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Nebraskans highlight misguided federal policies

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It was wonderful to meet with many Nebraskans last week for insightful discussions about federal policies and their impact on our daily lives. I wish all of my five hundred-some colleagues in Congress could have been with me to hear the discussions. I met with Nebraskans from Omaha to North Platte whose comments so clearly illustrated how directly federal policy impacts lives, from burdensome regulations to unsustainable spending.

For example, I met with a group of Omaha and Lincoln area business owners concerned that the federal government is inhibiting growth instead of enabling it. A business owner told me the new federal health care law might actually prevent her from adding employees. The law, as many of you by now know, requires that any business employing 50 or more people provide federally-approved health insurance. Her business happens to employ just under 50 people, many of whom are part-time or seasonal full-time. She wants to grow the business and add employees. However, if she hires more people she faces two options: either meet the costly federal insurance mandate or pay a penalty to the federal government, not for just the few new employees, but for all of them.

One remark she made struck me as the root of the problem with recent federal policies: "Maybe I just won't grow anymore." That is the exact opposite response federal policies should inspire among job creators, especially in a time of high unemployment and a struggling economy.

In addition, I was privileged to meet with several Nebraska educators who are concerned with No Child Left Behind. Their concern: the federal government is reaching too far into local education. A veteran educator told me they are worried the federal government is more concerned with testing than results. As an example, I heard how federal rules forced Lincoln Public Schools to reassign a principal even though the parents, students and teachers at her school all wanted her to stay.

Several educators added they are spending an increasing amount of time meeting federal rules. A superintendent said it felt like the federal government was more interested in punishing someone than in helping students learn. It was another vivid example of a federal government reaching too far into our lives.

Finally, I heard a great deal of common sense advice delivered at the Nebraska Cattlemen's Midyear Meeting in North Platte. I was able to talk with ranchers from across the state and they are clearly concerned with the direction being taken by Congress and the White House. Many wondered if regulations currently under consideration will make it harder to sustain family ranching operations.

Though my colleagues could not travel with me, I will make every effort to share what I've learned with my colleagues in Congress and do my best to infuse some common sense into Washington policymaking

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Sen. Mike Johanns
Sen. Mike Johanns
U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns is a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Nebraska governor and Lincoln mayor.

Address: 404 Russell, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4224
Fax: (202) 228-0436

You may contact Senator Johanns by emailing mike_johanns@johanns.senate.gov. If you would like to receive a response from Senator Johanns, please ensure you include your name, full address, and phone number.