December 22, 2014

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]

Heineman will help, but Ricketts will chose Janssen replacement

Sen. Charlie Janssen/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Office

Sen. Charlie Janssen/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Office

Gov. Dave Heineman says he will work closely with Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts as the incoming governor chooses a candidate to replace Sen. Charlie Janssen, who was elected state Auditor.

Janssen represents the 15th State Legislative District in the Fremont area. Auditor-elect Janssen is expected to resign his state Senate seat after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Applications will be submitted to Gov. Heineman. Gov.-elect Ricketts will review the applicants and select the next senator. Heineman will make the official appointment, based on Ricketts’ selection.

The Governor’s Office will accept applications through noon Central Time Wednesday, November 26th. Applicants must have lived in the district, which encompasses Dodge County, for at least a year. A detailed map of the district and its boundaries is available on the Nebraska Legislature’s website: nebraskalegislature.gov. The Governor-elect may also choose to seek out additional qualified candidates.

The candidate appointed will serve out the remainder of Janssen’s term, which will come up for election in November of 2016. The candidate appointed would only be allowed to run for re-election once under the state term limit laws.

Those interested can apply online at governor.nebraska.gov, under the “Contact Us” tab. A cover letter, resume and additional materials may be emailed to kathleen.dolezal@nebraska.gov or mailed to the Governor’s Office, at P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509. Questions may be directed to Kathleen Dolezal with the Governor’s Office at (402) 471-1971.

Two other legislative vacancies will not be filled, according to the governor’s office. State Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Legislative District 18 in Omaha recently resigned and former state Sen. John Nelson resigned his Legislative District 6 seat in Omaha in September to become Gov. Heineman’s Lt. Governor. The seats will remain vacant until those elected on the 4th, Brett Lindstrom in District 18 and Joni Craighead in District 6 are sworn-in on January 7th.