The GOP presidential field is officially taking shape. Mitt(ens) Romney is making his presidential candidacy official June 2, Rick Santorum will launch his 4 days later, and Michelle Bachmann’s jumping in the ring sometime in the next month. Here’s your Roundup:
SDEIS Shockers: There’s just a little over a week left to comment on the State Dept.’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL. We’ll be reminding to submit your comments by highlighting some of the most ridiculous parts or the report. Today, we draw your attention to the State Dept.’s “upside” of an oil spill in the Sandhills: Response to oil spills could generate positive local economic activity for the duration of the spill response activity (3.13-49). Temporary workers to fix a disaster with long-term economic consequences? We’ll remember to thank TransCanada when our land becomes worthless! Comment: tinyurl.com/dearclinton
Heineman’s Healthy Food Veto Survives: The legislature failed to override the governor’s veto of the bill LB200 yesterday, which would have created greater access to healthy food in high-poverty areas. You know the saying, “you have to spend money to make money,” governor? Well, we believe, considering how much money is spent treating obesity related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, that this is money that might have been well spent. Seriously, who’s against grocery stores and farmer’s markets? Way to let Nebraska down, again. Read here.
State politicians stand up to federal failures: Five of our state senators have signed off on a letter asking that pipeline approval be postponed until May of 2012. Ken Haar, Colby Coash, Annette Dubas, Tony Fulton and Kate Sullivan are insisting on more time so that research may be conducted and crucial regulatory legislation put in place. This is a stark contrast to Terry and Johanns, who want to pass legislation that moves the deadline up. Read here.
Gerrymandering Strikes Again: Two redistricting bills have gotten through the Unicameral and are on their way to the governor. The bills are expected cut up the one part of the state that even winks at the color blue. Welcome home monochrome. Somewhere there’s a liberal canvasser hoping Sarpy County’s not hilly. Read here.
Butter or Guns? GOP says Guns: Even as people speculate over what the small New York election means for the GOP and the Ryan plan, Rep. Hal Rogers is working on a budget that cuts spending in every budge area except defense, which would see an increase of $17 billion. This is pretty much SOP for the GOP and the Tea Party, who seem to oppose all spending except on hometown defense contracts. Read here.
Walker’s Popularity and Anti-labor Law Begin to Fall: As the Wisconsin Govenor’s approval ratings plummet, a judge overturned the controversial anti-union legislation he pushed down the throats of his fellow politicians and constituents alike. This is a win for collective bargaining, the working class and basically anyone who doesn’t live in a governor’s mansion. Read here.
Attention Omahans: One BOLD activist is having a small rally to protest the Keystone XL on the bridge between Memorial and Elmwood Parks today at 5pm. He says, “Bring drums, megaphones, whateva!” Hope you can make it!
Thurs, May 26th
It’s the last day of session at the Unicam. State senators will convene at 11am to vote on a couple hot topic bills and a slew of resolutions. Sullivan’s reclamation bill is at the top of today’s agenda. Here’s your Roundup:
Not So Fast: Sure, our state senators are probably all a-tingle because today’s their last day of session, and they’ve accomplished quite a bit. However, the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room is CIR Reform. Yesterday, the Unicameral gave final round approval to Sen. Lathrop LB397 and sent it on to the Governor’s desk. But Heineman’s made it clear that he’s no fan of the bill because he doesn’t think it’s “significant” enough. In other words, it doesn’t decimate collective bargaining rights for public workers. If the governor vetoes, will the state leg return from their summer vaca to override him? Read here.
American Petroleum Institute States the Obvious: In a post on their website, API declares support for the motion to establish a Nov. 1 deadline. Their reason? It will drive economic growth and job creation. Their source? Themselves. Seeing as API represents almost 500 oil and gas companies, maybe we have a right to demand a more objective researcher, especially since we know big oil likes to inflate their job numbers. Read here.
Endorsements Away!: Well, it appears that it really never is too early for conservatives to start dropping endorsement bombs for 2012. It all began this week when Stenberg was endrosed by blogger Erick Erickson who said that conservatives who support “Brunning” (seriously, he mispelled the name) would regret it in the future. Bruning then trotted out the endorsement of failed presidential candidate and current Fox News host Mike Huckabee. Neither endorsement has swayed our position that both of these candidates are bad news for Nebraska. Read here.
AZ Wins Over SCOTUS: The Supreme Court has sustained Arizona’s law that penalizes employers who knowlingly hire undocumented workers. This is NOT Arizona’s infamous “Show me your papers” law. The justices ruled 5-3 in favor of the state with Justice Elena Kagan abstaining because of her previous position as Solicitor General. Read here.
NPPD is resuming construction on new transmission lines for the proposed Keystone XL has resumed because the scheduled in-service date is Nov. 2012. Seems a little premature.
Wed, May 25th
House Dems are celebrating a big win after their candidate, Kathy Hochul, beat out a Republican and a Tea Party candidate. Hochul snagged the typically red district in New York in a special election last night. The winning issue? Medicare. Here’s your Roundup:
The New Nixon?: Newt Gingrich says he’s “not a Washington figure.” How a former House speaker and current DC resident can make this claim baffles us. Despite having held a congressional office for over 20 years, Newt doesn’t see himself as an establishment guy. This kind of “honesty” and “self-reflection” is just the sort of thing you might expect from a person who blames an extra-marital affair on patriotism. Gingrich’s blatant hypocrisy is almost a blinding as some really well-aimed glitter. Read here.
UPS Tests in Lincoln: The United Postal Service is going plastic, and that’s actually a good thing. While plastic bags at the grocery may be bad for the environment, by switching from metal to plastic trucks, UPS could increase their fuel efficiency by 40%. That’s a big deal for a company with 70,000 vehicles on the road. The delivery company will testing five on the new plastic trucks in Arizona, New York and Nebraska before they decide whether or not to integrate them in the whole fleet. Tweet @BoldNebraska if you see the test truck driving through Lincoln! Read here.
Merrick Board Ignores Constituents: The Merrick County Board yesterday voted to send on a letter of support for the Keystone XL. This was DESPITE the overwhelming testimony just a week ago against the pipeline. Merrick resident Van Galusha shared his story of how TransCanada’s land agents have bullied and misled him. We know Randy Thompson, also from Merrick, has had similar experiences. Clearly, certain members of the Board are intent on placating a foreign company rather than listening to the legitimate concerns of residents. Read here.
Green Govt: Yesterday, President Obama directed federal agencies to move toward buying only alternative fuel cars by 2015. It’s a small step in breaking our dependence on foreign oil and investing in domestic energy. The General Services Administration is doing its part by leasing 100 electric vehicles to 20 federal agencies. Last year the GSA doubled its federal hybrid fleet and saved 7.7 million gallons of gasoline. With all these easy ways to reduce our need for oil, who says we need a dirty tar sands pipeline? Read here.
Keystone XL Fight: House Republicans are urging the State Dept. to rush a decision about the Keystone XL, claiming that it will provide jobs and cheap oil. Even worse, they say, if the US doesn’t make a decision soon, China will step in. Chairman Upton (R-MI) claims, “If we don’t say yes soon, China will lock it up.” China will it lock up? Well, China doesn’t have land, water and resources at stake. And the tarsands oil will be sold on an international market, so the oil’s not guaranteed for the US regardless of when a decision is made. Read here.
Tues, May 24th
Yesterday Rep. Lee Terry announced his support of the House GOP bill to expedite approval of the Keystone XL. We shared the news on facebook and you fabulous people went to town! Keep calling Terry’s office (402) 397-9944, (202) 225-4155 and tell him to rethink this bill. Here’s your Roundup:
Weak-Knees: If you’re a progressive Nebraskan, we HIGHLY recommend following NebraskaStatePaper.com. The NESP’s got a great piece out covering Terry’s position on the House GOP’s Keystone XL bill and State Sen. Sullivan’s reclamation bill. Terry’s got no GOOD reason for supporting the GOP’s bill, and the revised Sullivan bill still leaves landowners out to dry. We gladly remind you that Sen. Christensen’s taken full responsibility for cutting landowners off at the knees. Read here.
Five-Hour Filibuster: Yesterday, Democrats in the Unicameral threw down a five-hour filibuster in an attempt to stop the gerrymandered redistricting bill from passing. It all started when Sen. Russ Karpisek demanded that Saline County be returned to CD1. It was moved into CD3 ten years ago to supposedly bury its blue votes. Now, folks are furious that under the new maps, Bellevue will be moved into CD1 while the Omaha suburbs of Papillion and LaVista will stay in CD2. Any metro resident will tell you that’s a sure-fire way to split blue votes. Read here.
T-Paw Takes on IA: Newly minted, GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty risked his hide in Iowa. In his campaign launch speech, Pawlenty called for the end of ethanol subsidies. Seriously, does ANYONE want to be the Republican nominee? Telling a bunch of corn growers that you’re going to cut an important source of revenue is a good way to get run out of town not get their votes. If we’re going to cut out government support for domestic fuel like ethanol, why don’t we also take off the training wheels for big oil by eliminating their subsidies? Your move T-Paw. Read here.
Our Fellow BAs: A new study shows that the conventional wisdom that humanities majors make less money is quite true. Those with degrees in engineering, science and math earned as much as 50% more than those with degrees in humanities, the arts and education. Working in non-profits, we’ve pretty much resigned ourselves to thrifty lives. Besides, we know money doesn’t buy you happiness. Read here.
Unicam Speaker Mike Flood said the body might adjourn as soon as Thurs. That just means we'll be watching extra close!
Mon, May 23rd
Since the rapture didn’t come this weekend, we’re backing to watching debate at the Unicam. This morning, the Nebraska legislature is debating redistricting maps. You can watch live or follow the tag #neleg on Twitter for updates. Sullivan’s reclamation bill will be debated after that. Here’s your Roundup:
No T-Paw Cupcakes: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has officially announced his candidacy with a video that can only be described as “glorious.” With a soaring musical score, cuts to a newborn baby and shots of average Americans listening and looking upward at some unknown speaker (we’re guessing T-Paw himself?), we think this one’s got definite Academy Award potential. Our only disappointment? Pawlenty suggests he could have announced by handing out cupcakes and flags. Why didn’t he just do that?! Who doesn’t love cupcakes?! Watch here.
Save Our Parks: Conservatives and liberals in the Unicam came together last week to override a veto from Gov. Heineman on a bill that would increase user fees for Nebraska’s parks. Yes, 42 state senators chose to (gasp!) raise costs on Nebraskans. Why? Because the Parks department has already had its budget slashed to the bone, and there’s simply nothing left to cut. If we want to keep our parks in shape, our legislature had to do the sensible thing and increase revenue. It’s nice to see some fiscal common sense coming out the Unicam! Read here.
Palin Tell-All: Former Palin aide Frank Bailey has penned a tell-all book about the Thrilla from Wasilla based on thousands of personal emails he saved from his tenure as her personal aide from 2006-2009. No word on if the new book will be as juicy as Meghan McCain’s “Dirty, Sexy Politics.” We recommend bundling the tell-all with Palin’s own “America by Heart” for your favorite conseravtive. Read here.
Don’t forget to comment on the Keystone XL SEIS before June 6th! Tell Sec. Clinton to visit the Sandhills before she makes a decision (which we think should be to deny the pipeline permit): tinyurl.com/dearclinton
Congrats to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry who recently received an honorary doctorate in Public Administration from Franciscan University in Ohio.