What is your position on Right to Life?
I am a person of deep faith and I hold sacred the sanctity of life. My views of this sanctity permeate my every action, including my long professional career working with children and families. For my entire life, I have promoted life and the conditions that support healthy conception, pre-natal development, healthy births, healthy infant, toddler, preschool and childhood development, and healthy relationships in families. I promote life through and through. This is my fundamental truth.
Decisions involving abortion are tragic and extremely difficult. Right to Life recognizes exceptions, and I do, too. In such circumstances, there must be deep reliance on faith, religious counsel, physician and family. My opponent does not recognize exceptions or, the weight of the dilemma, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, April 16, 2020.
As a caring community member, I make small donations to many organizations from food banks to children’s organizations. My two small donations to Planned Parenthood were appeals for money for women’s health screening for low-income women across the state, not abortions. The opposition is trying to portray me as pro-abortion.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Nebraska has some of the most conservative abortion laws in the country. I will not try to change those laws. I am here to serve my district, fix the heavy burden of property taxes and help our communities thrive.
What is your position on the Second Amendment?
I support the second amendment. Our Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms and our Constitution defines the laws of our land. Hunting and guns are part of the history and culture of my District. I understand that. I heard this from young men and women who were voting for the first time; I heard it from farmers in my District. I know that hunting is part of the ecological equation for balancing and protecting wildlife. I will support efforts to identify and systematize more designated hunting areas in eastern Nebraska. We have a complex set of federal laws today and I would approach state laws one by one on their merits.
Can you say more about Thriving Communities?
Questions below address parts of Thriving Communities focus.
What is the relevance of growing rural communities through state business expansion efforts.
Unfortunately, in the past, Nebraska business expansion efforts have not helped rural communities very much at all. They have not been used much by rural communities; some have said this is because Legislature bill drafters have not known how to focus business expansion on rural communities.
- But, there have been big payouts to businesses in urban communities. Some observers suggest that big businesses in Nebraska has been getting funds to do what they would have done anyway.
- Based on community feedback, I recommend bringing funds for small business start up and expansion into the Thriving Communities Initiative.
Are we creating infrastructure for telehealth resources to become more accessible in our communities?
That is a great question with two areas of importance for thriving communities—connectivity mostly through broadband/internet and healthcare.
First broadband. In this new day, we are all connecting remotely. Right now there are gaps in this district in highspeed internet or access to internet at any speed. So, 2 big issues—access and speed. Small towns get skipped in 5G expansions, and there are areas where children cannot logon with their teachers or receive their pre-k language lesson of the day. Nebraska is ranked 40th in the US when it comes to connectivity. One of the largest communities in this District has only 30% of its citizens connected with internet access. Thriving communities initiative will address this issue.
The second part of the question was about telehealth. We do have both telehealth and telemental health services in Nebraska, and if these were better developed medical services, people in thriving rural communities could receive more services. Access would bring smaller communities the best of both worlds—the advantages of small, caring communities—and services and connectivity available in larger ones.
Housing is necessary for thriving communities. I know our rural communities face real challenges with housing, both in availability and affordability. In some cases, with the influx of people and the growth of businesses in our district, the tight housing market makes it difficult for employers to expand their workforce and for people to house their families.
Housing is one of the pillars of my Thriving Communities initiative. As most of the attention of the Legislature is focused on urban housing, we need someone to stand up for a comprehensive and coordinated effort through establishing private/public partnerships to help solve the rural housing challenges. I will be the independent voice to push for investment in our rural infrastructure, and look at the current rural regional planning processes to institute vision for more capacity. Ashland has done an impressive job of providing low-cost housing for seniors. When I did my listening session in Schuyler, affordable housing was on everyone’s minds and it’s a critical issue for our district. Housing is key to Thriving communities.
How can the state legislature help our communities protect the physical and social environments of our children today and for the future?
- Take social environments. Children in small communities may have many social assets, often with close and extended families, friends and neighbors looking out for them and cheering them on. More could be done in the area of social assets especially at the school and community level: AP classes shared across districts, funding better childcare options, and the super creative 21st Century Learning Communities with maker spaces and forward-looking technologies that partner with 4-H and community businesses.
- Take physical environments. I am always concerned about nitrates and uranium in our precious water supply. Many of our wells are above the critical 10 parts per million of nitrates. Pollutants have been linked to birth defects. These pollutants affect the youngest the most—unborn babies and young children whose brains are developing quickly are most affected. Nebraska has some of the highest rates of blood and brain cancers among children in the US. I know NRDs, Extension and the ag sector are monitoring water quality. There are some creative programs in place, for example, highschoolers doing water testing. But we could be doing more.
Older youth in our communities are of particular concern. What about the youth?
We need ideas from our young leaders and to engage them in the democratic process. I did a listening session with Ashland High School seniors and I was inspired by their passion. This entails
- Preparation for trade or college as Blueprint Nebraska stresses.
- Encouraging youth to engage in the democratic process.
- Bringing THEIR voices to the mix together with those of all the other citizens.
Given the dramatic changes in the school calendar brought on by COVID-19 and the general disconnect between children’s school day and year and their parents work hours, how can the legislature work with communities to ensure there are robust expanded learning opportunities available for all youth and that all communities need to be thriving?
Seventy-five percent Nebraska parents children in Nebraska work so childcare at the preschool and school age levels are extremely important. My Thriving Communities initiative will work with 21st Century Learning Communities to strengthen school-community partnerships for vital learning, when children are out of school (SO important right now). This is a federal program that the Legislature can enhance through private-public investments. There is a parallel for ages 0-5: Nebraska Communities for Kids.
According to the Platte Institute, nearly 20% of occupations now require some form of licensing from the state. This is particularly burdensome for people who are new to the work force such as youth, immigrants and the recently incarcerated as well as people who lack the financial means to get the education and training necessary for these licenses, even though, sometimes the job requirements are sometimes quite irrelevant to the work they want to do. What are a few examples of jobs for which you would like to see licensing requirements eased or eliminated?
- We certainly need youth, immigrants and recently incarcerated individuals in our labor force and want them to be productive as they build their lives in Nebraska. They need jobs.
- It is always tricky finding the balance between regulating and licensing that protect the end users and keeping a good flow of new and returning workers. For example, in early childhood, licensing requirements are pretty minimal compared to other states but newer regulations for fingerprinting slowed down the process for the programs and the potential employees.
- I think we need on-ramping training and provisional licensing that could allow employment with employer support to complete the licensing process.
- I think I would want to know more about how licensing creates barriers for the critical populations you describe. I would recommend more study and research under this topic.
What would you do to make sure Nebraskans are able to take advantage of renewable energy land leases, tax benefits and rural community job growth? How would that translate to cleaner air and water for our children and grandchildren, and address the unstable patterns we have been seeing over the past few years?
Nebraska is a very windy state. The Omaha World Herald called it the Saudi Arabia of wind. About 10% of our electricity is from wind vs. Iowa where 37% comes from wind. Right now, our energy providers do not qualify for federal tax credits, because we are public not private (like Iowa). But costs are coming down and wind energy has grown a lot in the past 5 years. For example, the Grand Prairie project is making it more possible to expand. Right now, Nebraska does not have grants for renewable energies, just loans, but we can put more credits and grants in place. I like looking at this from the perspective of the individual or small business as the question implies. Regarding the second question about cleaner air and water, today with 63% of our electricity from coal, wind and other renewables present a far cleaner alternative. Our unstable patterns are affected by carbon dioxide. Cleaner energy can only be for the good for our children and subsequent generations.