NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

The official site of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Steve Erdman

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47

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 serdman@leg.ne.gov

Welcome
January 5th, 2022

Thank you for visiting my website. It is an honor to represent the people of the 47th 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. Steve Erdman

Straight Talk From Steve…
September 30th, 2022

By now many Nebraskans all across the State have received a pink postcard in the mail informing them about an increase in their property taxes and a public hearing about the tax increase. These pink postcards are the product of LB 644, the Property Tax Request Act, better known as the Truth in Taxation Act. The bill was intended to give greater transparency in government and to provide taxpayers with a heads-up whenever government entities want to raise taxes. While this bill was certainly well intentioned, next year the Legislature will need to fix several problems with the bill. So, today I would like to address those concerns.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Truth in Taxation Act is that it informs taxpayers too late about their tax increase. LB 644 requires that public hearings take place between September 17 and September 29 of each calendar year. This is too late. The notice should be received while the budget workshops are still in progress, in August or early September. Many Nebraskans who attended the public hearings found out at these hearings that the government entity responsible for their tax increase had already passed its final budget for the year. As a result, there was nothing they or anyone else could do to stop the tax increase. Had the taxpayers received the pink postcards and a public hearing be held before the passing of the final budget, they may have had a say in the matter.

Another problem with the Truth in Taxation Act relates to the number of postcards that were mailed out. LB 644 requires that a postcard be mailed out for every parcel of land in the county. In some cases, a single landowner received more than 100 pink postcards in the mail. The costs associated with mailing so many postcards means that government entities will likely have to raise property taxes in order to cover the postage and this defeats the purpose of the postcards. Therefore, the Legislature needs to change this so that a landowner receives only one notice for all of the parcels of land he or she owns in a particular county.

Another problem with the Truth in Taxation Act is that government entities do not have to inform taxpayers about a tax increase unless the tax increase amounts to more than the allowable growth percentage. Calculating the allowable growth percentage is much too confusing and cumbersome for the average citizen to figure out. The allowable growth percentage is calculated by adding two percent to the political subdivision’s real growth percentage. So, in the City of Lincoln the school board increased everyone’s property taxes but did so slightly below their allowable growth percentage so as not to have to send a representative to the public hearing. Wouldn’t you simply like to know anytime a government entity increases your tax burden?

One final problem with the Truth in Taxation Act relates to a loophole in the law. There is nothing in LB 644 which punishes a county, a school district, or a community college for failing to comply with the law. Theoretically, a political subdivision could snub the law and forget about mailing out the pink postcards or a notice without facing any statutory repercussions for doing so. So, it remains to be seen what would happen to a political subdivision if they never bothered to mail out the pink postcards or a notice.

Transparency in taxation is a good thing. Those working for political subdivisions need to look the taxpayers in the eye before ever raising their tax burden, but taxpayers also need to have a say in the matter. Raising property taxes against the will of the people is simply immoral and wrong, and denying them a voice before passing of a final budget is even worse! I appreciate everyone who attended these hearings and who shared their concerns. The Legislature will need to fix these problems next year, or better yet, repeal property taxes altogether and adopt the EPIC Consumption Tax.

Straight Talk From Steve…
September 22nd, 2022

All of the signs are indicating that the U.S. economy is entering into a long-term recession. Last Wednesday the Federal Reserve raised the key interest rate by three quarters of a point and raised the short-term interest rate from 3 percent to 3.25 percent, the highest level since 2008. Add to this the Biden Administration’s plan for student loan forgiveness plus $13.7 billion in assistance to Ukraine, $22.4 billion to fight COVID-19, $4.5 billion for a Monkeypox vaccine, and $6.5 billion for disaster relief, and you have a recipe for a long-term recession.

All of this bad news means that it has now become much more difficult for Americans to get mortgages, car loans, and small business loans. In the days ahead it will be more difficult to make ends meet. So, how will all of this effect Nebraskans?

While a long-term economic recession is never good for our State, Nebraskans are slightly better positioned to weather the economic storm than those in other states, and today I would like to tell you why that is the case.

Nebraska still has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.4 percent. Nebraska’s low unemployment rate will help Nebraskans weather the economic storm. During times of recession employers often have to lay off some of their employees. When employees get laid off, they spend less money, which only worsens the economy. Because of our low unemployment rate, people from other states may look at moving to Nebraska in order to find work.

Nebraska still has some of the most affordable housing in the country. In August the national median home price jumped 7.7 percent to $389,500 per home. In Nebraska the median home price jumped 8.4 percent in August but remains well below the national average at $273,600 per home. Because we have the seventh lowest median home price in the nation, Nebraska remains one of the most affordable places to live in the United States.

Nebraska still has mortgage rates that are below the national average. Last week the average rate on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage jumped from 5.21 percent to 5.44 percent. At this time last year the average rate was only 2.15 percent! However, according to Nerdwallet, Nebraskans with good credit can get a 15-year fixed rate mortgage for 5.43 percent, which is just below the national average.

While all of this may sound like really good news, the fact of the matter is that Nebraska continues to shoot itself in the foot. Let me explain. Nebraskans continue to suffer under an unbearable tax burden. By now most residents have received a pink post card in the mail indicating that their property taxes will go up…again. None of the good news I have shared above matters when a property owner cannot pay his or her property tax bill and the State steps in to seize the property. Nebraskans desperately need property tax relief, but that is not all that has gone wrong.

LB 644 is the bill that generated those pink postcards. The purpose behind LB 644 was to create better transparency in government. Now government entities have to notify you before they raise your property taxes. However, that bill was also poorly written such that counties now have to send a separate pink postcard for every parcel of land in the county. I know one property owner who received 105 pink postcards in the mail! Instead of mailing multiple postcards to one person, I believe this could be done on one postcard. Nevertheless, because the law now requires a separate postcard to be mailed for each parcel of land, county budgets will necessarily go up in order to cover the cost and so will your property taxes!

Straight Talk From Steve…
September 16th, 2022

 

For the past six years I have been the chair of a special committee of the Nebraska State Legislature known as the Building Maintenance Committee. The Building Maintenance Committee is an oversight committee for the 309 Task Force for Building Renewal. The 309 Task Force for Building Renewal is a subdivision of the State Building Division. They use state monies, especially revenues generated from the cigarette tax, to take on special projects that other state agencies need help with.

By law the Building Maintenance Committee is required to meet at least four times throughout the year. This year we held all four of our meetings on-site where the work was being done, and those meetings spanned the entire state of Nebraska. So, today I would like to tell you about some of the improvements that we have made to our state facilities.

On May 13 we held our first meeting at the Platte River State Park near Louisville, NE. Among Nebraska’s State Parks the Platte River State Park is Nebraska’s most hidden gem. The Park offers all kinds of camping opportunities ranging from wigwams to glamping. The Park also offers archery, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, Kayaking and canoeing, a water fall, a water spray park, and a lot more. The Park also has its own restaurant, known as the Walter Scott Jr. Lodge, which had not been in compliance with the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). So, we added an ADA compliant restroom and built a ramp for wheelchair access up to the restaurant. We also repaired the roof and some windows at the Mallet Lodge, which is a meeting facility for large groups.

Our second meeting of the year was held on July 21 at the Nebraska Department of Corrections Reception and Treatment Center in Lincoln, NE. Because the Department of Corrections stands in need of more bed space, major renovations are taking place at this facility to accommodate more inmates. Our work there mostly involved window replacements in a connecting hallway that will soon link to a new building. Because the main prison in Lincoln is quickly becoming obsolete, the renovations taking place at the Reception and Treatment Center, which is located on the outskirts of Lincoln, will help to ensure that our inmates will be properly cared for many years into future years.

Our third meeting took place on September 7 at the Military Readiness Center in Sidney, Nebraska. The Military Readiness Center in Sidney is important because it supplies the United States Army with combat ready troops from Nebraska’s Army National Guard. The main facility needs a lot of repairs. The building needs a new boiler, window replacements and a new roof. So, we began the process of making each of these repairs.

Our fourth and final meeting of the year took place on September 14 at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The Fine Arts Building and the Administration Building both have entryways with energy inefficient single-paned glass windows and glass doors that are too heavy for their pivots. Some of the concrete was crumbling from the weight of the doors. So, we will replace the single-paned glass windows with double-paned glass windows and we will replace the pivot doors with hinged doors in order to take the weight off of the pivots.

Finally, after serving as the chair of the Building Maintenance Committee for the past six years, the Senators on the committee and I have discussed the necessity for having such a committee. Because the 309 Task Force for Building Renewal is part of the State Building Division, having a Legislative oversight committee oftentimes seems redundant. There is no reason why the State Building Division should not be given direct oversight over the 309 Task Force for Building Renewal. The Legislature’s Building Maintenance Committee should be restructured to avoid having on-site meetings. Instead of having four on-site meetings every year, Legislative oversight may be achieved simply by reviewing the plans of the 309 Task Force for Building Renewal on an annual basis during the winter months before construction projects begin in the springtime.

Straight Talk From Steve…
September 8th, 2022

A new political action group has been formed in our state known as Nebraska First. As you may have
guessed, the name closely resembles former president Donald Trump’s political slogan, Make America
Great Again (MAGA), except that this one is specific to the State of Nebraska. The founder of Nebraska
First is former gubernatorial candidate, Charles W. Herbster.

Nebraska First has asked all State Senators as well as candidates for the State Legislature to sign a
pledge for greater transparency in the State Legislature. The pledge specifically calls upon State
Senators to eliminate voting by secret ballot for leadership positions, especially committee chairs.
Nebraska First cited Article III, Section 11 of the Nebraska State Constitution as their grounds for
opposing secret ballots. Today I am happy to report that I eagerly and readily signed that pledge and
today I would like to tell you why I signed that pledge.

Before I disclose my reasons for signing the pledge, let me first tell you about another political action
group that I heard from on the very same issue. Another political action group known as Nonpartisan
Nebraska also contacted me. They asked me not to sign the pledge and to continue supporting the
practice of using secret ballots for committee chairs. According to Nonpartisan Nebraska, Article III,
Section 11 of the State Constitution does not forbid secret ballot voting, especially where it says, “The
Legislature shall keep a journal of its proceedings and publish them, except parts which may require
secrecy, and the yeas and nays of the members on any question shall at the desire of any one of them
be entered on the journal.” I agree with them that this particular statement does not forbid the use of
secret ballots, but that is not the end of the story.

Nonpartisan Nebraska conveniently left out of their letter the most important sentence in Article III,
Section 11 of the Nebraska State Constitution. That most important sentence says, “All votes shall be
viva voce.” Viva voce is a Latin expression which means “by voice”. In other words, all votes must be
spoken or at least be made public in some way. The only reason for speaking a vote is for the vote to be
made public, and that is why I signed the pledge.

The practice of voting for committee chairs by way of secret ballot is unconstitutional in my humble
opinion, and we have been doing it for years. While the practice of voting by way of secret ballot may
date back to the days when George Norris first created the Unicameral Legislature, ninety or even a
hundred years of a bad practice does not justify it. By eliminating secret ballot voting, I believe the
Unicameral Legislature will come into better alignment with the Nebraska State Constitution.

Another reason I have for signing that pledge relates to the right of the people to know how their
elected officials vote on important matters. Voters have a right to know how their State Senators vote
on leadership positions in the State Legislature. So long as secret ballots remain in use, the public will
never know how their State Senators vote on these important leadership positions. We need more
transparency in the Unicameral Legislature, not less.

A third reason why I am signing this pledge is to help eliminate back room dealing. Whenever voting is
done in secret, votes get traded in back rooms and in the dark hallways of the Capitol Building. Some
State Senators are willing to trade their vote on a committee chair just to get a bill advanced out of
committee, and that’s not right. The time has come for the Legislature to end the corrupt practice of
back room vote trading.

So, the pledge for transparency in the State Legislature that I signed on September 6, 2022 reads as
follows: “I, Steve Erdman, pledge to the voters of District 47 that as a member of the Nebraska
Legislature, I will make all my votes for leadership positions public, and I will vote to make all leadership
votes a matter of public record by rule.”

Straight Talk From Steve…
September 2nd, 2022

Two weeks ago, I addressed the reset at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to their failure to adequately guide the American public through the COVID-19 outbreak, and last week I addressed how the military has failed to adjust their policies to the facts about the COVID-19 vaccinations and natural immunity. So, today I would like to focus my attention on the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which approved a new booster shot last week. Because of this latest development, I believe it is time to inform the public about the latest science regarding that booster shot as well as other treatments for the coronavirus.

As I said, last week the FDA approved a new booster shot for the new strains of the coronavirus. The new booster is a “bivalent” booster shot meaning that it has been specially formulated to target the original coronavirus as well as the Omicron variant and the latest subvariant of the coronavirus known as BA.5. The booster shots are being manufactured by both Pfizer and Moderna and contain the same problematic mRNA technology used in the original vaccines and boosters that caused 44 percent of pregnant women to lose their babies.

These new bivalent booster shots should be considered experimental. Although Pfizer and Moderna have administered the boosters to some human beings, the FDA is mostly relying upon experimental doses given to mice. When the new boosters were introduced last week Dr. Robert M. Califf, the FDA Commissioner, admitted publicly that regulators do not know when they will see data on how well the new boosters are working. Until we have this data, which could take years, these new bivalent boosters should be considered experimental.

The FDA is chasing its own tail, but you don’t have to take this from me. Last week Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic compared the FDA’s booster shot strategy to a dog chasing its own tail because the virus tends to mutate faster than the pharmaceutical companies can keep up with new boosters. Because of the virus’s tendency to rapidly mutate, Dr. Poland told the New York Times that, besides the elderly and those with immune deficiencies, the new bivalent booster shots likely won’t make a substantial impact with the rest of the population.

So, while the FDA continues to chase its own tail by creating more and more boosters, which only last for a season, other countries around the world are discovering the benefits of using therapeutic drugs to treat the symptoms of the disease. For example, the latest study on the use of ivermectin to treat the symptoms of the coronavirus was published on August 31 by a team of scientists in Brazil. That study can be found online at www.cureus.com.

What the Brazilian study found was absolutely amazing! The study focused on 223,128 subjects from the City of Itajai. 159,560 adults were not infected by the coronavirus until July 7, 2020, and among them 28.7 percent never used ivermectin, while the other 71.3 percent did. The study found that among the regular users of ivermectin, there was a 100 percent reduction in the hospitalization rate! Moreover, the study also found that the mortality rate was 92 percent lower among regular users of ivermectin than among non-users of the drug!

So, there you have it. The FDA continues to discourage the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 on its website. Meanwhile, there are about 40,000 people hospitalized in the United States for the coronavirus, and we continue to lose about 500 Americans per day to the disease. Common sense would dictate that the FDA reconsider its strategy and take a hard look at therapeutic drugs, such as ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and budesonide inhalers.

We now have an abundance of sound scientific evidence that these therapeutic drugs keep large percentages of infected people out of the hospital and prevent them from dying from the disease. For the FDA to continue to deny the American people access to these therapeutic drugs is criminal, and they should be held accountable for every death that occurs without access to these drugs. Whether or not to administer these therapeutic drugs is a decision which should be made between a patient and his or her physician without any more interference from the FDA.

Straight Talk From Steve…
August 25th, 2022

Last week I wrote on how the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been proven wrong on so many different issues related to COVID-19 that they are now trying to reset the agency. Another major government institution which has turned a blind eye to the facts related to COVID-19 is the United States military. The U.S. military continues to require enlisted men and women to get vaccinated even though the vaccines have been shown to be ineffective and can even harm some individuals.

In order to show the ineffectiveness of the vaccines, consider what has been happening around the world this year. Australia has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world at 87 percent of the population, but it is currently experiencing a deathrate four times higher than last year. Similar spikes in deathrates are occurring all around the world. This year Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and South Korea are all experiencing deathrates near or higher than what they were during the days of the pandemic despite the fact these countries all represent some of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world.

Last year the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, mandated that all service members, including members of the National Guard, get vaccinated against COVID-19. Referencing the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Pentagon Press Secretary, John F. Kirby, stated on December 21, 2021 in an article posted on U.S. Department of Defense’s website about the mandate that “It is a lawful order” and “Those who persist in failing to obey a lawful order face discharge.” Since this time the military has been harassing our military personnel and bullying them into submitting to a COVID-19 vaccination.

Unfortunately, the Pentagon Press Secretary did not tell the whole story on the Defense Department’s website. Back in 1998 Congress passed a law prohibiting the use of experimental drugs on military personnel without their consent or without a waiver by the president to override the consent requirement. After members of the military filed a class action lawsuit against the anthrax vaccination, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court in Washington ordered an injunction against the anthrax vaccination, saying, “The United States cannot demand that members of the armed forces also serve as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.” So, just like the anthrax vaccine, it is wrong for the military to experiment with COVID-19 vaccinations on our men and women in uniform until we know what the long-term effects of these drugs really are.

Instead of heeding the words of Judge Sullivan, the Department of Defense has decided to dig in their heels and fight this one out to the bitter end, but their strategy may not be working. In May of this year Army Lt. Mark Bashaw faced a court martial for refusing to get vaccinated. Although he was convicted, the jury of his peers gave him no penalties whatsoever. He walked out of courtroom as a free man. Bashaw demonstrated to the thousands of military personnel who do not want to get vaccinated how to beat the system. Bashaw is not only an exemplary Army officer who prevailed over the system, but he now stands to get promoted to the rank of Captain.

The National Guard is supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the State of Nebraska. For instance, Article XIV of the Nebraska State Constitution states in full that “The Legislature may provide for the personnel, organization, and discipline of the militia of the state.” Notice that it says nothing about the federal government. However, every member of the National Guard is also required to hold dual membership in the U.S. Army or the U.S. Air Force. For this reason, federal regulations always apply to members of the National Guard.

So, on July 26, 2022 41 members of Congress sent a signed letter to the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, asking him to reconsider the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 mandate for those serving in the National Guard. They especially asked him to reconsider the role that natural immunity plays in protecting our servicemembers. Unfortunately, none of our three U.S. Congressmen nor either of our two U.S. Senators from Nebraska ever bothered to sign that letter.

Straight Talk From Steve…
August 19th, 2022

Last Wednesday the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced plans to overhaul the organization due to major public mistakes it made throughout the days of the COVID-19 pandemic. This upheaval at the CDC comes as no surprise to me, because many of the truths I have shared with my readers about COVID-19 and the vaccinations over the course of the past three years were falsely rejected by the CDC even though the facts said otherwise.

The CDC has been proven wrong on so many different issues that listing them all will make a person’s head spin. For example, despite the outcry from many reputable epidemiologists who tried to educate the public, the CDC ignored the value of natural immunity and pushed for continued lockdowns, mask-wearing, and social distancing, even though the facts showed that these preventative measures did not work to stop the spreading of the virus. The CDC also ignored therapeutic treatments which were already known to work on the coronavirus such as hydroxychloroquine, budesonide inhalers, and Ivermectin.

In order to help you see the magnitude of the CDC’s mistakes, consider a new report published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled, “Are Lockdowns Effective in Managing Pandemics?” That report concluded with these words, “We estimate that lockdowns may claim 20 times more life years than they save.” In other words, lockdowns do a lot more harm than good. Academics aside, common sense should have convinced the leadership at the CDC that lockdowns were just a bad idea.

The real underlying problem with the CDC has been the complete politization of the organization. The CDC has been controlled at the highest levels by those with extremist Left-wing worldviews. Rochelle Walensky, who is the director of the CDC, told Bloomberg News that the reset will move the CDC away from academic studies and towards prioritizing emerging emergencies. What Walensky never admitted to the public was that the organization has been politicized, and until that admission is made publicly, I have little hope that any meaningful changes will ever be made at the CDC.

The CDC must correctly identify the problem. Jason Schwartz is a health policy researcher at the Yale School of Public Health. In response to the announcement of a reset at the CDC, he told the New York Post that “The federal failings go beyond the CDC, because the White House and other agencies were heavily involved.” In other words, the CDC has been politicized. If the first step of recovery is admitting that you have a problem, then the second step is correctly identifying what that problem is, and there is no indication yet that Rochelle Walensky is ready to admit that the CDC has been thoroughly politicized.

This is an important step for the CDC to take because a lot of very important information about COVID-19 and the vaccinations have been deliberately covered up and shielded from the public view. For example, in January a federal judge in Texas ordered the release of some 300,000 pages of documents from a Pfizer trial study which showed that 44 percent of pregnant women who received the Pfizer vaccination lost their babies. That’s important information for the public to know! For the CDC to have pushed the Pfizer vaccination on pregnant women when this information was available to them was both reckless and irresponsible and they should be held accountable for the lives that were lost.

The CDC has done great and irreparable harm to the American public. Thousands of good employees needlessly lost their jobs after receiving “Vax or Axe” letters from their employers. Thousands of military personnel have been vaccinated against their will or kicked out of the military for refusing to get vaccinated. Thousands of small businesses went belly-up due to the lockdowns that were imposed on society. Millions of churchgoers were told to stay home on Sunday mornings and priests were denied permission to administer last rights to their dying parishioners in our hospitals and nursing homes. Today we deny entry into the U.S. to the best tennis player in the world because he refuses to get vaccinated, but we allow millions of potentially infected individuals to walk freely across our nation’s southern border. Most of all, untold numbers of Americans have needlessly died because they were denied access to the right kind of medicine which could have potentially saved their lives.

Straight Talk From Steve…
August 11th, 2022

These are now the dog days of summer and that means that it is also time to go to the fair. For the past three weeks fairs have been going on all throughout the nine counties which comprise legislative district 47.

When our boys were growing up, the county fair was always a highlight of the summer. The county fair presents young people with great opportunities to put their various talents and abilities on display. Those in 4H and FFA can enter the animals that they have fed and groomed all year long as exhibits and students may enter other kinds of projects, such as class posters and school enrichment essays. All of these activities and more help us as an American society to build the kind of character in our children that will prepare them for life in the real world.

Because a lot of hard work and organization goes into the planning of a county fair, I would like to recognize and thank all of those involved in the preparation and planning of our county fairs. The 4H leaders and FFA leaders play an integral role in helping our young people prepare for the fair. The UNL extension folks are also essential. They organize the advertising and advise volunteers on how to get ready for the fair. And let’s not forget the fair board members. They will immediately start planning for next year’s fair as soon as this year’s fair is over.

The county fair is an event which involves the entire community. Perhaps nobody works harder than the parents who pass on their knowledge and training down to the next generation. Without the businesses who sponsor events and those individuals who pay premium prices for animals at the livestock auctions, the fair would never be such a huge success. So, for everyone who has made a contribution to the success of the county fairs this year, please know that your efforts are appreciated.

The month of August is also when school starts up again. Last year I introduced a bill which would prohibit the school year from starting before Labor Day and dismissing before Memorial Day. As you can see, the current school calendar, which begins the second week in August, makes for a very short summer.

This year school will be starting when the temperatures are at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Such high temperatures create a hardship for teachers and make classroom learning more difficult for students. A short time ago schools waited until after Labor Day to begin classroom instruction. I contend that students learned better under the old school calendar than under the new one because temperatures were more conducive for learning in September as opposed to August.

I hear from many parents and teachers this time of year who prefer the old school calendar. There seems to be a consensus that students, parents and teachers all prefer my idea. Those who prefer the new school calendar are school superintendents and those who run the State Board of Education. My bill to start the school year after Labor Day and conclude before Memorial Day would not be necessary if school administrators and those sitting on the State Board of Education would consider the well-being of the students, parents, and teachers they supposedly serve.

Cookie Jar Auction - Morrill County Fair 2022 | Live and Online Auctions on  HiBid.com

Cookie Jar Auction at the Morrill County Fair

Straight Talk From Steve…
August 8th, 2022

Coach Joe Kennedy | First Liberty

 

The role of religion in our public schools has taken center stage once again. In June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Joseph Kennedy, a football coach in Bremerton, Washington, had a constitutional right to pray with his players on the 50-yard line after high school football games. Coach Kennedy had been fired from his coaching job for doing this very thing under the rationale that he was imposing his religious beliefs on the players, but our nation’s highest court disagreed.

The U.S. Supreme Court made the right decision, so today I would like to tell you why they made the right decision. The job of a U.S. Supreme Court justice is to interpret the U.S. Constitution; it is not to make new laws or to make decisions based upon what they think might be the best policy for American society. Interpretation is governed by the original intentions of the author(s), so the high court did the right thing by honoring the original intentions of our Founding Fathers in regards to the First Amendment.

Back in 1995 the Clinton Administration had published a document entitled, “The Memorandum on Religious Expression in Public Schools.” That document set the standard for the next 27 years and it said that “Teachers and school administrators should ensure that no student is in any way coerced to participate in religious activity.” But, Coach Kennedy never made participation in prayer a compulsory part of his football program.

The Memorandum on Religious Expression in Public Schools was not written by any Supreme Court justices; instead, it reflects the opinion of William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States. While many Americans may agree with the former president’s stance on the issue, his view does not reflect the original intention of the Founding Fathers when the First Amendment was written, debated, and passed in Congress.

Our Founding Fathers expected religion to be taught in our nation’s schools. For example, Fischer Ames of Massachusetts, a man who beat out Samuel Adams to serve in the First United States Congress, provided the original wording for the First Amendment when it was debated in Congress on August 20, 1789. Exactly one month later, on September 20, 1789 Fisher Ames published an article on the subject of educating children in our public schools in Palladium magazine. In that article he said, “We are spending less time in the classroom on the Bible, which should be the principal text in our schools.” So, Fischer Ames believed that school children should be taught the Bible. He never imagined that the First Amendment would someday be used to prevent teachers from teaching the Bible or praying with students in our public schools.

The First Amendment was written for the purpose of keeping the federal government from establishing a state religion, to prohibit government officials from interfering in the affairs of churches, and to protect each individual’s right to worship God freely, but it was never intended to silence Christians in the public square, including public schools. To the contrary, when teachers, administrators and coaches are silenced in the public schools, such a policy effectually becomes an endorsement of no-religion, atheism, or secular humanism, all of which have been deemed religions by the high court.

The Nebraska State Constitution promotes the teaching of religion in the public schools. Article 1, Section 4 of the Nebraska State Constitution is devoted to the subject of religious freedom. That section ends with these words, “Religion, morality and knowledge…being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass suitable laws…and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.” In other words, without faith, morality and knowledge there is no basis for law.

This idea came from our Founding Fathers. For example, John Adams, who became our nation’s first vice president as well as our nation’s second president, said that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” So, an important part of an American education includes the teaching that our nation was specifically designed for a moral and religious people.

Straight Talk From Steve…
July 28th, 2022

An acronym that will someday soon be in your vocabulary is ESG. ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. While each of these words taken individually are benign, taken together they spell danger for the average American citizen down the road, so today I would like to tell you why that is the case.

ESG tries to control the investment world. Whether you realize it or not, much of what becomes available to you as a consumer is the result of high-powered investment firms who invest in the kinds of companies that make the products and services you buy with your hard-earned money. However, ESG acts as an investment consultant, advising these investment firms about what kinds of companies they should invest in.

ESG is also a new worldview. ESG advises investment firms in regards to specific kinds of investment risks, and these risks are associated with the three letters of the acronym, namely the environment, social agendas, and governance. Make no mistake about it, though, there simply are no conservative values associated with ESG. Instead, ESG imposes a far Left-wing agenda upon investment firms.

So, what’s driving ESG? According to MSCI Inc., one of the major players in ESG, the world of money is changing as millennials begin to invest their own monies. According to a 2018 survey conducted by Bank of America and Merrill Lynch some $20 trillion dollars of assets are expected to be invested in ESG approved companies over the course of the next two decades, and much of this is coming from millennials who want to discriminate against companies who don’t share their progressive values.

ESG discriminates against companies with traditional values. ESG evaluates companies based upon their level of threat to the environment, their resistance to social change, their degree of ethnic integration, and their compliance with governmental regulations. As MSCI Inc. says, “Companies face rising complexities and greater scrutiny if they are not adequately managing their ESG or climate risk.”

So, why should I care? Right now ESG is neither a household term nor does it effect the average consumer, but the day is fast approaching when it will. Right now ESG is in the business of rating companies based upon their compliance to ESG standards for investment firms; however, you should expect this trend to apply to consumers as well down the road. Imagine applying for a mortgage loan but being denied because your ESG rating does not comply with the industry’s social standard.

Because ESG is being driven by a radicalized progressive worldview, many of the products and services that you enjoy today may soon be taken off the shelves or made unavailable to the public. Imagine McDonald’s Big Macs being replaced by veggie burgers, Chevy trucks being replaced by electric El Camino cars, and air conditioning units being replaced by electric fans. These are exactly the kinds of products that ESG prefers to invest in.

If there is any good news about ESG investing it is the fact that ESG companies have been underperforming in the stock market and trading at bloated values. For example, On October 29, 2021 MSCI Inc. was trading at $664.88 per share, but by June 17, 2022 the stock had fallen to $386.71 per share. To the contrary, investment portfolios which stress the traditional market-driven approach to investing have been performing much better in the stock market. So, ESG investing does not make good sense for investing if the goal is to make money in the stock market. ESG principles simply do not work well in a capitalistic system.

Sen. Steve Erdman

District 47
Room 1124
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2616
Email: serdman@leg.ne.gov
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