Summer has arrived, but what a beginning for Nebraska's farmers and ranchers. The early fears of resurgent drought have been set aside in an abundance of rain which, combined with the reasonably cool conditions, has helped us recover further from the devastating drought of 2012. Unfortunately the weather has not treated everyone kindly.
My heart goes out to the residents of Pilger, Beaver Crossing Sutton and the other communities which have seen so much destruction from the recent tornadoes. Our small communities cannot really stand the kind of economic destruction which tornadoes impose on them.
Destructive hail and flooding have also taken their toll on portions of the state, including the Omaha metro area, which had over seven inches of rain last Friday evening.
A mixed bag of weather for Nebraska, but far better than the day-after-day of 100-plus temperatures we saw in 2012.
I returned Saturday from a leadership seminar held in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Council of State Governments.
The Council of State Governments is an association of all branches of state governments, executive, legislative and judicial.
Nebraska is a member of the Midwest region of the CSG, which consists of 11 states from Kansas east to Ohio and north to the Canadian border. Several Canadian provinces are also members of CSG-Midwest.
The Washington sessions that I attended focused on Medicaid and gave us several good ideas about how to improve service while cutting costs associated with Medicaid, which now make up almost one-third of many state economic expenditures.
The vast majority of these funds are dispersed to provide healthcare for the disabled and long-term care for those seniors who are residing in nursing homes but have spent down their resources.
With Nebraska's rapidly aging population, this problem should be a great concern to all of us.
Today's Omaha World Herald stated that Nebraskans are spending $327 million every year gambling at Iowa's casinos. That amounts to $175 for each Nebraska resident.
No matter how you feel about gambling, you must recognize that the revenue being shifted to Iowa will continue as long as Nebraska continues to forbid casino gambling within the state.
Unfortunately, Nebraskans do deal with the ramifications of problem gambling while Iowa profits from the addiction. Embezzlement, bankruptcy, theft, and suicide are some of the social problems which a gambling addiction can foster, and most states set aside portions of their gambling revenues to help those who have these problems.
However, with Iowa casinos siphoning off all the proceeds, Nebraska is only left with the wreckage which problem gambling can cause.
Given that more than 60 percent of Nebraska's population is within an hour of the Iowa casinos, it seems only a matter of time before we decide to fight fire with fire and introduce casino gambling on our own state.
I'd appreciate your input on this problem.
My staff and I are preparing a schedule of office hours in the district which will occur in most communities beginning July 7. I hope to visit almost every town in the district during that week to meet with constituents, answer questions and learn of your concerns. We are also trying to develop other methods with which constituents can connect with me if they have questions or are interested in the legislative process.
I do have a personal Facebook page where I occasionally discuss legislative issues or highlight articles I've read which are interesting. I also have a twitter account.
Have a fun-filled and safe 4th of July as we celebrate the nation's birthday. The United States is still the bright and shining city on the hill all across the world — let's never forget those who fought to keep those light aglow.
Sen. Al Davis, State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509. (402) 471-2628. firstname.lastname@example.org