The Nebraska State Capitol

Illogical opposition to LB 643

I pray the elected officials who oppose Legislative Bill 643, the medical cannabis bill, will change their minds and become supporters.

They fear possible abuse. But they’re worried about hypothetical people who might abuse medical cannabis. There are thousands of very real Nebraskans who would benefit from it. Apparently, hypothetical abusers take precedence over actual sick and suffering Nebraskans.

We are told FDA approval is needed so we don’t make sick people sicker. Where is the consideration for the very sick people who are being denied this medical option? There are medical professionals in the states with some type of medical cannabis law who would say the benefits far outweigh any perceived risk, especially when put up against the horrible side effects of “approved” FDA drugs.

Some lawmakers fear passing a medical cannabis law will magically lead to the legalization of marijuana. As elected officials, they know how a bill becomes law. A medicinal cannabis law wouldn’t automatically allow for recreational legalization. A completely new bill would have to be introduced.

It saddens me that lawmakers are spending this vast amount of time and energy to deny medical help to the very people they were elected to serve.

Dominic Gillen, Bellevue

Watching our cash leave the state

It’s about time Nebraskans abandoned their conservative attitudes toward legalized gambling in our state. Nebraskans spend up to $500 million annually in states that allow casinos (“Osborne part of team trying to block gambling,” Feb. 12 World-Herald).

Doesn’t it make sense to keep most of that money in Nebraska? Multiply that over the last 25 years and think of the problems that kind of cash could have helped. Education, infrastructure, health care all could have been supplemented. That would relieve some of the tax burden that our legislators are so concerned about but never seem to get taken care of.

Not to dwell on the past, but I am convinced that our long departed Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack might still be going if the “powers that be” had had some foresight. I also feel that Omaha’s Horsemen’s Park would do very well if gaming were allowed. In fact, it might even increase its racing season. It generally draws crowds on the weekends it is open for racing, and the attraction of gaming would only enhance it. Our other racing venues would also benefit.

So what do you say, Nebraska? Let’s take a chance. Vote for legalized gambling. Let’s bet on Nebraska.

Val Oasan, Omaha

Acting to better Nebraskans’ lives

I want to thank State Sen. John McCollister of Omaha for reaching across party lines to work on a solution for Nebraska’s working poor to afford health coverage.

True statesmen recognize big problems and work hard to solve them. In my view, there is no bigger problem than leaving more than 70,000 Nebraskans unable to afford health coverage.

Going to the doctor isn’t like buying a newer car or a bigger TV. It’s something everyone — rich, poor and in between — must be able to do. Cancer doesn’t care how much money you make. Car accidents don’t discriminate based on income levels.

It’s stunning to see that more than 30 other states have come up with solutions that allow their working poor to be able to afford health coverage, while Nebraskans are met with indifference from our governor.

It’s easy to see who the true leaders are in our state Capitol on this life-or-death issue. Thank you, Sen. McCollister.

Garrett Conte, Omaha

Focus on Omaha’s main libraries

I have to agree with Jan. 17 Public Pulse writer Simon Noel (“Libraries to copy”) that the Boys Town property at 132nd Street and West Dodge Road would make an excellent location for a library.

However, due to the high cost of maintaining multiple libraries, I feel that resources could be put to better use by downsizing the Millard and Swanson libraries and focusing monies and technology on the libraries downtown and in west Omaha.

To have current and advanced technology available at a central location would far outweigh the traveling time.

Sandie Yeaman, Omaha

Library boards must answer to taxpayers

Steve Laird’s Feb. 14 Midlands Voices essay, “Library boards need independence,” is a flirtation with fantasy.

He does a nice job of discussing how important libraries are to our community, but he completely misses a reality check when he advocates for a library board to “act free of political influence.” He needs to understand and acknowledge where the money for the library budget comes from. Libraries serve a function that will continue to be funded as long as the actions of the libraries follow the direction of the taxpayers.

The purpose of Legislative Bill 969 is to better align the direction of the day-to-day library management with the desires of the people who are paying the bills. Laird should be thankful for this opportunity to get back in sync with the will of the taxpayers before the libraries get so far afield that taxpayers lose their enthusiasm for continued funding.

Dan Anderson, Gretna

Reid’s inaction creates today’s dilemma

For years, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid caused an indefinite delay of consideration and passage of Republican House-passed bills to which he had an ideological objection. Such delays continued until Republicans took control of the chamber.

It seems possible that an identical situation might arise if President Barack Obama nominates someone to the Supreme Court and Republican members of the Senate who oppose on ideological grounds were to delay consideration of the matter.

John B. Will, Omaha

An insult to Scalia’s memory

Justice Antonin Scalia was committed to steering the federal judiciary toward theories of “originalism” and “textualism” — strictly reading the Constitution to mean what the authors intended and nothing more.

With his passing, the Constitution is clear — that the president nominate someone to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

That procedure would be honoring what Justice Scalia believed and committed most of his life to. Yet the current leadership of the Senate has stated that, regardless of the deceased justice’s belief in “originalism” and “textualism,” any nomination will not be allowed to go forward.

Frank H. Grover II, Glenwood, Iowa

Democrats did it for Reagan

The last time a Supreme Court vacancy needed to be filled in an election year, the year was 1988 and the president was Ronald Reagan, a Republican. The Senate was controlled by a slim majority of Democrats. The Supreme Court nominee was Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy was approved unanimously by the Democratic-controlled Senate, 97 to 0 on Feb. 3, 1988.

This time, Republicans control the Senate and are vowing to not even allow an Obama nominee to come to a vote, even before the president has a chance to name a nominee.

In an election year, Democrats approved a Republican president’s choice unanimously, while Republicans won’t even allow a Democrat’s choice to come to a vote.

Marc Barrett, Council Bluffs

Profit above compassion

Removing elephants from their home and families and shipping them halfway around the world is a money-grabbing kidnapping (“Import permit saves elephants,” Feb. 15 World-Herald). The elephants are not being “saved.” The African park is making big bucks by unloading them. We at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals believe the Henry Doorly Zoo’s plans have nothing to do with conservation or animal welfare and everything to do with selling tickets.

Elephants are keenly intelligent, self-aware animals with long memories. They suffer and grieve when they are forcibly taken from their families, just like humans would. Putting highly sensitive animals through the trauma of capture, only to deprive them of everything that is natural and important to them, is unconscionable.

Jennifer O’Connor, Norfolk, Va.

PETA Foundation

A eye-opening view of Cuba

A thanks to The World-Herald’s Matthew Hansen and Ryan Soderlin for the pictures of current-day Cuba in both words and photos. It was so interesting and well-written.

Hansen has the ability to create a visual story with his clipped sentences and contrasts to 1961. The photos also had a 1961 look. It brought home the reality of suffering of people under communism.

Sharon Genners, Omaha

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