Omaha World-Herald. September 15, 2021.
Editorial: An unbalanced redistribution map for Nebraska? The legislator must say no
Question: Republican lawmakers in the Nebraska legislature all strongly support the GOP redistribution map proposed last week for the state legislative election, right?
Not at all. And that lack of unity explains a lot about Nebraska politics – and a threat now hanging over the future of the legislature.
The card may be called a “Republican” card, but it’s actually skewed in a major way to help a certain type of Republican: Hard-shell Tories should line up to support Gov. Pete Ricketts’ political approach.
Residents of Nebraska might be surprised to learn that the map would redraw the districts to reduce the chances of re-election of two independent-minded Republicans (Sens. Myron Dorn and Tom Brandt) who dared to support the post-veto waiver. of governor. And that would wipe out present-day District 24, west of Lincoln altogether, whose voters have sent independent Republicans to the legislature for 15 years (current Senator Mark Kolterman and former President Greg Adams).
In addition to targeting variable-voting Republicans, the card hampers re-election opportunities for several incumbent Democrats in western and north-central Douglas County. The current map of the Legislative Assembly, adopted in 2011, divides seven counties. The new “Republican” card more than doubles that number – it divides 16.
In this case, the dominance of the government of Nebraska for the most right-wing and uncompromising brand of republicanism.
Republican variable-voting senators who are pushed back by term limits in 2023 are bluntly expressing concern that the proposed card would move the legislature to a strictly controlled partisan body rather than one in which lawmakers are free to sit. make up their own mind.
Selfish maneuvering on both sides is normal during the Nebraska redistribution, but ultimately the legislature must negotiate a legislative map of the state through responsible compromise. Nebraska, now and always, needs a legislature whose ideological makeup generally mirrors that of the state. Such a body would contain a large contingent of staunch conservatives, but also a significant number of moderates and liberals.
So lawmakers must come to an agreement that produces a final map that no group is fully satisfied with. The same goes for addressing the tensions of redistribution between urban and rural interests. It is the nature of an impartial redistribution that serves the public interest. And it is only through sober give and take that the Legislature can craft a map that can garner the 33 votes needed to resist obstruction.
This task is doable. The current legislature has competent legislators, within and outside the redistribution committee, with the capacity to come to a constructive agreement.
Attention will then turn to Ricketts. A gubernatorial veto, followed by a successful effort by the legislature to maintain it, would spell a stalemate just as President Mike Hilgers pushes for a redistribution resolution by the end of this month. Hilgers has very important duties both to manage this special session responsibly and to help the governor build confidence in the value of negotiations.
The Nebraska legislature must reflect the complexity of our state in the 21st century. The way to achieve this is through responsible redistribution. Lawmakers and the governor must not fail in this crucial task.
Lincoln Journal Star. September 16, 2021.
Editorial: UN Enrollment Trends Highlight Both Successes and Challenges
With the COVID-19 pandemic rocking the world in 2020 and beyond, drawing too many conclusions about the University of Nebraska enrollment numbers would be a challenge.
Yes, the university has seen a decline of around 2% from last year, with UN President Ted Carter attributing this to the inability to replace the largest cohort of graduates in its history and to a sharp drop in the number of international students – both of which can be inferred from the last environment of the year.
However, with the quirk of the previous school year, the decline is a lonely orange in rows upon rows of large red apples. And as Nebraska high school graduating classes are expected to decline further over the next several years, the university must continue its streak of increasing access and creativity to attract and retain students.
As has often been said in this space, the university is the state’s greatest investment in its future. This often manifests itself in discussions about training Nebraska’s future workforce, but it is also a critical tool in attracting new residents to help tackle the brain drain, with educated Nebraskans leaving for d ‘other places the state has failed to reverse in recent years.
Given the magnitude of this task, it is therefore imperative to ensure that the UN continues on its upward trajectory.
Perhaps the best achievement in this area comes from the Kearney campus. The school instituted its New Nebraskan scholarship program, which targeted Kansas and Colorado with reduced tuition fees, fueling 70% growth in the out-of-state freshman class.
The move, which mirrors similar steps taken by public schools in South Dakota to attract potential students from neighboring states, is a great recruiting tool for this campus. Associated with the Nebraska Promise program – free tuition for students from median income households – the entire NU system is making significant progress towards improving access for students in Cornhusker State and beyond .
Additionally, over the past decade, the percentage of students of color at NU has more than doubled from 9% to 20%. This rapid growth is commendable and makes the state university more representative of the state’s growing diversity, especially among young people.
And nowhere is this increase more pronounced than at UNK, which is located near some of Nebraska’s most diverse communities.
The state still has work to do, long before students even reach college level, as the racially-based graduation gap persists in high schools across the state and nationwide. But ensuring that Nebraska’s higher education institutions welcome students from all walks of life is critical to the state’s future.
Indeed, the 2021-2022 enrollment figures are indicative of the challenges ahead for NU, but those same figures also illustrate the right turns on the university path.
Kearney Center. September 11, 2021.
Editorial: Nebraska must unite against our common enemy
Statements earlier this week from two of Nebraska’s elected leaders baffle us. Governor Pete Ricketts and US Senator Ben Sasse both issued statements sharply criticizing President Joe Biden’s announcement that he plans to issue executive orders mandating coronavirus vaccination for healthcare workers and businesses. with 100 or more employers.
Ricketts called Biden’s announcement a federal overrun and a violation of personal freedom. Sasse intervened, saying the decrees were “constitutionally questionable.”
If demanding that Americans be vaccinated against a deadly virus is against the US Constitution, perhaps Sasse should explain how, for decades, American schools were able to demand that children be vaccinated against a list of contagious and crippling diseases. .
Ricketts said, “Americans – not the federal government – are responsible for taking charge of their personal health. It is not the role of the federal government to mandate their choices.
He promised that “Nebraska will resist President Biden’s excesses and we will work with the attorney general to explore all of our options.”
The governor has said Biden’s push for a vaccine warrant is surprisingly overwhelming, but Ricketts is guilty of forcing the Nebraskans’ response to the coronavirus. As governor, he posted daily updates that informed and directed the Nebraskans’ response to the virus. It issued directed health measures. Restricting seating for restaurants and ordering other unpopular responses to COVID was certainly a challenge, but Ricketts seized the opportunity. He was an effective leader during a crisis that demanded tough decisions.
We’d love to see old Pete Ricketts take over the response from Nebraska. Sasse, too, could do a lot better with his constituents.
Rather than pitting so many Nebraskans against the president and his administration’s efforts to tackle the pandemic, we encourage Ricketts and Sasse to be more part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem by sowing distrust and disunity. Let us invite them both to lay out their plans to rid the nation of this deadly virus.
Times of crisis normally unify the nation. We should be united today, but too many Americans are deluding themselves into believing that the efforts to end the pandemic – the mask and vaccine warrants – are infringements of their freedoms. We must remember that with freedom comes responsibility. Our primary responsibility as Americans is to unite against a common enemy. The faster we fight COVID together, the faster our economy will recover and our schools will reopen safely.
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