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Nebraska to Celebrate 150 Years of Statehood Tomorrow!


This week, Nebraska will celebrate 150 years of statehood on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 with a series of events at the Nebraska State Capitol and the Nebraska History Museum.  All events are free and open to the public.

 

“This week, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the work of generations of Nebraskans in every community across our state,” said Governor Pete Ricketts.  “Their persistence and hard work are what have made Nebraska the Good Life for 150 years.  My wife Susanne, along with a group of other dedicated Nebraskans, have been working hard planning events and initiatives to help the entire state celebrate the sesquicentennial birthday throughout the year. I urge Nebraskans to check out the celebration plans by visiting www.ne150.org and to join the celebration this week!”

 

“As we celebrate this historic occasion, it’s only appropriate that we take a few moments to reflect on the accomplishments of the brave, innovative explorers who came before us,” said First Lady Susanne Shore.  “In 150 years, we have gone from sod houses to skyscrapers, from pioneers to groundbreaking innovation and from feeding a few to feeding the world.  We have so much of which we can be proud.  I hope all Nebraskans will join the Governor and me in this yearlong celebration and commemoration of our heritage.”

 

Below is a schedule of events for March 1.  Times are approximate.  Seating at the State Capitol is open and limited.  Early arrival is recommended.  Overflow seating will be available in the Rotunda and Warner Chamber for the Official Ceremony at 2:00pm, which will be live streamed on NET2 and at netnebraska.org.

 

9:30-10:15 a.m.   

Event: U. S. Postal Service Nebraska Statehood Forever® Stamp First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony

Location: Nebraska State Capitol (Rotunda – Second Floor), 1445 K Street, Lincoln

Participants include Governor Pete Ricketts, First Lady Susanne Shore, Nebraska Sesquicentennial Commission Chairperson Dr. Sara Crook, Vice President of Information Technology for the U.S. Postal Service Jeffrey Johnson, Photographer Michael Forsberg.  Followers of the U.S. Postal Service’s Facebook page can view streaming video of the event at facebook.com/USPS.

 

10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Event: Actor Portrayals of Willa Cather, Chief Standing Bear & William “Buffalo Bill” Cody & Special Musical Performances by Nebraska Students

Location: Nebraska State Capitol (Rotunda – Second Floor), 1445 K Street, Lincoln

 

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]10:30 a.m. – Willa Cather portrayal by Betty Jean Steinshouer

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]11:10 a.m. – Performance by Lincoln’s Scott Middle School Select Choir, Directed by Paul Eschliman

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]11:25 a.m. – Chief Standing Bear portrayal by Taylor Keen

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]12:05 p.m. – Performance by the Waverly High School Singers, Directed by Rachel Kornfield

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]12:20 p.m. – Buffalo Bill Cody portrayal by Terry Lane

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]1:00 p.m. – Performance by the Millard North High School Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Directed by Debbie Martinez

 

1:15 p.m.

Event: Delivery of the Original Statehood Proclamation to Governor Pete Ricketts by the National Pony Express Association – Nebraska Division

Location: Nebraska State Capitol (West Side – Lincoln Statue), 1445 K Street, Lincoln

 

2:00pm-3:00pm

Event: Official Statehood Day Ceremony

Location: Nebraska State Capitol (George W. Norris Legislative Chamber), 1445 K Street, Lincoln

The ceremony will feature former “The Voice” finalist and Grand Island native Hannah Huston singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America The Beautiful.” Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican, Secretary of State John Gale, and Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer are scheduled to speak. Additionally, Lincoln’s Everett Elementary Chorus, comprised of 18 third through fifth grade students, will lead a statewide sing-along of “Happy Birthday Nebraska” at approximately 2:20 p.m. under the direction of Nebraska Music Teacher of the Year Sue Springer.

 

6:00pm-8:00pm

Event: “Legacy of Nebraska” Exhibit Grand Opening

Location: Nebraska History Museum ~ 131 Centennial Mall North

A breathtaking exhibit of original oil paintings featuring significant historic locations and aesthetic scenes relevant to each of Nebraska’s 93 counties, illustrating the state’s 150-year history.  The exhibit is the culmination of a multi-year project by award-winning artist Todd Williams, a Central City native, whose work as been featured in some of the most renowned galleries in the United States.

 

Additional information about the Nebraska150 Celebration is available at www.ne150.org on Facebook at facebook.com/nebraska150 and Twitter @ne150.

 

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Making Government Work


By Governor Pete Ricketts

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s hard to believe that January will mark the halfway point in my term as your Governor.  My administration works daily to make state agencies more effective, more efficient, and more customer-focused.  Over the last two years, we have focused significant resources on transforming an agency that was in dire need of reform when I took the reins of state government.  That agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is critical because it provides vital temporary assistance and a safety net for some of our most vulnerable Nebraskans.  In past years, the agency faced numerous challenges including federal fines, special investigative committees, and failed programming.  With new leadership and intense process improvement initiatives, the agency is now on a new path.  DHHS is focusing on their core mission of helping Nebraskans live better lives.

 

One of the first areas of DHHS reform under my administration was ACCESSNebraska, home to our call centers for public assistance.  Before I entered office, Nebraskans were waiting on hold for an average of up to 24 minutes to apply for programs through ACCESSNebraska.  The Nebraska Legislature had formed a special investigative oversight committee to look into the backlogs and had called the program a “failure.”

 

When I took office, my team partnered with ACCESSNebraska staff to identify process improvements that significantly reduced call wait times.  Over the last year, call wait times have averaged below five minutes for 10 out of the last 11 months.  Acknowledging the many improvements, the Legislature announced plans last week to dissolve the oversight committee, citing “increased functionality and productivity.”

 

Fixing ACCESSNebraska is important for three reasons.  First, it protects you, the taxpayer.  The previous poor performance of the call centers resulted in the federal government threatening to withdraw $17 million in federal funding.  This move would have forced the state to budget more of your tax dollars for existing services.  With our improved performance, this is no longer a risk.  Second, it means that our most vulnerable citizens are receiving better service in their time of need, and have access to resources to help get them back on their feet.  Third, it also means DHHS can focus more time and resources on improving customer service in other areas.

 

Since ACCESSNebraska is performing at such a high level now, we are looking to utilize it in new ways to improve customer service in other areas.  This week, we announced improvements to the application process for Nebraskans seeking services for Developmental Disabilities (DD).  DHHS has added the application and other information about DD services to the ACCESSNebraska website, and has reduced the application from 14 pages to three.  These changes mean the time necessary to determine eligibility has been slashed from 69 days to an average of 14 days—a nearly 80 percent reduction.

 

We also unveiled WIC Journey, a new system that helps to administer DHHS’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program.  The program serves over 37,000 clients through 13 local WIC agencies delivering services at 106 clinics across the state.  WIC provides healthy food along with nutrition counseling and breastfeeding support to low-income Nebraska families.  These upgrades replaced a 20-year-old computer system, and eliminated the need for 23 paper forms.  In the past, some WIC offices closed down during regular business hours just to process paperwork.  With the new, streamlined system, offices no longer have to shut down to do paperwork, allowing them to focus more on helping women and children.

 

These are just a few examples of what my administration has accomplished over the last two years because of a relentless focus on reforming DHHS.  There is more to come!  Earlier this year, DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips and I unveiled the agency’s first-ever business plan, and I look forward to sharing with you continued successes as the agency works to execute the initiatives contained in their plan.  We’ll be updating you in the coming months as those initiatives prove successful.  Thank you to Courtney Phillips and her team at DHHS for their work to help Nebraskans live better lives—it truly is a team effort.

 

We are working to instill a team mentality focused on improving customer service in all our agencies.  If you have an experience you would like to share, please email my office at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244.  I want to hear your feedback, so we can continue to make state government more effective and efficient for you!

Fly Flags at Half-Staff in Honor of Pearl Harbor Day


Governor Pete Ricketts announced that all U.S. and Nebraska flags are to be flown at half-staff on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 in honor of Pearl Harbor Day.

Flags will be flown at half-staff until sunset on December 7, 2016.

Governor Ricketts Announces Burt County as a Livestock Friendly County


Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Burt County had become the newest county in the state to be designated as a Livestock Friendly County (LFC) through a program administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).

 

“Burt County has a rich history in agriculture, and the livestock industry generates millions of dollars in income for the county’s farm and ranch families,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “By seeking the Livestock Friendly County designation, the county is sending the message that they want to continue to grow both their county and the state through livestock development.”

 

Created in 2003 by the Nebraska Legislature, the LFC program is designed to recognize counties in the state that support the expansion of the livestock industry.  In 2014, livestock receipts in the state comprised over half of the almost $25 billion of Nebraska’s total on-farm receipts.  The LFC designation gives counties an extra promotional tool to encourage expansion of current livestock operations and attract new businesses that spur local economies.

 

“Adding new or expanding existing livestock operations can offer opportunities for family members in Burt County to return back to the family operation,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “Livestock development will also increase local demand for the large stocks of corn, soybeans and grain sorghum produced by Burt County farmers.”

 

With the addition of Burt County, there are now 37 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program.

 

Counties wishing to apply for the LFC designation must hold a public hearing and the county board must pass a resolution to apply for the designation.  Then a completed application must be submitted to NDA.  Local producers or groups can encourage county officials to apply.

 

Additional information about the Livestock Friendly County program is available on the NDA website at www.nda.nebraska.gov or by calling 800-422-6692.

Governor Pete Ricketts attended the Burt County Fair designating Burt County Livestock Friendly. Photo Credit/Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief, Kat Country Hub.

Governor Pete Ricketts attended the Burt County Fair designating Burt County Livestock Friendly. Photo Credit/Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief, Kat Country Hub.

Dave Schold of the Burt County Board of Supervisors spoke on behalf of Burt County being Livestock Friendly.

Dave Schold of the Burt County Board of Supervisors spoke on behalf of Burt County being Livestock Friendly.

Nebraska Senator Lydia Brasch attended the event honoring Burt County's Livestock Friendly appointment. Photo Credit/Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief, Kat Country Hub.

Nebraska Senator Lydia Brasch attended the event honoring Burt County’s Livestock Friendly appointment. Photo Credit/Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief, Kat Country Hub.

David Pearson of the Burt County Fair Board shared in the enthusiasm of Burt County joining other counties in Nebraska as Livestock Friendly. Photo Credit/Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief, Kat Country Hub.

David Pearson of the Burt County Fair Board shared in the enthusiasm of Burt County joining other counties in Nebraska as Livestock Friendly. Photo Credit/Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief, Kat Country Hub.

Denise Gilliland Meets Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts


Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief of Kat Country Hub, was honored to meet Governor Pete Ricketts Monday evening when he came to declare Burt County Livestock Friendly. The picture isn't the best, my husband took it and doesn't care to use my good camera and I didn't know he was going to take one with his phone or I would have set it up. But, I am thrilled to be in a picture with him at any rate. I introduced myself as the Oakland City Council President and said how honored we all are to have him attend the fair and for the reason he did. He saw my election sticker on my blouse and wished me well upon being elected in November! What a thrill! Photo Credit/Jeff Gilliland.

Denise Gilliland, Editor and Chief of Kat Country Hub, was honored to meet Governor Pete Ricketts Monday evening when he came to declare Burt County Livestock Friendly. The picture isn’t the best, my husband took it and doesn’t care to use my good camera and I didn’t know he was going to take one with his phone or I would have set it up. But, I am thrilled to be in a picture with him at any rate. I introduced myself as the Oakland City Council President and said how honored we all are to have him attend the fair and for the reason he did. He saw my election sticker on my blouse and wished me well upon being elected in November! What a thrill! Photo Credit/Jeff Gilliland.

Governor Ricketts Statement on Capital Punishment


Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement regarding capital punishment:

“In November 2016, Nebraska voters will determine the future of capital punishment in our state at the ballot box.  To give deference to the vote of the people, my administration will wait to carry out capital punishment sentences or make additional efforts to acquire drugs until the people of our state decide this issue.

“Over the last several weeks, I have stepped up conversations with the Attorney General and the Corrections Director regarding a comprehensive review of the capital punishment protocols used in other states.  My administration will continue to review potential protocol changes.”

Join Senator Lydia Brasch and Governor Pete Ricketts for a Town Hall in West Point


Senator Lydia Brasch and Governor Pete Ricketts will be hosting a town hall together in West Point on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, and the public is invited to attend.

 

This is a great opportunity for the constituents of District 16 to voice their concerns directly to their Senator as well as to the Governor.

 

The details for the town hall are as follows:

 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave.

 

Questions about event details can be directed to Brett at 402-471-2728.

Flags to be Flown at Half-Staff on Patriot Day


Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that all U.S. and Nebraska flags are to be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day.  Flags will be flown at half-staff until sunset on September 11, 2015.

 

Governor Ricketts also issued the following statement in observance of Patriot Day:

 

“Today is a time for us to pause and solemnly remember the lives of the many Americans that were killed 14 years ago.  We can never forget the events of September 11, 2001, and the many brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country as we continue to seek an end to Islamic extremism.”

 

On Patriot Day, the Governor will attend the 9/11 Minute of Silence Ceremony at Memorial Park in Omaha.

Reject Obamacare in Nebraska


By Governor Pete Ricketts

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the enactment of President Obama’s healthcare law also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. As this controversial healthcare law has taken effect in the years following its passage, Nebraskans have witnessed its rocky rollout and have suffered from dramatic increases in insurance premiums. I have heard from Nebraskans that this law has rendered health insurance almost unaffordable for many people because of the high premiums and deductibles that have resulted from its mandates.

 

In spite of the ACA’s continued failures, proponents of the law have chosen to pursue its implementation at the state level here in Nebraska. This session, the Unicameral is considering LB472, also known as the Medicaid Redesign Act, which would expand Medicaid in Nebraska as proposed under Obamacare.

 

Proponents of Medicaid expansion tout the U.S. Federal Government’s promise to cover 90% of the cost of expansion as money that Nebraska cannot afford to leave on the table. Similar past promises from the Federal Government, however, have only proven short term. Promised federal funding for state administered programs has a history of evaporating, including federal funding for special education programming. Initially, federal funding was supposed to provide 40% of the funding for special education, but today in Nebraska it has dropped to 23%, leaving the State of Nebraska to pick up the difference.

 

Even at the current federal funding levels, Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would create major, new, ongoing state spending that would compete with priorities that Nebraskans care deeply about like tax relief, education, and infrastructure. A recent study showed that Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would result in spending $3.184 billion in taxpayer dollars including $158 million in state income and sales tax dollars over the first six years of the program. This would redirect money that otherwise could go towards property tax relief, additional education funding, or building better roads.

 

Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would also dramatically shift the focus of Nebraska’s Medicaid program which is centered on serving our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Currently, Nebraska’s Medicaid program provides coverage to young children, low-income families, persons with disabilities, and others who meet certain eligibility requirements. Expanding Medicaid beyond these individuals would shift the program’s focus away from serving Nebraska’s vulnerable citizens to providing taxpayer-funded health coverage to individuals outside these categories, which was never the original intent of Nebraska’s Medicaid program.

 

Expanding Medicaid as proposed under President Obama’s failed healthcare law is a dangerous financial risk to state government. Nebraska should reject the failure of Obamacare by rejecting LB472. Because of the ACA’s failures, it is critical that this Congress pursue real healthcare reform that is patient-centered and market-focused while also reversing the dramatic rise in healthcare insurance premiums and holding the line on consolidation in the health insurance market. Without real reform, it is likely the healthcare costs will continue to rise, and Nebraskans will continue to have fewer health insurance providers from which to choose.

 

Here in Nebraska, we should continue to seek innovative ideas on how we can make healthcare more affordable at the state level without major expansions of entitlement programs. One alternative that our Legislature should look at in the future is budgeting support for community health clinics. These clinics, such as One World Community Health Center in Omaha and Norfolk Community Health Care Clinic, provide quality healthcare to underserved populations who otherwise would have difficulty getting access to critical services. Additionally, with Nebraska’s low unemployment, there are numerous open jobs across our state with great healthcare benefits. We need to ask ourselves: How can we do a better job of helping people take advantage of these employment opportunities?

 

In the near future, I urge you to contact your state senator and ask them to oppose the expansion of Obamacare in Nebraska by rejecting LB472. For more information on how you can call or email your senator, please visit www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

Governor Pete Ricketts

Governor Pete Ricketts

 

Celebrating Nebraska Agriculture


Governor Pete Ricketts

Governor Pete Ricketts

All across America, producers, consumers, and educators are participating in National Ag Week from March 16th-21st.  Here in Nebraska, the celebration recognizes many faces within our number one industry. Whether it’s a farm family’s decades-long success or the creativity of future ag leaders, those who contribute to agriculture in Nebraska come from many backgrounds.

 

During National Ag Week, I’m working with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to promote the ag industry, which contributes up to $23 billion dollars annually to Nebraska’s economy. On Monday, I visited Omaha, Broken Bow, North Platte, and Seward to recognize the success of our state’s many agribusinesses. Nebraska’s Ag Director Greg Ibach, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, and chair of the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee, Senator Jerry Johnson, joined me on the tour.

 

This month, I have teamed up with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to publish its annual magazine, “Nebraska Agriculture and You.” This issue includes success stories from Nebraska’s poultry, honey, popcorn, and potato businesses.  The magazine’s 2015 “featured family” highlights a dairy farm in northeast Nebraska, which spans 44 years and 2 generations.  Mike and Joy Malena share ownership of their operation, near Leigh, with their 3 grown children and their children’s spouses. The family produces and sells 120,000 pounds of milk, per day, and also farms more than 2,000 acres of corn and alfalfa. The Malena Family’s story exemplifies the pride, loyalty, and hard work many Nebraskans can relate to when sharing the success of an agribusiness with a new generation. Readers may request magazines by calling 800-422-6692. A digital copy of the magazine is also available on the NE Dept. of Ag website, at www.nda.nebraska.gov.

 

National Ag Week also celebrates some of our state’s youngest ag visionaries, with a Nebraska Department of Agriculture-sponsored poster contest. This year, Nebraska’s elementary-aged students portrayed “a day on the farm” in their drawings, and I am honored to help judge the contest.

 

Keeping our youth inspired and informed about agriculture starts with education. Members of Nebraska’s Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC) are college-age students who advocate agriculture on behalf of our state’s youngest residents. NAYC members promote the industry to elementary students, and also introduce high school juniors and seniors to ag-related leaders and programs, through the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI). A few weeks ago, both groups participated in their first-ever “Youth in Agriculture” meeting at my Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney. Close to 100 students met, and more joined via the internet, to hear stories from several recent college graduates, now working within Nebraska’s ag industry. NAYC Counselors Trent Mastny and Johnny Ference moderated the event, and hope to return to their home communities to work in agriculture. Both are great examples of up-and-coming talent within our state. After graduation, Trent plans on gaining outside agribusiness experience to help his family farm in Howells, and Johnny is already working to establish his own seed corn and agronomy services business in Ord.

 

I’ve long said that Nebraska’s number one resource is our people. Preparing our next generation of ag leaders is more important than ever, to keep Nebraska growing so we can continue to feed the world. As your Governor, I am proud of our state’s top industry and efforts by young Nebraskans to promote agriculture. We must also take time to thank our state’s many ag producers, who are working every day to Grow Nebraska.

 

As agriculture continues to grow, my administration welcomes new ideas from each and every one of you across our great state.

 

As always, you are welcome to contact my office at (402) 471-2244, or by email, atpete.ricketts@nebraska.gov.

 

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