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 20th
Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry recently commented that he “has been through the TransCanada rodeo before,” and that he supports the pipeline. Only a clown could think Nebraska can afford the risky tarsands pipeline that will cross our state. Check out a Terry as a clown. Here’s your Roundup:
TransCanada Routes: The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality released TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline routes through Nebraska. The routes will still threaten our land, no matter where you put this pipeline. Even though they do not travel directly over the Sandhills area, their primary route splits two areas of Sandhills. And if there is a leak, do they not think the oil will travel to those areas? The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality will now review the routes in a fair and open analysis using experts on pipeline construction. There is to be many opportunities for public input as well, so we will keep you updated. We must band together to stand up and protect our land, health, and existence from TransCanada and their dangerous project. Obviously the Nebraska Legislature didn’t do that. Read here
Promising Proposal: A Lincoln city council member plans to introduce a measure to provide protection for gay and transgender residents against workplace discrimination, just like the one that was recently passed in Omaha. Councilman Carl Eskridge plans on introducing the measure on April 30 and expects a council vote on May 14. According to Eskridge, he has the backing of the majority of the council. The proposal would amend the current anti-bias law by including gay, bisexual, and transgender identities to the protected list. Gay and lesbian citizens are already protected from discrimination under a mayoral order. We look forward to seeing this measure approved just as it was in Omaha. Progress is become more evident, and that’s something we are excited about. Read here
Goodbye, Senators: Nine Nebraska state senators bid farewell to the Legislature yesterday as the two-year session was adjourned. All the lawmakers are leaving due to term limits, seven of them after serving eight years. Several leadership positions are being left behind as a result; Speaker Mike Flood is leaving and five chairs, Abbie Cornett, Lavon Heidemann, Chris Langemeier, Deb Fischer, and Rich Pahls, of standing committees are leaving. The state senators’ service proved to make a difference across the State of Nebraska. Read here
Shining Example: Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash still plans on hosting musician and gun rights activist Ted Nugent in Nebraska as a legislative race fundraiser. Yes, Ted Nugent is the guy that made seriously inappropriate, in fact violent, remarks about President Obama at a recent NRA convention. In fact, Nugent’s remarks earned him an appointment with the United States Secret Service. Sen. Coash, you really couldn’t book anyone else? What a great way to lead by example. You shouldn’t be stooping to Nugent’s level, but we guess we can’t expect all that much from you. Way to be a shining example. Read here
Thursday, April 19th
Today is celebrated as National High Five Day. The high five gained its fame in the world of sports and has since taken off. Give someone a high five today! Here’s your Roundup:
TransCanada Trouble: Yesterday, TransCanada submitted a route proposal for the Keystone XL Pipeline through Nebraska that avoids the environmentally-sensitive Sandhills. A series of routes were submitted, with a preferred route, to Nebraska environmental officials. No one has seen the route yet, strange enough. Sort of how the Legislature jumped on board with TransCanada without seeing any sort of route proposal. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality hoped to have routes posted online as early as today. This pipeline proposal will threaten our land, health, and existence. We remain committed to doing anything we can to scrap this project. Read here
Prenatal Care: In the final session of the Nebraska Legislature yesterday, legislators successfully voted to override Governor Dave Heineman’s veto of LB 599, a bill that will provide prenatal care to low-income and undocumented mothers. The measure passed on a 30-16 vote. 30 votes are needed to override a veto. All mothers and unborn children, regardless of citizenship, deserve a basic level of prenatal care. We are glad to see the Nebraska Legislature stand up for unborn children and not punish them for a decision their parents made like Governor Heineman wanted to do. Read here
Tax Veto: Also in the final session of the Nebraska Legislature yesterday, lawmakers, with another vote of 30, overrode Governor Heineman’s veto of a bill that would allow cities, with voter approval, to increase local sales tax up to a half-cent. This measure will now give citizens a say on how they want to be taxed locally. A city council could place the proposed sales tax on the public ballot if it had 70 percent approval. Read here
School-Based Health Centers: Two attempts at overriding Governor Heineman’s veto of LB 1020, a measure to provide grant funding to allow schools to create school-based health centers, failed by three votes each time. This measure would have promoted children’s health and improve educational achievement. It is unfortunate to see our Legislature not pass this bill that would have encouraged healthier and more educated children across our state. Read here
Lethal Possession: The United States Food and Drug Administration recently requested the State of Nebraska Corrections Department return its supply of sodium thiopental, a drug used in lethal injection executions. Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office says the letter has no impact on the state after the court ruling last month. A U.S. District Judge ruled the FDA ignored the federal law by allowing sodium thiopental to be imported. The judge required the FDA to notify corrections departments across the nation that its use is prohibited by law. This whole ordeal has just been a mess. Maybe that’s why our state ought to be careful from where they obtain these substances. Read here
Wednesday, April 18th
Today, the Nebraska Legislature will adjourn a two-year legislative session where hundreds of bills will die. Lawmakers will also be voting to override vetoes from Governor Dave Heineman on four separate measures. From prenatal care for low-income and illegal immigrant mothers to school-based health centers, the power is in the hands of the Nebraska state senators. Here’s your Roundup:
Again, More Questionable Actions: In a recent exclusive report from Nebraska Watchdog, it was discovered Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman pushed to keep power over Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps’ job. Dave Phipps, a Republican, has made several controversial— and possibly illegal–actions in his position within the last few months. From closing down polling places to sending incorrect polling place information to voters, Heineman and Phipps continue to claim no wrongdoing. Earlier this year in the Nebraska Legislature, LB 934 was proposed, a measure that would have stripped the governor’s power to appoint the election commissioners in the state’s three largest counties. Not surprisingly, Heineman and Phipps strongly opposed the measure. Heineman claims if he lost power over the ability to appoint these commissioners, there would be “public doubt about the integrity of the election process.” Heineman, we think you meant the exact opposite…your power of appointing Dave Phipps has Nebraska wondering, “what were you thinking?” Read here
Equal Pay Day: Yesterday marked Equal Pay Day, the day women completed an extra three and a half months of work needed to equal the amount of pay men earned in 2011. Women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar–the reason why women have to work 15.5 months to equal the pay of a man’s 12. Regardless of gender, individuals deserve equal pay. Both genders should be able to afford the same education, housing, transportation, food, and healthcare. Read here
Senate Battle: A recent battle between Democratic Senate hopeful Bob Kerrey and Republican Senate hopeful Jon Bruning has heated up. Kerrey thinks Bruning was being disrespectful in his recent commercial (which takes on a radical stance, may we add) by not referring to our president as President Obama. Instead, Bruning calls our president “Obama” or “Barack Obama,” not “President Obama.” Of course, Bruning fired back, but with a weak response. Why not just show some respect, Jon? Quit trying to scare Nebraskans into voting for you with your commercial by vowing to defeat anything-President Obama. Read here
Dangerous Statements: Ted Nugent recently made several threatening remarks about President Obama at a National Rifle Association convention. Of course, Nugent endorsed Romney. However, that still does not give him permission to be disrespectful, threatening, and impractical. In fact, Nugent’s remarks earned him an appointment with the United States Secret Service. We cannot have this type of radicalism exist due to an elected official. Read here
Governor Dave Heineman signed the measure to restart the state review of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline into law yesterday. We are disappointed in our Nebraska Legislature and our governor’s willingness to bow down to TransCanada and their dangerous project. We remain committed to safe and alternate energy sources for our state.
Tuesday, April 17th
If you have not heard “Death to My Hometown” from Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Wrecking Ball, we highly suggest doing so. The song strikes back at abusive economic policies and practices that have left middle-class Americans wondering what happened to the American Dream? Here are the lyrics to the song and here’s your Roundup:
Paving the Way for TransCanada: After Nebraska’s passage of LB1161, the House is putting the Keystone XL Pipeline back in the national political spotlight. They have attached language, written by Nebraska’s own Rep. Lee Terry, that green lights the pipeline for immediate construction. The House Rules committee will meet on the extension today and the measure could be on the floor as soon as tomorrow. The “inside the beltway” chatter is the GOP is deeply divided on including this reckless language since it has failed before and is a political gimmick. We would like to remind our House GOP members that maybe they should tell TransCanada to apply for a permit first? Here’s more information on the bill.
Oil Market Manipulation: President Obama is expected to release new regulations on Wall Street oil markets that would tighten federal oversight. One of the main reasons for this push is the rising gas prices across the nation that experts tie to summer months but more to market manipulation. President George W. Bush launched an investigation of the manipulation of the oil markets but nothing was done to fix the problem. Let’s hope something gets done this time around. Read here
Opposition to the Keystone XL: In case you were feeling the pressure from friends supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, here’s a great article on why opposition to the pipeline is right, plain and simple. As politicians are beginning to take shots at the opposing political party it’s important to remember that not all of what is said is true. Yes, sometimes people can differ on opinions or ideologies; the problem arises when politicians begin to make statements that simply are not true. This article, from our friends in Boston, has some good facts and is a reminder that the pipeline will be an issue in many tight races this year. Read here
Confident Kerrey: Senate candidate Bob Kerrey is facing an uphill battle, or so NPR thinks. The article cites Kerrey’s absence over the past few years as a reason why some Nebraskans might feel he is out of touch with the issues in this state. The Democratic Party in Nebraska is down about 169,000 voters to the Republican Party but voters in our state have a fierce independent streak and cross party lines often. You have to ask, isn’t taking marching orders from right-wing tea party groups (yes we are talking to you Stenberg and Bruning) what makes candidates out of touch with Nebraska families? Read here
Monday, April 16th
It comes as no surprise that over the weekend President Obama received the Democratic nomination. Saturday was Caucus day for Nebraska Democrats and they unanimously nominated President Obama. As you shift your focus to the general election, watch this recap video of the GOP candidates from Saturday Night Live. Here’s your Roundup:
Growing Cities: A new documentary about urban farming in America is hoping for a 2013 release nationwide. The film is about two friends taking a trip across America to find the various ways in which citizens are developing urban farms. City ag efforts have exploded in the last 10 years as more citizens seek a better alternative to buying food that has been transported thousands of miles. The film focuses on the diverse reasons people have begun to grow their own food, even when stuck in the “concrete jungle.” The trailer can be seen on the website for the film along with ways to get connected with its release. Read here
The Buffet Rule: The Senate will vote sometime this week on a tax proposal that has been dubbed “The Buffet Rule.” The law will effectively require individuals making over $1 million dollars to pay a specific rate. The President continues to support the law and notes that it will help to start moving the U.S. in a direction towards keeping everyone accountable for paying their own share of taxes. Republicans, including Sen. Mike Johanns (NE), stand in opposition to the bill stating that the amount that will be generated by the tax is too little and will do very little for the federal debt. Republicans also wrongly state that job growth will go down if the government implements these fair taxes. Its time for Republicans to put their money where their mouth is. Read here
Another Attack on Women: A new law in Arizona places a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks. Arizona joins Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina and Oklahoma in banning most procedures after 20 weeks. You can read the Arizona story here. The law’s passage comes around the same time that Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman used his veto power to reject the legislature’s efforts to restore prenatal care. The legislature passed a bill that would, if necessary, cover the costs associated with prenatal care regardless of a family’s immigration status since the child being born is an American citizen. The prenatal fight in our state shows that we should never lump all Republicans, Democrats, Progressives or Conservatives into pre-set boxes. Many from both parties and all ideologies are for the prenatal bill because of health, human dignity and taxpayer money saved.
We Want Fracking Disclosure: States are starting to get behind new efforts to hold the natural gas industry accountable. Hydraulic fracturing is a process of drilling for natural gas that is stuck inside shale rock by fracturing the rock so the gas may escape. A lot of news has been generated over this process in the last five to ten years over the possible harmful side effects associated with the process. Researchers claim that this process may be the cause of small earthquakes, ground and drinking water contamination, and soil contamination. The problem landowners have been having when trying to hold these companies accountable is that currently the industry can be very secretive about their practices. If a landowner notices that they have cyanide in their drinking water (a chemical used in hydraulic fracturing) they must prove that it came from the natural gas well to hold the company accountable. Although, statutory loopholes, such as the Bush-Cheney Loophole of 2005, create exemptions for natural gas producers so they do not have to report certain elements like the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. If these companies are not required to report this information than it makes it extremely difficult to keep them accountable and keep the general public informed. A new push is underway to hold these companies accountable and give more transparency to the general public. Read here
You can also find the latest news coming from Nebraska’s Legislative branch here with the Unicameral update.