August 2, 2015

Congressman Fortenberry calls for suspension of money for Planned Parenthood

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says federal funding for Planned Parenthood should be suspended while Congress investigates videos released by an anti-abortion group.

A fourth video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress in which it appears a Planned Parenthood officials discusses the trafficking of fetal tissue and organs after abortions.

Fortenberry says Planned Parenthood has carefully cultivated an image of providing women health care.

“Now the façade has come down,” Fortenberry tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “The gruesome realities of this organization are exposed. It is sickening. It is shameful. And this is a taxpayer-funded organization, by the way, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and that doesn’t even count what they receive through various affiliates and associates in overseas monies.”

The selling of fetal tissue and organs from abortions is illegal. Planned Parenthood insists it has not broken the law and has stayed within federal statutes.

Fortenberry says federal funding for Planned Parenthood should be suspended while Congress investigates whether that is true.

“But there is a deeper issue here of really what this organization has stood for in the past and why we continue as Americans to not really work hard to heal the past,” according to Fortenberry. “Everyone out there, everyone is affected in some way or another by the painful reality of abortion. But the selling of unborn baby parts brings this to a gruesome level that should awaken the conscience of the entire nation.”

Fortenberry rejects the notion that if Planned Parenthood doesn’t receive federal money, women won’t receive medical care.

“As a matter of first principle, abortion is not health care,” Fortenberry responds. “This organization is completely entangled in profiting in the profitable industry of abortion and that’s the reality.”

Fortenberry says Congress needs to investigate, but the nation needs to reflect.

“As gruesome and sickening as this is, the reality is it makes us confront something that we all want to push off to the side and just sanitize and not deal with.”

Export-Import Bank revival could become part of highway bill

Congressman Adrian Smith

Congressman Adrian Smith

The fate of the Export-Import Bank could be tied to a long-term transportation bill.

The Senate included reviving the bank in its six-year $350 billion highway bill that will not be taken up by the House until September.

Congressman Adrian Smith says if the Export-Import Bank is to be revived, it should undergo change.

“Bare minimum: there needs to be significant reforms in Ex-Im,” according to Smith. “So far, I don’t have a lot of colleagues who resist that notion.”

The Export-Import Bank provides low-interest loans to help U.S. agriculture and companies to sell their goods and services overseas. Its charter expired at the end of June.

Smith says the future of the bank is uncertain.

“Yes, it has officially expired and yet there are some contracts still in place that will last some time, protecting us, some of the exporters as well. I would hope that we can find some solutions, though,” Smith says.

Sen. Deb Fischer voted for the Senate transportation package, but not for the amendment that added revival of the Export-Import Bank to it.

“I did not vote for that amendment that passed and was attached to the bill, but this is a case when you have two houses in Congress, it offers those opportunities that if the House doesn’t want it in the House won’t put it in,” Fischer says.

Highway funding has been extended for three months as the House and Senate negotiate differences in the transportation bill.

Congress fails to pass long-term highway bill, extends current funding (AUDIO)

Highway_constructionCongress has extended transportation funding just ahead of the deadline, but falls short in an effort to pass a long-term highway bill.

House leaders rejected the six-year $350 billion bill approved by the Senate. Instead, Congress passed a three-month highway bill, providing more time to negotiate.

Congressman Adrian Smith acknowledges it’s not the best outcome.

“Speaking for myself, but I think reflecting on the opinions of colleagues that we don’t want to just keep up with these short-term fixes,” Smith says. “We need to look longer-term.”

A couple of sticking points have arisen.

One is the funding of the bill. House leaders contend the numbers in the Senate bill simply don’t add up, leaving it short of the money needed to fund it for the full six years.

Another is the revival of the Export-Import Bank, which provides low-interest loans used by United States companies to export goods and services. The bank’s charter expired at the end of June.

Sen. Deb Fischer voted in the majority that approved the bill 65-34.

The Senate bill provides money for road and bridge construction throughout the country as well as money for transit, railroad, and auto safety programs.

Fischer says she’s satisfied with the funding contained in the bill, especially since it relies on tightening tax collections rather than raising taxes. The bill calls for $16 billion to be generated by reducing the dividend rate the federal government pays to banks.

Fischer voted against the provision including the Export-Import Bank in the bill.

Despite the setback in not passing a long-term measure, Fischer is optimistic an agreement can be struck with the House in September.

“I’m very, very hopeful we’re going to have a long-term highway bill that states want and people are demanding,” Fischer says.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Gov. Ricketts hosting town hall meetings across Nebraska

Gov_Ricketts_Laurel_town_hall

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks to those gathered at Main Street Apothecary in Laurel/Photo courtesy of the governor’s office

Gov. Pete Ricketts is back on the road, holding a series of town hall meetings throughout Nebraska.

The governor recently traveled to northeast Nebraska for town halls in Wayne and Laurel. Tomorrow (Friday), the governor will host meetings in Nebraska City and Falls City in southeast Nebraska.

During his stop in Laurel, Ricketts said he wants to help spread economic opportunity across Nebraska.

“There’s absolutely a lot we can do. That’s why I was talking about we have to focus on manufacturing, for instance, our second biggest industry, because it has the opportunity to create jobs all across the state. That’s why I have been talking about the Renewable Fuel Standard, because our ethanol plants do a wonderful job in our rural communities of creating those great-paying jobs,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX. “So, yes, we absolutely have more work we can do to be able to stem that tide of people leaving our small towns and rural communities.”

Ricketts said he’s committed to helping address the needs of rural Nebraska to stem the flow of people out of rural counties.

Ricketts said he heard from the public on a number of issues already; covering school funding, workforce development, cutting the growth in state government, and the death penalty.

Roads is a major topic as well.

Ricketts said he knows transportation is important to rural Nebraska and vital to its economy.

“Making sure we have a good road system is absolutely part of that as well,” Ricketts responded when asked about transportation in outstate Nebraska.

Ricketts said specific transportation plans for rural Nebraska have yet to be formed.

“I haven’t gotten specific ones I can talk to you about right now,” Ricketts said.

The governor pointed out new Nebraska Department of Roads Director Kyle Schneweis has not been on the job long. Ricketts said he expects to talk with Schneweis soon about what plans he has for Nebraska roads.

The town hall meeting on Friday in Nebraska City begins at 9:30am at the Nebraska City Town Hall, Lied Lodge & Conference Center, 2700 Sylvan Road. In Falls City, the governor will meet with the public at noon at the Falls City Town Hall, Grand Weaver Hotel, 1800 Stone Street.

Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this report.

Gov. Ricketts to lead trade mission to Japan

Gov. Pete Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley will lead a trade mission to Japan.

According to a news release form Ricketts’ office, the governor will lead a delegation of Nebraska business leaders to the 47th Annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference in Tokyo, September 12th through the 16th.

Lt. Gov. Foley will actually arrive in Japan a week earlier, on September 9th, with a separate delegation promoting Nebraska beef and pork.

Ricketts is scheduled to address the conference September 14th.

“Because Japan continues to be one of Nebraska’s top export customers and business investors, this is the perfect opportunity to continue building on our current relationships and reaffirm our commitment as a key player in Japan and the world marketplace,” Gov. Ricketts said in a written statement released by his office.

Japan plays a major role in the Nebraska economy. Japan is the largest foreign direct investor in the Nebraska economy, investing more than $4.4 billion into the state since 2010. Over 20% of Nebraska beef exports head to Japan; over 50% of its pork exports.

Ricketts earlier this year led a trade mission to Europe.