The Nebraska State Capitol pictured at sunset on Feb. 17, 2022.
The Nebraska State Capitol pictured at sunset on Feb. 17, 2022. Photo by Zach Wendling/NNS.

Rep. Mike Flood and State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks squared off Sunday, Sept. 25, in a general election debate hosted by KETV Omaha. 

The contentious debate pitted the two candidates against one another for Nebraska’s first congressional district, which encompasses much of eastern Nebraska. Issues like abortion, inflation, student loan forgiveness and the candidates’ support for politicians in Washington rose to the top of the debate.

Pansing Brooks criticized Flood for having “marched in lockstep” with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the top-ranking Republican from California, while Flood criticized Pansing Brooks for “left-wing radical ideas” in the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat from California. In his closing statement, Flood called his opponent “Patty Pansing Pelosi.” Watch the full debate from KETV here.

The two candidates will meet one more time in a televised debate in Lincoln hosted by KLKN on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 5 p.m.

Read a recap on the debate from the Lincoln Journal Star’s Don Walton here.

Group organizes to oppose November Voter ID initiative

A coalition with Black Votes Matter, the ACLU of Nebraska and Civic Nebraska is joining to oppose Nebraska’s proposed Voter ID initiative ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Preston Love Jr. of Black Votes Matter, Jane Seu of ACLU Nebraska and Heather Engdahl of Civic Nebraska came together and argued the laws could disproportionately affect people of color and those living in poverty.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pete Ricketts and others like State Sen. Julie Slama have stressed the importance of voter ID even though there have been few instances of voter ID.

If the measure passes, state lawmakers would be in charge of implementing it, which is officially named Initiative 432. Lawmakers would need to decide what IDs would qualify and how the requirement would extend to mail-in or absentee voting.

Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford here.

NU Board of Regents could open door to alcohol at men’s, women’s basketball

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents will consider Friday, Sept. 30, whether alcohol sales should be permitted at Husker basketball games this season.

A proposed amendment in consultation with the leaders of Lincoln, which owns Pinnacle Bank Arena, would bring 90% of sales revenue back to the city and the remaining 10% to the university. 

The board in February updated NU’s policies on alcohol to allow alcohol sales ahead of the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament, but there are so far no additional plans to expand to Memorial Stadium or Haymarket Park.

The regents will meet beginning at 9 a.m. Friday at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and the meeting will be livestreamed on nebraska.edu.

Read more from 10/11 NOW here.

Nebraska Board of Pardons denies pardon to Ernest Jackson

The Nebraska Board of Pardons on Monday, Sept. 19, denied a pardon request to Ernest Jackson, the man convicted 22 years ago for a murder he did not commit nor was present at.

Three men, including Jackson, were charged in the 1999 killing of a man in Omaha, but Jackson’s trial was the first. The second defendant confessed to the killing and said Jackson was not present at the time of the killing; he was acquitted due to self-defense. This led to the acquittal of the third defendant.

Both the son and girlfriend of the man killed in 1999 wrote in support of Jackson’s release.

The board — which consists of Gov. Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson and Secretary of State Bob Evnen — did not comment before voting 3-0 denying Jackson’s release. Jackson is first eligible for parole in 2029.

Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Paul Hammel here.

Four public hearings, 77 testifiers, $335 million in recovery act funds

Across four days last week, 77 people testified with ideas on how to appropriate $335 million worth of recovery act funds saved for underserved areas of the state.

None of the ideas testified on count as official proposals. That won’t happen unless they are officially submitted to the project’s website, omahaeconomicrecovery.com, for consideration.

A special committee that includes Omaha State Sens. Tony Vargas, Terrell McKinney and Justin Wayne, the lead lawmaker on the project, will use the recommendations to draft a bill during the Legislature’s next session. Ideas can be submitted until Oct. 9.

The project stems from LB1024, the Economic Recovery Act, that the Legislature passed and Gov. Pete Ricketts signed into law earlier this year.

Read more from the Omaha World-Herald’s Erin Bamer here.

Nebraska education commissioner announces resignation, testifies on Capitol Hill

Matthew Blomstedt, the nine-year commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education, announced on Friday, Sept. 23, he will be stepping down on Jan. 3, 2023.

Blomstedt, in his notice to State Board of Education President Patsy Koch Johns, pledged to help in the transition and said he was proud to work with so many dedicated professionals.

Earlier in the week, Blomstedt was among those testifying before a U.S. House Education and Labor subcommittee in Washington, D.C.

Read more from the Nebraska Examiner’s Cindy Gonzalez on Blomstedt’s resignation and his Capitol Hill testimony.