The Obama Campaign plans to release a documentary on Obama’s first term in office next week. The trailer was just released yesterday. Here’s your Roundup:
Pipeline Failure: Another attempt to ramrod Keystone XL approval through Congress failed yesterday as Senators denied a GOP measure that would have begun construction immediately. Despite a massive campaign from Big Oil to force approval, the amendment failed to garner the necessary 60 votes to pass. Big Oil was so convinced their campaign was going to pay off, they prematurely released a statement announcing the approval of the amendment. The coalition of people against this dangerous and risky pipeline is growing and, now with the Senate’s rejection of this amendment, our resolve to see this fight through is only getting stronger. Read here
LGBT Protection: During Omaha’s recent city council public hearing on the measure that would provide protection to LGBT employees under the city’s anti-discrimination policy, Husker Football Coach Ron Brown openly opposed the proposal. In an equally open statement, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman criticized Brown for not clarifying that he was speaking on behalf of the university. Perlman cited the NU Board of Regents and their policy of not discriminating against students based on sexual orientation. We believe the LGBT community brings a commitment to work and help Omaha businesses grow, but they struggle to do so because of the threat of being fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read here
Dems Unite: U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey now has the complete attention of the Nebraska Democratic Party following a joint announcement with the other Democratic Senate candidate Chuck Hassebrook. Hassebrook announced the end of his campaign and the need for the state to rally behind Bob Kerrey. As for Hassebrook, no longer an NU regent, he plans to return to his work as director for the Center for Rural Affairs and assist with getting Kerrey elected. Read here
Animal Advocate: A farmer in Central Nebraska is attempting to change the face of concentrated animal feeding in our state. Kevin Fulton is just like any other farmer, driving a truck and wearing Carhartts. However, he acknowledges the fact that it’s a disgrace to the farming industry, and it does not make a better food product when animals cannot turn around and are treated inhumanely in small living areas. Fulton has converted all his 2,800 acres of land to meet organic standards for grass-fed cattle, sheep, goats and even pastured poultry. Furthermore, in order to bridge a gap between the animal rights movement and the traditional agricultural community, Fulton became a member of the Humane Society of the United States and began planning town hall meetings with opponents of the Humane Society. Fulton has made impressive progress, all while standing up for Nebraska’s agricultural heritage. Read here
More Jobs: February’s jobs report was just released today and employers added 227,000 jobs last month. However, the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged. The job growth for February was better than expected as economists predicted an addition of 210,000 jobs. Most of the job growth is coming from private businesses. This addition of jobs is just one more step toward a stronger economy. Read here
For all the latest Nebraska Legislature news, head on over to the Unicameral Update!
Thursday, March 8th
Happy International Women’s Day! This holiday is held to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. Here’s your Roundup:
Child Welfare: Five major child welfare proposals were advanced from second-round debate Wednesday, while a bill reforming the Nebraska Foster Care Review Board won first-round approval. Changes included in the five proposals range from the end of child welfare services privatization, except in Douglas County, to a reduction in caseloads for caseworkers as well as the creation of a new system to keep track of child welfare information. It is encouraging to see the Legislature take this issue seriously as they take a step in the right direction by standing up for our state’s children. In addition, a new director of the Health and Human Services Child Welfare Division has been hired.
One Step Closer: State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh’s bill on state senator salary was recently amended and advanced on the Legislative floor. LR 373 CA was originally proposed to increase lawmakers’ salaries from $12,000 to $32,000, but the Legislative Executive Board amended the amount to $22,500. The salary increase would ultimately be up to Nebraska citizens who would vote on the measure like they did back in 1988 when they determined the current salary. As it stands now, the low pay makes it difficult for Nebraskans who aren’t wealthy to serve. Read here
Alternative Fuel Push: In an address at a truck factory in North Carolina, President Obama recently outlined new plans to promote the sales and use of alternative fuel vehicles, including cars and trucks that run on natural gas and hydrogen gas rather than just electricity. Obama’s proposals ranged from incentives for individuals and businesses to purchase alternative fuel vehicles and increased tax credits to include other types of alternative energy vehicles as part of his $1 billion National Community Development Challenge. By promoting the increase of alternative fuel vehicle production and use, our nation’s environmental impact will be reduced, our national security will improve and we will finally wean ourselves off our oil addiction. Read here
Occupy Rush Limbaugh: For today’s International Women’s Day, the Occupy Lincoln movement plans to protest in front of the Lincoln radio station KLIN. Occupy Lincoln hopes to raise awareness of Limbaugh’s recent verbal attacks on women and call for the removal of Limbaugh’s radio show from KLIN airwaves. More people are beginning to stand up to Limbaugh’s misogynistic tirades, as the number of companies that advertise on Limbaugh’s show has increased to 47. Read here
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Hassebrook is expected to make the announcement today that he will no longer run for the seat to be vacated by current Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson. Instead, Hassebrook will endorse fellow Democrat Bob Kerrey.
For all the latest Nebraska Legislative news, check out Unicameral Update, the Legislature’s official news source!
Wednesday, March 7th
Yesterday, Super Tuesday ended with Romney taking six states (including a slim win in Ohio), Santorum taking three, and Gingrich came away with one. None of the candidates are even halfway to the 1,144 delegates they need to lock the GOP nomination. Prepare for a drawn out primary season. Here’s your Roundup:
Chilly Response: Governor Dave Heineman’s tax-shift proposal received a rather cool response from state lawmakers. Heineman’s original proposal called for some $327 million in tax cuts during a time when the state’s budget was tight and several other issues, such as child welfare, should be addressed first. After realizing he would not have enough votes to pass his proposal, Heineman is taking another look at his measure. State Sen. Abbie Cornett, who introduced Heineman’s proposal, suggested the portion that eliminates the state’s inheritance tax and reduces corporate income taxes be dropped. Tax cuts for lower-to-middle income tax payers would still be included and the total cost of the package would be decreased by one-third. Read here
Transportation Bill and Keystone’s Fate: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently indicated he will allow a vote on an amendment that would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline as part of the transportation bill as early as this week. If the vote takes place, it will be the first time the project has received an up or down vote in the Senate. The 44 Senators who have co-sponsored the amendment have received over $20 million from the oil industry, proving how Big Oil’s money has corrupted Senators’ sensible approach to energy issues. Several lawmakers also submitted an amendment to the transportation bill that would produce billions of subsidies for natural gas companies. As for now, the transportation bill is stalled in the Senate.
Food Grants: Lawmakers recently gave first-round approval of a measure introduced by State Sen. Norm Wallman that would provide grants for a summer food program for children eligible for free or reduced school meals. LB 1090 would tap $140,000 of state funds that would bring more than $2 million of federal money to help feed children during the summer. One time grants of $15,000 would be awarded to service institutions such as community recreation centers and summer camps by the state Department of Education. During a time of food insecurity for children, this bill will provide the funding to ensure our kids are properly nourished year-round. Read here
A Rush of Opposition: Radio show host Rush Limbaugh just doesn’t know when to stop. Even after his verbal attacks on Georgetown law school student Sandra Fluke last week over Fluke’s testimony before Congress, he continues to blast women. This man knows has no clue how birth control works and has no respect for women. His viscious personal attacks have advertisers taking a stand. 35 companies have dropped advertising on Limbaugh’s show because of his misogynistic tirades.
Job Skills: In other news from the Nebraska Legislature, lawmakers gave first-round approval of a bill introduced by State Sen. Heath Mello that would offer job and life skills training to Nebraskans that lack skills needed for a career. According to Mello, LB 1079 will bridge a gap for unemployed and under-employed citizens. Under the measure, partnerships between nonprofit organizations and community colleges would be allowed. As more jobs will require at least an associate’s degree within the coming years, Mello’s measure will better educate the people of Nebraska. Read here
Interested in the Nebraska Legislature? Check out the Legislature’s official news source, Unicameral Update.
Tuesday, March 6th
Happy Super Tuesday. Today is when 10 states hold their primaries and hopefully we will be able to put an end to the excruciating pain that has been known as the Republican presidential primary of 2012. However, even some of the talking heads have doubts that the circus will actually end tonight. Here’s your Roundup:
Money Bomb #2 (but a good one): While wealthy TransCanada’s fighting tooth and nail to spend as much money as they can to influence our politicians, many middle-class Americans are spending their money to help build local businesses. Local consumers have begun to engage in what’s being called “cash mobs.” You remember when YouTube videos began popping up of groups of people that would nonchalantly go into a public space and perform a choreographed dance? With the help of social media, flash mobs became an instant internet hit. People in upstate New York have taken that concept and applied it to helping to strengthen local economies. Residents of Buffalo, New York, among other communities, have begun to flock to local businesses in droves in an effort to promote local businesses. Read here
Bruning still getting Burned: While Jon Bruning still contends that David Sokol has done nothing criminal, Warren Buffett is still assuming that the federal investigation of Mr. Sokol in ongoing. Now that the Senate race just got a little more serious with the addition of former Senator Bob Kerrey, Bruning’s got more reason to worry. But don’t let Bruning’s distance fool you. It’s already estimated that Sokol has raised around $100,000 for Bruining’s 2012 Senate campaign. It’s more than worrisome that one of the largest fundraisers for our current Attorney General’s Senatorial campaign is an area businessman that is the main focus of a federal investigation for allegations of financial wrongdoing. Read here
Economic Impact of Immigration: There has been a lot said by those on both sides of the aisle about undocumented immigrants coming to the United States trying to find work. CNN has a great op-ed from a filmaker who’s asksing people to think about all that immigrants contribute to our communities. The film is called “A Day Without Mexicans” and posits a U.S. society in which all immigrant workers from Mexico, Central America and South America have vanished. We couldn’t agree more with the article’s conclusion, “It is time to cease the mantras that enforce the idea that illegal immigrants are nothing more than leeches to our society, and embrace the realities of what these people actually contribute to our economy: a financial fountain we would be foolish to shut off.” Read here
Limbaugh Losing Favor: Rush Limbaugh has earned lots of criticism for his verbal attack on Sandra Fluke last week. Limbaugh verbally attacked Ms. Fluke after she testified before Congress about the importance of contraception coverage in health insurance plans. This law school student stood up for what she believes to be right and used her knowledge to utilize the channels of her government in an effort to make her life better, along with the lives of others. What did she get in return? A personal attack on her character from a radio host who clearly has no clue about how birth control really works. Limbaugh’s tirade seemed to have crossed a line with many of his supporters, and since his public assault on Ms. Fluke, Limbaugh has lost around 12 sponsors. Read here
You can also find the latest news coming from Nebraska’s Legislative branch here with the Unicameral update.
Monday, March 5th
Tomorrow’s Super Tuesday, when 10 states hold their primaries. The talking heads are predicting that it will be the day Republicans accept the inevitability of Mittens’ nomination. Here’s your Roundup:
Money Bomb: How much does it cost to buy our state legislature? TransCanada thought $500,000 during the Pipeline Special Session would be enough. Their 4th Quarter expense reports may have set a new record for lobbying cash in Nebraska (and we don’t even know how much they spent on advertising in our state). We always knew TransCanada was dropping serious dough in Nebraska, but seeing the hard numbers gave even us a jolt. The good news is, despite TransCanada’s spending spree, courageous and persistent citizens were still able to get pipeline laws on the books. Read here
ALEC Exposed: KMTV Channel 3 continues their outstanding investigative work on the influence of ALEC in our Unicameral. ALEC is a front group for corporations to write draft laws that state legislators then bring home and try to pass. Voter ID and Arizona’s “Show me your papers” law are just two that we’ve seen introduced in our Nebraska legislature–both from Senator Janssen. ALEC’s the worst example of crony capitalism we know of. Our state legislators should be pushing legislation that the public demands, not corporate-written bills that continue to give big business and their allies an unfair advantage. Read here
Child Tragedy: Three wards of the state died last week. 9-year-old Eva Gonzalez died after falling ill in a Bellevue group home, 11-year-old Morgan Wagenaar was killed in a car crash in Michigan and 16-year-old Jonathan Kennedy committed suicide at the Lancaster County Youth Services Center. These tragedies so close together is a reminder that the lives of our children are far more important than a few pennies in our pocket. Child welfare reform may or may not have saved these three lives, but it could save others and must be a far greater priority than Governor Heineman’s tax shift plan. Read here
Foreign Oil to Foreign Markets: Traditional media outlets are finally starting to pick up on the story that the Keystone XL is an export pipeline. In weekend column, Bloomberg writer Jonathan Alter confronts pipeline myths that Republicans have spread on behalf of TransCanada. Many Nebraskans are already familiar with the facts: that the pipeline will actually increase prices at the pump and will create far fewer jobs than TransCanada promises. Alter also slams Republicans’ double standards, pointing out that they criticize the auto-bailout which saved 1.5 million jobs. Read here
Bank of Romney: Like any good conservative, Romney hates pork barrel projects. Well, at least the Romney of 2012 does. The Romney of 2002, who was running for Governor of Massachusetts, actually touted his DC connections and ability to score hundreds of millions of dollars to bailout the Salt Lake Olympics. It’s not like we’re hurting for examples of Mittens contradicting himself, so we’ll just remind folks that this is the guy our Governor has endorsed for President of the United States. Read here
Prop 8 the Play: The fight around Prop 8 in California, a ballot initiative which passed in 2008 and banned same sex marriage, has been quite the story. It was challenged in the California courts and found to be unconstitutional. But most Americans don’t know about the legal battle of Prop 8 because anti-same sex marriage advocates have fought to keep the videos of the trial from going public. Thankfully, the American Federation for Equal Rights teamed up with Dustin Lance Black (the screenwriter behind “Milk”) to create the play “8.” AFER livestreamed a stage reading with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Martin Sheen, Jane Lynch and Christine Lahti over the weekend, and it’s available on YouTube this week. We highly recommend watching this beautiful piece about the fight for marriage equality. Watch here
You can also find the latest news coming from Nebraska’s Legislative branch here with the Unicameral update.
The Bold Roundup is assembled every morning by our smart and savvy interns.