Malinda is turning cartwheels and ingesting lots of coffee after seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 at midnight last night.  We won’t spoil anything, but she predicts most Potter fans won’t be disappointed.  In more sobering news, it’s the last day of the mayoral recall drive in Omaha.  Petitioners must turn in signatures before 5 pm today.  City officials will have until Dec. 4 to announce if the recall was a boom or bust. Here’s your Roundup:

Bold Roundup

Sierra Club Offers Legal Help: The Sierra Club is offering legal guidance for any landowners in the path of TransCanada’s proposed pipeline.  Ken Winston says TransCanada had no right threatening to use eminent domain to obtain land for their pipeline.  Fifth-generation rancher and Atkinson native Ben Gotschall spoke out against the pipeline and the danger it poses to his family’s land and the rest of Nebraska.  View OWH Story / View LJS Story

Castle Doctrine Debate Heats Up: The debate over state senator Mark Christensen’s plan to re-introduce legislation called the “Castle Doctrine” is picking up.  The Castle Doctrine would allow an individual who feels threatened in their home, vehicle or workplace to use deadly force.  Jane Kleeb, our Director and Editor, weighed in on the legislation and said she’s worried about loopholes that the legislation would open up.  View Here

Warren Buffett Says Thanks: The Oracle of Omaha writes a thank you note to the US Government in today’s NY Times.  Buffett thanks the government for stepping in during the financial crisis to prevent a domino effect as financial institutions collapsed, and citizens lost faith in the market.  He admits that people will criticize the details of the government’s reaction, but that it made good decisions with the time and knowledge it had.  View Here

It’s ALIVE: GM went back on the market yesterday, and things are looking good.  The government bailed out GM during the financial crisis when the company was knocking on death’s door (remember the big 3 auto makers flying in separate private jets to DC?).  But yesterday, GM raised $20.1 billion with it’s initial public offering.  The administration is saying that by stepping in, they saved 1.4 million jobs.  View Here


Thursday, November 18th

There’s no shortage of political news coming out of Lincoln and DC, but we’ll be sitting on the edges of our seats all day for another reason: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is opening at midnight tonight.  Does Malinda already have her costume picked out and a series of waiting-line activities planned?  You bet your sweet Rowling she does.  Here’s your Roundup:

Redistricting Hackery: One of the top issues the state legislature will face this year is redrawing district boundaries to reflect new population numbers from the 2010 census.  The main focus will be the 2nd Congressional District and the burgeoning Omaha metro.  The district will have to shrink, and the legislature will have to decide if they’ll redraw the boundaries along geographic or partisan lines.  Over at New Nebraska Network, Kyle calls out state senator Scott Lautenbaugh who’s already weighing in on the redistricting process.  View Here

Friend or Foe: Senator Johanns signed on to an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief this week that challenges the individual mandate in health reform.  Johanns argues that the federal government can’t use the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to mandate individuals to buy health insurance.  Of course, if you repeal the individual mandate, health care costs will sky rocket because healthy people won’t be enrolled.  But why side with sensible reform when you can play politics with people’s health, right?  View Here

Fifth Graders Compete with Energy Pioneer: Look out Scott Kleeb, fifth graders at Prescott Elementary are edging in on your home-energy-efficiency turf.  The fifth graders are learning about energy efficiency and electricity thanks to the Nebraska Energy Office setting aside federal stimulus money for the statewide education project.  Local utilities will match whatever amount schools spend, and kids will get to take energy efficiency detective kits home.  Seventy-nine utilities in Nebraska are participating in the project, and teachers have ordered 8,300 detective kits.  View Here

Food Safety Advances, Pay Equity Fails: The Senate voted 74-25 yesterday to advance a food safety bill that would expand the FDA’s ability to regulate and recall food.  It’s unclear if the bill can make it through the reconciliation process and pass the House and Senate again before the end of the lame duck session.  Meanwhile, a measure that would foster pay equity between men and women failed when there weren’t enough votes to end debate.  View Here

AFP Quacks: Americans for Prosperity is refusing to report its spending during the elections. The Nebraska branch of the group mailed political lit about candidates’ records on taxes and spending.  But AFP is saying their mailers were purely educational and don’t count as campaign lit because they didn’t endorse or decry candidates.  The group is estimated to have spent tens of thousands of dollars in Nebraska.  We’d like to know why AFP-Nebraska and Brad Stevens are so afraid of transparency and accountability.  View Here

Randy Thomspon from Marshall wrote a great LTE to the Journal Start about TransCanada’s arrogance.


Wednesday, November17th

Today’s all about the Nebraska State Legislature, folks.  While both houses of Congress are active in DC today — the Senate is talking Food Safety and the House is voting on who will be the next minority leader.  But our state legislature will convene in January, so the headlines are already buzzing about the big issues.  Here’s your Roundup:

Apply Here: Do you live in Legislative District 17?  Have passion for working with people and solving tough problems?  Dust off your resume because we’ve got just the job for you.  State Senator Bob Giese is resigning for his seat in the state legislature to serve as Dakota County Treasurer.  That means the Governor gets to appoint Giese’s replacement, and he’s now accepting applications.  Giese’s a Democrat, and the political reality is that Heineman will want to replace him with a Republican.  We’d like to see someone who has the same bold values as Senator Giese take his place.  View Here

Buzz Kill: The FDA is taking action to curb production and/or consumption of Alcohol Energy Drinks which have risen in popularity over the last year.  The concoctions dangerously combine the effects of caffeine (which energizes) and alcohol (which relaxes).  Washington and Michigan have already banned AEDs.  Washington made the move after police found so many unconscious students at a college house party, they thought the students had fallen victim to a date rape drug. Nebraska’s own Project Extra Mile is urging state politicians to take action before such incidents begin in Nebraska.  View Here

Moving Forward: Some members of the state legislature are taking the baton of health reform and running with it.  While Heineman and Bruning are fighting reform tooth and nail, a legislative group is ready to recommend an oversight committee that would monitor and assist with implementation of the law.  There’s a distinct lack of innovation and inspiration coming from the governor’s mansion, and we like seeing state leaders like Senators Gloor, Mello and Gay (who’s being succeeded by Smith) take the lead on moving Nebraska forward.  View Here

Paranoia is so Unflattering: State Senator Mark Christensen wants to loosen up the state’s self-defense laws regarding gun control.  Christensen believes that the current laws interfere with an individual’s right to self-defense.  If there’s some sort of public outrage, we’ve yet to hear it. Current state law says citizens must be threatened with deadly force before they use it. Christensen wants individuals to be able to use deadly force if they simply feel threatened. Omaha state senators Brad Ashford and Brenda Council are not thrilled.  View Here


Tuesday, November 16th

So everyone in Omaha seems to be having a conniption over the Omaha Royals changing their name to the Stormchasers.  Our go-to morning radio host, Scott Voorhees, is even suggesting that the vote for changing the name was sabotaged.  We’d recommend Scott stop spending so much time with the NE GOP because the paranoia’s clearly rubbing off on him.  Here’s your Roundup:

Best Interactive Graph EVER: The NY Times’s latest interactive graphic lets you try to balance the federal budget with checklist of spending cuts and revenue increases — most of the items come from the President’s deficit commission.  If you want something more comprehensive, check out the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s calculator.  The Center for Economic Policy and Research has a calculator that includes more ideas left out of the mainstream like increasing the Gas Tax and publicly funded drug trials.  Play Here

CA Follows in Our Footsteps: A California court ruled yesterday that the state had to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students.  Nebraska already does this, though it’s being threatened by conservatives.  We don’t understand why people wouldn’t applaud these kids and their families for investing in themselves after the state has invested in their primary and secondary education? They’re not getting a free-ride because they still have to pay.  But now they can afford college and are encouraged to become highly productive members of society.  View Here

Decode the Lame Duck: has a quick video guide on the lame duck session.  “D.C. Decoder” host Craig Crawford gives us the skivvy on the history of the lame duck, past lame ducks and what we can expect this time around.  So knuckle down because we’ve barely got a month to work!  View Here

NDI Gets New Head: The Nebraska Department of Insurance has their new head, former deputy director Bruce Ramge.  Ramge was appointed by Governor Heineman after Director Ann Frohman resigned to work in the private sector (though we heard she was also making strides in the department to implement health reform).  We’ll be keeping an eye on Ramge, the NDI and Governor Heineman as deadlines for health reform implementation start coming up.  View Here

Meanwhile, a recall worker asked Mayor Suttle to sign the recall petition.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of irony.


Monday, November 15th

Top o’ the Monday morning to ya, Roundup readers.  It’s a brand new week, and there’s a new pep in our step.  The lame duck session has started, and we’re hoping to see some common sense legislation passed before the GOP takes over Capitol Hill.  Today’s also Emily’s birthday!  Here’s your Roundup:

Ready, Set, Redistrict: Here’s a quick civics lesson for you.  Every 10 years, we must have a national census.  After that, the entire country redraws the map for Congressional Districts. Redistricting is the responsibility of the state legislature, which means politics is an issue, even in our “non-partisan” unicameral.  The big fight in Nebraska will be over CD 2 — Omaha.  It’s a growing Democratic stronghold, and Republicans are still miffed that they gave an electoral point to Obama in ‘08.  They’d also hate to see Terry lose his seat during a Democratic election wave. View Here

University and Osborn Duke It Out: The University of Nebraska and State Treasurer Shane Osborn are arguing over who deserves the blame for posting students’ personal financial information online.  Students’ names and the amount of loans, scholarships and/or financial aid they are receiving are posted on the State Treasurer’s disclosure website.  Osborn’s dodging responsibility, saying the cat’s already out of the bag and that his staff doesn’t have the time to take it down.  View Here

Food Safety Up For a Vote: The Senate is expected to vote on the food safety bill this Wednesday.  The bill was put on the back burner as financial reform and the election dominated the Senate calendar.  After 500 million eggs were tainted by salmonella, the public pushed for the bill that had been stalled in the Senate.  Our own Ben Nelson is co-sponsoring the common sense legislation.  View Here

Voters Don’t Care About the Deficit: The latest poll from CBS News shows that only 4% of voters care about the deficit while 56% care about the economy and jobs.  Of course, voters still dislike the deficit, and they’d prefer to see it go down rather than up.  But job creation clearly takes priority.  This is important as the recommendations of the President’s deficit commission are pondered, and expect to the distinction to be made as extension of the Bush tax cuts comes back up for a debate.  View Here

Meanwhile Republicans in Congress are planning to block another extension of unemployment benefits.