September 3, 2015

A webpage discloses “How Nebraska Ranks” (AUDIO)

Gov. Pete Ricketts unveils "How Nebraska Ranks" webpage

Gov. Pete Ricketts unveils “How Nebraska Ranks” webpage

Information on how Nebraska ranks among the states on a number of issues is only a click of the mouse away.

Governor Pete Ricketts has unveiled the “How Nebraska Ranks” webpage on his official website. Ricketts hopes the page can be used as a recruiting tool.

“This is one of the ways that just people in Nebraska can talk to people outside the state about why we have the best place in the world to live,” Ricketts tells reporters at a Capitol news conference. “That we have a great system of education, that we’re a healthy state, that we’re a very fiscally stable state. And, if you look at things such as our credit rating and how much debt we have, people can feel confident we they move here. But, it’s also for us to judge ourselves, about how we’re doing with regard to tax burden and economic growth.”

How Nebraska Ranks ScreenshotRicketts says it should become a great way to convince people to move to Nebraska.

“If you’re somebody who is trying to convince a friend or family member why they should come back to Nebraska, this is a great resource that is available to anyone to be able to go in and check it out and say, ‘Hey, I can tell you Nebraska is a great place, because I live here, but I also want to show you that if you look at these statistics, it’s borne out there as well,’” according to Ricketts.

Ricketts notes that Nebraska ranks number one with the lowest unemployment rate. But, that low rate indicates Nebraska needs to recruit workers to the state.

Ricketts says the webpage will reveal places Nebraska does well and places where it needs to improve.

AUDIO:  Gov. Pete Ricketts opens news conference on “How Nebraska Ranks” webpage. [4 min.]

Unicameral’s Ag Committee to hold hearing Friday on cattle fees

Cattle InspectionThe Nebraska Legislature’s Agriculture Committee is holding a public hearing Friday in Grand Island.

Senator Al Davis of Hyannis, who sits on the panel, says they’ll hear testimony from ranchers and other interested parties about modifying fees charged by the Nebraska Brand Committee.

“It will be focusing on how the funding will take place in the future,” Davis says. “This last year, we did raise the maximum per head inspection fee to $1.10 from 85-cents. We don’t actually set the fees, the brand committee does, but there was a cap placed and it was 75-cents and now it’s gone up to $1.10.”

Davis says part of the discussion will center on whether registered feedlots should be assessed fees in a different manner than non-registered feedlots, sale barns and private ranch sales.

“Some entities thought that the registered feed lot fees were too high and wanted to see a modification of those,” Davis says. “I think that’s probably going to be the rest of the discussion that takes place in Grand Island.”

Davis says it’s important that those effected by the brand fees make their views known by testifying at the hearing.

“On the west side of that line, you have to have those cattle inspected in order to move them off your place and there’s a fee associated with that,” Davis says. “However the registered feed lot fee, whether it stays the same, which is a function of the per-head inspection fee on the ranch or whether it becomes something totally different, will result in probably significant increases in fees for other types of inspections.”

The public hearing will start at 11 A.M. Friday at the Grand Island city council chambers.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Congressman Smith makes opposition to Iran deal unanimous (AUDIO)

Congressman Adrian Smith

Congressman Adrian Smith

Congressman Adrian Smith has come out against the Iran nuclear deal.

Smith took time before making public his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the United States along with Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China.

“My conclusion after studying the issue, after going to many meetings, and just interacting on the issue itself, I’ve concluded that I think it’s a bad deal,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I think that no deal is better than a bad deal.”

President Barack Obama has been campaigning tirelessly for the deal, making calls to Democrats in Congress to support it. The president is working a two-front strategy. Obama wants to block a bill in Congress opposing the deal, but if he proves unsuccessful in that effort, the president wants to at least retain enough support to uphold a veto.

As part of his pitch, the president has claimed that the choice is between this deal or war.

“I think the president saying it’s either his deal or war is a very irresponsible statement,” Smith says. “I think it’s simplistic. I think it’s inaccurate”

Smith, a Republican, is the last of the Nebraska Congressional delegation to announce his decision on the nuclear deal with Iran, making the delegation’s opposition unanimous.

Earlier, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican, and Brad Ashford, a Democrat, came out against the deal. Both of Nebraska’s United States Senators, Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, oppose the deal. Both Fischer and Sasse are Republicans.

Congress is on its August recess. When members return to Washington, the Iran nuclear deal will be the top issue they face. Congress has until September 17th to vote on the measure.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Congressional delegation says Nebraskans concerned about EPA (AUDIO)

SmokestacksMembers of the Nebraska Congressional delegation say Nebraskans have expressed grave concerns about proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency during the August recess.

Members of the delegation have fanned out across their districts, holding public meetings, listening posts, coffees; listening to their constituents on a number of issues during the recess. Congress returns to Washington next month.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse says the two biggest topics are the Iran nuclear deal and “overreach” by the EPA.

The EPA alarmed agricultural groups when it proposed an expansion of its authority under the Clean Water Act, the Waters of the United States rule. Sen. Deb Fischer even convened a Senate hearing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which primarily aired grievances about the WOTUS.

Now, concerns about the EPA have been renewed with its proposal to expand its authority under the Clean Air Act, with many state officials and politicians claiming a crackdown on carbon emissions will cripple the state economy by raising electric rates.

Sasse says the EPA came into existence for a good reason, but the agency now is over-reaching.

“And the EPA just continually exceeds their statutory authority,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We’ve seen that mostly with the Clean Water Act, but here in the Clean Air Act you’re seeing it again. And I’m glad to see the states getting together to push back against this federal overreach.”

Questions have also been raised about how difficult it will be for Nebraska to comply with the new rules, since all Nebraska utilities are publically owned.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says the reduction of carbon emissions makes sense, the timing does not.

“The transition takes time,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, you don’t want to do something, a heavy-handed measure out of Washington, that penalizes a certain area of the country, but you want to have the incentives in place that naturally transitions us so there are not economic penalties.”

Fortenberry questions the effectiveness of the rule. He says it will make little difference what American power plants do if China continues to build coal-fired power plants with less stringent environmental rules.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

ACLU calls for federal probe into state efforts to obtain lethal injection drugs

aclu-nebraska[1]ACLU of Nebraska officials have written the federal prosecutor requesting her to investigate the state’s effort to obtain lethal injection drugs.

Nebraska ACLU Legal Director Amy Miller claims documents obtained through an open records request indicate federal authorities informed state officials federal law prohibits the importing of the drugs.

Miller contradicts Gov. Pete Ricketts’ assertion that the state is in discussions with the Drug Enforcement Agency to import the drugs.

“The DEA is not in negotiations,” Miller tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “The DEA has said we will stop these items at the border. It is illegal; cease and desist. So, the governor’s assertion that there are negotiations happening does not match up with the clear, written documents of the DEA.”

During a news conference earlier this week, Ricketts stated Nebraska is working with the DEA to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out executions using lethal injection. He stated he did not have a timeline for when the state might obtain the drugs.

Miller claims documents from both the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration warn that lethal injection drugs paid for by the state cannot enter the country.

The ACLU says Nebraska paid more than $50,000 to India-based Harris Pharma for the drugs.

ACLU Legal Director Amy Miller has written U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg, requesting the probe.

“We want to make sure that someone is aware of the fact that despite the fact that the state of Nebraska has been told no, they are moving forward as if they have never received that prohibition,” Miller says.

In the letter, the ACLU of Nebraska requests Gilg open an investigation into Nebraska’s “ongoing efforts to obtain lethal injection drugs from a foreign source.”

The letter lists multiple communications between state officials and federal authorities between May and August of this year.

For links to the documents, click here for the ACLU Nebraska website.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this article.