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.

Tuesday, February 5th

Tax Plan Hearing Wednesday: The legislature will hold hearings on Gov. Heineman’s tax plan (presented in two different bills) this week. Today the Omaha Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying it will not back either of the bills. Chamber President and CEO David Brown said that the tax plan sets out a lot of uncertainty for businesses, and that the bill could do the opposite of what Heineman says his intentions for it are. “The effect of the proposals on manufacturing and processing, hospitals, nonprofits and a number of others would be counter to their intent and carry risk of driving some businesses out of Nebraska,” Brown said. The Nebraska Farmers Union has also taken a strong stance against the tax plan because of the impact it will have on farmers. NEFU President John Hansen has said eliminating the sales tax exemptions could put some “farm equipment dealers out of business,” and that Nebraska farmers would see little benefit from the elimination of the state income taxes because it’s property taxes that have the greatest impact on farmers. Hearings on the bills will take place tomorrow at 1:30 PM and Thursday at 3:30 PM in Room 1524. Read here

Nurses Oppose the KXL: The nation’s largest Nursing Union has joined us in opposing the Keystone XL. Today, National Nurses United (representing 185,000 members) cited “serious adverse health concerns” when joining our ranks. In stating its opposition to the KXL, NNU noted that it is concerned about the health impacts of the tar sands mining process, the adverse health effects of a spill, and the impact climate change will have on human health. Read here

Showing the Truth: Noah Pozner’s mother chose to give her son an open casket burial. Noah was a six year old child killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Veronique Pozner wanted people to see the consequences of living in a society that allowed the Newtown massacre to occur. She invited the Governor of Connecticut to see her son, saying “If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I needed it to be real for him.” The journalist who interviewed Veronique questioned whether putting the details into print was ethical, ultimately deciding to publish what Veronique had told her—even the detail about Noah’s jaw being blown away. It’s really, really not a pleasant read. But then, how can it be? In the aftermath of the shooting, most journalists opted to depict it as just another statistic, another “mass shooting.” An abstract, far away, alternate reality in which “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” But stories like this, that actually show rather than tell, make it a lot harder to hide from the harsh reality that there really is a problem with gun violence in this country, and it is caused by both people AND guns. Read here and here


Monday, February 4th

#NOKXL: A new video features four energy experts talking about the KXL and why the President just needs to say “no.” In a little over four minutes, they lay out the “overwhelming scientific consensus” that climate change is happening and humans are causing it. They talk about how fully developing the tar sands will mean “game over” for the climate. Current lack of pipeline capacity is a limiting factor on the development of tar sands–the development of the tar sands is not inevitable, it is dependent upon decisions, like the one President Obama must make, to build pipelines or not. This decision will be the defining moment for President Obama’s climate legacy. A verdict of “no” will send a message that Obama is serious about his promises to take action on climate change and will begin the process of turning climate change around. Watch here

Stand for Women, Sen. Fischer: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed in 1994, and has been “extraordinarily effective” in combating domestic violence. It provides funding to state and local officials for “legal assistance, transitional housing, law enforcement training, stalker databases, and domestic violence hotlines.” It expired in 2011 when it failed to pass the House despite a strong bi-partisan showing of support in the Senate, and has been taken up again today for another shot at re-authorization. Without re-authorization, programs under the act are still in place, but cannot be expanded or improved. The legislation would broaden its coverage to ensure that Native Americans, gays, lesbians, bisenxuals and transgender people have access to anti-abuse programs. Nineteen of the twenty women in the Senate are co-sponsors of the bill. The lone woman who is not a co-sponsor, and may not even support the bill, is our newly elected Senator, Deb Fischer. We do not know why she (or anyone, for that matter) would be against this bill, and hope that she ends up supporting the VAWA as domestic violence is a major issue across the U.S. and in Nebraska, and expansion of it is beyond critical for the protection of ALL women. Read here and here

Decision Update: A Federal Official is saying that a decision on the KXL won’t come “until at least June.” Earlier estimates were saying that it could happen any day now, but even the State Department itself has said that a decision won’t be made until after March. That’s good news for us as it means the President will see the tens of thousands of supporters coming to Washington, D.C. in less than two weeks who want him to start off his climate legacy by saying no to the pipeline. Republican Sen. Hoeven, who, by the way, has received almost half a million dollars in dirty oil money, is saying that he will introduce legislation authorizing Congress to approve the pipeline if a decision is put off past April. Read here 

Talking Climate Change in NE: Today, UNL’s School of Natural Resources hosted a full day of meetings, seminars, and lectures on the topic of the recently released National Climate Assessment and its implications for the Great Plains region. The report says that “the Earth is warming 8 times faster under human influence than it has from the depth of an ice age to the middle of a warm epoch,” and that “the resulting climate change will bring increasingly erratic weather to the midcontinent region, which includes Nebraska and Iowa.” This means more years like 2012, which Nebraska farmer Keith Dittrich was happy to say “good riddance” to. Dittrich is co-chairman of the American Corn Growers, and says that while “farmers have always been skeptical of weathermen, it’s in farmers’ best interest to understand this and help move policy along.” Farmers in Nebraska are already taking a stand for us in the face of climate change…after all, “God made a farmer…to stop the TransCanada pipeline.” Read here