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Recent editorials published in Nebraska newspapers

June 17, 2019

Omaha World Herald. June 16, 2019

Congressional leadership sorely needed on comprehensive immigration reform

The U.S. House has approved immigration legislation that focuses on the young people known as “Dreamers” and other immigrants with temporary legal status. The bill passed 237-187, with support from U.S. Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska’s 2nd District.

But the measure faces certain defeat in the Senate, and there it will die.

What’s needed, and has been needed for years, is congressional leadership to negotiate and approve a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

That leadership, regardless of which party was in control of Congress, has been sorely lacking on this issue. The result is continued inaction on major immigration challenges, with large numbers of people kept in legal limbo and key policy decisions left up in the air. Politics, rather than serious policy analysis, too often guides congressional rhetoric on immigration. And federal judges wind up making decisions on immigration matters that ought to be resolved through conscientious congressional action.

Such a wide-ranging revamp will involve compromise. That means no side will get everything it wants. The respective party bases likely won’t be happy. The extremes on both sides of the immigration issue probably will complain.

But the immigration issue is so divisive and complex that reasonable compromise is the only responsible course. The issues that demand to be addressed involve legalization details, immigration qualifications, timetables, procedures and border security. Legislation would cover not only the young people known as “Dreamers,” whose parents brought them to the United States illegally as children, but also many other categories of individuals.

Lawmakers need to show resolve to debate and reach agreement on a wide range of considerations. Among them: Ensuring fairness in the way our nation handles immigrants. Helping provide a needed talent pool for business. Providing needed border security. Setting long-term policy for appropriate immigration levels and qualifications. Helping people move their lives out of the shadows.

Conscientious members of Congress need to step forward on this issue, so that immigration policy is guided not by politics and uncompromising attitudes but by the national interest.

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McCook Gazette. June 13, 2019

More money coming, but still questions about Medicaid funding

The problem is far from solved, but Nebraska nursing homes will get a little more funding for their residents on Medicaid.

A story elsewhere in this issue explains that the Department of Health and Human Services completed “rebasing” that will increase the average per diem base rate for 202 to $190.51, up less than $11 from the previous rate.

Hillcrest Nursing Home’s management firm said the increase was appreciated, but argues that no business should be expected to continue to provide good service with less money each year — 5% less than two years ago, according to a release.

Nebraska lawmakers responded to an the threat of continued nursing home closings by providing more money, but the agency in control is not strictly bound to apply the money to nursing homes.

An Associated Press story this morning points out one of the reasons adequate funding is so important.

Federal Health and Human Services auditors looked at cases where a nursing home resident was taken directly to a hospital emergency room and determined that in 2016, more than 6,000 cases potentially involved neglect or abuse that was not reported. Reporting of such cases is mandatory.

In a copy of the HHS inspector general’s report, about 18% of 37,600 episodes raised red flags.

It’s easy to see how financial pressures would make it tempting to look the other way when it’s time to decide whether an incident qualifies as abuse or neglect. The paperwork and processes required take time and money that should be used to provide care.

It takes a special person to care for the elderly and disabled, and in our experience, the vast majority deserve gold medals, not criticism for trying to do more with less.

Society is obligated to ensure nursing homes receive the funding they need to provide their residents the care they deserve.

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Kearney Hub. June 14, 2019

Innovation now NPPD’s calling card

Over the years the knock on Nebraska Public Power District has been a perceived aversion to change and innovation. Some of that reputation was earned. “Always there when you need us,” NPPD promoted its low rates and reliability.

Although those qualities are highly important for any energy supplier, they just don’t sizzle in the frying pan like a well-marbled steak.

NPPD always has done its job well, but where’s the thrill in always doing what’s logical and prudent? What some Nebraskans want to see in their public power supplier is a risk-taker and trend-setter.

Well, Nebraskans, you’re getting from NPPD what you’ve been hoping for.

This week as the American Public Power Association conducted its annual conference in Austin, Texas, NPPD took home the APPA’s Energy Innovator Award. The award encourages utility programs to seek out, develop and employ creative, energy-efficient techniques or technologies. Such technologies can run the gamut — as NPPD has demonstrated — from innovative ways to collect meter and billing information to investments in new generating technology.

NPPD has been on an innovative trajectory for at least the past 10 years, diversifying the ways in which it generates electricity, opening doors for innovation in communities such as Norfolk and Kearney, and re-purposing resources for experimental projects, such as the Sheldon Station plant that’s being retooled to burn hydrogen in a process that produces no greenhouse gases.

The foundation for NPPD’s innovation is its steady and reasoned shift away from coal-fired generation toward more climate-friendly energy. NPPD’s power blend now shows the majority of its electricity doesn’t come from burning coal, which makes up 34.3 percent of NPPD’s energy blend. Other sources in NPPD’s blend are: nuclear, 39.6 percent; wind, 8.3; and hydro, 8.2. Outside suppliers provide most of the rest of the power NPPD delivers to its customers.

In recent years, NPPD has been investing more in wind energy, and it’s helping local communities to explore how to broaden the use of new clean energy — including Norfolk with a battery storage experiment and Kearney with its 53-acre solar farm.

By the way, NPPD was instrumental in Compute North’s decision to build a mini data center in Kearney. If not for NPPD’s record for reliability, the Minnesota data center company might have gone elsewhere.

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