Archive

Archive for January, 2012

Tracking Jared Polis in media

Weekly Clips for December 15, 2011 to December 29, 2011

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-CO-2; CO State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-CO-15; Eric Weissmann

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-CO-2

Cut Taxes for the Middle Class and End the Partisanship

YouTube: JaredPolis31275: Videos: December 21: Congressman Jared Polis took to the floor this morning to urge the House to pass middle class payroll tax relief and end the partisanship that might lead to increased taxes on families. Watch…

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Polis Fights to Protect CU, CSU from Costs of Policing the Internet

December 15: Jared Polis-U.S. Rep.: Press Releases: Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today offered an amendment during the House Judiciary Committee’s consideration of an Internet piracy bill that would have protected colleges, universities and non-profit research institutions from compliance costs related to policing copyright protect content. The legislation—the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA)—would hold colleges and universities responsible for preventing access to copyrighted material on their networks or schools could face legal action by the Justice Department. The Polis amendment would have ensured legal responsibility remained with individuals who violate copyright law and not colleges and universities. The amendment failed by a vote of 9-23 although it had bipartisan support.

“We need a balanced approach to Internet piracy but SOPA would take money out of the classrooms and labs of CU and CSU and direct it toward the technical requirements of complying with the law or the legal cost of defending schools in court,” said Polis. “With schools already facing tough times, tuition on the rise, and other challenges to higher education, we shouldn’t be passing laws that slap new unfunded mandates on our colleges and universities.” More…

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Sugar Loaf Fire District Bill Passes House 

December 16: Jared Polis-U.S. Rep.: Press Releases: To support the needs of local firefighters and protect area residents and property, the House today passed the Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District Land Exchange Act, which was authored by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO). The bill will help the Sugar Loaf Fire District maintain and upgrade the two fire stations serving Sugar Loaf and the other nearby growing communities by exchanging two parcels of land on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest between the U.S. Forest Service and the Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District.

“Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District volunteers are key first responders to both wild-land and residential fires as well as car accidents and health emergencies within the communities and public lands they serve,” said Polis. “This legislation will ensure that these volunteers can continue to protect the lives and property of area residents and provide the Fire District with land that’s better suited to the scenic and recreational needs of the local public lands. I’m proud that we were able to work with Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate to get the job done. Apparently, it takes an act of Congress to build a bathroom for our heroic volunteer firefighters.” More… Watch…

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Medical Marijuana: Is A Federal Crackdown, Similar To That In California, Coming To Colorado?

Huffington Post: December 15: Could a large scale medical marijuana crackdown be coming to Colorado like the one seen in California? That’s exactly what a law enforcement official told The Associated Press is being considered for Colorado next year. The official did not want to be identified and did not provide specific details because the the matter is still under review.

CBS4 discovered that warning letters — similar to those that were sent out in California — will go out to dispensaries and grow facilities near schools (within 1,000 feet) and would be given 45 days to shut down or move their place of operations or face prosecution by U.S. Attorney in Colorado John Walsh. However,CBS4 also reported that it’s unclear when that process would begin and Walsh has not released a statement on the matter since it was first reported.

The reasoning behind the 1,000 foot boundary stems from federal law which uses that measurement as a factor in drug crime sentencing. There are many dispensaries in Colorado that are within 1,000 feet of schools, according to High Times, because they were approved by local laws to do so. However, the federal law would trump the state law if and when a federal crackdown would begin.

All of this comes just days after a new poll was released by Public Policy Polling that a large group of Coloradans believe that marijuana should not just be legal medically, but fully legalized. From the Public Policy report:

Coloradans are even more strongly in favor of legalizing marijuana, and they overwhelmingly believe it at least should be available for medical purposes. 49% think marijuana use should generally be legal, and 40% illegal. But explicitly for medical use, that rises to a 68-25 spread. Just five years ago, a referendum to legalize simple possession by people over 21 failed by 20 points. On the medical question, Democratic support rises from 64% for general use to 78%; Republicans rise from 30% to 50%, and independents from 54% to 75%.

The Colorado Independent reports that the Public Policy Polling data “flies in the face of statements made by a number of legislators over the past year that if voters knew what they were in for, they would never have approved medical marijuana in the first place.” Art Way, Colorado manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, went even further telling the Independent that, “decision-makers and elected officials really just don’t have the pulse of the people they represent. The average person considers the federal position that marijuana has ‘no medical value’ to be a joke.”

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) echoed a similar sentiment when he told HuffPost, “There are more pressing issues facing federal law enforcement so it makes no sense for them to waste time and taxpayer money interfering with state-legal businesses that voters have approved, that are well-regulated, and that generate jobs and economic activity. Colorado has the nation’s strictest regulatory system, which means our dispensaries operate transparently and legitimately. I should hope that the federal government would focus its resources on keeping Americans safe from crime rather than interfering with a legal business that benefits Colorado’s economy.” More…

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The nightmarish SOPA hearings

Washington Post: ComPost: Alexandra Petri: December 15: When Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) proposed an amendment to exempt colleges and not-for-profit institutions from the unfunded mandate of having to shut off access to certain sites — like freedom, Internet censorship isn’t free — it was shot down 23 to 9. When he proposed another amendment to target the restrictions not at IP addresses (which, as he noted, can be dynamic and assigned to toasters) but at domain names, it fell just as easily.

This afternoon, the hearings markups continue, with even more amendments. But at the rate it’s going, it looks likely that SOPA will make it to the floor.

I just want the nightmare to be over. More…

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‘Internet is for Porn’ pops up during House SOPA debate

CNET: December 16: Declan McCullagh: A two-day debate in the House Judiciary committee–which has been postponed until at least next Wednesday and perhaps until 2012–was interrupted by the appearance of the popular meme “The Internet is for Porn.”

Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat who presumably knows his way around the Internet better than any other member of Congress (he founded BlueMountainArts.com), was the committee member who decided to bring up the prevalence of online porn. (See CNET’s Q&A with Polis earlier this week.)

A “high percentage” of the Internet’s use is for porn, Polis said. It’s “a pornographer’s wet dream!”

Polis then offered an amendment that would stop the Justice Department from using SOPA’s vast powers to aid adult industry businesses who happen to hold valid copyrights. “Pornography should not be the focus of the attorney general’s protection,” he said. More…

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Altering how the Internet works but not understanding it

The Hill: Congress Blog: Ed Black, Computer & Communications Industry Association: December 21: Those who understand how the Internet works watched in horror last week as those who don’t debated how to regulate it at a mark up of the Stop Online Piracy Act. The House Judiciary committee is now poised to approve H.R. 3261.

Under SOPA, the U.S. Government could demand that ISPs and thousands of other Internet services block and redirect web traffic away from sites that allegedly contain copyright infringing materials.

A simplistic explanation of DNS blocking would be tearing a page out of a phone book to stop calls from reaching an alleged criminal.

DNS redirection is like changing bad guys’ numbers entirely. At the hearing, Rep. Polis, D-Colo., who used to run a company that provided Internet access, likened it to changing all the street signs in a neighborhood so people can’t find their way to the crackhouse, acknowledging legitimate neighbors and those visiting them will be impacted.

One problem is that redirecting web traffic is what cybercriminals do, for example, creating phony sites to resemble those of banks. To combat this, leading Internet engineers have spent years designing and implementing a new security system known as Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), to patch security holes that permit this dangerous type of cyber attack. Using the new security system requires security “handshakes” to ensure traffic really goes from point A to point B — without being intercepted and sent to C.

Unfortunately, leading engineers have said that implementing SOPA would prevent this improved system from working.

Beyond the cyber security issue, Rep. Polis explained that other collateral damage would harm the Internet because of the impact of litigation remedies — not just what a court would order tech companies to do to combat piracy. He said without more reasonable rules on copyright liability, SOPA would incentivize ISPs and tech companies to censor sweepingly all their activities to decrease their own legal liabilities.  More…

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Colorado wins $18 million Race to the Top consolation prize

KDVR: December 23: Democrats who have supported the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, which has incentivized and spurred education reforms across the country that might otherwise have taken decades to occur, celebrated the award, along with some Republicans.

“Finally, Colorado will be receiving Race to the Top funds, and it’s just in time for us to continue Colorado’s groundbreaking work for families, teachers, and school districts,” said Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder.

“These additional resources will help provide every student with an opportunity to succeed in work and life and help keep Colorado in the forefront of education reform.” More…

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Rep. Perlmutter votes the least partisan, Rep. DeGette the most among Colorado representatives

Denver Post: December 25: Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder was the second- most centrist of the Colorado delegation, voting with the Democrats 89 percent of the time.

“My background in small business gives me a real-world perspective that I think is missing in both parties,” he said. More…

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Richest and ‘poorest’ members of Congress

Washington Post: December 27: Members of Congress with the highest and lowest net worth in 2010, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics based on disclosures filed by the lawmakers.

7. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) was the seventh richest member of Congress in 2010, with an average net worth of $143,218,562. Polis founded several companies including American Information Systems, bluemountain.com and ProFlowers.com. More…

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CO State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-CO-15

Colorado health exchange board gets OK to apply for federal grant

Denver Business Journal: December 15: The Legislative Health Benefit Exchange Implementation Review Committee voted 9-1 to let the state apply for the grant, which officials believe is extremely likely to be approved by February.

The only dissenter was state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, who said the $18 million that will be spent largely on planning the build-out of an IT system that will cost several hundred million dollars to construct seemed too much for a program designed to cut health insurance costs. More…

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Larimer is a swing county

Estes Park Trail Gazette: News: December 15: Larimer County has also just become part of the Second Congressional District. This week our state senator Kevin Lundberg formed an exploratory committee to consider running against Representative Jared Polis. Senator Lundberg tells me this is a true exploratory committee. He will make a decision about running before the start of the legislative session. Interested people can submit comments to him at kevinlundberg2012.com or sign up for his email list.

Rep. Polis certainly appears to be a Boulder liberal of the first order. Senator Lundberg is a committed conservative. Both candidates are more complex than their general personas. Senator Lundberg says that if he runs, his first priority will be jobs and the economy. Although he is a social conservative, the last time he sponsored any legislation on the issue of marriage was in 2004, when he sponsored a legislative resolution supporting the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

No matter who opposes him, Polis will position himself as a pro-business and pro-growth Democrat. In July 2009, Representative Polis initially opposed the Obama Care health bill because part of its funding was to be a surcharge in high income taxpayers. Polis rightly saw that as a burden on small businesses, many of which are LLCs or S Corporations. In fact, Polis contended that small businesses would pay higher effective tax rates than multinational corporations.

Unfortunately for him, President Obama is headed in a different direction. Taxing “millionaires” will apparently be a centerpiece of President Obama’s re-election campaign.

The caucus process will ultimately decide the candidates for each party. Greater participation can help ensure that party nominees reflect a commitment to turning around the economy. More…

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Lundberg looking at race against incumbent Polis

Colorado Statesman: News: December 15: In a possible match-up he acknowledges would be “kind of a David and Goliath competition,” one of the most conservative members of the Colorado Legislature announced late last week that he’s exploring a run against one of the state’s most powerful — and wealthiest — gay politicians.

Following court approval of new congressional district lines on Dec. 5, Republican state Sen. Kevin Lundberg launched an exploratory committee and website aimed at deciding whether he should challenge two-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis now that the 2nd District encompasses Lundberg’s home in Larimer County and is no longer dominated by Polis’ base in Boulder County.

Republican sources said at least two other GOP candidates could announce in coming weeks, including another wealthy Boulder investor who could give Polis a run for his money.

Lundberg told The Colorado Statesman he might be willing to step aside if a stronger Republican challenger emerges, but for now he’s weighing his options.

“I’ll back the best candidate we’ve got,” Lundberg said. “It may come down to a decision we’ll make through caucus, assembly and primary process,” he said, adding that if he winds up in a primary, he’ll offer himself as an alternative and wouldn’t “do anything on my part to weaken anybody.”

It’s important that Republicans keep their eyes on defeating Polis, Lundberg said.

“My goal is that we launch the strongest campaign we can for conservative principals, and that falls under the Republican banner,” he said. “I am quite willing to look at who else might throw their hat in the ring — especially during this exploratory time.”

Although Lundberg was the only Republican to declare his interest in the race by press time, Republican sources confirmed that Boulder-based investment manager Eric Weissmann was also looking at a possible run.

A certified “Defender of Capitalism” via the conservative Leadership Program of the Rockies, Weissmann works as managing director of the Boulder-based investment firm Kachi Partners. He told The Statesman he was traveling outside the country this week with only intermittent access to email but would have a comment “soon.” More…

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Proposed Immigration Rules Promote Family Unity, Safety 

January 6: Jared Polis-U.S. Rep.: Press Releases: Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today applauded a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposal that would promote family unity and public safety by allowing immigrants with U.S. citizen spouses to submit a waiver of inadmissibility before returning to their country to attend their immigrant visa interview. Currently, spouses of U.S. citizens must leave the country to apply and are often barred from returning to their families for as long as 10 years.

“This policy will save the lives of American citizens,” said Polis. “Jake Reyes Neal would be alive today if this had been in place. It’s past time that we reformed our immigration system so that families aren’t torn apart or sent off to dangerous cities like Juarez, Mexico as they wait to have their cases processed. Congress still must pass comprehensive immigration reform but this proposal is a welcome change over an unfair process that splits apart families and sends husbands, wives and children off to some of the most perilous parts of the world while their cases are heard.” More…

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Polis, Quigley Call for Investigation of Immigrant Detention Abuse 

January 9: Jared Polis-U.S. Rep.: Press Releases: Following repeated reports of sexual abuse in the immigration detention system by the Heartland Alliance, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate and offer possible remedies to improve conditions at Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities and those with which they contract. According to government documents, nearly 200 allegations of abuse from detainees in detention facilities across the nation have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2007. Many of these incidents have involved LGBT immigrants.

“The continued reports of sexual abuse against immigrants in ICE detention facilities are appalling,” said Polis. “Here we have people who are at their most vulnerable—many without access to any legal assistance—who are being preyed upon and assaulted. LGBT immigrants appear to be special targets for abuse in ICE facilities. I expect that GAO will conduct a thorough investigation and offer up solutions that will end this intolerable situation.” More…

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Ten in ’12: What to Watch For in 2012

Times Call: January 1: A busy November ballot

With term limits, redistricting and reapportionment changing Colorado’s political landscape, voters will have plenty of decisions to make in 2012.

Boulder County Commissioner Ben Pearlman, who was prevented by term limits from running again in November, resigns his District 2 commissioner’s seat today to become the county attorney. A vacancy committee will appoint his replacement, who then would have to stand for election in November to keep the job. Also up: term-limited Commissioner Will Toor’s seat.

Following the 2010 census, state legislators had to redraw boundaries for Colorado’s seven congressional districts. Although Longmont remains in the 4th CD — where state Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, is challenging Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma — 2nd CD Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, picked up Larimer County but lost southwest Weld County to the 4th CD.

New boundaries for the state Legislature took north Boulder out of the Longmont-based House District 11 but added Lyons and Niwot. House District 12 covers most of eastern Longmont west of County Line Road, as well as Lafayette and Louisville. Besides House 11 and 12, legislative districts representing parts of Boulder and southwest Weld counties that will be up for election this year include: Senate districts 17, 18 and 23; and House Districts 10, 13, 33 and 63.

Also up for election in 2012: Boulder County District Attorney; an at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents; the 2nd Congressional District seat on the State Board of Education; and eastern Boulder County’s District I seat on the Regional Transportation District’s board of directors. More…

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The show may not go on: Congress takes on exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses

American Independent: January 3: Elephants dancing in skirts, bears riding tricycles and lions leaping through flaming hoops could become distant memories if a bill U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., is co-sponsoring gains traction in Washington.

The Boulder-based congressman and 12 other representatives are pushing legislation that would effectively end the use — and documented abuse — of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses.

“Congressman Polis is a strong supporter of animal rights and is concerned about the treatment of animals in circuses,” Polis spokesman Chris Fitzgerald told The Colorado Independent. More…

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Shaffer: I’ll stay as Senate president

Denver Post: The Spot: Lynn Bartels: January 4:  In the Senate, Republican Kevin Lundberg is exploring whether to take on Polis. More…

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Tea Party House Members Even Wealthier Than Other GOP Lawmakers

Open Secrets: Seth Cline: January 4: Their politics may differ. But both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement have laid claim to representing the interests of the middle class, whose economic frustrations helped spur the groups’ establishment and growth.

So which side’s congressional lawmakers come closest to embodying that wide swath of the U.S. population? Or, in Occupy terms, which side is closer to the 99 percent?

Neither the members of the House Tea Party Caucus nor those of the House Progressive Caucus — whose views most closely align with the Occupy Wall Street movement — are remotely middle class, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics of congressional personal financial disclosure forms covering 2010, the most recently available data.

The members of the House Tea Party Caucus are especially wealthy, the Center’s research shows.

The least wealthy member of the House Progressive Caucus is from Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), whose estimated average net worth puts her $383,500 in debt. At the other end of the spectrum is Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), whose estimated average net worth clocks in at $143.2 million. In all, 24 of the 73 voting members of the caucus are millionaires. More…

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The new politics of Silicon Valley: Revenge of the nerds

Denver Post: January 5: Growing opposition to SOPA forced House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to make significant changes to the bill before a markup session last month. But that wasn’t enough for Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Ca.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Jason Chaffetz (R, Utah) and other committee members, who proposed more drastic surgery to the flawed bill during a marathon two-day session. Their amendments were voted down, but the effort kept the bill from moving out of committee for a planned floor vote. More…

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The new politics of Silicon Valley: Revenge of the nerds

CNET: January 5: It was a dangerous year for innovation. Governments around the world became increasingly aware that digital technology could disrupt the political and economic status quo.

Lawmakers and lobbyists were calling for new laws to curb innovations that challenged traditional law enforcement and old ways of doing business. But the laws would have stifled innovation far beyond their intended goals. Technology industry leaders sounded the alarm, but their voices went largely unheard in the corridors of power.

But one proposal gave birth to an organized resistance. Top government officials tried to force industry to re-engineer key technologies to dramatically expand government intervention and oversight, allowing federal law enforcement agents to manipulate core innovations central to fast-growing but still immature new products and services.

A small group of entrepreneurs, activists, writers and lawyers banded together to rally the technology community in opposition. A surprising coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers emerged to support the freedom fighters, many considered otherwise too liberal or too conservative to have common cause. Together, they fought back the proposal and, perhaps, saved a generation of future technological innovation. More…

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Beltway Blog — Colorado delegation tepid on Udall’s idea of date night

Denver Post: The Spot: Allison Sherry: January 5: Reaction was mixed Thursday to Democrat Sen. Mark Udall’s pitch to again sit in mixed company, Republicans and Democrats, during the Jan. 24 State of the Union address.

Udall will promote the idea spearheaded by left-leaning think tank Third Way, which sent a letter to GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging a 24-hour “knock it off” period before the address as well as members to pick someone from the other party to sit next to the night of the president’s speech.

“The speech is not for the folks in the hall, it’s for millions of folks watching at home,” said Sean Gibbons at Third Way. “Plenty go through their daily lives where they disagree with people, but they probably break bread with family members, neighbors who disagree with them. You’d think it would be easy for members of Congress to do it in one night.”

But Colorado’s Republicans and Democrats weren’t so sure.

Udall had one enthusiastic supporter Thursday, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, said he planned to sit next to a Republican, possibly from the Colorado delegation.

“So much of the work here isn’t and shouldn’t be partisan,” Polis said. “It’s about doing what’s best for Colorado and we need to be a strong and united delegation.” More…

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Proposed immigration rule would ease application for legal status

Washington Independent: January 6: “This policy will save the lives of American citizens,” said U.S. Rep Jared Polis, D-Colorado. “Jake Martinez would be alive today if this had been in place. It’s past time that we reformed our immigration system so that families aren’t torn apart or sent off to dangerous cities like Juarez, Mexico as they wait to have their cases processed. Congress still must pass comprehensive immigration reform but this proposal is a welcome change over an unfair process that splits apart families and sends husbands, wives and children off to some of the most perilous parts of the world while their cases are heard.” More…

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Lawmakers attuned to ambitions

Pueblo Chieftain: January 7:  The 2012 race for Congress is well under way, and Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty worries whether it will color the General Assembly’s upcoming session, which begins next week.

McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said he is concerned that having three — possibly four — candidates for Congress in the Legislature could lead to a polarizing, hyper-political environment.

“I hope that these congressional ambitions don’t play into the legislative session,” McNulty said. “None of us have any way to tell that now. It is something I’m concerned about, one of those external forces that could weigh in at different times and in different ways this legislative session.”

State Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez in the 3rd Congressional District. Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, is running against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma in the 4th district, and Rep. Joe Miklosi, D-Denver, is trying to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora. State Senator Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, has said he is considering challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis in the 2nd district.

“I’m focused 100 percent on jobs and the economy,” Shaffer said. “I don’t think (congressional candidacies) will have any impact on the upcoming session.”

Pace said that in his view, “This is creating no more of a hostile situation than there was a year and a half ago when Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton — Frank McNulty’s Republican colleagues — were running for Congress. More…

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Jared Polis takes quick tour of Loveland

Coloradoan: January 7: Rep. Jared Polis, who hopes to represent Larimer County and the rest of the newly redesigned 2nd Congressional District after November’s election, is spending time getting to know some of the county’s faces and places.

Polis took a whirlwind tour of Loveland on Friday that started with a stop at the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology, which aims to become a major jobs center for clean energy and technology in the next few years.

Polis said he plans to spend most of his time in Colorado in the next year visiting Larimer County.

With people across Colorado facing issues regarding jobs, the economy and budgets, Polis said the site is one of the highest-profile opportunities in the area for job creation and he could play a role in helping it be successful.

He told a few dozen people who participated in the tech park tour he would work with Rep. Cory Gardner, who represents Larimer County in the 4th Congressional District, and other state leaders to roll out the red carpet to prospective tenants. More…

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The anti-environment Congress

Real Aspen: January 7: U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is among the antagonists singled out in a new report detailing the first session of what it calls “the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress.”

The report, commissioned by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Howard Berman, D-Calif., notes that, as of Dec. 15, the Republican-led 112th Congress voted a record 191 times on legislation that would undermine environmental protections.

The House averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day Congress was in session during 2011, which equates to more than one out of every five of all roll call votes, the report found.

Republicans targeted the Environmental Protection Agency the most, with the House voting 114 times to weaken the agency’s purview. On 27 occasions, Congress voted against actions to address the threat of climate change and it worked to overturn scientific findings that climate change endangers human health and welfare.

Gardner was one of at least a dozen Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee who made public statements indicating that they question or reject the scientific consensus that climate change is predominantly human caused.

“Rep. Cory Gardner admitted that the climate is changing but said that he does not ‘believe humans are causing that change to the extent that’s been in the news,’” according to the report (pdf), which notes that House Republicans also voted to block the EPA from regulating carbon pollution from power plants and oil refineries, and they voted to prevent the EPA from working with the Department of Transportation and the automobile industry to develop fuel economy standards for vehicles.

The report also calls out Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., who introduced the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which seeks to overturn the EPA’s finding that climate change endangers human welfare and to upend the Supreme Court’s decision that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The bill also prohibits the EPA from enforcing existing greenhouse gas reporting requirements to collect emissions information.

“During the floor debate about the Upton bill, the House Republicans voted against several Democratic amendments to restore [the] EPA’s authority to address climate change. Only one Republican supported an amendment offered by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., to allow the EPA Administrator to suspend the bill’s prohibitions if impacts from climate change affect public health.”More…

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Polis requests GAO study on sexual abuse of LGBT immigrants

The Hill: Floor Action Blog: January 10: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the alleged abuse of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people trying to enter the United States as immigrants.

Polis’s letter is a reaction to reports that there were incidents of sexual violence against immigrants held by the Department of Homeland Security. Polis said the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center filed a complaint about these reports last April, and other reports have said sexual abuse is occurring in DHS’s detention facilities.

“In spite of these reports, the Department of Justice recently announced that immigration detention facilities will not be covered by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA),” Polis wrote, according to Denver’s Westword blog. “Therefore, we respectfully request that the GAO undertake a detailed audit of immigration detention facilities used by DHS to detain immigrants to investigate the incidence of sexual violence.” More…

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Boulder gets major backings for B-cycle expansion

Daily Camera: January 11: U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, also sent a letter of support.

“I am very excited about this project because of its potential to reduce auto trips, its strong connections to our transit system and the vibrant public private partnerships that support the program,” Polis wrote. “This project offers an excellent return on investment toward increasing sustainability.”

Boulder’s delegation of state lawmakers also is standing behind the proposed expansion. Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Gunbarrel, Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, all sent letters of support to LaHood.

“Since its launch in May of 2011, the community has embraced the B-cycle system and is eager for more stations,” Heath wrote in his letter. “We would very much appreciate the Federal Highway Administration’s support for expanding this system.” More…

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Feds: Colorado medical-marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school must close

Denver Post: January 12: Congressman Jared Polis, who has defended Colorado’s medical-marijuana laws in Washington, said a 1,000-foot buffer from schools makes sense and did not express outrage at the limited crackdown. He said dispensaries should comply with the 1,000-foot limit in state law.

“The Justice Department has repeatedly made clear that dispensaries that are in compliance with state law are not an enforcement priority,” Polis, D-Boulder, said in a statement. “Colorado’s tough system of medical marijuana regulation is the best way to keep drugs out of the hands of minors.”

The U.S. Justice Department has previously said it would not target people operating in compliance with state medical-marijuana law. It then clarified that policy over the summer to state the exemption doesn’t apply to dispensaries and their owners.

The letters sent out today are sharply worded and leave little room for confusion.

“The dispensary is operating in violation of federal law, and the Department of Justice has the authority to enforce the federal law where appropriate even when such activities may be permitted under state law,” the letter reads. “Persons and entities who operate or facilitate the operation of such dispensaries are subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions under federal law.” More…

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CO State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-CO-15

Exploratory Committee Update, 2nd Congressional District

Lundberg for Congress in 2012: Exploratory Committee: News: January 5: Tonight we surpassed 900!

We have come a long way, but still have a long way to go to reach the goal of 1500 people volunteering to help unseat Jared Polis from CD2 in 2012.

Thank you for being a part of this grass roots team. Right now, if you haven’t already, you can help by simply passing this on to others. Ask them to go to our website: www.Lundberg2012.com and join us. Send this to your friends on Facebook, email contacts, or just call up folks you know on the phone.

I originally put Friday as my deadline for this effort, but several have asked if we can extend it through the weekend, so we will make it so and continue counting through the 8th.

For Life and Liberty!

Kevin Lundberg

P.S. Arm yourself with the facts at www.Lundberg2012.com, pass this on to everyone you know, and help us make history in 2012. More…

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Colorado legislator’s bill seeks cooling-off period before getting divorce

Denver Post: January 3: A state lawmaker who wants to make it more difficult for parents to divorce said he initially had no idea that legislators a decade ago killed a similar proposal dubbed the “Dr. Laura” bill.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he believes his proposal stands a better chance because it makes exceptions, such as in cases of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

The bill would require parents who have minor children and are considering divorce to first undergo educational instruction “that tells them how this impacts their children,” he said. Then there would be a waiting period before filing for divorce.

“We have made it just too easy to bail out of a marriage,” Lundberg said.

Colorado, like all states, has a no-fault divorce system, meaning proof or allegation of wrongdoing on the part of one spouse is not required. A person can be divorced within 90 days of filing, even if the other party is opposed. More…

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“Cooling off” period proposed for divorces

Colorado Connection: January 3: A Colorado state lawmaker wants to try again to make it more difficult for parents to divorce.

Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud said he believes his proposal stands a better chance of passing because it makes exceptions, including cases of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

“This bill doesn’t stop divorces,” Lundberg said. “This bill simply requires a careful, deliberate process when children are involved in that divorce.”

Lundberg said his proposed Parental Divorce Restriction Act would require parents who have minor children and are considering divorce to first take about six hours of educational instruction, teaching them how divorce would impact children. Watch… More…

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Colorado GOP group organizes support for civil unions, saying they fit party’s personal-freedom philosophy

Denver Post: January 3: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, who led the fight in the Senate against last year’s civil-unions bill, said he will fight this year’s effort too.

“It’s not just a freedom issue,” said Lundberg, who spearheaded the 2006 effort to outlaw same-sex marriage. “It’s an issue of what is the definition of marriage in Colorado. That’s absolutely the core point. Are we going to change the practice of marriage from one man, one woman to any gender at any time?” More…

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Adding Steps To The Divorce Process

KJCT 8: January 3:  If you want a divorce in Colorado, you may have to wait. A new bill is heading to the state legislature for approval and its looking to add more steps to the already complex divorce process.

State Senator Kevin Lundberg is the face of the proposal. The republican says child safety is the driving force behind the idea.

“When there are kids involved, I believe that it is in the states best interest to ensure that the couple understands and considers what impact this has on their children.” Lundberg said.

The bill would require couples to undergo a six hour training session on how children are impacted by their parents calling it quits.

Current state law dictates that parents attend a similar session, but it’s not nearly as in-depth.

Attorney Catherine Burkey says, “When a case is initiated, then the people are ordered to go and attend a parenting class.”

The primary difference – people will now have to wait after completing the course.

“There will be a period of months that they will wait before proceeding with the divorce,” Lundberg said. More…

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Lundberg pulls “Dr. Laura” divorce bill

Denver Post: The Spot: Lynn Bartels: January 6: State Sen. Kevin Lundberg said today he won’t introduce his bill requiring splitting parents to first attending counseling and wait before filing for the divorce.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, has decided not to introduce his bill requiring parents to attend counseling before divorcing.

“Much of what has been presented by those who disagreed with the bill with articulate and respectful dialogue has merit,” the Berthoud Republican said in a letter.

“I am still committed to looking for ways to address the significant problems associated with divorce, but it will take much more time and deliberation than the upcoming session will allow.”

The Denver Post reported this week that Lundberg planned to introduce the bill, saying “We have made it just too easy to bail out of a marriage.

The story has gone national with critics questioning how Lundberg can portray himself as a limited-government Republican while sponsoring a measure requiring mandatory counseling. The bill had presented a problem for Republicans who criticized Democrats for pushing social legislation, including a civil-unions bill to be introduced when the 2012 session opens Wednesday.

His proposal was dubbed the “Dr. Laura” bill after a measure that died a decade ago in the legislature. More…

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Lundberg to challenge Polis for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District seat

Denver Post: January 9: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, will run against Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat representing the 2nd Congressional District, Larimer County’s new district in 2013.

“Based on strong support from citizens of the Second Congressional District Kevin has decided to move forward with a campaign,” said Lundberg’s campaign website, www.kevinlundberg2012.com. More…

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Lundberg launches challenge

Denver Post: January 10: State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, on Monday said he will run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder in the state’s reconfigured 2nd Congressional District.

Lundberg waited until a counter on a website for his exploratory committee ticked past 1,500, the number of supporters he said heneeded before stepping up to run.

Other Republicans in the district — now Boulder and Larimer counties, and parts of Jefferson County — said Lundberg, among the most conservative members of the state legislature, likely will face opposition from his own party.

“I realize that it’s going to be a David-and-Goliath-type competition,” he said. “But I think there is a great deal of concern with our voters on where the country is heading.”The Reporter-Herald.

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Colorado legislators to face bevy of health-care bills

Durango Herald: January 9: Colorado lawmakers expect to consider numerous health-care issues this session, from tougher “truth in advertising” requirements for medical providers to imposing more stringent standards on food sold in public schools.

But with Colorado’s rising Medicaid costs already devouring a third of the state budget, don’t expect to see many health-care measures aimed at funding new programs or expanding services.

Instead, legislators are focused on cutting costs to meet current obligations as they gear up for the new session, which starts Wednesday.

“Everybody is asking tough questions about how we find more cost-efficiencies,” said state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.

The “truth in advertising” bill is designed to prevent licensed medical professionals from misrepresenting their credentials or services in promotional materials. More…

Categories: Colorado Politics Tags:

Stenberg Renews Debate Request: Says Jon Bruning Appears Hesitant to Face Voters

Weekly Clips December 15, 2011 through December 29, 2011

Nebraska’s 2012 Republican Candidates for U.S. Senate:

State Treasurer Don Stenberg; Atty. General Jon Bruning; and Gov. Dave Heineman

State Treasurer Don Stenberg

Stenberg Renews Debate Request; Says Jon Bruning Appears Hesitant to Face Voters

January 5: Don Stenberg for  Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska U.S. Senate Candidate Don Stenberg, today renewed his request to hold a minimum of six debates prior to the May 15 Primary Election.

“I am requesting again today, that the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate agree to hold a minimum of six debates, with a minimum of two in each of Nebraska’s congressional districts prior to the May 15 Primary Election.”
On November 16, Stenberg sent letters to Bruning, Deb Fischer, and Pat Flynn requesting they agree on at least six debates.

“Although other Republican opponents have accepted invitations to debate, Jon Bruning appears to be hesitant to face the voters. As of today, Bruning has only agreed to one debate. With only 130 days until the May 15 Primary Election, Nebraska voters are starting to focus on who should replace Ben Nelson in the U.S. Senate. They deserve to hear the candidates’ views on how to fix what’s wrong in Washington and how they would represent Nebraska values in the U.S. Senate, “ Stenberg said. More…

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Bob Kerrey Isn’t the Change Most Nebraskans Want – “Nostalgic liberalism that will keep us on the Obama-Reid path”

January 7: Don Stenberg for  Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska U.S. Senate candidate Don Stenberg issued the following statement regarding Bob Kerrey’s proposed visit to Nebraska:

“There are news accounts that New Yorker Bob Kerrey will soon visit Nebraska to determine whether he can be effective in the United States Senate. Unquestionably he can…just not in the way most Nebraskans would like.”

“Bob Kerrey’s vote would keep in power Senator Harry Reid and the other liberal Democrats who have imposed ObamaCare, trillion dollar deficits, and job killing federal regulations on our nation. This isn’t the sort of effectiveness most Nebraskans would like to see in their next United States Senator.”

“Since Bob Kerrey could be very helpful in keeping the liberal Democrats in power in Washington, I’m sure the folks at the Democrat National Committee would love to see him run, I’m just not so sure Nebraska is the best option for him. Hawaii, for instance, will have an open Senate seat in November. The weather there might be a little more hospitable for a January ‘listening’ tour. Virginia also offers up an open seat, and given former Senator Kerrey’s many years inside the Beltway, he would probably feel right at home there, too.”

“But if, after surveying his options and reacquainting himself with Nebraska, he decides to abandon Manhattan for Lincoln or Omaha, I would very much welcome a spirited debate and offering a dramatic contrast to New York resident, and possible Nebraska resident, Bob Kerrey.”

“While former Senator Kerrey can offer up a nostalgic liberalism that will keep us on the Obama-Reid big government path, I will offer a new direction for our nation. That new direction will include the repeal of ObamaCare, substantial reductions in federal spending and regulation so we can create jobs, development of our domestic energy resources, and the securing of our borders.” More…

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Stenberg Becomes Official Candidate for U.S. Senate

January 11: Don Stenberg for  Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska State Treasurer, Don Stenberg, today filed to become an official candidate for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate. After a signing the necessary paperwork with the Nebraska Secretary of State, Stenberg began a 2-day ten-city tour across Nebraska.

“I am running for the United States Senate because we need a new direction in Washington, before the things that make America great are swept away by this massive debt and irresponsible expansion of government,” he said.

“Our country is going in the wrong direction.  There are many reasons.  Our elected officials in Washington appear to be incapable of restraining federal spending or putting any limits on government.  Congress repeatedly imposes unnecessary and burdensome regulations on our job creators — our farmers and ranchers, small businesses and storeowners.  Congress has turned much of the lawmaking function over to the huge and growing bureaucracy, with Nancy Pelosi famously telling us we needed to pass Obamacare in order to find out what’s in it.  Many members of Congress have lost touch with the people they represent because they’ve been in Washington too long.  Unelected judges have gone far beyond their appointed roles and are remaking our country in ways the people and our Founding Fathers never intended.”

“To go in a new direction, we need a different kind of U.S. Senator to represent Nebraska. We need a person with a proven record of accomplishment on behalf of the things Nebraskans value most.  We need a Senator who will put the next generation ahead of the next election, and principle above political party and political ambition.  Our next Senator must understand both the nature of the challenges facing our country and the nature of public service.” More…

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DeMint PAC Drops Six Figures in Nebraska to Help Underdog Stenberg

National Journal: Hotline: OnCall: January 5: Sen. Jim DeMint’s, R-S.C., Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) has launched a $210,000 television ad on behalf of Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenberg, a Republican running for retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson’s seat, giving a candidate with nearly no money a sizable boost. The spot is slated to run statewide between Jan. 3 and Jan. 23.

A major Stenberg weakness: his fundraising has been an embarrassment. Stenberg had a meager $24,000 in the bank at the end of the third quarter of 2011 and DeMint’s financial help is just the shot in the arm Stenberg needs if he’s to have any chance at upsetting frontrunning GOP Attorney General Jon Bruning. Bruning already went on the air in December.

Stenberg’s campaign sent out an email from DeMint during the last week of December touting the spot, but at the time it was unclear whether it would actually air on television/ DeMint wrote in the email that “With your help, we can run this ad statewide on cable and network television.”

The email also sought to capitalize on Nelson’s decision to retire as a reason to support Stenberg. Without having to worry about beating Nelson in the general election, the GOP can afford to nominate a conservative candidate like Stenberg, the argument goes.

“I stand in awe of the courage of the signers of the Declaration of Independence,” says Stenberg in the ad. “Despite the enormous risks, their love of freedom was greater than any fear they must have felt.”

“Lifelong conservative leader Don Stenberg has shown the same love of freedom,” says the ad’s narrator. “Lifelong” is an indirect jab at Bruning, who whose views as a law student were notably more liberal. “Cutting spending, fighting crime, defending the unborn. Don Stenberg has the courage we need now in the U.S. Senate.” More…

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Stenberg gets ad boost from PAC

Omaha World-Herald: January 6: Senate candidate Don Stenberg has received a $210,000 boost in the form of an advertising campaign from a Tea Party-affiliated political action committee.

The ad, entitled “Courage,” touts Stenberg’s conservative credentials and compares him to the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

It will run statewide until Jan. 23, according to a statement from Stenberg, who is Nebraska state treasurer.

The ad from South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund comes weeks before federal candidates must report their campaign fundraising for October, November and December.

In previous quarters, Stenberg’s Republican primary opponents have raised far more money than he has.

In the third quarter of last year, Stenberg raised $53,000, compared with Attorney General Jon Bruning, $583,000, and State Sen. Deb Fischer, $228,000.

Two-term Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson announced last month that he won’t seek re-election.

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Stenberg Jokes Nebraska Not Liberal Enough For Kerrey

WOWT: January 8: Current state treasurer and Republican Senate candidate Don Stenberg said “half in jest” that Kerrey should look to a more liberal Democratic state to run in since he hasn’t lived in Nebraska for almost 10 years.

“I’m sure that Bob Kerrey’s probably spent as much or more time in Virginia in the last 20 years as he has Nebraska. I’m sure he’s well known there and that’s a more Democratic state, too. So I think he ought to broaden his horizon and look for some other options that would better match his liberal Democratic past.”

Stenberg will officially kick off his campaign on Tuesday. He will likely run against Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Sen. Deb Fischer, Pat Flynn and Spencer Zimmerman for the Republican nomination.

So far only Larry Marvin of Fremont is running on the Democrat side. More…

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Stenberg accuses Bruning of being in politics to enrich himself

Missouri News Horizon: January 10: State Treasurer Don Stenberg came out swinging today, taking shots at the GOP frontrunner in the race for the U.S. Senate by accusing Attorney General Jon Bruning of being in politics to enrich himself and awarding a $100,000 grant in an attempt to buy influence with a politically powerful farm group.

Stenberg’s comments came in response to questions during his press conference to formally announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Ben Nelson, who is retiring. Stenberg and Bruning are leading the Republican pack of five vying for their party’s nomination this spring.

Stenberg once again painted himself as the “genuine, lifelong conservative” in the race, disparaging Bruning for being a liberal Democrat while in law school and then running as a conservative for the Legislature three years later. Although Bruning has said his values and positions changed as he grew older, Stenberg said he didn’t see how someone could change his politics so drastically within a few years.

“Jon Bruning is a conservative of convenience,” Stenberg said.

He also accused Bruning of running for attorney general to “personally enrich himself,” referring to the news a few months ago that Bruning has become a multi-millionaire since being elected attorney general. According to Bruning’s financial disclosure forms, his investments tripled between 2007 and 2011. Stenberg said people should run for public office because they want to be public servants, not to get rich.

“That appears to be why he’s interested in public office,” Stenberg said of Bruning’s wealth. More…

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Don Stenberg Files for U.S. Senate

Lincoln Journal Star: January 10: Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg sent in the paperwork Tuesday morning and now officially has filed for U.S. Senate.

Stenberg’s campaign centers on the change he wants to bring. He says he belongs in Washington because he wants to serve his state, not climb the political ladder. The treasurer wants to bring a new direction to the United States Senate before the things that make America special are swept away, he says.

“Nebraskans, particularly republicans, know that Don Stenberg is a genuine, life-long, conservative,” Stenberg said. “I don’t change my positions with the political winds. I’m someone they know and trust. I’m someone that they can count on to do the same in Washington he did in Nebraska.”  More…

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Politically Speaking: Stenberg officially enters Senate race in Nebraska

Sioux City Journal: Bret Hayworth: January 11: Republican Don Stenberg officially kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign today, making an announcement in Lincoln and then moving through Nebraska with events in Fremont, Columbus, Norfolk and Wayne. At 3 p.m., Stenberg will speak at the Marina Inn in South Sioux City.

The Republican primary for the Senate seat will be perhaps the highest profile Siouxland tri-state political battle of 2012. State Sen. Deb Fischer and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning are seeking the spot along with Stenberg, and a few other people will be on the primary ballot as well. Millions and millions of dollars will be spent for what is now an open U.S. Senate seat, since two-term incumbent Ben Nelson won’t run for re-election.

Stenberg is seeking a Senate seat for a fourth time. He is currently the Nebraska State Treasurer, and in an interview cited how he’s cut his budget in the current year.

Stenberg said his opponents may pin the charge that he’s not won a senate seat in three former attempts, so it is time to look in another direction. Stenberg, who placed second with 36 percent behind Pete Ricketts in the 2006 primary, said that assertion is misplaced.

“To me, the right question is not whose turn it is, but who would be the best senator for Nebraska and the best senator for our country,” Stenberg said.

Stenberg said the Republican primary race will turn on which candidate shows he is the true conservative.

“Jon Bruning was a liberal Democrat who was in favor of gun control, in favor of abortion and in favor of homosexual scoutmasters, in favor of affirmative action. Just in time to run for the state legislature, he changed his position on all those issues,” he said. More…

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Atty. General Jon Bruning

Death drug ‘stolen,’ says Ryan lawyer

Omaha World-Herald: January 4: The latest filing by death-row inmate Michael Ryan offers what he calls proof that Nebraska prison officials were “conned” into buying a stolen execution drug.

The top assistant for Attorney General Jon Bruning, however, disputed any notion that the drug was stolen.

Ryan’s lawyer, Jerry Soucie with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, made the claim in a motion filed Wednesday with the Nebraska Supreme Court. The motion includes what Soucie said is the Sept. 30 shipping manifest for two packets of sodium thiopental sent from a Swiss pharmaceutical company to a drug broker in India.

The manifest from Naari, the Swiss company, indicates the samples were offered for testing and evaluation. The documents further state: “Samples have no commercial value. Samples not for sale.” More…

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Bruning unveils crime package

Lincoln Journal Star: January 5: Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning on Thursday unveiled his 2012 crime package, which would address the designer drug known as “bath salts,” increase penalties for concealing the death of a person and for negligent child abuse, and limit the number of lawsuits that could be filed by inmates.

The first bill (LB814), being carried by Ken Schilz of Ogallala, bans the class of chemicals used to manufacture products marketed as bath salts. It would amend the Uniformed Controlled Substances Act to include the class of synthetic materials used to make the drugs marketed and sold as bath salts.

Bath salts are made from chemical compounds similar to amphetamine, which cause users to experience a euphoric high when snorted, eaten, smoked or injected. Users also may experience hallucinations, paranoia, confusion, rapid heartbeat, hypertension, insomnia, nausea, chills, kidney pain and dizziness. Ingesting or inhaling bath salts can be deadly.

There are multiple formulas used to create bath salts which are sold under different brand names.

“Online sources make these drugs relatively inexpensive to purchase and easy to get,” Bruning said. “Nebraska must act decisively to ban these drugs and keep them out of the hands of our kids.”

The measure would make the penalties for possessing bath salts mirror those in statute for possession of methamphetamine. More…

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Bruning: Politics led to grant uproar

Omaha World-Herald: January 5: Attorney General Jon Bruning on Thursday blamed election-year politics for recent criticism from Democrats that he funneled a $100,000 grant to an influential farm group to curry political favor for his Republican run for U.S. Senate.

“This is all about the election,” Bruning said. “It’s silly season. They had nothing to say about this two years ago when I was running unopposed for attorney general.”

Bruning was criticized last month for the grant, which was provided to We Support Agriculture, formed this fall by the Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups to counter criticism by the Humane Society of the United States about livestock-raising practices.

In his first public comments on the complaints, Bruning said the decision to provide the $100,000 grant — the largest grant ever by his office — required more than the 32-minute review indicated by his office email records. He denied that the grant was hurriedly approved so he could present it at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Dec. 5 convention in Kearney.

“That wasn’t why we did it,” Bruning said. “We did it because it was the right thing to do.”

State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, a former executive of the Nebraska Democratic Party, along with current state Democratic officials, complained that the grant was awarded with little public awareness and went to a group that has had political clout in past Republican primaries.

Email records released by Bruning’s office indicated the grant was approved 32 minutes after a formal application was received, and five days before the Farm Bureau convention, where the attorney general presented the check.

The controversy prompted the introduction of two bills this week in the Nebraska Legislature to take the job of distributing such settlement funds away from the AG’s office and distribute them through the State Treasurer’s Office or Nebraska Environmental Trust.

At a press conference Thursday to announce his 2012 legislative priorities, Bruning defended his grant process, saying that more than 30 other states allow their attorney generals to distribute such grants.

“News flash: The attorney general has some discretion to make decisions,” Bruning said in an animated voice.

He said he had discussed the ag group grant for several weeks before the 32-minute approval, which he said “mischaracterized” the approval process. More…

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GOP Senate hopeful Bruning defends $100,000 grant

Lincoln Journal Star: July 20: Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says he’s proud of his decision to award $100,000 from an environmental settlement fund to a group that promotes farming interests.

The Republican U.S. Senate candidate said Thursday that Democratic critics were questioning the grant only because they want to attack his campaign.

Two Democratic state lawmakers have introduced bills that would give the Legislature oversight of the fund, which is made up of settlement money from environmental violations.

Bruning is running for the seat held by Democrat Ben Nelson, who announced last month that he won’t seek re-election. Nelson was widely viewed as vulnerable.

A spokesman for the Nebraska Democratic Party says Bruning appears to have used the grant to win favor with farming groups and advance his own political career.

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Tough penalties for hiding death sought

Lincoln Journal Star: January 5: Nebraska is among several states to introduce bills to toughen penalties for concealing the death of another person in the wake of the Casey Anthony case.

The skeletal remains of Anthony’s 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, were found five months after the Orlando, Fla., toddler was reported missing by her mother.

The mother’s acquittal on murder charges caused nationwide outrage and prompted a call for tougher penalties on those who conceal a death.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Sen. Tony Fulton of Lincoln are teaming up on a proposal in the Legislature to increase penalties for concealment and attempted concealment of human remains.

Bruning said the tougher penalties would have been helpful in the case of Lucas Peterson, a Seward, Neb., man who refused to disclose the whereabouts of his 11-month-old daughter, Trista, in 2007. Peterson agreed three months later to lead investigators to a shallow grave holding Trista’s body after cutting a deal to avoid a felony charge.

Peterson was ultimately sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for manslaughter.

Bruning on Thursday announced his other legislative priorities for the 2012 session. They included outlawing the chemicals used to produce designer drugs sold as “bath salts,” limiting frivolous lawsuits that can be filed in state courts by prison inmates and increasing penalties for child abuse that negligently causes the death of a child. More…

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DeMint’s Senate PAC sinks $210,000 into ads boosting Nebraska conservative

The Hill: Ballot Box: January 5: When Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) dropped the news last week that he would duck a race for a third term in the Senate, conservative luminary Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) blasted out an email calling it “very good news” and previewing a pre-cut television ad supporting Don Stenberg, DeMint’s pick to replace Nelson.

“With your help, we can run this ad statewide on cable and network television,”read the pitch from DeMint to supporters of his Senate Conservatives Fund.

Documents filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission show DeMint is making good. His PAC has purchased almost $210,000 in airtime in Nebraska to bolster Stenberg in the Republican primary.

“Lifelong conservative leader Don Stenberg has shown the same love of freedom, cutting spending, fighting crime, defending the unborn,” the narrator says in the ad. “Don Stenberg has the courage we need now in the U.S. Senate.”

In the absence of any declared Democratic candidates with the political muscle to be competitive in heavily red Nebraska, Republicans are more sanguine than ever that  More…

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Nebraska AG Bruning unveils legislative goals

Omaha World-Herald: July 7: Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning unveiled top legislative proposals Thursday that would stiffen penalties for negligent child abuse, concealing a death and possession of a designer drug known as bath salts.

Bruning said the four bills in his legislative package were chosen from several dozen possible measures and drawn from conversations with law enforcement, prosecutors and state lawmakers. More…

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Nebraska AG Bruning unveils legislative goals

Omaha World-Herald: January 5: Three of the proposals would increase punishments for crimes, and a fourth would limit the number of lawsuits prison inmates can file if they develop a history of frivolous claims.

“Criminals are evolving and seeking ways to circumvent the law,” Bruning said. “… The bills we’re talking about help make Nebraska safer.”

The first bill targets a synthetic drug commonly known as bath salts, which are made from chemical compounds similar to amphetamine. The drug causes a euphoric high when snorted, eaten, smoked or injected. It may also trigger hallucinations, paranoia and chills.

Under the bill, penalties for possessing bath salts would match those in place for possession of methamphetamine. Bath salts are already banned in 38 states, including Missouri, Kansas and Wyoming.

“We are seeing these drugs in the rural areas as well as larger cities,” said Ogallala Sen. Ken Schilz, who is sponsoring the measure. “Now is the time for us to protect kids in all Nebraska communities from these dangerous drugs. These drugs are being designed to skirt the law. Laws like this are needed in order to combat the ever changing landscape of designer drugs.” More…

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Stenberg unloads on Bruning

Omaha World-Herald: January 10: State Treasurer Don Stenberg turned up the heat Tuesday in the Republican Senate race with a frontal assault on Attorney General Jon Bruning.

Stenberg reiterated his earlier description of Bruning as “a conservative of convenience,” but then also suggested that Bruning “ran for attorney general to enrich himself.”

That conclusion is “based on the record” of Bruning’s accumulation of wealth during his nine years as attorney general, Stenberg said.

Having held the office himself, Stenberg said, he knows “it’s hard to say no to the attorney general” if he approaches bankers or business people about borrowing money or pursuing business opportunities.

“It’s a very powerful office,” Stenberg said, one that can file lawsuits related to environmental, consumer, banking and insurance laws. Stenberg was attorney general from 1991 to 2003.

Bruning’s campaign manager, Trent Fellers, brushed aside the criticism.

 

“It’s unfortunate that after three failed runs for the United States Senate, Don Stenberg is once again focusing his fourth Senate campaign on negative, false attacks,” Fellers said.
“Jon Bruning is focused on overturning Obamacare, cutting spending and balancing the federal budget,” he said. More…

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Stenberg takes shot at Bruning, Bruning returns fire (AUDIO)

Nebraska Radio Network: January 12: Nebraska’s Republican primary for United States Senate has heated up.

State Treasurer Don Stenberg took a shot at Republican front-runner Jon Bruning during his news conference after filing for United States Senate in the Secretary of State’s office.

“Don Stenberg is a genuine life-long conservative and Jon Bruning is a conservative of convenience,” Stenberg stated.

Stenberg also claimed Bruning had personally enriched himself while in office, referring to a series of articles in the Omaha World-Herald that detailed Bruning’s work on a number of boards of directors. It estimated his personal wealth grew between $12 million to $61 million.

runing, the state Attorney General, acknowledged being a Democrat in his youth.

“I’m not quite sure how many decades I’ve got to have as a Republican before Don Stenberg says that’s enough, but I do know that Ronald Reagan became a Republican at age 50. I became a Republican in my early 20s,” Bruning told Nebraska Radio Network in an interview.

Bruning also rejected Stenberg’s accusation that he’s enriched himself in office, stating he’s proud of the job he’s done as attorney general. Bruning levels an accusation of his own, saying that Stenberg will say about anything to win the campaign.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40 mp3]

 

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Gov. Dave Heineman

Governor Seeks Applicants for District 33 State Senator

January 3: Dave Heineman–Gov.: News: Gov. Dave Heineman is seeking qualified applicants to represent the Thirty-third District in the Nebraska Legislature, following the passing of State Sen. Dennis Utter of Hastings last week.

Applications will be accepted through the close of business on Friday, Jan. 13. Applicants must live within the boundaries of Legislative District 33 and have done so for at least one year. The district encompasses all of Adams County and a portion of Hall County.

A detailed map of the district and its boundaries is available on the Nebraska Legislature’s website: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov. The Governor may also choose to seek out additional qualified candidates.

The appointee would serve until January 8, 2013, with the seat up for election to a four-year term in November 2012. More…

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Gov. Heineman Encourages Participation in the Live Healthy Nebraska 100-Day Challenge

January 3: Dave Heineman–Gov.: Pressroom:  Gov. Dave Heineman today encourages Nebraskans to register for the Live Healthy Nebraska 100-Day Challenge. This program offers friendly team competition in weight loss and physical activity minutes.

“Last year we had 8,283 participants from 130 Nebraska companies who lost a combined total of 34,000 pounds, and they logged more than 24 million minutes in total activity time, which averages about 32 minutes a day per participant,” said Gov. Dave Heineman. “Programs like Live Healthy Nebraska are helping Nebraskans lead healthier lives. I want to encourage you to form your teams and sign-up today!”

Throughout the 100 days, teams of 2-10 people receive weekly motivational tips to guide them toward healthier nutrition and exercise habits. The participants periodically log their progress and can check their results on a leaderboard.

“Upon enrollment in the program, each participant receives a training T-shirt, an annual subscription to a healthy lifestyle magazine and access to a wealth of wellness resources,” said Dave Mlnarik, Executive Director of the Nebraska Sports Council. “We encourage everyone to check with their employer first as many companies offer entry fee assistance and additional company incentives. We also encourage participants to challenge family, friends and neighbors to join them in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.” More…

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Governor & Lt. Governor to Visit Seven Communities during State of the State Tour

January 10: Dave Heineman–Gov.: Pressroom: Gov. Dave Heineman is scheduled to deliver the annual State of the State Address on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 10:00 a.m. CT from the Legislative Chamber of the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln.

Following the address and the introduction of the Governor’s mid-biennium budget recommendations, Gov. Heineman and Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy will visit several communities across the state to highlight priorities identified in the 2012 State of the State. The schedule is as follows. All times are Central Time unless otherwise noted.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, Gov. Heineman will speak at the following times and locations:

12:30 p.m. – Leo Johnson Conference Room of the North Platte Regional Airport Terminal, located at 5400 E. Lee Bird Dr. in North Platte

2:00 p.m. – Kearney Aviation Center of the Kearney Municipal Airport, located at 4845 Airport Rd. in Kearney (Please note location update)

3:15 p.m. – Central Nebraska Airport, 3743 SkyPark Road in Grand Island

Lt. Gov. Sheehy will deliver remarks during the following visits on Thursday:

11:45 p.m. – City Council Chamber at City Hall, located at 1615 1st Ave. in South Sioux City

1:15 p.m. – Karl Stefan Memorial Airport, located at 4100 S. 13th St. in Norfolk

2:40 p.m. MT – Western Nebraska Regional Airport, located at 250023 Airport Terminal St in Scottsbluff

5:30 p.m. – McCook Regional Airport Terminal, located at 1100 Airport Rd. in McCook More…

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Gov. Heineman Delivers State of the State Address

January 12: Dave Heineman–Gov.: Pressroom: Gov. Dave Heineman delivered his State of the State address today focusing on tax relief for hard-working, middle class Nebraskans. The Governor’s plan will provide $326.6 million in tax relief over three years. This builds upon the tax relief efforts in 2007, when the Governor signed into law the largest tax relief package in the history of the state.

“Our highest priority should be tax relief for Nebraska’s hard-working, middle class taxpayers,” said Gov. Heineman. “Our proposal lowers rates and expands the brackets so that Nebraska’s hard-working taxpayers can keep more of their income.”

The Governor highlighted the progress made in Nebraska’s tax climate improving from 45th to 29th since 2006 in the Tax Foundation’s state rankings. However, Gov. Heineman noted that there is more work to be done and middle class Nebraskans need tax relief.

Gov. Heineman is proposing individual income tax relief by lowering rates and expanding brackets; helping small businesses grow by lowering the top corporate tax rate to the same rate as the top individual rate; and repealing the inheritance tax. Currently, Nebraska is one of only 8 states with an inheritance tax.

Nebraska was recently named in Forbes Magazine as a State where not to die in 2012. Gov. Heineman said, “Even high tax states like Massachusetts, New York and California don’t have an inheritance tax.”

The Governor’s proposed tax relief plan will provide $326.6 million in tax relief over three years, beginning January 1, 2013, with $273.7 million going to individual income tax and $52.9 million for Nebraska businesses.

For example, tax relief for Married, Filing Jointly would be as follows:
Bracket 1 – Expand from $0-4,800 to $0-6,000 & Lower rate from 2.56% to 2.42%.
Bracket 2 – Expand from $4,800-35,000 to $6,000-36,500 & Lower rate from 3.57% to 3.40%.
Bracket 3 – Expand from $35,000-54,000 to $36,500-60,000 & Lower rate from 5.12% to 4.90%.
Bracket 4 – Expand from over $54,000 to over $60,000 & Lower rate from 6.84% to 6.70%.
Corporate income tax relief would lower the tax rate for income over $100,000 from 7.81% to 6.70%. More…

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Nelson’s retirement from Senate adds new twist to 2012 Election

Imperial Herald: July 20: Were you surprised by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson’s announcement Tuesday that he wasn’t going to seek re-election to a third term in the U.S. Senate?
As the news hit the web, it was difficult not to wonder further how this new twist will affect the 2012 Election.
As you can read elsewhere on this page, a vast majority have already had enough of the campaign ahead because of all the focus on the Presidential race.
However, Nelson’s departure from the upcoming race has national overtones, so election news will only intensify here.
His decision puts Nebraska’s Democratic Senate seat in jeopardy, as he represents the seventh Senate Democrat to announce retirement so far. It’s going to be tough for the Democrats to hold onto their 53-47 majority.
There is one unknown who’s filed for the Democratic Senate nomination so far in Nebraska, but well-known popular Democratic candidates in this heavily Republican state are hard to come by.
Nelson’s departure will certainly shake up the Republican race, too.
Will Gov. Heineman now jump into the race? If so, what’s that going to do to Jon Bruning’s campaign for the Republican nomination?
Nelson’s delay in announcing his plans until now certainly lent fodder to the fire as Nebraskans and national observers opined what he was going to do.
He may have given a Republican opponent a run for his or her money in the 2012 race, but many in Nebraska have not forgotten his crucial vote in support of President Obama’s health-care legislation two years ago.
Even being a native of McCook just 60 miles down the road, Nelson’s support has dwindled.
He made the right decision to sit this one out, “spend more time with his family and look for new ways to serve the state and nation,” as he wrote in his press release.
“It’s time to move on,” he said in his statement Tuesday.
While I’ve had differences with Nelson the past few years, I fully agree with this statement he made in his announcement Tuesday:
“I encourage those who will follow in my footsteps to look for common ground and to work together in bipartisan ways to do what’s best for the country, not just one political party.”
Republican or Democrat, that’s in short supply these days in Washington.

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New laws in place for 2012

Columbus Telegraph: December 20: Although the majority of bills passed by Nebraska lawmakers last session already are on the books, several are set to go into effect Jan. 1.

Among them are laws that will raise state park entry fees, increase the tracking of chemicals used to make methamphetamine, allow low-speed vehicles on some Nebraska roads and dramatically change how the state treats drunken drivers.

The Legislature overwhelmingly voted to override Gov. Dave Heineman’s veto of the parks fees bill (LB421). Annual resident permits for state parks and recreation areas will go from $20 to $25 per car, and nonresident permits from $25 to $30. Temporary permits will increase by $1 each.

The governor said increasing park entry fees in a troubled economy would discourage Nebraskans from enjoying the outdoors and visiting the state’s attractions. More…

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New drunk driving law is in effect in Nebraska (AUDIO)

Nebraska Radio Network: January 2: Gov. Dave Heineman says the new law is simple, if convicted of drunk driving, agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car and skip the administrative license revocation hearing.

“Choosing an ignition interlock device is the difference between keeping one’s ability to drive to specified locations or losing your privilege to drive until your court sentencing date,” according to Heineman.

Heineman says the law just makes sense.

“Ignition interlocks save lives and prevent alcohol impaired driving, resulting in increased public safety for all motorists, including the driver,” the governor says. More…

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Heineman to Omaha: ‘Tighten your belts’

Omaha World-Herald: January 3:  Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said Tuesday that Omaha needs to cut spending because he won’t support legislation to raise sales tax as a way to solve the city’s budgetary problems.

During a press conference Tuesday, the day before the 2012 Nebraska Legislature convenes, the governor was asked about a bill carried over from last session that would allow cities to increase sales taxes by a half-cent with voter approval. Legislative Bill 357 represented a top priority for the City of Omaha.

“Omaha needs to do what state government has done: Tighten your belts,” the governor said. “That’s what Nebraska families and businesses have done.”

The governor said he “strongly and adamantly” opposes the bill because it represents a tax increase that could lead to more local government spending in Omaha and other communities.

“If it gets to my desk, I will veto it,” he said.

The State of Nebraska levies a 5.5-cent sales tax. Cities currently can levy up to a 1.5-cent local sales tax. More…

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Governor encourages Nebraskans to enroll in 100-day health challenge

Lincoln Journal Star: January 3: If you’ve resolved to be healthier in 2012, to lose weight, to get your body moving, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman is offering encouragement in the form of a 100-day challenge.

The Live Healthy Nebraska 100-Day Challenge begins Jan. 23 and goes until May 1 for two- to 10-member teams that compete in weight loss and physical activity minutes. The program offers structure and accountability, two important elements, said Dave Mlnarik, executive director of the Nebraska Sports Council.

Last year, 8,283 people participated from 130 Nebraska companies. They lost a combined total of 34,000 pounds and logged more than 24 million minutes in activity time — about 32 minutes a day per participant.

Heineman started two and a half years ago wearing a pedometer, logging about 6,000 steps a day. For the past year, he’s walked more than 12,000 steps a day.

He walks first thing in the morning and later at night, in addition to all the walking he does during the day at the Capitol, at home and outdoors.

“When I’m returning phone calls at night, when I get back at 8:30 or 9 o’clock, … I’m walking,” he said. “You’d be surprised how many steps that adds, particularly if you do a couple of 15- or 20-minute phone conversations with state senators like I have to do occasionally.” More…

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As session begins, child welfare reform a priority

Lincoln Journal Star: January 3: While scores of issues will vie for attention as Nebraska lawmakers convene the 2012 legislative session Wednesday, fixing the state’s ailing child welfare system is atop the heap for many senators.

“Child welfare is obviously the priority issue of the entire session,” said Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk.

Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, proclaimed earlier that the 2012 session “will be the session of children” and that the “system must be reformed at its core.”

Gov. Dave Heineman has said child welfare reform will be an important issue, but not the top issue.

“I think Nebraskans want us to be focused on the economy and jobs. That’s the most important issue,” he has said.  More…

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Oil industry chief warns Obama on Canada pipeline

AP: January 4: Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who opposed the initial route, says he supports efforts to accelerate the project, noting that provisions in the payroll tax bill allow the project developer to find a new route avoiding the Sandhills. More…

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Kerrey, Heineman mull campaigns

Omaha World-Herald: January 7: What do Democrat Bob Kerrey and Republican Dave Heineman have in common?

The two political big dogs have potential candidates in both of their respective parties waiting and wondering whether either man will jump into Nebraska’s U.S. Senate race.

In Kerrey’s case, they may know soon. The former governor is bound for Nebraska next week to talk to friends and others about whether he should come “home” for a chance to return to the Senate, he said.

In Heineman’s case, Republicans shouldn’t wait for an answer.

Nebraska’s governor refused to slam shut the door to a possible Senate bid Friday, telling The World-Herald again that he loves his job but is “listening” to Nebraskans who routinely approach him and urge him to run.

“I continue to listen to the people of Nebraska, and every time it comes up, I tell them I believe I have the best job in America . it would take a lot to change my mind,” said Heineman, who recounted the two women who stopped him at Thursday’s Nebraska women’s basketball game and asked him to run.

He also says any Republicans thinking about running should make their own decision, regardless of his plans.

Heineman, 63, noted that he didn’t wait to see whether Tom Osborne, the former Nebraska football coach and congressman, jumped into the 2006 governor’s race before mounting his own bid.

“Nobody had a tougher primary than me,” Heineman said Friday. “To wait on someone else — to me, it doesn’t make sense. They ought to have the confidence in their own abilities. And if you really want it and you can demonstrate to the people of Nebraska, ‘Here’s what I can offer,’ then run,” said Heineman. More…

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Heineman: Don’t trust animal rights group

Omaha World-Herald: January 7: Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman continued his no-holds-barred rhetorical assault on the Humane Society of the United States Saturday and called on state agriculture policymakers from across the country to join him in fighting the group.

“This is about our American way of life and HSUS wants to destroy the American dream for America’s farmers and ranchers,” Heineman said. “This is about jobs for American families and HSUS wants to destroy job opportunities for our sons and our daughters and our grandkids.”

Heineman, a Republican, was speaking just outside Washington, D.C., at a gathering of state lawmakers who head agriculture committees in their respective statehouses. State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, Neb., is chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Agriculture Committee and arranged for Heineman to speak.

The Humane Society of the United States has mounted petition drives in other states related to the confinement of livestock. The group’s CEO, Wayne Pacelle, has previously said that the group has no plans to mount a petition drive in Nebraska and that he wants to work with farmers and ranchers.

But Heineman said Saturday that he doesn’t trust the group, which he described as bent on the destruction of Nebraska’s top industry, agriculture. He said states must reject any overtures for deals or compromises with the group. He had a friendly audience for that message and the tough talk repeatedly drew applause from the lawmakers.

“I’m a graduate of West Point. I’m an Army Ranger. This guy wants to engage in guerrilla warfare, I’ll teach him a thing or two,” Heineman said of Pacelle.

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Heineman: Death penalty under attack

Omaha World-Herald: January 9: Gov. Dave Heineman said Monday the legal challenge directed against the state’s purchase of a lethal injection drug is really an attempt to thwart the death penalty.

“This is all about the death penalty,” he said. “They’re trying to make sure we don’t have a death penalty.”

Those who challenge the purchase and use of a supply of sodium thiopental for execution in Nebraska “seem more concerned about the murderer than the victims or their families,” the governor said during a news conference called to honor Nebraska Army National Guard food service specialists. More…

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Little outcry over loss of sex offender list funds

Omaha World-Herald: January 11: Gov. Dave Heineman, in a recent letter to the Judiciary Committee, appeared to agree with that logic, saying the way juvenile offenders are treated “can have very serious and long-term consequences to the successful rehabilitation.” The governor, though, offered his help if legislators chose to seek compliance with the federal mandate.

Both McGill and Ashford said they don’t plan to seek compliance. Nor will they seek a major change this year in Nebraska’s registry law.

Ashford said the 60-day session is too short to deal with the issue, which is complicated as well as politically charged.

McGill said she doesn’t sense the “political will” this year to return to Nebraska’s old registry law.

Instead, she proposed a minor change Tuesday that would provide some leniency for “Romeo and Juliet” cases.

Her Legislative Bill 914 would allow sex offenders who were 20 years old and whose victims were 15 to ask the State Patrol to reduce the length of time they are listed on the public registry from 25 years to 10 years, if the sex was consensual. McGill said such cases ought to be treated differently from a teen who molests an infant.

The bill would not affect sentences for statutory rape but would expand who could seek a short stay on the public registry in cases where the sex was consensual. Currently, statutory rape involves offenders who are 19 or older and victims who are younger than 16.

Nationally, some states are pressing Congress to relax the requirements of the Adam Walsh Act so they can comply.

At least one Nebraska lawmaker said he doesn’t see a need for radical changes in the act at this point.

Sen. Pete Pirsch of Omaha, who introduced the bill that changed the Nebraska sex-offender registry act, said the old act was “deplorable” and only purported to protect public safety. Pirsch said it would be a mistake to return to a system that tried to “prognosticate” whether a sex offender would reoffend.

“There’s no scientific way to predict what a convicted sex offender is capable of in the future. It didn’t pass the smell test,” he said. More…

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Heineman calls for tax cuts

Omaha World-Herald: January 12: Gov. Dave Heineman, saying he wanted to help the middle class and boost job growth, proposed a three-pronged package of tax cuts Thursday aimed at helping businesses and the wallets of average Nebraskans.

The state’s individual income taxes would see reductions, as would Nebraska’s relatively high corporate income taxes, under the governor’s proposal. And the last state “death tax” — an inheritance tax paid to counties — would be eliminated.

“Our highest priority should be tax relief for Nebraska’s hard-working, middle-class taxpayers,” Heineman told state legislators in his annual State of the State address.

Some highlights:

» The plan would total $326.6 million over three years. Heineman’s latest proposal comes five years after he signed a package of tax cuts totaling $425 million over two years.

» A family of four with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 would see a 10.9 percent cut, an estimated $255. The largest percentage cut would come to a similar family with $30,000 in income, a 29.5 percent decrease, or $42. The smallest percentage cut would be for families with more than $1 million in income — a 2 percent cut, or a $1,180 state income tax decrease.

» Income tax brackets would be adjusted to address a problem that now results in billionaire Warren Buffett paying the same income tax rate as someone whose adjusted gross income is above $54,000.

“That is unfair to middle-class families,” the governor said during a 20-minute speech. “Our hardworking taxpayers are tired of government taking too much of their paycheck.” More…

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Letter, 12/19: Name all candidates

Lincoln Journal Star: The Journal Star article Dec. 3 “Heineman softens tone in rejecting Senate bid” mentioned in the last sentence that there were five candidates for the GOP Senate nomination, but the article only mentioned three: Jon Bruning, Don Stenberg and Deb Fischer.

I would think the readers would like to know the names of the other two candidates. The purpose of an article is to report the news, not eliminate part of the story. It isn’t fair not to include the names of all the candidates. I thought the mainstream media were all about fairness.

Why eliminate the names of two-fifths of the candidates? In reporting news about an upcoming Nebraska football schedule, would the reporter leave out two-fifths of the teams Nebraska will be playing in a particular year?

Herb Welter, Lincoln

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Nebraska Candidates For U.S. Senate Speak In Kearney

Lincoln Journal Star: December 22: Republican Don Stenberg is one of the candidates seeking to unseat Senator Ben Nelson in 2012.  He got the chance to tell the audience some of his views on what the country needs to do to get the economy moving again.

“I believe we need to repeal Obama care,” said Don Stenberg, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. “And then we need to substantially reduce federal spending.   We can’t continue to have trillion dollar a year deficits without severe economic consequences down the road.”

Earlier in the day, the other Republican senate candidates, Deb Fischer, Pat Flynn and Jon Bruning got their chance to speak to the group. More…

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Stenberg talks payroll tax cut, Keystone XL pipeline

Lincoln Journal Star: December 15: Stenberg says he believes some of the main problems start with the debt crisis.

“The American people are not under-taxed. The federal government is over spending and we’re going to need to get much more serious about cutting spending in the future than the current Congress has been,” said Stenberg.

Stenberg says the government can’t continue to spend a trillion more dollars each year than the country makes in revenue. And he even suggested solutions to help fix these problems.

“We need to do several things, repeal Obama care, substantially reduce federal spending, substantially reduce the amount of regulations being imposed on our businesses and state and county governments and developing our domestic resources so that we have a secure reliable low cost of energy for future economic development,” Stenberg said.

Stenberg says now that the Keystone XL pipeline will not be built in the Sandhills, he supports its construction.

And he says the only way he’ll continue to support the payroll tax cut is if federal spending is controlled. More…

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Gop Senate Contenders Vie to be Furthest ‘Right’

Lincoln Journal Star: December 25: In The Republican race, Nebraska Treasurer and former state attorney general Don Stenberg set the conservative tone with the announcement of his candidacy in February.

“Nebraska’s next United States senator needs to be a genuine, lifelong conservative,” Stenberg said at the time.

The remark was an allusion to Attorney General Jon Bruning’s law student days in the early 1990s, when he wrote school newspaper articles critical of the NRA and in favor of a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

Since then, all of the Republican candidates Stenberg, Bruning, state Sen. Deb Fischer and investment adviser Pat Flynn have seemingly one-upped the other with a slew of conservative endorsements. There also have been repeated pledges to reject new or increased taxes, reduce government spending and fight abortion rights.

Fischer claims the endorsements of former GOP Gov. Kay Orr, one-time GOP Rep. John McCollister and several Republican state lawmakers. Bruning garnered the endorsement of the Tea Party Express and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Stenberg countered with endorsements from ultraconservative U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, both favorites in the national tea party movement. And Flynn recently claimed he was “tea party before the tea party came along.”

One of the more surprising comments came this fall from Bruning, who declared to a group of Republican students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that the NRA is “to the left of me.”

It’s clear the statement is one Bruning’s campaign would rather forget.

“I don’t know that that’s necessarily the best focus of him talking about his conservative record,” said Trent Fellers, Bruning’s campaign manager. “Jon led the lawsuit against Obamacare and formed the Medicaid Fraud Unit that has saved Nebraska taxpayers $43 million. I think those are better representations of him talking about a conservative record.”

But statements of extreme conservatism aren’t necessarily a detriment to Republican primary candidates, said Mike Wagner, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I’m not sure that that’s too far to the right of Nebraska GOP primary voters,” Wagner said of Bruning’s NRA statement. “I think that so far, every time a candidate has made a prominent public declaration of a particularly conservative position, they’ve improved their position.” More…

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Atty. General Jon Bruning

Nebraska pardons board gives Lincoln murder convict a chance, but not Omaha rape convict

Nebraska Watchdog: December 19: She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement and was sentenced to life plus six to 20 years for a weapons charge. She has been on parole since 2009 with minimal supervision.

The three-member Pardons Board – Gov. Dave Heineman, Attorney General Jon Bruning and Secretary of State John Gale – unanimously voted to give Liebers a chance to make a case for commutation during a February hearing before the board. More…

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Top 10 Nebraska Watchdog Stories of 2011 (4-3-2)

Nebraska Watchdog: Blogs: December 29: Joe Jordan: Number 4: Bruning Has Sokol’s Back and Bucks More…

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Dems: Bruning remiss on open records

Omaha World-Herald: December 19: State Democratic Party officials complained Monday that Attorney General Jon Bruning isn’t complying quickly enough with Nebraska open records laws.

But a spokeswoman for Bruning, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, produced two response letters that indicated the office had responded to the Democrats’ requests within the legally-required four working days.

The spokeswoman, Shannon Kingery, suggested that any delays were caused by tardy mail delivery during the Christmas season or Labor Day holiday.

“This group has sent us 32 public records requests, and we have meticulously complied with them all,” Kingery said.

Brandon Lorenz, a spokesperson for the Nebraska Democratic Party, disagreed. He defended the party’s letter, shared with the media on Monday, that accused Bruning of “delayed” responses to public records requests made by the party on Sept. 1 and Dec. 12.

The Attorney General’s Office responded to both requests. The first reply was dated Sept. 8, four working days after the Democrats’ request after accounting for the three-day Labor Day holiday. The second was dated Dec. 16, four days after the request, although Democrats said they had not received the letter as of Monday.

Lorenz said the response from Bruning’s office promised the materials on Oct. 3, but the documents were delivered on Oct. 11.

In fact, he said, not all of the materials requested in September have been delivered yet. He said that indicates that “games” are being played.

Kingery, the AG’s spokeswoman, said she could not immediately explain the delay, but added that Democrats were attempting to “overwhelm” the office with requests.

The most recent Democratic request dealt with Bruning’s recent decision to grant $100,000 to We Support Agriculture, a group formed by the politically powerful Nebraska Farm Bureau and others to oppose efforts by the Humane Society of the United States to adopt stricter rules on the care of livestock.

The grant money came from a fund, operated by the Attorney General’s Office, that receives fines paid by violators of environmental laws.

Two weeks ago, The World-Herald asked about the donation, and how such grants were awarded and advertised. The inquiries brought no response from the AG’s office. More…

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Court: Bruning’s office can keep death row case

Lincoln Journal Star: December 21: The state’s high court has denied a defense request to kick the Nebraska attorney general’s office off of death row inmate Michael Ryan’s case.

In a three-paragraph order filed Wednesday, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican said the court found the arguments in support of the motion to be “unpersuasive and without merit.”

Ryan’s attorney, Jerry Soucie of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, made the unusual request because of circumstances in the case he described in a November filing as unprecedented.

He said Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office twice had advised the state Department of Correctional Services on buying supplies of the lethal-injection drug sodium thiopental. The first batch was ruled to have been illegally imported. More…

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Bruning’s office defends ag grant

Omaha World-Herald: December 22: The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday defended its recent $100,000 grant to a politically connected agriculture group as appropriate — even though it appears to have taken only 32 minutes to approve the grant.

David Cookson, Nebraska’s chief deputy attorney general, said the grant to We Support Agriculture, a three-month-old organization formed by the politically influential Nebraska Farm Bureau and other ag groups, clearly fit the educational purposes of the office’s supplemental environmental projects fund.

Cookson said the grant had nothing to do with currying favor for the U.S. Senate campaign of his boss, Attorney General Jon Bruning.

“We make our (grant) decisions on the merits of what they’re doing,” he said.

But email records released by the office Wednesday raised new questions about the rigor applied to applications for such grants.

The Attorney General’s Office released details Wednesday about its grant program in response to questions raised two weeks ago by The World-Herald and others about the office’s process for awarding funds it collects through legal settlements. More…

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Defeats don’t slow death-drug fight

Omaha World-Herald: December 23: Two defeats in two days for two death-row inmates did little to quell the ongoing legal dispute over how the state obtained one of its execution drugs.

Douglas County District Judge Thomas Otepka denied Carey Dean Moore’s appeal Thursday, a day after the Nebraska Supreme Court rejected Michael Ryan’s request to halt the setting of an execution date.

But that didn’t stop the lawyer who represents both inmates from filing a new motion Thursday in Ryan’s case asking the Supreme Court to order the state to prove it obtained the latest supply of execution drug legally.

“For whatever reason, the Attorney General’s Office does not want to provide the documents that can answer all these questions,” said Jerry Soucie, an attorney with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy.

Soucie pointed to language in Otepka’s ruling that questioned the “disturbing conduct of the AG’s office.”

Attorney General Jon Bruning’s top assistant brushed off the judge’s terse language, saying the Supreme Court delivered a more important ruling Wednesday when it called Soucie’s allegations about how the execution drug was obtained “unpersuasive and without merit.”

“Otepka’s comment is irrelevant in light of the Supreme Court ruling,” said Chief Deputy Attorney General Dave Cookson, adding that Bruning will wait for Moore’s next move before seeking to lift the stay of execution.

Most of the legal skirmishing in both cases has been over how Bruning’s office advised the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services to acquire sodium thiopental, the first of three drugs given in the state’s execution protocol.

In Moore’s case, corrections officials obtained the drug from a supplier in India — despite the fact that neither the supplier nor corrections had proper federal permits. More…

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What’s Next For Nebraska Democrats?

WOWT: December 27: Jon Bruning said, “Ben Nelson has been a dedicated public servant of the state of Nebraska for over two decades. I wish him and his family well in their future endeavors.”

“I want to thank Senator Nelson for his service and wish him well in his retirement,” said Don Stenberg. “The fact remains that we need a new direction in Washington. That includes repealing ObamaCare, cutting federal spending, reducing federal regulations, developing our domestic energy resources, and securing our borders.” More…

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Letter, 12/25: Stink of patronage

Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning’s “donation” of state funds to support a politically powerful ag group stinks of patronage politics, and the money should be returned to the state.

As a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Bruning certainly appears to be courting favors. His $100,000 “gift” came from fines paid to the attorney general’s Environmental Protection Fund by polluting corporations. In fact, according to information on the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality website, between 2006 and 2011, livestock producers have paid more than $225,000 in fines to this fund for violations of state laws.

I wonder how many of these violators are members of Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Cattlemen, or the poultry, pork and dairy associations that formed We Support Agriculture scarcely three months before the “gift”.

This is an unconscionable and cynical misuse of funds by Attorney General Bruning and a slap in the face to organizations like the Nebraska Environmental Action Coalition, of which I am proud to be president. We are an organization that supports small family farmers who are good stewards of the land and animals. We have never received any help from the state, though in fact we promote far more environmentally responsible practices than the Big Ag businesses that benefited from Bruning’s $100,000 check — the same businesses that pollute Nebraska’s water and land.

We Support Agriculture should return Bruning’s $100,000 immediately. In addition, the Legislature should take swift steps to enact oversight over the use of this fund and establish guidelines for the distribution of these monies.

Ted Thieman, Petersburg, Nebraska Environmental Action Coalition

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Limits on Bruning grant practices?

Omaha World-Herald: December 28: An Omaha lawmaker wants to set limits on the fund that Attorney General Jon Bruning used to make a controversial grant this month.

State Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha told The World-Herald on Tuesday he will introduce a bill addressing Bruning’s use of court settlement dollars for a $100,000 grant to a politically connected agricultural advocacy group.

The grant to We Support Agriculture, created by the Nebraska Farm Bureau and other ag groups, came out of the attorney general’s Environmental Protection Fund.

The fund holds money collected as part of settlement agreements with environmental law violators.

Critics, including the Nebraska Democratic Party, have questioned the appropriateness of the grant, given Bruning’s bid for the U.S. Senate and the political power of the Farm Bureau.

Mello said his concerns are not prompted by politics. He said the issues are transparency in government and the appropriate use of public dollars.

“This is about whether the public deserves to know where these funds go,” he said.

His proposal would direct money received through court settlements, judgments and orders into the state school fund, unless state law or a court orders otherwise.

If a court order or judgment provides that money go somewhere besides the school fund, it would have to go through a fund created by legislative action.

That kind of change would rule out the attorney general’s fund, which Mello said is not listed in statute, and its uses are not specifically authorized by legislation.

Bruning created the fund in 2004 to collect smaller settlement payments. Larger payments typically go for specific purposes decided as part of the settlement agreement and approved by the court.

Bruning spokeswoman Shannon Kingery said she could not comment because no one in the office had seen the proposal. More…

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Senator wants to tighten control over money in fund used by Bruning

Lincoln Journal Star: December 28: “With the impending loss of federal funds and the potential for additional state aid cuts this session, Nebraska school districts could use these settlement funds to offset their losses and keep local property tax burdens low,” Mello said.

Bruning, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, recently presented a check for $100,000 to Keith Olsen, outgoing president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, at the Farm Bureau’s convention in Kearney.

We Support Agriculture was formed by the Farm Bureau and other mainstream agricultural groups to portray farmer and rancher treatment of livestock in a positive light and to oppose efforts of the Humane Society of the United States and other animal advocacy groups to change livestock practices.

Bruning spokeswoman Shannon Kingery said earlier: “In considering appropriate supplemental environmental projects, the attorney general’s office looks for educational and enhancement programs that directly benefit Nebraskans.”

Mello noted that Bruning’s fund is not referenced in state statutes. His legislation would stipulate that when a court order or judgment provides for settlement funds to be spent for an alternative purpose, it must go to a fund that had been statutorily created by the Legislature.

“These settlement dollars are ultimately taxpayer dollars,” Mello said. “For there to be no established statutory process for awarding these grants, no transparency, is irresponsible.” More…

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Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Heineman Announces Nebraska Air National Guard Wins Community Relations Award

December 20: Dave Heineman–Gov.: News: Gov. Dave Heineman today announced the Nebraska Air National Guard’s 155th Air Refueling Wing has earned an international community relations award for successfully hosting the 2011 “Guardians of Freedom” air show.

“This award recognizes the Nebraska Air National Guard for the work they did in partnering with the Lincoln community last year to put on a world-class air show while continuing to support global military operations, and the flooding on the Missouri River,” said Gov. Dave Heineman. “They are truly well-deserving of this award.”

The International Council of Air Shows, Inc. awarded the 155th Air Refueling Wing with the Dick Schram Memorial Community Relations Award. This award is presented each year to the military base that sets a new standard of excellence in the planning and implementation of its air show or air event and that best exhibits traditional community relations by including its community in the planning, execution and rewards of its event. Military base flying events, open houses and air shows are eligible for consideration for the award which is chosen by a panel co-chaired by United States and Canadian military representatives. More…

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Gov. Heineman & Lt. Gov. Sheehy Comment on Passing of State Senator Dennis Utter of Hastings

December 27: Dave Heineman–Gov.: Pressroom: Gov. Dave Heineman and Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy commented following the passing of State Senator Dennis Utter of Hastings.

Gov. Heineman said, “Senator Dennis Utter was a friend. Dennis was a dedicated and principled State Senator. He cared deeply about rural economic development and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kathy and the Utter family.”

Lt. Governor Sheehy said, “Having known and worked with Senator Utter for many years, I had great respect for him. Dennis was a talented and caring representative for his constituents in Hastings, throughout District 33, and was an important voice for Nebraskans.” More…

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Flags to Fly at Half-Staff at State Capitol & in Hastings to Honor Senator Dennis Utter

December 28: Dave Heineman–Gov.: Pressroom:  Gov. Dave Heineman today has granted a request by Hastings Mayor Vern Powers for U.S. and Nebraska flags to be flown at half-staff to honor the passing of State Senator Dennis Utter.

Flags will be flown at half-staff in Hastings on the day of his funeral, Friday, December 30. More…

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Heineman gives lukewarm response to foster care recommendations

KVNO News: December 20: Governor Heineman responded to a hefty report released last week. It was compiled by a legislative committee tasked with investigating the state’s efforts to reform its unwieldy child welfare system. Among 17 recommendations, the report advised the state re-take control of the system from private agencies and create a new division to oversee children’s services. Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services has come under fire for its efforts, which began in 2009, to privatize the child welfare system. Critics say the reform was too hasty, and implemented without enough planning.

The state contracted out case management to five private agencies; three have since dropped out, saying the state expected too much and paid too little.

But in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Governor Heineman said he’s concerned about the potential cost of the recommendations, and that he’s waiting to see how lawmakers intend to pay for it. Heineman said these are “complex issues” and if there were easy answers, the state “would’ve found them a long time ago.”

Heineman also said he still needs to discuss the report with lawmakers and services providers, and he hopes to find “common ground.”

In an interview with KVNO News, Vicki Maca, an administrator in the Division of Children and Family Services at HHS said the department stands ready and willing to adapt to whatever changes are decided on. Maca added she welcomes the attention to child welfare in Nebraska, and says it’s high time children’s services were given top priority in the state. More…

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It’s time to abolish the Department of Energy

Tulsa Beacon: Robert McDowell: December 15: Then we have Gov. Dave Heineman, D-Neb., weighing in with the claim that the proposed route crosses the primary aquifer supplying water to the western part of the state. He has stated fears that a “massive leak” would pollute the aquifer. Having worked on oil exploration and production in the Colorado, western Nebraska and Wyoming oil fields for several decades of the last century, it is my knowledge that the Ogalala Aquifer is fed its water at the western outcrop in the front of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. From there the water flows downward into the Denver-Julesburg Basin and then back upward toward its outcrop, at much lower elevations in Kansas and Nebraska. Thus it would seem to be a rather remote possibility, even if such a leak would occur, unless the users of the water have so depleted it that it is not flowing out at the surface. Then the EPA weighed in and has made so much stink about the matter that the company has been forced to scrap the required environmental studies (costing millions) and re-route the pipeline, probably to the east of the outcrop – again with new studies.

This will result in a delay of over a year in the start of construction and the “non-creation” of thousands of jobs, as well as the requirement of the United States to continue to import millions of barrels of oil from enemy nations by ship.

In the meantime, the government of Canada has announced that it will seek other markets outside of the American continent since the United States is so delayed in preparing to receive the production. This will require a substantial increase in productive capacity in order to supply both markets. It seems silly to me to send North American production overseas by ship that could be delivered by pipeline and receive oil by ship from enemy nations in other locations. And ships are much more expensive, slower and less reliable than pipelines

These “greenies” are not fooling me. It is all part of their alliance with the world socialist/communist agenda, supported by PRESBO, to bring the U.S. economy down to that of a third-world nation. In so weakening us, the goal is to make us a prime takeover target to change into a socialist or communist dictatorship type of government.
Abolish the EPA and Department of Energy. More…

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Could 2012 be the most competitive Senate election in years?

Washington Post The Fix: Aaron Blake: December 16: 2. Nebraska (D): The question here is whether Sen. Ben Nelson (D) seeks reelection and that announcement is coming soon. If Nelson doesn’t run, this seat probably moves to the top spot on the Line with the GOP being heavily favored to pick it up. His exit may also open up the race to someone like Gov. Dave Heineman (R), who is so popular that he would be a shoo-in. As in Missouri, the GOP field here is something of a question mark. (Previous ranking: 2)

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Heineman, lawmakers at odds over welfare

Omaha World-Herald: December 21: Gov. Dave Heineman voiced concerns Tuesday that recommendations to mend the state’s troubled effort to privatize child welfare services will cost too much and add more bureaucracy.

“I don’t think I’ve been a governor who’s suggested we need more bureaucracy and more cost. We’re trying to make government leaner,” Heineman said in a conference call with reporters.

But two state senators who helped craft the recommendations said that while additional spending might be required, the current system isn’t meeting the needs of abused and neglected children under state care and that it is already costing more tax dollars.

“As it stands right now, the executive branch has run amok by allowing HHS to throw money at a problem. It’s not working,” said Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, a member of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. More…

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Troopers sue over pension contributions

Lincoln Journal Star: December 20: More than 400 current and former Nebraska State Patrol troopers have filed a federal lawsuit challenging increases in what they are required to pay into their pension plan.
The lawsuit was filed by Lincoln attorneys Gary Young, Gary Nedved and Joel Bacon on behalf of 423 current and former troopers.

Young said Nebraska law says troopers have a vested contract right in their retirement benefits.

“That retirement benefit cannot be changed in a disadvantageous way to the trooper without offsetting or counterbalancing advantages,” Young said. “Thus, when the Legislature required increased contributions from an already employed trooper, it violated the trooper’s contract rights.”

When hired, troopers are enrolled in the Nebraska State Patrol Pension System, a defined benefit pension plan for employees by their own contributions and state appropriations.

In 1977, the troopers’ contribution rate was set at 8 percent. It increased to 10 percent in 1995, 11 percent in 1996, 12 percent in 2004, 13 percent in 2007, 15 percent in 2009, 16 percent in 2010 and 19 percent this year.

“At the outset of their employment, the plaintiffs did not understand or agree at any time that their retirement pension would or could be changed in terms of the percentages of monthly salary contribution and/or whether additional contributions could be imposed upon them,” the lawsuit says. “The rights, duties, and liabilities of plaintiffs and the state of Nebraska concerning the State Patrol Retirement Plan are contractual.”

The lawsuit asks the court to set the contribution rate for each trooper to what it was when he or she was hired.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Gov. Dave Heineman, state Department of Administrative Services Director Carlos Castillo,  state Treasurer Don Stenberg and former state Treasurer Shane Osborn.

Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office, which will defend the state against the lawsuit, declined to comment. More…

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Letter, 12/23: Governor to blame

Lincoln Journal Star: December 22: As a retired Department of Health and Human Services worker, after 50 years, those who have worked in the system know something. Gov. Dave Heineman appointed the department heads to do what he wanted them to do. No one is to blame for the child welfare mess but the governor.

He wanted to reduce the number of state workers at the expense of whomever. He also decided to go to call centers to serve the needy in Nebraska. When asked how much money this would save, we were told that was the issue. The bottom line was to reduce state employees. Put the blame where it belongs — with the governor.

Bernice Russell, Gurley

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No change foreseen in Nebraska driving and texting law (AUDIO)

Nebraska Radio Network: December 27: Federal safety officials want states to ban all cell phone use behind the wheel, especially texting. Nebraska officials see no need to change state law.

Gov. Dave Heineman regards the issue as serious, stating the Nebraska doesn’t want distracted drivers on its roads.

“So, again, to me it’s about individual responsibility and common sense,” Heineman says. “We don’t need big government telling us what to do in every aspect of our lives.” More…

Categories: Nebraska politics Tags:

Tracking Rick Berg and Kevin Cramer in media

Weekly Clips December 15, 2011 through December 29, 2011

North Dakota’s 2012 Candidates for U.S. Senate

U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D. At-Large; Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Duane Sand, R-N.D.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D. At-Large

Berg Statement on Death of Capt. Anne Montgomery

December 15: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “Tracy and I are saddened to hear of the recent helicopter accident that took the lives of four American soldiers, including North Dakota’s own Capt. Anne Montgomery.  We appreciate her service to our nation and her leadership in the U.S. Army, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends.   We also keep in our thoughts and prayers the friends and families of the other soldiers lost in this tragedy.” More…

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Berg Statement on the Appropriations Votes

December 16: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “I did vote today in support of the 2012 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which will provide much-needed support for communities recovering from this year’s natural disasters.  North Dakota was devastated by unprecedented flooding this year, and other states were similarly affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.  It’s critical that we continue to support our priorities, and ensuring that those affected by natural disasters are able to recover and rebuild is essential.” More…

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Berg Commends Corps Approval of Red River Flood Control Plan

December 20: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “Without permanent flood protection in place, families and businesses in the Fargo-Moorhead region will continue to battle regular floods and face tremendous uncertainty as they work to plan for the future,” Berg stated.  “Permanent flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead area must be a priority and the Corps’ approval of this report is a critical step in moving forward with the locally preferred flood control plan.  Providing the Fargo-Moorhead region with permanent flood protection is critical to protect these communities as much as possible against the threat of future, devastating flood events and give these residents the certainty and security they need.” More…

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Berg Statement on Need for Congress to Come Together Pass Year-Long Payroll Tax Extension, Keystone XL Pipeline

December 20: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “Last week, the House passed a bipartisan bill that would extend the payroll tax cut for one year, implement important flood insurance reforms, protect seniors’ access to their doctors, and strengthen our economy through job creating measures, including the Keystone XL pipeline.  I am glad that Senate Democrats have joined the House in recognizing that the Keystone XL pipeline expansion will create thousands of good-paying American jobs and help our nation break its dependence on foreign oil – and this should be a part of the final solution.  However there is more work to be done and the American people expect us to finish our jobs.

“Washington cannot continue to take the easy way out and punt on finding solutions to our nation’s problems.  Congress’s top priority must be getting Americans back to work and our economy back on track, but continuing to kick the can down the road accomplishes neither.  The House and Senate must come together, find common ground, and provide American workers with the certainty they deserve.  This is Congress’s responsibility, and I believe that both the House and Senate must stay and do whatever it takes to finish their job and find a common sense, long-term solution.” More…

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Berg Works with Minot Officials to Move Forward Flood Protection Plan

December 21: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “Despite a year of tremendous challenges and hardship, the people of Minot are a true testament to the North Dakota spirit,” Berg stated. “The city has worked alongside residents and businesses and has actively sought public opinion on both flood recovery efforts and the city’s long-term flood protection plan. It’s encouraging to see local, state, and federal officials working together to ensure that the Minot community has the resources and support it needs to recover from this year’s devastating flood event.  I’m confident that Minot’s future will be solid, secure and bright as we work together to recover and rebuild.” More…

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Berg: Signing of Report is Critical Step in Moving Forward the F-M Flood Protection Plan

December 22: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: “The signing of the Corps Chief’s Report is a critical step in moving forward the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection plan,” Berg stated. “Without permanent flood protection, families and businesses in this region will continue to battle regular flooding.  This not only burdens our residents, local leaders and volunteers, but has a detrimental effect on the region’s long-term economic stability.  Moving forward with this flood protection plan will help provide Fargo-Moorhead with much needed security and stability.” More…

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Dems may cling to Senate majority

POLITICO: December 15: In at least two states, though, Democrats have virtually no margin for error. Republicans — and even some Democratic operatives — believe that even in the GOP’s worst-case scenario, they will take over seats in North Dakota and Nebraska.

“North Dakota and Nebraska, I would say are gone,” said Republican consultant Brian Nick, a former aide to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “They’ll be lucky to keep those in single digits.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s recruitment of former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp into the campaign against Republican Rep. Rick Berg hands Democrats a high-profile figure with the potential to raise national money.

But running in a state where Republicans control all 12 statewide offices and two of the three federal seats will create inherent obstacles for Heitkamp, whose last race was a 10-point loss for governor more than a decade ago. More…

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House members could turn omnibus vote to campaign advantage

The Hill: December 19: An omnibus spending bill that easily passed the House on Friday with bipartisan support gave conservative Republicans — and some liberal Democrats — an opportunity to vote “no,” taking an oppositional stand they can use to their advantage on the campaign trail.

The bill, which both parties have used for leverage in negotiations over other end-of-the-year congressional business, passed the House with almost an equal number of Democratic and Republican votes on Friday, but there were more than twice as many Republicans than Democrats who voted against it. The Senate gave its approval on Saturday.

Many Democrats were unhappy with the process used to quickly pass the $1 trillion, 1,200 page bill that few had read in its entirety. Many Republicans — and especially Tea Party-affiliated members of the freshman class — decried the fact that it used spending levels set in the summer debt-ceiling deal, and not in the Republican budget proposal, which would have further cut the deficit.

A number of House members seeking a promotion to the Senate also refused to support the omnibus. Rep. Jeff Flake, the conservative Arizona Republican vying to fill retiring Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) seat, voted against it, as did Florida Rep. Connie Mack (R) and North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg (R). Rep. Todd Akin (R), who is in a contested GOP primary to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), also voted against the bill. More…

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Dems turn payroll-tax fire on Senate candidates

The Hill: December 20: And in North Dakota, Democrats accused freshman GOP Rep. Rick Berg — who is running for retiring Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D-N.D.) seat — of choosing his allegiance to the Tea Party over a tax break for struggling workers.

“Even during the holidays, Rick Berg and his Tea Party colleagues showed they were more interested in playing hyper-partisan games than standing up for middle-class North Dakota families,” state Democratic Party spokeswoman Alison Kelly said in a news release. More…

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‘Quotes’ of the week

Williston Herald: December 22: Congressman Rep. Rick Berg commenting on an announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency, for the first time ever, that hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, may have been responsible for groundwater contamination in Wyoming.

“I know common sense isn’t all that common anymore, but I hope the EPA uses common sense.”

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Congress Strikes Last-Minute Deal 

KFYR-TV: December 23: It seems to be an all too familiar theme coming out of Washington. The House and Senate struck another last-minute deal. Today, it was about extending payroll tax cuts. After playing a game of chicken with the Senate, the House caved and agreed to a temporary extension and will work with the Senate on a long-term deal.

The Republican-controlled House wanted a long-term tax break deal and the Democratic-controlled Senate wanted a short-term fix so the two bodies could work out their differences over time. On Friday, the Senate won.

Rep. Rick Berg sided with Republican House leaders during the showdown and Sen. John Hoeven took the middle-of-the-road approach. More…

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Rep. Rick Berg visits Devils Lake

Devils Lake Journal: December 29: It may have been several months since Rep. Rick Berg actually visited Devils Lake but he made up for it Wednesday when he came and spent most of the day with city officials.
The day started with a tour of the area focusing on the embankment protecting the city of Devils Lake and guided by Mayor Dick Johnson and City Engineer Mike Grafsgaard.
Then a stop at City Hall and a time to hear from various individuals about their concerns for the community.
The first to speak was John Nord from the Devils Lake Regional Airport who thanked Berg for his assistance in obtaining a solution for the community’s need for consistent and reliable air service.
Then each in turn several others addressed Berg with their thanks and concerns; Chris Schilken from Forward Devils Lake, Jeff Frith from the Joint Basin Water Resource Board, Scott Diseth from Ramsey County, City Commissioners Tim Heisler and Dale Robbins and an unidentified area resident who was present.
District 15 Rep. Dennis Johnson and Sen. Dave Oehlke also thanked Berg for coming and expressed their concerns about funding for roads, railroad service and infrastructure.
Berg responded by expressing how pleased he was at what he saw on the tour, how far along the projects are to protect the area. He emphasized how important it was that the various entities work together as they continue the basin flood fight and finding funding for all those needs. He pledged to do as much as he could on his end in Washington to keep the needs of the area in the forefront.
Berg stays in touch with what’s happening around the state through his staff back in North Dakota. More…

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Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

Sustainability, the EPA, and the Most Alarming Proposal Yet

Kevin Cramer for Congress: News: December 21: Most people are aware of the Obama administration’s “war on fossil fuels,” through the increasingly aggressive regulatory stances of the EPA. And most people are rightfully concerned.

But can you imagine if the Environmental Protection Agency – originally tasked with protecting us from harmful chemicals and preventing environmental pollution – were suddenly given the authority to determine what crops a farmer could or could not plant, what products a business could or could not produce, or what foods a school could or could not serve?

These seemingly outrageous propositions – central planning decisions forced upon people living in a nation built on freedom and individual rights – might not be so far off, if the EPA acts on recommendations put forth in its newly released study “Sustainability and the US EPA.” More…

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5 GOP candidates for ND congressional seat debate

Devils Lake Journal: December 15: Five Republican candidates for North Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House argued about raising the federal debt ceiling and which federal agency should be abolished during their first debate Wednesday night.
Former North Dakota Commerce Department director Shane Goettle, Fargo state Rep. Bette Grande, Public Service Commissioners Kevin Cramer and Brian Kalk, and West Fargo state Rep. Kim Koppelman met on a theater stage at Valley City State University.
Asked which federal agency they would eliminate if they had power to do so, Cramer, Grande and Koppelman named the Department of Education, while Kalk favored abolishing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The five candidates were asked to raise their hands if they believed global warming was caused by burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. None did so.
“The contribution of coal to global warming … is so minuscule. The problem is, it’s the most visible solution, and so it becomes a symbol,” Cramer said. “It’s easy for the fossil-fuel haters to sort of lift it up, because there are lots of issues that surround coal emissions. It’s not just carbon.”
Koppelman, Grande and Kalk said they opposed Congress’ decision last summer to raise the federal debt ceiling, while Cramer and Goettle argued that some sort of deal had been necessary to head off the consequences of a federal debt default.
Goettle said a failure to raise the debt ceiling would have forced up interest rates for U.S. Treasury debt and added billions in future interest costs.

The five candidates were critical of a new federal health care law, supported by President Barack Obama and approved by a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010, with all but Cramer saying they would vote to repeal it.
Cramer did not say he supported outright repeal, although he called the legislation “a bad idea” and “a lack of freedom.” The federal measure, Cramer said, was prompted by soaring health costs and serious problems in the nation’s health-care system.
“Let’s admit something, shall we … We had a problem before Obamacare was passed,” Cramer said. “We can’t just simply say, ‘Oh, we’re going to draw this line, we’ve got to repeal this, this is all awful’ … We have a problem to solve.” More…

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ND PSC Levies $5,000 Fine for 811 Violation 

KFYR-TV: December 29: The Public Service Commission has levied a $5,000 fine to someone who violated the “Call Before You Dig” warning. That`s the heftiest fine ever. Regulators want to make sure development doesn`t move so fast that people forget about safety.

The PSC`s first fine for not using the 811 service was issued in 2010. Since then, a handful of fines have been levied, mostly from 500 to $1,000.

Whether it`s oil and gas pipelines, or phone and electric lines, if you plan to dig more than 12 inches below the ground in North Dakota you have to call 811 first.

“We want people to call 811 before they have to call 911,” added Commissioner Kevin Cramer.

But PSC commissioners say focus shouldn`t just be on hitting violators in the wallet.

“More important than that, I think, is a good, robust, educational campaign that helps people better understand that there is a consequence to digging without calling,” said Cramer. More…

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Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Could 2012 be the most competitive Senate election in years?

Washington Post: The Fix: Aaron Blake: December 16: 1. North Dakota (D): Democrats are convinced that the political handicapping world — or at least the Fix — has this race all wrong. Yes, they have a quality candidate and proven vote-getter in former attorney general Heidi Heitkamp. Yes, Rep. Rick Berg, the near-certain Republican nominee, is nowhere near as popular as Sen. John Hoeven was when he swept to the Senate in 2010. But North Dakota is likely to go strongly for the Republican presidential nominee — no matter who it is — in 2012, and it’s hard to imagine Heitkamp overperforming Obama by 10 or more points. (Previous ranking: 1)

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The Agony of Victory

Weekly Standard: December 21: Okay, it’s early. For the past six months, the Republican candidates have been tied down in nationally televised debates in which they quibble with each other. The nominee who emerges will be able to make Obama and his record the central issue of the election, and win. At least that’s the hope.

By the way, Republican prospects of capturing the Senate have taken a slight dip too. Democrats have 23 seats at stake next year, Republicans just 10. Fundraising has favored Democratic candidates so far. And North Dakota’s open Democratic seat is no longer regarded as a slam dunk for Republicans with the announcement by Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, a director of Dakota Gasification Company and former state attorney general, that she’ll challenge Republican Rick Berg. Democrats currently hold the Senate, 53-47. More…

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The Hotline’s Senate Race Rankings: Christmas Edition

National Journal: December 22: NORTH DAKOTA (Open, D, Sen. Kent Conrad retiring) (LAST MONTH: 1)
That being said, we don’t envy North Dakota Democrats. State Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp will face a Republican, Rep. Rick Berg, who isn’t universally loved, and she’s off to a good fundraising start, we hear. But she’ll be running in a state President Obama lost by eight points in 2008, and he’ll lose it by a wider margin this time around. Factor in the GOP’s gains in 2010 and Berg is the clear favorite. More…

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Berg Statement on Latest Jobs Numbers

January 6: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: Congressman Rick Berg today issued the following statement in response to the December jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   Today’s report shows that national unemployment rate has dropped from 8.6 percent to 8.5 percent.

“It’s encouraging that more jobs are being added to our economy, but with unemployment still remaining unacceptably high at 8.5 percent, it’s clear that more must be done to lift the barriers preventing Americans from getting back to work,” Berg stated. “Today marks the 35th straight month of unemployment remaining above 8 percent, with 1.4 million less Americans holding jobs since President Obama took office three years ago.  Today’s jobs report also fails to address the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have given up hope of finding a job and dropped out of the job market completely.  The American people deserve common sense solutions to the economic challenges facing our nation, but persistent inaction by President Obama and Senate Democrats continues to stand as a roadblock to job creation and economic recovery.

“The House has passed 28 bipartisan, job-creating bills that would provide America’s small businesses the certainty and regulatory relief they need to create jobs and help grow our economy.  Yet Senate Democrats continue to sidetrack these job-creating proposals, instead pursuing a big-government, big-spending agenda that burdens our job creators with more uncertainty and our nation with more unsustainable debt. In North Dakota, we know that jobs come from small business—not big government.  The President and Senate Democrats should learn from North Dakota’s example and join the House in working toward common sense, long-term solutions to help Americans get back to work.”  More…

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Berg: Corps Support Needed for Critical Minot Infrastructure Projects

January 6: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: Congressman Rick Berg today called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve the city of Minot’s funding request for the expansion and extension of the city’s sewer system, which would clear the way for future housing development in the south end of Minot.

Berg today spoke with Mark L. Mazzanti, Director of the Corps Civil Works Programs Integration Division, who oversees the allocation of all Corps Environmental Infrastructure program funding, to discuss the city of Minot’s request for $11,920,000 in funds from the Corps’ Environmental Infrastructure Section 594 program.

Berg pressed that the Corps expeditiously approve Minot’s request, stressing that the sewer expansion project is critical to addressing the city’s housing needs.  While Berg expressed his support to the Corps for the full funding request for Minot, he also expressed his commitment to facilitating communication between the city of Minot and the Corps regarding the city’s immediate and long-term needs, the organization of the project, and how Section 594 funding would be utilized this year as the Corps works to make is final determinations for funding allocation.

“As we enter January with so many North Dakotans still living in temporary housing, there is no doubt that resolving Minot’s housing needs is of paramount importance and must be immediately addressed,” Berg stated.  “This sewer expansion project is critical to Minot’s ability to recover and rebuild from the flood and will be essential as the city works to develop the south end of Minot.  I am committed to working alongside the Mayor Zimbelman, local and state officials, and Director Mazzanti and the Corps to ensure that Minot’s needs are fully communicated and that the Corps is able to address those needs adequately.” More…

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Berg Works with ND Ag Leaders to Bring ND’s Priorities to Farm Bill

January 12: Rick Berg-U.S. Rep.: Pressroom: Congressman Rick Berg today reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring North Dakota’s priorities are represented in the next farm bill. In roundtable discussions held today in Bismarck and Fargo, Berg met with agriculture leaders from across North Dakota to discuss North Dakota’s priorities for the next farm bill.

“Agriculture is the backbone of North Dakota’s economy, and it’s critical that our state’s priorities are represented as the next farm bill takes shape,” Berg stated. “Today’s roundtables served as a valuable opportunity for North Dakota’s ag leaders to come together and discuss the common sense ideas that will strengthen our country’s agriculture sector and allow our economy to grow.  I will work to ensure that the priorities shared with me today are heard as we work toward the next farm bill.”

Berg was also joined by House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas (R-OK), who will lead House efforts to reauthorize the farm bill this year.  More…

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Governor, Berg still waiting to endorse

Bismarck Tribune: December 30: While Sen. John Hoeven earlier announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney as the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Rick Berg and Gov. Jack Dalrymple have yet to reveal their choices.

With the presidential primary and caucus season kicking off next week, political endorsements are a highly valuable commodity for candidates to pursue, as well as an important choice for politicians to make.

Hoeven, R-N.D., and his wife, Mikey, were announced as the North Dakota campaign chairmmen for the Romney campaign in November. Hoeven said in a Nov. 18 statement from the Romney campaign that he looks forward to working on the campaign.

“Getting our country on the right track will require lessening the regulatory burden on businesses, reducing spending, reforming taxes and utilizing our energy resouces here in the United States. Mitt Romney has laid out conservative solutions such as these to fix our country’s problems and I look forward to working with him to ensure that North Dakota is a leader in our country’s economic revitalization,” Hoeven said in the statement.

Amanda Godfread, director of communications for Dalrymple’s election campaign, said the Republican governor hasn’t made an official endorsement for the 2012 presidential race. Godfread said it also isn’t anything Dalrymple has discussed with campaign staff.

“I think it’s likely he’ll endorse one of the candidates. I’m sure it’s on his mind,” Godfread said.

Alee Lockman, a spokeswoman for Berg, said there was little to report on Berg’s choice.

“Rick has not endorsed anyone at this time,” Lockman said.

Lockman didn’t provide any information on when the freshman Republican House member, who is running for the U.S. Senate, might announce his endorsement.

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Hopefuls begin to emerge for legislative races

Bismarck Tribune: January 2: Following a 2010 election in which the Republicans increased their state House majority by 11 seats and added nine senators, Becker said there is reason for the party to be confident.

Becker said 2012 also is shaping up to be an exciting year for the national races. So far, five Republicans are vying for the nomination for the U.S. House. Republican Rep. Rick Berg, who won the state’s at-large seat in 2010, is now running for the U.S. Senate.

“2012 is going to be such a banner year,” Becker said.

The first step for both parties is district reorganization meetings. Legislators in even-numbered districts are up for re-election during the current election cycle. More…

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ND getting federal money for flood-damaged highways

Devils Lake Journal: January 6: North Dakota’s congressional delegation says the Federal Highway Administration has awarded more than $276 million to help shore up North Dakota roadways damaged by floodwaters last year.
The money is part of a record $316 million the state will get in federal emergency transportation funding. The amount is separate from the regular federal funding the state gets for highways.
Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and Rep. Rick Berg say the $316 million for North Dakota makes up about one-fourth of all federal emergency highway funding being distributed nationwide.

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Rep. Berg has new deputy state director

Bismarck Tribune: January 6: An official with the State Historical Society of North Dakota will be assuming a lead staff role for U.S. Rep. Berg, R-N.D., next week.

Rick Collin, communications and education director at the State Historical Society, will assume the role as Berg’s Deputy State Director on Monday. Collin said he will be based out of Berg’s office at the federal building at 220 E. Rosser Ave. in Bismarck.

Collin will be working as part of Berg’s congressional staff. Collin added that his primary area of focus will be the western part of North Dakota.

“This was just such a great opportunity I couldn’t pass it up,” Collin said. More…

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Berg outlines goals if elected to Senate

Bismarck Tribune: January 11: A key step in getting the country’s financial house in order, according to Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., is by action by the U.S. Senate on House legislation.

The freshman congressman said Tuesday if elected to the Senate, his ability to use his connections in the House would be be valuable in creating better coordination and legislative action between the two chambers.

“I’m going to have a tremendous connection with all the House committees,” Berg said. “I will have spent two years in the House. I think it puts me in a good spot in the Senate.”

Berg said his main priorities as a senator would be reducing the deficit and balancing the budget while working to creating a stronger business climate through decreased federal regulation.

Berg said the need to move legislation forward is already there. He added that so far during the 112th Congress there have been 27 bipartisan bills passed by the House that the Senate has refused to take action on.

“The first thing I would do is push the Senate to pick up the House bills that they’ve refused to act on,” Berg said.

Berg said there is still a lot of work ahead and that his campaign is still in the early stages.

“The key right now for us is the state convention,” Berg said.

The North Dakota Republican Convention will be held March 30-April 1 at the Bismarck Civic Center. More…

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Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

Exceeding the National Debt Limit…Again!

Kevin Cramer for Congress: News: January 9: Watch… More…

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‘Call Before you Dig’: Public Service Commission to issue more fines if 811 system is violated

Bismarck Tribune: January 8: “The goal of a civil penalty is not to punish, but rather to inspire compliance with the law,” said commissioner Kevin Cramer. “If the fines need to be raised to keep people safe, we may have to consider legislation to increase the cap.”

North Dakota law requires anyone digging below 12 inches to utilize the “One Call,” 811 system. The commission states, however, that it is a good idea for everyone involved in digging to use the service.

“It’s very simple, no matter who you are, no matter where you are at, you should call 811 before you dig,” said commissioner Brian P. Kalk. “Why someone would jeopardize their life or risk damaging critical services such as telephone, electricity or natural gas lines is a mystery to me.”

“If a company is digging into the ground, the first call they should make before they begin is to 811,” said commission chair Tony Clark. “It’s more than common sense, it is the law.” More…

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ND utilities turning to gas for electricity

Valley News Live: January 9: After relying on coal to generate electricity, North Dakota utilities are looking more at natural gas as a source of power.

Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. is proposing construction of an 88-megawatt gas turbine near its Heskett power station north of Mandan. The Heskett plant uses coal to make electricity.

North Dakota’s Public Service Commission is holding a hearing Tuesday on the project.

Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer says natural gas can be used for many things other than power generation. He says it’s a key component in manufacturing.

Commission Chairman Tony Clark says natural gas supplies are more plentiful, prices are down and it’s a cleaner fuel. But he says gas prices fluctuate, and it’s riskier to rely on gas as a power source.

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Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Where’s Heidi Heitkamp?

Minot Daily News: January 1: Nicole Bredahl, Grand Forks

Since Heidi Heitkamp’s Senate campaign announcement, or should I say lack there of, I feel like I am looking at a “Where’s Waldo?” book.

Heidi’s entrance into the Senate race has to be one of the oddest in American history, especially for a North Dakota campaign. Here, our campaigns are all about the people. As a small state we are used to having almost unprecedented access to our leaders. However, Heidi seems to not be willing to honor that history.

Heidi announced her campaign to the Washington, D.C., press before anyone in North Dakota. Then, she sent out a message to the North Dakota press saying she was running. Then, she did nothing. No trip around the state. No press conference. No radio interviews. Where is she? Where is Waldo?

Apparently, Heidi thinks too little of the people of this great state to interact with them. I guess if I supported widely unpopular positions in North Dakota like Obamacare, bank bailouts, EPA over-regulation (her first job was as an EPA attorney), higher taxes, and cutting $500 billion from Medicare I wouldn’t want to face North Dakotans either.

What is she going to tell us when she campaigns around the state? “Hi, I’m Heidi and I support everything Barak Obama does.” I guess she would rather we just keep asking “Where’s Waldo?” More…

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Heitkamp to launch Senate campaign

Bismarck Tribune: January 6: More than a decade after her last political campaign, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is preparing to officially kick off her run for U.S. Senate.

Heitkamp, whose last run for office was in the 2000 gubernatorial election, said an official campaign launch will be held later this month in Bismarck. She formally announced her candidacy on Nov. 8.

She said by starting the campaign in January there is sufficient time to make her case for Senate to North Dakotans while not engaging in what she sees as a trend of permanent campaigning that dominates modern politics.

“We’re just getting campaign and not a lot of leadership. What we’re looking at is a measured campaign that does not inundate the public so early that by the time election day comes they don’t want to go to the polls,” Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp said the details of her campaign launch will be released soon. She also plans on attending Democratic-NPL Party district conventions across the state. Moving forward she said the plan is to conduct a grassroots campaign throughout the state.

“It will be a lot of one-on-one contact with voters,” Heitkamp said.

Although not in elected office for over a decade, Heitkamp has remained active on the North Dakota political scene. One of the more recent issues she was active in was the passing of Measure 3, which required money from the national tobacco settlement to be used for tobacco cessation programs. She’s also served as director of the Dakota Gasification Company since 2001.

Heitkamp said her years out of office have given her a new perspective on politics and what is needed in Washington.

“I think in some ways not being involved in elective politics for the last 10 years…gives me a more mature perspective,” Heitkamp said. “It’s badly broken. There’s never been a time, at least in my lifetime, where I feel we need adult leadership.” More…

 

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