I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill…”  We’ll be putting the School House Rock song on a loop in our office for the next few days as federal and state legislators submit their respective bills.  It’s all part of a beautiful thing we like to call the legislative branch.  We’ll let you know which ones strike our fancy and which ones exasperate/offend/infuriate/peeve us.  Here’s your Roundup:

Cost of Repeal: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (that’s CBO to politicos) has scored the GOP’s repeal of health reform.  The final damage: an additional $230 billion to the deficit over the next decade.  If you’ll recall, the health reform law reduces the deficit by $140 billion in it’s first decade, and $1.2 trillion in the second.  And in a fit of pure delusion, House Repubs are pretending like the costs of repeal don’t exist.  It’s going to be an interesting two years, folks.  View Here

Undocumented Workers: Clearly they were serving up fresh delusion in the Congressional cafeterias yesterday because two new House Repubs participated in House activities like VOTING and committee meetings before they were SWORN IN.  Why’d they miss the big swearing in ceremony?  They were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors Center — a location that is off-limits to fundraising.  Oh, and one of them participated in the House reading of the Constitution that morning.  Maybe his fingers were crossed?  View Here

Language, Sir!: State Senator Janssen submitted his immigration bill yesterday morning.  Even though immigration is a federal issue, “Wrong Way” Jon Bruning hopes bad bills like this encourage the federal government “get off its duff.”  We always get a good chuckle out of conservatives acting tough by “swearing” like our great-grandmothers.  The bill’s nearly identical to the controversial Arizona law that’s come with a hefty price tag.  Have we mentioned the state faces a $1 billion budget shortfall?  View Here

Wounded Pride: State Senator Beau McCoy has introduced a bill that would convert Nebraska’s electoral college to a winner-take-all system.  Right now, we’re one of two states that split our vote.  We doubt conservatives would be introducing this bill if John McCain had won Omaha’s electoral vote in 2008.  Once again, we see their obsession with control and domination shine through.  View Here

Heineman’s Hatchet: After being sworn in yesterday, Governor Heineman gave a speech to the Nebraska Legislature about the challenges the state faces, namely the budget shortfall.  Of course, Heineman’s given every indication that he plans a total hatchet job — axing every possible program without considering revenue increases.  Heineman’s attitude infuriates us because he’s attacking a serious problem with talking points instead of workable solutions.  As Preston points out, making the right investments might not be politically easy, but doing the right thing rarely is. View Here

The White House is looking for new interns.  We’d love to see more Nebraska students around the executive branch.


Thursday, January 6th

Millard is mourning the loss of a dedicated school administrator today as a result of a tragic school shooting.  Exactly 70 years ago, FDR gave his renowned Four Freedoms Speech (of speech, of religion, from want and from fear).  So while the House orchestrates some lovely political theatre on the floor by reading the Constitution aloud, we’re thinking about Roosevelt’s work to make the rights and freedoms enumerated in our founding document a reality. Here’s your Roundup:

Millard Mourning a Loss: A dedicated Vice Principal, Vicki Kaspar, was killed yesterday as a student opened fire at Millard South High, a school located in western Omaha.  We know the school officials are helping students mourn the loss of their Vice Principal and we hope all the students and families know our thoughts and prayers are with them in this very difficult time. View Here

Dessert and Desert: What happens when the nearest grocery store is over a mile away, and you don’t have a car?  This situation is called a “food desert,” and it’s getting attention amongst national food activists.  It’s also a reality for 2.3 million households.  Logically, food deserts lead to nutritional deserts — if you don’t have access to healthy food like produce, you shop at the nearest 7-11.  Fair Food Fight points out the correlation between increasing obesity and food deserts in the US.  View Here

A Bolder Nelson: Sen. Nelson called out health reform opponents in a call with Nebraska media, yesterday.  Nelson basically tells naysayers to offer a viable alternative instead of screaming “repeal!”  We hear after this positive press, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) made calls to local media, attacking Nelson.  Does the NRSC have no faith in their candidate “Wrong Way” Jon Bruning?  View Here

We Can Call Him a Candidate: “Wrong Way” Jon Bruning tweeted and posted the news on his facebook account yesterday: he’s officially filed the paperwork with the FEC to be a senatorial candidate.  Of course, the formal announcement will come in a few weeks and his website still says “exploratory committee” which leads us to believe that the FEC filing was rushed.  Avoiding some more campaign finance complaints, Wrong Way Jon?  Or do you just give your online communications that little credit (what would Sarah Palin say)?  View Here

Don’t Hesitate, Vaccinate: What doctors have suspected for years is now proven: there’s no credible link between vaccinating your kids and autism.  The Lancet study has been cited for 13 years, but yesterday it was proven to be completely fraudulent.  So, if you’re hesitating about vaccinating your kids, please don’t.  View Here


Wednesday, January 5th

Today’s Roundup will be short and sweet.  The new Congress is getting sworn in and our state legislators are returning to Lincoln this morning.  We’ll be greeting our state officials with a rally at noon on the West side of the Capitol building to remind them they can protect our homes and water from an oil spill.  We hope to see you there!  Here’s your Roundup:

Budget Woes: Open your news article with a quote from the Gipper (that’s Ronald Reagan to some of you) and we’re hooked.  The Nebraska State Paper is picking up on the big issue that faces the state legislature this year: the budget’s $1 billion revenue shortfall.  The NSP has a great guide on how to follow the budget issue and key words to look for in news reports.  View Here

All But the “R”-Word: Nebraska Watchdog reports that Somos Republicans is all but calling State Senator Charlie Janssen a racist.  Somos Repubs is calling Janssen out after he used the term “anchor baby” saying it’s on par with words like “wetback”, “kike” and “tar baby.”  That’s pretty harsh language coming from members of his own party.  The SRs have demanded an apology which Janssen has so far refused to give.  Thanks to the Somos Repubs and Bob Quasius for holding elected officials accountable for their rhetoric.  View Here

Live Well: We’ve been highlighting Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker’s efforts to get healthy on our facebook page, but Nebraska’s got it’s own team of get healthy groups.  Live Healthy Nebraska and the Nebraska Sports Council have issued a 100-Day Challenge for Nebraskans to develop healthier habits. Teams of 2-10 can register on Live Healthy’s website.  The Challenge runs from Jan. 20 to Apr. 29 so form your team ASAP.  View Here


Tuesday, January 4th

Only one day until the new Congress and state legislature convene!  Have you RSVP’d for our pipeline rally to welcome the state senators?  It’s going to be a nice day (for the first week of January), and we’ll be spending most of our time indoors.  We’ll see you wonderful pipeline activists real soon!  Here’s your Roundup:

Invaluable Service: The estate of Lucile Kilgore has been awarded $260,000 from the state of Nebraska for 30 years of unpaid work in the state’s juvenile parole office.  Kilgore worked 80 to 110 hours per week, living off her railroad pension of $1,400 per month.  The other stipulation of Kilgore’s settlement: the state Health and Human Services had to publicly recognize Kilgore and her service which they did in a press release last night.  Kilgore died six months ago as her suit was being appealed, it was delayed several months because of a premature appeal by Attorney General “Wrong Way” Jon Bruning.  View Here

Draconian: When the AP says a nice word for your 10% budget cuts is “draconian,” you’ve reached a very special low.  Such is the current crisis facing the state of Nebraska and our nearly $1 billion budget gap.  Governor Heineman seems blissfully unaware that we are in crisis mode. In the article, he essentially says if he plays with the numbers, he make the shortfall disappear completely!  Well I guess if that worked for Enron and Merrill Lynch, it’s good enough for our state budget.  The only solution is to both cut the budget and raise taxes, but we understand Heineman lives in another universe.  View Here

True to Their Word: As promised, one of the first issues the new House will pick up is repealing the health reform law.  Debate will begin on Jan. 7 with a final vote on Jan. 12.  Senate Democrats fired off a letter to now-Speaker Boehner that they would defend the law and its consumer protection clauses to the ground. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) plans to offer amendments that will force conservatives to vote up-or-down on some of the bills most popular provisions.  All this excitement, and we haven’t even had a State of the Union address yet (it’ll come at the end of the month).  View Here

Musical Chairs: Paul Hammel of the OWH has come up with the best metaphor for redistricting that we’ve heard: musical chairs.  Once the music stops, two or three state senators will lose their seats.  Because Nebraska is quickly urbanizing, the rural districts are expected to lose two or three seats to the urban centers.  Speaker Flood says redistricting is right behind the budget in terms of priorities.  We hope that means Charlie Janssen’s budget-busting immigration bill gets that shaft.  View Here

Nebraska’s new Travel Guide is out and available to order.


Monday, January 3rd

Welcome to the other side of the New Year, on to 2012!  Before we get ahead of ourselves, the 112th Congress is sworn in this week, and our own State Legislature begins their new session on Wed.  If you haven’t, don’t forget to RSVP for our pipeline rally on Jan. 5th to remind our elected officials to protect our land and water.  Here’s your Roundup:

Mad with Power: Don Walton gives us another glimpse into the agenda of the incoming state legislature.  Redistricting rears it’s ugly head once again which means our state’s electoral vote system is also up for debate.  Unlike 48 other states, Nebraska divides it’s electoral votes (instead of winner-take-all).  It’s just one of the many things that makes our state politically unique and brought the Obama campaign here in 2008.  With 2012 looming, don’t expect the NE GOP to hold their peace on this issue.  View Here

Defection: A former spin doctor for the health insurance lobby explains why conservatives won’t give repealing the health reform law a full-faith effort.  See, the insurance companies lucked out with a law that had no public option which means the tens of million of uninsured Americans have to use their services.  This, of course, turns into big profits for companies that are major backers of conservative campaigns.  But the industry will pressure Congress to “retool” the law by ripping out some of the very clauses that consumers like such as: insurers must spend 80% of premiums on actual medical care.  View Here

Food Fight: When we’re not writing for our blog, planning and executing political actions or taking a few spare moments to see our families, we’re scanning the internet for the best new blogs.  Our latest addiction is FairFoodFight.com — a political blog for the local foodie in all of us. The folks at Fair Food Fight are tired of corporations controlling what we grow and how we eat — is anyone else disgusted that soda costs less than most produce?  We’re thinking of adding a local food and farmers focus to our agenda this year, so this blog just shot to the top of our “must read” feed.  View Here

Local Control: When Pennsylvania failed to step up and protect residents from the dangerous natrual gas practice of fracking, the city council of Pittsburgh stepped up.  In the first ordinance of its kind, Pittsburgh has banned fracking within city limits.  The city came to the conclusion that the best decisions did not come from corporations empowered by the state, but rather people and their communities.  Insert “TransCanada” for “natural gas industry” and “Nebraska” for “Pennsylvania” to bring the message home.  View Here

Conservatives to Watch:  Slate’s got a Top 10 list of conservatives who will help define the political landscape over the next year.  Number 3 is our snake oil salesman, Kris Kobach of Kansas.  Kobach helped draft the Arizona immigration law that’s being challenged in federal court and the Fremont ordinance which is also being challenged in court.  We note that, once again, media outlets are failing to print/type/say that Kobach works for the legal arm of a nativist hate group.  View Here