No one’s probably thinking “TGIF!” more than our state senators who’ve been burning the midnight oil the past couple nights. They’re already halfway through today’s agenda, but it could be awhile since they’re debating CIR refrom. Here’s your Roundup:
Christensen Takes Credit: State Sen. Mark Christensen is taking all the credit for watering down Sullivan’s oil pipeline liability bill to a simple re-vegetation bill. Christensen told the McCook Daily Gazette that he suggested Sullivan trim the bill down from holding oil pipeline companies strictly liable for any damage to just covering land reclamation. What genius! Why didn’t we think of yanking out all the teeth of the bill?! You can send your congratulations to Sen. Christensen by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (402) 471-2805. Read here.
Fischer Plays Senate Tease: State Sen. Deb Fischer is still toying with the idea of a Senate run like a barn cat playing with a fresh caught mouse. Of course, she told Don Walton of the LJS that she still has to consult with her family and supporters (not family and friends?). Fischer lacks the name recognition of “flashier” candidates like Wrong Way Jon Bruning or 4th-times-the-charm Don Stenberg. However, we think her bill to fund concrete over kids will make her infamous soon enough. Read here.
Nebraska is 46th: The Cornhusker state ranks 46th for its use of clean energy. We beat out such forward-thinking states like Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia. Clean Edge reviewed 70 indicators before coming to their final verdict. Iowa leads the nation in wind power with 15.4% of its electricity coming from the renewable source. Read here.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has announced he’ll seek the GOP presidential candidacy. We can’t even muster up faux excitement about this one.
Thurs, May 19th
It’s a late-afternoon Roundup today because we were tracking the Unicameral’s full floor debate on LB 629 this morning. The reclamation bill from Sen. Sullivan passed with 47 senators voting yes, 1 not voting and 1 absent. Several senators repeated that this is a start to a long process of implementing more regulation. We’ll hold them to that. Here’s your Roundup:
GOP Pushes KXL: House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans have posted a draft bill that would direct the Obama administration to expedite the consideration and approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The committee has scheduled a Monday hearing on the measure. “Outraged” doesn’t even begin to describe our reaction. Read the draft here.
OK Gov Gets It: Oklahoma’s governor has signed into law a bill that will protect landowners from threats of eminent domain from wind turbine companies. Now why are a bunch of greenies like us applauding a measure that would slow down construction of renewable energy sources? Simple, we can’t hold any energy company less accountable than we do another. If we are going to demand that Nebraska enact tougher eminent domain laws to protect ranchers from TransCanada, then we applaud measures to protect Oklahoma ranchers, too. Gov. Mary Fallin gets it. Why doesn’t Dave Heineman? Read here.
Behind ALEC: We busted state senators Janssen, Christensen and McCoy two months ago for introducing copycat legislation written by groups like ALEC. Now the group People for the American Way is pulling back the curtain on ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). ALEC is basically a hub for power hungry corporations to find stooges in state legislatures who will pass bills that balloon their bottom lines without regard for workers’ rights. The law firm behind ALEC tenaciously defended the tobacco industry back in the day. Is it any wonder that Koch Industries is on the board of directors? Read here.
Gingrich Gets Glittered: GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich got showered with glitter on Tuesday. A young gay rights activist named Nick Espinosa challenged the candidate to “Feel the rainbow” and “Stop the hate.” Espinosa was of course promptly escorted out, but we can’t imagine anyone would be too incensed over a shower of sparkles. The best part? It was all caught on video. Watch here.
Wed, May 17th
Sen. Sullivan’s bill on re-vegetation after pipeline companies dig up land is on today’s legislative agenda for floor debate. We don’t know where the entire Unicam stands on the issue, so make sure you call your senator and tell him/her to support LB 629. This bill is a small step in the huge leaps we need to make as a state to keep our land and water safe. Here’s your Roundup:
Gov of the GOP: Reforming the CIR may be one of the most contentious issues in the Unicameral this year, second only to the budget. The CIR ajudicates disputes between public unions and their municipalities. Sen. Steve Lathrop has worked tirelessly (and many times thanklessly) to craft a compromise between all the interested groups. Yesterday, Heineman promised he would veto the bill, even though it hasn’t been finalized and many more amendements have been proposed. Is anyone else tired of the Governor acting like he runs the GOP and not the entire state? Read here.
No, YOU’RE Out of Order: Leave it to a Canadian politician to tell us when President Obama is out of touch. Yes, apparently Obama “just doesn’t get it” when it comes to the Keystone XL. Alberta’s Energy Minister says Obama’s out of line for putting environmental considerations (like the precious Ogallala Aquifer) ahead of temporary construction jobs. Of course, we think the delays and weighted consideration that the administration is giving the XL is totally IN TOUCH, but hey, we’re just a bunch of Americans. Read here.
Concrete Over Kids: Sen. Deb Fischer’s bill to divert money from the general fund to road repairs sounds like a good idea, until you consider the costs. The general funds mostly go to support state services like health and education. Heineman promised in his state of the state speech to not reduce state aid for education by a single penny. Well, yesterday he signed Fischer’s bill into law, effectively diverting money that should be spent on Nebraska’s kids to fix Nebraska’s roads. How can he continue to call himself the “education governor”? Read here.
Grassley Needs Education: Sen. Grassley (IA) has urged the Obama administration to rush approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Grassley says the pipeline is needed to reduce oil prices in the US. Well, if you’re ready this, odds are that you already know the XL won’t reduce prices a lick in the Midwest. In fact, if the oil even goes to the US (it could easily be shipped to China from the Gulf), it would increase prices because of the high production costs. We’re urging Grassley to be a good neighbor and get his facts straight. You can too by filling out the following contact form. Or tweet “.@ChuckGrassley Gets the facts: The #KXL will INCREASE gas prices in IA and NE. Don’t support this toxic project.” Read here.
Sen. Council’s bill to research and repair food deserts got a re-do and passed the final round this morning! On to the Governor’s desk!
Tues, May 17th
Happy birthday wishes go out to Sen. Ben Nelson! The senator turns the big 7-0 today and shares his bday with boxer Sugar Ray Leonard (who’s turning 55). Another landmark event today is the 57th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Here’s your Roundup:
Everybody to the Limit: Yesterday, the US officially brushed against it’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner contacted members of Congress outlining accounting tricks he is using to avoid the debt limit until August 2, at which point the US will default. Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is confident that the US won’t default, but calls for tough bargaining with cuts to entitlements, no tax increases, and spending caps. Democrats are still pushing for eliminating tax loopholes for Big Oil as part of the compromise. We have a feeling the process will go something like this. Read here.
Rolling in the Dough: Mitt Romney and his supporters raised over $10 million in eight hours during a “national calling day.” For a man who was at one point beat in the polls by two candidates who aren’t even running, that’s not too shabby. Read here.
Bullying and Bad Health: A new study from the Family Acceptance Project links high levels of anti-LGBT bullying in school with negative health outcomes in early adulthood (ranging from depression to risk for STDs and HIV). LGBT youth who reported being bullied for their orientation during adolescence were 5.6 times more likely to attempt or commit suicide and 2.6 times more likely to have clinical levels of depression. Keeping our schools safe for all kids means emotionally, too. Groups like Make It Better Nebraska are working to do just that in the Cornhusker state. Read here.
MAHA Music: Five more acts were announced for the MAHA Music Festival, held in Omaha Saturday, August 13. Nationally popular acts Matisyahu and Cursive were amongst the new additions to the festival. Also playing is the Reverend Horton Heat and Omaha-based Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship. Not quite Bonaroo, but a great lineup nonetheless. We’re still waiting for Omaha’s new Red Sky Festival to announce its full lineup. Read here.
Mon, May 16th
The Go-Go’s said it best, “Vacation’s all I ever wanted.” Well, for most college students in Nebraska, vaca is finally here! Need a way to fill up some of those lazy summer days? Consider applying for an internship with Bold. Here’s your Roundup:
Omaha’s Solar Flare-Up: An Omaha orthodontist is being sued by his homeowners association for putting up solar panels without permission. Timothy Adams installed the panels on his roof last fall to save on energy bills. He says he’ll have a return on his $39,000 investment in 10-12 years. The homeowners association is miffed that Adams didn’t follow their rules (printed each year for members). Adams is now drumming up support around the metro with billboards and a website. We won’t argue over who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation; we prefer to point out the hilarious quasi-fascism of suburbia. Read here.
Redistricting Rankles: The official proposals for redistricting Nebraska’s congressional and legislative districts drew a slew of testimony on Friday. The proposals for redistricting the state’s Supreme Court, University Board of Regents, Public Service Commission and Board of Education were also up for testimony, but nobody really seems to care about those boundaries. The big fights are over splitting the city of Alliance into two separate legislative districts and pushing Bellevue into Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s purview. This one’s going to be a real fight in the Unicam. Read here.
Heineman Crosses Border: Gov. Heineman is looking at dabbling in Iowa politics for the 2012 presidential election. Real Clear Politics has a piece out dissecting the Nebraska governor’s influence on Republicans in the Hawkeye state. Heineman tells RCP that he’d consider crossing the border to help GOP presidential candidates in the Iowa caucus. No wonder Heineman can’t find the time to protect Nebraska’s natural resources and landowners from a foreign company (TransCanada)! Read here.
Today we hit the debt ceiling. The Treasury will begin taking evasive manouers, hoping that Congress eventually stops playing politics and starts taking action.