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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

Hoping the screen door - well, you know

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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.

Lawmakers slapped down two major Heineman vetoes during their final business day, and he was furious.

With the minimum 30 votes needed, senators approved a measure that will again allow the state to provide prenatal services to needy pregnant women who are in the country illegally.

Also enacted without a vote to spare was a measure allowing city councils -- with supermajority approval -- to let voters decide whether to raise local sales tax rates by a half cent.

The governor predicted long-term political consequences for those who opposed him. In a prepared statement he said: "Today, the majority of the Nebraska Legislature decided their priorities are: Providing taxpayer funded benefits to illegal immigrants and increasing the sales tax rate on the citizens of Nebraska."

"I strongly disagree with their decisions. Providing preferential treatment to illegals while increasing taxes on legal Nebraska citizens is misguided, misplaced and inappropriate."

Heineman said denying care to "illegals" who are expectant mothers was necessary to discourage illegal immigration. Providing such care encourages illegal immigration, he argued.

Supporters, including Nebraska Right to Life, said it is a pro-life issue that takes precedence over immigration politics.

Some also argued that jobs, not care for pregnant women, draws illegal immigrants.

The program is expected to cost the state about $600,000 annually. The feds kick in another $1.9 million.

The fight over allowing a city's voters to decide whether to increase their local sales tax rate reflected a political issue as old as Nebraska: local control.

Whether the subject is school district organization or tax policy, local governments have always argued for the maximum amount of control to be vested in local government, whether directly or through the ballot box.

Critics of the bill argued that the central issue these days centers on difficult economic times and that taxes ought to be reduced wherever possible, and that tax increases should be avoided.


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J.L. Schmidt
Capitol View
Nebraska Press Association