Happy Friday folks!  Compared to last week with the pipeline bills and attempt to repeal Nebraska’s Dream Act, it’s been relatively quiet in the state legislature.  Contrast that with the massive protests in Wisconsin, and it’s definitely been a quiet week.  Here’s your Roundup:

Labor Unrest:  The protests in Egypt kept us all riveted to our TV screens for the last three weeks.  Now, we’re glued to the blogs as we follow the organized labor protests up in Madison, Wisconsin.  Unions are filling the halls of the state capital because their Governor introduced a budget bill that would cripple government workers ability to bargain collectively.  Organized labor has become the Tea Party and Big Business’s favorite punching bag.  Now, unions are tired of taking the hits and really fighting back.  Our advice: don’t mess with teachers.  View Here

Feminists Unite: The federal budget is going to be the big issue for next couple of weeks. President Obama unveiled his budget for the 2012 fiscal year, and the House GOP has introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government going for 2011.  The Republican CR has massive cuts to family planning services, children’s education and nutritional help for poor and pregnant women.  Can someone explain to us how cutting WIC, which provides food and nutrition for postpartum, low-income moms, fits in with pro-life agenda?  View Here

Don’t Mess With Kansas: TransCanada likes to brag about how much revenue their pipelines bring to local and state coffers.  But, so far, their Keystone I hasn’t brought Kansans a single dime.  That’s because state law exempts them from taxes for the first 10 years of the pipeline’s life.  We’ve also heard that rural counties didn’t see a big economic boost during construction because workers stayed in nearby urban centers where the hotels had HBO (no joke).  Tell us again TransCanada about what a friendly and helpful neighbor you are because we just aren’t seeing it.  View Here

Wind Power: Nebraska’s newest wind energy farm officially opened yesterday near Humboldt in Richardson County.  The aptly-named Flat Water Wind Farm is operated by Texas-based Gestamp Wind North America.  Yesterday, the farm was producing 52 megawatts of power which is being sold to OPPD who estimates that 60 megawatts can power 18,000 homes.  According to our math, that’s 15,600 homes!  Construction of the turbines provided 150 temporary jobs — that’s about the same amount we’ve estimated that building a dangerous pipeline will bring.  View Here

The trial for Fremont’s immigration ordinance has been scheduled for April 2012.  The ordinance is suspended until the case is resolved.


Thursday, February 17th

In the midst of all this budget bru-ha-ha, our favorite politico Jon Stewart caught Rep. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in a bit of double bind for vocally criticizing the White House’s proposed cuts of $100 billion as chump change… and then supporting the exact same monetary cut in the House Continuing Resolution. Thanks, Jon!  And with that, here is your Roundup:

 I. O. U.:  After running on a platform of fiscal responsibility, Rep. Lee Terry is now sitting on a debt of $169,000 to the Republican National Campaign Committee. And Terry is not alone, but rather one of many Republicans who owe various committees for campaign funds. Before jumping on the budget slashing bandwagon for the House continuing resolution that is targeting Pell Grants, the National Endowment for the Arts, the EPA, and other vital programs, we suggest that Terry and his colleagues get their own budgetary ducks in a row. View Here

Pipeline Posturing: With the release of a report called “Tar Sands Pipeline Safety Risks,” which explains that the bituminous tar sands that the pipe will carry pose a greater environmental risk, TransCanada is doing damage control by turning to an Alberta regulatory agency which called the report “misleading.”  Aside from the report, TransCanada is also trying to downplay the predicted 7 cent per gallon increase in Midwestern gas prices as a result of the pipeline.  View Here and Here

Is This Real Life?:  Attendees at the first mayoral debate between incumbent Chris Beutler and Republican challenger Tammy Buffington might have found themselves asking that question last night after Buffington suggested that the city reject funds from the state and federal level that equates to 1.5 years of revenue.  Buetler explained that, “in the real world” the only way to make up that much funding is to raise taxes.  Watch Here

To Mandate or Not To Mandate: That no longer seems to be the question for Sen. Ben Nelson, who yesterday explained to MSNBC that he doesn’t like the term mandate, but that he does think it should be compulsory, similar to auto insurance.  This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard a call for alternatives to a mandate from Nelson, who proposes a system of incentives and disincentives to replace the current mandate. View Here

Tuesday, February 15th

A big congratulations to the Oracle of Omaha, who yesterday was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor.  Warren Buffett was 1 of 15 individuals who were given the the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  You can watch the ceremony here (skip to 24:30 to see Buffett).  Here’s your Roundup:

TransCanada Flinches: Up until now, we’ve heard nothing but TransCanada’s unabashed confidence that they will get a presidential permit to build their Keystone XL pipeline.  Well, yesterday they flinched from that stalwart position in a conference call with reporters.  One exec said they’d considering just building the Cushing-Texas leg if they continue to get bogged down. Another exec tried to amp up the fear, saying the current Keystone isn’t viable without the extension.  Keep peddling your snake oil fellas, ‘cause Nebraskans aren’t buying your scare tactics.  View Here

To Cut or Not to Cut: Governor Heineman’s found one state program that he’s willing to defend — the Nebraska Advantage Act which gives tax breaks to companies investing in the state.  Heineman claims that it’s brought more jobs to Nebraska.  Critics argue that the gains aren’t worth the exorbitant cost.  We’d like to know if the 18,879 are a net gain or a net loss for our state’s budget.  And would somebody please tell the Governor that tax breaks aren’t the only way to entice businesses?  View Here

Other Foot: We’d like to ask pro-life groups what they would do if the shoe was on the other foot.  Several activists were handing out pro-life brochures that the group has suggested for college students at a middle school in Grand Island.  Sam Schrock, the group’s leader, showed little interest in peddling his wares at Cenral Community college and said the group wants to go to the local high school and a K-8 school next.  Now ask yourself this: if Planned Parenthood was handing out safe sex materials to 11-year-olds in front of their school, how would pro-life groups react?  View Here

Breastfeeding Rights Advance: Senator Dubas’s bill to codify breastfeeding rights in Nebraska advanced from the general file yesterday on a vote of 41-0.  The bill will now move to Select File for another round of debate.  We have high hopes that this bill will make it through the state legislature and to the Governor’s desk this year.  Nebraska is one of two states that has no protections for breastfeeding mothers.  View Here

Single Moms Singled Out: A new study out by the PEW Research Center says most Americans still frown on single motherhood.  We’ve grown to accept divorce and same-sex parents, but a majority still frowns on a woman having and raising a child on her own.  Although the nuclear family is rapidly declining, there’s still a stigma attached to being a single mom.  We’d like to know if there’s a national stigma attached to being a single dad.  View Here


Tuesday, February 15th

State senators showed us (and education) some love yesterday when they voted down a backwards bill by ultra-conservative Sen. Janssen that would have denied young people the opportunity to get a college education at a reasonable cost.   We’re not sure if the love was in honor of Valentine’s Day, but regardless, we’re pleased.  With that, here’s your Roundup: 

Insurance Exchanges:  Over the next several days, the Department of Insurance is holding several public forums across the state on Nebraska’s plans for setting up the insurance exchanges.  Each session will start around 5:30pm and end around 9:00pm.  Nebraska needs an insurance exchange system that works for Nebraska consumers. We will be in Kearney, and we urge you all to make your voices heard on the issue in Scottsbluff, Kearney, or Norfolk.  View Here

Obama and the Budget:  Yesterday, the Obama administration announced its $3.7 trillion budget for FY 2012.  Proposed cuts include over 200 federal programs, but are countered with investment in education, infrastructure, and research.  The budget has a $1.6 trillion deficit, and will likely rely heavily on new taxes. The New York Times has a great infographic that let’s you play around with the budget and breaks down Obama’s by amount, contribution per household, and percent change from last year.  View Here

Viva la Revolucion: The revolutionary protests that began in Tunisia and spread to Egypt have made their way to Iran.  The unrest comes after particularly deadly month in Iran, which executed at least 66 people in January.  Iranian lawmakers have condemned the protests, which have been officially backed by the US.  After the Twitter Revolution of 2009, we suspect that this uprising won’t be put down without a fight.  View Here

Pro-Murder?:  South Dakota House bill 1171 aims to redefine “justifiable homicide” to include any killing meant to protect a fetus.  The bill, which passed out of committee on a nine-to-three vote, would legalize the murder of any person who tried to provide a woman with an abortion or attempted to take the life of a fetus, be it a a doctor, parent, spouse, or friend. The ambiguous wording in the bill makes for some very confusing law, which is justified as an attempt to make South Dakota law more consistent around the issue of murder and self-defense. This pro-life law is definitely an attempt reopen the dialogue on defining “life” and could be serve as a justification for the murder of abortion providers.  Since 1993, over 20 doctors across the country have been murdered or the victims of attempted murder due to their work with abortions. How’s that for hypocrisy? View Here

Where’s the Beef: The Obama administration’s attempt at implementing the toughest antitrust reforms within the meatpacking industry have been met with strict opposition by Republicans. The rules, which would better protect farmers from being pushed around the corporations that buy their products, range from eliminating discriminatory buying practices to reducing excessive financial demands on farmers and give individual farmers more power. The American Meat Institute, which represents meatpackers, claims that the regulations will open meatpackers up to litigation. We think it will just make them start treating small farmers with a little respect.  View Here

Monday, February 14th

In the Bold office, we’re split between Valentine’s Day lovers and loathers.  So however you feel about the holiday, at least one of us agrees with you.  One a pop culture note, what did you think of Lady Gaga arriving to the Grammys in an egg?  Here’s your Roundup:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Heineman: We knew we hadn’t seen the last of Dr. Jekyll and Gov. Heineman after the 2010 election.  It seems to duo is making an appearance in the Governor’s budget platform.  One personality is telling HuffPo he wants to invest in education and a quality work force.  But the other is proposing a 15% cut in school funding.  We wonder which personality would agree to be our valentine?  View Here

GOP Doesn’t <3 CPB: The House Republicans are proposing to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which manages NPR and PBS.  The cuts could mean a major digital divide between rural and urban citizens — literally.  Conservative cuts would mean drastically reducing or eliminating the USDA’s Rural Digital Program which is helping rural communities adapt to the analog/digital switch.  Flag on the Play explains why that’s a big loss for Nebraska farmers and ranchers.  View Here

Jen Rae Hein Gets PWND: Journal Star columnist Kevin O’Hanlon eviscerated the Governor’s Communication Director this weekend.  Apparently, Hein wasn’t too pleased that O’Hanlon used the term “gap” to describe the $1 billion shortfall that the state legislature is trying to close.  She’d prefer the term, “projected budget shortfall based off of the Legislature’s fiscal projection.” O’Hanlon consults State Senator Heath Mello who isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade or a gap a gap.  We’re guessing neither of these two straight shooters will getting candy hearts from the Governor today.  View Here

Speaking of Gaps: The Nebraska State Paper is reporting that the Nebraska Association of County Officials and the Nebraska Sheriffs Association aren’t feeling the love for Heineman’s plan to cut the Jail Standards Board.  In his quest to fix the state’s $1 billion budget GAP with one hand tied behind his back, Heineman is slashing every program within swinging distance.  The NACO and NSA say cutting the Board now will may save $350,000, but it will cost millions down the road. View Here