Dave Heineman sure likes to talk a big game.
Back in January 2009, Heineman told the Fremont Tribune "We're just going to have to sit down and tighten our belts in state government just like every family and every business is doing in the state."
So why is Heineman resistant to cutting the pay of Health and Human Services management; specifically that of Division of Children and Family Services?
Much of the responsibilities of the Division of Children and Family Services are now contracted out to two private companies. The management of Division of Children and Family Services isn't doing what they were hired to do.
Shouldn't less work equal less pay?
Yet Heineman refuses to tighten his belt and cut pay in HHS. Is this because Todd Reckling, Director of Children and Family Services at HHS, is one of his appointees? Why won't Heineman make the needed cuts to solve his $1.4 billion budget deficit?
Governor Heineman, don't you think it's time to practice what you preach? We are all in this together.
Doctors are meant to help you get well, but with prescription drug abuse up 500 percent in the past two decades, you may well leave sicker than when you made an appointment.
That's why Senator Gwen Howard came up with LB 237. In 2009, her own daughter died from a prescription drug overdose, and she said writing the bill was something she had to do.
The bills main purpose is to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs by "allowing doctors and pharmacists to monitor the care and treatment of patients for whom a prescription drug is prescribed." The goal is to keep the drugs off the streets and to prevent patients from getting the same prescription from more than one doctor.
If passed, Nebraska would join 43 other states with prescription drug monitoring networks.
Thank you Senator Howard for this important piece of legislation.
The new wave of crimes that are possible on the internet have a lot of people nervous -- the internet and especially social media sites have been blamed for everything from facilitating bullying to anorexia. While some of these claims may be dubious, the truth is that the internet is just a new forum for all the crimes and social ills we already have in real life. Impersonation is one such problem that Sens. McGill and Nordquist are attempting to criminalize in the online domain.
Impersonating someone over the internet has been in the public's awareness ever since 2006. That's when one adult woman impersonated a teen boy on Myspace in order to bully a 13-year-old girl. The girl was weeks away from her fourteenth birthday when she committed suicide.
The soon-to-be crime of online impersonation hit Sen. McGill close to home when she discovered someone had been impersonating her through messages and blogs.
The bill, LB 552, would make it a crime to harm, impersonate, threaten or defraud another by what is now called "e-personation". The fine for said crime would be up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Thank you to Senators McGill and Nordquist for their important work on this issue.
Is Mike Johanns headed for the beach because he's turning out to be a consummate flip-flopper?
U.S. Senators Ben Nelson and Chuck Schumer introduced a sensible piece of legislation to modernize the FAA and make it a misdemeanor to photograph, record, or distribute images from the body scanner images from any U.S. airport or federal building. The idea originated from constituent concerns about the misuse of images and the possibility that the images could be distributed online.
Prior to the vote in the Senate, Mike Johanns knocked the timely piece of legislation by stating he thought a felony charge to be "a life-altering situation." Johanns also seemed to shrug at the potential invasion of privacy, "If somebody wants to look at the image of Mike Johanns, you know, whatever."
Even though he took the public swipe at the legislation and garnered press for himself in a partisan fashion, Johanns quietly voted in favor of making it a misdemeanor to save or distribute the body scanner images from any U.S. airport or federal building. The vote in the U.S. Senate was 98-0 in favor of the legislation.
So Mike Johanns was against this before he was for it? Better break out those sandals, Mike. Looks like it's flip-flop time.
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.