May 23, 2015

Gov. Heineman says agriculture remains Nebraska’s economic base

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman says the growth of agriculture spurred the great economic growth Nebraska has enjoyed the past few years.

And Heineman says agriculture in Nebraska is more diverse than it was 25 years ago.

“What I mean by that is the foundation of our economy is agriculture, but agriculture today doesn’t mean just the individual farm and ranch,” Heineman tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It means value-added agriculture. Well, one of the first things you think about there is the ethanol industry in the state. We’ve now become the second-leading ethanol producer. That helped us, along with our water resources and corn resources to become the number one cattle feeding state in America.”

Food processing also has become an economic driver in Omaha and Lincoln, according to Heineman.

Nebraska ranks high on many national economic rankings of states. It has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, well below the national rate.

Heineman says agriculture remains the foundation.

“Agriculture is bigger, more diverse than we’ve ever had it before and it’s more inclusive than most of us think,” according to Heineman. “And then that’s led to the fact that we’ve got smart manufacturing in the state, more technology than we’ve ever had, our ethanol plants and others. We’re a leading insurance industry state. We’re a leader in transportation. But all of it kind of starts with agriculture.”

Gov. Heineman accuses prison committee of rewriting history (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman accuses a special legislative committee of attempting to rewrite history in its report on the prison sentence miscalculation scandal.

The committee concluded in a report released Monday Gov. Heineman set the tone that led to the prison sentencing miscalculations, because he refused to consider building a new prison to relieve overcrowding.

Committee chairman Sen. Steve Lathrop, a Democrat from Omaha, asserted during a news conference pressure from Heineman to keep the prison population down and avoid building a new prison led to problems within Corrections.

Heineman, a Republican, points out work is underway to reform the state prison system.

“And then you’ve got the Lathrop report, which is really a partisan shot in my opinion,” Heineman tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “He’s trying to rewrite history in the sense that he says, you know a report came out in 2006 (that) we ought to build a new prison.”

The 2006 study forecast the population in Nebraska prisons would exceed 140% of their designed capacity. It projected the need for more prison space.

Lathrop contended that by deciding not to consider prison construction, the governor placed pressure on state Corrections officials to push for controversial programs.

The senator claimed he didn’t see that report.

That’s not true, says Heineman, who says he shared the report with Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, and made it available to members of the Unicameral.

“For Sen. Lathrop to say he never saw the report, that is totally inaccurate and he’s not being honest with everyone,” according to Heineman.

Heineman says no one in state government wanted to spend $260 million to build a new prison.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Gov. Heineman focused on current job, not looking ahead

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman isn’t ready to talk about his future, yet.

Heineman has a little more than a month left on his 10-year tenure as governor. He insists his focus is on his current job, not on any future jobs.

“This job is very time consuming and as I’ve shared with the governor-elect, all the way through January 7th I have the responsibility for everything the governor is supposed to do in this state and we’re not going to let up,” Heineman tells reporters. “We’re going to finish strong.”

Heineman, a Republican, declined to run for the United States Senate. He expressed interest in the University of Nebraska presidency, but wasn’t chosen as a finalist.

He says he plans to finish strong.

“You know, on January 8th, I’ll try to figure out what the future holds,” Heineman says. “But I know this, I love our state and I’m going to continue to do some things that will move the state forward.”

Heineman has been governor for 10 years. He could not run for re-election due to term limits.

Couple who lost daughter to drunk driver urge use of designated driver (AUDIO)

Todd Calfee speaks at a news conference in the governor's residence along with his wife, Jaimie. NSP Supt. David Sankey looks on.

Todd Calfee speaks at a news conference in the governor’s residence along with his wife, Jaimie. NSP Supt. David Sankey looks on.

A couple who lost their 19-year-old daughter in a drunk driving accident plead with Nebraskans to not drink and drive.

Todd and Jaimie Calfee of Bennett told their story to reporters during a news conference at the governor’s residence.

“On September 9th, 2011 our lives were completely devastated when we were greeted by two sheriff’s deputies, two very brave sheriff’s deputies, who came to tell us that our daughter had been killed,” Todd Calfee stated. “Later, we found out that she was killed by a six time convicted drunk driver.”

The news conference hosted by Gov. Dave Heineman and First Lady Sally Ganem in the governor’s residence kicks off the “Tie One On For Safety” red ribbon campaign sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving to highlight the tragedy of drunk driving and raise awareness that drivers shouldn’t get behind the wheel after drinking, but rather should have a designated driver.

The Nebraska State Patrol also participated.

MADD and Nationwide Insurance have released a national survey in which 75% of the respondents said they would designate a driver if they were out drinking so that everyone could get home safely. About 45% also added they would designate a driver so they wouldn’t get a DUI.

Todd Calfee speaks with 1st Lady Sally Ganem outside the governor's residence. Gov. Dave Heineman and Andrea Frazier with MADD Nebraska are in the background.

Todd Calfee speaks with 1st Lady Sally Ganem outside the governor’s residence. Gov. Dave Heineman and Andrea Frazier with MADD Nebraska are in the background.

The Calfee’s daughter, Alexis, and her boyfriend, Chris Oberg, died in a traffic wreck while driving back to Wayne State College.

“Our lives will never be the same. They are changed forever. Our hearts are broken,” Todd Calfee said “The holidays were the best times of our lives, when all the family and friends got together. Now there’s an empty place that sits at our table. And, it makes it pretty devastating.”

Highway safety officials say the dangers of drunk driving increase during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve holidays, holidays in which alcohol often plays a prominent role in the celebrations.

AUDIO:  Gov. Dave Heineman and MADD host news conference kicking off “Tie One On For Safety” campaign. [12 min.]

Gov. Heineman expects vigorous defense of Nebraska marriage law (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman expects the state to defend its definition of marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union has announced it will challenge the law, which bans same-sex marriage.

Heineman says the law deserves to be defended.

“The people of Nebraska in 2000 voted overwhelmingly that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s what Nebraskans believe and I know the current Attorney General and I’m confident the Attorney General-elect are going to fight very vigorously that we, the people of Nebraska, decided what we wanted to do,” Heineman tells reporters during a news conference at the Capitol. “This wasn’t a vote of the legislature. This was a vote of all of our citizens, who said very strongly, very forcefully, and overwhelmingly that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

The ACLU has challenged the law before. It actually appeared to have succeeded in its effort to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage when a federal judge agreed with its argument and struck the law down in 2005. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, though, overruled the judge and reinstated the ban.

Officials with the ACLU in Nebraska say recent rulings from the United States Supreme Court encouraged them to again attempt to overturn the law.

AUDIO:  Gov. Dave Heineman expects state to defend definition of marriage. [:35]