October 8, 2015

NE Education Association to NEA: hold off on endorsing Hillary

The Nebraska State Education Association wants its national affiliate to wait before endorsing a Democrat in the presidential primary.

In a news release issued by NSEA, it states many state education association leaders have protested a move by the National Education Association’s Fund for Children and Education PAC to seek a vote to recommend Hillary Clinton for the presidential primary.

“The NSEA Board of Directors discussed this recommendation and the consensus is that it is too early to recommend a candidate in the presidential primary,” said Nancy Fulton, NSEA president said in a written statement released by NSEA. “The belief is that all candidates should be included in the recommendation process and that a recommendation this early is the process is premature.”

Three candidates chose to participate in the NEA recommendation process: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. All had high rankings on the NEA legislative scorecard.

No Republican candidates have chosen to participate in the NEA recommendation process.

The American Federation of Teachers has endorsed Clinton.

Under the NEA process, the NEA PAC Council makes a recommendation. An official endorsement requires a vote by the full NEA Board of Directors.


Gov. Ricketts denies being a sponsor of the death penalty petition drive

Gov. Pete Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts denies he was a sponsor of the referendum petition campaign that seems to have placed the death penalty on the ballot.

Ricketts dismisses suggestions by the group, Nebraskans for Public Safety, that the nearly 167,000 signatures gathered should be thrown out, because organizers didn’t list the governor as a sponsor.

“No, I’m not a sponsor of this referendum drive. Certainly, I’ve been an advocate. I believe very strongly that Nebraska ought to retain the death penalty,” Ricketts tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln, on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “It’s certainly one of the ways that we help protect the people who protect us, our law enforcement officers and, in particular, our Corrections officers.”

Nebraskans for the Death Penalty spent more than $900,000 on its apparently successful petition drive. Though the Secretary of State has yet to officially certify the signatures gathered, it appears the drive gathered enough signatures to not only put capital punishment on the November 2016 ballot, but also to block the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty from taking effect.

Nebraskans for Public Safety campaigned against the petition drive, spending more than $450,000 on its “Decline to Sign” campaign. The group has filed two lawsuits since Nebraskans for the Death Penalty turned in its signatures. One challenges the ballot language written by the Attorney General. The other claims the petition drive should be invalidated, because organizers didn’t list Gov. Ricketts as a sponsor.

Ricketts used some of his wealth from TD Ameritrade, which his family owns, to donate $200,000 to help finance the petition drive.

“And, while I’ve been a strong advocate and certainly donated to it, that does not make me a sponsor,” Ricketts says. “What you see here is a special interest group who proclaims that they want to protect democracy actually trying to rob Nebraskans of their ability to vote on this important issue.”

Ricketts looks forward to the vote next year.

“I believe Nebraskans should vote on it,” Ricketts says. “I believe when they vote on it, you will see that Nebraskans will want to retain capital punishment, because the vast majority of Nebraskans I talk to believe as I do that it’s an important tool for public safety. And that’s what I would like to see happen here and I’m just surprised some of these special interest groups are trying to stop Nebraskans from voting on it.”

Hillary Clinton comes out against Keystone XL during Iowa campaign stop

Democrat Hillary Clinton, speaking in Des Moines/Photo by Dar Danielson, Radio Iowa

Democrat Hillary Clinton, speaking in Des Moines/Photo by Dar Danielson, Radio Iowa

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton has come out against the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Clinton, during a campaign stop in Iowa, called Keystone XL a distraction from the work of battling climate change.

Clinton gave her opinion in response to a question from a Drake University student after her forum on the cost of prescription drugs, stating she had hesitated to give an opinion while TransCanada’s permit request remained pending before the Obama Administration.

“So I thought this would be decided by now, and therefore I could tell you whether I agreed or disagreed,” Clinton said. “I feel now I’ve got a responsibility to you and other voters who asked me about this.”

Clinton said Keystone XL cannot be evaluated in isolation.

“It is imperative that we look at the Keystone Pipeline as what I believe it is — a distraction from the important work that we have to do to combat climate change — and unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward to deal with all the other issues. Therefore I oppose it,” Clinton stated.

Clinton once had a direct hand in evaluating the oil pipeline that would cut through Nebraska to carry crude extracted from the oil sands of western Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. The TransCanada permit request, needed because the proposed pipeline crosses the Canadian border, was pending before the State Department during her tenure as Secretary of State.

It remains pending.

Clinton’s successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, will make a recommendation to President Barack Obama, who has the final say on TransCanada’s request.

Clinton said that if elected president, she would reject the request from TransCanada.

“I don’t think it is in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change,” according to Clinton. “I will be rolling out in a few days my plan for a North American approach to fighting climate change and clean energy.”

Clinton made the remarks during a campaign stop at the Moulten Elementary School gym in Des Moines Tuesday.

Dar Danielson, Radio Iowa, contributed to this report.

Nebraska ready to go high-tech in registering voters (AUDIO)

Voting BoothsNebraska prepares to launch its online voter registration system during National Voter Registration Month.

Secretary of State John Gale notes Nebraska will become the 24th state to allow online voter registration on Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day.

“We’re certainly part of the national trend and we’re on the front end of that national trend,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Gale says his office studied online registration for one and a half years before backing the legislation, making sure the state could handle the costs as well as insure the system’s security.

He’s encouraged by reports from the states of Washington and Arizona that online registration has not only increased the number of registered voters, but also participation.

Gale hopes online registration encourages young people to vote more often.

“But these new registrations, I think, they’re going to be coming on sooner, earlier in the life of these young people and they’re going to be committing themselves to become a voter,” Gale says.

September is National Voter Registration Month, because it is the month when summer unofficially comes to a close, kids go back to school, and routines are re-established.

Gale encourages new residents to take time and complete a voter application. He says others need to check their registration and make sure it is up-to-date.

Gale joins other members of the National Association of Secretaries of State in promoting September as National Voter Registration Month by issuing the following reminders:

· Every state with the exception of North Dakota has a registration requirement for voting.

· To register, you must be a citizen of the United States and at least 18 years old on or before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

· Updating registration information is important for anyone who has moved, changed their name or had their voting rights restored since the last election.

National studies indicate nearly one out of every seven American eligible to vote aren’t registered.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Repeal repealed: death penalty remains on the books

Boxes of signatures gathered by Nebraskans for the Death Penalty

Boxes of signatures gathered by Nebraskans for the Death Penalty

While noting that nothing is official yet, Secretary of State John Gale has announced it appears a referendum petition drive has succeeded in blocking the Unicameral’s repeal of the death penalty.

Gale’s office has received 120,479 signatures verified by county election authorities to be those of registered Nebraska voters. The drive needed 113,883 certified signatures to keep LB 268 from going into effect.

“Sufficient verified signatures have been received by our office to meet the required threshold of 113,883, but this is not an official certification yet,” Gale said in a written statement released by his office. “While it would appear that the death penalty repeal is very likely to be stayed, we will be waiting until we reach a level of certified signatures of 110 percent before reaching that declaration.”

The higher threshold set out by Gale would equal 125,271 signatures.

The Secretary of State office had earlier declared the petition drive succeeded in gathering enough signatures to make the November 2016 ballot.

The thresholds are determined by the number of registered voters in Nebraska. Nebraska has 1,138,835 registered voters. The petition drive needed 5% from at least 38 of the state’s 93 counties, or 56,942, to secure ballot status. It needed 10% from at least 38 counties, or 113,883, to keep the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty from taking effect.

So far, 68 counties have completed the certification process of the petition drive and turned results in to the Secretary of State.

The petition campaign run by Nebraskans for the Death Penalty gathered nearly 167,000 signatures. The petition campaign began shortly after the Unicameral overrode Gov. Ricketts’ vetoed LB 268 and repealed the death penalty.

The Attorney General also issued ballot language, which can be accessed by clicking here.