September 19, 2014

Gov. Heineman says he’s ready to help lead smooth transition (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman says his administration is ready to help with the transition of a new governor, whoever that might be.

Heineman says he wants Nebraska to experience the best transition the state has ever had.

Heineman, ten years on the job, says his experience in state government, including as Lt. Governor, prepared him for the position, something neither Republican Pete Ricketts nor Democrat Chuck Hassebrook have.

“Both these individuals are going to come in without that experience and they’re going to find out it’s a big challenge,” Heineman tells reporters. “And there’s a lot to this job.”

Heineman served as a Congressional staff member, as state Treasurer, and finally as Lt. Governor under Gov. Mike Johanns. He became governor when Johanns left the office to become the Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush.

He has served a total of ten years on the job, leaving due to term limits.

Heineman says reality will hit all at once for the person elected governor.

“You go from one day your governor-elect, the next day it’s fully your responsibility for the entire operation of state government,” says Heineman.

Heineman says he will prepare budget documents for his successor, but the budget and the State of the State address to the Unicameral will be the responsibility of the new governor.

“If they thought the campaign was busy, it’s nothing compared to what’s going to happen on November 5th all the way to January 8th.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [1 min.]

Storms prompt officials to urge disaster preparedness (AUDIO)

A summer of severe storms has promoted state officials to call on Nebraskans to be prepared in case disaster strikes.

Perhaps, the Sunday storms put a punctuation mark on the message by state officials that Nebraskans need to prepare for severe weather.

Gov. Dave Heineman declared September Nebraska Preparedness Month.

A state hit hard all summer by severe weather couldn’t escape the month of August without at least one more round. Stormy weather hit Nebraska on Sunday with straight-line winds clocked at 80 miles per hour in the eastern part of the state. The Panhandle suffered through rain, hail, and wind.

This summer, it seemed at times severe weather wouldn’t leave the state. It first struck on Mother’s Day and didn’t seem to let up until well into July.

“So this was a more taxing year, I think, than maybe the past couple,” Heineman says. “But you never know what’s going to happen relative to emergency weather.”

Heineman notes three federal disaster declarations have been issued for separate storms in Nebraska.

Even with such destruction, State Adjutant General Daryl Bohac reminds us each year stands on its own.

“If you go back to 2011, we faced floods; 2012, fires. Last year, you know, a little quieter, but I would remind us all in October, the community of Wayne was hit with a tornado and we had blizzards out in western Nebraska,” says Bohac. “So, it’s a little bit hard to do the comparative analysis.”

President Barack Obama issued a presidential disaster declaration for the destruction in Pilger in mid-June during which twin tornadoes formed outside the city with one of them cutting a swath through the heart of Pilger. Two died from the storm. The storm destroyed more than half the community in northeastern Nebraska.

The Mother’s Day storms that caused $20 million in damage to Beaver Crossing, Cordova, and Sutton.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency reported $13 million dollars in public assistance has been spent to assist communities hit by tornadoes June 16th and 17th, the most severe of which being the June 16th EF4 tornado that destroyed much of Pilger.

The Small Business Administration issued a declaration of disaster for Stanton County for tornadoes, high winds, and flooding that occurred during June. Its five neighboring counties, Colfax, Cuming, Madison, Pierce, Platte, and Wayne, also will be eligible for low-interest federal loans.

A long-term recovery team has formed to help northeastern Nebraska The Northeast Nebraska June 2014 Long Term Recovery Team is a network of faith-based, non-profit, governmental, business, other organizations and citizens that can coordinate long-term recovery efforts in

Stanton, Cuming, Dixon, Wayne, and Thurston Counties. The group plans to provide a number of services, including those to meet financial, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

During Nebraska Preparedness Month, Nebraska residents are being urged to put together a plan to survive the first 72 hours of a disaster. The theme is “Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit and Get Involved.”

Families should discuss how they would respond to a disaster and should prepare by assembling an emergency kit.

State officials suggest an emergency kit should include:

· battery-powered or crank radio

· weather alert radio

· extra batteries

· first aid kit

· sanitary wipes

· dust mask

· water for drinking and sanitation

· water purification tablets

· waterproof matches and/or butane lighter

· crank flashlight

· plastic sheeting

· non-perishable food for at least three days

· disinfectants and medications.

· medical information for entire family, including details about dosages of required medications and a list of known health issues.

Preparedness guides and resources are available at www.ready.gov <http://www.ready.gov> and www.bereadynebraska.com <http://www.bereadynebraska.com>.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

State Fair puts Nebraska agriculture’s importance on display

Governor Dave Heineman says the State Fair plays an important role in reminding Nebraskans about the importance of agriculture to the state.

Heineman says more than a quarter of the state economy depends on agriculture.

“As I’ve said before, more and more Nebraskans are a generation or two removed from the farm or ranch. So, these types of experiences are increasingly important,” Heineman says.

A new exhibit at the State Fair attempts to fill in the gap for consumers who don’t have that direct knowledge of the farm.

The Raising Nebraska exhibit in the Nebraska Building features 25,000 square feet of interactive displays which answer questions from consumers and demonstrate how the raw products of the farm and the feedlot become food for the kitchen table or gas for the car.

The University of Nebraska, the Department of Agriculture, commodity groups, and agribusinesses sponsor the Raising Nebraska exhibit.

Even as consumers learn more about the importance of agriculture, state officials are working to expand the agricultural economy.

They recently entertained English and German business executives who are considering increasing their purchase of Nebraska beef and other products.

State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says one English customer first visited Nebraska five years ago, after receiving Nebraska beef for his London restaurant, Goodman. He returns annually with members of his staff to buy even more Nebraska beef.

“That’s just part of the ongoing good story of what’s going on across the world, but specifically in Europe where we’ve seen our exports to Europe have grown over 200% in the last five years,” according to Ibach. “So, we’re really excited about the opportunities that communicating with customers around the world provide.”

State officials say Nebraska beef exports to Europe have grown from $41 million in 2009 to more than $132 million last year.

Ibach says the state livestock industry also has seen expansion in the swine and dairy industries. Crop production in corn, soybean, dried beans, and sugar beets continue to grow.

Gov. Heineman declares September Nebraska Preparedness Month (AUDIO)

Gov. Heineman signs proclamation that September is Nebraska Emergency Preparedness Month as (L to R) Asst. NEMA Dir. Bryan Tuma, and Major Gen. Daryl Bohac look on

Gov. Heineman signs proclamation that September is Nebraska Emergency Preparedness Month as (L to R) Asst. NEMA Dir. Bryan Tuma, and Major Gen. Daryl Bohac look on

Gov. Dave Heineman has declared September Nebraska Preparedness Month.

Heineman says it is only appropriate in light of a series of severe storms that tore through Nebraska this year.

“During this spring and summer, Nebraska has experienced three weather-related events that were eventually declared federal disasters,” according to Heineman. “These storms devastated the lives of many of our fellow Nebraskans. Tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding caused significant damage in our state.”

Severe weather ripped through the state this spring and summer. Twin tornadoes struck Pilger in June, with one of the tornadoes roaring through the center of the town. Two residents died of injuries suffered in the storm. Other towns also got hit by tornadoes.

Assistant Director Bryan Tuma with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says no one can forecast when an emergency will strike.

“So, our advice to you is to plan ahead. Prepare for contingencies and have a list of emergency contact information readily available. Get those documents like medical records, contracts, property deeds, leases, banking records, birth certificates and make sure that’s kept in a safe place,” Tuma advises.

State officials say three steps can help prepare a family to make it through the first 72 hours of an emergency: be informed, make an emergency plan, and build and emergency kit.

Emergency kits should include items such as:

· battery-powered or crank radio

· weather alert radio

· extra batteries

· first aid kit

· sanitary wipes

· dust mask

· water for drinking and sanitation

· water purification tablets

· waterproof matches and/or butane lighter

· crank flashlight

· plastic sheeting

· non-perishable food for at least three days

· disinfectants and medications

· medical information for entire family, including details about dosages of required medications and a list of known health issues.

State Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Acierno says steps now can help you and your family make it through a disaster.

“Nebraskans can protect themselves and their families by being prepared. We can’t prevent the disaster, but we can be better prepared to respond to one,” according to Acierno. “Together we have been through tornadoes, wild fires, flooding, ice storms, flu, and food-borne illness outbreaks. Even small steps can make a big difference.”

State officials say a national website, www.ready.gov, has a fill-in-the-blank plan available to make it easy to assemble most of the information needed for personal emergency plans. Nebraska emergency managers operate the website www.bereadynebraska.com.

Click here for more information from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency website.

AUDIO:  Gov. Dave Heineman declares September Nebraska Preparedness Month. [2 min.]

Gov. Heineman sees pros and cons; still says he would vote against minimum wage (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman says that while there are pros and cons to increasing the state minimum wage, he would vote against the November ballot proposal to raise it.

Heineman says he prefers how the state has historically addressed the issue.

“In the past, Nebraska has followed the lead of the federal government regarding the minimum wage,” Heineman tells reporters during a conference call. “When the federal government has increased the minimum wage, Nebraska’s business and labor communities have worked together to increase the minimum wage in Nebraska. We’ve avoided the divisiveness of that issue and that’s a better way to go.”

Supporters of an increase have succeeded in gathering enough signatures to place the issue on the November ballot. It asks Nebraska voters to increase the state minimum wage from the present $7.25 an hour to $8 an hour next year, then to $9 an hour in 2016.

Heineman, though, says he would prefer the state minimum wage be set by the legislature after consulting with labor and management.

“There are pros and cons to this issue. It’s difficult to live on a minimum wage salary, but small businesses are concerned that it will result in job losses,” according to Heineman. “I believe the key is increased training opportunities to help employees increase their skills, resulting in better job opportunities and higher pay, and to recruit higher-paying industries to this state.”

Heineman says while there are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue, he would vote against the November ballot issue.

“While I’ll continue to study this issue, if I had to vote today, I’d vote against the minimum wage ballot issue.”

AUDIO:  Gov. Dave Heineman discusses minimum wage issue with reporters. [:55]