Read today’s news from around the state and country. Each day in the Roundup we cover politics, always with a side of bold humor. We think politics should be fun, informative and encourage us all to take action. The Roundup is brought to you by Bold’s Interns Jack and Aaron.
Friday, April 13th
Today is Friday the 13th, considered to be the unluckiest day on the calendar. Check out a brief history of this urban legend. Be careful today! Here’s your Roundup:
What’s Next: A recent article in the Huffington Post summarized the recent developments in the Nebraska Legislature with the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline. TransCanada has launched new “divide and conquer” tactics to force construction of their dangerous project and our state lawmakers have bowed down to their plan. The recent approval of LB 1161 in the Nebraska Legislature shows how our state is being controlled by money from TransCanada. TransCanada reports have shown an excessive amount of lobbying costs spent on Nebraska state senators. A shining example is our governor, Dave Heineman. Not too long ago, he vocally opposed the pipeline, but now he’s deep into TransCanada’s pocketbook. The time has come to turn up the heat on our lawmakers and representatives. Tar sands oil is extremely dangerous and much more toxic than traditional crude oil. The article says it perfectly: “This pipeline is a climate killer–no matter what route it takes.” Read here
Senate Race: The race for the soon-to-be-open Nebraska United States Senate seat is continuing to gain momentum. Bob Kerrey released a new television ad highlighting exactly what it takes to be an effective government official. Kerrey credits both Democrats and Republicans and calls for civility and teamwork in Washington. The approach by Kerrey is sensible, practical, and will prove to be effective. On the contrary, Jon Bruning, running on out-of-touch, questionable stances, continues to build his warchest. In just over the first three months of his campaign, he has raised over $530,000. Bruning has all the wealthy individuals because that is about the only group of people he will stand up for. It’s up to you–Bob Kerrey, an experienced, practical, and sensible candidate, or a handful of out-of-touch GOP candidates, including Jon Bruning running for the wealthy.
Pledge of Allegiance: The majority of the Nebraska State Board of Education expressed support for requiring public schools, kindergarten through high school, to designate time for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Earlier in the year, State Senator Tony Fulton introduced LB 990, a bill that would have required all schools to recite the pledge, but the bill did not make it out of the Education Committee. Student participation would be voluntary. Some members of the State Board of Education thought the measure should be left up to local districts instead. Read here
Postal Service: A group of protesters gathered outside the office of Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns in Kearney yesterday against Johanns’s support of a postal service measure that would cause a decrease in mail services and further financial woes. The U.S. Postal Service continues to struggle to make ends meet facing predicted significant money losses over the next several years. Watch here
Yesterday was the 60th and final day of the 102nd Nebraska Legislative Session!
Thursday, April 12th
We are extremely disappointed in the Nebraska Legislature for passing LB 1161 yesterday, rubber stamping the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline route through Nebraska before even seeing a route. Thank you to those of you who were able to make it to the Capitol to call out lawmakers. Here’s your Roundup:
Prenatal Care: The Nebraska Legislature approved the final version of LB 599, a bill to restore tax-funded prenatal care to low-income mothers and illegal immigrants. The measure passed on a 31-15 vote. This bill will provide proper prenatal care to avoid birth defects, delivery complications, and lifelong health issues to children who automatically become United States citizens upon their birth. Children have absolutely no control over where they are born. They deserve the care they need, don’t they? We are glad the majority of our legislators see this measure as a human value issue, not based on an individual’s citizenship status. Big surprise, Governor Dave Heineman has vowed to veto the bill. The Legislature will need to come up with 30 votes to reverse Heineman’s veto. The health and safety of mothers and children should be of our utmost concern, regardless of where they are from. Read here
Child Welfare: Yesterday, Governor Dave Heineman signed the package of five child welfare bills into law, fixing our state’s terribly broken child welfare system and praising the Legislature for their work. Heineman ordered a privatization of child welfare some two years ago which resulted in a disaster. Caseloads for child welfare workers will be limited, pay will be boosted for foster families and the establishment of a Children’s Commission will all take place, just to name a few. It is great to see the safety and care of our Nebraska children taken seriously. Read here
Senate Debate: The Nebraska GOP Senate candidates had another debate last evening in Norfolk, but this one didn’t have any of the showy drama the last GOP debate had in Scottsbluff. The candidates focused on the issues this time, mostly agreeing on all talking points. Their proposals and plans are still out of touch and questionable. It will be interesting to see who can last the longest. Could this be our own GOP circus? Read here
Polling Probe: Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson recently asked the Federal Justice Department to probe a possible case of voter suppression by Governor Dave Heineman, Secretary of State John Gale, and Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps. In a letter to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, Nelson cites the series of questionable decisions by Phipps which include the decision to close nearly half of Douglas County’s polling places, knowingly sending out incorrect voter registration cards to nearly 2,000 citizens in north Omaha, and not allowing the use of public libraries for early voting. Governor Heineman, who appointed Phipps, and Secretary of State John Gale have done nothing about this issue. In fact, Gale refuses to ask any questions about the actions of Phipps. Phipps, of course a Republican, is clearly suppressing voters, especially in the low-income areas of Omaha where a large population of minorities live. We hope to see action taken by the U.S. Department of Justice on these questionable and disenfranchising measures implemented by Phipps. Read here
Today is the last day of the Nebraska Legislative session! Catch up on any news you may have missed at the Unicameral Update!
Wednesday, April 11th
Join us this afternoon at 2:00 pm at the Nebraska State Capitol to help keep the Unicameral accountable for passing a bill that “rubber stamps” the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline. We hope to see you there! Here’s your Roundup:
He’s Out: Yesterday, Rick Santorum exited the Republican presidential race, seemingly clearing the path for Mitt Romney. After weighing the poll numbers and his daughter’s recent hospitalization, Santorum and his family decided the race would be over. It is finally looking as if this GOP circus is coming to a close. We can now set our sights on a Obama vs. Romney matchup for November. Oh, and it looks like Obama already leads in the polls. Read here
At it Again: Governor Dave Heineman signed his sized-down tax break plan into law yesterday. However, immediately after he signed the bill into law, he took the time to focus on LB 599, the bill that would provide tax-funded prenatal care for low-income and illegal immigrants. He claimed the bill will give a larger tax break to illegal immigrants than middle-class families. In all reality, LB 599 will prevent costly birth defects, delivery complications, and lifelong developmental disabilities. Oh, and the fact that unborn children are not “illegal,” as he continuously referred them as. This is a human value issue, not a political ideal issue, Heineman. Mothers, regardless of citizenship, deserve the required care for giving birth. You ran on a pro-life platform, now why don’t you stand up for the unborn like you promised when you ran for governor? Read here
Public Power: Former Bold intern, Chelsea Johnson, recently created a change.org petition for the Nebraska Public Power District to get serious about using renewable resources for energy production. NPPD will be deciding what source their energy will come from over the next twenty years. It is crucial NPPD invest in renewable sources. The time has come for a new focus on energy, safe alternatives, and renewable sources. At Bold, we remain committed to cleaner energy across our state. Sign the Petition Here
No Hearing: Bold and several other groups, including the Nebraska Farmers Union and the Nebraska Sierra Club, are wondering where the hearing was for LB 1161, the Keystone XL Pipeline bill. See our response to the recent developments in a Lincoln Journal Star article here and don’t forget to join us today at the Nebraska State Capitol!
Get the latest Nebraska Legislature News from the Unicameral Update.
Tuesday, April 10th
One underdeveloped energy resource is sitting right in front of us and people are finally beginning to realize the potential. It has unending possibilities and depending on how we develop it, the resource can either be clean and sustainable or dirty and destructive. I am talking about young entrepreneurs. In a time when more young individuals are starting their own businesses we ought to be encouraging them to look towards the future and making things like clean energy more cost effective so that sustainability simply becomes a smart business practice. Here’s your Roundup:
Prenatal Care Vigil: Nebraska Appleseed along with citizens from across Nebraska are joining together to show their support for restoring prenatal care in Nebraska. There will be a vigil tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday 5pm – 6pm on the Westside of the State Capitol in Lincoln. Read here for more information on the event.
Wisconsin’s War on Women: It’s no secret that Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker sits pretty close to the far-right end of the political spectrum in the US. After his infamous fight against unions, Walker is now trying to stir-up a little less publicity surrounding his new “ideas” around the rights of Wisconsin women. Walker not only repealed the state’s equal pay law that ensures women are paid the same as men in similar careers, but he also signed into law three more bills worth occupying a state capitol over. These laws infringe upon rights and liberties of Wisconsin residents. Read here
Democrat Caucus Food Drive: Democrats in Lincoln County, Nebraska have decided to make this year’s Democratic Caucus into a celebration. They are celebrating the fact that County Democrats have been meeting for 60 years. Along with the usual vote for the presidential candidate, which will surely be President Obama, Democrats will be signing people up to vote and educating voters on a few of the issues. They have also decided to turn their caucus and celebration into a canned food drive. They ask that those willing to donate to the food drive please bring a canned food item for the local food pantries. Read here
Campaign Financing: The F.C.C. is planning to require that local television stations post financial information regarding the amount certain interest groups pay for political campaign ads. Local news stations have lobbied against the effort but it is looking like the regulation will pass. Few citizens realize that every station is required by law to keep a file of all this information and provide such information to members of the public. The new regulation would provide more transparency and easier access to the information that people are already entitled to have. Read here
You can also find the latest news coming from Nebraska’s Legislative branch here with the Unicameral update.
Monday, April 9th
Bill O’Reilly came on the Daily Show and tried to explain to Jon Stewart that his taxes were already too high. Stewart came right back to show O’Reilly exactly how wrong he is. Here’s the transcript and a video clip of the interview. Here’s your Roundup:
Backwards Economics: It doesn’t make much sense to structure an economic policy around the idea of making a few people more wealthy while leaving a vast majority of individuals paying to make the rich richer. Corporate tax loopholes are draining the middle class and enabling the wealthy to skip-out on paying their fair share of taxes. Educationvotes.org has made a video detailing the problem and what citizens can do to help. They have also started a petition to close corporate tax loopholes and help the middle class. Here’s a nice article on how Republicans are hanging on to the failed policies of Ronald Reagan and misconstruing corporate tax loopholes as necessary for job creation. Read here
Natural Gas Boom: There’s been a lot of talk about natural gas production over the past year or so, what production companies aren’t telling you is that they have drilled for and produced way too much. The industry has seen a large push for expanded production efforts in the past 5 years and that push is finally catching up with them. Prices are at a 10-year low and continuing to drop. We need to make sure all companies are following uniform regulations on risky practices like hydraulic fracturing. In the past, environmental concerns have been overshadowed by the push to produce more natural gas. Let’s make sure when our kids look back 50 years from now they are smiling and not shaking their heads at us. Read here
Prenatal Care: The Unicameral advanced LB599, a bill that will reinstate prenatal care to mothers regardless of immigration status. Prenatal care coverage for low-income families was taken away by Gov. Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning wrongly citing a federal directive as the main reason. Gov. Heineman is under a lot of pressure from various organizations to endorse the bill. Its a little surprising to see that Gov. Heineman is sticking to his anti-immigration policy even when it puts him in conflict with pro-life groups and the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Here is a video of a speech by Jim Cunningham, Executive Director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, speaking about the support for the bill. Will the Governor put politics before life? Read here
Polling Locations: The latest to join the push to reopen closed polling locations in Douglas County comes from none other than its own Republican U.S. Representative, Lee Terry. Congressman Terry noted that he thought too many locations had been closed and that some should be reopened. He also acknowledged that these closing have a disproportionate effect on those that live in low-income areas. Additionally, when questioned about the process of closing the polling locations Douglas County Election Commissioner, Dave Phipps, said “The only reason we made a change was to be accommodating to leaders in that area.” These are not the individuals that he should be responsible to; it should the his constituency, the voters of Douglas County. We would love to know who directed him to make the closings. Read here
You can also find the latest news coming from Nebraska’s Legislative branch here with the Unicameral update.