June 30, 2015

Before you get into that boat, take some time for safety (AUDIO)

lakeSummer is the perfect time to get out on the water in that boat.

But, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wants you to be safe on the water.

And, the biggest boating problem is the bottle.

“I would say about 70% of the accidents could probably be avoided if alcohol was not involved,” Herb Angell, Boating Law Administrator for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Angell doesn’t believe alcohol has a place anywhere on the boat, but especially not with the person operating the boat. If you have a blood alcohol content of 0.8 or higher, the state of Nebraska considers you drunk. While the operator needs to stay away from drinking, he also needs to pay attention to what he is doing. Angell worries that drinking passengers could become a distraction.

Paying attention is a key to operating a boat, just as it is in driving a car.

Unlike driving on dry land, boating involves the water.

Angell advises to make sure those on board have on life jackets, no matter how well they swim.

“I always like to mention Michael Phelps,” Angell says. “You know, he’s a great swimmer, holds all kinds of Olympic records. I can outswim him when he’s unconscious.”

As for the type of life jacket you should choose, Angell suggests you choose the jacket you will wear. He says with all the different type of life jackets on the market, there really is no excuse not to be wearing one while out on the boat.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]


AG Peterson doesn’t like it, but says state will comply with same-sex ruling


Attorney General Doug Peterson

Nebraska has dropped its appeal of a federal court ruling striking down the state ban on same-sex marriage.

The action comes in wake of the United States Supreme Court ruling granting same-sex couples across the nation the right to marry.

Attorney General Doug Peterson says the state will comply with the ruling.

That doesn’t mean he agrees with it.

Peterson says the opinion doesn’t seem to be based on a recognized constitutional right.

“But, rather it is more of an outcome that the court wanted to get to, more of a public policy approach and public policy should be defined by the legislative branch, not the judicial branch,” Peterson tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Peterson cautions those applauding the ruling.

“Some people may find that they approve of the ruling today, but there can be another time where they again create a constitutional right that someone may not be happy about,” according to Peterson. “I don’t think the framers of our Constitution wanted to give that much power to the Supreme Court.”

In 2000, Nebraska voters approved a constitutional amendment that limited marriage to one man, one woman. It survived an earlier challenge in federal court, but faced a second one. That latest challenge was suspended while the United States Supreme Court took up the issue.

Peterson says the courts have historically left the definition of marriage up to the states, but the Supreme Court ruling today changes that.

“Because, I think, of the tide that’s changed across the country. That’s not what courts should do. They should stay to the rule of law and not be dictated by what the current, popular theme is, because frankly some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you,” Peterson says. “If people like courts acting outside the scope of the Constitution, it may be good for them one day and it may be down the road something that they’re going to disdain.”

Peterson says basing the Supreme Court ruling on the 14th Amendment is a bit of a stretch.

Possible close of Colorado coal mine could raise electric rates in Panhandle

The potential closing of a coal mine in Colorado could raise electricity rates in Nebraska’s Panhandle.

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer has joined with Colorado and Wyoming Senators in asking the Department of Interior to take steps to keep the Colowyo Mine open. The mine provides coal to the Tri-State power plant in Craig, Colorado which supplies electricity to a number of western Nebraska communities.

Tri-State provides power to the Chimney Rock Public Power District in Bayard, Midwest Cooperative Corporation in Grant, Northwest Rural Public Power District in Hay Springs, Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association in Alliance, Roosevelt Public Power District in Scottsbluff, and Wheat Belt Public Power District in Sidney.

A federal court has ruled against the Department of Interior’s plans for the Colowyo Mine, which supplies the coal for a northern Colorado power plant that supplies electricity to much of the Panhandle.

Fischer says the Department of Interior needs to act.

“The mine had obtained all the necessary permits,” Fischer tells Nebraska Radio Network. “They had complied with all of the regulations required by the department and this court decision has really turned things around and it could be very, very costly for people in the Panhandle of Nebraska.”

Fischer joined Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado as well as John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, calling on her to take immediate action to protect the Colowyo Mine.

ACLU Nebraska applauds Supreme Court same-sex ruling

Same Sex WeddingsThe United States Supreme Court has ruled same-sex couples can get married in every state, striking down bans on same-sex marriage, such as the one in Nebraska.

Legal Director of the ACLU of Nebraska, Amy Miller, is pleased with the ruling.

“We are absolutely floored with happiness,” Miller tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Of course, we were hoping for this result, but there has been uncertainty over the last couple of months. The decision today offers love, security, and dignity for thousands of Nebraskans across the state and we are just overjoyed with such a resounding victory from the Supreme Court.”

Miller calls the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges a clear victory for same-sex couples.

“So, there’s no wiggle room here,” according to Miller. “It’s in fact so clear how decisive this decision was that the state of Nebraska has already filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in our own state. This is also good news that we’re not going to be fighting any rearguard battles about the interpretation of the decision.”

In a written statement, Attorney General Doug Peterson said the state will comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court.

“Recognizing the rule of law, the State of Nebraska will comply with the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell. Nebraska officials will not enforce any Nebraska laws that are contrary to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell,” Peterson said at the end of a long written response which criticized the decision.


Supreme Court clears way for same-sex marriage in Nebraska

A United States Supreme Court ruling has legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country, striking down Nebraska’s definition, which limited marriage to one man, one woman.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that marriage is a fundamental constitutional right and that states must recognize the union of same sex couples.

The office of Gov. Pete Ricketts issued the following statement:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken and ruled state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. While 70 percent of Nebraskans approved our amendment to our state constitution that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the highest court in the land has ruled states cannot place limits on marriage between same-sex couples. We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court.”

Attorney General Doug Peterson said the state will comply with the Supreme Court ruling.

“Recognizing the rule of law, the State of Nebraska will comply with the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell. Nebraska officials will not enforce any Nebraska laws that are contrary to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell,” Peterson said at the end of a long written response to the ruling issued by his office.

In the statement, Peterson criticized the ruling.

Today five Supreme Court Justices created a new constitutional right based upon sexual choices. The Constitution doesn’t speak, one way or the other, to the question of same-sex marriage. Under our system of federalism, the definition of marriage as a male-female union is properly a matter of state law. I agree with Chief Justice Robert’s contention that “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent.”

The Court overstepped its proper role in our system of government. Instead of interpreting and applying the law, the Court invented a new constitutional right. Nothing in the Constitution mandates a nationwide redefinition of marriage.  Sadly, the Court stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process. The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. The Court took that freedom from the people.

Both Ricketts and Sasse are Republicans.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican, issued the following statement after the Supreme Court handed down its decision on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges:

“Today’s ruling is a disappointment to Nebraskans who understand that marriage brings a wife and husband together so their children can have a mom and dad. The Supreme Court once again overstepped its Constitutional role by acting as a super-legislature and imposing its own definition of marriage on the American people rather than allowing voters to decide in the states.”

Congressman Brad Ashford, a Democrat, issued this statement:

“I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling which makes clear that discrimination against anyone based on their sexual orientation has no place in America. Same-sex marriage bans impose countless burdens and indignities on gay and lesbian couples and their children and serve no legitimate governmental objective. Today the Court moved to guarantee equal protection under the law, as our Constitution promises, by striking down same-sex marriage bans throughout the country.”

“This decision does not ask individuals to abandon their principles on the issue, but rather, to accept that this country is overwhelmingly diverse, and we must embrace those who might not hold our same beliefs. The many differences of individuals are what make this a great nation. As we celebrate this decision I commit to continue working for equality for all Nebraskans in the future.”