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Third Electoral College camp

Several people have recently written in The World Herald’s Public Pulse to express their opinion on the state of the Electoral College. Most of these people fall into two camps: Keep it the way it is, or scrap it entirely and base the presidential election off the direct popular vote.

I’m going to establish a third camp: The Electoral College should stay, but the way electoral votes are awarded needs to change.

The Electoral College exists to balance the power of the states in general elections. Without it, politicians would focus on the states with higher populations in their campaigns, and the needs of states like ours would fall by the wayside.

The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes, however, undermines this by silencing a whole party of a state. Why should Republicans in California or Democrats in Texas vote if it is a foregone conclusion all their state’s electoral votes will go to the other party?

The Electoral College should award votes based on proportion of votes received by each party’s candidate. This would help make elections more representative of what the overall population believes, similar to a direct popular election, but it would still ensure that the smaller population states’ voice could be heard.

Elic Chisam, Bellevue

Champion for Alzheimer’s research

I recently lost my uncle to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He lived with the debilitating disease for more than 15 years. He was one of 5 million Americans living with the disease. Many Americans have been touched by this disease in one shape or form, with more than 16 million unpaid caregivers.

Not only does it affect families: In 2018, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost an estimated $290 billion. In Nebraska, there are more than 34,000 living with Alzheimer’s, which also affects their 83,000 caregivers.

I have been an Alzheimer’s advocate for six years and have had the pleasure of working with Sen. Deb Fischer, who has been a champion of our Alzheimer’s efforts.

She has co-sponsored the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act and Alzheimer’s Accountability Act. Fischer has also supported appropriations for fiscal year 2019 in the National Institutes for Health budget for research.

It is only through adequately funding research and policies like the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act that we can meet the goal of the national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease to prevent and effectively treat it by 2025.

The senator and her wonderful staff have been very gracious with their time and support to help end this terrible disease. It is with her actions that we have chance to beat this disease.

Chris Nielsen, Omaha

Help pay nursing home costs

Who will care for me when I am too old to care for myself and need skilled nursing care? The current Medicaid crisis in payments to Nebraska nursing homes may cause there to be no care facility for me. The local facilities may be forced to close due to shortfalls in payments for Medicaid patients.

Seventy percent of those 65 and older will need some type of long-term care, it’s estimated. Women tend to need care for 3.7 years, men for 2.2 years. My husband is eight years older than I am. There is a chance I could be on my own for 15 years, due to the difference in life expectancy.

Our local facility cares for about 85 elderly residents and employs 150 to 160 local residents. Our community has supported the facility for 56 years. The facility has been successful in managing a budget with a mix of Medicaid, veteran, insured and “private-pay” clients.

In the last four years, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has managed and calculated Medicaid payments so that we are now in a crisis. Our local facility cannot keep raising the rates for “private-pay” clients to make up the deficit for Medicaid patients.

We need our voices to be heard. We want skilled care facilities in our communities. This is a women’s issue. This is a people issue. I hope those who agree will contact Gov. Pete Ricketts and state senators on the Appropriations Committee.

Jacqueline Riener, McCook, Neb.

Medicaid expansion is needed

Medicaid expansion is important to Nebraska for three reasons: 1. It’s practical. 2. It’s now law. 3. It’s the right thing to do.

Medicaid expansion will help reduce insurance premiums for Nebraskans, as evidenced in other states. It’s the most efficient, economic and effective way to get health care to uninsured Nebraskans at this time.

Currently, Nebraskans without insurance go to the emergency room for medical care — an expensive and ineffective way to give treatment. Many conditions could be easily and more economically treated with preventive care and medical/pharmaceutical follow-up.

We currently pay for health care received by all Nebraskans. We can choose to do this in the most affordable and efficient manner (Medicaid expansion) or the most expensive and inefficient (our current practices).

Increasing the number of healthy Nebraskans will reap benefits for our economy. We’ll have better workers, students, parents and families.

It’s required by law because the voters decisively passed it.

Nebraskans deserve good health care. We are a better society when we take good care of each other. This is a common Nebraska value.

Medicaid expansion will help all Nebraskans in many ways.

Richard Patton, Carter Lake

LB 289 is less of the same

Nebraskans first rebelled against state spending and high property taxes in 1966. Since then, over 50 years of “fixes” from Lincoln have done nothing but raise your property taxes.

No matter what becomes of Legislative Bill 289:

» Relief will be nonexistent. Even the touted $51 million in property tax credit is barely 1% of Nebraska’s burden.

» Every time Lincoln provides relief, property taxes will go up again in no more than two years. By 2021, lawmakers will again wring their hands, desperate to “solve” the problem.

» Any relief will go to the more than 2,600 entities that tax Nebraska -– not to the taxpayer. Trickle-down tax relief has failed every time it has been tried.

There is a reason that a petition is circulating to let the people of Nebraska solve their own problem: True property tax relief will never happen in Lincoln. The benefit to Nebraskans is trampled underfoot by liberal politicians and the special interests that live off our taxes.

The 2020 ballot initiative would let Nebraskans solve every problem above: The people will have property tax relief; it will be substantial -– over one-third of property taxes refunded; it will be permanent, as a constitutional amendment.

In the process, Lincoln will finally be required to do its rightful job — to work out real, responsible and permanent solutions, in fair and open public debate.

Paul von Behren, Fremont, Neb.

No joy living next to factory farms

According to the Iowa State Constitution, “All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights — among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”

However, this seems to be in direct conflict with the current state of affairs regarding factory farms in Iowa.

How can we enjoy life when we are surrounded by horrendous smells that keep us cooped inside our homes, unable to open our windows? How can we protect our property when we have no rights over the siting of factory farms?

At any moment, a factory farm can move in a thousand feet away, and we have no means of defense to stop it. These operations can inject manure feet from our wells, contaminating our water.

The existence of a nearby factory farm can lower property values as much as 40%.

As for pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness? Who can be safe when these factory farms are emitting toxic levels of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and particulate matter? Not to mention the E. coli, salmonella and antibiotic resistance that comes along with thousands of animals in a confined space.

How can we pursue happiness when we are trapped in our homes, surrounded by diseases and toxic air emissions and drinking nitrate-ridden water?

That is why I support Food & Water Watch’s call for a moratorium on factory farms and urge others to do the same.

Heather Pearson, Logan, Iowa

Consider building new airport

As someone who has lived in Omaha for most of the time since the fall of 1966, I read with concern the idea of spending $500 million to modernize Eppley Airfield.

Certainly Eppley has served us well over the past in its present location. However, it’s a new day and a new growing community we have. I believe a serious study needs to take place comparing the advantages of modernizing at the present location with the possibility of building an entirely new airport halfway between Lincoln and Omaha.

Both Eppley and Lincoln’s airport could still be used for corporate and private flying, but a new, major airport would serve each community well. Additionally, a new airport would be helpful in bringing more large business headquarters to our state, significantly helping our already stressed tax base.

Nebraska already has a great reputation as “a good place to live”; a new international airport would bring lots of major new business to our state. Omaha, Lincoln, the rest of the state and our state tax base would all benefit from a new major international airport.

Barry Johnston, Omaha

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