Meet State Senator Dan Watermeier, District 1

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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: Yes, I believe Nebraskans expect their Legislature to work together. I’ve experienced this for 16 years on the Nemaha NRD, and 8 years on the Natural Resource Commission. Setting aside emotion and working together on the facts I’ve seen positive results for Nebraska.

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: Nebraska has been able to weather this recession well. Nebraska’s unemployment is 2nd lowest in country, and a strong agriculture economy has helped. Because of tax incentives and balancing the state budget with out raising taxes Nebraska is in a position to attract business. I would like to see an expanded effort in the area of rural economic incentives to help repopulate rural Nebraska and keep rural areas economically viable. I also think that by working efficiently, maintaining high quality schools and not raising taxes, Nebraska will continue to be attractive to outside companies looking to relocate.

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: 2 concerns. 1st - Young farmers are the future of agriculture and we need to make sure they see agriculture as being a good long-term career and life style. Need to explore ways to encourage young producers to get started in agriculture and be successful.

2nd - Regulation of agriculture is of major concern to the state. I hear every day what out side influences would like to do shape the future of agriculture. State can play a role in making sure regulations do not mandate damaging policy to agriculture. Nebraska is positioned well to take advantage in the ethanol/bio-fuel market and will continue to be a leader. I would like to see Nebraska take advantage of our wind resource, and develop this industry.

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: I would prefer a private sector solution instead of having government takeover of our health care system. Like everyone, I’m concerned about the cost to taxpayers of adding new individuals into our health care coverage through Medicaid. What is the true cost of maintaining this program when federal government cuts back its commitment after 2016? Very difficult to balance the upcoming state budget deficit, and make sure Nebraskan’s don’t get hit with tax increases to cover the cost of health care expansion. Everyone agrees government has a responsibility to provide services to those less fortunate and who can not care for themselves, I want to make sure that commitment is covered.

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 on the abortion issue and the only candidate endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life. I have questions about adding more protected classes to our statutes. Concern in how far a group would want to expand a new legally protected status. I’ve campaigned across the district I’ve heard from many people who are very concerned about various social issues so it will be big factor in their decision to support a candidate.

Illegal Immigration/Amnesty
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: The Federal government has laws in place to effectively control the country’s borders. It very difficult for a state to legally enforce federal policy. I do not feel Nebraska taxpayers should bear the burden of providing services to people who chose to break our country’s laws to enter the U.S. illegally. There may be ways for illegal immigrants to get services from private organizations, but I do not think that burden should fall on Nebraska taxpayers.

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: One of the biggest challenges is making sure the state aid formula is fair to both rural and urban districts. It seems unfair for districts to have a moving target of state aid from year to year. Very difficult to plan budget. Rural and urban districts each face unique problems and state funds should be available to help them overcome obstacles for student success. My wife and oldest daughter are both public school teachers so I’m very aware of the challenges they face in the classroom every day. We need to try and make sure school districts are managed efficiently and are maximizing their money to make the greatest impact in the classroom.

Pipeline Controversy
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: Yes, I support the pipeline project. I believe the state was correct in taking authority over where it could or should be built with in our state. The aquifer is an asset worth protecting and if the state can require a safer route to be used then the state is doing its job in protecting citizens. One benefit is that the pipeline will bring jobs, economic development and local property tax dollars to rural Nebraska. Another benefit is creating a domestic source for oil that will help America become less dependent on foreign oil from an unstable region of the world.

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: I’ve worked hard all my life in agriculture and running the farm. I understand how challenging the ups and downs of the economy can be working families. I live, work, go to church and serve in the community with people at all levels of economic scale and each of their concerns are just as important as the next person’s. In today’s politics, almost every group imaginable has representation of their profession or special concern. I will listen to everyone from across my district in making decisions as their state senator.

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