Omaha Police Officer’s Association makes endorsements

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The OPOA has selected its preferred candidates for the legislature this fall. Reforming the “Good Time” law is a top issue for law enforcement and could become one of the top campaign issues in the general election for legislative candidates as well. Below are their candidates.

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Pete Rickett’s ad hits TV

Here is a look at Rickett’s first TV commercial of the general election.

 

 

Chris Scott talks with Drive Time Lincoln about minimum wage push and down ballot races

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Kevin Thomas and Chris Scott discusses the Chip Maxwell factor in the Lee Terry race, the minimum wage, Governor’s race, and the down ballot impact of the minimum wage issue.

To listen to the discussion, click 7-10-14-Chris Scott.

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Immigration – Filling the Void

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By Bryan Baumgart, Douglas County Republican Party Chairman

The United States is not alone its struggles to replace an aging workforce and the important tax revenue attached to it.  As America continues to “gray”, it must find a way to care for its aging population.  While other countries such as Japan and China struggle to find a solution (see charts below), the United States has a distinct advantage in that immigrants continue to flock to this country seeking freedom and opportunity.

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The facts are undeniable. Our country is quickly sinking in debt, Social Security and Medicare are rapidly approaching insolvency, and the ever increasing number of laborers leaving the work force only compounds the problem our country is facing. A healthy immigration policy is key, not only to fill the labor demands of American businesses, but to effectively care for our aging population.

According to the latest report from the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees:

“Neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run programs in full under currently scheduled financing. Both programs will experience cost growth substantially in excess of GDP growth through the mid-2030s due to rapid population aging caused by the large baby-boom generation entering retirement and lower-birth-rate generations entering employment and, in the case of Medicare, to growth in expenditures per beneficiary exceeding growth in per capita GDP.”

Because US birth rates are not sufficient to fill the void left by an aging American workforce, immigration reform with an emphasis on targeted immigration continues to be our best viable solution. Targeted immigration provides a fighting chance for both Social Security and Medicare by filling in the voids of the population pyramid (see below).

US Population 1950

 

US Population 2015

 

The follies of failing on immigration reform

An aging workforce is not the only increasing burden American taxpayers must confront.  Our current immigration policy has led to an estimated 14 million plus undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States, often living at the expense of American taxpayers.

A recent story in the Washington Post explored the burden placed on school budgets by the rising percentage of students who qualify for subsidized meals and extra English instruction:

“Immigration reform could help families more easily attain legal status and begin adding to the tax base.”

Some of the most vocal opponents of immigration reform decry propping up benefits for noncitizens at taxpayer expense. Ironically, these same critics then turn around and oppose allowing their participation in the system.

The undeniable facts remain. Our current immigration process has left us with 14 million undocumented immigrants. Most of which are hardworking, law abiding, family and faith oriented individuals who came seeking the same opportunity and pursuing the same happiness that our ancestors sought. Their children, born in America know no other country or way of life.

Logic tells us that deportation is not an option, nor should it be. Past attempts to solve the problem through amnesty have obviously failed. Construction of a border fence will certainly prove futile as the human spirit cannot be held captive by a fence or means of force. Immigrants will continue to flock to this country seeking freedom and opportunity with the same furor that drove our ancestors to risk all in the pursuit of a better future.

The solution is to address the failing immigration policy that has caused this problem in the first place. The legal process must first be simplified in order to act as an incentive rather than a deterrent. Once effective reform of the legal process is achieved, undocumented immigrants should be allowed to self-report and enter into that legal process…AT THE BACK OF THE LINE. Temporary citizenship should be granted during this time in order to avoid tearing families apart and other unnecessary societal distress. Rather than living at the expense of American taxpayers, immigrants would be welcomed out of the shadows and could pull their own weight becoming contributing taxpayers themselves.  Immigration should then be targeted at filling the labor demands of American businesses. It’s a problem with a rare win/win solution.

 

* I’d like to congratulate my friend Yeny Curruchich Martinez who after a long journey, this week became a proud American citizen. Your story which began in Guatemala, led through California, and finally brought you to Nebraska where you passionately serve fellow Nebraskans as a nurse does not end here. Today marks an exciting new chapter in your story.  A story that serves as an inspiration to me. You truly embolden everything that makes America “that shining city on the hill”.

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Chris Scott talks with Kevin Thomas of Drive Time Lincoln about the minimum wage and some politics

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To listen to that interview, click 6-9-14-Chris Scott.

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The money behind the push to raise the minimum wage in Nebraska

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Political Insiders Report pulled back the curtain to see who is funding this major state-wide ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Nebraska. You might be surprised at the big money being put into this. Many speculate that the minimum wage increase on the ballot is merely to increase Democratic turnout in a off Presidential year. The group behind this is Nebraskans for a Better Wage. Below are their donors.

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The questions that come to mind are:

  • Why are unions fighting so hard to raise the minimum wage when none of their members make minimum wage?
  • Are some of these union contracts tied to the minimum wage and thus would be a pay increase?
  • Why did the teachers union donate $25,000 when this does not seem to deal with education or better pay for teachers?
  • Is this just a way to take an emotional issue and get Democrats to the poll or is this a legitimate attempt to address income inequality?

These questions will probably be answered soon. One thing is clear, when fighting to raise minimum wage and income inequality, you might not want to put your workers up at the nicest Omaha hotel, and buy your office equipment at Walmart. Kinda sends the wrong message. Below are the aforementioned expenses.

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Nebraska’s Republican Liberty Caucus will NOT be helping Chip Maxwell

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In one of the most bizarre moves in Nebraska political history, Tea Party candidate Chip Maxwell will be running against Republican Lee Terry and Democrat Brad Ashford as a petition candidate who is strangely a registered Non-Partisan.

There has been much speculation on Maxwell’s motives, but most people agree that his chances of winning are slim to none. The Nebraska political blog, Leavenworth Street, opined on Maxwell’s motives in a recent post. That post can be read by clicking here. As he mounts his petition campaign, he will have to do it without many members of the liberty movement in Nebraska. Below is the RLC’s recent press release.

RLC-Nebraska not involved in petition campaign.
A Republican organization, the RLC-Nebraska does not support or endorse non-Republican candidates if a Republican is in the race.
OMAHA, MAY 21, 2014 - With the announcement of Chip Maxwell that he intends to pursue a petition effort to enter the 2nd District House race, the RLC-Nebraska wishes to affirm its position.
We are a Republican organization. Our by-laws prohibit the organization from endorsing or supporting any non-Republican in any race in which a Republican is running. Mr. Maxwell is no longer a Republican, and he is (or would be if his efforts are successful) running against a Republican, so we are obviously not involved in this effort, officially or unofficially, as an organization.
While individual members may choose to participate in the effort in some way, that is a purely personal decision on their part, and does not reflect the views or position of the Republican Liberty Caucus, and we are not encouraging our members to engage in any activity which would increase the likelihood of a Democrat victory in the fall.
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About the Republican Liberty Caucus-Nebraska
Founded in 1991, the Republican Liberty Caucus is a nationwide grassroots organization which promotes individual liberty and limited government within the Republican Party. It has chartered groups in many states, including Nebraska. The Republican Liberty Caucus-Nebraska received its Charter in June of 2008.

 

You can find more information about the Republican Liberty Caucus at www.rlc.org or the RLCNE at www.rlcne.org. &n bsp;

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Candidate commercial gaffe falls flat with the farmers

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There has been a real push by all of the Nebraska candidates for Governor to show their agricultural roots. Commercials showing trucks, farmland, and livestock have covered our televisions.

Many farmers and workers in agriculture would tell you that one of the more vital tools to their livelihood is their pickup truck. For many, it goes beyond just their pickup truck being a tool, but rather an extension of their identity. What type of pickup you drive can say a lot about you.

When candidates and trying to convey how genuine and authentic they are through a commercial, this isn’t a good start.

A recent commercial by Beau McCoy shows he is clearly trying to show his agricultural roots. Beau is dressed the part, speaks the part but something goes a bit wrong. You see off in the distance him driving his Chevy Silverado shown below.

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McCoy discusses how he will be driving around that state in his pickup. Then it gets weird. The next shot is of McCoy driving in his pickup, only it isn’t his pickup.

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Take a second and look at the picture as it was pointed out to me by a farmer’s wife. After this shot of McCoy in a Ford pickup, the commercial continues showing McCoy back is his Chevy pictured below.

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This is the kind of gaffe that out of state commercial producers might not realize or even think it is a big deal but Nebraskan’s do. If you are trying to endear yourself to the agricultural community, at least get the truck right.

Below is the full commercial.

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Some interesting developments at the Douglas County Assessor’s Office

lawsuit-paperworkChris Scott and Tom Becka delve into a recent lawsuit filed against the Douglas County Assessor’s Office. They also dig it to a 2003 deposition by another employee that had similar claims about the office being very political. The 2003 deposition makes some very shocking claims about about the then number two in charge at the office.

This is worth a listen. To hear the interview, click here.

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Tom Becka and Chris Scott discuss local politics

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Tom Becka and Chris Scott discuss the Nebraska Senate and Governor’s race. They also discuss what we have learned about the candidates thus far. Chris also discusses his takeaways from a recent Ben Sasse speech. Click here to listen to that interview.

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Nebraska conservatives fight back against DC anointed Sasse

468436Nebraska conservative activists are taking pen to paper to show their opposition to being spoon fed Ben Sasse as the Tea Party/Conservative candidate for the Nebraska U.S. Senate race. Tea Party national groups Senate Conservative Fund, FreedomWorks, and the Club for Growth have all decided that Ben Sasse is the best candidate for Nebraskans. The only problem is that they did not confer with any Tea Party groups or conservative activists in Nebraska.

To not included Nebraska conservatives in the conversation about who is the best candidate for Nebraska is a bit odd and clearly angered many local activists.

Click here to see the letter that went to the media.

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Chris Scott talks Nebraska Senate and Governor’s race with Jack and Dave of KLIN

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To listen to that interview click here.

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Fremont: behind the curtain of city ordinance 5165

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Chris Scott broke the story yesterday on the Tom Becka Show yesterday. That interview can be heard by clicking here.  It is segment 7.

Chris Scott was also interviewed by KETV Channel 7. That interview can be seen below.

 

As promised, click Fremont Emails for the full 927 pages of email.

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Fremont ordinance 5165: behind the curtain

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We found it odd that the Fremont City Council would not follow the will of the people and enforce certain provisions of ordinance 5165 mainly the landlord verification process.

We found it even odder that they would go to lengths to put the ordinance back it the voter’s hands after the voters clearly showed they supported 5165 and it survived through the court system.

We here at Political Insiders Report filed an open records request to see who were the power players behind repealing portions of the ordinance.

We have received hundreds of documents and are currently reviewing them and will be able to provide a full report next week.

As a teaser, here is one email by Fremont City Councilman, Mark Stange, discussing how best to get parts of the ordinance repealed based on the election date. More to come next week.

 

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Tom Becka and Chris Scott discuss local politics 3/3/2014

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As they do every Monday, Tom and Chris discuss local politics. To hear the interview click here and here.

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Tom Becka and Chris Scott discuss local politics

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Every Monday at 4:30 pm, from now until the primary, Chris Scott will be on the Tom Becka show discussing local politics. To listen to this week’s segment, click here.

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Political Insiders Report Chris Scott discusses local politics on the radio.

radioPolitical Insiders Report Chris Scott was on the Tom Becka Show Monday discussing local political races and the Nebraska Democrats decision to allow Independents to vote in their primary. Additionally, until the primary, Chris will be on every Monday at 4:30 pm. Mondays’s two part interview can be listened to by clicking here and here.

Chris was also on the radio Monday in Lincoln on the Coby Mach Show discussing local politics and a bill that would move up state primary elections so that Nebraska is relevant and can lure Presidential candidates. That interview can be listened to by clicking here.

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Breaking: Nebraska Dems vote to allow independents (non-partisan) to vote in their primaries

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A narrow 32-30 vote by Nebraska party leadership will now allow independents to vote in partisan state elections. Independents could vote in Federal and non-partisan primaries, but now could cast their vote for Amanda McGill for Auditor or Chuck Hassebrook for Governor in the primary.

We will be watching this closely on how it will impact Democrat’s voter registration or the impact on getting used to voting for a Democrat in a primary and how that impacts general election trends.

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Platte Institute has the facts wrong

By the Omaha POA staff

This week, the Nebraska based Platte Institute released a report detailing their recommendations on the debate over Nebraska prison reform.

The public and our elected officials deserve organizations that can provide them with facts so that we can solve challenges such as violent crime, gangs and recidivism.

Organizations – such as the Platte Institute – are operating on tax free dollars and therefore have a moral obligation to get their facts right.

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Important decisions may be made based on their research and recommendations.

In the Platte Institute’s report, they are critical of what they perceive as Nebraska’s “mandatory minimum” sentences, specifically Class 3 Felonies such as selling marijuana and passing a bad check over $1500.

The Platte Institute claims that such offenders are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year in prison with no possibility of probation.

This assertion is inaccurate.

While the minimum sentence guideline for a Class 3 Felony is 1 year, the reality is that one year is automatically cut to 6 months with “good time”.

Additionally, the contention that such offenders are ineligible for probation is wrong.

Judges have the absolute discretion to sentence the above-mentioned offenders to probation.

As evidence, in December of 2013 alone there were eight such Class 3 Felons convicted in Douglas County District Court who were sentenced to probation.

They avoided any prison time.

In actuality, Nebraska only has a few serious offenses that result in an true mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Those include:

-Use of a firearm to Commit a Felony
-Habitual Criminal
-Felon in Possession of a Firearm and
-1st Degree Sexual Assault on a Child.

It is the Omaha POA’s desire that the Platte Institute, and other political organizations who desire to become involved in this debate regarding the safety of Omaha’s residents, should more carefully verify their facts.

 

 

 

Chris Scott of Political Insiders Report talks with Drive Time Lincoln about Nebraska’s Senate and Governor races

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Chris Scott of Political Insiders Report talks with Kevin Thomas of Drive Time Lincoln about the recent Senate debate and how the Governor’s race is shaping up with the prospects of Attorney General Jon Bruning jumping in. To hear the interview click here.

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A new candidate in the Nebraska Auditor race?

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Former North Platte Mayor Marc Kaschke is thought to be strongly considering running for the soon to be vacated post. Marc was Mayor of North Platte for four years before losing a re-election bid to the assistant chief of police. Kaschke also ran for legislative seat 42 in 2006. He made it through the primary but lost in the general. Kaschke was able to raise quite a bit of money in that legislative race and now Attorney General Jon Bruning was one of his larger financial backers donating $5,000.

Currently, Nebraska State Senators Pete Pirsch and Amanda McGill are the only announced candidates in the race. Kaschke would be the first candidate outside of a major metropolitan area.

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School Choice: Breaking indoctrination, learning to think

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By Andrew L. Sullivan

While not everyone may agree there are problems with educating children today, most agree there can be vast improvements. All sorts of issues have arisen regarding schools and each new problem is entrenched in previous problems as well as the general culture. Many have called for reform with ideas for school vouchers, charter schools and home school, empowering parents with greater options. In Nebraska groups like

All have fostered a call to change.

While some ideas may work better than others, the importance of giving parents greater options is crucial to helping parents and students to be break the mode of being passive to the latest culture trend or a mere subject to the school.  Instead of just making certain kids get to school, learning becomes the focus and helps student become successful adults. Such reforms also will allow for greater innovation.

Innovation is important as both public and private schools are highly resistant to change. Even with reforms for school choice nationwide, the education establishment has largely co-opted such reforms and muddied up the results. Public schools are buried in administrative meetings, unions have their demands, and regulations plague the entire education system. While private schools have much going for them, often they are trapped by their own bureaucracies.

The education establishment is so heavily and culturally embedded, it has its own way of speaking and communicating.  In attending an education conference, I had just missed the introductions but speaker after speaker, I could easily tell who the school administrators were just by voice. Their use of language was muted and monotone and put listeners to sleep.  Listening to them was pointless. These administrators had spent so much time talking to each other over the years, and their words had become so scripted, they had lost the ability to engage and inspire their audience or offer any legitimately good idea and it was because they were largely absent from the reality. Their line of thinking was basically “your child is our property” and they encouraged parents to act accordingly.

At the same time, the world is going through an information revolution, breaking down cultural barriers and allowing subcultures and other trends to blend and rise with the massive flows of information.  Access to information has never been easier, yet the latest generation of Americans, the Millennials, appear to have been lead to believe school is just a time to socialize and read a handful of books and become indoctrinated in to a set of beliefs, instead of understanding the necessity of learning and becoming a successful person.

Most people understand the flaws and problems with information from the internet. But for millennial generation who are just a bit savvier with the internet than their elders, a lie not only travels faster than the truth but at internet speed. What many people still do not understand about the internet is there is little filtering of information and often it is raw or an outright lie. When viewing internet information, you have to double check it because, you and only you, are the one judging such information. Unfortunately, many do not make sufficient judgment or critical evaluation of such information because their education never provided the base of knowledge and critical thinking necessary for the information age. This problem has impacted millennials and it shows in the “documentaries” they liked over the years.

A movie called Loose Change tried to claim the 9/11 attacks were an inside job by the US government. The magazine Popular Mechanics was so disturbed by the illogical claims, they used their website to debunk the whole conspiracy. (http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/1227842)

Later, Michael Moore’s movie Fahrenheit 9/11 borrowed many ideas which had been circulating around the internet. The movie has so many pieces of false information, researcher David Koppel ended up collecting revelations of the false information and posted them on his web site (http://www.davekopel.com/redirect/Terror/Fiftysix-Deceits-in-Fahrenheit-911.htm). Neither of these films would have taken hold without the internet but they also should have not taken hold because of the internet. People took the stories as fact without checking and comparing the information. They read headlines but not facts. Our education system failed to defuse such ignorance and actually helped such films to proliferate by leaving students ignorant. The proliferation of remedial courses is evidence enough.

In Nebraska, the education reforms have been slow to arrive and minimal.  Knowing many who will read this already have young children, let me share with you my advice. Breakdown the indoctrination system and add to your child’s thinking. Supplement their learning. Turn learning into a habit, not a chore.  The way to do this is when they ask you a question, tell them to look it up. In fact, push it further. Ask if they learned any new words today and if they say “no”, ask them to find a new word. Ask them what the capital of a particular state is, and then challenge them to tell you all they can find about such city. There are even websites such as Khan Academy with all sorts of lessons, including how to build a robot (https://www.khanacademy.org/science/discoveries-projects/robots/all-about-spout/v/spout-bot-at-santa-rita-elementary-school).

But don’t limit such inquires to the Internet and books. Spread it on to people too. So your child is staring at a handicapped person or other person at Church?  Challenge your child and say “If you are going to stare, go up and introduce yourself to them and ask them to share their story.”  Your child may look away or they may surprise you and go ask the question! I assure you, everyone loves to tell their story and your child will hear a story worthy of learning. Learning is always going involve asking a question. If you have fear of asking questions, you do not learn and you are left with the indoctrination and dogma handed to you. If people are to help each other, whether sick, imprisoned, retired or homeless or just their neighbors and family, they must be able to ask questions of each other to learn more. Regardless, changing the education system will take time which your child does not have. Engage with them now.

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Douglas County GOP Chairman: Nebraskans Don’t Fall For the Same Trick Twice

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Bryan Baumgart-Chairman, Douglas County Republican Party

State Senator Kathy Campbell of Lincoln is back with last year’s pig, but this year she’s put lipstick on it!

Last year, Nebraska patriots successfully fought Campbell’s Obamacare Bill, LB577 which sought to expand Medicaid as prescribed under the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). The Douglas County Republican Party passed a resolution opposing the Expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska. Fortunately the bill stalled under a filibuster and Governor Heineman’s veto promise.

This year Campbell is back with a dressed up version of last year’s disaster. The new bill, LB887 still looks to push Obamacare on Nebraska, but with a catchy new name. Campbell has dubbed her bill “WIN”, or “Wellness in Nebraska”. Apparently she believes Nebraskans are gullible. Whether it’s called the “Affordable Care Act” or “Wellness in Nebraska”…it’s still the same failed monstrosity that Nebraskans can’t afford.

Of course Campbell’s bill is once again backed by some of Nebraska’s most vocal supporters of government expansion. Senators Nordquist, Howard, and Crawford have already eagerly signed on to the bill, while many of last year’s supporters are waiting to see just how heated the opposition is going to get before making the same mistake twice. My sources tell me this bill could hinge on Senator Bob Krist of Omaha. Senator Krist is a Republican up for reelection this fall. I encourage you to give Senator Krist a call at (402) 471-2718 and urge him to oppose LB887, a bill no true conservative could support. Contact information for Nebraska State Senators can be found here.
krist3Under LB887, people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would be covered by taxpayers with coverage under the WIN marketplace, or Medicaid for those below the federal poverty level. Those with incomes between 50 percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level would be required to contribute 2 percent of their incomes with taxpayers covering the rest. The 2 percent contribution would be waived for anyone who obtains an annual physical exam and a health risk assessment.

Supporters suggest Nebraska take advantage of the federal government’s promise to cover the expansion of the Medicaid program until 2016, in which federal contributions would then drop to 90% by 2022. The President also promised Americans that they could keep their health insurance if they liked it. That promise was voted Politifacts 2013 Lie of the Year. Nebraskan’s don’t fall for the same trick twice, just ask Ben Nelson!

The federal government is currently more than $17 trillion dollars in debt. This means each dollar Nebraska receives from the federal government is borrowed against our children’s futures, and will eventually have to be repaid with interest by American taxpayers. Last time I checked Nebraska was still in America.

Decades ago, the federal government promised to fund 40 percent of special education. That promise was not kept and taxpayers are left to pick up the tab. If the federal government fails once again to keep its promise, the financial burden falls again onto the backs of hardworking Nebraskans. A study by the Platte Institute reveals that in the states that chose to expand Medicaid, the costs were higher than projected while the numbers of uninsured cases were not dramatically reduced. Given the financial state as well as the track record of our federal government, this is not a risk worth taking for Nebraska taxpayers. Nebraskan’s could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars which means reduced funding for education and/or tax increases.

Supporters claim that taxpayers are already on the hook when the uninsured visit emergency rooms for care. However, a new study reveals that people enrolled recently in Medicaid went to emergency rooms 40 percent more frequently than others, often seeking help for conditions that could be treated less expensively in a doctor’s office or an urgent care clinic.

Medicaid abuse is just one negative side effect. On Tuesday, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning announced his Medicaid Fraud Unit has recovered more than $77 million since 2004 and $13.5 million in 2013 alone. Combine the fraud and abuse with other factors such as lack of doctors in rural Nebraska and Medicaid expansion just doesn’t add up.

Americans are now witnessing Obamacare fail on every level. From the fumbled website launch to a lack of enrollees as well as numerous delays and executive orders just prolonging the inevitable death of a law that was passed without reading. A law that was promised not to be a tax, yet ruled by the Supreme Court to be the largest tax increase in U.S. history.

Nebraskans should be thankful for Governor Heineman’s common sense decision not to bring Obamacare to Nebraska by creating a state exchange. Now we must contact our representatives and ask them to keep Obamacare out of the state by opposing LB887. Simply put…expanding Medicaid means Obamacare stays in Nebraska permanently. Do you know where your State Senator stands? Call them NOW, and ask them to oppose LB887 before it’s too late.

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Gubernatorial Race: Slone turns some heads and raises more than $328,000 in last 45 days

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Bryan Slone may have just kicked off his campaign to succeed Gov. Dave Heineman in December but he raised an impressive $328,000 in the last few weeks of 2013.

Slone’s campaign will file its annual report electronically with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission Thursday.

“I’m thankful for the outpouring of support that we have received so far,” said Slone. “In response we are rapidly ramping up the campaign as we travel across the state.”

The campaign raised $280,750 in cash contributions and $47,402.50 in-kind for a total of $328,152.50. Slone’s campaign spent $26,659.39 in cash expenditures for the period and ended the year with $254,090.61 in the bank.

Slone’s focused his campaign on reforming Nebraska’s high taxes, strengthening the University of Nebraska system and developing a high-tech 21st Century infrastructure to connect all parts of Nebraska with the global economy.

A strong free market conservative, Slone knows a fairer and flatter tax system will help Nebraska grow new jobs. A recent ranking by the Tax Foundation showed Nebraska with the 16th worst state business tax climate in the nation, a ranking below all of the state’s neighbors but Iowa.

A tax attorney and accountant Slone retired as a managing partner at Deloitte before entering the race. A native of rural Nebraska, he and his wife Leslie live in Omaha and have two adult children.

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Janssen tax reform proposal

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State Senator and candidate for Governor Charlie Janssen has released a tax relief plan focused on income and property tax cuts and greater accountability in government spending.

Janssen has incorporated his plan into two bills he’ll introduce Wednesday, the first day of the 2014 legislative session.

“I’ve put 30,000 miles on my truck traveling our state, and the clear message from homeowners, business leaders, farmers and ranchers is that we need tax relief now,” Janssen said. “I know we can get there by making government accountable and regularly auditing for waste and inefficiency.”

Janssen’s tax relief plan includes the following proposals:

Cut income tax rates and adjust tax brackets for inflation

Exempt Social Security and military retirement benefits from taxation

Increase annual funding for Property Tax Credit Program by 30% to $150 million

Reduce agricultural land tax valuation to 65% of market value

Janssen’s plan will also require state agencies to file an additional report with their budget documents that identifies low-utilization, low-priority, and inefficient programs. He will also propose creation of a “Sunset Commission” that targets and reviews expiring and inefficient programs for elimination.

“Making government accountable through a regular audit process is critical to tax relief,” Janssen said. “We’ve done it before to address budget deficits and we can absolutely increase our use of agency and program audits to cut spending.”

The final component of Janssen’s Plan would require the Department of Revenue to contract for new technology to track down non-payers, whose failure to pay costs the state millions in lost tax receipts each year.

“If we can just collect what is owed we can reduce the overall tax burden for everybody,” Janssen said.

 

To read the tax relief bill, click here.

To read the agency audit bill, click here.

Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning Files for Re-Election

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The veteran sheriff will launch his re-election campaign with a 20-year record of building the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office into one of the nation’s best.

Omaha, NE — Today, Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning filed for re-election with the Douglas County Elections Office.  Sheriff Dunning will enter the campaign season with an outstanding 20 year record of accomplishment in professionalizing the Sheriff’s Office while protecting both citizens and taxpayers.

“It has been my honor to serve the citizens of Douglas County as Sheriff.  We work hard every day not only to protect our citizens, but also to build a better, more capable and efficient department.  I’m looking forward to the challenge of the next four years,” said Sheriff Dunning.

Tim Dunning for Sheriff will also begin the 2014 campaign with a strong financial edge over any would-be challenger, having raised app. $43,000 in 2013.  The campaign committee will report over $35,000 in cash on-hand.

Since Sheriff Dunning’s election in 1994, he has led the department to a stellar record of accomplishment.

Protecting Taxpayers.

Since 1995, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) has never been over-budget.  Since 2009, the DCSO budget has increased just 5.6%.  That’s less than 1.5% each year.

Expanding Crime Lab With No New Taxpayer Dollars.

4 Years ago, the DCSO renovated the West Wing of the Fitzgerald Home to expand the Crime Lab Function and house the department’s K9 Unit.  The $4.2 million project was paid for entirely from Seized Assets — funds confiscated from Drug Dealers.

Building a Best-in-Class Sheriff’s Department.

DCSO is the only nationally accredited Sheriff’s Department in the state of Nebraska.  The DCSO is recognized as a gold standard agency, placing the department in the top 10% of all law enforcement agencies.

The DCSO has received national accreditation “with excellence” through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is the only Sheriff’s Office in the State of Nebraska to have received such recognition, and the “with excellence” distinction places the department in the top tier of law enforcement agencies in the country.

Sheriff Dunning is currently serving his fifth term as Sheriff of Douglas County, Nebraska.  He was first elected as Sheriff in 1994.  Sheriff Dunning is running for re-election in 2014.  He is a retired Omaha Police Lieutenant, serving 22 years with that department.  He has a Bachelors Degree in General Studies and a Masters Degree in Public Administration, both from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  He attended the FBI National Academy and graduated in 1988.  He also graduated from the FBI Executive Development Institute in 1996.

Sheriff Dunning has been married for 43 years to his wife Sue.  He has four children and three grandchildren.

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Nebraska Unicameral: NET to provide gavel to gavel coverage

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NET gavel-to-gavel coverage can be found on TV (NET2 World), via the website (see link below) and on our new Nebraska Capitol Live App. I have included additional information and links below.

 

  • ·         Live Legislative Coverage: Each day the legislature is in session, NETNews provides gavel-to-gavel coverage on NET Television’s NET2 World.  NET Radio listeners can hear legislative highlights of each weekday session at 5:30 p.m. CT during “All Things Considered,” as well as at 7:06 a.m. CT during “Morning Edition.” Coverage is also available streaming on the NET website at: http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/live-demand-state-government

 

  • ·         Mobile Access: In 2013, nearly 5.4 million minutes of state government proceedings were streamed from the NET website. Legislative content is now available on mobile devices via the Nebraska Capitol Live Mobile App. The app provides instant access to Unicameral action including discussions, votes and hearing rooms. In addition to the Legislature, video from the Nebraska Supreme Court, Appellate Court, the Governor’s Hearing Room and the Nebraska Department of Education are all available. The Capitol Live App is available for Apple and Android devices at the following links:

o   The Capitol Live App on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nebraska-capitol-live/id597484363?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

o   Capitol Live App on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.netnebraska.nebraskacapitollive

o   Other NET Nebraska Mobile Apps: http://www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/other/mobile-apps

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Chris Scott talks with Kevin of Drive Time Lincoln about swearing toddler video and the start of the legislative session

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Chris Scott of Political Insiders Report interviews with Kevin of DTL to discuss the recent swearing toddler video that has made national headlines. They also discuss why the Omaha POA posted the video, community repercussions, and what the next step is for the people involved in the video. They also discuss the just started legislative session.

To here the interview click 1-9-14 Chris Scott.

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Omaha Housing Authority under investigation again?

 

auditBy Editorial Staff

After the the 11 page summary results from a scathing audit of OHA came to light last October, Political Insiders Report sprang into action to get a copy of the full forensic audit. The 11 page summary report can be viewed by clicking here. On November 4th of 2013 we filed a formal FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request with Housing and Urban Development’s office in Washington.

After months of back and forth with HUD, our request finally made it to the desk of HUD’s office of general counsel. There are 9 reasons why a FOIA request can be denied and they range from national security issues, to competitive bidding, internal HR items, and a few other reasons.

Interestingly enough, our request was turned down for legal reasons and 7(A) was cited as the reason. What is even more interesting is that usually with a FOIA request, you will get your information with some sensitive parts redacted. Our request was turned down entirely. This is significant because of the legal precedent set by the follow case.

Nielsen Trans. Group, Ltd. v. DOJ, 480 F. Supp. 2d 166, 179 (D.D.C. 2007) (reiterating necessity of pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding and “some articulable harm” caused by release of information), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 534 F. 3d 728, 733-34 (D.C. Cir. 2008 )

agreeing that while Exemption 7(A) is applicable, reiterating that “agency cannot justify withholding an entire document simply by showing that it contains some exempt requirement of Exemption 7(A), an agency must be able to point to a specific pending or contemplated law enforcement proceeding.”

 5 As one court has observed, “[i]f an agency could withhold information whenever it could imagine circumstances where the information might have some bearing on some hypothetical enforcement proceeding, the FOIA would be meaningless.” 6

Chris Scott of Political Insiders Report and Tom Becka discussed the findings on the Tom Becka Show on The Mighty 1290 KOIL. That interview can be heard be clicking here and was conducted January 9th segment 9. Below is the FOIA rejection email Political Insiders Report received from HUD.

Time will tell where this will lead but we will keep you posted.

 

HUD

 

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Discussion on Nebraska’s HHS

taxesBy Editorial Staff

There has been much discussion about the waste and fraud at HHS since a 2011 audit. Many have argued that the Nebraska Auditor Mike Foley and now Gubernatorial candidate has been going after HHS for political purposes.

Political Insiders Report went through the various parts of the HHS audits since 2011 and compiled our findings. It should be noted that there are two sides to this, but our focus is on what the Nebraska Auditor’s claims to have found and not who is to blame.

Chris Scott of Political Insiders Report also sat with guest hosts Jeremy Aspen and Paul Vojchehoske on the Tom Becka show to discuss his research on Monday. That three part interview can be listened to by clicking below.

P & J 123013 seg 5 Chris Scott

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2011 Audit Findings Child Welfare Reform

  • 25 million spent on contractors and no documentation. Foley states “Either they’re deliberately violating the law, or it’s true — they spent $25 million, and nobody has any notes, no documentation,” he said. “It’s extraordinary, we’ve never seen anything quite like this.”
  • Massive overpayments to lead contractors. “By the time it was all said and done, we believe that HHS overpaid Visinet $3.9 million dollars.” Instead of going under, the auditor said, the company was actually paid by the state for 76 extra days, during which no services were rendered.
  • In a limited sample analysis of HHS payments, the audit found $25,000 in duplicate payments, while another $128,000 went to the wrong contractor.
  • Sub contractor overbilling. “We have found that they are hiring un-credentialed workers,” he said. “These are people that they hired from Taco Bell and Wal-Mart. They’re paying them $10 to $12 an hour, and then they’re billing the state of Nebraska $47 an hour.”

2013 Audit Findings of Nebraska Federal Energy Assistance run by HHS

  • State auditors had “serious concerns” that the majority of the 19,000 payments “were never used to pay utility bills,” as intended.
  • Auditors also found 261 payments totaling nearly $112,000 were sent to dead people — some who had been dead for well over a year and many whose deaths were known to the state before they issued the payments.
  • When 135 payments were randomly tested, auditors found one was cashed at Ralston Keno, 19 at Walmart, 24 at grocery stores, restaurants and paycheck loan stores.
  • One recipient who died in May 2011 had his August 2011 payment cashed at an Omaha liquor store months after his death. Another who died in March 2011 had his payment cashed at Walmart six months after his death.
  • Dozens of those payments were “signed” by the deceased person, raising the prospect of forgery.
  • Auditors also found nearly 1,300 payments totaling more than $500,000 that were never cashed, but rather than cancel the payments and recycle them back into the LIHEAP program or return the money to the feds, the state converted them into state general funds.

2013 Audit of  Assistance to the Aged, Blind or Disabled Run by HHS

  • The audit report singled out Judith Widener, 70, of Bayard, president of Safe Haven Inc. in Gering, a nonprofit that handles finances for adult wards of the courts. Widener has been appointed by the courts as a legal guardian for more than 600 people throughout the state, including 112 in Lancaster County. Hundreds of her ward-guardian relationships are still in effect, Foley said.
  • The auditor’s office sampled 91 cases in which it appeared state benefits were going to Safe Haven and Widener. As of Oct. 23, Widener had signing authority to more than 40 bank accounts with balances totaling $636,000, he said.
  • The auditor’s office alleged Widener took about $35,000 for her personal use, including checks for $500 for birthday and Christmas gifts for herself. Foley also cited evidence of Widener’s gambling activity in three states.
  • HHS ignored red flags-HS files show the department was aware the U.S. Veterans Administration and the U.S. Social Security Administration had expressed concerns about Widener’s involvement in guardianship cases, Foley said. And in recent years, Lancaster County Judge Gerald Rouse had forbidden Widener from being named to any further legal guardianships in Lancaster County.
  • The auditor’s office looked at a sampling of cases, and found that in 36 percent HHS was making unreasonable payments or ones that were in violation of state law or regulations.
  • People were receiving thousands of dollars for living expenses while living in HHS facilities and having no living expenses.
  • A state prison inmate was getting checks for living expenses
  • In some cases, medical reports had been provided to HHS indicating applicants did not meet the disability requirements but were getting payments anyway.
  • In some cases, applicants did not disclose assets that would have disqualified them from payment, and in one case, a person got more than $100,000 in undeserved payments.
  • Smaller payments were made to 10 people after their deaths, and when HHS found out it did not attempt to recoup the money.
  • Another person received more than $150,000 improperly because his bank account balance wasn’t verified.

2013 Audit of Health Insurance Premium Payment run by HHS

  • State auditors found hundreds of thousands of dollars in errors in 53 of the 70 most expensive cases they reviewed.
  • In one case, the department paid more than $265,000 in premiums when it clearly would have been cheaper to put the person on Medicaid. The HHS file indicated the HIPP administrator was well aware that it wasn’t cost-effective, but continued to make payments of more than $9,000 per month for health insurance premiums.
  • Auditors also found cases in which the state was reimbursing for the more costly employer portion health insurance costs, not the employee portion, resulting in a $20,000 overpayment in one case and $38,000 in another.
  • Auditors also found numerous cases in which participants were paying no premiums for health insurance, but were getting HIPP payments, to the tune of $29,000 in one case.
  • Auditors also found the agency incorrectly paid thousands of dollars for dental insurance, vision insurance, long-term disability insurance, life insurance — even parking expenses, even though they weren’t allowable.

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