Recent editorials published in Nebraska newspapers
Omaha World Herald. August 21, 2018
Nebraska’s paper ballots a plus, but states must be mindful on election security
At a time of heightened concern about election hacking, Nebraska’s general reliance on paper ballots provides a security advantage.
The Office of the Nebraska Secretary of State oversaw a recent hand count of ballots in 38 randomly selected precincts across the state and found that the reliability was quite high. Out of 6,400 ballots hand counted, the only errors found were one in Harlan County and one in Perkins County, both due to light pencil marks.
The secretary of state reported the findings in the same week that computer specialists held an event in Las Vegas on the vulnerability of electronic voting systems to hacking. According to a report by McClatchy, Nebraska allows overseas citizens and military members to vote via email or fax.
Iowa allows email or fax voting only for active military members outside the United States or those in an area eligible for imminent danger pay.
Kearney Hub. August 24, 2018
Veterans’ home adds jewel in Nebraska’s crown
Did you know that Nebraska is one of the top states in the nation for military veterans?
Nebraskans have gone above and beyond making their state attractive to former service men and women. That fact will be abundantly clear on Saturday when we dedicate the new Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home.
The facility is the next chapter in efforts that began four years ago to establish Nebraska as one of the nation’s most veteran friendly states.
In 2014, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business groups urged the Legislature to enact initiatives to expand our labor force by attracting veterans to Nebraska. The state chamber reasoned there is no group better trained and tested to fill workforce vacancies than military veterans.
Lawmakers agreed, and passed a package of incentives to attract and hold veterans in Nebraska. Tax exemptions on military retirement pay, in-state tuition for veterans and family members who establish residency, and hiring preferences for government jobs were a start.
New laws recognize professional licenses gained in the military, a benefit to veterans who no longer must enroll in college to validate military certification as nurses, teachers and dental technicians, to name a few of the affected professions.
Veterans also can qualify for reduced property taxes with special homestead exemptions, and choose from five license plates saluting the five branches of the military.
Nebraska’s favorable profile is enhanced by institutions such as Central Community College, recognized among the nation’s top two-year colleges for veterans. The financial website Wallethub.com ranked Lincoln No. 1 and Omaha No. 6 out of the 100 largest U.S. cities for veterans based on economic wellness, environment, education and health. Papillion was No. 6 in a similar list by NerdWallet.
This weekend, Nebraska will add another gem to its veteran-friendly crown as we dedicate the Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Kearney. The $121 million, 225-bed facility will be more spacious and functional than the Grand Island Veterans’ Home it replaces.
Among amenities at the Kearney facility are private rooms — all with lifts to help veterans rise out of bed and get into their wheelchairs. A wood shop, fishing lake, and other enhancements — including hearing loops in the chapel and main meeting room — make the Central Nebraska home one of the nation’s finest.
We urge south-central Nebraskans to participate in the dedication at10 a.m. Saturday at 4510 E. 56th St. Come see what our state is doing for its military veterans, and by your presence, express your support “to care for him who has borne the battle,” as President Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural address.
McCook Daily Gazette. August 22, 2018
Voters must be ready to live with Medicaid expansion
Former State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial joined in a lawsuit to block a statewide vote on expanding Medicaid to an additional 90,000 residents in Nebraska.
Along with State Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, Christensen technically argues that the proposal violates the Nebraska Constitution by including more than one subject, and violates other rules.
More telling are Christensen’s comments that he worries the expansion would force cuts to services already offered to other Medicaid recipients, his disabled son among them.
The proposal has more than 133,000 signatures, which are being evaluated by Secretary of State John Gale’s office to see whether the petition qualifies for a vote.
If approved by the voters, Medicaid would be expanded to make people ages 19 to 64 eligible if they had incomes of 138 percent of the federal poverty designation or below. That’s about $16,750 for a single person or about $34,600 for a family of four.
The lawsuit is in the Lancaster County District Court, where a judge has promised to deliver a ruling as quickly as possible.
Should the measure be approved by voters, it will send back to the drawing board a state budget balanced through a long and difficult conventional political process. It’s only natural that lawmakers are reluctant to scrap years of hard-won consensus and compromise.
Tax increases and, yes, cuts in services are likely to result from implementation of the voters’ will when it comes time for Medicaid to be expanded.
For their part, voters should be willing to live with the consequences when they make their choice this November.
The Grand Island Independent. August 23, 2018.
Keystone XL too beneficial to reject
Matthew John, a spokesman for Calgary-based TransCanada, said this week that the company does not anticipate that the recent ruling by a Montana District Judge will delay construction preparation activities for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Ten years have passed since the pipeline was proposed. The project was slow walked by President Obama during his entire two terms as payback to the green lobby in exchange for their political support. A story published in the New York Times in 2014 revealed that opponents of the Keystone project admitted that the fight is largely symbolic — more of a tool to recruit supporters and raise funds rather than a cause that honest environmentalists see as winnable or a serious priority.
One worthy outcome of the fight in Nebraska was the rerouting of the pipeline to avoid the Ogallala Aquifer. Last fall the Nebraska Public Service Commission authorized an alternative route, which crosses five new counties in northeast Nebraska.
The most recent court decision calls for federal officials to conduct a supplemental environmental review of the “mainline alternative route.”
Last month the Nebraska Supreme Court granted the motion from TransCanada to advance the case to oral arguments and expedite it. The court could hear arguments as early as October.
The arguments for adding this vital infrastructure link are great and include more beneficial environmental attributes than surface transportation alternatives. A number of high-profile tanker train, truck and barge disasters drive that point.
North America is vying to be the world’s largest oil producer, lagging just behind Russia at present.
Though the left has disparaged the potential number of jobs the Keystone project will help create, a study by the U.S. State Department during Obama’s administration estimated that 42,100 “direct, indirect, and induced” jobs would result.
America has more than 2 million miles of natural gas pipelines and approximately 175,000 miles of pipelines carrying hazardous liquids reliably, quietly and safely, fueling the nation’s economy and standard of living.
The 1,179 miles of Keystone would be a miniscule fraction of the total and yet it could represent the most impactful infrastructure this country has undertaken since the construction of the Interstate Highway System during the Eisenhower years.
In a syndicated column in 2014, the late Charles Krauthammer wrote: “Even if you swallow everything the environmentalists tell you about oil sands, the idea that blocking Keystone will prevent their development by Canada is ridiculous. Canada sees its oil sands as a natural bounty and key strategic asset. Canada will not leave it in the ground.”
The notion that Canada’s “dirty” tar sands oil would flow across the U.S. only to be sold on the global market is absurd. Alberta oil will cross the U.S., if not by pipeline, then by rail or tanker truck, which will bear far more environmental risks than the alternative.
Keystone is shovel-ready and won’t cost taxpayers a dime. In fact, the project will generate local tax revenues, lease payments and a host of other downstream economic benefits.