The federal government is gearing up for a shutdown if Congress doesn’t pass a budget or stopgap measure before midnight tonight.  In all this hullabaloo, we have to cheer on Sen. Ben Nelson who is refusing to accept pay during a shutdown.  The rest of the Nebraska delegation has remained silent on the issue.  Here’s your Roundup:


Peter Foster Gets It Wrong: The OWH is running an Op-Ed from the Financial Post today that claims the Keystone XL pipeline is “safe and sound.”  The author, Peter Foster, tries to claim that the NY Times editorial opposing the Keystone XL last weekend is a hatchet job that gets it all wrong.  We have multiple grounds on which we disagree with this op-ed, though our primary complaint is that Foster made us feel neither safe nor sound about the pipeline.  We know you awesome activists will send off some awesome Letters to the Editor in response.  Read Here

Aid is on the Way: The Unicam advanced LB235 yesterday which would provide schools with $822 million in state aid for the next fiscal year and $880 million the year after.  That is a steep drop from the $950 million schools got last year, $150 million of which came from the federal stimulus.  LB235 has also been amended to include provisions from Sen. Avery’s LB148 which would exclude state funds from being used for lobbying purposes.  We know Sen. Adams has been working diligently to compromise on this bill.  It’s still going to be a rough two years for our schools who are already tightening their belts and making tough choices.  Read Here

The Dark Side of Charter: We know charter schools might seem like all the rage in education, but a new investigative story from ProPublica reveals a darker side.  Approximately a third of charter schools outsource fundamental school services to management companies.  Ohio is now suing White Hat Management for failing to account for how it’s spent public money and poorly performing schools.  The schools run by White Hat have received the equivalent of D’s and F’s on their state report card.  Unfortunately, the people who pay the highest price are the failing students.  Read Here

TransCanada’s bullying landowners YET AGAIN for easements before they’ve even received the necessary permits from the State Dept.  Further proof that we need state regulations on the books so that foreign companies can’t pull this kind of stuff.


Thurs, April 7th

Obama breaks his silence while TransCanada (pushers of the risky Keystone pipeline) threatens Nebraska landowners. State leaders, sadly, remain silent. Budget talks limp along while some are drinking way too much tea. Here’s your Roundup:

Obama Breaks His Silence: President Obama has not said much about the TransCanada pipeline until now.  Obama makes it clear that the United States imports a majority of our oil from Canada and that the tarsands oil is a totally different animal. He has lots of questions and hesitations about adding that form of oil to our energy supply, we obviously agree. Read Here  

Landowners Get Final Offer: TransCanada is making their “final offer” to Nebraska landowners before they take them to court to seize their land. We wish we were making up this story. The fact that our state–in particular our lead legal eagle Jon Bruning–is allowing a foreign company to bully Nebraskans when they do NOT even have a permit for their project is beyond us.  We will not forget this lack of state leadership and we will continue to stand with landowners as many of them fight back. Read Here

Brewing a Government Shutdown: If you asked who would possibly want to delay farmers from getting their crops in the ground or who would be okay with spending millions on a shutdown you would probably answer NO ONE.  Well, you are just silly then according to the Tea Party and many GOP leaders. A new video out this morning from Think Progress shows GOP leaders on camera routing for a shutdown. Rep. Ryan pretended his budget was the answer and we now know it will actually add to our national debt. It is crystal clear that the GOP budget plans are about their ideological agenda to protect corporate special interests and cater to the Tea PartyAt a time when we need serious leaders at the table putting together a serious budget, we need to stop the side show politics and get a budget passed that not only cuts spending but also ensures programs that work get funded. Read and Watch Here

Where Will We Watch Finger Puppets: Glenn Beck, famous for his finger puppet shows, dressing up in period costumes and radical conspiracy theories is officially ending his Fox News show (or he got fired depending on who you talk to). We can see many folks at Fox secretly cheering and Colbert and O’Donnell throwing things at the wall since they will not have material for their shows that made us all laugh and think. Beck may have started as an independent voice years ago, but in recent years became a dangerous voice in journalism. We are not shedding a tear. Read Here


Wed, April 6th

Lincoln’s primaries wrapped up last night.  Turnout was fairly low, just over 13%.  We know primaries for positions like mayor and city council aren’t all that sexy, but we hope all you Lincolnites get out and vote in the general election in a month.  Here’s your Roundup:

Question Settled: Today the OWH editorial staff is demanding, once and for all, an answer to, “Does the State of Nebraska have any legal authority to regulate the pipeline, or doesn’t it?”  We think a better question is, “Why aren’t our state officials doing their jobs to protect Nebraskans from a foreign company?”  However, we understand our claims might not have the weight we’d like — we can admit that we’re biased on this.  Independent, unbiased sources like the CRS memo do back us up.  We appreciate the OWH’s call for elected officials like Heineman and Bruning to live up to their duties, but we doubt their abilities to remain unbiased considering the FEC case about TransCanada’s contributions to their campaigns.  Read Here

CIR Reform A-comin’: State Sen. Tom Carlson is defending his vote to move the CIR Reform bill out of committee saying it can bring “substantial, meaningful, and comprehensive” — aka, exactly what Heineman’s been demanding.  Apparently Dave Nabity of the Omaha Alliance for the Private Sector is hosting a press conference this afternoon to air his grievances.  Nabity is famous in Omaha for leading the unsuccessful hissy-fit/power-grab to recall Mayor Suttle.  We can’t wait to see if this is the wannabe-mayor’s political comeback moment.  Read Here

Rosy Ryan: House Republicans unveiled their federal budget yesterday with the good-looking Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) at the helm.  Of course, Ryan’s budget (or should we say campaign platform) is based on a LOT of extremely optimistic assumptions.  Like what?  How about the unemployment rate dropping 2.5 percentage points, the still-sinking housing market roaring back to life and the federal government collecting an extra $100 billion in income tax.  And that’s just the first year!  Next, we all get unicorns.  Read Here

Let Them Hunt!: Little did we know that hunters, trappers and fishers are an oppressed group in Nebraska.  Fortunately they have a champion in State Senator Pirsch who has proposed a state constitutional amendment that would enshrine our rights to hunt, trap and fish to our hearts delight. Look, we get that hunting is respected tradition in our state (even Jane Kleeb’s picked up a rifle in her off-hours).  But so is ranching, camping and Husker football.  Kuddos to our favorite red-head, Senator McGill, for pointing out the pettiness of this proposal.  Read Here


Tues, April 5th

With their budget for next year out today, Washington Republicans go one step further in their plan to protect their corporate donors whose profits are already skyrocketing, while telling the rest of us that we can’t count on decent health care in our old age. Meanwhile, they refuse to compromise on their extreme cuts for the rest of the year, pushing us to the brink of a government shutdown.  Here’s your Roundup:

Mr. Monsanto: It seems that Attorney Gen. Bruning and Gov. Heineman are competing for this title, as they both attended events at the new Monsanto plant in Waco. Why was “Wrong Way” Jon Bruning, the state’s legal eagle, at a plant opening?  We’ve got the cynical answer: it’s a prime photo op for the wannabe-Senator.  Yet, our state’s most visible elected officials have done nothing to address the concerns that York citizens expressed about the Keystone XL Pipeline back in November.  At least we know where their (misplaced) priorities are.  Read Here

Al Jazeera on the Pipeline: The Keystone XL Pipeline is getting new international media coverage.  Randy Thompson, an outspoken landowner and Cindy Myers, two of our favorite advocates, are featured in great piece that outlines just how the pipeline will affect Nebraskans who live along the route and the threat the pipeline poses to our ecosystems.  Watch Here

Level Headed Politics: As Gov. Heineman began the search for a new lead child welfare agency, he encountered calls for a moratorium from not only child welfare advocates, but providers, and the Nebraska Foster Care Review Board, who all recognized a broken system that needed attention.  However, “Better Late Than Never” Dave didn’t listen until the Unicameral advanced LB95, which imposed a necessary moratorium on the agency selection process. Thanks to state senators like Sen. Kathy Campbell for “sending the Governor a message” to give Nebraska children the consideration they deserve.  Read Here

Malcolm X Madness: Controversy surrounding the death of this famous Nebraska-born civil rights leaders has resurfaced with the publication of a new, revealing biography written by Dr. Manning Marable.  New details about Malcolm X range from claims that his assassins are still alive to the possibility that he had a white male partner.  Regardless, we hear the book is a great read and pays attention to one of America’s strongest advocates for equality.  Read Here

Budget Games: Our legislators down in DC might be playing budget games, but with the new XBox Kinect game Budget Climb, you can too. The game places players in an environment that physically reflects 26 years of federal spending… and then lets them physcially scale the massive blocks that represent that spending.  Read Here

Safe and Secure: The FEC has given approval for Lee Terry to use $5,000 in campaign funds to upgrade his home security.  We may disagree with Terry on most of his legislative policies, but you won’t see any disagreement from us on this expenditure.  Protecting one’s family is always priority number one.  Politics can be an emotional and heated arena, as we all witnessed with the tragedy in Arizona. There is no place for threats of any kind in politics.  Read Here


Mon, April 4th

It’s going to be a busy day for activists and politicos.  President Obama has officially announced the start of his reelection campaign, it’s the 43rd anniversary of MLK Jr. assassination, there will be labor rallies across the country and the Cornhusker state will have wind gusts of up to 35 mph.  Hold onto your hats, folks, because here’s your Roundup!:

Unbelievable: Less than a month after telling media outlets that our director, Jane Kleeb, needs to do her homework, Gov. Heineman is proving that he failed to do his.  In response to the CRS memo pipeline groups uncovered that shows states DO have the authority to regulate pipelines, Heineman’s office is saying, “No comment.”  Hey Governor, if you’re going to run your mouth off about pipeline regulation and jurisdiction, don’t you think you should do your homework first?  Ba-zing!  Read Here

And Another Thing, Gov: If you think we’re harsh on Heineman, just wait until you read Preston Tsarev’s scathing reaction to the Gov.’s announcement that he wants to woo Caterpillar, Inc. Caterpillar is upset that Illinois is going to raise its income tax rate to pay for things like schools, roads and health care.  How’s Heineman plan on bringing the manufacturing giant here?  By promising to not raise a single tax so that Caterpillar can use our infrastructure without paying their fair share.   It’s just the sort of “Race to the Bottom” economic development strategy that makes us mouth off even more.  Read Here

Change Coming for NPPD: The heat is turning up for NPPD to use more green energy and move away from dirty fuel like coal to power Nebraska homes.  The public power giant has been slow to switch to a greener energy system because of cheap coal and expensive renewable sources.  New federal regulations for coal plants, may mean big changes like installing smart grids.  We hope our public power boards and fellow Nebraskans see this as an opportunity to be more innovative with our energy rather than as an obstacle to dirt cheap electricity. Read Here

A Healthier Nebraska: We were ecstatic when we heard the State Sen. Council’s bill that would make healthy food more available to all Nebraskans has moved up for another round of debate at the Unicam.  LB200 would study food deserts in Nebraska and provide funding to ameliorate neighborhoods, towns and counties where food deserts are found.  Access to healthy food is a right, not a privilege, and we’re glad to see that Sen. Council advancing that right in our state.  Read Here