Don’t forget tomorrow night is Bid Green to Keep the Aquifer Clean! Join us at the New BLK in downtown Omaha from 7-10pm as we auction everything off from local art to guided nature tours to local food baskets. Come out and be part of an exciting evening against the Keystone XL Pipeline! RSVP here. Here’s your Roundup:

Equality Before the Law: This week, State Senator Beau McCoy introduced legislation that would limit Nebraska cities’ right to introduce codes that extend the scope of discrimination protection beyond that of the state’s discrimination policy. The Nebraska anti-discrimination policy does not protect those who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). This bill is targeted at Omaha’s recent attempts to create an equal work environment for LGBT citizens. While Senator McCoy argues the need for equality in policy in all our cities, we argue the need for equality and protection of all citizens. Read here

The Need for a Stable Climate: At the 2012 United Nations Summit on Climate Risk and Energy Solutions, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who represents 11 million union workers, called for public action on climate change after slamming climate change deniers in Congress for ultimately threatening the future of our civilization. He clearly outlined the need for a stable climate as the foundation of both our global civilization and economy. Trumka called for more understanding between labor and environmentalists, as we work to fix our struggling economy and protect our planet for future generations. Read here

A Good Sign: On Thursday, Senator Senator Charlie Janssen, sponsor of LB239, removed his bill from the legislative agenda, citing the need for more time for to educate his fellow legislators. The bill would require Nebraska citizens to present a government-issued photo ID to be able to vote. While Janssen assured the measure would not go away, pressure seems to be mounting as a coalition of more than 20 organizations, including Bold, have stood up to oppose the costly and unnecessary bill. We’ll continue to watch and be ready if the bill comes back up. Read here

Resourceful Renewables: A recent report reveals that several states are using CEFs to develop new renewable energy projects and industries as stimulus money starts to run out. CEFs, or clean energy funds, can be created by every state and are supported by a small surcharge on electricity bills. Overall, these CEFs have generated over $2.7 billion and funded renewable energy projects like solar panel installment, wind turbine development, and biomass facility construction. While this strategy is fairly new, the report shows that these CEFs could become major sources of economic growth, building a clean economy, and not to mention, thousands of long-term, local jobs. Read here 

A New Face?: In light of Senator Ben Nelson’s retirement from the U.S. Senate, another possible candidate has emerged vying to fill Nelson’s soon-to-be-empty seat. Callaway rancher and restaurateur Jim Jenkins is looking to run not as a Republican nor as a Democrat but as an Independent. Jenkins has grown tired of the two major political parties over the past few years and now considers himself to be in between the two party lines. In 2006, Jenkins debated a run for the gubernatorial race of Nebraska as a Democrat Jenkins is planning on making a final decision after looking into fundraising abilities. Read here

Check, Mate: The “Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffett was recently featured on this week’s edition of TIME Magazine. Remember last fall during the national debt ceiling/possible tax increase debacle when Buffett said he was not paying enough in taxes? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a jab at Buffett, saying that if he felt guilty about not paying enough in taxes, he ought to “send in a check.” In his interview, Buffett offered a rather witty deal to Congressional Republicans: the billionaire has pledged to match one-to-one every dollar amount of voluntary contributions they give to the government. For Senator McConnell, he’s up the deal to three-to-one. Read here


Thursday, January 12th

The NPPD Board Meeting is coming up (tomorrow), and we need you to help us get public power back in the hands of the public. If you would like to speak at the meeting, you must call today! TransCanada made many headlines yesterday. Here’s your Roundup: 

Where Big Oil Spills: Last week, America’s top oil lobbyist said Obama will face serious consequences if he refuses to grant the permit for the KXL pipeline. Now, an independent study tracking the influence of oil money in politics shows unsurprising results. When the pipeline rider was voted on late last year, only 2 of the 118 members of the House of Representatives who list oil and gas industry among their top 10 campaign contributors opposed fast-tracking the pipeline. While this is disturbing evidence of Big Oil’s big influence in Washington, they aren’t the only ones with a say in these final days before Obama’s decision. Environmentalists, ranchers, farmers, businessmen, Democrats and conservatives are awaiting a denial of the pipeline permit. He needs to hear from all of us who believe in protecting citizens above money and oil. Read here 

Pipe Dream: Despite warnings from the administration that an arbitrary, 60-day deadline on the KXL permit decision would essentially kill the pipeline, Congressional Republicans pushed it through anyway. Now that it appears the administration’s warnings will come to fruition, Republicans are desperately looking for ways to get this pipeline into the ground. The GOP’s contingency plan for a permit denial is to simply demand a new extension, this time asking for more time (like the White House originally said they needed). The major problem we see with this plan is that the permit would have already been denied. Read here 

TransCanada Confused: Yesterday, TransCanada executive Alex Pourbaix made the claim that the company would have a new route in Nebraska that everyone agrees on in just a couple of weeks. Later on in the same day, TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard clarified Pourbaix’s statement by saying the timeline was more like 6-9 months. Pourbaix and a North Dakota Senator also reverted back to the overused scare tactic that “if the pipeline isn’t approved, the oil will go to China.” Well, since the oil is going to China anyway, this scare tactic is empty, and if Obama denies the permit, we can thank him for preventing the U.S. from being just a doormat for TransCanada’s export pipeline. Read here 

A Deceiving Democracy: Tuesday, Sen. Charlie Janssen wrote a response riddled with errors to a piece in the LJS by Adam Morfeld in which he voiced opposition to Janssen’s new photo voter ID bill. Janssen continues the myths about voter fraud being rampant in Nebraska, the costs of implementing voter Id, an the legal background of voter Id. Adam addresses this an more in a must-read blog. Read here 

Strange Bedfellows: When the Farmers Union and HSUS came out with an agreement to prevent a ballot initiative like those in other states while also opening up potential for a new market that family farmers can compete in, they received criticism from those in the corporate producer-government alliance. But this negotiation between two groups with seemingly opposite interests is not as strange as those critics would have us believe. The Farmers Union president of Missouri points out the tendency for “strange bedfellows” to be made in situations that require it. Indeed, back when Gov. Heineman and Sen. Johanns were on the side of Nebraskans in the fight against TransCanada, they and our own director, Jane Kleeb, were called “strange bedfellows.”  Bottom line: when measures have to be taken to protect Nebraskans, any odd alliance can be made. Read here 


Wednesday, January 11th

The Granite State is all abuzz today as pundits across the country analyze which candidate Republican voters dislike the least. GOP infighting isn’t only a national problem for the party. Here in Nebraska some pretty strong accusations are being laid out between Republican candidates for Senate. Here’s your Roundup:

An Ugly Finish: Mitt Romney stumbled his way to a New Hampshire primary victory after a week of gaffes. The GOP front runner, with an affinity for firing people, managed to obtain a victory with 36% of the vote. Ron Paul was second with 23% and Jon Huntsman finished third with 18%. The three candidates at the back of the pack, Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry, all pledged to stagger on to South Carolina along with the top three. The real story however may be the indecision that haunts this presidential primary still in its infancy. The vote is still largely dispersed and despite campaigning almost constantly since 2008, Romney still didn’t receive 40% of the vote. Mitt has won the first two contests but fears still linger that he is the candidate that Republicans are merely settling for. Read here

Attacked From All Sides: It would seem that when opponents outside your party and those affiliated with it are leveling the same attacks against you, there may be some validity to the claims. Jon Bruning’s inappropriate gift to “We Support Ag” is one such case. Bruning’s Senate competitor Don Stenberg agrees that this was nothing more than an attempt to buy influence within the organization. Stenberg also criticizes Bruning for becoming Attorney General for financial gains. Since entering that office, Bruning’s investments have tripled, and he became a multi-millionaire serving in the position. In addition, Stenberg spoke on the well publicized criticism of Bruning’s liberal past. Bruning’s former progressive leanings were about the only time Wrong Way Jon seemed to care more about ethics than personal gain; perhaps he should embrace that once more. Read here

A Recovery Review: There are many indications to be optimistic about the economy but nevertheless still cause for precaution. The 200,000 jobs added to December payrolls was a surprise to many economists, but there are reasons to expect at least moderate gains to continue in the coming months. Hiring practices in the nation are gaining to match job openings, which in recent months have considerably outpaced firms’ hiring ability. The number of jobs waiting to be filled dropped in November, a good sign for the job market. The new positions may take time to show up on payrolls, a possible good sign come January’s jobs review. These new figures contradict GOP claims, like that from Speaker Boehner, that gains in the economy are only from discouraged unemployed Americans exiting the market. Read here

Pay Raise: Nebraska state senators earn a notoriously low salary of $12,000 a year with the last pay raise occurring in 1988. It can be argued that the low compensation ensures that senators enter for the right reasons instead of, some would say, Jon Bruning-like reasons. On the other hand, it may keep those that would be great representatives for Nebraskans from pursuing a Unicameral position because of an inability to step away from their regular job for part of the year. This predicament has caused Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha to propose an increase from $12,000 to $32,000 a year for Nebraska state senators. Under the proposal, Nebraskans would vote in the coming election to approve or disallow the increase, leaving it up to us to decide how we compensate our Senators. Read here

Tuesday, January 10th

While the unseasonably warm weather has been nice, many of us are probably wondering when (if) winter will get here. According to climatologists, we may not have to wait much longer. In fact, we may be able to expect a frigid February. For all those kiddos pining for snow days, that’s a good sign. Here’s your Roundup:

Not Above the Law: Wrong Way Jon Bruning shows once again that he thinks he’s above the law. Michael Ryan, who is on death row and whose execution was already supposed to have taken place, has been a thorn in Bruning’s side ever since his attorney issued a challenge to the death penalty, arguing that his death penalty should be stayed because of the AG’s shady (and seemingly illegal) purchase of lethal injection drugs from Switzerland. In an effort to perform the execution with the shady drugs anyway, Bruning filed documents with the Nebraska Supreme Court saying Ryan’s challenge is “frivolous and irrelevant.” Bruning apparently sees nothing wrong with evidence that the drugs may actually be stolen property, or that the drugs were meant for test purposes only. Read here

Irreversible: Among the plethora of problems surrounding the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was the fate of the burying beetle. The Sand Hills of Nebraska is a perfect habitat for the endangered species, and one of the only places they live. When TransCanada barreled in and took the land they wanted from Nebraskans, they were also taking the land from the burying beetle. So, the beetles were relocated and a trust fund was set aside in order to comply with federal Endangered Species Act. Now that the pipeline has been rerouted, the burying beetle should be safe (keeping in mind that we do not yet have a new route set), but the trust fund is off the table. Disrupting the beetle, just like angering Nebraska landowners, is something that cannot be reversed. Read here

Tension with Iran: U.S. relations with Iran have been strained for decades, and a new tipping point appears to be on the horizon. The pressing issues at hand of course involve oil and uranium. In response to Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium, the United Nations has imposed economic sanctions, and the United States has passed a new law that could penalize buyers of Iranian petroleum if the enrichment is not stopped.  Iran has responded by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, which would double oil prices, and has now imposed the death penalty on an American citizen who also holds Iranian citizenship. Read here

GOP Primary Previews: Given that the New Hampshire Primary takes place tonight at 6pm CT, the many political gaffes by conservatives in the race to win the GOP Primary are hitting the airwaves. Mitt Romney showed himself to be even more out of touch with average Americans when he said he likes firing people, Rick Santorum’s prejudices were reaffirmed when he claimed kids would be better off if their parents were in prison than if their parents were gay, and Gingrich defended his false claim that adoption services have been forced to close down because of same-sex marriage laws. Despite his blatant elitism, Romney currently leads the New Hampshire primary, while the order of those following him is hard to discern. Read here  


Monday, January 9th

The weekend was saturated with GOP candidate exposure as they took the stage in two national debates. The first debate saw a Mitt Romney allowed to relax as other candidates lambasted each other, leading to no new discoveries. The second debate was a little harsher, with Huntsman pointing out Romney’s divisive rhetoric. Here’s your Roundup:

On the Upswing: A cautious President Obama tauted the December jobs report that vastly outperformed expectations. Unemployment declined from 8.6 to 8.5 percent and 200,000 jobs were added in the month of December. Obama noted that additional action needs to be taken to ensure that America continues to rebound. Meanwhile, perhaps because too few GOP candidates are willing to, David Axelrod took a swing at Romney noting that the former governor may desire a stagnant economy so that Obama looks bad. Axelrod noted that while Romney may not be short on talking points, few lack truth or substance. Read here

Trying to Catch Up: Oil companies’ government subsidies and tax breaks have successfully dug America into a hole of dependence on fossil fuels. Solar and wind are the energy of the future, and America must soon embrace that. To make that transition easier, it is time for subsidies akin to those received by gas and petroleum companies in the 50s to be directed towards renewable sources. Of course oil corporations don’t want to see this and are willing to devote millions in lobbying funds, but the longer we wait to take actions that really secure our future, the more difficult we make it for future generations. Read here

A Dangerous Experiment: With each new week it seems we’re presented with more horror stories of Nebraska’s experiment of privatizing child welfare. The whole process seems more like a game to Governor Heineman who refuses to take responsibility for the poor decision. The losers here are children, many of whom pay the ultimate price with their lives. New details show that Nebraska is being forced to commit another $1.8 million to Kansas-based KVC. The company has threatened to cut off services for over 4,700 Nebraska children, and their services are only becoming more expensive. This pressure has led to some Nebraska lawmakers to call the threat ‘extortion.’ No matter how you swing it, dealings with businesses like this are merely further evidence that child welfare privatization is a disaster. Read here 

Healthier Children: At least there is some good news for our children within the state. Senator Avery has put forth a bill to stop pop from being classified as food, eliminating its tax exemption. The combined revenue is expected to be around $11 million and would go towards programs preventing obesity. Read here