Thank you to EVERYONE who called the unicam yesterday and demanded that our state leaders take action to protect our homes and water from oil spills. Nebraska is at the center of this fight, and it’s because of you that we’ve made headway. Keep up your enthusiasm! Here’s your Roundup:
Change of Plans: Working in politics, you quickly learn that 90% of the time, your day never goes as planned. We are thankful that today fits into that 90%. The Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been posted on the State Dept. website! This is the SDEIS we you’ve all been asking for, the one landowners flew to DC to demand! We’ll have a post up later today with a reaction from the 11 pipeline groups. For now, you can read it yourself and start sending your comments on it to the State Dept. Read Here!
Triple Threat: Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Gov. Scott Walker and Moody’s were all laughing it up together on Capitol Hill this week. Issa’s one of the leaders of the Repubs’ effort to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare, Walker’s the poster boy for union busting and Moody’s was at the center of the economic collapse. Together, they are triple threat to middle class Americans. They stand in stark contrast with the President’s budget speech that emphasized boosting the middle class and asking millionaires to pay their fair share. Mike Lux has more at HuffPo. Read Here
Killed in Committee: That’s how Julie Myers describes the Unicameral’s 3 pipeline bills in this month’s edition of Prairie Fire. After yesterday’s appalling news in the OWH that the Natural Resources Committee is still refusing to move Sen. Sullivan’s priority bill to the floor for a full debate. Myers goes on to describe the risk the pipeline poses to our surface and ground water. She even points out that while TransCanada likes to brag that Nebraska has 21,000 miles of pipelines, only 435 of those are oil pipelines. So TransCanada, stick that in your pipeline and smoke it. Read Here
Transparency Bill Stalls: A bill that would create more transparency in Nebraska elections stalled yesterday in the Unicameral. LB606 was introduced by Sen. Avery as a response to a loophole that Americans for Prosperity exploited this last November. The bill would require groups like AFP and Bold Nebraska to disclose any ads or mailings exceeding $250 that mention a candidate up to 30 days before an election. This bill brings transparency to our state’s political system. Right now, we have no idea how much AFP spent on unicam races in November because of current state law. We hope the bill is revived before the end of session. Read Here
Johanns is part of a delegation flying to South Korea to talk trade deals.
Thurs, April 14th
Today is our statewide Pipeline Call-In Day. Click here to find your state legislator, give them a call, and explain the importance of passing regulationg for pipelines that go through our state. Take action to protect Nebraska from oil spills. Here’s your Roundup:
Crying over Spilt Oil: A recently released CBS News investigation into the American oil and gas industry found a whopping 6,500 leaks, spills, fires or explosions at wells and pipelines nationwide. The amount of crude oil and toxic chemicals leaked in the past year alone is three times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon-Valdez disaster. The report was collected from three federal agencies and 23 of 33 oil and gas producing states. With results like these, it’s time that state and federal officials take action to protect Nebraska from the Keystone XL Pipeline. Join our call in day and let your state legislator know how important this issue is for Nebraska. Read here.
Healthy Food: Between the movement for local food and the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to get America healthy, food and healthful eating are in the spotlight. At Bold, one of our favorite parts of the food movement is chef Jamie Oliver, host of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC. Oliver makes amazing food while fixing everything that’s bad about how Americans eat. Right now he’s spearheading a petition to remove sugary milk from American schools. Move over, Cookie Monster. Watch here.
Child Welfare Stalls Again: LB95, which would require any child welfare agency contracted in Nebraska to have national accreditation, has once again stalled in the Unicameral. The reason? Apparently Gov. Heineman has informed the committee that the Department of Health and Human Services will voluntarily implement the moratorium. While these reassurances are nice, we would prefer a law the protects Nebraska’s children and improves its welfare system (which is one of the worst in the nation) once and for all. Read here.
Obama on the Budget: Yesterday, President Obama presented his plan for deficit reduction to the nation. This plan includes trimming borrowing by $4 trillion over the next 12 years by combining deep cuts in military and domestic spending with higher taxes on the wealthy. Obama’s plan also includes stricter Medicare cost controls. As for reactions, Dems liked it, Republicans didn’t, and centrists were elated. Read here.
iPhone Goes White: Rumor has it that the “elusive” white iPhone may be available for purchase in just a few short weeks. The device, which is an iPhone 4, will be available on AT&T and Verizon. The question now becomes with the release of the iPhone 5 creeping up, is a unique white iPhone 4 worth the plunge? Read here.
Wednesday, April 13
The big issue on the national level today is Obama’s budget speech. You can watch it on CNNlive.com at 12:35pm our time. We’ll also be watching the Congressional Progressive Caucus unveili the People’s Budget at 11:00am. Here’s your Roundup:
Of Corn and Cows: NPR has an excellent piece out today about the rising costs of corn and cows and the decision some farmers are making to flip their flex acres. Corn is hot right now and some people are investing while prices are still climbing. Of course, plenty of Nebraskans were interviewed for this piece. Read Here
Poverty in District 8: Approximately 14% of people in Speaker Boehner’s district live below the federal poverty line. Childhood poverty rose 6 points in 2009 to 19.1% — that’s nearly 1 in 5 kids! Yet the Speaker is leading an extremely conservative caucus that wants to slash programs like food stamps that provide help to the Speaker’s constituents. As Melissa Boteach, the manager of Half in Ten, points out, “It’s no crime to have childhood poverty and hunger in a district… But it is a crime not to do anything about it.” Perhaps Boehner should spend a little less time fundraising for Lee Terry so he can focus on real issues. Read Here
Blogger Breakup: Our favorite progressive blogger from the Washington Post is coming out swinging against Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) atrocious budget. Ezra Klein admits that he liked Ryan–he didn’t agree with Ryan’s philosophy, but he respected that the young Rep. took a policy-oriented approach to politics. Well yesterday, Klein officially dumped Ryan. He slammed Ryan’s new budget (we did, too) as morally questionable and completely unrealistic. Read Here
Children Left Behind: One of the unintended consequences of health reform is the disappearance of child-only insurance policies in state markets. Iowa’s in the process of fixing this problem by offering open enrollment periods. California has made it illegal to sell insurance in the state without offering child-only policies. But Nebraska’s insurance commissioner, Bruce Ramge, is dragging his feet by claiming he might not have the authority to help Nebraska’s uninsured kids. We’re with State Senator (and health care hero) Nordquist on this one. “At what point [does] this consequence (of federal reform) goes from ‘unintentional’ to ‘intentional?” Read Here
Tuesday, April 12th
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. It serves as a somber reminder that despite the partisan fighting we see today, our nation can (and has) endured much worse. Take a moment today to reflect on what government by the people, of the people, and for the people has done for you. And on that sentimental note, here’s your Roundup:
Passing the Buck: LB357, proposed by Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, would allow cities to raise the local sales tax rate from 1.5% to 2.0% to help them finance infrastructure projects and upkeep (since they no longer get state aid). As we’ve been saying all along, Heineman’s “tough on taxes” stance just passes the buck along to Nebraskan cities, which are struggling to keep up. Sen. Ashford’s bill sheds light on the fact that cities are either forced to cut their spending or raise their taxes. But at least the state government looks good, right? Read here.
Democratic Traditions: In keeping with the 2008 elections, the Nebraska Democratic Party has announced that it will hold presidential caucuses in 2012, despite the lack of competition for the nomination. The caucuses will likely be structured to allow participants to voice their views and engage in community service. By placing the caucuses on April 14, Nebraska will earn three (possibly 4) extra delegate spots at the national nominating convention. Open conversations on the issues, community service and more Nebraskan delegates? Sounds good to us. Read here.
Presidential Pangs: In a recent interview with Hearst Magazine, President Obama articulates some of the sacrifices that go along with the highest office in the land. When explaining that he likes golf so much because it allows him to get outside for a few consecutive hours, he elaborated that, “I just miss — I miss being anonymous. I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can’t take a walk.” We feel ya, Barry. Read here.
Let’s Do the Fair Pay Dance: Today, April 12, 2011, is Equal Pay Day. And to raise awareness of the 33 cent gender gap in pay, ten days ago a group of women comprised of students, retirees, working women, and others staged a flash mob in front of the Supreme Court and the Capitol. We’ve been fighting for equal pay for a while. Maybe dancing for our rights will have more effect. Watch here.
Monday, April 11th
Today is National Healthy Schools Day! The EPA is marking the day by highlighting research that shows a connection between poor air quality and increases in asthma cases. We say, all the more reason for conservatives on Capitol Hill to lay off the Clean Air Act. Here’s your Roundup:
Another Editorial Win: We were floored and thrilled beyond belief last week when the OWH editors demanded that our state elected officials roll up their sleeves and figure out who’s in charge of regulating oil pipeline in our state. Now, the LJS editors are taking it a step further and clamoring for the Unicam to declare the Sandhills “off-limits” to crude oil pipelines. We’re glad that pipeline activists aren’t the only ones singing that tune anymore. Read Here
The People’s Budget: The Congressional Progressive Caucus is going to unveil an alternative budget this week that eliminates the deficit, puts Americans to work, invests in our kids’ education, brings the troops home and is a fair deal for working families. Holy moley, we are EXCITED to see this thing. The soon-to-be-public budget has been endorsed by world-renowned economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. We’re hoping we can see the details of this progressive, populist budget before the President’s deficit speech on Wed. Read Here
Long, But Important: We’ve been working on the Keystone XL issue for almost a year now, and we’ve read pretty much every news story, investigative report and professional analysis we could get our hands on. It takes a lot these days for us to recommend a new article that covers the pipeline and tar sands. But a new piece from Ellen Cantarow has us riveted, so we encourage you to read it (even though it’s rather long) as well. Snaps for Ben Gotschall, who told Cantarow, “Nebraska farmers and ranchers were producing food long before we had the benefit of fossil fuels and we can and will find a way to produce food long after fossil fuels are gone. But we will never be able to produce food without clean water.” Read Here
Don Stenberg and Jon Bruning are avoiding Politico’s emails and refusing to weigh in on the federal budget debate. Why so silent fellas?
Finally, major congratulations to our Director, Jane Kleeb, and the entire Fleming-Kleeb clan who welcomed a healthy baby girl into their family on Sat!