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Don Walton: Unresolved issues await new faces in 2019 Legislature

November 20, 2018

Big unresolved issues face the 2019 Legislature.

Property taxes, the distribution of state aid to schools, a revenue stream that is fair and adequately funds state programs and services while helping build Nebraska’s future, a new two-year state budget, fair-minded implementation of Medicaid expansion that respects the will of Nebraska voters.

Workforce development that is more substance than rhetoric.

Oh, there’s more, lots more.

It looks like this will be an intriguing body of state senators, tilted perhaps a little less conservative in nature than the past two years, perhaps a little more moderate. But still clearly conservative in terms of overall numbers, power and tone.

Opening day in January will give senators an opportunity to distribute power more equitably in the form of committee leadership positions than they did in 2017. But there’s already talk of another slate of approved chairmanships in place of individual and independent judgment.

Guessing how senators will vote in Nebraska’s non-partisan Legislature, especially after its newest members discover how truly independent they really are, is foolish.

It’s a legislative body without party leaders or whips or a system of rewards and punishments.

In Nebraska, senators are non-partisan, independent and free; imagine how different the Congress could be.

* * *

Finishing up:

* After reading an assessment suggesting that continuing growth in Lincoln and Omaha may gradually change the political nature of the state, a reader asks: But aren’t many of those people who are moving to Lincoln and Omaha coming from rural Nebraska and bringing their political views and values with them?

* Lots of post-election spin that the vote to abruptly impose term limits on Lincoln mayors was a vote directed against Chris Beutler rather than primarily a vote in favor of the concept of term limits. But the leaders of the initiative campaign really didn’t believe that or they’d have been confident they could have taken Beutler out when he would have sought re-election next spring.

* Last week’s national report on how Lexington and Madison responded to the dramatic change in their communities resulting from an influx of Latino and other foreign workers at local meatpacking plants provided a positive look at small-town Nebraska and a model for others.

* If there truly is no need for legislation to protect Robert Mueller and his work, as you continue to say, Mitch, then what harm can be done by passing a bill? The gentleman doth protest too much, Shakespeare might say.

* If you do the ruler’s bidding in the Middle East, just don’t get caught.

* Can there be a more dysfunctional workplace than the White House? Leakers and daggers everywhere. It will be a Broadway musical someday.

* And it feels like we may be about to sail into uncharted waters now with a president who feels under siege and a special counsel who may be just about ready to pounce. In the end, and even better at the beginning, this may require a Congress that puts country and Constitution first and checks its party jerseys at the door.

* Dark money: Of course, that Alliance for Taxpayers TV ad in Nebraska before the election was aired in opposition to Medicaid expansion. Don’t hide, come out, come out, wherever you are, man up, show us who you are.

* This Husker basketball team looks like it truly is the real deal. Talent all over the floor and flying high above the rim. Star power, energy and depth.

* Here’s a stunning stat: Kirk Ferentz has lost 101 games at Iowa.

* Classic game in Lincoln on Saturday in the wind and the snow and a loud statement of who these Huskers are now.

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