Bold is partnering up with several groups to hold a series of community meetings to update folks on the Keystone XL pipeline and ask for input in writing new pipeline siting rules with the PSC. Find a meeting near you! Here’s your Roundup:
Blunt Amendment: In a nail-biter vote, the Senate killed an amendment proposed by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt that would have allowed employers to opt out of providing health care coverage they did not agree with on moral (not just religious) standards. The proposal was a response to the Obama Administration’s mandate about insurance coverage for family planning services and contraceptives for women. While Republicans argued that the amendment defended religious freedom, opponents made it clear that it gave employers too much power to deny health care coverage to employees. Senator Johanns was featured on The Daily Show trying to convince his colleagues the measure had nothing to do with women’s health care. No boss should get to decide what health care their employee needs, and 51 members of the Senate saw that yesterday. Read here
Voting Controversy: Republican Douglas County election officials plan to close over half of the Omaha polling places in this year’s upcoming elections. Officials see the measure as a way to save taxpayer dollars, but the closures will make voting significantly more difficult for minority voters, particularly Black and Latino citizens. The Douglas County’s election commissioner suggests voters in Omaha’s largely minority areas need to drive 5-7 minutes to the nearest polling place, but over 20% of citizens do not have vehicles and even more do not have reliable transportation. Read here
Swift Action: At the UNL’s Dailyer Nebraskan Mass Debate (which is a satirical event), one or more attendees on the Impact Party’s side shouted homophobic slurs at a Party Party candidate, who is gay. The next day, a supporter of the Impact Party posted a list of reasons to support their party, when a then-candidate with Impact posted another homophobic slur. Party leadership made it clear anyone who used the slurs would be asked to discontinue association with the group. Within the day, the Impact Party candidate who made the comments was removed from the ballot as the party lived up to its promise. While it is disappointing to see people still feel the need to use homophobic slurs, joking or not, it’s encouraging to see the UNL student leadership stand up to such bullying and intolerance. Read here
Campaign Finance: Nebraska’s Campaign Finance Limitation Act (CFLA) has not been enforced in over a year after Arizona’s Supreme Court declared a similar measure unconstitutional. Next week, the Nebraska Supreme Court will hear arguments over our state’s version. The CFLA has been a law for more than 20 years. The Legislature passed the measure when campaigns were becoming too expensive for ordinary citizens to compete successfully. Voluntary spending limits were determined by lawmakers for the various public offices and candidates were asked up front if they planned on abiding by the limits. If one candidate does not plan on abiding by the limits, but another does, the candidate that agrees to the limits can receive public funds to make up the difference. It would be troubling to see this legislation struck down without any alternatives to take its place. Read here
Improved Health Care: A recent campaign was launched to thank President Obama for his passage of health care reform. The two year anniversary of Obamacare will be on March 23rd. The campaign plans on telling a story a day from individuals that have benefited from health care reform for the entire month of March. “Thanks Obamacare” has taken social media by storm, appearing on Pintrest, Facebook and Twitter. Here at Bold, we stand behind health care reform, giving everyone a fair shot at purchasing reasonably priced and effective health care. Read here
Rep. Lee Terry looks like he will have a rough campaign year–six people have filed to challenge Terry’s Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District seat.
Stay up to date with the latest Nebraska Legislative news with Unicameral Update, the Legislature’s official news source.
Thursday, March 1st
Happy Birthday, Nebraska! 145 years ago today, the Cornhusker State became the 37th state in the Union. We are happy to call Nebraska home. Here’s your Roundup:
It’s a Go: Former Nebraska Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey jumped into the U.S. Senate race yesterday, creating a political firestorm amongst both parties. Three weeks after Kerrey decided not to enter the race, his wife urged him to run after further discussion. With a long history of progressive policy making, strong leadership and selfless politics, Bob Kerrey’s a candidate who would defend Nebraska families in DC. In fact, he is the only candidate that could compare a Senate campaign to jumping out of a plane. Why? Because Bob Kerrey has actually jumped out of a plane. Kerrey discussed his decision to run and the uphill battle he faces in his first video interview with Nebraska Watchdog. His campaign will launch on Monday. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Chuck Hassebrook is planning on staying in the race. Read here
Bruning’s Weaknesses: Five years ago, Dave Sund wrote about a possible Senate matchup between Jon Bruning and Bob Kerrey. Wrong Way Jon Bruning’s weaknesses are the same as they were five years ago: he is an opportunist with no political morals or conviction other than an overwhelming desire to get elected. Not too long ago, he was praising Hillary Clinton and blasting conservatives, but now he’s running as a champion of conservative values. This year’s Senate campaign will be an interesting one as Bruning has never faced a real challenger like Bob Kerrey who is a fierce fighter that knows his way through a political smackdown. Read here
They’ve Leapt off Their Lily Pads: Last week, President Obama gave a speech on an “all the above” energy platform that includes the development of advanced and renewable energy resources. Of course, Republicans ignored the speech and attacked a single proposal on a $14 million investment in algae-based biofuel research–an idea that they proposed! Nebraska’s benefitted from this proposal. UNL researchers were awarded a $1.9 million grant through the U.S. Department of Energy in 2010 to develop algae into biofuel. This research will allow our nation to discover how to effectively provide energy without a negative effect on our environment. These anti-anything-Obama politicians have leapt off their lily pads and gone ker-plunk. Read here
He’s Opposed: Not surprisingly, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has voiced his opposition to State Senator Tom Carlson’s LR 358CA, a constitutional amendment that would extend term limits for state senators from two terms to three. Senator Carlson has argued that by the time senators learn their way around the legislature, term limits force them out of office. Double-Talk Dave Heineman thinks lawmakers ought to listen to Nebraska citizens since they voted for term limits back in 2000. However, Carlson’s proposal has advanced from first round debate and now faces two more rounds. In addition, Heineman voiced his opposition to State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh’s LR373 CA, a resolution that would raise the salary of state senators to $32,000. The low pay makes it difficult for Nebraskans who are not wealthy to serve. Heineman continues to call for his crooked tax shift. Read here
Child Welfare: Yesterday, the Nebraska Legislature advanced bills that would return most child welfare management cases back to the state after a disastrous experiment with privatization. As part of a package, the fifth and final bill, LB 961, was passed requiring a reduction in caseworker caseloads which will help place children in permanent homes quicker. It is great to see our lawmakers focus on real issues in our state like our broken child welfare system. With the initial approval of all five bills, LB 821, LB 1160, LB 949, LB 820 and LB 961, we look forward to seeing significant improvements on child well-being and safety. Read here
Looking for the latest Nebraska Unicameral news? Check out the Nebraska Legislature Unicameral Update, the Legislature’s official news source.
Wednesday, February 29th
All eyes were on Michigan and Arizona as the Republican Presidential Primaries were held last night. It was a close battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, but Romney came away with both states, increasing his delegate lead. Here’s your Leap Year Day Roundup:
It Ain’t Over: TransCanada recently confirmed they plan to reapply for a presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska in the near future. Part of TransCanada’s plan is to provide an alternative route through Nebraska, yet no route has been determined. Still, State Senator Jim Smith wants to spend $2 million of taxpayers’ money to review a pipeline that may not even be built with his bill LB 1161. In related developments, TransCanada plans to proceed with construction of a 478-mile portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf Coast. MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Show praised the work of Nebraskans from all political backgrounds standing up against the power and corruption of TransCanada. Watch here
Working Class Hero: In an energetic address to the United Auto Workers Union, President Obama reiterated his support and defense of hard working Americans in the auto industry. President Obama took direct aim the Republican presidential candidates and their opposition to the 2008 auto industry bailouts, highlighting the candidates’ inconsistent and falsified opinions on the bailouts. As Republican candidates continue to see unions as an unnecessary source of greed, Obama praised their values–hard work, shared responsibility and persistence–and pledged to continue fighting for hard working Americans. Read here
Snowe and Kerrey: Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe abruptly announced her retirement Tuesday, citing the increased partisanship and polarized atmosphere on Capitol Hill. Senator Snowe has had a long record of bipartisan, rational and moderate leadership. Her decision places the Republican party in a difficult position as they vie to reclaim the Senate majority. With Snowe’s retirement, it makes Nebraska’s Senate race that much more interesting: will we be able to maintain a Democratic seat or will it be a partisan washout? Bob Kerrey is expected to break his silence today on whether or not he will run for Senator Ben Nelson’s seat. Kerrey is back in Nebraska and even made it to a local high school basketball game last night. Read here
Energy Economy: As questions arise over whether or not investment in a clean energy economy is worth the risk, a recent study by Inside Climate News shows tax incentives and policies have sparked meaningful employment and private investment. However, our nation continues to struggle with how to increase green energy production since the development of this industry is still in its early stages. Progress has been displayed in reducing global warming emissions and shifting to clean energy through recent economic growth and job creation. In fact, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans on investing $7 billion in energy projects that produce power not from gas or oil, but from solar, wind, geothermal or biomass. These projects will ensure a cleaner and safer environment, and enhance our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign fuels. Read here
Healthy State: In Gallup’s 2011 national index on well-being, Nebraska ranks 8th overall. Factored in the report is emotional and physical health, lifestyle behaviors, job satisfaction and the overall perception of life. While the Cornhusker State has not scored well on other physical health surveys, our state’s economic standing plays an integral role in this well-being index. Nebraska still needs to make progress in our health standings to ensure our state lives up to our famous motto–The Good Life. Read here
Economic Improvements: Last week, we highlighted news that the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 13,000 for the first time since 2008. As a sign of more economic progress, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed over 13,000 yesterday, again for the first time since 2008. Consumer confidence jumped nearly 10 points, as Americans are feeling better about the economy than they have in over a year. The economy continues to show signs of improvement, as investors and consumers are gaining more confidence and American companies are once again making strides. Read here
Stay up to date with the latest Nebraska Legislative news on Nebraska’s Unicameral Update.
Tuesday, February 28th
Primaries in Michigan and Arizona will be driving the news today. Michigan, Romney’s home state, is expected to be a real nail biter. Apparently telling Michiganders how much he loves their trees and cars didn’t lock down enough votes for Mittens. Here’s your Roundup:
Buffett Responds: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently told Warren Buffett to “just write a check and shut up.” Gov. Christie may get a little tired of hearing about the billionaire that doesn’t pay enough in taxes. That being said, his remark shows exactly how conservatives are dealing with this issue–they aren’t. Mr. Buffett is focusing on addressing a problem in our tax structure that leads to social inequality. The problem is not that Mr. Buffett has not yet written a check to cover the nation’s debts, but that our tax structure is severely tilted in favor of the billionaire and his peers. Read here
Punk of the Year: It looks like Bob Kerrey might run for Ben Nelson’s Senate seat after all, at least according to a Washington Post blog. Kerrey announced to supporters a few weeks ago that he had thought about running pretty hard and had decided not to do so for family and personal reasons. If he has changed his mind, it will be too late for Governor Heineman to challenge the former senator because incumbent filing deadlines have passed. We’ll know by Friday whether or not this rumor holds water–that’s the non-incumbent deadline for filing paperwork to run for office. Read here
Bureaucrats are People: WaPo has a great op-ed from one man who works for the government and loves it. Government workers have become a common punching bag on the campaign trail and Jason Ullner’s tired of it. He sheds light on what its like to work for your country. Sure, there are government workers who go to the office just to collect a paycheck, but that happens in corporate America, too. It’s time to stop beating up on bureaucrats and remember that many of them actually want and work to make our country better. Read here
Rough Day for Voter ID: The voter ID bill, LB 239, had a debate on the full floor yesterday, and it was not pretty. Senators voiced concerns over the poor quality of the bill and the haste with which it was constructed. Opponents also found a problem with the legislature trying to fix something that isn’t actually a problem in Nebraska. Supporters attempted to make arguments that these measures would protect our electoral system, but without evidence, these arguments weren’t much good. Maybe if a rep from ALEC had been there to defend the bill, it wouldn’t have been such a flop. Read here
Child Welfare Gets Serious: This week the Unicameral will start debate on four bills to address the disastrous privatization of our child welfare system. After a year-long investigation by the Health and Human Services Committee, things are getting serious in the legislature. These bills will effectively create a Nebraska Children’s Commission to oversee child welfare cases and give the process a little more oversight. The bills included for debate are LB 821, LB 1160, LB 949, LB 820, and LB 961. It’s great to see our state senators focus on a real issue like our broken child welfare system and not voter ID. Read here
Who’s the Snob: Rick Santorum caused quite the uproar when he called President Obama a snob because the President wants to make sure every American child has the opportunity to attend college. It was a slap in the face to every working parent who hopes to see their child have even a little bit better life. This is not snobbery, it’s the heart of the American dream. It’s also pretty disgusting to hear this kind of rhetoric coming from a guy who has not one but three college degrees. Connie Schultz, wife of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, has the best response to Santorum’s snobbery that we’ve seen. Read here
You can also find the latest news coming from Nebraska’s Legislative branch here with the Unicameral update.
Monday, February 27th
“The Artist” took home five Oscars last night, including Best Picture. The fabulous and classy Meryl Streep took home her third Oscar for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher–a woman who we may politically disagree with but admire for her strength and leadership. Here’s your Roundup:
Voter ID Bill: Voter fraud has become a hot topic in Nebraska in the past few weeks. However, the surprising thing is that this trend is not because of any problems we have with our voting system, but because of the political agenda of the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC). This group is made up of conservative millionaires and billionaires that are pushing voter ID bills across the nation. Cheers to Channel 3 for this fantastic investigative report and asking the tough questions. Read here
Local Gay Protection Laws: After State Senator Beau McCoy introduced a measure that would not allow Nebraska cities and counties to enact additional anti-discrimination laws on top of the state-wide laws, Senator Brad Ashford announced that the committee would not advance this measure. This means that local city and county governments will be able to enact additional anti-discrimination laws to protect the interests of their own citizens. Read here
Gas Prices, Oil Companies and Wall Street: Economists are telling us that gas prices will continue to be up around $4.00/gallon and possibly even up to $5.00/gallon. While Republicans tell us it’s because of Keystone XL, the numbers simply don’t support this conclusion. Oil exports from the US have tripled since last year, and there’s speculation that if our exports go down so will the gas prices. The only people that stand to profit from the current situation is Big Oil. But, Big Oil doesn’t just rely on manipulated market prices, they also rely on political relationships to people like our Attorney General Jon Bruning. Both the oil industry and Nebraskan Republicans have made it clear that the interests of those on Wall Street outweigh the interests of those here in Nebraska. Read here
Obama’s Omaha Office: According to a tweet from the Obama for America re-election campaign they will be opening an Omaha office. Nebraska is one of two states in the nation that allow electoral votes to be spilt–the other state being Maine. In the 2008 election, Obama received one of Nebraska’s five electoral votes. Read here
You can also find the latest news coming from Nebraska’s Legislative branch here with the Unicameral update.
The Bold Roundup is assembled every morning by our smart and savvy interns.