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Recent editorials published in Nebraska newspapers

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 20, 2014 at 9:01 am •  Published: October 20, 2014
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Lincoln Journal Star. Oct. 18, 2014.

Shorten time for early voting

Some Nebraskans have already cast their votes for governor, U.S. Senate and all the other races on the Nov. 4 ballot.

In fact, a few voters marked their ballots last month.

That's too early. State lawmakers should shorten the period for mailing ballots and for in-person early voting at election offices.

The mail ballots were sent out on Sept. 29. If a voter received their ballot the next day, they could have dropped it in the mailbox a good month before voters went to the polls.

Lancaster County Election Commissioner Dave Shively said that some voters hand deliver their mail ballots the day they receive them. This year the first ballot was delivered at about 1:30 p.m., he said, which is actually later in the day than some years.

The argument for long early voting periods is that it makes it easier for voters and that any change that makes it easier for voters is beneficial for democracy. Some studies say that early voting boosts turnout by 2 percent to 4 percent.

Generally liberals tend to favor longer voting periods and conservatives tend to favor shorter voting periods.

The Journal Star thinks there is a happy medium that would allow early voting two weeks before the election. That happens to be the early voting period favored by Paul Gronke, director of the Early Voting Information Center. (Military and overseas voters have special circumstances. They deserve the extra time allowed them under federal law.)

The assumption that early voting favors Democrats seems to be based in the success of the Obama campaign in getting out an early vote in the 2008 election. But in reality a long voting period would seem to favor any candidate with deep pockets who can get out his or her message early. In that case the advantage seemingly would go to Republicans, who are perceived as having more campaign funding.

The convenience of early voting should be balanced against the possibility that early voters will be deprived of information that might come out closer to Election Day.

Some important debates, for example, are scheduled after early voting begins. Some candidates with small budgets may not be able to run their ads until late in the campaign.

And there's another factor. Election Day, when voters traditionally make their way to the polls, provides a sense of common purpose, reminding Americans of their rights, responsibility and their power.

That viewpoint could be seen as anachronistic in an era in which people can talk with someone on the other side of the globe, shop and order a restaurant meal without leaving their apartment. But a sense of community is important too. We're all in this together.

Two weeks of early voting is enough.

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Kearney Hub. Oct. 16, 2014.

Elevator a first stop for crops in global trek

Fall is a favorite time for many Nebraskans, not just because the cool mornings and evenings gently prepare us for the stiff winter weather ahead, but because fall harvest is a reminder of the bounty our state's farmers produce to feed Americans and people around the globe.

The hundreds and hundreds of combine loads of corn and soybeans we watch on their way to elevators and ethanol plants in our region remind us of the tremendous wealth that our state's vast cropland produces.

Bushels upon bushels of corn and soybeans, along with thousands of cattle and swine, are headed to distant markets, many of them on the other side of the globe.

Nebraska's Director of Agriculture, Greg Ibach of Sumner, talked about the global reach of Nebraska agricultural goods during a recent appearance at the Kearney Sertoma Club. Among his points is that Nebraskans have gradually developed relationships with potential overseas customers, and today enjoy an enviable position to cash in on those relationships.

We Nebraskans have always been proud we're a beef state. At one time we adorned that title on our license plates. Today, Nebraska has more cattle on feed than any other state. Also of importance, our beef is regarded as the best there is in many foreign markets.

Nebraska's branding as the producer of the world's best beef is important, Ibach said, because emerging nations are developing an appetite for beef. They want to taste a great steak, and that means sitting down to a meal built around Nebraska beef.

Agriculture remains our state's No.1 industry, not just because our crops and livestock are purchased by U.S. buyers, but also because of the overseas demand for quality Nebraska commodities and livestock. During 2012, Nebraska sold foreign buyers almost $7.2 billion in agricultural products. Only two other states export more corn. Nebraska exports almost half of its soybeans.

Nebraska's tremendous success as a producer and exporter of agricultural products is no accident. Hundreds of trade missions, a commitment to continued quality improvements, and tremendous advances in technology contribute to our high profile overseas. However, Nebraskans cannot take our good fortune for granted. Agricultural expansion around the world means other nations are increasingly competitive and can steal coveted markets. Ibach reminded Kearney Sertomans, however, that global population growth ensures an expanding demand for food, regardless of where it's produced.

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McCook Daily Gazette. Oct. 17, 2014.

Cellular phones no longer a luxury to be taxed as such

Remember the "luxury tax"?

The idea is understandable — anyone who can afford luxury items like furs, cars, yachts, private jets and jewelry probably won't bat an eye at a few extra dollars.

Congress bought the argument, enacting such a tax in 1991, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

The government estimated it would raise $9 billion in excess revenues over the next five years.

You might remember how that turned out.

Congress never waited to see what would happen in five years. The money didn't materialize, and people employed in manufacturing, selling and maintaining cars, planes and yachts lost their jobs.

In 1993, the luxury tax was eliminated, although it stayed in place on cars for another 13 years.

At one time, cellular phones were considered a luxury. We remember running a story about one of the first automotive "bag phones," owned by an attorney who was later disbarred for stealing client funds.

But cellular phones are no longer a luxury — many people living hand-to-mouth rely on them as their sole electronic connection to the outside world, and they're even available through government subsidy to the elderly and economically disadvantaged.

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