Washington, DC -- Today, President Obama unveiled his 2012 budget proposal. Following the budget's release, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine issued the following statement:
"In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to join him in two major efforts designed to help America win the future: making the tough choices and budget cuts required to reduce America's deficit and restore fiscal stability while also making bold investments in education, innovation, infrastructure and other areas critical to economic growth. President Obama's 2012 budget proposal is a blueprint for success in both those efforts.
"The President's budget does not shy away from the reality of America's difficult fiscal situation. In fact, he offers more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction that puts America back on the path toward fiscal sustainability. Two-thirds of that deficit reduction is achieved through spending cuts -- but the President has made it clear that he will not skimp on programs, incentives, or initiatives that will help to make America more competitive in the global economy. In fact, the President's budget directs more money toward research and development in a variety of fields, supports the goal of making America more energy independent, expands tax incentives to spur investment and hiring, expands the successful Race to the Top program to increase educational excellence, establishes a National Infrastructure Bank to support critical infrastructure projects, and funds a National Wireless Initiative that will make American businesses more competitive by expanding high-speed internet access to nearly all Americans.
"It bears repeating that President Obama has offered a budget that makes those critical investments and still manages to reduce America's deficit and stabilize America's fiscal footing. That stands in stark contrast to Republican proposals that would cut spending by starving American entrepreneurs, businesses, and students of the resources they need to grow. Following the Republicans' plan would be like asking a carpenter to sell his tools to pay off his debts -- that might stop the creditors from calling, but it would hobble his efforts to work in the future. That's why it's so important that we follow the President's budget model. We have to do more than just reduce the deficit in order to win the future--we have to set America up to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate our competitors around the globe."
America has always been a place for new beginnings and second chances. Senator Brenda Council wants to make sure that goes for teens and young adults as well. Council introduced LB 203 with Sens. Avery and Harr, LB 203.
It would get rid of the possibility of life imprisonment for those under 18 convicted of murder. Another similar bill from Council and Avery, LB 202, would permit youths sentenced to life in prison to have a re-sentencing hearing after 15 years.
Council cited the fact that there's "significant scientific evidence" that the mind of a teen is vastly different than that of an adult and thus a crime committed by a minor cannot be equated with that of an adult.
"From a moral standpoint, it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult," Council said.
"Life in prison without parole means a denial of hope."
The second chance wouldn't be for just any youth, though. LB 202 stipulates that the offender may have to participate in "rehabilitative, educational, or vocational" programs and show evidence of remorse.
Thank you to Senators Council, Avery, and Haar for their work on this issue.
Do you recall the excitement in 2008 when Nebraska's electoral vote split? President Barack Obama won an electoral vote in Nebraska from Congressional District 2. This historic event marked the first time Nebraska's split electoral vote has been in play as election results rolled in.
Imagine this scenario -- once, just once in the seventeen years since the law was passed, Nebraska split our electoral vote with four votes going to Republican John McCain and a lone vote to Democrat Barack Obama. And just over two years later, the Nebraska Republican Party's leadership has a fit and wants to get rid of the split electoral vote; returning to a winner-takes-all vote.
Unfortunately, this not a just a scenario or plot from a novel, but reality in Nebraska.
Yes, the leaders of the Nebraska Republican Party want to change the electoral vote system in Nebraska. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that -- according to the Chair of the Nebraska Republican Party -- the leaders of the Nebraska Republican Party intend "to ‘hold our Republican state senators accountable' for their votes on a legislative bill that would wipe out the current system of awarding one electoral vote to the winner of each of the state's three congressional districts and the remaining two electoral votes to the statewide winner." State Senator Beau McCoy has already introduced LB 21, which would return Nebraska to a winner-takes-all system.
Why now? The 2012 election cycle is fast approaching and the Republican Party leadership can't stand the idea that President Obama might win an electoral vote in Nebraska again.
Yes, the leadership of the Nebraska Republican Party is more concerned about returning Nebraska to a winner-takes-all electoral vote system than they are about creating new jobs or solving the state's $966 million budget deficit. That's a $966 million budget deficit caused by Governor Heineman, yet the leaders of the Nebraska Republican Party want to focus on the electoral vote in Nebraska?
So here's the call to action. Please pick up the phone and call the State Senators who serve on the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. Ask them to vote NO on LB 21.
This bill to return Nebraska to a winner-takes-all electoral vote system can be stopped in committee, never advance to a full vote in the legislature, and not change the law. This can happen if you tell the State Senators to focus on creating jobs, not waste time on changing election law.
Please call these State Senators today and ask them to vote NO on LB 21.
State Senator William Avery
State Senator Lydia Brasch
State Senator Charlie Janssen
State Senator Russ Karpisek
State Senator Rich Pahls
State Senator Scott Price
State Senator Paul Schumacher
State Senator Kate Sullivan
Given the fact that states providing comprehensive sex education in public schools will be given federal grants, support for Sen. Council's new sex ed bill should be a no-brainer.
LB 192 will require education on sexual health in Nebraska schools. The bill was introduced January 7th, but there is already growing anger in some pro-abstinence only groups. Nebraskans United for Life posted an article on their site expressing concern: "[I]t sounds very dangerous and a way for Planned Parenthood to get in all the schools to promote contraception, increasing teen sexual activity and pregnancy."
Instead of saying things like "it sounds like," "it seems" or "I would guess," why not read it for yourself? LB 192 states clearly the criteria for the sex education, including "the benefits of and reasons for not engaging in sexual intercourse, including, but not limited to, the information that not engaging in sexual intercourse is the only certain way to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections [.]"
That doesn't sound like promoting sexual activity to us.
Other topics required in the bill are:
• the negative effects of drugs and alcohol on decision-making
• benefits and proper use of contraceptives
• healthy relationships and social pressure relating to sex
• sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy
Thank you Senator Brenda Council for this essential piece of legislation!
In an embarrassment to Nebraskans, Republican State Senator Mark Christensen is squandering Nebraskan's time with the introduction of a "birther" bill. LB 654 would require a Presidential candidate to provide a copy of the long-form of their birth certificate to the Secretary of State to prove he or she is a citizen. Of course, the claims that President Obama was born in Kenya have been long-since debunked on nonpartisan websites like FactCheck.org.
Senator Christensen goes one step further in his wackiness by further requiring that the parents of a Presidential candidate submit their long-form birth certificates as well. Unfortunately, Senator Christensen fails to recall that the U.S. Constitution does not require that the parents of a U.S. Presidential candidate be U.S. citizens.
What is pathetic about Senator Christensen's "birther" bill is that he's wasting time on nonsense like this when he should be addressing the $1.4 billion shortfall caused by Dave Heineman's so-called leadership.
Job hunting is full of catch-22s. You can't get a job unless you have experience, but you can't get experience unless you get a job. You need a sharp suit to land a job, but you'll probably need a chunk of change for any decent one. You can't begin or improve your credit history until you have a job and money to spend, yet you can't get a large number of jobs with bad credit.
One revision to the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, introduced by Sen. Annette Dubas, will lower that last hurdle. LB 113 states:
"It is the policy of this state that a person should not be discriminated against in obtaining or retaining employment because of his or her credit history or credit report unless such information directly relates to a bona fide occupational qualification for employment."
Employers take credit history and debt into special consideration for job positions where employers would be dealing with large amounts of money because those employees are feared to be more likely to steal, but unless employers have a reason to question a potential employee's honesty, there is no reason to bar that person from employment.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 states have proposed bans on credit checks on some types of employment. Hawaii and Washington already have legislation limiting credit checks during hiring processes.
Lawmakers need to make sure there are as few impediments to employment for jobseekers as possible. We as a state also need to make sure people can get themselves out of debt if we are going to cast scorn on those who are poor, in debt or on public assistance.
Now to make sure employers uphold the law…
Thank you to State Senator Annette Dubas for introducing this vital piece of legislation.
What better place to eat than at a restaurant? According to the Lincoln Journal Star, that's what Amy Buhlke's child was doing at a Grand Island Old Chicago a few years ago before she was asked by the waitress and manager to stop breastfeeding.
Similar stories have been heard by Sen. Annette Dubas of Legislative District 34, from a woman being asked to stop breastfeeding at an outdoor concert, to women being asked to breastfeed in the restroom. LB 197 would change that. The bill simply states that, "…a mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be."
The formula alternative may be thought of as more appropriate for public, but recent recalls of the powder have called its healthiness into question. In 2008, Chinese formula containing melamine led to several deaths, while beetle-infested Similac was recalled in the states in 2010.
Nebraska is just now joining over 40 states that have laws protecting a mother's civil right to breastfeed in public or private.
According to Breastfeeding.com, it's the healthiest option because not only does it protect against a long list of allergies, infections and illnesses from respiratory infections to MS, but it also enhances the child's intelligence and bond with the mother.
Thank you to State Senator Annette Dubas for introducing this vital piece of legislation.
Check out the new website for the Nebraska Democratic Party's Latino Caucus ndplatinocaucus.com.
Visiten nuestra nueva pagina de web ndplatinocaucus.com.
Senator Steve Lathrop introduced a bill this month aimed at coaches, parents and school-age athletes with the goal of educating them on concussion signs and proper responses. The Concussion Awareness Act (LB 260) defines a concussion simply as any brain injury that disrupts the way a brain normally works.
The bill also says that concussions "are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports…" and that most of them occur without loss of consciousness.
The law would require that coaches, students and parents be informed on the "risks posed by sustaining a concussion," the symptoms of a concussion, and the steps to take in the event of a concussion.
Concussion awareness has wider significance, too.
Former Husker linebacker Blake Lawrence chose to quit football after a series of concussions. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, he spoke Thursday to the Health and Human Services Committee in support of the bill.
Contact sports like football carry a large risk of injury. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported recently that half of retired NFL players report having had a concussion at some point, and over 80% said they believe a concussion went undiagnosed.
Thank you to State Senator Steve Lathrop for introducing this important piece of legislation.
It's been a challenging couple of years, but President Obama has already delivered on many of his campaign promises.
According to PolitiFact.com, a political fact-checking web site (created by UNL's very own alumnus no less), President Obama has kept his promise on 134 of his campaign promises, with another 220 in progress. Let's take a look at a few of the highlights…
And finally, one of the most significant accomplishments of this administration was that President Obama.
To get a sense of the scope of the health care act, I'll leave you with this quote:
"All progressives since Theodore Roosevelt wanted [health care reform], all Democrats since Harry Truman fought for it, and only Barack Obama got it. … This is his huge accomplishment."
-- Douglas Brinkley, Oct. 2010
Click here for a list of Pres. Obama's accomplishments.