they teach personal finance. The 59-year-old Foley, a native of New York and former Nebraska state senator (2000-07) is in his second term as state auditor. ...
Republican gubernatorial ticket filling up (07/24/13)
Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidates are signing up for what promises to be a contentious race if the issues play out as expected. Democrats are salivating as they anticipate a bruised GOP candidate emerging from the primary, something that could give them a shot at a statewide seat they haven't occupied since the two terms of Ben Nelson. Admittedly, a Centrist Democrat could rule the day...
Tax panel needs courage to propose change (07/18/13)
The Scarecrow told the Wizard of Oz he wanted courage. The chairman of the Nebraska Tax Modernization Committee says he hopes his legislative colleagues will ask for the same thing when they look at recommendations from the committee later this year...
Car auction: The rest of the story (07/11/13)
The Internet is alive with the story of the pending two-day auction of the former Lambrecht Chevrolet Company in Pierce, Nebraska. The dealership closed 17 years ago. The Minnesota--based auction company is touting a number of vehicles with fewer than 10 miles on the odometer, plastic on the seats, original factory stickers still in the windows and hub caps and floor mats still in the trunk...
Secession talk: This time it's serious! (06/26/13)
Several Colorado counties say they want to form a new state called North (or Northern) Colorado. Officials in the eight counties say they strongly oppose increased regulations in the oil and gas industry as well as some agricultural laws recently passed...
Lawmakers adjourn 103rd First Session (06/12/13)
The Legislature has adjourned, but the work has just begun. This was the "long session," the 90-day first session that traditionally includes passage of a new two-year state budget. Done. Ernie Chambers failed in his 38th try to ban the death penalty. ...
Nebraska Senate race in a word: Boring (06/05/13)
Gov. Dave Heineman's decision not to seek the sure-thing Republican nomination to be Nebraska's next U.S. Senator leaves the race wide open. Read that boring. Queue up the regulars. You know their names. Jon Bruning, Shane Osborne, Don Stenberg, Pete Ricketts. Read that boring as well...
Freedom of the press, really? (05/29/13)
There isn't one of you reading this newspaper that shouldn't be at least alarmed and at best incensed that the United States Justice Department used a secret subpoena to obtain two months of phone records for Associated Press reporters and editors without notifying the news organization...
We pause now to remember a great guy (05/22/13)
Bill Orr was the First Gentleman for the four years that his wife served as the nation's first Republican woman ever elected as Governor. He died May 5 at age 78. Kay Orr was the eighth woman to serve as a state governor. She was not only the first Republican but also the first woman elected governor over another female major party candidate and the first (and only) woman to serve as Governor of Nebraska. There have been 34 women governors in the United States...
Even in drought, Nebraska water flows downhill (05/15/13)
Water and other stuff flows downhill in Nebraska, especially when the Legislature is in session. During the same week that the state Department of Natural Resources started releasing water from the Harlan County Reservoir to the Republican River in Kansas to avoid penalties, state lawmakers gave first-round approval to a measure that would compensate Nebraska farmers for the loss of water...
Wind energy tax incentive bill advances (05/08/13)
Nebraskans are keenly aware of a term called "wind chill" or the wind chill factor. It is the perceived decrease in air temperature felt by the body on exposed skin due to the flow of cold air. Said temperatures are always lower than the air temperature where the formula is valid. That would be just about everywhere. Likewise, the "heat index" is used to describe an apparent temperature higher than the air temperature...
Budget debate looms in Legislature (05/01/13)
As the clock ticks on the 103rd Legislature-First Session, lawmakers face a deadline for dealing with the Biennial Budget. Statute says that the nine-member Appropriations Committee has to have the document ready for consideration by the full Legislature no later than the 70th day of the 90-day session (May 1) and it has to be passed by lawmakers by the 80th day...
School finance heads to full debate (04/24/13)
When it comes to choosing sides on taxation and spending issues in Nebraska, it all boils down to whose ox is getting gored. School finance is one of those issues that has historically -- the current formula is 23 years old (even though it gets tweaked every couple years) and school financing agreements were being made before Nebraska was even a state back in 1867 -- been a battle between large and small, the perceived "haves" and the "have nots."...
Nebraska's dubious achievement award: The filibuster (04/17/13)
Sixty percent of the allotted time for the legislative session has elapsed and lawmakers are talking about talking too much. Veteran lawmaker Ernie Chambers has launched three filibusters (talking an issue to death) and promised others. Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha recently burned 45 minutes of time explaining to his colleagues why they need to get the lead out -- and then apologized for taking that much time. ...
Towns could opt for sales tax plan to entice new residents (04/10/13)
In 1991 lawmakers approved the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB840) to allow municipalities to vote and approve additional sales tax to be used for local projects under guidelines approved by the state. Twenty-two years later, 60 Nebraska communities are using local option taxes to fund various economic development projects...
Wildlife proposal costly, but worth it (04/03/13)
Like many of his Sandhills neighbors, freshman State Senator Al Davis of Hyannis watched last summer as wildfires consumed acres of some of Nebraska's most scenic countryside, areas of rugged forested land which are home to once secluded cabins. Likewise, similar fires consumed hundreds of thousands of acres from the Panhandle to Northeast Nebraska and a lot of places in between. ...
Halfway through, it's about taxes or the lack thereof (03/27/13)
J.L. Schmidt Statehouse Correspondent The Nebraska Press Association The first session of Nebraska's 103rd Legislature is half over. Forty-five days in and the talk has centered on taxes, or the lack thereof. Lame Duck Governor Dave Heineman's plans to end the personal and/or corporate income tax in Nebraska have been left in the dust. Concern over ending millions in sales tax exemptions was enough to cause second thoughts...
Will tax on soft drinks help curb obesity? (03/20/13)
In a state where farmers feed corn to cattle to fatten them for market, a senator wants to tax drinks -- many of which feature corn syrup sweetener -- as a way to curb obesity. State Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln says his bill (LB447) being heard by the Revenue Committee is aimed at soft drinks, which have no nutritional value. ...
Ernie's back, and so is the death penalty (03/06/13)
The return of Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers from his four-year term-limit-driven exile has also meant a return of discussions about the death penalty. A couple of Chambers' bills deal with the way Nebraska courts decide whether to execute someone (LB542) as well as an outright repeal of the death penalty (LB543) and replacement with mandatory life in prison without parole...
Heineman tax plan gets mixed reviews (02/20/13)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- In its simplest form, Governor Dave Heineman has proposed two bills to eliminate state income taxes and make up the lost revenue by eliminating $2.4 billion in sales tax exemptions. Proponents told the Legislature's Revenue Committee that such a bold move would result in job growth. Opponents say there is no evidence, not even anecdotal evidence, that such a move results in job growth...
Heineman tax plan: Legacy or folly? (01/30/13)
Given the propensity of politicians and pundits to refer to the Syracuse Tax Study of 1987, it is obvious that Nebraska's tax policy needs to be revamped ... or at least revisited. Plans announced by lame duck Governor Dave Heineman -- who wants to eliminate the state income tax -- could easily begin the discussion. ...
Lawmakers tackle biennial budget task (01/16/13)
There's a lot on the table as the 103rd Nebraska Legislature -- First Session -- begins with 11 new senators and 38 "seasoned" veterans (some of them with two years' experience and a large number of lame ducks in their last two years) on board. On top of everything else, it's a budget year and the lame duck governor is expected to wield a heavy hammer to make sure that his legacy as a thrifty guy is emblazoned in stone at the end of the session...
Nebraska's future; Forged or forced? (01/09/13)
Nebraska is one of those mostly square states out west that most people couldn't find on an unmarked map ... and we like it that way. I've said that before to colleagues from the densely populated and pseudo sophisticated East and from the "we're the only ones here" South. I am Nebraska- born and reared and have spent my entire life in the state, save for a 7-year stint in Illinois. I love this place, but I am also realistic about Nebraska's future...
Chambers back in the house (01/02/13)
As Ernie Chambers would tell us, the next Legislature (convening Jan. 9, 2013) will have 30 Repellicans, 17 Demagogues and 2 independents (he's one of them). The state's longest-serving senator, returning after a term-limited four years, refers to his party-banner-toting colleagues in the officially non-partisan body in such terms. Always has. And his fellow lawmakers have always taken it with the good-natured degree with which it is intended...
Fascination with Lincoln continues (12/26/12)
A current popular movie and a recent election have folks talking about their fascination with America's 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. In Nebraska, the state's capital city bears his name. A statue on the west steps of the State Capitol seems to beckon Nebraskans from the west to visit their seat of government. Likewise, a statue on the east steps of Lincoln's City Hall beckons the majority of the city's population who live east of that building...
Russell Means: Accusations, allegations and acquittal (12/05/12)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Native American activist Russell Means died Oct. 22 at his home near Porcupine, South Dakota. The 72-year-old was no stranger to Nebraskans and once said he thought it would be safer to be a dog in a Nebraska community that bordered the Indian reservation than to be a Native American. ...
They work hard for the money (10/31/12)
The major obstacle to Nebraska lawmakers receiving a larger salary is a basic misunderstanding of just how hard they work for the $12,000 that has been the going rate since 1988. There's a misperception that state senators only work 90 days one year and 60 days the next year of the two-year legislative session. ...
Turnback tax in the news again (10/24/12)
J. L. Schmidt Statehouse Correspondent The Nebraska Press Association City fathers in Lincoln hope to use some state sales tax proceeds to help pay off the Pinnacle Bank Arena that is being built in the historic Haymarket area downtown. Under provisions of the Nebraska Convention Center Facility Financing Assistance Act, a state panel will be asked to allow the city to use 70 percent of the state sales tax from the arena and surrounding hotels for up to 25 years. ...
Damned if they do, damned if they don't (06/06/12)
LINCOLN -- If it ain't one thing ... U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson decided to retire in the face of what would have been the toughest and undoubtedly the ugliest campaign of his political career. The two-term Democrat was already the subject of vilification for his votes on revising federal healthcare policy, and anything else he'd ever done that was even vaguely in line with the Obama administration...
The opening non-round for Kerrey and Fisher (05/30/12)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- It was just a tad surprising when Republican Deb Fischer turned down the chance to debate Democratic rival Bob Kerrey at the Cornhusker Boys and Girls State gathering in Lincoln. Getting on stage with Kerrey this early in their race for the U.S. Senate would have given Fischer a chance to size up her far more experienced rival. And even if the outcome hadn't been particularly good for her ... so what? It's a long way from June to November...
Bruning's death grip on sodium thiopental (05/16/12)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- Perhaps murderer Michael Ryan feels blessed. Attorney General Jon Bruning might feel jinxed. At the least, he's very upset and, as is his custom, he has given voice to his discontent. Ryan, 63, has been on death row since 1985. The story of how the one-time leader of a religious, anti-government cult, came to be convicted of two shockingly brutal torture/murders made national news...
Hoping the screen door - well, you know (04/25/12)
Ed Howard Statehouse Correspondent The Nebraska Press Association LINCOLN -- Gov. Dave Heineman chose not to say goodbye to the 2012 Legislature in person or via official message. In foregoing the usual gubernatorial bye-bye he nonetheless said something to the legislative majority. Heineman obviously wished the proverbial door would hit them in their collective backsides as they took their leave...
'Twittergate' may be only the beginning (04/11/12)
Ed Howard Statehouse Correspondent The Nebraska Press Association LINCOLN -- It is too much, but the sadder thought is that more and worse could be ahead. Virtually anything might be alleged these days, regardless of how ridiculous or disgusting, in a political campaign...
It was like a scene from the Godfather (04/04/12)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- It was remindful of the scene from The Godfather where Marlon Brando, as Don Corleone, addresses a meeting of top mob bosses who have gathered to settle a deadly business dispute. "How did things ever get so far?" he asks, in the wake of murderous savagery, and on the verge of all-out war...
Legislature working quietly, but still at work (03/30/12)
LINCOLN -- This year's legislative session has been so quiet that if it weren't for the little bit of racket over tens of millions of wasted child welfare dollars, and how to stem the flow, you'd hardly know the gang of 49 had been around. But they have been working their will -- moreover, the will of others -- in ways big and small...
He must be a guy who lives for a challenge (03/14/12)
LINCOLN -- Tom Pristow has to know his new command is the social services equivalent of taking charge of Pearl Harbor on December 8. Pristow also must be a guy who lives for a challenge. He is going to work for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services...
Solving a problem that doesn't exist (02/29/12)
LINCOLN -- Voting is at least as important a function in our society as driving a car. Most people know voting is a constitutional right. Some people think driving a car is a constitutional right--one of a legion of sad commentaries on our misunderstanding and ignorance of how government works...
Making breakfast a real 'happy meal' (02/22/12)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- State agricultural groups and the governor have demonstrated their willingness to shower the Humane Society of the United States with hellfire and brimstone if the well-funded animal welfare organization even looks like it's about to propose statutory or regulatory changes relating to the treatment of farm animals in the state...
GOP providing entertainment, for now (02/15/12)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- Retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson spoke up when former Democratic lawmaker Bob Kerrey said he would stay out of the 2012 Senate race. Not to worry, Nelson said, the Ds have viable potential candidates. He was making it up. For Nebraska Democrats, the bright side will be in the short term--watching Don Stenberg and Jon Bruning savage each other...
A universal headline (02/08/12)
LINCOLN -- It is what you might call a universal headline. At some point, you can find it in pretty much any newspaper in America and most of the world. "Flood aid procedures frustrate ..." read a Nebraska newspaper this week. Change "flood" to whatever's appropriate. School aid. Fire aid. State aid. Food...
Everybody loves a tax cut (01/25/12)
LINCOLN -- It's too soon to guesstimate whether the initiative will be economically feasible, but Gov. Dave Heineman has proposed measures that would reduce your state income tax burden. In his State of the State address, Heineman offered lawmakers, and the citizenry, observations that would have been welcomed by taxpayers 100 years ago and every year since:...
Profits delayed, not eliminated for TransCanada (10/26/11)
It looks evident that TransCanada will get its preferred route for the Keystone XL project, despite all threats to take their ball and go home. But any such threat from TransCanada or their proponents is an empty one. It's doubtful that TransCanada will leave--by their own estimation--somewhere on the order of $4 billion in annual profits to rot on the drawing board. Essentially, that $7 billion project will pay for itself about three years after it goes on line...
Bruning, Stenberg and the tea parties (10/05/11)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- The competition for Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate is a little more interesting these days, thanks to the tea party. A couple of tea parties, actually. State Treasurer Don Stenberg, a GOP warhorse of more than 30 years standing, has been endorsed by FreedomWorks PAC, known as "a deep-pocketed Tea Party group that has promised to get involved in Republican primaries."...
Every state has a motto (09/28/11)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- Let's take it easy. Every state has a motto. Those mottos have been rewritten by various folks with something between humorous and jaundiced intent. Have a look at just some of them: Arizona: But it's a dry heat. Colorado: If you don't ski, don't bother...
If the shoe were on the other foot (09/21/11)
LINCOLN -- There is something of a story within a story when it comes to the story about the state doing a lousy job implementing change in the child welfare system. It was mentioned in passing when details of an audit of the Department of Health and Human Services were recently reported. The audit showed department ineptitude had cost the state millions and millions and millions of dollars...
Whatever it was, it wasn't 'reform' (09/14/11)
LINCOLN -- The recent fiasco resulting from Nebraska's attempt to partially privatize child welfare services is remindful of two things. The first is that anytime government hands off an important duty to the private sector, it should be as certain as possible that things are set up to make the transition work...
Governor's pipeline stance: What's that about? (09/07/11)
LINCOLN -- Gov. Dave Heineman decided to flat out oppose the route proposed for the TransCanada XL Pipeline. Some people wondered: "What's that about?" Others said: "It's about time!" Heineman said what other critics have said in arguing that TransCanada's preferred path for transporting tar sand oil across the porous Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer represented too great an environmental threat. ...
Heineman opposes pipeline route (09/07/11)
LINCOLN -- Gov. Dave Heineman decided to flat out oppose the route proposed for the TransCanada XL Pipeline. Some people wondered: "What's that about?" Others said: "It's about time!" Heineman said what other critics have said in arguing that TransCanada's preferred path for transporting tar sand oil across the porous Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer represented too great an environmental threat. ...
Senator keeps a low profile (08/31/11)
LINCOLN, Nebraska -- Opponents of U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson are making an issue of his keeping a comparatively low profile while Congress is taking a break. Translation: Republicans wish the Democratic lawmaker would make more public appearances, in hopes that he would face noticeably animated complaints from some among his constituency. They also hope that any unpleasantness would be the subject of headlines...
The First Amendment and Nebraska's campaign finance law (08/24/11)
LINCOLN -- The U.S. Supreme Court says that sometimes the candidate who has less money and qualifies for public campaign financing can be a threat to the First Amendment rights of the candidate who may have lots of money to spend. That decision by a 5-4 majority puts a portion of Nebraska's law for public financing in jeopardy, according to Attorney General Jon Bruning...
The price of capital city parking (08/17/11)
Ed Howard Statehouse Correspondent The Nebraska Press Association LINCOLN -- This falls under news you can use from the Capital city, most especially if you venture there for the Nebraska football experience. In the City of Lincoln you might or might not be able to find a ducat for a Saturday dustup at Memorial Stadium...
Slim chance of a special session (08/10/11)
LINCOLN -- In a move virtually certain to generate some headlines but very little action, State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm is urging that lawmakers call themselves into special session and adopt laws allowing them to decide the route of a proposed sand tar oil pipeline that would pass through the porous Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer...
Don't get too excited over House pipeline action (08/03/11)
LINCOLN -- Don't get excited about the House of Representatives approving legislation involving the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would pass through Nebraska, including portions of the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer. Sponsored by Republican Rep. Lee Terry of Omaha, it would require the U.S. State Department to make a decision by November on whether to issue a construction permit for the pipeline. The pipeline would move sand tar oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas...
How the race is shaping up for the GOP (07/06/11)
LINCOLN -- Deb Fischer did it. The two-term lawmaker / rancher from Valentine joined the race for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate. Several Nebraska governors -- Jim Exon, Bob Kerrey, incumbents Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns -- have won Senate elections. State senators? Can't recall any...
J.L. Schmidt
Capitol View
Nebraska Press Association