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Nebraska John Deere Dealers Team Up: $60,000 donated to flood relief efforts

The John Deere agricultural dealers in the State have teamed-up to contribute $60,000 for disaster relief.  The donations are being distributed to a variety of programs aiding farmers, ranchers and rural communities.  In addition to the contributions, the dealers are each providing additional relief including much needed supplies and equipment.  

“It’s important for those facing such widespread destruction to know they have support,” said Kevin Clark, CEO, Plains Equipment Group.  “The Deere dealers uniting for a common cause to help our friends and neighbors is really special, and shows the kindness of the people of Nebraska.”

John Deere dealerships pulling together for the relief effort included Landmark Implement, AgriVision Equipment Group, Green Line, Platte Valley Equipment, Stutheit Implement Co., Plains Equipment Group, Grossenburg Implement, and 21st Century Equipment LLC.

Fire Prevention Week 2018

Members of the Geneva Volunteer Fire and Rescue squads assisted the FCPS in celebrating fire safety and prevention week. Kids were allowed to try on uniforms, climb on trucks, and see all the new equipment.  These acts help make sure kiddos know that although you may be in a scary moment, the firemen and EMTs are there to help.  Subjects they went over included having a plan of action that you and your family know about, when and why to call 911, and STOP DROP AND ROLL!

Legislative Pay Raise? Timing Is Everything

Legislative Pay Raise?
Timing Is Everything
You get what you pay for.
In the case of Nebraska's Legislature, several senators and some constituent groups say they don't think lawmakers are getting paid enough. It's hard to disagree since the last pay raise was 30 years ago when voters approved an increase from $400 a month to $1,000 a month. Arizona and Nebraska are the only two states to require voter approval.
Omaha Senator Tony Vargas wants to change things by asking voters to approve an amendment to the Nebraska Constitution in the November election to raise state senators' pay to 50 percent of the Nebraska median household income. That works out to about $28,000.
If Vargas' proposal (LR295CA) gets the approval of 30 senators it would be on the ballot where voters could approve that lawmakers' salary be adjusted every two years according to U.S. Bureau of the Census income data. The current $12,000 annual salary was set in the state constitution and last increased in 1988. There has been no adjustment for inflation, which would place a $12,000 salary in 1988 dollars at a more reasonable $25,000 today.
Vargas told the Legislature's Executive Board that the current salary, which is augmented by a per diem or mileage when applicable, is significantly below that of states with similar costs of living. He noted that a 2017 National Conference of State Legislatures survey found that the average annual salary for a state lawmaker is approximately $35,500, excluding per diems and expenses.
He argued that a salary more tailored to the responsibilities of the office would “allow a broader range of citizens” to consider a bid for a seat in the Legislature and thereby “recruit public servants” from all income levels. Vargas said the "citizen Legislature" is not really, since "so many of our fellow Nebraskans are essentially precluded from serving in office due to this financial barrier."
A survey by Ballotpedia said legislator's salaries range from $104,118 in California (in addition to per diem costs to cover lodging, meals and incidentals) to New Hampshire where senators are paid just $200 per two-year-term without per diem. New Mexico is the only state that does not pay its legislators a salary, but lawmakers do still earn a $164 per diem. Nebraska's per diem is $142 for senators living more than 50 miles away from the Capitol and $51 for those within the 50-mile radius.
Lawmakers in Colorado earn $30,000 a year. In Iowa it's $25,000 and Missouri $35,915. Kansas state senators earn $88 a day. In South Dakota it's $6,000 with a $142 per diem. Wyoming senators earn $150 a day plus a $109 per diem.
Only one person testified in support of Vargas' proposal. John Hansen of the Nebraska Farmers Union said serving in the Legislature involves a significant, year-round time commitment. Senator Dan Hughes of Venango, who added his name as a sponsor of the measure, agrees. He said he is fortunate that he has family members who help run the farm.
Even Senator Mike Groene of North Platte, who admitted that he has voted against the past measures as a citizen, said he now supports the proposal. He said he has had to dip into his savings to afford the job of senator. Senator Lydia Brasch of Bancroft has a similar story. When she is term-limited out this year, she plans to return to the workforce because she can't afford to retire.
With the farm economy struggling and citizens clamoring for property tax relief, it's hard to say how a proposal to more than double lawmakers’ salary will fare. The most recent proposed increase in 2012 would have boosted their salaries to $22,500 a year, but voters overwhelmingly rejected it. Not one of Nebraska’s 93 counties supported a raise, and the proposal went down by more than a 3-to-1 ratio in many areas.
It will also be a hard sell to those who have had budgets cut - ask the folks at the University of Nebraska - and have otherwise felt the pain of difficult decisions made by lawmakers nearly every day. For many it will be a matter of conscience.
As one who has observed the legislative process for years, I do find hope in a pay increase attracting a quality and more diverse group of senators, maybe even some who can't be "bought" by the Executive Branch or partisan politics.
If not now, when?
J.L. Schmidt has been covering Nebraska government and politics since 1979. He has been a registered Independent for 19 years.

NFWC Names 2018 Clubwoman of the Year

The Nebraska Federation of Women’s Clubs named Nancy Galaway of the GFWC Fairmont Women’s Club as the 2018 Clubwomen of the Year at their 122nd annual state convention on April 12-14, in Grand Island. The nominees for Clubwomen of the Year were announced at the banquet on April 13. Nancy was chosen and received a traveling trophy with her name engraved on it.
Nancy joined the GFWC Fairmont Women’s Club in 1967. She has held many club offices, including president, and chairman positions-some a number of times. At the present time ,she is writing chairman for the Fairmont Club. In the NFWC District IV, she served as president and is now serving as chairman of the Nominating Committee. On the state level, she served as second vice-president and home life chairman and is now serving as NFWC domestic violence chairman.
 The Fairmont club nominated Nancy because they felt she is a compassionate, caring, family and community oriented woman. She is an example to all of what a volunteer in the General Federation of Women’s clubs strives to be. Some of her outstanding leadership qualities are the ability to encourage members to get involved, willingness to accept new ideas, recognizing  others for their accomplishment’s and the drive to enrich the lives of others.
Nancy is also active in the Fairmont Community Church and the Fairmont Legion Auxiliary. She is an active member of the Adult Bible study, the ABC Club and Pricillas. She also enjoys helping to keep the history of the Fairmont community and its people.

Capital View By. J.L. Schmidt

By. J.L. Schmidt

With apologies to the other 48, I think Senator Paul Schumacher of Columbus might just be the brightest bulb in the Unicameral lamp.
The Columbus attorney, who will be term-limited after this session, is often called "The Professor" by colleagues and observers of the legislature. He's a forward-thinking risk-taker, willing to float ideas that others have either not thought of or been afraid to mention.
It appears he may have saved his best for last with his proposal (LR269CA) to let voters decide if the state should create what he calls a New City, a sovereign 36-square-mile area with at least 10 people per square mile that would be granted complete or partial sovereignty for up to 99 years.
Sovereignty? A self-governing state, or colony, or city. Think autonomy, independence, self-government, freedom. That's avant-garde, but Schumacher said he's been daydreaming about the approach to the new global economy for years.
While the idea of no city or state taxes and no local or state regulations probably makes the average partisan politician very nervous, Schumacher thinks it would provide the kind of spark that ignites the minds of young people who can make it work. He believes Nebraska is "going nowhere fast." He wants to examine "the real situation that our state is in."
He said the state is currently: uninspiring; sparsely populated; culturally restricted; an inland state largely dependent on a very rudimentary economy. He wants to provide a mechanism for Nebraskans to leverage nothingness and emerge as a modern economic center over the course of a century.
I agree that the Legislature needs to have the discussion in a very public way, perhaps through a statewide interim study with numerous local meetings. A task force could compile results to be discussed by the Legislature.
But, none of this is going to happen in a short session when lawmakers have a mess on their hands with challenges to education funding, property taxes, and corrections reform. Not to mention that it's an election year. The measure stands a snowball's chance right now.
Schumacher's daydream would create a city to attract industry and people by offering: a gigawatt of electric power generation and transmission facilities; Tier 1 fiber-optic communication; doorstep access to locally produced organic grains and meats and unlimited potable water; bullet trains to a major international airport and the Rocky Mountains; railroad rights of way and a "triangle of economic power bordered by Interstates 25, 76 and 80."
He said this would allow Nebraska "to ride the wave, rather than try to stand in the way of the wave." This could happen with a huge investment from a multinational corporation attracted by self-government, self-taxation and self-regulation.
Hey, if you're going to dream, dream big. Granted, the proposal doesn't answer the journalistic four w's and h - who, what, when, where and how - but the senator said that's the requirement to stick to a single subject, granting sovereignty, on amendments to the Nebraska Constitution. If the idea were approved by voters, the Legislature would have to work out the details.
The public hearing for the proposal drew no proponents and opposition from the folks who don't want to see expanded gambling and a woman who said lawmakers should beware of simple solutions to complex problems.
I am troubled by the "triangle of economic power" which Schumacher touts in the bill's committee statement as "amplifying the dynamics of Denver and the front range, a bullet train less than an hour away from a major international airport and from the majesty of the Rocky Mountains."
In Nebraska, that's a pretty narrow range of options, basically portions of Kimball, Cheyenne and Deuel Counties. I wonder how folks in the other 90 counties are going to take that?
Schumacher admits the proposal is insane. "So were the pyramids, circumnavigation of the globe, the transcontinental railroad, heavier than air flight, the Moon in a decade, and the inexplicable compulsion to be Great Again," his statement to the committee said, "Imagination has great value!"
He said he wants Nebraskans to define a future and, should they decline to do so, to inspire bolder spirits elsewhere.
I like bold, but let's think this through.
J.L. Schmidt has been covering Nebraska government and politics since 1979. He has been a registered Independent for 19 years.