Living in State Capitol has advantages, most of which I haven’t even begun to personally explore. But I realized, if I have to deal with the higher taxes and fees of living in one of Nebraska’s most liberal localities, I might as well make the most of being here.
State government is where it’s at right now, period.
While we’ve all been continuously distracted by the chattering classes and talking heads with our attention focused on Washington, D.C., plenty of nonsense has been going on at all other levels of government. In many ways, the local, county, and state nonsense affects our lives even more than the national nonsense does.
Of course, an ever-expanding Federal government is a serious problem and we should definitely be very persistent about keeping pressure on our Congressional representatives. But there are things we can do at the State level to mitigate Federal intervention.
In fact, considering the balance of power in the U.S. Congress and clear ineptitude of the the “opposition”, the only avenue we may have to oppose continuing encroachment by Feds is at the state level.
Those of use who have begun working together here in Nebraska following the April Tea Parties, have been considering taking on the project of pushing for a Tenth Amendment Resolution.
While we hope to bring this about through a sponsored bill, we knew we may face a ballot initiative process. Nebraska is a Unicameral, meaning it only has one house. The citizens of the state are supposed to constitute the second house. That means that the process is supposed to be as open as possible to us.
Unfortunately, one of key point in this process has been made exceedingly more difficult for citizens to undertake. A 1994 Nebraska Supreme Court Case, Duggan v Beerman, doubled the number of signatures required to get an initiative on the ballot.
In addition, recent laws have been passed that prohibit anyone not a citizen of the state of Nebraska from circulating petitions or for workers to be paid for gathering signatures.
A number of people feel that the barriers now in existence prohibit the average citizen, “the second house” of the legislative body, from carrying out the initiative and resolution process.
This Wednesday, May 13, Nebraska businessman, Kent Bernbeck, held a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda to announce that he is challenging the restrictions.
Bernbeck’s strategy includes potential court challenges and a ballot initiative on an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Nebraska.
The group of Nebraskans with whom I’ve become involved have begun a project to study the possibilities of assisting Mr. Bernbeck in reaching his goal. The current focus is on carefully examining the proposals Mr. Bernbeck has put forward.
Those of us interested in supporting a more open, accessible process for the average citizen do have concerns about the paid circulators issue. Visions of ACORN flash through our heads. If previous levels of signatures required were restored, I would questions the necessity of allowing this potentially troublesome practice.
This post will be updated as further work is done on the project.
Kent Bernbeck’s statement at the Press Conference, two versions of the proposed amendment, and the results of a 1997 survey of registered Nebraska voters on the issue are available for download and / or printing, by clicking on the images below:
Press Conference statement of Kent Bernbeck May 13, 2009
Legislative Resolution Proposed Constitutional Amendment pg. 1
Legislative Resolution Proposed Constitutional Amendment pg. 2
Legislative Resolution Proposed Constitutional Amendment pg. 3
Maricopa Research Survey of Nebraska Voters 1997 pg. 1
Maricopa Research Survey of Nebraska Voters 1997 pg. 2
Maricopa Research Survey of Nebraska Voters 1997 pg. 3
Maricopa Research Survey of Nebraska Voters 1997 pg. 4
Maricopa Research Survey of Nebraska Voters 1997 pg. 5
Maricopa Research Survey of Nebraska Voters 1997 pg. 6
Map of Nebraska Supreme Court of Appeals and Judicial Districts