Now it will be Christmas Day | Regional Government

Donald Trump says that finally, at last, we can say that again now that he is president, which of course is foolishly not true. We always have said it.

And we can say it without insulting or harming anyone just as we, or others, can say Happy Hanukkah or any other religiously-associated greeting.

It’s been a rough year and there are dangerous clouds looming on the horizon in the year ahead, some of which we have created, stirred or seeded.

Now it will be Christmas Day.

“Wholly inadequate,” John Maisch says after looking at the recommendations coming from the Legislature’s Whiteclay public health emergency task force. 

“Tone deaf to several action items that have been recommended by those most familiar with the situation on the ground,” Maisch said in an email following release of the report prepared by five senators who comprise the task force. 

Maisch is the man behind the film, “Sober Indian/Dangerous Indian,” a documentary of the alcoholic tragedy at Whiteclay.

“The State of Nebraska must take immediate action to confront the increased bootlegging that appears to be emanating from Nebraska’s other border towns,” Maisch said.

“Nebraska must also create a ‘cold case’ unit to investigate the murders that occurred in Whiteclay over the past two decades.

“Nebraska must also commit funds to begin the process of diagnosing and treating the hundreds of cases of fetal alcohol syndrome that resulted from Whiteclay’s beer sales,” he said.

Chief among the recommendations from the task force are efforts to consider locating an alcohol treatment and detox center in the Whiteclay vicinity and construction of a cell tower in the area to enhance public safety, help facilitate distance learning and provide access to telehealth services. 

Sometimes, inside baseball matters.

Legislative rules are not a thrilling topic, but efforts to reduce minority power or influence in the Legislature by reducing the threshhold required to squash a minority filibuster matter.

And rules also matter if they are redesigned to increase the senatorial experience level in legislative committees.

And so a quiet meeting of the Legislature’s Rules Committee last week touched on a couple of important topics.

No votes were taken and no formal action transpired, but there was a sense of general agreement that the 2018 Legislature must not repeat the time-consuming wrangle over the filibuster rule that consumed virtually one-third of the 2017 session.

“We blew 30 days,” Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus said.

Under current rules, the votes of at least 33 senators are required to free legislation from a filibuster.

Some opponents of that rule have been floating the idea of a rules change that would require senators who are present to either vote yes or no on a cloture motion to end a filibuster since not voting tends to support continuing a filibuster without placing a senator on record. 

But it would seem questionable whether the Legislature can really compel a senator to cast a vote. 

Rules Committee members generally agreed that they should try to avoid any opening that would reignite another rules merry-go-round when the Legislature convenes next week.

And Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk signaled that he at some point plans to propose that in the future rules should be adopted for a biennium rather than reconsidered every year.

A major concern voiced at the meeting was the startling lack of experience now prevalent in terms of service on legislative committees.

That’s the funnel through which legislative bills must pass and some knowledge or experience dealing with what can be some very complicated issues and subject matter like tax laws is important in reaching legislative results.

The average time a senator serves on a specific committee has shrunk to roughly two years. 

Next year, at least five of the eight members of the tax-writing Revenue Committee will be gone.

That’s partly the result of “a political agenda that decided to stack the committee” last January, Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha said.

Same sort of thing happened when a brand new gubernatorial appointee, Sen. Rob Clements of Elmwood, was immediately awarded a seat on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, Krist suggested.

* “Every state has its own challenges and one unique to Nebraska is its powerful Legislature, consisting of a single chamber with 49 senators,” writes John Miller, director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College, in a Wall Street Journal column this month.

* In addition to building relationships with state senators, “you also have to have the right people in the Legislature, people who are going to be philosophically conservative,” Gov. Pete Ricketts is quoted as telling Miller.

* If you do just a little searching on the Internet, you can find plenty of planning online to take to the streets all across the country if the president fires Robert Mueller or somehow shuts down the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

* The Steve Bannon interview and profile in the current Vanity Fair is worth reading.