There is concern that ours has become a government of political parties - and not a government of, by and for the people. One viewer writes, I'd like to know what each candidate is going to do to help reduce partisanship and work with the opposite party to get things done in our country.
Q: Do you believe it's possible for Democrats and Republicans to work together efficiently and effectively? And if yes, how would you work to make that happen?
A: Democrats and Republicans work together all of the time in the Unicameral. Regardless of political party, all Senators are focused on what is best from Nebraska. I find it easy to work together by keeping the focus on what is best for Nebraska, not a Party. I am very close to my constituents as a Senator from the Capital city. I hear from them frequently and I consider it my responsibility to carry their voices into the legislative discussion. I am proud of the way the Unicameral comes together to solve tough issues.
Many Nebraskans tell us the Economy is their #1 concern. They are worried about staying employed or finding work, keeping up with the cost of living, and supporting their families. One viewer simply stated. "If we don't fix the economy, it really doesn't matter what your opinions are on anything else."
Q: How do you propose to improve the U.S. economy and increase the number of jobs for Nebraskans?
A: I believe that companies will expand and/or relocate to Nebraska because of our excellent workforce, great education for their workers' children, and low cost of doing business. It is my responsibility therefore, as a legislator, to assure we maintain a priority on education and improving the business climate. I am a supporter of Nebraska Advantage program which gives incentives for business growth in jobs. I believe there is more that can be done to support Manufacturing which is Nebraska's second largest industry. I support further investment in job training and career education in manufacturing disciplines. I have heard from many manufacturing leaders that their biggest barrier to growth is a workforce who sees manufacturing as a career.
Agriculture is Nebraska's #1 industry. With the current proposed Farm Bill in limbo, there is much uncertainty about how it will affect the future of our farmers and ranchers.
Q: What do you believe is holding up a decision on the new Farm Bill and what do you think it will take to get it passed? What is the one thing you would definitely like to see included in or eliminated from the Farm Bill?
A: The biggest challenge facing agriculture in the state is the declining population in greater Nebraska. As a person who was born and raised in Bassett, NE, I understand the problems facing agriculture. We can help solve this problem by creating pro-growth policies which will keep people working in agriculture, such as serious and meaningful tax relief to Nebraska property owners, and decreasing burdensome regulations which make owning a family farm more difficult. I support renewable energy and believe that there is a future for wind and solar power in Nebraska.
Social Security and Medicare
There has been a lot of talk about a funding crisis for Social Security and Medicare. Several of our viewers/users/followers are concerned about what it will mean for their futures. One woman asked if she could just withdraw what she has put in and take her chances in 25 years.
Q: Is maintaining these programs realistic? If yes, how? If not, what other options would you offer?
A: It is realistic to maintain these programs if our leaders in Washington prioritize them and make the tough decisions on spending that are needed in order to continue them.
Federal Healthcare Mandate
It's been called many things: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama's Healthcare Plan, and even "ObamaCare". Most agree it has been both controversial and confusing. Even the Supreme Court struggled with the plan's constitutionality.
Q: What is your solution for making certain Nebraskans have quality, affordable healthcare for themselves and their families?
A: The State Legislature must focus on patient oriented solutions keeping in mind that taxpayers are stretched to the limit as it is. The Federal Government sought a one-size-fits-all approach that may not work for Nebraska. I support States playing a more active role in the mandated federal insurance plan. Here in Nebraska, we should continue to work together in a bi-partisan way to find common ground on reducing health care costs. I support legislation, such as a recent bill passed in the Unicameral which reduced the cost of in-home health care which will result in more patients being treated in-home rather than costly hospitals.
Civil Rights/Social Issues
Equal Rights, Same Sex Marriage, and the Separation of Church and State are all civil rights issues that tend to inspire strong feelings from those on all sides of the issues.
Q: Do you believe equal rights should be equal for everyone regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation? What is your stance on legalized abortion? How important do you think social issues will be in this election?
A: I am pro-life and that belief is very important to me. I believe in the equal protection of all citizens as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
One of the most divisive issues in Nebraska is immigration. There are many strong opinions varying from immediate deportation for those here illegally to amnesty for all.
Q: Where do you stand on current immigration policies? Do you favor providing healthcare and other benefits to families who are here illegally?
A: I do not support healthcare or other benefits to anyone who is here illegally. I introduced legislation mandating legal verification (e-verify) for all employers in Nebraska. I believe the best way to prevent illegal immigration is to assure that no one in Nebraska will provide a job to someone who is here illegally. I wish the Federal government would do its job and enforce our borders and continue to encourage our federal delegation to do so.
More than 300,000 of Nebraska's residents are school-age children. They account for about 16% of the state's total population.
Q: What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing Nebraska's Education System, and how would you work to meet those challenges?
A: Providing a quality education for kids is the top priority of state government. It is the only mandate in our Constitution. No child should go without a quality education. Our biggest challenges lie in properly funding education in rural areas that struggle to attract teachers and declining student numbers. We must continue to fund education as a priority and give school boards and administrators the flexibility to attract educators to rural areas. Poverty continues to be a factor that drives challenges in education in urban areas. By addressing poverty of children, we can better educate them for the future.
The controversy over where, or even if, to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is primarily centered here in Nebraska. Many believe it's the solution to ending dependence on foreign oil, while others say it's not worth the cost to the environment or their property.
Q: Do you think the pipeline should be built? Why or why not?
A: I do support the building of the pipeline, but it should not be build along the aquifer. I grew up in the Sandhills and I know how fragile the land is there. The pipeline would bring a lot of jobs to Nebraska.
Special Interest Groups
Many residents have a negative perception about the political influence of Special Interest groups and "big money". They worry many of our elected officials are out of touch with the average citizen. According to the latest census, the median household income in Nebraska is about $49,000 per year, which is lower than the national average.
Q: How would you assure Nebraska's low and middle income families that you have their best interests at heart?
A: My family is a middle income family. My constituents know I live the same life that they do. I have shared their struggles in a tough economy and work with them everyday. My record of bringing people together to help those less fortunate speaks for itself. I have always put the people first. As a social worker, I have dedicated my life to helping those in needs. I will continue that effort if given a second term.