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Just before noon on Thursday, August 27th, a fire was observed in northern Banner
County near the Hubbard gap road. Due to extremely dry conditions, it expanded rapidly.
The fire started on the Terry Brown ranch and moved west. The fire burned a significant portion of the Brown ranch. A fence repair fund for the Brown’s has been established at Z M Lumber Company in Scottsbluff. All donations are deeply appreciated.
The Banner County Commissioners signed an emergency declaration, asking the Governor to help fight the fire. The Governor then declared an emergency and sent State resources to help battle the fire.
More than 100 firefighter units responded to the fire and some of these came from neighboring states. The Army National Guard dispatched Blackhawk helicopters equipped with 780 gallon water buckets to drop water in the canyons while the Nebraska Forest Service used aircraft to drop retardant on the fires.
The Governor came to Gering last week to thank the firemen for their heroic efforts in containing the fire and protecting life and structures. I appreciate the Governor highlighting the efforts of the many volunteers who stepped up to help as they always do.
I have seen how much time and effort volunteers put into training, getting certified, and preparing to handle these kinds of emergencies. Volunteers make rural Nebraska a much safer and secure place to live. Without these folks we could not do all that we do.
It is amazing that once a call comes in, these first responders will drop whatever they are doing and come to our rescue. So, I ask that when your fire department, EMT service, or other first responders ask for your financial help that you would thoughtfully consider making a contribution. In a way, your life may depend upon it! So please give generously to the people who volunteer to make our lives better and remember to thank them for their service.
Thank you for reading my articles in the newspaper. As always, please feel free to call my office with whatever concern you may have. My office phone number is (402) 471-2616.
As August comes to a close, I think about all of the events I have missed this summer: The parades, the festivals, the community celebrations, and especially the county fairs.
These events have always presented me with an ideal opportunity to listen to the public and to get ideas for new legislation from the constituents of Legislative District 47.
No one knows what our state needs more than its citizens. The best ideas are the ones that make people’s lives better, and I have found that these often come from ordinary folks.
One such idea came about when I was at the 2016 Paxton Labor Day Parade. There had been a fire north of Lake McConaughy that destroyed several homes and structures. Some of the properties had seen a valuation increase even though the buildings had burned down.
The Nebraska State Statute at that time said that whatever was the value of a person’s property on January 1st at 12:01 a.m. determined what he or she would pay in property taxes for the entire year. I didn’t think that was right.
That incident gave me an idea for changing the tax code. So, I set out to change the law in order to provide a tax break to those who experienced these kinds of setbacks, especially early in the year. So, last year I introduced legislation, which became a law in Nebraska. This bill allows for a valuation decrease if your property sustains at least a 20 percent loss before July 1st. So, the idea for this bill came to me simply by marching in a parade.
I was unable to attend the county fairs this year because the State Legislature reconvened during the summer to complete the last 17 days of its 60 day Legislative session. This kept me away from the Panhandle from July 20 through August 13.
I feel that I have missed a significant part of the summer this year. These social events are very beneficial to our wellbeing as Nebraskans. We are much better off physically, mentally and spiritually when we get out to visit with friends and celebrate the blessings of liberty that God has bestowed upon us all. We should always set aside some time to enjoy living in the greatest country on earth.
Please join me in praying for rain to clear the air and to help put out the fires that are burning out of control in the western United States. The air quality is so bad in Wyoming that tourists cannot see the Grand Tetons from Grand Teton National Park! We also need rain to replenish our water supplies and to provide much needed moisture for the farmers as they plant their fall crops.
Thank you for reading!
The Nebraska Legislature has now adjourned for the year. I have now completed my fourth session in the Legislature. This was the first time since I have been elected that we completed the full session. In previous years we adjourned three or four days early. Perhaps we should have adjourned early again this year as well, except for the passage of the bill to ban dismemberment abortions. That bill passed on the last day of the session.
Concerning dismemberment abortion, I can’t believe anyone would think that removing a living human being piece by piece from the mother’s whom is ok. That was an amazing opportunity we had, as Legislators, this year to protect the most vulnerable among us.
The Legislature also passed what some are now calling “historic property tax relief”. I suppose you could call it “historic” when it is such a minute amount. It is so minute that you will hardly even notice that your property taxes have been reduced.
One of my fellow Senators has developed a spreadsheet to calculate the reduction that Nebraskans will see on the property taxes due to LB 1107. Oh, did I forget to tell you that you will only get a reduction if the state has a revenue increase? If it doesn’t, sorry, but no relief.
LB 1107 contains an income tax credit on your State Income Tax Return, or if you don’t owe any money to the State, you will receive a refund on a small percentage of what property taxes get paid to the operation of the school, but not on your total property taxes paid to the school; just the operating revenue. For example, if your mill levy for your school is $1.05 you may get a 4 percent credit. So if you paid $1,000 to the school, you could get a $40 credit. Next year that figure should double, and the third year it should come in somewhere near $125. Of course, all of this is contingent upon the State’s revenue actually increasing.
For those who normally file no income taxes with the State, it may cost more to file the return than the refund they would receive. For instance, the person who pays a tax preparer $200 to prepare a State Income Tax Return for a refund of only $100 would find himself or herself at a loss of $100.
Now here is where this bill really gets interesting: The business incentive portion of the bill, called the Nebraska ImagiNE Act, has the same mechanism for giving tax relief to businesses as the property tax portion of the bill does to property owners. It’s an income tax credit, too. But, when it comes to business tax incentives the bill doesn’t require there to be an increase in State revenue in order to allow these businesses to cash in on their income tax credit. And there has never been any reconciliation about where the money will come from in order to pay for these business tax credits.
As I said last week, I have asked several proponents of this bill to explain to me why we have to have funds already available in order to give the good people of Nebraska a credit on their property tax bills but not for businesses. Here was their poor attempt at answering my question: “We have made adjustments in our budget for that.” So, just like in years past when we had to cut a check for a refund, we just pay the bill with no questions ever being asked. There is absolutely no provision in the bill which says that if the State doesn’t have the revenue, the businesses don’t get the credits. It seems to me that what is good for the goose ought to be good for the gander! But, I guess that’s not how things work in the Nebraska Legislature.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone in Legislative District 47 to fill out the U.S. Census, if you haven’t already done so. Many government programs are tied to the information gleaned from the census, and I would hate to see folks living in the Panhandle miss out on these benefits just because some folks never bothered to fill it out.
We are now in the home stretch in the Legislative Session with only 3 days remaining to complete the 60 days requirement.Last week there was a compromise bill brought to the floor (LB 1107) that dealt with property tax relief, tax incentives for businesses, and a $300 million contribution to a new hospital for the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
This bill has been promoted as the Great Compromise. The bill combines three pieces of legislation, regardless of previous opposition to each of them, into a single bill. What this Christmas tree bill accomplished was to paint everyone in the Legislature into a corner. None of these three bills ever had enough support to stand on its own merit.
This is a very poor way to pass legislation. The property tax portion of the bill is not property tax relief at all. Instead, it is a reduction in the increase of your property taxes. As a case in point, consider that property taxes state wide have increased substantially more annually than the 125 million dollars that the relief package would give. For instance, last year property taxes state wide increased 200 million. Consequently, property taxes under LB 1107 last year would have increased by 75 million dollars statewide. So you see why I don’t refer to this bill as property tax relief. Relief to me means I pay less than I did the year before.
The method these Legislators have chosen to use for refunding property taxes is an income tax credit or refund on the taxes paid to your public school. It is a very small percentage of that amount. In fact, it may be enough for you to eat out once or twice. To the contrary, I had a constitutional resolution in 2018 (LR 3 CA) that was based upon the same idea, except that mine was an income tax credit of 50 percent of the taxes paid to your public school. So, when the concept of an income tax credit or refund was my idea, it wasn’t any good, but when the Super 7 group of Senators comes up with the same idea, but for a significantly smaller amount, it is suddenly a good idea.
This bill is 149 pages long. One rural Senator said that this was a very well-thought-out bill; it was not just thrown together. Because the Senators in the Unicameral only had 10 hours to read these 149 pages before debating them on the floor of the Legislature, the whole situation reminded me of what Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in the U.S. Congress in 2010 about the Affordable Care Act when she said, “We have to pass it in order to find out what’s in it.”
We have had numerous bills to deal with in the last 10 days. It is difficult to deal with all of those bills and begin studying and understanding a 149 page new bill overnight. Consequently,
I have asked proponents of this bill seven or eight times from the floor of the Legislature about how it is to be funded. They claim that we must somehow find the 125 million dollars in order to be able to afford this property tax relief measure. When it is an income tax credit, the state does not need to refund the taxpayer for the property taxes paid. Instead, the state simply eats the cost by taking in less money through income taxes. And that is exactly what happens with business incentives.
Here is my dilemma. The business incentives earned in this bill will be an income tax credit as well. We have never mentioned once that we must first generate the revenue to fund these tax incentive programs for businesses. No one, not even the chairman of the appropriations committee, wants to answer why it is one way for a property tax refund and another way for business incentives? I will have more to say on this matter.
As we enter into the last few days of the 106th Legislature, almost nothing can be said for progress. The Legislature has killed property tax relief, the consumption tax, and even student discipline in our schools. The only hope remaining is LB 814, a bill to outlaw dismemberment abortions. So, today I would like to speak to the reasons why this bill is good for Nebraska.
Let me begin by saying that it is beyond me how anyone can defend a method of abortion which tears a baby apart limb by limb until the baby is dead and the body is extracted from the uterus. That is what dismemberment abortion does: It tears the baby apart limb by limb inside the mother’s womb. Dismemberment abortion is such a brutal, painful and grotesque procedure that society would never allow it to be performed on a dog, yet for purely political reasons, we allow it to be done to human beings.
We usually refer to the anti-abortion movement as the pro-life movement and we refer to the other side of the debate as the pro-choice movement. However, ‘pro-choice’ is nothing more than an overly generous euphemism designed to hide the truth about what an abortion does to a baby, especially dismemberment abortion. Because the baby’s choice is never considered in the decision to have an abortion, ‘pro-choice’ is an inaccurate term to describe an abortion. Consequently, a more accurate term for the movement would be the pro-death movement, because that is what it really is.
Oftentimes the argument is made on the floor of the Legislature by proponents of abortion that pro-life legislation that outlaws abortion constitutes government overreach and that a woman should have the right to decide for herself what to do with her own body. But these kinds of arguments overlook the fact that governments oftentimes tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. For instance, governments oftentimes legislate against prostitution, human cloning, and paid surrogate motherhood. Here in Nebraska we have such laws on the books. Because each of these three examples relate specifically to what women can and cannot do with their own bodies, the argument that governments should not pass legislation against abortion because it violates a woman’s right to choose for herself what to do with her own body fails.
I believe in the sanctity of life and I believe that human life begins at conception. I believe that every unborn baby is both a human being as well as a unique creation by God. Therefore, there is no difference between the value of a baby’s life before he or she is born or he or after she is born, before his or her viability in the womb or after his or her viability in the womb, before his or her first heartbeat or after his or her first heartbeat.
Today we know that an unborn baby can feel pain much earlier than previously thought. It used to be thought that pain could not be felt until the 24th week of gestation; however, Stuart W.G. Derbyshire and John C. Bockmann published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics in January of this year suggesting that pain may be felt as early as the 12th week of gestation. Consequently, dismemberment abortion represents the most inhumane way to end a pregnancy known to man.
For these reasons and many more, dismemberment abortion has become a scourge on American society which absolutely must be ended. The sooner we pass LB 814, the better.
The Unicameral has reconvened for the final 17 days of the second session of 106th Legislature. The Legislature recessed back in late March due to concerns about the coronavirus. Readjusting to life in the Legislature in mid-summer is much like returning to college after taking five years off. Nevertheless, the business of the state is finally being attended to.
The spirit in the Unicameral is more combative this summer than ever before. Besides the barrage of personal attacks, recent events concerning the coronavirus, protests in the streets, and the movement to defund our police departments, coupled with the need for property tax relief have led to some very spirited and passionate floor debates.
Early in the week Sen. Geist led a successful pull motion to put her anti-dismembership abortion bill, LB 814, on General File against the wishes of the Judiciary committee. This is a bill which should have been voted out of the Judiciary Committee for the simple reason that it already had 25 total sponsors and 30 Senators voted to pull it.
Last Thursday Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha led a successful movement to suspend the rules of the Legislature in order to allow him to introduce a new bill. The rules of the Legislature limit the introduction of new bills to the first ten days of the legislative session. Wayne’s new bill would require cities to create citizen oversight committees over their police departments, which I do not agree with.
The Revenue Committee’s property tax relief bill, LB 1106, failed to advance. This bill offers some property tax relief, but not as much as my resolution last year for a constitutional amendment for the 35 percent solution or my resolution this year for a constitutional amendment to replace our current tax code with a single-rate consumption tax.
Another bill which failed to advance last week was LB 720, the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. The ImagiNE Nebraska Act was designed to replace the Nebraska Advantage Act, which is set to sunset later this year. However, these kinds of tax incentive programs have no measurable track record of success. The proponents of this bill were hard pressed to name a single business that moved to Nebraska because of the Nebraska Advantage Act. Instead, these programs provide businesses with millions of dollars in tax credits, which results in loss of revenue for our cities. Moreover, when these businesses get their sales taxes refunded back to them through the program, it is the cities who have to flip the bill. When cities have to pay the bill, property taxes go up. Nebraska does not need these kinds of business welfare programs.
Last Wednesday Speaker Scheer put LB 1106 on the agenda before LB 720. This was intentional because several Senators had voiced that they would not vote for the ImagiNE Nebraska Act unless property tax relief was passed first. Because property tax relief failed to advance, support for the ImagiNE Nebraska Act dwindled and the bill failed to advance.
Passing the ImagiNE Nebraska Act at the same time as property tax relief would have undermined our efforts to get property tax relief altogether and made our situation even worse. For instance, if you receive $60,000 in property tax relief, but your total taxes go up $120,000, you end up with a net loss of $60,000. This is the kind of twisted logic which followed the plan to pass both of these bills.
The battles are far from over. In the remaining days of the legislative session you should expect to see Senators attempt to amend their bad bills into other bills, creating Christmas tree bills. Christmas tree bills are bills that contain other bill amended into it. Moreover, you should expect to see more Senators move to suspend the rules and introduce even more bills. This happened again on Friday when Sen. Vargas of Omaha motioned to suspend the rules again. Hopefully, the personal attacks will cease. In a nutshell, let me just say that the final days of the 106th Legislature are shaping up to look very much like a trip to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
Squirrel Monkey at the Henry Doorly Zoo
It’s time to reopen Nebraska’s schools. Children need to learn, so it is time for them to go back to school next month. Gov. Ricketts agrees. On Friday he said we can reopen the schools and manage the coronavirus at the same time, and I agree.
Opening up the schools can be done safely. Matthew Blomstead, Nebraska’s Education Commissioner, released a 25 page document last Friday explaining how we can open up our schools safely. The document includes recommendations to school districts for practicing social distancing, limiting class sizes, and using various kinds of barriers.
Besides academic learning, there are many other reasons for reopening our schools. Prolonged social isolation is not good for the mental health of children. We are social creatures, and schools provide children with plenty of opportunities for social interaction with their peers. Opening up the schools also means that our children will get a regular regimen of physical activity, and for some it may mean getting a nutritious meal to eat.
Wearing masks should be voluntary. Gov. Ricketts also said on Friday that he would not mandate the wearing of facial coverings. He also said that he would reject any effort by a local health department to require the wearing of face masks. Ricketts’s decision aligns with policies of governors of several other states. For instance, Brian Kemp, the Governor of Georgia, has refused to mandate the wearing of masks, calling it “a bridge too far.” That is a good analogy!
Kristi Noem, the Governor of South Dakota, has also refused to mandate mask wearing for the people of her state. For Noem the issue of mask wearing is a matter of respect and trust. Noem’s advice to other governors is to, “Trust your people,” and “Don’t lay down mandates that are going to hinder the ability that they need to really get through this difficult time.” And I agree.
I believe that if we give people the facts, they can make intelligent decisions on their own about wearing a mask in public without being mandated statewide by the big brother of government. According to Nebraska’s own COVID-19 Dashboard there are zero cases of the coronavirus in 26 counties in Nebraska, and another 16 counties have only one reported case of the virus. Mandating folks to wear face masks in counties with little or no cases of the coronavirus is not just intrusive, it is silly.
Have you ever wondered why Taiwan, a nation of 24 million people, has experienced so few deaths from the coronavirus that they could all fit comfortably inside of a minivan (7 deaths)? Taiwan’s population is so large that if the nation ever practiced social distancing, people would have to stand out in the ocean! Or, how about Japan? Japan is a nation of 121 million people, but they have only seen 982 total deaths from the coronavirus. Similarly, South Korea has a population of 50 million, but only 288 coronavirus deaths have occurred there, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard as of July 10.
So, what are these Asian countries doing that we aren’t doing here in the USA? The answer is actually quite simple: Doctors in these nations are treating hospitalized coronavirus patients with inhaled corticosteroids. Here in the USA we know this respiratory therapy primarily as a Budesonide nebulizer. Budesonide is cheap, it has already undergone extensive testing for more than 20 years in the USA, is safe to use on two pound infants in the Natal Intensive Care Unit, and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat various other respiratory ailments. Now we can add the coronavirus to the long list of diseases treated by inhaled Budesonide therapy.
Dr. Richard P. Bartlett is a physician who practices medicine down in Midland, Texas. Dr. Bartlett recently wrote a letter to Texas State Senator, Bob Hall, recommending Budesonide as a pre-hospital community-based treatment for COVID-19. I am in possession of Dr. Bartlett’s letter. Dr. Bartlett began using inhaled Budesonide therapy back in March of this year and he now reports that 100% of the patients he has treated since March have become symptom free. Dr. Bartlett has treated several high risk patients, including one elderly woman with two types of blood cancers, who was immunocompromised, and who was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation at the time of her Budesonide treatment. She recovered from COVID-19 after receiving inhaled Budesonide therapy.
Another inexpensive drug which has proven effective for treating COVID-19 is hydroxycloroquine. Although this drug was severely criticized in the media and was even withdrawn for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration after it was touted by President Trump, a new study has proven its usefulness after all. A team of researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan released the findings of their study to the public on July 2, 2020.
Dr. Marcus Zervos, who is the division head of infectious diseases at the Henry Ford Health System, led the study which followed 2,541 coronavirus patients. 26.4 percent of those who were not given hydroxychloroquine died compared to only 13.5 percent of those who were given the drug. So, hydroxychloroquine represents another effective weapon in the physician’s arsenal against COVID-19.
On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the drug most highly touted by Dr. Anthony Fauci and distributed by Dr. Debra Birx, namely Remdeslvir. A new case report by Dutch investigators published in Clinical Infectious Diseases this month links Remdeslvir to liver toxicity. So this very expensive “miracle drug” has turned out to be not so miraculous after all.
If those leading the fight against COVID-19 were to seriously consider the usefulness of Budesonide and hydroxychloroquine, instead of Remdeslvir, I believe we could defeat COVID-19. The mortality rate in America from COVID-19 does not need to be nearly as high as it currently is. The USA is leading the world in COVID-19 deaths. On Friday the number of coronavirus deaths rose to 133,847 Americans. Hasn’t the time come for us to start listening to those with a proven treatment over the coronavirus? I think so!
According to the Preamble to the United States Constitution, in order for the people of the United States of America to create a more perfect union, “justice” must be firmly established as well as “domestic tranquility”. In order to accomplish these goals, laws must be passed which promote the “general welfare” and secure “the Blessings of Liberty.” Laws become useless unless they are enforced. The police are our chief law enforcement officials who enforce these laws.
Today our police departments are under attack by lawless radicals, who want to defund them. Autonomous zones, such as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone seek to create communities without any law enforcement whatsoever. So, today I would like to demonstrate why police are necessary.
Anarchy breeds evil. Calls to defund the Minneapolis police department began coming in shortly after George Floyd’s wrongful death on Memorial Day, May 25th. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, shootings in Minneapolis have more than doubled this year. More importantly, though, nearly half of those shootings occurred after George Floyd’s death when riots opened up in the streets, a police precinct was burned to the ground, and the Minneapolis police were told to stand down. Without the establishment of law and order, crime inevitably rises and evil flourishes in the streets.
Crime goes up when police stand down. After the neck of Freddy Gray was broken by police officers in Baltimore on April 12, 2015, six police officers were suspended and the police department reduced its patrols in minority neighborhoods. The results have been disastrous for that city. In 2019 Baltimore experienced 348 murders or 57 killings per 100,000 people, the worst rate in that city’s history. Moreover, on April 8, 2020 CBS Baltimore reported that the city’s murder rate this year was already trending worse than in 2019. Similar increases in crime can be demonstrated for Chicago, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis.
Police brutality is wrong. In no way am I condoning police brutality today. What happened to George Floyd was both tragic and wrong. The video tells a very compelling story. Indeed, there are cases of police brutality which cannot be defended, but police brutality is hardly the norm across this country. Whenever it happens, the offending officers need to be dealt with according to the law. But, an even bigger problem than police brutality has been brewing in the streets of America in recent days.
As long people continue to believe in the false narrative that police departments are inherently racist, our nation will never be able to heal. Civil discussions about racism require an honest pursuit of the truth. When truth is honestly pursued, facts and statistics matter. One of those important statistics shows that more unarmed white men are shot by police officers every year than are unarmed black men. If police departments are inherently racist, then this statistic would not hold year after year as it has for the past several years.
The bottom line is that we have now demoralized our police officers. Recruitment levels are down, early retirements are up, and many police officers are quitting the force because they feel they no longer have the backing of civilized society. Therefore, I want encourage you to not only support your local police department, the Sheriff, and the State Patrol, but thank them for their service the next time you see them.
Why do we celebrate the 4th of July? July 4, 1776 was the day we declared our independence from Great Britain. The document which contained that declaration was the Declaration of Independence, which was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776.
The Declaration of Independence represents our core beliefs as Americans. It is a guidepost for what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America. The concepts contained in the Declaration of Independence unite us as Americans. The Declaration of Independence is just as relevant for us today as it was for the first citizens of our country. Although we live in a time when many are challenging our American heritage as well as our core beliefs as Americans, I believe the concepts contained in the Declaration of Independence will continue to stand the test of time.
The Declaration of Independence has proven itself to be a timeless document. For instance, it was in the Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson first penned those most famous words, “that all men are created equal.” American society has been slowly reconciling itself to the true meaning of what it means to be equal ever since Jefferson wrote those words. You see, those words have become timeless.
The Declaration of Independence established that rights come from God. Thomas Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence that it is a self-evident truth that God has endowed human beings with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” While Jefferson referred to God as our “Creator,” he was clearly referring to the Supreme Being responsible for the existence and design of the human race, and few, if any, would have understood that Being to be different than the God of the Bible at the time when Jefferson first penned the document. Consequently, it is imperative that we understand that these rights come from God, and because they come from God, they cannot be tampered with or infringed upon. The only exception is when a person seeks to deny these rights to another human being, especially another American citizen.
The Declaration of Independence carefully justifies the overthrowing of tyrants. Jefferson reserved most of the space in the Declaration of Independence for outlining the despotism of King George III. He wanted the whole world to know what a rotten and tyrannical king the British people had ruling over them. As Americans, we despise tyranny in all of its forms. The United States of America was founded firmly upon the principle of freedom for all. But, again, that freedom cannot be used as a means to deny others of their freedoms. Whenever governments become so oppressive that they deny basic freedoms to the people they are supposed to serve, the people become justified in abolishing their form of government and instituting a new one. But contrary to the flimsy reasons offered for establishing the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ, but now CHOP), such as the unestablished accusation that the Seattle Police department is beyond reform, Jefferson went through great pains to root his reasons for revolution in established facts. Hence, he wrote, “To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world,” and then he went on to list those facts.
American patriotism is an appropriate reaction to reading and understanding these truths contained in the Declaration of Independence. Our knowledge and devotion to these foundational principles ought to incubate in our hearts a love and respect for our country. As Americans we should love our country dearly because we are a truly free people, we should revere our founding documents because of the timeless truths they proclaim, and we should honor the American flag because it represents everything that is distinctly American. This year I hope you will celebrate Independence Day with newfound American pride in your heart, love for your fellow American, and thankfulness to God for the gift that has become the United States of America.
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