NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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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

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.

Straight Talk From Steve…
July 22nd, 2022

Earlier this month I wrote an article on how the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services has been unable to account for $10.5 billion in State expenditures. $10.5 billion is more than the State’s annual budget for two whole years. One of the major players in this accounting fiasco has been the Nebraska Department of Labor. So, today I would like to show you some examples of how the Nebraska Department of Labor accounts for the way it spends your taxpayer dollars.

On April 28, 2022 Charlie Janssen, the State Auditor, wrote a letter to John Albin, Commissioner for the Nebraska Department of Labor, which highlighted several of the Department’s accounting errors. As you will see, many of the Department’s accounting errors amount to a basic lack of common sense and should have been easy for the Department of Labor to fix. In each of the cases I will highlight below, the Department of Labor was unaware of the problem until it was pointed out to them by the State Auditor.

The Nebraska Department of Labor oversees unemployment insurance benefits for all eligible unemployed workers in our State. According to Nebraska State Statutes inmates are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits; however, the State Auditor identified 35 inmates who had received unemployment benefits while incarcerated during FY 2020 and FY 2021. Out of the ten highest paid inmates who received benefits four were never investigated or adjudicated. Of the remaining six, it was found that their cases had been incorrectly adjudicated. Altogether, these ten inmates cost the State of Nebraska a total of $64,966.

Another group of individuals who were ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits were deceased claimants. The State Auditor stated in his letter to the Commissioner that, “The Department lacked adequate procedures to identify deceased individuals prior to benefits being paid.” The State Auditor identified 13 deceased claimants for FY 2020 and FY 2021 totaling $71,320.

Next, the State Auditor looked at individuals who received unemployment insurance benefits who were employed by the State of Nebraska. After looking at 77 cases it was found that 23 claimants improperly received the benefits totaling $87,973. This prompted the State Auditor to write in his letter to the Commissioner, “The Department’s process for identifying State employees who were also receiving benefit payments appeared to be not only time consuming but also ineffective.”

The State Auditor also looked into six claimants who were under the age of sixteen. Both State and Federal laws prohibit those under the age of sixteen from receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The Department paid these underage claimants a total of $70,704. In one case, the State Auditor pointed out how the claimant claimed to be a concrete mixer truck driver, but to be a truck driver of this kind requires a commercial driver’s license, and in the State of Nebraska one has to be at least 18 years old to get a commercial driver’s license.

All in all, the State Auditor found a total of $1.67 billion in accounting errors by the Nebraska Department of Labor for FY 2021. In his letter to the Commissioner, Charlie Janssen indicated that similar findings had been noted in a previous audit of the Department. So, it appears that these kinds of problems are being allowed to persist without any kind of corrective action being taken by the Commissioner of Labor, the Department of Administrative Services, or by the Governor. The State Auditor’s letter to John Albin is available to the public and can be found on the State Auditor’s website.

Straight Talk From Steve…
July 15th, 2022

Pic Of Republican Elephant - ClipArt Best

 

On July 9th delegates from across the state gathered in Kearney, Nebraska for a convention of the State Republican Party. While I did not attend this year’s convention, I was not saddened by the results. Conservative delegates from Lancaster County implemented a well-designed coup to oust party chairman, Dan Welch, and install their own county party leader, Eric Underwood, as the new chairman.

While Welch accepted his removal with poise and dignity, the hostile take-over was a long time coming. Delegates from Nebraska’s third congressional district, which comprises most of rural Nebraska, have long been treated like second class citizens in the State Republican Party. So, when the opportunity arose for them to join forces with a new conservative grassroots movement arising out of Lancaster County, most of the delegates from Nebraska’s third congressional district did not have to think twice about joining forces with them to oust the party leadership.

So, what brought on this coup? Despite what you may have heard, it was not brought on by disgruntled Trump supporters, Herbster supporters, or Lindstrom supporters; instead, it was brought on by party officials who refused to abide by the thing…you know…the thing…the State Party Constitution.

While I cannot speak for all of the Republican delegates across the state, the overwhelming feeling of delegates from Congressional District 3 is one of neglect. Whenever folks from rural Nebraska would try to speak with party officials, the conversation would seem to fall on deaf ears and go nowhere fast. The concerns of Congressional District 3 were never given priority status by state party leaders, and there is no better way to disenfranchise people in politics than to blow them off and show them that you really don’t care about what matters to them, and that is exactly what party officials had done to the people living in rural Nebraska for years.

The party leadership’s lack of concern for the priorities of conservatives in rural Nebraska as well as in Lancaster County could be clearly seen by what transpired after the removal of Welch as the party chairman. A string of resignations immediately followed until all but two individuals were gone. So much for party unity! Then, someone ransacked the state party headquarters in Lincoln, taking a computer, phones, and security cameras, but leaving no evidence of a break-in. While some of the equipment has since been returned, Lincoln police continue to investigate the theft which totaled one thousand dollars.

It is very important to play by the rules. In the days leading up to the convention, Eric Underwood, the Lancaster County Republican Party Chair, indicated that he had studied Roberts Rules of Order very carefully in order to design his take-over of the State Republican Party. In the end his strategy worked. But simply playing by rules doesn’t always earn respect. So, in his acceptance speech, Underwood indicated that he would have to earn the respect of the delegates. Underwood will earn the respect of the delegates in Congressional District 3 by listening to them and including them in party decisions.

Prior to the ousting of Welch, state party leaders had engaged in several tactics which only caused delegates at the convention to further question the integrity of their party leaders. For example, in the weeks prior to the convention, the Resolutions Committee had only sent out the resolutions by email to a fraction of the delegates, and the Credentialling Committee had mailed out six denial letters to unseat six candidates at the convention. Then, they contracted with the Kearney Police Department to keep these undesirables out of the Younes Conference Center. So, when Matt Innis tried to enter the building to watch the convention from the visitor’s section, he was promptly taken down and arrested in the parking lot. Delegates on the convention floor voted to overrule the Credentialling Committee, Innis posted bail, and then he was seated on the convention floor despite the Credentialing Committee’s desire to keep him out. In the end, all six undesirables were voted back in and were seated at the convention.

I share these things with you today in order to show you how democracy works to promote healthy representation in a republican form of government. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he penned these words about the need of the people to overthrow despots, “…it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide for new Guards for their future security.” This is what the delegates of the State Republican Party did in Kearney, Nebraska one week ago, and it will happen again whenever party officials forget about the people they are supposed to serve.

As a Nebraska State Senator, I serve on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations Committee is responsible for deciding how the State spends its money…well, to a certain extent, anyway. The Appropriations Committee prepares the State Budget, but state agencies are supposed to keep track of how they spend the State’s money. The job of appropriating the State’s money is never an easy task, but in recent years it has become a nearly impossible task due to the way the executive branch of our state government has grossly mismanaged its accounting practices.

Jason Jackson is the director of the Department of Administrative Services. Since his appointment by Gov. Ricketts and his confirmation by the State Legislature in January 2019 the Department of Administrative Services has never been able to balance its books. Each year Jackson testifies before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee without any coherent explanation about why his books don’t add up. That is an unacceptable position for him to take, especially when he directs the department which oversees all other state agencies.

This accounting problem has only grown worse this year. Even the Nebraska State auditor’s office has been unable to balance the books with the information provided to them by the Department of Administrative Services. In a letter addressed to Speaker Mike Hilgers and others dated April 28, 2022 Assistant Deputy Auditor, Kris Kucera, stated that since December 1, 2021 the State Auditor’s office has “encountered significant difficulties completing the audit with the support provided by the Department of Administrative Services…” When the State Auditor ‘s office cannot balance our books, then you know we really have a problem!

Making matters even worse is the fact that Kucera’s letter went on to tell how the State Auditor’s office found an additional $10.5 billion in accounting errors. In order to give you some perspective on this, $10.5 billion represents more money than the entire State Budget for two whole years. The State Budget for FY 2022 is $4.8 billion and the State Budget for FY 2023 is $5.1 billion for a total of $9.9 billion. In other words, nobody really knows how our state agencies are spending your money. And, I will emphasize the point that it is your money. These mismanaged accounting practices are no small matter, especially when you, as a taxpayer, go to pay your taxes. Don’t the citizens of Nebraska have a fundamental right to know how their tax dollars are being spent?

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then that word accurately describes how the executive branch of our State Government accounts for the way it spends money. Ultimately, these problems rest on the shoulders of our Governor, Pete Ricketts, who has allowed these problems to fester and grow worse over time without taking any kind of corrective action. The Department of Administrative Services needs new leadership, but that cannot happen so long as the only man in the state who is able to fix the problem continues to turn a blind eye to the problem and refuses to take any kind of corrective action.

In a few months Nebraska will have a new governor. Whoever that governor turns out to be, he or she will inherit the accounting mess created by the Ricketts Administration and left behind by the Department of Administrative Services. The State Auditor’s team has already proposed more than 110 adjustments to the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. Without accurate information from the Department of Administrative Services, though, the task of accounting for state spending is like trying to untangle a boiling pot of spaghetti with nothing but your fingers. So, I doubt that this mess can be cleaned up before the next administration takes over, and that’s not playing fair or nice to the man or woman who becomes the next governor of Nebraska.

Should government agencies be allowed to hire lobbyists? This is a question that has bothered me ever since 2016 when I first went to Lincoln to serve as a State Senator. Lobbyists are supposed to represent the interests of select groups of people, not the interests of government entities. This is an important question to ask because last year 20.3 million dollars was spent on paying lobbyists to influence State Senators in the Unicameral Legislature.

The problem with allowing government entities to be represented by lobbyists is that it undermines the nature of what a government entity is supposed to be. Governments are supposed to serve the people, but when state agencies and entities are allowed to hire lobbyists, this becomes inverted. No longer do these state agencies and entities serve the people; instead, the people begin serving them, and that seems backwards to me.

When it comes to funding a state agency, State Senators need to be able to work with the person in charge, not a professional spin doctor. Transparency gets lost when government agencies hire outsiders to represent them. Lobbyists allow presidents, directors and secretaries to cower underneath their desks and hide from the people who need to hold them accountable.

While it is impossible to know exactly how much State money goes to paying lobbyists by organizations representing government entities, we know that they cost the State of Nebraska a lot of money. The salaries of these lobbyists are often paid for out of the State’s coffers and this creates a very twisted and inefficient situation. Whenever State monies are used to pay for lobbyists, it puts the State into the awkward position of having to pay someone a lot of money just to come in and ask the State for even more money.

In order to illustrate what I am talking about, consider how the University of Nebraska hires lobbyists. According to Open Secrets, a website which tracks where government monies go, the University of Nebraska has already paid six lobbyists this year most of which came from Cassidy and Associates for a total of $80,000. However, in December 2017 the University of Nebraska hired former State Senator, Heath Mellow, as a new Vice President. Mello’s new job description included becoming the director of state relations. That’s university-speak for being a paid lobbyist. Today Mello draws an annual salary of $243,000. That’s a quarter of a million dollars!

The University of Nebraska buys a lot of influence with State Senators. According to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, in 2021 the University of Nebraska spent $30,685 on entertainment, $1,782 on gifts, and $19,760 on tickets all for individual State Senators. Although not technically associated with the University of Nebraska system, the Friends of the University PAC contributed a total of $84,750 to the campaigns of individual State Senators.

So, who pays the most to influence public policy in the State of Nebraska? The top five spending principals in 2021 were the University of Nebraska at $180,000 (not including Heath Mello’s salary), the League of Municipalities at $155,000, the Nebraska Council of School Administrators at $152,000, the Nebraska Association of County Officials at $135,000, and Altria Client Services (representing big tobacco) at $129,000. As you can see, four of the top five principals represent government entities.

The State of Nebraska can no longer afford this kind of wasteful spending. Inflation has soared to 8.5 percent, gas prices have reached new all-time highs, and property taxes are out of control. Yet, state agencies continue to believe that the taxpayers of Nebraska should pay for them to hire lobbyist whose only job is to beg the State for more money.

Straight Talk From Steve…
June 27th, 2022

In a few days Americans will celebrate their independence from Great Britain by feasting upon hotdogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, watermelon, and homemade ice cream. Inflation will make our Fourth of July celebrations more expensive this year, especially for farmers in Nebraska who are struggling to make ends meet.

For many Nebraskans the state of the farm is not good this year. Severe weather has destroyed the crops for many farmers. When I traveled from Lincoln to Grand Island last week, I noticed how hail had beaten the leaves off of trees and how high winds had overturned pivots for a 20 mile or more stretch along I-80. High winds have already overturned at least 1,000 pivots in Nebraska this year. This kind of devastation can be seen all across our state, especially in the Panhandle. For instance, I know a farmer near Alliance who has already planted six times this year.

Although commodity prices have risen, many Nebraska farmers won’t be able to cash in their crops this year. What good is $7.50 for a bushel of corn if you have no corn to sell? This is no small matter once you consider that production agriculture comprises 92 percent of Nebraska’s land mass and contributes more than $25 billion annually to Nebraska’s economy. Agriculture is the engine which drives our economy.

238 years ago many Europeans held a very romantic view of the American farmer. Because lands were plentiful, many of them viewed American farmers as wealthy landowners. They romanticized the idea of living off of rents and taking life easy. These erroneous views of the American farmer prompted Benjamin Franklin in 1784 to write a famous essay entitled, “Advice for Coming to America.”

Writing from his home outside of Paris, France, Benjamin Franklin proceeded to describe the kind of hard work and self-reliance that is needed to live successfully in America. The first thing he had to do was dispel the myth that all American farmers were wealthy. So, he wrote, “The truth is, that though there are in that country few people so miserable as the poor in Europe, there are also very few that in Europe would be called rich: it is rather a general happy mediocrity that prevails.”

Benjamin Franklin then went on to describe the hard agricultural life that most endured in early America, saying, “There are few great proprietors of the soil, and few tenants; most people cultivate their own lands, or follow some handicraft or merchandise; very few rich enough to live idly upon their rents or incomes, or to pay the high prices given in Europe for paintings, statues, and other works of art that are more curious than useful.”

I share these things with you today to remind you that the heart of American independence is self-reliance and the essence of American freedom is to be able enjoy the fruits of your own labor. Nowhere else in the world are men so free as to reap the benefits of their own hard work. So, as we take a day off on the Fourth of July to celebrate our freedom, let’s remember what makes America such a great place to live. May God bless America and may God bless the American farmer.

Blind Benjamin Franklin | Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Straight Talk From Steve…
June 17th, 2022

A double standard occurs whenever a set of moral principles applies to one group of people, but not to another. Today it is easy to find examples of how conservative Republicans are held to higher standards than liberal Democrats. So, today I thought I would document for you some recent examples of these kinds of double standards all of which occurred in the news last week.

In March a California jury convicted Nebraska Congressman, Jeff Fortenberry, of lying to federal agents and concealing the source of $30,000 in foreign campaign contributions. It is illegal for a U.S. politician to accept foreign money to his or her political campaign. As a result, Fortenberry resigned from office and is now pleading for leniency from the court because he has no more money.

Here’s the double standard. In 2017 a Florida jury found Florida Congresswoman, Corinne Brown, guilty of 22 charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax fraud. Brown and her associates had used a charity called “One Door for Education” to funnel $800,000 to themselves between 2012 to 2016. She stole money that was intended to be used for children’s scholarships. Nevertheless, last Thursday Corinne Brown announced her candidacy for Florida’s 10th Congressional District.

Here’s another example. Ever since the leaked decision surfaced, indicating that the U.S. Supreme Court intends to reverse Roe v. Wade, protesters have marched in front of the home of justice Brett Cavanaugh. So, last week twelve Republican U.S. Senators sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland, a Democrat, demanding to know why the U.S. Department of Justice has been refusing to enforce Title 18, Section 1507 of the U.S. Code, which criminalizes the “parading or picketing in front of the homes of judges with the intent to influence pending litigation.”

Here’s the double standard. When U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, who is a Democrat, was asked on May 10th if he was comfortable with protesters demonstrating in front of the homes of the U.S. Supreme Court justices, he responded by saying, “If protests are peaceful, yes.” But, on February 1, 2017 New York Police erected a barrier and stood behind it in order to protect Schumer’s Brooklyn apartment. Protesters had gathered in front of Schumer’s home in order to pressure him to oppose then President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. So, why does Chuck Schumer get police protection around his home but justice Brett Cavanaugh, whose life has already been threatened, gets denied such protection? That’s a double standard.

Here’s a third and final example from last week’s news. Last Thursday the January 6 Committee held another hearing designed to convince the public that former President Donald Trump orchestrated a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results. One of the president’s legal advisors, John Eastman, had advised Trump to use the “inartful” wording of the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to convince Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election. Pence disagreed and refused to comply.

Here’s the double standard. The same argument that John Eastman had used to advise Donald Trump was the same argument that Congressman, Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, had used to try to block election results in 2000, 2004, and 2016. Congressman Jamie Raskin is also a member of the January 6 Committee! So, why was it ok for Congressman Raskin to use the 12th Amendment argument to try to block Donald Trump from becoming president in 2016, but it was not ok for Donald Trump to use that same argument to try to block the election results in 2020? That’s called a double standard and it’s not right.

Straight Talk From Steve…
June 10th, 2022

June 14th is flag day. Flag Day is a day to honor the American flag. It is a time to proudly fly the Stars and Stripes, to recall our American heritage, to honor our values of liberty and justice for all, and to celebrate the republic of the United States for which it stands.

Many American soldiers have risked their lives and even died to protect that star spangled piece of cloth that we recognize as the American flag. For example, during the days of the American Civil War color sergeants were chosen to carry the American flag into battle. Because these men did not carry a rifle, they depended upon their color guard, which consisted of a small contingent of troops, to protect them on the battlefield. The 24th Michigan Regiment lost nine color bearers on the first day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. To lose a flag to the Confederate army was considered to be an enormous defeat and a disgrace to the Union.

Whenever an American soldier or a U.S. veteran dies, the surviving family members may request an American flag. Honor guards at a military funeral service treat the American flag with great dignity and enormous respect. Whenever they fold an American flag, color guards make 13 crisp folds in the flag, and each one of those folds holds a significant meaning.

According to the National Flag Foundation the 13 folds of the American flag hold the following meanings:

The first fold of the American flag represents life.

The second fold represents eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor of the veteran or service member who has departed this life, but who gave a portion of his life or her life in service to the country.

The fourth fold represents our human nature which must trust in God for divine guidance.

The fifth fold is made in honor of our country, may she always be right.

The sixth fold is made for the devotion of the heart, for we place our hand over our hearts whenever we pledge our allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

The seventh fold is a tribute to the armed forces, who have protected the flag against all our enemies.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion the character of men and women who have built our country have been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to fathers, who have given their sons and daughters in defense of our country.

The eleventh fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and Kind Solomon and glorifies the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The twelfth fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Finally, the thirteenth and last fold recalls our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

So, please fly your flag proudly on June 14th. As you do so, try to remember all of these things that the American flag stands for. The American flag represents our country and is worthy of our honor and respect.

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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