Act Now to Save Title X Funding

Two attempts to advance the NE legislature’s budget bill have stalled because there is language in the bill that would jeopardize federal Title X funding for valuable health centers across the state.  Please call your Senator today to ask her/him to NOT allow the budget to come for a vote until TITLE X FUNDING is taken out of the bill.

Some talking points provided by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland:

*Nebraskans use Title X to receive crucial family planning care and education. Title X is a federal grant that helps Nebraskans access affordable birth control information, annual exams, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, HPV testing and vaccinations, health services for survivors of sexual assault, and more.

*At least 8,000 Planned Parenthood patients would lose access to care. Planned Parenthood currently serves over 8,000 patients in Omaha and Lincoln under Title X. Other area providers would not be able to absorb these thousands of patients.

*Abortion referral language implicates all Title X providers. The Governor’s budget includes ambiguous language that threatens all Title X health centers, even those which do not provide abortion – potentially jeopardizing access to family planning care for 28,000+ people across the state.

Please call your Senator now!

Thousands of patients are counting on them to resist the Governor’s anti-health agenda.

– Kathie Uhrmacher, President, Lincoln Women’s Foundation

Action Alert: Oppose the Unfair Election Laws LB 1115 and LB 1065

The following is a message from LWVNE President Sherry Miller and LWVNE Social Policy Director John Else to all members. We encourage non-members to participate in this call to action as well.

ACTION ALERT #1: LB 1115, REDUCING POPULATION COUNTS FOR REDISTRICTING

Dear Activists,

It appears that LB 1115 may be debated in the Unicameral this week, since it is on General File. It is Senator Murante’s priority bill. Please call your senator opposing this bill, since it can severely impact the fairness of redistricting in Nebraska. This is the intent of LB 1115, followed by the language of Article III, Section 5 to which it refers.

The following constitutes the reasons for this bill and the purposes which are sought to be accomplished thereby:

Article III, section 5 of the Nebraska Constitution states: “The basis of apportionment shall be the population excluding aliens, as shown by the next preceding federal census.”

LB 1115 would effectuate that policy by requiring the population basis for redistricting for legislative districts, Supreme Court districts, and all political subdivision districts the total population minus non-citizens.

III-5. Legislative districts; apportionment; redistricting, when required.
The Legislature shall by law determine the number of members to be elected and divide the state into legislative districts. In the creation of such districts, any county that contains population sufficient to entitle it to two or more members of the Legislature shall be divided into separate and distinct legislative districts, as nearly equal in population as may be and composed of contiguous and compact territory. One member of the Legislature shall be elected from each such district. The basis of apportionment shall be the population excluding aliens, as shown by the next preceding federal census. The Legislature shall redistrict the state after each federal decennial census. In any such redistricting, county lines shall be followed whenever practicable, but other established lines may be followed at the discretion of the Legislature.

Feel free to use any of the talking points listed below. Be sure to call as YOUR senator’s constituent. They will listen to constituents.

Thank you,

Sherry Miller, President, LWVNE; and John Else, Director of Social Policy

LB 1115 TALKING POINTS

*LB 1115 perpetuates an injustice begun in 1875 when Article III, Section 5 was adopted into the Constitution. The word “aliens” most likely referred to Native Americans or newly arrived immigrants from Europe. It was amended in 1920, probably also in reference to immigrants fleeing the aftermath of WWI.

*Nebraska Legislature obtains the count of “aliens” or “non-citizens” from the U.S. Census.

*It seems that redistricting in Nebraska is based only on citizens (or possibly voters}. Omitting non-citizens overlooks the fact that many of them pay taxes and are therefore taxed without representation.

*This is harmful to those immigrants who are awaiting legal status and are in every sense citizens in actuality except for the completion of application and the naturalization ceremony.

*LB 1115 would expand this limitation on population for redistricting purposes beyond legislative districts to all political subdivisions, not just legislative districts.

Urge your senator to vote NO on advancing LB 1115 to Select File. Let’s kill this thing and then look to getting the constitution amended in the future.

ACTION ALERT #2: LB 1065, REQUIRING POLL WORKERS TO MATCH VOTER IMAGES ON FILE, REDUCING NUMBER OF PEOPLE ABLE TO VOTE

Dear Activists,

Here we go again. LB 1065, introduced by Senator Murante, has advanced from the Government Committee to General File. I encourage you to contact your senator in opposition to this bill.

Its purported intent is to update poll site equipment, making it easier for poll workers to identify voters coming to vote. But part of it is simply an attempt to impose voter ID rules. Other attempts have failed ever since 2012. Besides mandating the use of electronic poll books (computers), the bill requires a digital image of each voter be part of the listing of the voter. This image would probably be provided by the DMV.

I am including talking points from my testimony (see below) against LB 1065 for your use when you contact your senator. REMEMBER, Contact your Senators as constituents and not as members of the league. Senators give a great deal of weight to hearing from their CONSTITUENTS.

Thank you for taking prompt action on this important attempt to suppress voter rights.

Sherry Miller, President
League of Women Voters of Nebraska

LB 1065 TALKING POINTS

TESTIMONY TO THE GOVERNMENT/MILITARY/VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, FEBRUARY 14, 2018

First, County election offices across Nebraska need updated election equipment now. Implementing an electronic poll book system will take time and money, lots of money. While the electronic system may be an idea to contemplate for upgrading our election systems in the future, 2018 is a crucial midterm election year, which, it is hoped, will bring much renewed voter attention to the process, and 2020 even more so.

Secondly, voters deserve a measure of privacy. Furthermore, facial features can change from one election cycle to another through surgery, accidents, and plain old aging. How often would voters have to re-register to assure compatibility with a digital image? I agree it may be an unlikely scenario, but it could happen, and more than once.

Thirdly, in a time of income shortfall for our state government, why mandate a very expensive measure, costing $2.6 million for the first year and $451,000 for succeeding years.

Fourth, current election systems must be updated in a timely way to meet more immediate needs and not risk their failure while waiting for an electronic system to be put in place.

Please vote no to LB 1065.

Action Alert: Oppose LB295, A Bill Opening the Door to Charter Schools

LB 295 would allow for the adoption of the Opportunity Scholarships Act. STATUS:  PRIORITY BILL ON GENERAL FILE. Introduced by Smith; heard Jan. 26, 2017.

Under the act, individual and corporate taxpayers would qualify for a non-refundable tax credit equal to the amount the taxpayer contributed to a scholarship-granting organization. Each nonprofit, scholarship-granting organization certified by the Nebraska Department of Revenue shall provide education scholarships to assist eligible students to attend a qualified, nonprofit, private elementary or secondary school. The Act defines an eligible student as a dependent member of a household that has a gross income that does not exceed two times the required level for the federal reduced-price lunch program. This is 370% of the poverty level which is far higher than allowed for breakfast and lunch programs for students in poverty.

The League supports a free public school education through 12th grade, age not a limiting factor.  The League opposes any attempts to legislate the funneling of public tax funds toward charter schools and private schools.

Loss of funds for support of public schools will be significant, estimated to be $10 million the first year and rising to $15.6 million by 2020-21.  This at a time when the state is struggling to maintain a healthy General Fund.

Loss of support from the General Fund will put pressure on local taxing bodies to increase levies (on property taxes) or lose vital services offered by public schools.

The bill would benefit wealthier families the most, who could probably already afford private school tuition.  The 370% of poverty level is a distinct gift to 40% of families earning more income compared to all other Nebraskans.

It bestows a definite tax benefit to those donors, who can claim a tax credit up to $10,000.

Of greater concern is the tax benefit to businesses, trusts and estates, and corporations, all of which can contribute up to $50,000, $50,000, and $150,000 respectively, all of which could be described as “dark money.”

IT’S TIME TO STOP THIS SLIPPERY SLOPE TO CHARTER SCHOOLS.

— Sherry Miller, League of Women Voters of Nebraska President

Oppose Voter ID, an Unnecessary Burden Impacting Seniors and Young Nebraskans

LB 1066, introduced by Sen. Murante last month, infringes upon the right to vote by putting up barriers that would especially impact both older and young Nebraskan voters.

Read LWVNE president Sherry Miller’s testimony against this rights-infringing bill: Miller Testimony Opposing LB 1066.

Contact your state senator today to express your opposition to a burdensome requirement of a photo ID (driver’s licence) with an address that exactly matches voter-registration data.

Find your senator by going to nebraskalegislature.gov and entering your address under Find Your Senator.

Support Gerrymandering-Free Redistricting in Nebraska

Redistricting without gerrymandering: it’s important. Nebraska needs an overhaul of its redistricting process.

We support LB 973 requiring that maps drawn for redistricting are created using state-issued computer software. This proposed law will assure that mapping programs issued by special interest groups of any sort can’t be used in drawing the voter maps for Nebraska.

Let your Senator know you support this legislation, too. Read our letter supporting LB 973.

Support DACA & Nebraska Dreamers: Call Today

Call our members of Congress today and tell them they must pass a clean version of the bipartisan “DREAM Act” this week. Our communities are stronger with the talents of Nebraska Dreamers.

Call now:

  • Sen. Deb Fischer (202) 224-6551
  • Sen. Ben Sasse (202) 224-4224
  • Rep. Don Bacon (202) 225-4155

On Sept. 5, the White House announced it would wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which let thousands of hardworking and talented young Nebraskans called “Dreamers” contribute to Nebraska communities as teachers, entrepreneurs, and health professionals, and other important careers.

DACA helped them support families and live securely in the communities they call home.

Now, hundreds of Dreamers are seeing their DACA protections expire each day. And that number will skyrocket after the end of DACA, slated for March 5.

There is a short window of opportunity for us to pass a permanent solution, the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2017, that would allow Dreamers to keep learning, working, and contributing to their home state, and eventually, earn U.S. citizenship.

ACTION ALERT: LB 216 Redistricting Bill

Redistricting was the topic at Dine & Discuss held on Oct. 30 with presenters John Else (LWV Nebraska member) and senators John McCollister and Burke Harr. Senator Harr will make LB216 his priority bill. Both senators stressed the critical importance of gaining support for the bill from Senator Jim Scheer, Speaker of the House and Executive Board member.

Action alert: Urge Senator Scheer to support LB 216

We are asking LWVGO members to please contact Senator Jim Scheer to urge him to move LB 216 out of the Executive Board and place on the agenda for a vote by the full legislature. Sadly, the bill did not make it out of committee last year and the year before it was vetoed by Governor Ricketts. Senator Scheer is key to the passage of LB 216 this session; he is likely the deciding vote (5 votes needed, and we already have 4) on the Executive Board of the Legislature and as Speaker he can put LB 216 on the agenda for a vote by the full legislature.

Redistricting happens every 10 years after completion of the census. Too often gerrymandering happens when redistricting is done in back rooms where politicians draw district lines that help them win re-election. The Legislature draws up districts for NE legislature Congress, Supreme Court, Board of Regents, Public Service Commission & the State Board of Education.

Call, write a letter, send a postcard or email State Senator Scheer at:
Senator Jim Scheer
306 Valley View Drive
Norfolk, NE 68701
jscheer@leg.ne.gov
402-471-2929

Sample statements:
(1) In a democracy, it is important for everyone to feel that they have a fair opportunity to be heard through their vote. Gerrymandered districts stack the deck and voters know this. Too many people feel their vote doesn’t count when district lines aren’t fairly drawn. Please support LB 216 by voting YES to move out of the Executive Board, and place it on the agenda for a vote by the entire legislative body.

(2) Fair representation is essential to our democracy. Help Nebraska ensure that all voices can be heard. Vote YES to move LB 216 out of the Executive Board and place on the agenda for a vote by the full legislature.

(3) Making Democracy work requires an equal voice for all. Voters need an open, transparent, non-partisan redistricting process with an independent citizen’s commission to draw fair district lines. The commission should represent our state’s diversity and protect minority representation. Please vote YES to move LB 216 out of the Executive Board and place on the agenda for a vote by the full legislature.

For more on how to write calls to action, see our page with recommendations on the role of communicating values when discussing social issues with elected officials.

Give to Running & Winning

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha will host the sixth Running and Winning Workshop for high school girls so that they can experience the “real world” of politics. The League will be aided by University of Nebraska Omaha Service Learning Academy, College Possible and Partnership for Kids and is held at no cost to the participating students.

In off-election years since 2007, Running and Winning Workshop has brought together current and former female elected officials to visit in a small group setting with high school girls to encourage the girls to consider a career in public service and to share their personal perspective on the political process. As part of the workshop, the girls will develop and execute a complete campaign strategy.

We could not provide this unique experience without the participation of our current and former female elected officials who have been so gracious in giving freely of their time and expertise.

We also could not provide this workshop without the generosity of our members who support Running and Winning through their contributions. Running and Winning is free for the students to attend, so we must raise $6980.00 to cover the cost for this event.

I hope you will consider supporting Running and Winning with a tax deductible contribution to the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha. You can mail your contribution to the League in the self addressed stamped envelope included for your convenience.

I quote a few unedited comments by the girls who have participated in past Running and Winning Workshops:

“It gave me a good insight on how women play a role in the political areas.”

“Just the relationship you build with your teammates and how you use teamwork.”

“I used to think it was boring! Now I totally don’t. It’s so interesting/fun.”

“It changed my point of view by making me feel as if government & politics isn’t such a bad thing after all.”

“That it’s attainable for me!”

Thank you so much for considering supporting Running and Winning through you kind donation.

Sincerely,

Ann Chalson, President