distracted driving texting (teaser) (copy)

Strengthen texting law

Nebraska is one of 48 states to have a ban on texting while driving, regardless of age. Although it is commendable to attempt to reduce the amount of phone-related driving incidents, there is something else important to note: Nebraska enforces its distracted driving law secondarily.

This means that a driver cannot be cited for texting unless it is not the only violation being committed.

According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, there were 61 injuries in 2017 from driving accidents caused by cellphone distraction. Nebraska secondarily enforcing its distracted driving law is insulting to the families that have been directly affected due to a texting and driving injury.

One can only imagine the regret felt when learning that a needless tragedy could have been prevented with a simple traffic stop.

Many of these accidents can arguably be thwarted in the future, but only if the state enforces it primarily. Nebraska needs to change the law for the safety of all.

Lucas Fletcher, Omaha

Cut property taxes

I am a retired engineer on a fixed income living in Omaha. I believe the present property tax system is broken and in need of an overhaul.

Last year I was at home when two people from the Assessor’s Office came through our subdivision. We reviewed the information they had on my house. There had been no changes since my last evaluation, so the information they had was current.

It came as quite a surprise when the preliminary valuations were released. The average property valuation for the 29 comparative properties in my subdivision went up 17%. My property valuation went up a whopping 38%.

Needless to say, I appealed. I presented a spreadsheet of data to the Board of Equalization for the 29 comparable houses in my subdivision. I proposed a valuation increase of 17%, which was the average for the 29 comps I identified. I was asked to leave before I had even finished my appeal. The final valuation came in 33% higher.

In my opinion, it is unethical to apply an increase of 33% in one year. Large swings in valuation and their application in a single year are the main reason for upset taxpayers. When there are legitimate large swings in property valuations, their application should occur over a number of years.

The tax burden in Nebraska needs to be broadened. We need real property tax relief. Cut property taxes in half and make up the revenue with an addition to the sales tax.

Kent Christenson, Omaha

Duty to weigh impeachment

Tim Riley states Congress is getting nothing done but impeachment (“Congress and priorities,” Oct. 21 Public Pulse).

The House has passed 100 laws in 2019, but Senate leader Mitch McConnell is not allowing the bills to even get a vote.

President Donald Trump’s actions and corruption in the last three years are the reasons for congressional impeachment inquiries.

The ability to impeach a sitting president is an important function of the Congress. This president has shattered most of the norms of government, and Congress has to act.

If Congress did not vote to impeach this president, it would be a dereliction of duty.

Dale Rezac, Omaha

Sustainable health care

If you watched the last Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, you might be under the impression that a government takeover of health care is inevitable. It’s not.

The frustrations of today’s health care system are real and tangible. But before you look at any proposal — regardless of your political party or the type of coverage you have — consider the impacts. Consider the ramifications of what is inevitable in the plans the candidates are putting forth.

What will happen to the overall costs of health care? Will my local hospital be impacted? Will I be able to keep my plan as I know it today, even if I don’t want to change it?

The more the public is learning about a “Medicare for All” or public-option system, the more they oppose a one-size-fits-all solution. A new poll shows that support for a government takeover of health care has declined over time. There are many ways to reach universal coverage, but taking one single path and driving out private insurance is not one we should consider.

Private insurance plans support local providers much higher than government plans. Medicare and Medicaid have a critical role, but studies show throwing out private plans for a public option would force rural providers to close their doors. Having coverage on paper is important. But health care needs to be sustainable for care to continue.

Brian Kingsolver, Sidney, Iowa

Dante’s crisis

This October marks the 57th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, where the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. nearly came to mutual nuclear destruction.

It was during this time that former Secretary of State Dean Acheson was sent by President John F. Kennedy to tell French President Charles de Gaulle about the Russian missiles that had been found on the island of Cuba. When asked if he wanted to see the photos, de Gaulle replied “No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me.”

One wonders if we faced the same situation today, if French President Emmanuel Macron would as assuredly say the same thing about President Donald Trump. Especially given the fact our allies the Kurds trusted his past words of support and, after a phone call, were betrayed by him.

Congressional GOP members like Rep. Don Bacon have failed to provide checks and balances that favor our country over party, instead party over country.

Philip O’Brien, Omaha

Puzzled by levee work

I understand the importance of protecting Offutt Air Force Base with the new levees. But why are we paying to repair the old levees now?

Recently workers have poured over 12 yards of new concrete on the old levees. Is this not a waste of our money?

Burke Summers, Bellevue

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