Monday, April 04, 2005


by Kyle Michaelis
There's a whole bunch of stuff going on at the state capital.

First, there's a proposal to make state agencies a little more accountable to the legislature when exercising their rule-making powers. The question of just what the hell Nebraska should do about Medicaid's ever-expanding costs is also being debated. Finally, updating a previous post, there's been a slight shift by the Telecommunications lobby and its in-the-pocket Senator Kermit Brashear, somewhat tempering their demand that public power providers be banned entirely from competing in the high-speed Internet market - instead calling for a legislative committee to study the issue.

All important matters - the Medicaid question is just huge as the state's low-income population and entire health care industry are sure to be affected. One hates to see services cut for people in need, but,with President Bush's budgetary slashing of the program, there aren't a lot of other options available. The whole health care system is completely out-of-control in this county, and our national politicians have proven entirely unwilling to talk about it, let alone find a solution.

Meanwhile, it's hard to have a problem with increased oversight by the legislature over state agencies. After all, the legislature is most directly-linked to citizens and most responsive to their concerns - just so long as agencies' are still able to do their job without too much of an added burden, which seems to be the case here.

As for Brashear and his buddies in the cable and phone industries, what more is there to say? This seems like the less extreme, less obvious way of accomplishing their original goal of preventing public utilities from entering the market indefinitely, leaving Nebraskans who can actually get service entirely at the mercy of established providers as rural Nebraskans don't even have that luxury. I say it doesn't pass the old smell test.

At least we're getting a good lesson in how much pull the telecommunications industry has. Not only do they have Speaker of the Legislature Brashear in their corner, but they also have his predecessor Curt Bromm lobbying on their behalf only months after leaving office. With Brashear being term-limited out in 2006, I guess we can only assume he's following in Bromm's footsteps and auditioning for a job.

Good for him. Good for Cox and Time-Warner. Bad for Nebraska.


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