Commentary

Floor of the Nebraska Legislature

Nebraskans need tax reform, not a tax hike 

BY: - February 22, 2024

Another legislative session and property taxes are still the top issue for Nebraskans and our representatives. Nebraska taxpayers need to start paying attention – lawmakers are sleepwalking into a raw deal. After decades of increased property taxes, Nebraskans deserve true tax reform, not a tax shift. In crafting a tax package this session, senators should […]

Cigarette excise tax increase is not good for Nebraska, and here’s why.

BY: - February 21, 2024

During my time in the Nebraska Legislature, including time as chairman of the Revenue Committee, I witnessed many attempts to increase the state’s cigarette excise tax. These attempts were often accompanied by well-meaning arguments for improved public health, but they were always driven by an ambition to increase state tax revenues for one purpose or […]

Turnaround on border security beyond troubling 

BY: - February 19, 2024

I hung up on my congressman. His polite pre-recording invited me to participate in a town hall meeting via the telephone. The hardest of passes, sir. Not only has Congressman Adrian Smith lost my vote (again), I’m having difficulty finding much respect for the entire congressional majority after its latest stunt. Never mind that Smith […]

School tax credits and school aid have helped rural areas … but there’s a ways to go

BY: - February 16, 2024

In 2021, school tax credits were substantially increased to 25% of property taxes paid to your local school district. In addition, in 2023, state aid to schools was increased by providing foundation aid equal to $1,500 per student for the 2023-24 school year. The tax credits directly lower property taxes, and school aid has the potential […]

Nebraska Democratic Party keeps finding ways to shrink

BY: - February 13, 2024

The Nebraska Democratic Party under Chair Jane Kleeb keeps finding ways to shrink its already minority status. Once a big-tent party that won elections by occupying slightly right-of-center to liberal policy positions, the Nebraska Democratic Party now comes across as demanding ideological purity. Most recently, the Douglas County Democratic Party cut ties with State Sen. […]

Believing professionals doing professional things

BY: - February 12, 2024

Now that the Super Bowl is over and we’ve survived Taylor Swift’s attempt to undo the Republic, perhaps we should consider more mundane endeavors. Writing good public policy, drafting effective legislation, making progress … that sort of thing. To wit: Gov. Jim Pillen accomplished none of the above on his latest trip to the Texas/Mexico […]

Extending respect to semantics

BY: - February 5, 2024

The right words at the right time in the right order for the right reason with the right meanings should be applauded … and expected. We demand zero tolerance in machining, precision in surgery and exactitude in engineering. Why not the same accuracy in language? Given two recent examples from public figures showcasing the intentional […]

Don’t repeal Murphy’s Law

BY: - February 2, 2024

Having had a number of disagreements with the Legislature when I was the Nebraska attorney general, I hesitate to wade into the current disagreement between the Legislature and the attorney general concerning inspectors general. I do so only to bring some historical perspective. In the 1970s the Legislature became frustrated that state agencies would not […]

Slow turnaround time for data requests is bogging down Nebraska cancer research

BY: - February 1, 2024

In 1982, Nebraska took a crucial step in the fight against cancer by establishing its cancer registry. This repository of information on cancer cases, encompassing details such as cancer type, severity and patient demographics, was envisioned as a vital tool to reduce cancer incidence and deaths. Fast forward to the present, and the importance of […]

An unfunny thing happened on the way to AI

BY: - January 29, 2024

Sometimes I open my mouth and a grumpy old(er) man comes out, a cartoon character in mismatched plaids and pants hiked way up. Inside the comic strip bubble above my head I’m yelling, “Hey, get offa my lawn!” This may be one of those times. Only now the bubble reads, “Hey, Biff. Just because you […]

Snow blower

OPPD is gambling on our future

BY: - January 26, 2024

On Sunday, Jan. 14, the Omaha Public Power District posted an email to customers urging us to conserve energy, explaining that “high energy demand” brought about by the cold temperatures was causing this emergency. This plea was followed by a telephone message to customers, presumably to reach those who do not have access to email.  […]

Bad idea has a shot in the Legislature

BY: - January 22, 2024

A proposal in the Nebraska Legislature would do away with tenure for the state’s public college professors. Similar bills have been introduced in the legislatures of Texas, Florida, North Dakota and Iowa. And if there’s anyone we want to emulate, it’s Texas, Florida, North Dakota and Iowa. Right? If state senators want the brain drain […]