Unicameral passes death penalty repeal with 32 votes

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

Following a solemn debate that flashed fiery at the end, the Legislature on Wednesday passed a landmark bill to abolish the death penalty in Nebraska with sufficient support to override a gubernatorial veto.

The bill (LB268), sponsored by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, was approved on a 32-15 count following a 34-14 vote to end a last-gasp filibuster by opponents.

Thirty votes eventually will be required to override a promised veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Wednesday’s historic vote may have signaled the end of a long journey for Chambers, who has been attempting to eliminate the death penalty for four decades.

“This is it,” he said as he entered the legislative chamber to begin the debate.

In 1979, Chambers won legislative approval of death penalty repeal, but the bill fell victim to a veto by Gov. Charles Thone.

Chambers told his colleagues they were on the cusp of writing history and it was a marked change of position among conservative legislators that made the difference.

“Nebraska will step into history” if the death penalty is eliminated here, he said. “It would be the first so-called conservative state to do so.”

Read the full story.

Read more about Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Death penalty repeal advances with 30 votes

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

A bill that would repeal the death penalty moved Friday to final reading, but a leading opponent said the fight on the bill would continue for another two rounds, if needed.

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers called the vote to advance the bill on second round another step on an arduous journey, “but a step of historical significance.”

Such a bill hasn’t passed since 1979, but that was vetoed by then-Gov. Charles Thone. A similar bill by Chambers in 2013 failed to get to a vote, with 28 of the 33 needed to end a filibuster against it.

This time, 30 senators voted to advance the bill to final reading, after breaking the filibuster with 34 votes. If senators stick with their votes, it would be enough to override an expected veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts.

“When something is of truly historical significance, it is not because of one individual or one act,” Chambers said.

Read the full story.

Peg Gallagher devoted her life to nonviolence and social justice

From the Omaha World-Herald:

Most people spent New Year’s Eve 1999 either celebrating or worrying about Y2K — the impact of the new millennium on everyday life.

Never one to follow convention, Margaret Sheehan Fitzgerald Gallagher did something different: With her stepdaughter, she traveled to Nevada and joined a nuclear weapons protest at a testing site. She was 81 at the time.

Friends and relatives expected nothing less. Gallagher, known as Peg, had a passion for social justice issues such as racism, the death penalty and wars she considered to be unjust.

“War and violence — she was just completely and utterly against it,” said granddaughter Joan Manriquez of New York City. “She spent a lot of time and energy protesting that.”

Read the full story.

Read Peg’s obituary.

First Keystone pipeline showing dangerous level of corrosion

From DeSmogBlog:

Documents obtained by DeSmogBlog reveal an alarming rate of corrosion to parts of TransCanada’s Keystone 1 pipeline. A mandatory inspection test revealed a section of the pipeline’s wall had corroded 95%, leaving it paper-thin in one area (one-third the thickness of a dime) and dangerously thin in three other places, leading TransCanada to immediately shut it down. The cause of the corrosion is being kept from the public by federal regulators and TransCanada.

“It is highly unusual for a pipeline not yet two years old to experience such deep corrosion issues,” Evan Vokes, a former TransCanada pipeline engineer-turned-whistleblower, told DeSmogBlog. “Something very severe happened that the public needs to know about.”

Read the full story.

Winona LaDuke, former GP vice presidential nominee, to speak at UNL May 14

From the Center for Great Plains Studies:

Winona LaDuke, a Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation, will speak at Kimball Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. on May 14. The talk is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.

LaDuke was the vice presidential nominee of the Green Party of the United States in both 1996 and 2000. Today she is the executive director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, a nonprofit that seeks to recover land for the Anishinaabeg people and to develop programs for environmental preservation.

Read more about this even and others at the Center for Great Plains Studies.

May 2 in Omaha: The Status of Race Relations – Where Are We?

From Nebraskans for Peace:

Save the date:

  • NFP Rice & Beans Potluck Fundraiser
  • Saturday, May 2, at 6 p.m.
  • Hanscom Park United Methodist
  • 4444 Frances St., Omaha (One Block South of 45th & Center streets)

Keynote speaker A’Jamal Byndon, Adjunct Professor at UNO, will deliver his talk, “The Status of Race Relations – Where Are We?”

NFP Rice and beverages will be furnished.

Please RSVP so we know how much NFP Rice to cook. Reach the NFP office at 402-453-0776 or NFPOmaha@nebraskansforpeace.org.

Happy Earth Day!

From the Green Party of the United States:

Today is Earth Day! Every day this month we have posted an ecological issue we care about to our followers on social media. We want you to spread the word to your social media connections that the Green Party is working year-round to elect candidates and promote a party that will take action on issues like the climate crisis, fracking, oil and gas mining, and more!

We brought you 22 different ecological issues as we counted down to Earth Day, including some that we may not think about every day (like the ecological impact of landmines, the importance of our underfunded national parks, and bees), but we know the list doesn’t end there. No matter what issues are affecting your community, your place is in the Green Party, working to build city councils, state legislatures, and a Congress that understands the connections between our human communities and natural communities.

Thank you for your work in your community, and for your support of the Green Party on Earth Day. Use the hashtag #GPEarthDay to spread the word! Search #GPEarthDay on Facebook and Twitter to follow our outreach. Share our tweets, Facebook messages and graphics! Happy Earth Day!

Huge Victory Against the Death Penalty!

From Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty:

Huge Victory. Act Now!

On April 16, 2015, the Nebraska Unicameral debated the bill to repeal the death penalty. After a morning of passionate discussion, Senator Chambers called for a vote on the bill. LB 268 passed with sweeping support from 30 senators, with only 13 voting against it!

What an exciting day! Read coverage from the Lincoln Journal Star.

We are now past the first hurdle toward passing the bill. However, it is more crucial than ever that you contact your Senator. We have to win two more votes before the bill goes to the Governor’s desk. And if the Governor vetoes the bill as he promised, we need to hold on to all 30 of those votes to override it. They must hear from you! Our partners at EJUSA created a simple form to thank your Senator for their support of repeal, or to tell them you are disappointed with their “no” vote. Simply follow this link, enter you information, and get the message to your Senator! We’ve come a long way to repeal the death penalty, but we’ve still got a battle to fight. We couldn’t do this without you, our dedicated supporters.

Thanks for all that you do! Let’s keep the pressure on our representatives!

Earth Day rally against TPP at Ashford’s office

From BOLD Nebraska:

Saturday, April 18 is Earth Day, and before we head to the Earth Day Omaha celebration in Elmwood Park, we’ll be making a short detour to Rep. Brad Ashford’s office, to join a broad coalition calling on him to vote against TPP (the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”), a secret “trade” deal that would give corporations powers to trump a country’s environmental and labor laws.

  • WHAT: Rally Against Fast-Track & TPP at Brad Ashford’s Omaha Office
  • WHEN: Saturday, April 18th at 10:00 a.m. (before Earth Day at 11:00 a.m!)
  • WHERE: Brad Ashford’s Office, 7126 Pacific Street, Omaha (map)
  • SHARE: Click here to share the event on Facebook.

RSVP and learn more about the TPP.