Heineman: Federal Government Overreaching on Guns, Health Care
By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
From gun control to health care, Governor Dave Heineman says the federal government is overstepping its bounds. And that's reflected in proposals soon to be debated at the state capitol.
There's a push to expand Medicaid against the governor's wishes.
And then there's gun control, where a Fremont senator says President Obama is treading on our rights.
Governor Heineman's tax tour 2013 came to Hastings on Friday, where he stumped in favor of his plan to end the income tax.
A date has been set to debate what he calls a bold proposal. And in a bold move, the governor will open himself up to questions from lawmakers.
"I will be there, I'm ready to testify and I'm ready to share with all Nebraskans what I'm hearing," he said of the hearing on February 6.
The governor's agenda is clear. Less clear is which of the 655 bills proposed in this legislature will see the light of day.
Heineman's withholding judgment on most.
"Let's let the legislative process move forward," he said, saying bills can change between now and the time they reach a final vote.
He's also keeping an eye on national issues impacting the state.
That includes health care, where some Nebraska lawmakers want to expand government coverage for more people.
"I think it's fair to say I agree with most Nebraskans. Federal government is overreaching, spending too much money," he said.
Another issue is gun control, where the White House and Democrats are pushing for changes prompted by the horrific scene in Newtown.
"It's not like the movies, it changes your view of weapons," Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said.
State Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont has proposed a bill to make new federal gun control laws unenforceable in Nebraska.
Already thousands have signed an online petition in support of his legislation, days after he introduced it.
When it comes to violence in schools, Heineman says federal policy can't be one size fits all.
He said, "A small school, say Arthur County is different than Hastings or Kearney and different from Lincoln and Omaha so let's not try to be prescriptive for all school districts which is what I fear we'll hear from the federal government."
But the Governor's key message remains on taxes. He says now's the time to eliminate the income tax, which he says would catapult Nebraska into being one of the top tax states in the country, helping middle class families and small business.