NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Mike Groene

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42

The content of these pages is developed and maintained by, and is the sole responsibility of, the individual senator's office and may not reflect the views of the Nebraska Legislature. Questions and comments about the content should be directed to the senator's office at mgroene@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 6th, 2021

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 42nd legislative district in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

You’ll find my contact information on the right side of this page, as well as a list of the bills I’ve introduced this session and the committees on which I serve. Please feel free to contact me and my staff about proposed legislation or any other issues you would like to address.

Sincerely,
Sen. Mike Groene

Column 11-24-2021
November 24th, 2021

Thanksgiving is shared by all

Thanksgiving being celebrated in America without commercialization like our other holidays is a statement of the American character. America’s stature as a place of personal freedom and Liberty has endured World Wars, regional conflicts and terrorist attacks. Presently, from within, our individual freedom is being assaulted by fear mongers and socialist ideologies that conspire to redefine the universally understood opening words of our Constitution, “We the people of the United States” as a distorted interpretation that wishes to transform us into a country of, “We the subjects of the United States Government”.

As thousands gather at our borders and millions worldwide look to America for defense of freedom, I firmly believe that with our individual vigilance, America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world. As we gather as family this Thanksgiving, we still have much to be thankful for. If we have exercised our freedom to work hard, take personal responsibility for our actions, and offer assistance to those who have not the wherewithal to do likewise, the blessings of freedom and liberty is still ours to have.

I have always opposed attempts in the Legislature that seek to tempt citizens to give up their self-reliance in exchange for the assurance of government handouts by the expansion of food stamps (SNAP), granting education outcomes with little effort or giving welfare assistance without work. In today’s economy a paycheck is available to all who are physically and mentally capable; how one spends that paycheck helps decide if poverty remains at one’s door. It does not aid an individual when government enables behavior that encourages one to remain mired in poverty. Thanksgiving is a day that should remind us all that America is still a nation of opportunity.

A case in point of government working against the American ideal of individual effort bringing individual blessings is the recent surprise announcement by UNL chancellor Ronnie Green on the University’s new “Commitment to Action” diversity plan. In an attempt to address past racial injustices by a higher education establishment that since the 1960’s has been dominated by liberal thinkers, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion Marco Barker ’s office has created a so called anti-racist plan that only serves to inflame individuals who see race as a character attribute. Since the Civil War, America has been on a steady march to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that his children (and ours) “… will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” But it seems that every time we make progress, a politician or government bureaucrat derails it by devising a law or a plan to fix racism. Green’s plan first separates us by defining our physical differences and then seeks to forcibly incorporate us into a whole. The author of the racial theory that the University’s new diversity plan is based on is Ibram X Kendi, a Boston University professor. Kendi claims that there is no such thing as a non-racist person, to him you are either a racist or an anti-racist. Therefore, the University’s anti-racist plan divides Nebraskans and UNL’s faculty and students into one camp or the other. The plan on its face disavows a reality that would allow for King’s dream to reach fulfillment.

I am thankful I live in western Nebraska and specifically Lincoln County, where we have melted into a community of many different national heritages where the vast majority of us only see each other as fellow humans who work, worship and play together.   The American dream is alive where I live and all have equal opportunity. I am very grateful I do not live in a community that shares Chancellor Green’s or University of Nebraska President Ted Carter’s vision of who Nebraskans are.

Contact Senator Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729

Column 11-4-2021
November 4th, 2021

Legislature Bends to Biden Mandate

There will be no special Legislative session to address the Biden Administration’s tyrannical COVID-19 mandates. The final tally was 28, five short of the necessary 33. Senators Williams and Pahls added their name to the original 26. Of the 21 senators who refused to support your individual health care choice on COVID vaccines, 16 are registered Democrats and five are Republicans.

Since the Governor has refused to call a special session on his own authority and left the decision to a weak legislature, the only hope now that our constitutional rights will be protected, before the harm is done, rests in the Federal Courts. Nebraska Attorney General Peterson has added Nebraska’s name to a 10-state coalition that filed suit to halt the Vaccine Mandate for employees of Federal Contractors. Another nine states have similar suits filed in different Federal Courts across the nation.

I understand the clock is ticking and many of you who work for a federal contractor are faced with deciding sooner than the December 8th deadline since the two-shot vaccines must be administered at least three weeks apart to be considered fully vaccinated.  I understand there is also the choice of the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine which gives more time.

I am angry! No American should ever be put into the position Biden has put American workers. I am not alone; the outcome of the Virginia elections Tuesday night showed that a majority of Virginians have reached a boiling point over the abuse of power that Biden, along with members of the public school establishment, have arrogantly demonstrated.  Those abuses have also risen to the forefront in Nebraska’s politics. I am sure, for good or bad, the decision by Nebraska State Senators to support or not support a special session will come into play next November.

Even if the Federal Courts rule against the federal mandates, it does not stop employers from taking action on their own to make vaccines a term of employment.  The Nebraska Red Cross has recently mandated the vaccine to its volunteers and employees, as have large medical organizations and big-pharma corporations. One would suspect that The Union Pacific Railroad, as a good faith action with its workforce and community, would rescind its vaccine mandate if the courts put a restraining order on the Biden Administration.  The Nebraska Legislature still needs to act quickly when we convene in January. There will be legislation introduced to protect your right to decide your own health care choices and stop employers from discriminating against the unvaccinated. A majority of senators will fight to protect your liberty; our success will depend on continued public pressure on those senators who are fiercely loyal to Biden. I am looking forward to the floor debate, I am very curious how tyranny is defended.

I have been asked why, in last week’s column, I publicly told of my ordeal handling the ludicrous mud throwing complaint brought against me by a Lincoln, Nebraska resident to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. First off, the individual and the reporter aiding her did not even have the decency to contact me with their concerns, which could have been easily cleared up without issuing false accusations. Second, it’s time good people publicly stand up against the mudslinging, race baiting, arrogant, disdain for decency, loathing of the self-righteous political left and those in the liberal press. It happened in Virginia; it needs to happen in Nebraska.

My constituents know Barb and I live in North Platte. They know, when they ask, that we sold our large family home and in the meantime are renting a home while waiting out the high real estate market. I strongly disagree with Ms. High; I don’t believe one needs to be a property owner to hold elective office, such a belief would be blatant discrimination against those who rent a place to live. I never spend a full week in Lincoln.  On recess days during session, I return to Western Nebraska and North Platte.

One last clarification: as to why I keep my North Platte address unpublished, I do not personally fear the threats of left-wing cowards, I do have concerns for my wife’s safety when I am away in Lincoln.

Contact Senator Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729

Column 10-28-2021
October 28th, 2021

The Ugly Side of Politics

Reading of the recent political attack on Representative Fortenberry, by President Biden’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, reminded me of a recent political witch hunt I endured.

A longtime political activist from Lancaster County, by the name of Kate High, filed a complaint against me with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC), the state agency that oversees the adherence by political candidates and elected officials to the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act (NPADA).

The complaint claimed I no longer lived in my district.  Most of you know that Barb and I decided it was time to downsize our home, a common lifestyle decision by empty nesters.  We had enough of mowing an acre of grass and were tired of keeping up with the Jones, so we sold our home last November and rented a small place in North Platte. Due to death threats I have received from not-so-friendly progressives and Barb being home alone while I am in Lincoln, we decided to make our mailing address a post office box.  We wanted to deter left-wing fanatics from easily locating our residence.   Since High’s organization was unable to find our new physical address, they assumed I must not live in my district. Of course it was a foolish charge and easily proven wrong. Another complaint dealt with filing details, which the NADC admitted was an omission error on their part when they transcribed my report to their electronic files.

Finally, she claimed I did not report owning a Lincoln residence, a small 1980’s era condominium unit.  NPADA requires elected officials must report annually their financial interests which, amongst other things, includes their employment, business owned, creditors, stocks and bonds and all real-property owned in Nebraska, excluding the residence of the individual.

I did not report my Lincoln residence, because the legal definition of residence stipulates that a person may simultaneously have more than one residence. Nebraska case law concurred.  The NADC agreed with my argument and dismissed High’s complaint. They further plan to change the 30 year old instructions on their forms to clarify that a filer may have more than one residence.  As a double check, I am also bringing a bill to clarify existing statute. To show the absurdity of the issue, at least two senators own retirement homes in Florida and others have out of state vacation homes, but because they are not Nebraska properties, the NADC did not require them to be reported.  Apparently, the senators who at that time authored the NPADA must have decided fessing up to owning a home in another state would be a political inconvenience.

She also filed a freedom of information request for the reimbursements I have received for my living and travel per-diem expenses; they are public record and are uniformly calculated and paid to all senators. High also sought the address of my residence from the Legislative Executive Committee. After hearing of this, with past threats in mind, we were concerned about why someone would be so insistent on learning our physical address.  Her request was denied by the Committee Chairman. Soon after, a reporter sought a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s (AG) office on his similar request denied by the Chairman.  The AG confirmed the Chairman’s decision.

The complaint was frivolous, an attempt to distract me from doing the peoples’ work.  When I ran I promised I would not become a politician; I have never taken campaign money from Political Action Committees or special interest groups, nor have I participated in the common practice of going on special interest paid junkets.  I have never run a negative ad against an opponent and have shied away from the influence of the lobby. In retrospect, I now take their attacks as a compliment.  Unable to defeat me in open debate, they revert to the dark tactics of the political swamp.

The ado I seem to attract is more due to my habit of telling the truth, a trait that doesn’t fit well in the collegial world of the political establishment.

Special session update: Some Republican senators believe employers should be able to dictate your personal health decisions and most Democrats are “Team Biden”.  Government and Corporate interest may again squash individual liberty.

Contact Senator Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729

Column 10-21-2021
October 21st, 2021

Freedom on the Brink

What have we become? Is America, let alone Nebraska, a people who seek safety over liberty, socialism over personal responsibility rooted in freedom? As Benjamin Franklin, the elder among the Founding Fathers, warned, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Of course, I am talking about President Biden’s recent tyrannical executive orders, mandating COVID-19 vaccines. Unable as of yet to mandate a national vaccine requirement, he instead cynically uses our own tax dollars against us by holding vaccine requirements over the paychecks of federal employees or federal dollars over the household incomes of families who happen to work for a company that contracts with the federal government.

We are treading on unprecedented ground. Never before has the federal government dictated a medical procedure to employees in private industry or to civilian federal government workers employed domestically. For example, across the nation, public-school MMR vaccine mandates are by state laws and not by federal mandates. Expected soon are additional mandates directed at health care employees and perhaps even children as young as 3.

If facts were to dictate that it was a do-or-die decision, citizens would become vaccinated on their own without government coercion, but that is not the case. It is quite clear who is at risk: It is the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It is not the young and healthy, nor the 40% or more of Americans who are estimated to be asymptomatic based on those testing positive to COVID-19, or the large percentage who have natural immunity from a prior infection.

Neither the executive branch nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have adequately answered the questions that are repeatedly asked. If the vaccine is effective, why the need for quick-turnaround booster shots? Will those booster shots be also mandated in the future? Why have reputable studies on natural immunity by Israel, the Cleveland Clinic, etc., been ignored by the CDC? Can citizens be blamed for not trusting a government when their own personal, family and friends’ experiences have not matched the dire warnings of the CDC? Finally, if the vaccine is so successful, why not just recommend the vaccine to those that the medical science community has determined are most susceptible to serious health issues and even death? Americans are not an ignorant people, nor are they sheep. They just want to hear the truth.

Last Saturday on the Lincoln County Courthouse lawn, I attended a gathering of over 300 citizens to protest the actions of the federal government. A government that has recently demonstrated a total disregard for President Abe Lincoln’s definition of America’s governance: “… government of the people, by the people …” Hard working self-sufficient citizens that seldom ask government for assistance have suddenly had their livelihoods threatened by an aggressive federal government.

I heard their plea loud and clear! This week I and many other senators have given input into a request to convene a special session of the Legislature. The specific language sent to the secretary of state states “… for the purpose of adopting legislation to prohibit employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines and Legislation to prohibit government and/ or educational entities from mandating COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of receiving services.”

The secretary of state will poll the 49 senators. They have 10 days to reply. If 33 senators reply in the positive, the Legislature must be convened within five days. At the time of this writing, 26 senators have indicated they will sign the letter. We need the support of an additional seven who are willing to lay aside partisanship. For this is not a partisan issue; citizens of all political persuasions have told me they fear they are losing their sovereign right to decide what medical procedures they deem is in their best interest.

America is at a critical crossroad: Do we continue on the path of individual liberty and freedom, or do we seek security of government promises? No matter your view of the vaccine issue, we should all respect our neighbors’ personal medical decisions. If ever there was a time to make your voice heard, it is now!

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

Column 10-14-2021
October 14th, 2021

Columbus Day: a Reminder of the Possible

Monday was Columbus Day, a federal Holiday that many, including myself, observe in honor of the achievements of Christopher Columbus. His story is the genesis of the American Dream. He was born into a modest family of weavers who lived above their shop in the Italian city-state of Genoa.

Columbus’s accomplishments belong among a select few human events that changed the course of humanity. His early life defines a self-motivated man. He went to sea at the age of 14, later studying navigation in Greece and mapmaking in Portugal; while there he apprenticed on ships traveling to Africa, Ireland, England and Iceland.

After the Muslims’ conquest of Constantinople in 1453, trade-routes to the Orient were closed to European merchants. Columbus singularly believed that the Orient could be reached by a sea route to the west. The weaver’s son brought his plan to the governments of Portugal, England, France and Spain. Only Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella accepted his offer. It took another six years to convince them to fund his expedition. In 1492 he sailed west into the unknown in search of the Orient. On October 12 he landed on the island of San Salvador, located between the two continents that make up the western hemisphere.

The settlements that he founded were the origin of America’s Manifest Destiny, the makings of a land of opportunity that became the hope of immigrants from across the world who strained to be free. Today it remains a shining beacon for those seeking liberty.

In the timeline of human history, mankind’s quest for individual justice and liberty has always been marred by injustice and inequity. Today in our affluent society, there exists a politically correct movement called WOKE. This self-righteous philosophy of judgmental hindsight originated on liberal college campuses and is propagated by tenured professors who live a privileged life amongst the impressionable minds of America’s youth. These individuals have sought to discredit the accomplishments of historic figures that they disagree with by judging their then commonly practiced official or personal actions through the eyes of today’s societal mores. Yet they give a pass to the more recent atrocities committed by their socialist heroes, such as Lenin, Stalin, Castro or Chairman Mao.

Columbus has been a main target for their antagonism.  During the 2020 legislative session Senator Pansing Brooks brought LB848. Its intent was to eliminate Columbus Day and rename it Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The bill should have died in committee; instead it was allowed to go forward by amending Senator Brewer’s LB937 into it. I originally supported LB937’s effort to highlight the contributions of Native American culture to our State’s heritage by displaying the Tribal Flags of four of our largest tribes in the capitol’s Warner Chamber. A further compromise was reached when an agreement was made to rename the Day “Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day”.  14 senators, including myself, didn’t support the final bill.

My plea during debate on the bill was to leave Columbus Day alone. The holiday has gained added meaning as Americans of Italian descent have adopted the holiday as a day to celebrate their heritage. I explained that we already have two days designated to honor Native Americans. In 1983 the Legislature designated the fourth Monday in September as American Indian Day. In 2009 the United States Congress designated the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. Also, I worked with Senator Slama on her LB399 (2019), a successful update of history and civics requirements taught in Nebraska’s schools.  Native American Heritage Day was added as a holiday that shall be observed. In hindsight I regret that Columbus Day was not also made a required observance, despite the protest of cancel-culture nihilists.

Obviously, the original intent of LB848 was never to honor the American Indian. It instead was a blatant act of cancel-culture, obscuring one of the greatest milestones in the annals of history, sullying the memory of an exceptional man and rewriting the history of America’s beginnings. It attempts to discount the amazing story of the men on three small ships—the Nina, Pinta and Santa-Maria—and of the man who opened the gates to freedom.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

 

Column 9-30-2021
September 30th, 2021

The Partisan Redistricting

Redistricting is finished.  Our Legislative District 42 needed a minimum of 3,353 added citizens to match the numbers needed. To do so we picked up the sparsely populated counties to the north: Hooker, Thomas, McPherson and Logan adding 2,495.  The remaining were garnered by including eastern and northwestern parts of Perkins County, the communities Elsie and Madrid will be part of 42 while Grant will remain in District 44.

I consider the final map a major defeat for rural Nebraska. Although rural areas have lost population and needed to adjust district boundaries, there was a better way; Senators Clements and Bostelman created a map that would have preserved the core parts of all districts, rural and urban, but it was rejected by the Redistricting Committee and instead District 36 in western Nebraska was forfeited.

District 36 Senator Williams, who has announced his candidacy to represent western Nebraska as our University of Nebraska regent, took it on himself the decision, without full consultation with his constituents, to dissolve the district and move it to eastern Nebraska. District 36 will now be located in Sarpy County near the Missouri River. That act of surrender created a domino effect that caused rural Nebraska to lose representation in the Legislature.

In the original proposal by the Committee, District 24 encompassing York, Seward and Polk Counties was the District intended to be moved to Sarpy County. It made sense for rural Nebraska, since it was a smaller eastern district where the citizens had similar economic and government policy interests with surrounding districts.  Not unexpectedly Senator Kolterman who represents that district, took a parochial view and demanded his district remain as is.   Urban Senators, whose goal from the beginning was to remove conservative representation from western Nebraska, aided his successful effort.

The other important redistricting vote was on our three Congressional Districts. Again the growth in population has been in the urban areas of eastern Nebraska. I agreed that the final map was good for Nebraska and would assure that Nebraska was represented in Washington by individuals who cared about Nebraska’s values.

The big issue behind Nebraska’s congressional redistricting is our unique Electoral College voting system. Only Maine shares a similar presidential selection system where Electoral College votes are tied to which presidential candidate wins the most votes in each congressional district.  The practice was initiated by the Legislature prior to the 1996 election.  The bill passed in 1991 was LB 115, brought by Senator DiAnna Schimek, a registered Democrat. It received the minimum 25 votes needed to become law and was signed by then Governor Ben Nelson. Why it was not stopped by a filibuster at that time is an example of why a nonpartisan, collegial unicameral system is a bad form of Government.

As I stated during debate, citizens acting as the second house of our state government is the only hope we have to remove Nebraska’s flawed Electoral College process. Its existence gnaws at the true meaning of a Democratic Republic’s selection of a president. Since the Electoral College selection process is in State Law, a citizens’ initiative petition effort would take 7% of the number of registered voters to place it on the ballot. That number would need to be around 87,000; easily doable by citizens who have recently raised up in protest against the present tyrannical edits coming out of Washington, DC and against proposed policies by the public education establishment in our state.

In my floor speech when mentioning the citizens who have stood up against the State Board of Education’s proposed sex education standards, I referred to some of those they opposed as “pronoun Nazis”. Afterwards my words were attacked by liberal senators. I stand by my comments, there are only two biological sexes, a male or female; the English language has an assortment of words we use to address either sex. Anyone who would coerce a child to declare themselves otherwise should not be allowed around children. I make no judgement on one’s personal sexual behavior or who they love, but they remain either a man or a woman, there are no other sexes.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

Column 9-23-2021
September 23rd, 2021

LR 107 defends Liberty

Redistricting decides: who will or won’t

“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH LEGISLATURE OF NEBRASKA, FIRST SESSION:

That we hereby reaffirm our solemn oaths of office by expressing a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Nebraska against every act of aggression whether foreign or domestic, including every act of unconstitutional abuse of power arising from the state or federal government.

That we are greatly alarmed that a factious and contentious spirit has recently manifested itself in the federal government, emanating both from the legislative and executive branches, with the desire to enlarge their powers by forced constructions of the Constitution of the United States to expand certain general phrases in order to destroy their meaning and effect. Such phrases include: “Congress shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]…”, “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”, and “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof…”. This design appears to have no other end except to consolidate the states by degrees into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and inevitable consequence of which would be to obliterate completely the rights of sovereignty by the several states, and to destroy the rights and liberties of the people, as explicitly granted to them by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

That we in particular protest the ominous plan revealed by the executive branch to take unilateral action in explicit violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This sacred right is also protected by our Constitution of Nebraska: “All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are… the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others…”.

That we further protest against federal government actions which seek to punish traditional religious beliefs about the sanctity of life and sexual mores. These actions are in direct violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which states that “Congress shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]…”, and of the Constitution of Nebraska which states that “All persons have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences…. [N]or shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted.”

That we express distress at the prospect of proposed federal legislation designed to usurp the election process that was constitutionally left primarily to the legislatures of the several states, and only secondarily to Congress as Alexander Hamilton argues in Federalist Paper Nos. 59-61. These bills would dictate uniform election rules in all fifty states and eviscerate protections such as voter identification requirements, periodic updates of voter files, and restrictions on fraud-prone ballot harvesting. They also seek to steal the right and privilege of redistricting away from state legislatures and instead empower unelected commissions with this ability. Therefore, we affirm that this right must remain with elected state officials whose power is granted by the people themselves.

That we also protest the stated goal by the executive branch of the federal government to restrict the private use of at least thirty percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. As evidence, we expound section 1 of article 1 of the Constitution of Nebraska, “To secure these rights, and the protection of property, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”. In concurrence, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States declares: “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”. The acquisition, possession, and use of private property for private purposes is inextricable from the right of liberty and the obtainment of happiness. Such an appropriation of property is a gross violation of the fundamental principles of our state and nation.

That we strongly affirm the sacred and constitutional right of all persons of the liberty to decide what, if any, vaccination is necessary for their health or the health of their family. We explicitly reject the idea of vaccine passports and other federal mandates that restrain a person’s right to peaceably assemble or restrict their freedom to travel or conduct commerce.

That the Legislature requests cooperation from the Governor of Nebraska, the Nebraska Attorney General, the President of the United States, the President pro tempore of the United States Senate, the Secretary of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, and the presiding officers of each of the legislative houses in the several states in defending the Constitution of the United States, the states, and the people against federal overreach.”

-Signed by 31 Senators

Liberty is under attack: The Legislature has a duty to act. Passage of LR107 would be a beginning.

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729.

Column 9-2-2021
September 2nd, 2021

Redistricting: Carving up Nebraska

In every legislative session that begins a new decade, the Unicameral is required to perform the task of redistricting. We adjust the boundaries of the state’s government entities and congressional districts to reflect population changes, but due to the COVID disruption, the U.S. Census Bureau was unable to complete the census by the required date. Therefore, a special legislative session for redistricting purposes has been called by the Governor, beginning September 13th. We must finalize the redistricting by September 24 so that local governments; counties, cities, school districts, community colleges, etc. have time to do their redistricting. Candidates running for offices must know what district they live in prior to the 2022 election filing deadlines.

The population of Nebraska increased by 135,163. The growth was concentrated in eastern urban centers located in Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties. Those three counties now hold 56% of the total 1.96 million inhabitants of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

Factors that play into the population shift are; agriculture’s increasing productivity requiring less labor, we send many of our high school graduates to our higher education institutions in the cities where they tend to stay. In the past, Nebraska has been welcoming to immigrants who either are non-citizen legal residents, visitors or undocumented workers; they are all included in the census. Those non-voting individuals tend to settle in the urban areas and they culturally lean towards large families. Finally, Nebraska’s economic development incentive programs have historically favored job and economic growth created by large corporations located in the urban centers. Recently the legislature offered job creation incentives for eastern Nebraska projects of $300 million for a new hospital and another $50 million for a military installation.

Our Legislative District 42 decreased in population by 1,612 citizens to 34,676. The state’s overall population growth raised the mathematical mean of the 49 districts by 2,757 to 40,030. Those combined factors have put our district outside an allowable 5% variance. We are not alone. 32 out of 49 districts are below the mean and 16 are below the allowable minimum variance.

To salvage rural representation, the legislature will need to spread the increased population east to west when redistricting. Doing so could limit the loss of rural districts to one. If we do the opposite and move west to east, enlarging district areas as we move east, rural Nebraska could lose as many as three districts. The question we must answer: As a state, do we want to marginalize representation of citizens living in over 80% of the landmass of Nebraska?

I have come to the conclusion that to reverse the depopulation of rural areas, we must broaden our focus. Yes, agriculture is still number one, but economic issues other than Property taxes and rural communication needs must become priorities.

When I saw the railroad shed jobs due to their own productivity and observed the attack on the jobs at our Gerald Gentleman Power Plant by green energy proponents, I changed my priorities. In 2020 with

the help of a couple of other rural senators, I worked with the State Chamber of Commerce to include a rural manufacturing tier in the Imagine Act, the state’s new economic incentive program. Since the act’s inception, of the 8 available tiers, 10 of 32 applicants have applied for the rural tier. We successfully prioritized LB 40, the Nebraska Rural Projects Act. It has the potential to bring $50 million state tax dollars into rural Nebraska for job creation projects. $30 million of those dollars could be invested in Lincoln County for a proposed manufacturing and warehousing Rail Park being spearheaded by the Lincoln County Development Corporation. We jumped on board in support of LB156 to create Inland Port Authorities. With our present railroad and the Interstate highway infrastructure, we fit right into the concept. Our county commissioners are pursuing the idea. I have also fully supported the proposed packing plant. The jobs involved, size of the project and location all fit our resources. Also, we have addressed affordable workforce housing with our 2020 Micro-TIF priority bill.

Manufacturing and agriculture fit well together in rural Nebraska. If we want to survive politically, we must broaden who we are.

Column 8-19-2021
August 19th, 2021

Column 8-19-2021: CRT Divides Us

Presently our country has been drawn into a racial debate by radical progressive socialist aided by a like-minded national press. Two movements have gone viral. Black Lives Matter (BLM), which focuses on identifying criminals not as perpetrators of crime but instead as victims of a supposed white supremacy culture embedded in our society. BLM is an offshoot of Critical Race Theory (CRT), a divisive racist sociological theory taught over the past 40 years as historical fact in our liberal higher education institutions.

Most Americans look at the debate through their personal experiences and heritage and the vast majority are indignant towards the blanket accusation that they are racist or victims based solely on their skin color. For example, my great grandfather emigrated from Ireland in the 1860s and as a teenager he enlisted in the Union Army. He joined 2.13 million others who risked all to free their fellow human beings from bondage. An estimated 365,000 lost their lives doing so. After the war he married a war widow and moved west to Nebraska with other civil war veterans.

The population of the United States in 1860 was 31.5 million versus 330 million today. The vast majority of Americans today have no family linkage to slavery; they themselves are of mixed heritage and thus have no feelings of racial or ethnic superiority. If they have any pride at all it is in their ancestors’ endurance against the struggles of life. The carnage of the Civil War and its elimination of institutional slavery did not stop the stupidity and cruelty of racism; it will always exist in some, no matter one’s ethnic heritage. The existence of theories like CRT gives racism a home port to operate from.

CRT was born in a mid-20th century socialist caldron stirred by white American and European Marxists, who, unable to divide America by sustaining the working class struggles of the early 1900s, have since sought to divide us by race and behavioral preferences. CRT is not based on facts, but instead from a presumed genetic sub-consciousness. For example, it assumes that personal traits like loyalty, punctuality, hard work and achievement by your own merits are genetic traits found in a white dominated culture. A recent example of CRT ‘s influence is Oregon’s new high school graduation requirements, where a student no longer is required to qualify for graduation with individual effort but instead by the mere fact that they are part of a collective senior class. You may have seen the theory being used in your own children’s schools where more and more activities are conducted in groups.

Since being in the legislature, I have championed legislation to protect the learning environment and safety in our public schools by empowering teachers to run an orderly classroom. I have always been dumbfounded by the resistance of a small group of young progressive senators who themselves are the offspring of parents whose economic place in society is based on hard work, leading them to success in the fields of higher education, politics and free enterprise. They base their resistance to improving classroom order on a non related racist argument, which can only be explained by an acceptance of CRT’s doctrine .

I myself, as a third generation American, was born into a family whose livelihood is best described as sustainable farming. When I went off to the University of Nebraska I lived behind a veterinary clinic, where I cleaned cages and groomed dogs for my rent. I worked my way through four years of college with jobs as a welder and handling hot steel at a foundry.

With my not uncommon, personal history in mind you can understand why I was caught off guard when in debate on the classroom discipline bill a senator accused me of white privilege.

I now have an explanation for the unexplainable resistance we received from the radical left to improving classroom discipline. They firmly believe since I am of European descent, I can’t help being racist since my subconscious is genetically geared to racism. To atone for my genetic flaw, they believe I must develop a consciousness of an apologetic, self-deprecating, group thinking monotone piece of humanity.

Critical Race Theory is in complete opposition to what made America the world’s beacon of light–“individuals united in defending our individual liberty.” We must resist its false premises, for beneath it lies socialism and totalitarianism. I am disappointed that our University of Nebraska regent does not agree.

Column 8-5-2021
August 5th, 2021

Column 8-5-21: Medical Cannabis: Lead or Accept the Consequences

I was confronted by a fellow senator this session about a change of mind I’d made on an issue. I explained that after examining the facts and using deductive reasoning, I was led to the conclusion that they no longer supported my previous position. Deductive reasoning is a scientific method for drawing a conclusion based on facts. In recent history we have seen a push by academia to tout critical thinking on college campuses as a replacement for the sound process of deductive reasoning. Being based more on assumptions than facts, it is a far less scientific method of forming a hypothesis and is much more likely to create false conclusions. For example, let’s take a look at the origins of Critical Race Theory. The person using critical thinking looks at the evidence: Slaves in America were of black African descent. Owners of slaves in America were of white European descent. Therefore all white people of European descent are racist. Meanwhile the person using deductive reasoning comes to a different conclusion when forming their hypothesis; slaves in America were of African descent. Most slave owners were of European descent. Therefore white European slave owners were racist.

I prefer the smaller, defined, accurate, scientific approach of deductive reasoning to the broader, general, sociological and assumptive approach of critical thinking.

After examining the evidence, I used deductive reasoning when changing my opposition to medical marijuana. I could no longer ignore personal testimony from families where a member used marijuana successfully, for end of life pain management, to control epileptic seizures, encourage appetite when undergoing chemo-therapy, veterans addressing pain from service injuries, etc.

* 47 states have legalized cannabis in some form. 36 of those allow the use of all forms of medical cannabis, half of those also allow recreational use, and 11 states allow its medical use but restrict the drug’s THC content and delivery methods. Only Nebraska, Idaho and Kansas criminalize all cannabis sales containing THC.

* Pharmaceutical opiates are presently the drug of choice for pain relief; as a result we are now facing an opiate addiction epidemic. Last year Nebraska had an all-time high of 209 overdose deaths. I don’t need to mention the untold deaths from abuse of alcohol and over the counter pain killers. Cannabis, which has no statically documented overdose cases, is proving to be a reasonable alternative to the overuse of big-pharma’s deadly opiates.

* There are two marijuana petitions circulating in Nebraska, one would allow all forms of cannabis for medical reasons, including smoking; the other would legalize it for all purposes, including recreational. Both petitions would create a constitutional right for individuals to use cannabis. I will not support either.

* Polling shows medical marijuana is supported by a large majority of Nebraskans. There is just too much anecdotal testimony from family and neighbors about its medical benefits for most Nebraskans to continue to oppose it.

I voted in favor of medical marijuana for the first time on LB 474, it fell two votes short of the 33 needed for cloture. I believe a petition that will alter our constitution will pass, even easier than Medicaid and gambling expansion did. If the full legalization petition becomes law, we will become Colorado; if the medical use only petition passes we will not be able to limit the drug’s THC levels or delivery method to only pill, liquid, or vapor forms. In either case we will have the stench of the cannabis smoke all around us.

There is yet time to pass legislation forestalling the passage of a petition. Giving citizens seeking alternative medical treatment access to cannabis, along with guidance on its use, may stop them from supporting a petition. I am well aware of the damage long term use of recreational marijuana can do to a person and our society. A restrictive legislative solution, as LB 474 was, is the only alternative I can see to limit our children’s exposure to this brain altering drug. But we face a quandary: do we stomp our feet and say NO way, and thus accept the consequences? Or do we lead?

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42
Room 1302
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2729
Email: mgroene@leg.ne.gov
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