There was a big wedding in Britain today, and they’ve now got a new princess. Considering the glut of media coverage this has gotten, that’s all we’re saying about it. Don’t forget to comment on the State Dept.’s SEIS for the Keystone XL. Here’s your Roundup:
More Hot Water: Jon Bruning’s already in trouble for accepting (and then returning) potentially illegal campaign funds from TransCanada. But Bruning’s campaign finance foibles are quickly turning into a pattern. Now Wrong Way Jon is getting heat for defending David Sokol, saying the former Berkshire-Hathaway employee hasn’t done anything criminal, despite a pending investigation from the SEC. It’s tempting to rush to the defense of the guy who donated $100,000 to your atrophying Senate campaign, but it’s not exactly wise when you’re also the state’s legal eagle. Read Here
Terry’s Troubles: Lee Terry’s constituents are none-too-pleased about his recent vote to overhaul and privatize Medicare. In the 2010 campaign, Terry pledged not to privatize or reduce benefits in Social Security, but that hasn’t stopped him from attacking other safety nets for seniors. Folks at Terry’s townhalls are making their displeasure known. Some have called for raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires instead of punishing seniors. Terry said he opposes raising taxes in a tough economy. Tough for whom? Wall Street CEOs are still enjoying record profits. Terry’s still got townhalls in Papillion and Benson if you want to weigh in. Read Here
Overriden: State Senators voted 44-0 to override Gov. Heineman’s first veto of the 2011 session. Sen. Kathy Campbell’s LB600 will become state law without Heineman’s support. The bill has nursing homes pay an assessment to the state which is then reimbursed by the federal government. It’s a little complicated but is based on a model used in 39 other states. Sen. Council said the bill defends one of the state’s most vulnerable populations: the low-income elderly. We’re glad to see the Unicam grappling with the governor. Now can we get a move on with those pipeline bills? Read Here
Reproductive Rights: Who should have the right to recover, freeze and implant bovine embryos? LB686 in the Unicam would allow anyone with an emphasis in reproductive physiology to handle cow embryos. Dr. Bruce Brodersen, formerly of the Nebraska VMA, said the bill’s one more step in the degradation of veterinarians in the state. The Nebraska Cattlemen say the lack of available food vets means finding alternatives. The bill hasn’t been voted out of the committee, so it looks like bovine reproductive rights will remain in the hands of vets, for now. Read Here
Sec. of Education Arne Duncan is in Nebraska today visiting with Gov. Heineman and a few other state education leaders. We’re watching this one closely.
Thurs, April 28th
In shocking news, Superman gave up his US citizenship in the most recent issue of Action Comics, opting instead to be a “citizen of the universe.” We’ll miss the Man of Steel, but we’re glad he kept his American roots in his motto: “Truth, justice, and the American way.” Here’s your Roundup:
Going Gaga for Generosity: Lady Gaga has announced that she will donate $1 million to five programs that serve at-risk youth. Through a contest hosted by the Robin Hood Foundation, voters can decided just how that million will be split amongst the five organizations. Gaga may make some outlandish wardrobe choices, but when it comes to philanthropy, she is spot on. Lady Gaga, we applaud you. Read here.
Education Regulation: Tomorrow, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be in Nebraska to meet with Gov. Heineman, the “education” governnor. Nebraska school districts and the University of Nebraska both have pressing issues to discuss with Sec. Duncan (the affect of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind on rural schools and the restrictive regulation of collegiate distance education programs, respectively). But we’re interested in how the Secretary will react to Heineman slashing local education budgets and then using federal funds to plus his budget gaps. And we’re not exactly surprised that John Mackiel, superintendent of Omaha Public Schools and Heineman critic, didn’t get an invite to the meeting. For more on Heineman and state educators, watch here.
Price is Right: Nathan Yau over at Flowing Data did an analysis on prices in 2011. He found that relative to overall inflation (2.7 percent), transportation prices increased the most by far, at plus 9.8 percent. The cost of gasoline alone went up 27.5 percent. Education also took a hit, going up 4.0 percent. Meanwhile, the cost of apparel and technology went down this past year by 0.6 and 1.4 percent, respectively. Looks like it’s time to either go all out on clothes and iPads or start penny pinching for college. Tough call. Read here.
Hoosiers Harming Women: Yesterday, Indiana became the first state to defund Planned Parenthood. As a result, the state will likely give up its $4 million in federal Medicaid funds for family planning. Even worse, this cut would eliminate critical health care services for the thousands of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for their primary care. And to top it all off, most Americans are completely opposed to defunding the organization in the first place. Read here.
Trump in the Lead: The lastest Rasmussen poll of GOP primary voters finds that king of the comb over, Donald Trump, is in the lead for the 2012 presidential nomination. Trump came in with 19% support, trailed by Mitt Romney at 17% and Mike Huckabee at 15%. We have nothing to say but this: Nebraskans, please, don’t drink the Kool Aid. Read here.
Royal Wedding Madness: Ladies and gents, tomorrow is the big day! Prince William of England will finally tie the knot with his long-time beau (and commoner) Kate Middleton, soon to be Princess Catherine. Emily will be up at 5am to watch the ceremony live, and for those of you so inclined, NPR has thrown together an awesome timeline for the day’s events. Read here.
Wed, April 27th
The comment period for the SDEIS on the Keystone XL began on April 22 and will close on June 6. Make sure you get your comments in and let the State Dept know that Nebraskans do not support a dirty oil pipeline running through the Ogallala Aquifer! Here’s your Roundup:
Lala Lee: Rep. Terry talked about a variety of issues yesterday with Scott Voorhees, particularly focusing on energy and the debt. Terry thinks rising gas prices are the results of a conspiracy between the White House and environmentalists. He also says the Tea Party is a bunch of moderates, and it’s those mean ole Democrats who are extremists. Terry totally hearts Rep. Paul Ryan’s ridiculous budget that balloons the deficit and slashes social safety nets. And even though he’s voted to raise the debt ceiling in years past, he certainly didn’t want to do it. This time around, he wants to hold the debt ceiling vote hostage until the Ryan budget is passed. Listen Here
No Comparison: Congress is currently on break, and the national media is starting to pick up on stories of discontent constituents at local townhalls. Now some have been so brazen as slap the same label on those who are discontented with the Ryan budget (which privatizes Medicare) that they used on those who were screaming about the evils of health care reform in 2009 (we still haven’t seen any death panels). As the wonderfully insightful folks at Paul Fell’s blog point out, this year’s protesters seem to be far less violent and much more rational. Voters have every right to be upset that Congressional conservatives are trying to privatize important social safety nets. There’s a reason we don’t contract out the fire department, folks. Read Here
A Second Day of Ezra: It’s becoming undeniable, we’ve got it bad for WaPo blogger Ezra Klein. In this morning’s Wonkbook, Ezra breaks down the new GOP claims that Ryan’s budget transforms Medicare into a system just like ObamaCare. Well that’s a load of hooey. As Ezra points out, the Ryan plan would “take ObamaCare away from the uninsured who have nothing now, and impose it on seniors who have a system that’s working pretty well, even if it, like private insurance, is projected to cost too much in the coming years.” Thanks for the fact check, Mr. Klein. Read Here
No Tax Break for Tanning: The Unicameral gutted a revenue bill yesterday that would have exempted tanning salons from state and local sales tax. Apparently, the extra 10% tax on a $25 membership was just too much for the army of orange to bear. In fact, they held a rally over the summer to protest this unjust treatment of their cancer-causing habits. The tanning salon exemption is getting turned over to Wyuka Cemetary in Lincoln which holds nearly 1,000 Civil War veterans. We have to give major props to Lincoln State Sen. Colby Coash who proposed the shift in state priorities. Read Here
Stop that Barking!: Obama just announced he’s going to release his “long form” birth certificate in hopes of finally putting the birther issue to bed. Obama says he made the decision to appease the birthers’ demands so that the media and the nation could focus on more serious issues like the budget and national debt. The best Obama line from the announcement: “We’re not going to be able to do our jobs if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.” We’re sure Donald Trump will find something else to bark about until 2012. Read Here
Tues, April 26th
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes that the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) budget proposal is the “only major budget proposal out there offering a plausible path to balancing the budget.” Krugman writes that serious deficit reduction requires raising revenues and that the CPC budget, not the GOP Ryan budget, does exactly that (h/t Think Progress). Here’s your Roundup:
State’s Right: Yesterday in a statement about the Keystone XL pipeline, Sen. Nelson reiterated the findings of a Sept. 2010 report from the Congressional Research Service, which found that states have the final say in the route placement of a pipeline. With an environment impact statement from the State Department that does nothing to protect Nebraska’s resources, we need more than lip service on the pipeline from our state elected officials. Nebraska needs leadership, from both Gov. Heineman and the legislature, on this issue. Legislators must advance the pipeline bills and protect Nebraskans. Read here.
Boots on the Ground: A recently released Public Policy Polling survey revealed that only 27% of Americans favor military intervention in Libya, while 40% oppose it. What is more significant (and completely embarrassing) is that barely half of Americans can locate Libya on a map. Probably because they don’t have maps, either. Read here.
Prop 8 Pandemonium: Proponents of Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban in California, are calling for US District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that overturned the law to be thrown out because they believe Walker’s long-term, same sex relationship creates a conflict of interest. However, Indiana University Law School professor and ethics extraordinaire Charles Geyh believes that Walker’s orientation and relationship-status bear no relevance to the case. “It really implies it would be fine if he were essentially surfing at bars and had a new partner every night because he wouldn’t want to be married,” he said. “I don’t see that as advancing their cause.” Read here.
Obama the Centrist: Today, our favorite WaPo blogger Ezra Klein points out a surprising truth: Many of the Obama administration’s policies are dead ringers for the stances taken by moderate Republicans in the mid-90s and early 2000s. For example, the individual mandate for health care was originally developed by conservative Wharton School economists and endorsed by the Heritage Foundation, a bastion of conservative policy proposals. There’s some food for thought. Read here.
Mon, April 25th
We hope you had a wonderful weekend, celebrating Earth Day, Easter and/or Passover. Today, the White House is having their annual Easter Egg Roll. We’re too stuffed with deviled eggs and chocolate bunnies to think about chasing after wooden eggs on a lawn. Here’s your Roundup:
Nelson on KXL: Sen. Nelson’s work on the Keystone XL pipeline has mostly stayed out of the headlines. But his reaction to the State Dept.’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement is more than newsworthy. Nelson says that if Nebraska’s state agencies don’t comment on the SDEIS, it will be taken as concurrence with the inaccurate depiction of the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer. Only one Nebraska agency commented on the first DEIS. Nelson also says it’s up to the our state to determine routing of the pipeline. If Heineman doesn’t believe us, maybe he’ll give some weight to the guy who worked in the same office. Read Here
Wannabe First Ladies: Candidates get scrutinized from every angle during campaigns. But in a presidential race, you can count on the line up of potential first families to be under a microscope as well. Politico’s already digging into the the GOP lineup of potential first ladies and first men. Not all of the wives are thrilled about their husbands’ campaigns (Governors’ wives Cheri Daniels and Marsha Barbour are the most notable). Meanwhile Marcus Bachmann and Todd Palin are top advisers, and Ann Romney is more excited than Mitt for campaign season. Read Here
Senators on SNAP: State Senators Heath Mello and Jeremy Nordquist are living on food stamps–properly known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–for a week. Last week, Mello spent his $16.85 on wheat bread, a half-gallon of skim milk, peanut butter, jelly and Frosted Mini-Wheats (you can save some change by getting the store brand). The two young state senators are trying to show how hard it is to eat healthy on a food stamps budget. That’s why we support legislation like Sen. Brenda Council’s LB200. Read Here