Happy Friday, Bold Readers!  We hope you all enjoyed the luck o’ the Irish yesterday. You don’t have to let the weekend be a drag just because Thursday was St. Patty’s.  This weekend is Sherlock Holmes Weekend.  We’ll get you started with our Holmes-themed Roundup.  Can you deduce each heading’s origin?:

Elementary, Dear Watson: Gov. Heineman has a way to save $60 million over the next 2 years — cut Medicaid rates.  Of course, the Nebraska Medical Association isn’t too pleased because Medicaid reimbursement rates are already so low that doctors won’t accept new Medicaid patients.  So people can be denied access to medical care until they reach a crisis point, at which time we will ALL pay more.  Meanwhile, the Governor is threatening to veto a tobacco tax increase that would increase health and state revenue.  It’s a penny-wise and pound-foolish outlook from Heineman.  Listen Here

Three Pipe Problem: If Medicaid and the tobacco tax are pipes one and two, then pay at HHS is pipe three for Heineman.  While he’s threatening to cut Medicaid and veto a tax increase on tobacco products, he’s also refusing to trim salaries at the Dept. of Health and Human Services. State Sen. Gwen Howard has a bill that would trim HHS salaries since many of their services, like child welfare, are being farmed out to private companies (which is another debate entirely).  The director of Children and Family Services is pulling $118,000 a year.  View Here

A Singular Set of People: Farmers in Wisconsin are taking over the capital city with their tractors.  Members of the Wisconsin Farmers Union are joining the month-long protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s work to strip workers of collective bargaining rights.  The recent law is a direct attack on rural Wisconsin.  It threatens “Badgercare” which 1 in 7 farm families depends on for health coverage.  Walker’s “budget repairs” would slash $800 million from public schools which means each farmer pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased property taxes, or rural schools get cut.  We stand in solidarity with Wisconsin farmers!  View Here

Data, Data, Data: The Unicameral’s Redistricting Committee has introduced a resolution to guide their efforts to redraw district boundaries for the state.  Guidelines would include: using 2010 Census data (which is the whole point of the census), creating districts that are equal in population and not favoring any political party.  It’s that last guideline that we’ll be watching the closest.  View Here


Thurs, March 17th

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all!  We hope that you celebrate with green beer, green clothing, and (for Emily and Nebraska’s other little monsters) an excellent performance by Lady Gaga at the Qwest Center this evening. Here’s your Roundup:

Nuclear Reactions:  In response to the nuclear disaster created by the recent earthquakes and a resulting tsunami that damaged Japanese nuclear power plants, the US State Department has officially authorized the evacuation of Americans from Japan.  The State Department has taken a tougher stance on the worsening nuclear crisis and warns US citizens to defer all non-essential travel to any part of Japan.  View Here

Pipeline Distractions: Despite the attempts by Gov. Heineman to politicize the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline yesterday, the fact remains that Bold Nebraska, landowners, and citizens of this state are asking our elected officials basic questions.  We want them to protect our land and water by passing regulations that would reroute the pipeline from the Sandhills and to ensure our land and water are safe when an oil spill happens.  Senator Johanns and Senator Nelson and 21 state senators agree with us.  Name-calling on the part of our governor doesn’t change the fact that it’s been over a year, and Nebraskans have yet to see decisive leadership from him on the pipeline.  View Here

(Non)Budget Hurting Businesses:  Yesterday, Sen. Ben Nelson explained to reporters that continual stop-gap funding, which is currently the only thing keeping the government running, is harming businesses because it creates uncertainty and discourages investment.  We couldn’t agree more. On Tuesday, the government approved another stop-gap measure that funds the government through April 5, hopefully for the last time. View here.

March Madness:  For the basketball fans out there, we have a recommendation before you make your brackets.  Nate Silver of Five-Thirty-Eight is a whiz at electoral political probabilities, and he is now applying those talents for good rather than evil.  Five-Thirty-Eight has a series of great pieces on the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tourney.  If you’re in it to win it, you better read Nate’s analysis first.  View Here


Wednesday, March 16th

We’re keeping today’s Roundup short and sweet because we’ve got a press conference this afternoon regarding new pipeline events. We’ll share our reactions to recent developments in the State Dept and our Unicameral at 2:30 in the Capitol Rotunda.  Here’s your Roundup:

Pipeline Update: Less than a week after our DC visit, the State Dept. is demanding a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement which was exactly what we asked of them. Congrats to all of you who kept up the pressure!  This is a DIRECT RESULT of your action.  In Nebraska, 6 members of the Natural Resources Committee are sitting on their hands, refusing to push forward common sense protections for landowners.  It’s a sad day for our state government when elected officials side with a foreign company over Nebraskans.

NPPD Wants to Help: The earthquake and tsunami in Japan are causing catastrophic problems at nuclear energy plants in the island nation.  OPPD and NPPD want to help.  They’re working the Nuclear Energy Institute to prepare a list of supplies that would help the energy crisis.  No aide’s been sent yet because it’s up to Japan to ask the institute for help.  View Here

Committee from Koch: Yesterday the House energy committee voted 3 times against amendments that would recognize climate change as real despite overwhelming scientific evidence.  Then 31 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted for a bill to repeal the EPA’s scientific endangerment finding on greenhouse pollution.  Combined, the 34 reps have received over $300,000 from Koch Industries which vehemently denies climate change and funds Tea Party groups.  Nebraska’s very own Lee Terry is on the committee and continues to embrace the Koch view of denying climate change.  View Here

Double Talk: The new director of the Nebraska branch of Americans for Prosperity (a Koch-funded group) Mike Friend can’t seem to get his story straight in an on-camera interview with Nebraska Watchdog.  Friend opens by saying his group’s work to reform the CIR is not about eliminating collective bargaining.  One YouTube minute later, Friend says CIR reform is one chunk of “the whole apple” that is elimination of collective bargaining.  Kyle Michaelis breaks it down further at New Nebraska Network.  View Here


Tuesday, March 15

We’ll be joining our labor pals in Lincoln and Omaha at the “Defend the Dream” rallies. There’s a slight chance of rain this evening, but we know labor supporters are a hardy crew who cannot be deterred by wind or rain or snow.  Click here for the details if you want to join us.  Here’s your Roundup:

BSDC Update: One unit of the Beatrice State Developmental Center has been recertified to receive Medicaid funding.  It’s great that this important service is being restored.  But let’s not forget that under Heineman and Johanns we lost lives and because of their polices vulnerable residents were pushed out of the center.  BSDC used to a be a gold standard of care, serving 2,000 Nebraskans to a couple hundred under Heineman and now only 24, shameful.  View Here

Foxy Election System: Kudos to Adam Morfeld at Nebraska Election Watch for pointing out a gaping hole in our state election system.  As Morfel puts it, “In Nebraska we let the fox guard the hens.”  This is because our three most populous counties election commissioners are appointed by the governor have no uniform guidelines coming from the NE Secretary of State.  The current Douglas EC goes so far as to BRAG on his website that he used to work for Rep. Lee Terry. Don’t we want our elections to at least appear to be run on by non-partisan officials?  View Here

Moul Returns: Maxine Moul is a former Lt. Gov. (under Nelson) and is now running the USDA Rural Development program in Nebraska.  She’s got a stellar op-ed in the Kearney Hub about rural development and how her organization is preparing for potential budget cuts from the federal government.  Keep up the awesome work to keep our rural communities going, Moul and co!  View Here 

TransCanada’s Scam: Most of us a paying a pretty price at the pump these days because unrest in the Middle East.  But prices could up EVEN FURTHER if the Keystone XL gets built.  US farmers currently dish out $12.4 billion every year for gas.  That could jump to $15 billion as soon as 2012 if the Keystone XL gets approved.  TransCanada likes to market itself as our “friendly neighbor to the north.”  What kind of friendly neighbor tries to pull this highway robbery?  View Here


Monday, March 14th

In case you hadn’t heard, a devastating earthquake has rocked Japan.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people.  You can send aide by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 or donating on the Red Cross’s cause page on facebook.  Here’s your Roundup:

GOP Youth Vote: Unsavvy politicians like to profile the youth vote as heavily Democratic, liberal-leaning hippies.  As Juan Williams points out in The Hill, they do so at their own risk.  A new PEW Research study shows that the youth vote has swung from 62% to 54% identifying as Dems since 2008 and gone up from 30% to 40% identifying as Repubs.  And after the 2010 midterms, the national GOP has a much younger face.  So why are conservative operatives across the country trying to suppress the youth vote?  View Here

Power Outage: Construction on the power lines for the Keystone XL have been delayed. TransCanada has told NPPD that they want to suspend work until 2012.  NPPD rep Tom Kent says the major concern is the Burying Beetle which is an endangered species in northern Nebraska.  We have a feeling it’s more that intense ground opposition coming from amazing activists like YOU has put a kink in the oil giant’s fast-track plans.  We still want to see NPPD build transmission lines in the Petersburg area so that the new wind farm can hook up to the grid.  View Here

Stubborn: Conservatives in Congress are acting more like donkeys than the Dems.  Fringe ideologues are still demanding an end to Title X funding which provides organizations like Planned Parenthood with supplemental funding for services like cancer screenings and reproductive care.  They also want to yank funding from the EPA’s program to regulate greenhouse gases so that their big oil backers like the Koch brothers can pollute with impunity. View Here

GOP Not a W-T-A Fan: The bill to change Nebraska’s system of allotting electoral college votes to a winner-take-all system failed last week in the Unicameral.  And at least one out-of-state GOPer is applauding.  In fact, on the GOPUSA blog, he’s touting Nebraska split system as a forward-thinking model that the rest of the country should adopt.  Isn’t what accurately reflects the will of the voters better for us all?  View Here

Finally, happy Pi Day!