Tag: Reform

People changing individual health insurance plans is nothing new

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have tried to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the law despite more than 8 million Americans – and 43,000 Nebraskans – signing up for private coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during the first ACA enrollment period. One of their common complaints is that many Americans with nongroup coverage not provided by their… Read more →

A failed deportation policy: Breaking up families for minor offenses

We’ve reached an unfortunate milestone under the Obama Administration – 2 million people have been deported from the U.S. under outdated policies, taking a devastating human and economic toll. Last week, The New York Times published a study that shows two-thirds of those people deported have committed only minor infractions such as traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.… Read more →

ACA In Nebraska: Young professional finds complete coverage

26-year-old Sara Tangdall teaches part-time as an adjunct English composition professor in the Omaha-metro area. Because she does not have a full-time position, she was unable to get insurance through her job, so she decided to check out the Health Insurance Marketplace. Having insurance for Sara is critical because she has severe asthma and allergies and requires prescriptions that, without… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed Statement on LR 399 to recommend supporting new, common-sense immigration laws

Today, Nebraska Appleseed Immigrants & Communities Director Darcy Tromanhauser released the following statement on LR 399, which was heard Wednesday afternoon by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. “Fixing our outdated immigration system is long overdue. Our antiquated immigration laws needlessly separate thousands of Nebraska families and prevent many people who already work hard, pay taxes, and contribute to our communities from… Read more →

House takes steps toward new immigration laws

Last week, the House Republican leadership released a set of principles for updating our country’s immigration laws. We were encouraged to see the release of these principles as an indication that this year’s legislative agenda will include immigration reform, which unfortunately stalled in the House after the Senate passed a historic bipartisan bill last year. This inaction – in the… Read more →

A long and earned path to citizenship

One of the mistaken sentiments expressed by opponents of updating our immigration laws is that creating a clear process for citizenship somehow moves undocumented immigrants “to the front of the line” ahead of people who already have taken steps in the citizenship process. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Immigrants currently stuck in backlogs would be processed first, and… Read more →

Interfaith candlelight vigil brings Nebraskans together to call for updated immigration laws

Tuesday evening, a crowd of around 100 faith, family, and community leaders joined immigration reform supporters for a candlelight vigil outside the Roman Hruska Federal Courthouse in downtown Omaha to support common-sense U.S. immigration laws being passed before the end of the year. The candlelight vigil, held in conjunction with the 7th night of Hanukkah, was held to lift up… Read more →

Nebraskans hold vigils, events to urge House action on immigration this year

The four-person dinner table contained settings for only three.  The head of the table sat empty, its absence most conspicuous. The symbol was a powerful one.  Representing Nebraska families who are missing a loved one because of detention or deportation, this dinner scene was not whole, incomplete. Thursday, Nebraskans in several cities gathered together to urge our state’s House of… Read more →

Updating immigration laws would boost U.S. economy

We know updating our immigration laws to include a pathway to citizenship for people living in the U.S. would go a long way toward keeping families together, improving health outcomes for Nebraska children, and reflect our state’s values of compassion and dignity. But, there are bottom-line, dollar-and-cents reasons to fix our outdated immigration system as well.  This article from “Immigration… Read more →

March and rally in Omaha Saturday for updated immigration laws

Saturday is a huge day for Nebraskans who think NOW is the time to fix our outdated immigration system! We want you to join hundreds of Nebraskans from across the state in Omaha Saturday afternoon as we march and gather to tell Congress now is the time to pass updated immigration laws that strengthen families, businesses, communities, and the future… Read more →

The End of the Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool

Beginning October 1, those who have been denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition will be able to sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s new health insurance Marketplace. That coverage will begin January 1, 2014. Until now, the Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool in Nebraska (or CHIP) has been the only option for Nebraskans who couldn’t… Read more →

Resources ready to help as we countdown to Health Insurance Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is just around the corner. Beginning October 1, many of those who are uninsured and don’t have access to health care coverage through their employer can purchase coverage in the new health insurance marketplace. And, in fact, a new study suggests almost half of those eligible for coverage in the new marketplace will pay less than $100 per… Read more →

Immigration Reform Summer: Now it’s time for House action

This was the summer of immigration reform in Nebraska and around the country. While our congressmen were back in Nebraska during the August recess, they heard loud and clear across the state Nebraskans are tired of seeing our families and communities harmed by outdated immigration laws. Community, faith, business, youth, and immigrant leaders attended town halls and held dozens of… Read more →

Nebraska youth and families ask Rep. Lee Terry “Keep Nebraska families together.”

OMAHA — One of the most damaging consequences of our outdated immigration system is the havoc it wreaks on families.  Nationwide, an estimated 4.5 million children who are U.S. citizens have a parent without immigration papers, including thousands here in Nebraska. Today, Nebraska families, youth, and faith leaders delivered children’s drawings and constituent postcards calling on Rep. Lee Terry to… Read more →

“Bibles, Badges, and Business” brings diverse perspectives to immigration discussion

Wednesday morning, a crowd of attendees in Omaha was treated to a well-informed discussion of how fixing our outdated immigration system would strengthen Nebraska’s communities and businesses. Faith, legal, and business leaders took part in a community forum organized by Bibles, Badges, and Business For Immigration Reform – a nationwide network of leaders from a variety of perspectives that support… Read more →

The ACA has good news for young people and rural residents

Two new reports released this week promise relief from high premiums and the anxiety that comes from being uninsured once all provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect January 1, 2014. The Center For Rural Affairs points out that rural Nebraskans will especially benefit from the premium tax credits and cost sharing subsidies that will be available in the… Read more →

Young Nebraska immigration advocates ask Rep. Jeff Fortenberry “Keep our Nebraska families together.”

One of the most damaging consequences of our outdated immigration system is the havoc it wreaks on families.  Nationwide, an estimated 4.5 million children who are U.S. citizens have a parent without immigration papers, including thousands here in Nebraska. Today, Nebraska families, youth, and faith leaders delivered children’s drawings and constituent postcards calling on Rep. Jeff Fortenberry to support common-sense… Read more →

Nebraska children ask Congressmen “Keep Our Families Together”

One of the most damaging consequences of our outdated immigration system is the havoc it wreaks on families.  Nationwide, an estimated 4.5 million children who are U.S. citizens have a parent without immigration status, including thousands here in Nebraska. Kids are more likely to suffer physical and emotional health problems and not do as well in school when separated from… Read more →

Nebraskans celebrate historic Senate immigration reform bill with path to citizenship

Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a historic immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship that marks a huge step toward fixing our outdated immigration system in a way that reflects Nebraska values and strengthens our state’s families and businesses. The bill passed with large bipartisan support by a vote of 68-32.  Appleseed joins thousands of Nebraskans in celebrating this… Read more →

Senate Immigration Bill Passes with Bipartisan Support, One Step Closer to Common-Sense Laws for the Future

Today is a historic day for all of us. Immigration is an important part of the fabric of our families, communities, and economy,” Gould said. “Passage of this bill at long last moves us toward modernizing our antiquated immigration laws to create a strong foundation for Nebraska’s families, our communities, our economy and our future. We all benefit from laws… Read more →

Nebraskans call for U.S. Senators to vote YES on immigration bill

Today, a large, diverse collection of Nebraskans gathered at the Roman L. Hruska Federal Court House in Omaha to urge Nebraska U.S. Senators Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer to vote “Yes” on S.744 — the historic bipartisan Senate immigration bill — to create a clear and attainable process for residency and eventual citizenship for aspiring Americans.  Nebraskans urged the senators… Read more →

Your voice critical TODAY on historic immigration reform

Thanks to those who already tried to call! The original phone number was not connecting with Nebraska senators.  Please use the corrected phone number below! Last night, the bipartisan Senate immigration bill passed a first critical test and vote. There will be a final vote on the bill by the Senate as early as Thursday. Both Senator Johanns and Senator… Read more →

Take Action – Path to citizenship for immigrants protects children

Nationwide, an estimated 4.5 million children who are U.S. citizens live in families where one or more of their parents are undocumented. As Nebraska children’s, family, and health advocates highlighted in a recent press conference (see below), these children will grow up to be our future family members, neighbors and co-workers – and their health and well-being as children today… Read more →

Day of Action – FB, tweet & call for immigration reform TODAY

Nebraska’s U.S. senators and congressmen are back at home this week for the Memorial Day recess. Next week, they’ll return to DC where the bipartisan immigration reform bill (S.744) will be debated and voted on in the Senate, and discussion is also expected to begin in the House. Today is a day you can help  spread the word that immigration… Read more →

Diverse Nebraska groups urge Congressional delegation to support common-sense immigration reform

Deliver flower baskets during recess week saying “Help Nebraska Flourish” With Nebraska’s members of Congress back home during this week’s recess, a wide variety of Nebraska organizations are telling our U.S. senators and representatives now is the time for a modern immigration system that creates stability for families and businesses, includes a clear process for citizenship for aspiring Americans, and… Read more →

Senate Judiciary Committee advances immigration bill with path to citizenship

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee put America one step closer to a modern, common-sense immigration system by advancing S. 744 out of committee with bipartisan support on a vote of 13-5. From the Washington Post: Senate panel approves sweeping immigration reform bill In the words of committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy who led the Senate Judiciary Committee process: “The… Read more →

Optimism from House announcement of immigration bill

Appleseed is very encouraged by news that a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives has reached an agreement in principle on immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans. While we await the details of the agreement, the announcement marks yet another major breakthrough. Combined with the progress being made in the Senate Judiciary… Read more →

Debunking the ACA Rate Shock Myth

One of the myths that has been circulating about the impact of the Affordable Care Act is that it will force insurance rates to go up sharply. A new fact sheet from Community Catalyst dispels those myths. Some things to remember when considering the impact that the ACA will have on private insurance premiums: Because insurers will not be allowed… Read more →

Understanding how the new Medicaid program is a firm commitment

There was much hand-wringing earlier this week from opponents of LB 577, the bill that would implement the new, extended Medicaid program in Nebraska, when it was announced the federal government would be reducing its funding for our state’s existing Medicaid program by $8 million next year. Opponents would love to use this reduction as a sign of the instability… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed Statement on Senate Immigration Bill

Darcy Tromanhauser, Director of Nebraska Appleseed’s Immigrants & Communities Program, issued the following statement on today’s Senate immigration reform bill. “This is a historic moment as our country takes a long-overdue step toward modernizing our immigration laws,” Tromanhauser said. “This bipartisan bill would finally create a process for millions of aspiring Americans — people who are our friends, neighbors, and… Read more →

Nebraska delegation to attend A10 immigration rally in Washington

On Wednesday, thousands of people from across the country will come together in Washington, D.C., for the A10 Rally for Citizenship to call on Congress to pass modern, common-sense immigration laws that include a clear and inclusive concept of citizenship. Appleseed will accompany a Nebraska delegation of eight staff, partners, and friends to add our voice to the thousands that… Read more →

Wide variety of Nebraska perspectives call for immigration laws with path to citizenship

Last week, more than 40 Nebraska organizations gathered at the Nebraska State Capitol to urge common-sense immigration laws that create a clear and inclusive path to citizenship for aspiring Americans. These 40 institutions represented a wide range of Nebraska perspectives, including faith, business, labor, immigrant, civic, civil rights, rural, children and families. Appleseed was proud to be part of this… Read more →

More than 40 Nebraska organizations say now is the time for common-sense immigration laws

Creating a clear and inclusive path to citizenship is good for Nebraska families, communities, economy, and future As Nebraska’s members of Congress get ready to return to Washington, D.C., more than 40 Nebraska organizations gathered today to urge common-sense immigration laws that create a clear and inclusive path to citizenship for aspiring Americans. The organizations represented a wide range of… Read more →

Young People ask State Senators to Extend Voluntary Services and Support to 21

On January 31, young people from Project Everlast joined Senator Amanda McGill and other advocates to speak out in support of LB 216 – the Young Adult Voluntary Services and Support Act. LB 216, introduced by Senator McGill, would remove barriers facing young people who age out of foster care by extending voluntary services and support to the age of… Read more →

TAKE ACTION: National call-in days for immigration reform!

Join the national call-in days for immigration reform! Make your call today or tomorrow! Call Congress at 877-848-8289 or text “NOW” to 787753. Join supporters across the country, and flex your muscle for common-sense immigration laws with a clear and direct roadmap to citizenship that support Nebraska families, businesses, and communities! As always, your message can be short and simple… Read more →

The beginning of a real conversation on immigration

NPR’s interview with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Service Employees International Union this week shows the beginning of a real conversation on immigration. As the two groups noted in the interview, “While we may disagree on a number of other issues, on this one we are lock step and working on fixing this system.” Eliseo Medina of SEIU… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed welcomes focus on citizenship and momentum for reform

With this week’s major announcements on immigration from a bipartisan group of Senators and President Obama, momentum has never been stronger for immigration reform. We welcome the announcement that Republican and Democratic Senators are prepared to move forward with legislation that includes a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans currently residing in the United States. We look forward to legislation… Read more →

LB 577 is a great opportunity & real solution to improve the health of all Nebraskans & our state economy

Today, Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould made the following statement on LB 577, the legislative bill that would implement the Affordable Care Act’s new Medicaid program in Nebraska. “LB 577 is a tremendous step toward ensuring the future health of Nebraskans.  The bill ensures that we take advantage of the opportunity to provide access to health care to at least 54,000… Read more →

Free screening of Precious Knowledge highlights importance of cultural education

On Tuesday, January 22, Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle and several Omaha organizations will sponsor a FREE showing of Precious Knowledge, a film that highlights one of the final years of the highly successful Mexican-American Studies Program at Tucson High School and the fight to abolish the program after Arizona lawmakers abolished ethnic studies classes in 2011. Following the 7:00 p.m. screening at the… Read more →

New Medicaid program gaining momentum as states recognize benefits

As state Legislatures come back into session this month and budget discussions begin, the new Medicaid option under the Affordable Care Act is gaining momentum. In the past week alone, the governors of Arizona and North Dakota, who both had previously spoken out against the ACA, included the new Medicaid plan in their budgets because of the economic benefits that… Read more →

New immigration policy change will help preserve American families

How we treat immigrants should reflect our commitment to the values that define us as Americans. We all believe families should stick together and yet, our current immigration policies, unfortunately and too often, tear families apart instead of strengthening them – including U.S. citizens and immigrant family members. On Wednesday, however, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced a change in… Read more →

Appleseed 2012 Year in Review – Welcoming new Nebraskans for stronger, united communities

This is part of a series looking back on Nebraska Appleseed’s work in 2012. Nebraska Appleseed believes communities in which all people are welcome and engaged become stronger and more enriched.  Our work in 2012 pursued the goals of creating a stronger Nebraska by fighting for the rights of new Americans. Promoting Common-Sense Immigration Laws Appleseed believes we need a… Read more →

Appleseed 2012 Year in Review – Child Welfare

This is part of a series looking back on Nebraska Appleseed’s work in 2012. Repairing Nebraska’s Broken Child Welfare System In 2012, Nebraska Appleseed responded to the crisis condition of Nebraska’s child welfare system. During the 2012 Legislative session, Appleseed worked with state senators and partners to support a package of five bills designed to stabilize and reform Nebraska’s struggling child welfare… Read more →

Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments on Fremont’s anti-immigrant law

Earlier Today, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments over Fremont’s anti-immigrant ordinance, a draconian law that established significant barriers to housing and employment in an attempt to make life for immigrants in Fremont nearly impossible. Although the core of the housing ordinance was found to be unconstitutional by the district court, a licensing provision that would force… Read more →

The Cost and Coverage Implications of the New Medicaid Program

Linda Manns from Bellevue had health insurance all her life, until she recently lost her job as a certified nurse assistant.  Linda has diabetes, which kept her from working mandatory overtime her employer required, which she said resulted in her being let go. Recently, Linda got an infection in her toe.  Without health insurance, she couldn’t afford to go to the… Read more →

How the new Medicaid program would fuel the Nebraska economy

Last week, we talked about the coverage gap that about 78,000 Nebraskans would fall into if the Legislature chooses not to implement the new Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. These are Nebraskans that don’t qualify for the current Medicaid program, but don’t make enough to be able to get tax credits to buy health insurance through the Exchange.… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed Statement on Nebraska’s health insurance exchange plan

Today, Governor Heineman announced that the state would default to a federally facilitated exchange in Nebraska.  Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca L. Gould issued the following statement in response: “Now that Nebraska has decided the federal government will facilitate our exchange, Nebraska Appleseed looks forward to working with federal and state officials to ensure the system is focused on the… Read more →

Why more immigration is key to U.S. economic growth

Immigrants who have moved here care deeply about American values such as hard work and entrepreneurship and have always been strong contributors to the economy.  A pair of recent articles are worth a read on how immigrant Americans have made essential contributions to our economy – and particularly to innovation – in past and present, and the importance of immigration… Read more →

How the Affordable Care Act helps Nebraskans in a nutshell

The Affordable Care Act is already helping thousands of Nebraskans, and will help even more with full implementation of the law in 2014. Nebraska Appleseed has created a new fact sheet that explains the basics of the law, including the current consumer protections in effect, how you’ll be protected in the future, and the ways that the ACA makes health care… Read more →

Crucial improvements necessary for ACCESS Nebraska system

Tuesday, the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee held an interim study on the progress made by ACCESS Nebraska, the state’s new public benefit delivery system. ACCESS Nebraska was designed to modernize the public benefits system and improve efficiency, but there have been many problems that have occurred as a result of the transition.  At the hearing, several Nebraskans testified… Read more →

Upcoming Community Forums explain Health Care Reform in Nebraska

Nebraska Appleseed is out and about in the community this week to participate in a pair of community events about the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday night, join us for either a presentation in Lincoln or a panel discussion in Omaha. OMAHA Wednesday, October 17 from 7-9pm “Myth & Reality: Explaining the Affordable Care Act (ACA)” Jewish Community Center Social… Read more →

The Power of a Voice – Sen. McGill thanks youth for sharing their perspectives on the foster care system

“Your voice does matter to state senators, and your voice CAN make a difference.” These powerful words were spoken by Senator Amanda McGill in her modernized version of a thank you card to the more than 100 youth who participated in statewide focus groups and/or responded to surveys about an extended services and support to 21 program this summer. Such… Read more →

Center For Rural Affairs Report says new program under the Affordable Care Act is critical for rural Nebraskans

The Center For Rural Affairs released a new report Monday that examines the effect a new Medicaid program would have on Nebraska’s rural communities.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) gives states the opportunity to provide coverage to low-income residents under age 65 through a new Medicaid program with significant federal assistance. The report, New Medicaid Initiative in Nebraska: The Rural… Read more →

The Heavy Toll of Extreme Immigration Laws

Rev. H. Julian Gordy, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Southeastern Synod, wrote a powerful guest column in Sunday’s Montgomery Advertiser, the newspaper of record in Alabama’s capital. His piece is a reminder of the heavy toll extreme immigration laws continue to take on several Southern states. He describes the “economic fractures and the human toll” that spill… Read more →

Ruth Marimo, an Immigrant from Zimbabwe, Tells her Harrowing Story

Ruth Marimo is a thirty-one-year-old single, lesbian, African mother of two. While awaiting deportation almost two years ago, she began her incredible memoir, Freedom of an Illegal Immigrant. Her story begins in Zimbabwe. At five years old, she lost her mother to suicide, and her sibling died the same year. She was raised by her mother’s relatives and lived with… Read more →

Interim study to assess state’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act

An alarming figure illustrates that Nebraska has the second-highest imbalance in the country when it comes to the number of Native American children in the state’s foster care system.  Though Native Americans make up roughly one percent of Nebraska’s population, native children represent eight percent of the total number of children in foster care. Nebraska Appleseed, the Nebraska ICWA Coalition,… Read more →

Child Welfare Forum brings national experts to Lincoln

Last Thursday, six national child welfare experts met with nearly 100 local stakeholders for a Child Welfare Forum focusing on evidence-based practice in prevention and early intervention. After testifying at the Legislature interim study in the morning, the team of experts provided information in an afternoon session on best practices and what is working across the country. Attendees also met… Read more →

Appleseed Testifies at Interim Study Hearing on Poverty and Child Welfare

On Thursday morning, Nebraska Appleseed participated in an interim study, LR529, on the “front door” or entries to Nebraska’s child welfare system. Appleseed’s Executive Director, Becky Gould, testified about the role anti-poverty programs can play in supporting families and preventing children from ending up in the child welfare system. “We believe that effectively addressing poverty is not only fundamental to… Read more →

September News from Nebraska Appleseed

In this September edition of “Appleseed in Action”: New data on poverty in America UNMC report reveals Medicaid expansion would cover 90,000 uninsured Deferred Action Forum: a new opportunity for DREAMers Appleseed files petition for hearing on meatpacking worker health & safety Join us at the Good Apple Awards on October 4 New data on poverty in America On Wednesday,… Read more →

More groups take stances opposing Fremont’s oppressive anti-immigrant ordinance

Last week, several civil rights organizations filed amicus briefs in the federal case opposing Fremont’s anti-immigrant ordinance.  It is encouraging so many groups are standing against this measure that is clearly damaging to the fabric of the community. Nebraska Appleseed filed our own amicus brief in opposition to the ordinance in July.  In our brief, we highlighted the Voices from… Read more →

Join Us for a Child Welfare Forum Sept 13, 2012

Please JOIN US for a child welfare forum on evidence-based practice related to prevention and early intervention! DATE: Thursday, September 13th TIME: 1:00-4:00 p.m. LOCATION: The Cornhusker Hotel, The Lancaster 123 Room, 333 S. 13th St., Lincoln, NE RSVP: online at http://neappl.es/sparcrsvp or to Cynthia Davis at cynthia@neappleseed.org The forum will be structured in three parts: an overview presentation to the… Read more →

Consumer Advocates Weigh in on Nebraska State Health Exchange

This morning, Governor Heineman invited a broad range of consumer advocates to give testimony on the creation of a state-based health insurance exchange in Nebraska.  Nebraska Appleseed was one of the organizations that offered testimony – expressing our hopes that a state exchange will be focused on the consumer and increase access and affordability of coverage. The Affordable Care Act… Read more →

Public Hearings on Health Care

As Nebraska moves forward in implementing the Affordable Care Act, a crucial part is in the creation of an Exchange, and it is imperative that your voice is heard! The Exchange will serve thousands of Nebraskans, and will be the place many access health insurance and get premium tax credits. As a result, it is critical that the exchange focus… Read more →

UNMC Report Reveals Medicaid Opportunity We Can’t Miss

Today, the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Center for Health Policy released a report examining the potential economic impact the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) new Medicaid program would have on Nebraska. The results paint a clear picture that the state would receive significant returns on an investment made in the good health and well-being of its citizens through this new… Read more →

A Step Forward for Aspiring U.S. Citizens

Tomorrow, applications for the important new deferred action policy for DREAMers will be released. This worthwhile policy grants temporary relief from deportation for DREAMers – young, aspiring citizens who have grown up in the United States – and allows applicants to apply for a two-year work permit. Most important, it reaffirms that these youth are already Americans in all but… Read more →

Preventive Care for Women Now Available Without Cost-Sharing

The Affordable Care Act requires certain women’s preventive health services to be made available without cost-sharing for plan years beginning on or after August 1. There has been a lot of media coverage on this provision, but the National Health Law Program has a great Q&A to answer all your questions on what services are covered, and whether your insurance… Read more →

A Summer of Youth Focus Groups

You may remember past blogs about an exciting new program that would extend services and support for youth who age out of foster care to the age of 21.  These services and supports would include, among other things, Medicaid coverage, housing assistance, and youth-directed case management. State Senator Amanda McGill introduced LB 1150 in January of this year, which would… Read more →

Many Voices Are Stronger Together

One voice shouting on a street corner may be easy to ignore, but a large group speaking together is a voice that will be heard. This week, many community groups gathered in Omaha to discuss the power of unity at “Stronger Together,” a retreat facilitated by the Leadership Conference Education Fund.  At the  “Stronger Together” retreat, community activists and community… Read more →

Health Care, Immigration, Fair Pay & You’re Welcome!

In this edition of “Appleseed in Action”: Health Reform: Quality, affordable and constitutional health care for all; Arizona’s SB1070: Socially toxic and unconstitutional; Lilly Ledbetter in Omaha: One Woman’s Battle for Justice; You’re Welcome in Omaha!; Take Action: Opportunity for DREAMers Read more →

You’re Welcome! Photo Anthology

Nebraska’s summer cultural festivals create a perfect opportunity to recognize and appreciate the diversity in our state. By sharing music, food, and art — as we have for generations — communities come together and begin to create a culture of inclusiveness. Throughout the summer, we’ll be presenting photos of Nebraskans sharing why they believe Nebraska is and should be a… Read more →

World Refugee Day and “You’re Welcome” in Omaha

“We are not so different.” The boy writing on the dry-erase board had asked about You’re Welcome, a new collaborative effort in Omaha to promote a welcoming, inclusive community. The idea is that immigrants resettling in a community have a far better chance of integrating if the others in that community are receptive to including their new neighbors. One current project is collecting… Read more →

A Great Day for Nebraskans: Nebraska Appleseed Applauds Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act

Nebraska Appleseed applauds the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today finding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act legal and constitutional. “Today is a great day for Nebraskans and the future health of our country, our families, and our friends and neighbors,”  said Rebecca Gould, Executive Director at Nebraska Appleseed.  “This is the right legal result and means the benefits that… Read more →

Supreme Court Strikes Down Most of Arizona’s Immigration Law

Nebraskans emphasize toxic social and economic outcomes Today the Supreme Court issued a first ruling on Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. In response, Nebraska Appleseed issued this media release: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three of the four provisions of Arizona’s notorious “show me your papers” law, a state-level immigration policy that Nebraska and many other states have already… Read more →

As a Supreme Court Decision on Arizona’s SB 1070 Looms, States Reflect on Rippling Effect Felt Throughout the Nation Since the Law’s Passage in 2010

With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule on Arizona’s notorious immigration law any day now, states are reflecting on the devastating social and economic effects witnessed in Arizona and Alabama that have caused localities to turn away from the approach. A federal judge temporarily blocked portions of Arizona’s law, including its “Show me your papers” provision, but the state… Read more →

More Benefits to Nebraskans From the Affordable Care Act

Yesterday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that 12.8 million Americans will benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates from insurance companies this summer, because of the Affordable Care Act’s 80/20 rule.  Nebraskans are expected to receive $4.8 million in rebates.  More than 46,000 people will get a rebate, with an average of $215 per family. These rebates… Read more →

Hope for DREAMers, a Sensible Immigration System, and Time for Action…

On Friday, June 15th, President Obama announced an encouraging new policy that will grant relief from deportations for undocumented youth who are known as DREAMers. These young immigrants grew up in United States and dream of using their education and skills to contribute to society. They are American in all ways except for one—paperwork—but last week’s announcement was a long-awaited… Read more →

Award-winning Journalist Shares Story of Being an Undocumented Immigrant

“I want to give back to a community that has given me so much.” “For me, U.S. citizenship would be an outward manifestation of an inward truth.” Many of America’s undocumented came to the United States as young children and grew up not knowing they didn’t have the right immigration papers. They seek an education and work as hard as… Read more →

Ground Shift Implications

A recent Health Affairs blog post discusses possible implications for the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.  Each of the Court’s possible rulings was given a Richter Scale rating based on how great a “ground shift” it would cause. Read the full post at Health Affairs The Richter Scale is a great shorthand for understanding… Read more →

Anticipating the Supreme Court’s Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release its decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act later this month, which means that now is a good time to review the questions and possible outcomes. Kaiser Health News has an excellent chart, released last November, describing the questions, how they’re related, and potential outcomes. Like many others, Nebraska Appleseed… Read more →

Private Prison Industry Profits from Immigrant Detentions at Taxpayer Expense

Another disconcerting investigative report – this time from Chris Kirkham at the Huffington Post – reveals rising profits in the private prison industry from immigrant detention: “the industry has seen its revenues swell at taxpayer expense.” The article explores the industry’s new business model and the profit motive to support laws like Arizona’s, showing that new profits “are in part… Read more →

The Spring 2012 Edition of “At the Core”

The end of the 2012 Nebraska legislative session finished with a flurry of activity on prenatal care, child welfare, and a number of Appleseed’s priority bills passing. You can read about these successes and other recent efforts in the latest edition of our bi-annual newsletter “At the Core.” Download a printable copy of “At the Core” Inside you can read… Read more →

The ACA – Putting Money Back in Our Pockets

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of people are expected to receive checks from their insurance companies this year. Kaiser Health News estimates that insurance companies will be sending $1.3 billion back to consumers under a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance carriers to spend 80-85% of premium dollars on actual health care costs rather than administrative… Read more →

Access to Health Care Is Becoming More Problematic

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released a report that measured state-level changes in access to health care between 2000 and 2010. The report looks at the likelihood of having unmet medical needs due to cost, the likelihood of receiving a routine checkup, and receiving a dental visit, and it found that there had been a deterioration in access to care… Read more →

Puzzling over the Supreme Court Argument in the Arizona Case

Linda Greenhouse, a former New York Times reporter on the Supreme Court, offers this excellent piece puzzling over the recent Supreme Court argument on Arizona’s notorious “show me your papers” law, S.B. 1070: I found last week’s Supreme Court argument in the Arizona immigration case utterly depressing, and I’ve spent the intervening week puzzling over my reaction. It’s not simply that the… Read more →

How the System Fails Youth, Part 5: Missouri’s Extended Foster Care Program

Ashley is a walking example of how extending foster care services could positively impact youth in care. Ashley aged out of Missouri’s foster care system when she was 21, so she can talk explicitly about “…the difference between aging out at 19 and aging out at 21.” Ashley was able to receive all the support she needed while she attended… Read more →

How the System Fails Youth, Part 2: Former Ward Denied Services on a Technicality

Every day this week, we will provide a in-depth look into the needs of youth in foster care. Oscar describes himself as the “average teenager.”  He is 19 years old and takes college courses at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  However, Oscar has faced numerous challenges in his life.  He was placed in the foster care system when he… Read more →

Remaining Uninsured

A new study released on April 19, by the Commonwealth Fund underscores the necessity of having insurance, and the difficulties of navigating the individual market: Approximately one-quarter of adults between the ages of 19 and 64 experienced a significant gap in their health insurance coverage in 2011, and compared to those who had continuous coverage, they were less likely to have… Read more →

Today at the Supreme Court: Can a State Create Its Own Immigration System?

Earlier today the United States Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the constitutionality of Arizona’s notorious state-level immigration enforcement law, S.B. 1070, in Arizona v. United States.  Yesterday we described the socially toxic and economically self-defeating outcomes that have resulted from Arizona-style laws. Today, we will outline the legal arguments of the case, in which the U.S. government is challenging a… Read more →

Day 3 (Wednesday): Can the Court Uphold or Strike Down Only Part of the ACA and Is Medicaid Expansion Unconstitutional?

Wednesday was the third and final day of arguments at the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act.  There were two main questions: If the Court were to find the individual responsibility provision (which was the focus of Tuesday’s arguments) unconstitutional, does that mean the entire ACA law must be struck down or does it mean only the individual responsibility… Read more →

Day 2 (Tuesday): Is the Individual Responsibility Provision Unconstitutional?

Our apologies for not getting this post up sooner, but as you can see, it’s been busy around here! As you’ll recall, challengers of the Affordable Care Act are claiming that the federal government does not have the power to require people to purchase health insurance. Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on this question. (You can hear the… Read more →

And So It Begins…

On Monday, March 26, the United States Supreme Court will begin to hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. This case is one of the most important to be heard in recent memory, and the Supreme Court has set aside an unprecedented amount of time over three days for arguments on… Read more →

Two Years Later: The Benefits of Health Reform

March 23, 2012, marks the second anniversary of the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In response, Rebecca L. Gould, Executive Director of Nebraska Appleseed issued this statement: “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was an historic step forward in addressing the inequalities and inefficiencies in our health care system. Over the last two years, tens… Read more →

5 Ways Health Reform Helps Address Disparities

This list comes from our friends at The National Health Law Program – securing health rights for those in need. 1. ALREADY IN PLACE: Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, and disability The ACA extended the nondiscrimination protections of Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Age Discrimination Act… Read more →

Youth Share Their Experiences and Perspectives with Senators

During last week’s first round of debate on the package of child welfare bills, Lincoln Senator Bill Avery noticed the apparent absence of the usual lobbyists in the State Capitol’s rotunda.  As noted by Senator Avery, there “are no highly paid lobbyists working on behalf of kids.”  While Nebraska Appleseed, Voices for Children, and some other child advocates were present,… Read more →

Marching Forward in the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights

Today, Gabrielle Liwaru, Benito Sanchez, Kevin Lytle and I will be joining thousands of others Americans in the historic Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights March. It commemorates the 1965 voting rights marches which were a key moment in the civil rights movement and led to the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act. But the 2012 March isn’t only about… Read more →

No Tearful Reunions, No Happy Endings

“When it was over, we all sat there in silence for a moment, shocked by what we had seen, waiting for the happy ending ” said Rebecca Gonzales. Last Wednesday night, Appleseed, along with the NAACP Lincoln Branch, the Ethnic Studies Department of UNL and the UNL Progressive Student Coalition hosted a free screening of Luis Argueta’s film “AbUSed: The Postville Raid” at the Ross Theater. Read more →

Statement on General File Debate on Child Welfare Bills

Rebecca L. Gould, Executive Director of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, issued the following statement today in response to the advancement of a package of five bills to reform the state’s child welfare system: “Today and yesterday, the Nebraska Legislature voted to advance a package of five bills designed to stabilize and reform the state’s… Read more →

Join Us for a FREE Screening of abUSed: The Postville Raid

Nebraska Appleseed, the NAACP, Lincoln Chapter, the Progressive Student Coalition and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute for Ethnic Studies are sponsoring a free showing of the film abUSed: The Postville Raid at the Mary Riepma Ross Theater located at 313 North 13th Street in Lincoln at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 29th.  The free screening will be followed by a discussion of the film with… Read more →

Appleseed Welcomes Amy West as New Child Welfare Policy Coordinator

Amy West wears many different hats. On any given day, she could be sitting in class as a MSW/MPA graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, advocating for a teen in Nebraska’s foster care system as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, or working on a research project with the Nebraska CASA Association through her practicum. Nebraska Appleseed is… Read more →

A Timely Path to Permanency Requires True System Reform

LB 1172 requires the County Attorney to file a petition to terminate parental rights when a child under the age of five is in an out-of-home placement for twelve months.  We thank Sen. Pirsch and the judiciary committee for their commitment to increase permanency for younger children in foster care, but believe that reducing case load size and increasing access… Read more →

Appleseed at the Legislature

The 2012 Legislative session is off to a fast and furious start.  We are already a third of the way through this short (60 day) session and Nebraska Appleseed is working on more bills than ever before.  We’d like to highlight some of the key issues we are working on in our programs and give you an opportunity to get… Read more →

An Opportunity for Investment in the Futures of Youth in Foster Care

Yesterday, the HHS Committee held a hearing on LB 1150, a bill, introduced by Senator McGill with input from Project Everlast youth members, that would extend foster care services on a voluntary basis up to age 21 in Nebraska. For years, adolescents aging out of foster care have struggled with the transition into adulthood. Typical 19-year-olds are able to turn… Read more →

Appleseed Supports the Creation of a Children’s Commission

[DDET LB 821 Testimony] Senator Kathy Campbell Chair, Health and Human Services Committee Room 1402, State Capitol Lincoln, NE 68509 Chairwoman Campbell and members of the Health and Human Services Committee, On behalf of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, I am here to testify in support of LB 821. We support LB 821 because it… Read more →

Testimony supporting LB957 to Adopt the Office of Inspector General for the Nebraska Child Welfare Act

Senator Kathy Campbell Chair, Health and Human Services Committee Room 1402, State Capitol Lincoln, NE 68509 Chairwoman Campbell and members of the Health and Human Services Committee, On behalf of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, I am here to testify in support of LB 957. We support LB 957 because we believe ongoing oversight and… Read more →

Return Foster Care Case Management to the State

Sarah Helvey, Child Welfare Director at Nebraska Appleseed, testified last Thursday at the Unicameral’s Health & Human Services Committee in support of LB961. The bill would return foster care case management to the State of Nebraska.  Case management is a core government responsibility. While there is a role for private-public partnerships, and for private agencies to provide certain services, the… Read more →

Statement on KVC Contract Amendment & Additional $1.8 MILLION Infusion

Yesterday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that it entered into another contract amendment with KVC on December 24th to infuse an additional $1.8 million into the state’s failing child welfare privatization effort even as the the Legislature’s HHS Committee had just the week before released recommendations to make significant changes to the system, implement oversight, and… Read more →

Thousands March in Alabama

Freedom Riders Meet with DREAMers in Dr. Martin Luther King’s Church [thethe-image-slider name=”IICP Blog 12/22/2011″] Last weekend, thousands came together in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest that state’s notorious immigration enforcement law. Carrying “One Family, One Alabama” and “Not in My America” signs, Civil Rights leaders from across the country and thousands of Alabamians called for the state and country to… Read more →

Legislature’s HHS Committee Releases LR 37 Report and Recommendations on Child Welfare

Yesterday, the HHS Committee of the Legislature released its report as part of LR 37, an interim study investigation of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) child welfare reform and privatization.  Among the 18 recommendations were the following: Return case management to the state by July 1, 2012 Create the Nebraska Department of Children’s Services Create the… Read more →

Busy Weeks in Child Welfare

Last week was a busy one for child welfare advocates and this week promises to be the same with the final LR 37 report scheduled to be released on Thursday.  Below is a brief recap: On Monday, December 5th, the Legislature’s Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight and HHS Committees held a hearing on LB 603 regarding recent changes to Medicaid coverage… Read more →

New Report Shows (Again) Alarming Problems in Detention Facilities

As America continues to call on Congress to bring our immigration system into the 21st century – with workable solutions that uphold our values and move us forward – a new report released today by two Midwest human rights organizations highlights alarming problems in immigrant detention facilities as well. The report, Not Too Late for Reform, authored by the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights… Read more →

Hearing on Health Insurance Exchanges Show Need to Push Forward

Yesterday, the message from consumer advocates, providers, and insurance carriers/producers was clear: we should move forward next legislative session and consider legislation to create a state-based exchange.  Several groups, including Nebraska Appleseed, testified in front of the Nebraska Legislature’s Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee, along with some members of the Health and Human Services Committee, during a public hearing on… Read more →

Thousands Gather for Civil and Human Rights in Alabama

Today thousands of Alabamians are gathering to launch the “One Family, One Alabama” campaign to challenge state lawmakers to repeal the nation’s most vicious anti-immigrant law.  Members of Congress will hear from people whose lives have been damaged by the law. Local leaders and civil rights leaders from around the country will speak at the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Numerous… Read more →

Nebraska Appleseed Leads a Community Discussion about the Child Welfare System and Privatization

On Wednesday of last week, a community discussion was hosted by the Lancaster County Democratic Party at Gere Library in Lincoln. Nebraska Appleseed’s Sarah Helvey was invited to speak at the event which focused on Nebraska’s child welfare system and the progress of LR 37. LR 37 is an interim study which provides for the HHS Committee of the Legislature… Read more →

Health Reform Victory Reinforces Need to Continue Implementation

On Thursday, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is the comprehensive health reform law signed into law by President Obama in March 2010.  The 2-1 Court of Appeals decision joins dozens of other lawsuits challenging the ACA that have been dismissed because either they found… Read more →

Appleseed Presents Results of Survey of Attorneys’ Perceptions of Child Welfare Privatization to Legislative Committee

On Tuesday of last week, the Health and Human Services Committee of the Nebraska Legislature continued its investigation of the effects of privatization on the state’s child welfare system through the LR 37 interim study process.  As part of the LR 37 process, Nebraska Appleseed conducted a survey of juvenile court attorneys across the state and asked them to share… Read more →

The Myth of Chain Migration

Written for and originally Posted at Forbes A common criticism of the U.S. immigration system is it tilts toward family admissions. This criticism rests, in part, on the mistaken notion that any close relations sponsored by U.S. citizens come to America quickly as permanent residents. However the wait times for sponsoring a close family member are long and, in some… Read more →

Step Up for Kids

Do the new census figures reflecting that one child in five in Nebraska struggles with poverty worry you? Have you followed recent child welfare system developments with concern? Do you think that access to prenatal care should be available to all who need it to protect the health of mothers and babies? The newspaper headlines in our state have been… Read more →

Health Insurance Exchange Legislation Must Go Forward

Reports indicate that Governor Heineman has decided that the state should wait to fully implement a state-based exchange until the United States Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is critical that the state pass enabling legislation during the next legislative session to allow the state to create a state-based health… Read more →

Step Up for Kids

Please join representatives from Nebraska Appleseed, A.S.K., Behaven Kids, Boys Town, Building Bright Futures, KVC, NAMI-Nebraska, NASW-Nebraska Chapter, Nebraska Families Collaborative Nebraska Family Support Network, and Voices for Children in Nebraska for the STEP UP FOR KIDS 2011 event. Tuesday, October 11, 2011 3:00-4:00 p.m. North Steps of the State Capitol Special Guest: Tom Osborne In these financially uncertain times, it is… Read more →

Yet Another Health Care Challenge Rejected

On Thursday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed two constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), finding that both plaintiffs lacked the requisite standing to challenge the law.  Out of the other four other circuits have that have ruled on ACA challenges, only one other (the 11th Circuit) has decided (in a 2-1 opinion) that the individual responsibility… Read more →

Enough Is Enough

Last week, the State Auditor released a report on the child welfare privatization, which detailed, among other things, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ gross mismanagement and lack of oversight of valuable taxpayer dollars intended for the state’s most vulnerable children.  Appleseed is deeply troubled by the severity of the information in the Auditor’s report.  So much so,… Read more →

Tony & Janina’s American Wedding: FREE Screening

On Thursday, September 1st, the UNL Progressive Student Coalition is excited to partner with Nebraska Appleseed to host a FREE screening of the film “Tony & Janina’s American Wedding.” This film, about a Polish immigrant family, is a feature length documentary that gets to the heart of the broken, red tape ridden U.S. immigration system and provides a fresh perspective… Read more →

Kids Can’t Wait

Recently, state officials and national experts have commented that privatization can take a number of years to see results.  But, as Appleseed and other advocates have said – and this cartoon in Tuesday’s Omaha World Herald points out: children in the system don’t have years to wait. Over the past year and a half since privatization was initiated, the reform… Read more →

An Undocumented Immigrant’s Story

In this powerful story in the The New York Times Magazine, a journalist discusses his life as an undocumented immigrant. His experience shows the talents our country stands to lose by delaying reform of our outdated immigration system. He also describes “a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks… Read more →

Additional Child Welfare Funding and Restructuring Raises Additional Questions

On Friday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that the state will be providing an additional $5.5 million in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 and an additional $7.4 million in the next fiscal year starting July 1, 2011 to the state’s faltering child welfare privatization effort.  Also on Friday, KVC, one of the remaining… Read more →

Advocates Advance Principles for an Effective, High Quality Health Insurance Exchange in Nebraska

As Nebraska gears up for planning and creating a health insurance exchange as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), nine Nebraska advocacy organizations representing consumer interests put forward a set of principles designed to help guide the conversation that will take place among legislators and state officials in the coming months.  The Affordable Care Act requires… Read more →

Voices from Fremont Debuts to More Than 300 People

Last Friday, more than 300 people visited a first-look unveiling of the Voices from Fremont art exhibit at The Leekers’ studio at Parrish Studios. The one-night unveiling took place during Lincoln’s monthly First Friday gallery walk. The exhibit highlights Fremont residents’ thoughts and experiences, showing how a local immigration enforcement proposal can devastate a community. Their voices help to document… Read more →

Voices from Fremont: A Civil Rights Project by Nebraska Appleseed

Nebraska Appleseed is proud to unveil a new art exhibit “Voices from Fremont.” The exhibit shares the stories of Fremont residents who have witnessed a growing sense of division, hostility, and suspicion in their community since the city passed a restrictive immigration ordinance in 2010.  Special thanks to designer Justin Kemmerling for his hard work on this project. On the… Read more →

State Fostering Connections Bill Passes Legislature!

On Thursday, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 177 on a vote of 47-0-2.  LB 177 places key provisions of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (“Fostering Connections Act”) into state statute.  Specifically, LB 177 provides increased oversight and strengthens local implementation of provisions to prioritize placement of foster children with their siblings when appropriate, to provide… Read more →

Moratorium Agreement Reached in Child Welfare Reform, But Oversight Legislation Delayed

Yesterday, following a letter from the Governor agreeing to hold off on contracting with a new lead agency to provide child welfare services in the rural areas of the state until June 2012, the Legislature voted to delay consideration of LB 95.  (As a reminder, LB 95 would have placed the moratorium the Governor promised into statute and also would… Read more →

Appleseed Intern Reflects on Organizing Training

Last month, Nebraska Appleseed sent Rachel Gehringer-Wiar, Appleseed’s organizing intern, to Chicago during spring break to attend the Midwest Academy’s Organizing for Social Change training.  The Academy provides training and consulting to equip organizers, community leaders, and organizations to think and to act strategically and to win justice for all.  Rachel shared with us her experience at the training. At… Read more →

Welcome Robbie McEwen!

A “welcome” probably isn’t completely accurate, since the Child Welfare System Accountability Program’s newest Staff Attorney has been with Appleseed for the past year and a half and has even blogged here.  Nonetheless, Appleseed welcomes Robbie McEwen!  Actually, “Staff Attorney” isn’t completely accurate yet either, since Robbie is currently completing his third and final year of law school and will… Read more →

State Fostering Connections Bill Advances

Yesterday, the Legislature voted 40-0 to give first round approval to LB 177, a bill that would place key provisions of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act into state statute.  This bill would strengthen the enforcement and local implementation of requirements to prioritize placement of children in foster care with their siblings when that is not… Read more →

Good News for Nebraska Women

Lately it has seemed that we have gone down a surprising road in Nebraska where pregnant women and babies are fair game in the political arena.  The heartbreaking decision by the state to terminate prenatal care for unborn children is having devastating consequences across the state.  Doctors, nurses, and health clinics have repeatedly testified since last fall about the number… Read more →

Affordable Care Act – One Year Later

Co-Authored by George Lyford Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  In that year, we have already seen thousands of Nebraskans begin to benefit from some of the reform measures that went into place last September. FamiliesUSA recently released some new data on how the ACA is already helping people in Nebraska.  They… Read more →

Helping Seniors Manage Their Health

There are encouraging new statistics out today showing how provisions of the Affordable Care Act are helping Nebraska seniors access the medications they need. AARP released this statement late today: AARP: New Report Shows Progress of Health Care Law for Nebraskans in Medicare’s “Doughnut Hole” LINCOLN–New data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows the impact of… Read more →

Health Reform Helping Small Businesses

One year ago on Wednesday, President Obama signed into law a historic package of health reforms that has already begun to improve the state of health care in Nebraska and all over the United States.  In honor of this momentous achievement, we will be blogging on some of the most notable aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act… Read more →

History Is Repeating Itself: Can You Tell the Difference?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! They say today everyone is a little bit Irish. It wasn’t always like that, though. When the Irish first came to America they were met with persecution, ignorance and fear. They were denied jobs, accused of lawlessness and of destroying the United States. Immigration became a rallying point for the Know-Nothings, a political party dedicated to… Read more →

Nebraska Says No to Arizona-Style Law

On Wednesday, the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee announced that it will not advance an Arizona-style bill or other unworkable state-level proposals to regulate immigration. (Other state-level immigration proposals before the committee included LB 569, a bill to require E-Verify for all Nebraska employers, and LR 28, a resolution to encourage all Nebraska law enforcement to enroll in the “Secure Communities” local police… Read more →

Proposed Legislative Moratorium on Child Welfare Privatization

On Tuesday, the HHS Committee voted 7-0 to advance LB 95, a bill to require accreditation of lead contractors, with an amendment calling for a moratorium on returning to privatization in the central, northern and western service areas of the state until June 2012.  Essentially, this would prevent the state from contracting with a new agency to replace Boys &… Read more →

Appleseed Testimony Opposing LB 48

March 2, 2011 Senator Brad Ashford Chairman, Judiciary Committee Room 1103, State Capitol Lincoln, Nebraska 68509 RE: Opposition to LB 48 Dear Chairman Ashford and Committee Members, My name is Norman Pflanz and I am a staff attorney with Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest. We are a non-partisan, non-profit, public interest law project dedicated to equal justice and… Read more →

A Personal Reflection on Nebraska’s In-State Tuition Law

Alex Gibilisco is a Junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an intern this semester at Nebraska Appleseed.  Alex immigrated with his family to the United States from Guatemala at the age of 10. Alex submitted the following testimony to the Legislature’s Education Committee Monday, February 7 in opposition to LB 657, which would repeal Nebraska’s in-state tuition law. Dear… Read more →

Refusing to Play Politics with Nebraskans’ Health

Senate Republicans on Wednesday were unsuccessful in their attempt to repeal the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The repeal measure failed to receive the 60 votes it needed to pass, ultimately being defeated, 51 to 47.  Repealing health reform – and its vital consumer protections – would have a devastating effect on the thousands of Nebraskans who… Read more →

Voices for Children’s Kids Count Report Illuminates Children’s Behavioral Health Needs

Last week, Voices for Children in Nebraska released their 2010 Kids Count in Nebraska report.  This valuable report tracks the status of children in Nebraska using the best available data across several key indicators including educational, social, economic and physical well-being. This year’s Kids Count report includes a special feature on Children’s Behavioral Health in Nebraska. The report estimates that… Read more →

Nebraskans Oppose an Arizona-Style Law, Support Common-Sense Federal Reform

Nearly 500 Nebraskans came to the state Capitol on Thursday, 01/27/2011, to say that Nebraska values do not support an Arizona-style law in this state. Participants and speakers from around the state, representing the League of Nebraska Municipalities, the Methodist Bishop, Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, other faith groups, veterans, the NAACP-Lincoln, the Anti-Defamation League,… Read more →

Police Chief William Bratton Describes the Dangers of an Arizona-style Law for Community Safety

In today’s Omaha World Herald, former Los Angeles police chief and former New York City police commissioner William Bratton outlines the perils of requiring local police to serve as immigration agents:  “Keeping America’s neighborhoods safe requires our police forces to have the trust and help of everyone in our communities. My nearly 40 years in law enforcement…have taught me this.”… Read more →

Nebraska Police Chief Describes Problems with Arizona-Style Bill

Since Arizona passed its divisive and unconstitutional immigration law last April, many top law enforcement officials have raised serious concerns about the approach. Police officials have argued that such laws are an unfunded mandate on local police, reduce officers, undermine community policing, and force local departments to allocate more officers to processing immigration status for individuals without criminal records rather… Read more →

Omaha Senator Offers Alternative to Arizona-style Bill

Omaha Sen. Brenda Council today introduced a common-sense alternative to an Arizona-style bill — a resolution for immigration reform “modeled after the Utah Compact, a statement of principles developed by a broad coalition of Utah politicians, businesses, civic groups, law enforcement and religious leaders” (Lincoln Journal Star 1/18/11). “It’s very powerful,” said Judiciary Chairman Brad Ashford, who signed onto the… Read more →

Statement on Immigration by Catholic Archbishop

Archbishop Lucas and the Omaha Archdiocese have released a statement saying that “immigration is of extreme interest and concern to Nebraskans and the Catholic Church” and calling for “civility, respectfulness, and common decency” in the statewide discussion. The statement provides a number of useful teaching resources, saying that “the task of welcoming immigrants, refugees, and displaced persons into full participation… Read more →

Injection of Funds into Faltering Child Welfare Privatization Raises Questions

Yesterday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced, on the first day of the legislative session which is largely overshadowed by the projected budget deficit, that they “found” $19 million to inject into the state’s faltering child welfare reform effort.  Nebraska Appleseed has said from the beginning that the reform is underfunded and that an investment of… Read more →

A DREAM Denied

Despite majority support for the DREAM Act in the House, the Senate, and the American public, Nebraska’s Congressional delegation, to a member, voted against the bill, which was procedurally blocked from moving forward by a filibuster in the Senate on Saturday.  The DREAM Act would allow students who were brought to this country at a young age a means to… Read more →

Free Screenings of Film About Arizona-style Law

“9500 Liberty” screenings warn Nebraskans about economic, social pitfalls of Arizona copycat law Student groups at the Kearney, Lincoln, and Omaha campuses of the University of Nebraska will host a free screening of the award-winning documentary 9500 LIBERTY on Thursday, December 2 at 7pm. The film chronicles the rise and fall of a Virginia county law that briefly required police to check… Read more →

Appleseed & Hundreds of Advocates Urge Real Evaluation, Transparency & Oversight in Child Welfare

On Wednesday, Nebraska Appleseed and some of our partners organized a press briefing and roundtable discussion of child advocates regarding the current reform of the child welfare system. We also released a letter signed by over 800 individuals and organizations calling on the Governor and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to slow down the process of… Read more →

Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law

A disturbing story on NPR this morning describes a “quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.” Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law: The investigation uncovers how the AZ law was born in a hotel room with about 50 people organized by… Read more →

“Next steps” in Child Welfare Reform – But Is This the Right Direction?

On Friday afternoon, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its next steps in the child welfare reform in a press release. These next steps include transferring additional case management responsibilities from the state to the remaining private agencies.  This has and will mean layoffs of a number of state caseworkers.  Yet nowhere in the press release… Read more →

Loss of Third Child Welfare Lead Agency Demands State Reconsider Reform

On September 30th, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Boys and Girls Home and HHS have mutually agreed to terminate their contract with the state as one of three remaining lead agencies in the child welfare reform. Boys and Girls Home had the contract for the entire central, northern and western service areas of the… Read more →

Gaps in Children’s Behavioral Health System on Collision Course with Fragile Child Welfare Reform

On September 22, the Legislature’s Children’s Behavioral Health Oversight Committee held a hearing and listened to testimony from parents of children with unmet behavioral health needs. The stories were heartbreaking. Many told of the support they received from peer mentors. However, several of the family organizations that provide this service testified that they may have to close their doors due… Read more →

Nebraskans Should be Outraged

Re-printed by permission of the writer, of Lincoln, who is a retired attorney and Nebraska Appleseed board member. First published as an OpEd in the Lincoln Journal-Star September 19, 2010. Articles in both major Nebraska newspapers on Sept. 9, 2010, quoted testimony given at the hearing of the Nebraska Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding the… Read more →

Nebraska Civic Leaders Join Hundreds in DC for Immigration Reform

On September 15th, Nebraska civic leaders joined hundreds in Washington, D.C. today to point the way forward for common-sense and humane immigration reform. The national day of action “RELIEF, REFORM, RESPECT: Civic Leaders Stand for Immigrant Families” brought hundreds of civic leaders and people of faith to the Capitol. A delegation of four Nebraska leaders visited Congressional offices to communicate… Read more →

Court Strikes Down City Anti-Immigrant Law

A federal appeals court has blocked Hazleton, Pennsylvania’s anti-immigration ordinance, which is very similar to the one in Fremont. Both ordinances were drafted and are being defended by the same attorney, Kris Kobach, who is Of Counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has been designated a hate group… Read more →

Small Nebraska Town May Raise Taxes To Defend Immigration Law

Re-blogged from The Wonk Room @ Think Progress Written by Andrea Nill The Omaha World Herald reports that the Fremont City Council will consider a 2011 budget that includes property tax hikes to help pay for the defense of the city’s recently voter-approved anti-immigrant law which imposes a ban on hiring or renting property to undocumented immigrants in the small… Read more →

Johanns Wrong to Defund Vital Public Health Fund

Re-printed by permission of the writer, of Omaha, who is director of government relations for Nebraska at the American Cancer Society. First published as an OpEd in the Omaha World-Herald August 25, 2010. While undertaking a laudable effort to address the concerns of small businesses, U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns has jeopardized one of the key provisions of the Patient Protection… Read more →

Concert for Equality

Concert For Equality from Producciones Cimarrón on Vimeo. On Saturday July 31st, 2010 in Omaha, NE, several bands including Bright Eyes, Cursive, Desaparecidos (their first live performance since 2002), and Lullaby For The Working Class gathered together to fight for equality by playing a benefit show for the ACLU Nebraska. All proceeds from the concerts went to the ACLU Nebraska… Read more →

Lincoln Screening of 9500 Liberty – Friday 8/13

Friday, August 13 7:00 pm Westminster Church 2110 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln Film Screening and Community Conversation with the Director of 9500 Liberty, Panelists + Live Music! The Unitarian Church Social Justice Committee (formerly Social Action) recommends this film as a part of our learning and building understanding for the Standing on the Side of Love campaign (www.standingonthesideoflove.org). The film 9500… Read more →

The Other Side of Reform

johnc@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs The Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as an unaffiliated nonprofit corporation under IRS code 501(c)3. The Center for Rural Affairs was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and we work to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. I’m fortunate to live in a… Read more →

Immigration, Fear, Reason

The writer is semi-retired and an adjunct associate professor in the School of Natural Resources, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a member of the Lincoln Downtown Rotary Club and sits on several civic and public service boards including Nebraska Appleseed. First published as an OpEd in the Omaha World Herald, August 9, 2010. For as long as I… Read more →

Voices from Fremont – Week Two

Last Friday, we began this “Voices from Fremont” series to share residents’ experiences in the wake of the Fremont vote (see 7/29/10 posting).  Their comments show the unfortunate effect the Fremont law has already had on the community, even before it officially goes into effect. Their voices show how such policies can tear a community apart.  As we continue this… Read more →

Desaparecidos, Bright Eyes, Cursive, Lullaby for the Working Class & more, Concert for Equality, Omaha, July 31, 2010

Reblogged from Losanjealous – Written by Lindsey Shortly after getting involved with the Sound Strike to protest SB1070, Conor Oberst, a Nebraska native, announced he’d be putting together a street festival, Concert for Equality, to raise money for Nebraska’s ACLU chapter in order to help fight a similar law that had passed in Fremont, NE. The line up included a… Read more →

Voices from Fremont

Over the last two years, tensions have been building in the community of Fremont as the city has considered and now passed an ordinance that seeks to prevent undocumented immigrants from renting and working.  These ordinances have been attempted in a handful of small communities across the country and have been struck down in the courts as unconstitutional.  Aside from… Read more →

Conor Oberst, Nebraska Musicians Sponsor Concert for Equality

This Saturday, Omaha native Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes is hosting the Concert for Equality to benefit the ACLU of Nebraska’s lawsuit against Fremont’s divisive and discriminatory immigration ordinance.  The sold-out 5pm performance in downtown Benson is historic in its own right featuring numerous nationally-known Saddle Creek Records bands including some that have not played in many years.  The lineup… Read more →

Will You Stand Up to Anti-Immigrant Sentiment In Our State?

You’ve seen how over the past few months a few members of our state and communities have pursued misguided and harmful public policy designed to create fear and division and turn neighbor against neighbor: Governor Heineman’s administration eliminated pre-natal care for children of undocumented women Fremont voters passed a divisive and unconstitutional anti-immigrant ordinance, creating a climate of fear and… Read more →

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Urgently Needed

Yesterday, the President gave a long-awaited public speech on immigration. The speech reflected what we know first hand here in Nebraska; the need for common-sense immigration reform is urgent. Describing a “creaky system” of “patchwork fixes and ill-conceived revisions,” the President affirmed his commitment to an immigration reform package that provides a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrant… Read more →

Healthcare.gov Web Portal is Here!

Today is an important day for those Nebraskans looking for health care coverage. Today was the launch of a web portal created by the federal Department of Health and Human Services which will help people find health care coverage options in their local areas. The web portal is one of the consumer benefits required by the new health reform law,… Read more →

Crying Wolf

Written with Robert McEwen This week marks the three month anniversary of the passage of the health care reform bill. In just that short time we have already seen positive changes. Parents can keep their children on their family coverage until age 26, seniors have begun receiving checks to help them fill the donut hole that occurs in their Medicare… Read more →

Sometimes Historic Change Takes Heroic Acts

Last week, Nebraska student and wrestling champion Daniel Dominguez walked from O’Neill to Lincoln – covering 200 miles on foot – to raise awareness about the federal DREAM Act. To learn more about his incredible journey and the critical importance of the legislation, go to www.passthedreamact.org. The DREAM Act is federal legislation that would allow talented students without legal status… Read more →

Coverage for What Ails You – What a Novel Idea

One of the main points of agreement in the health care reform debate (and yes, there was actually much agreement on about 80% of the bill), was the elimination of pre-existing condition denials by insurers. Its common sense: health insurance isn’t really insurance if it won’t cover the very health problem for which you need coverage. Hundreds of thousands of… Read more →

Nebraska Youth Take Positive Action After “Green Card” Incident

Last Tuesday, a deeply unfortunate event cast a shadow over the Nebraska state boys’ soccer championship – one that might serve as a reminder to us all. Following Lincoln East High School’s win over Omaha South High School, a cascade of homemade “green cards” were thrown onto the soccer field. About 60 percent of the students at Omaha South are… Read more →

Moving the World Along

“I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as if they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” – Helen Keller This quotation has hung on… Read more →

State-level Immigration Enforcement Is Costly & Confusing

On Friday I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on state-level immigration and integration policy at the UNO-hosted conference “4th Annual Latino/Latin American Cumbre/Summit of the Great Plains.” An audience of participants and panelists from around the country and the world gathered to discuss state-level policy approaches to immigration. As part of this discussion, I shared Nebraska’s… Read more →

Arizona Boycott & Nebraska Voices Increase Urgency for Immigration Reform

Across the country last week, a growing list of entities began to announce boycotts against the state of Arizona in protest of the recently passed anti-immigrant law SB 1070. These organizations include the Asian American Justice Center, the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the League of United… Read more →

Foster Care Double Standard

There seems to be a troubling double standard in the Nebraska foster care system that has come to light in a new way in recent weeks as contracts with two of the five private agencies have been terminated due to funding problems. One standard is that parents in the system are often faulted for having unstable employment or inadequate housing,… Read more →

Immediate Benefits of Health Reform

The health care reform law is a major win for Nebraska children and families.  It will help tens of thousands of Nebraskans gain coverage, provide small businesses with tax credits for more affordable coverage, and will provide serious consumer protections to everyone in Nebraska. There are several key benefits for Nebraskans that will go into effect this year: New Access… Read more →

Hundreds of Thousands March Nationwide for Immigration Reform

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people marched in communities large and small across the United States to call for immediate action to create a workable immigration system that upholds our values and moves us forward together. This urgent need for the federal government to fix our broken immigration system has become painfully clear in the wake of a new… Read more →

Secret Deportation Quotas and Shocking Tactics In Arizona Show Current Immigration Policies Are In a Tailspin

Recent reports and shockingly heavy-handed tactics in Arizona earlier this month are showing an immigration enforcement regime in a tailspin. Hundreds of armed agents and helicopters descended upon four Arizona communities in the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation since the Obama Administration took office. This followed a trail of recent reports exposing failures and the high costs of… Read more →

Child Welfare Privatization Crisis

Since our last post on the child welfare privatization following the announcement that CEDARS Youth Services terminated its contract with HHS, there has been more bad news. The state’s contract with a second agency, Visinet, was terminated two weeks ago and Visinet subsequently filed bankruptcy. Then, last Thursday night, Visinet closed its doors after they were unable to work out… Read more →

The Reward of Working in Public Interest

I was recently asked by my law school alma mater (University of Nebraska College of Law) to reflect on my choice to pursue public interest law in Nebraska and how law school had prepared me for that task.  As I wrote out my answers, I realized how lucky I was to stumble upon Nebraska Appleseed almost nine years ago.  I… Read more →

“9500 Liberty” Screening at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Student Union University of Nebraska at Lincoln 14th & R Street Lincoln, NE 68588 9500 Liberty reveals the startling vulnerability of Prince William County, Virginia, targeted by national anti-immigration networks using the internet to frighten and intimidate lawmakers and citizens. After the film there will be a discussion with Norman Pflanz… Read more →

Underfunded Child Welfare Contracts Put Kids and Agencies at Risk

On Friday, CEDARS Youth Services announced that it is terminating its contract with HHS to provide out-of-home services as part of the state’s privatization of foster care. In a statement to the Lincoln Journal Star, CEDARS president and CEO Jim Blue cited financial reasons and indicated that projections showed the agency would lose $5.5 million next year under the contract.… Read more →

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It was quite a week for health care.  (Please keep reading for important info on a sign on letter for prenatal care.) First, on Tuesday, President Obama signed the health insurance reform legislation into law.  Last night, the final amendments to that legislation were passed by the House, completing the long and arduous process of passing this legislation.  It is… Read more →

Marching Toward Immigration Reform

On Sunday, I joined fellow Nebraskans and over 200,000 people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to march for common sense and humane immigration reform. http://journalstar.com/news/local/article_9255ba4a-354d-11df-851a-001cc4c03286.html The Nebraska delegation consisted of immigrants, faith leaders, businesspersons, students, educators, and community leaders from towns large and small across the state. Representatives from the League of Nebraska Municipalities, many churches, the Hispanic… Read more →

OSHA Hears the Voices of Meatpacking Workers

Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened its doors to stakeholders from around the country for an all-day “OSHA Listens” event in its Washington, DC headquarters. The purpose of the event was for OSHA to receive comments and suggestions on key issues facing the agency in order to improve OSHA’s efforts to protect the safety and health… Read more →

Two Important Child Welfare Bills Need Our Support

Last month, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee heard testimony on two important child welfare bills that Nebraska Appleseed strongly supports. LB 971, introduced by Sen. Kathy Campbell, would implement several key provisions of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 into Nebraska statute. Specifically, the bill requires the state to place siblings together or to provide… Read more →

Report Documents Immigration Enforcement’s Harmful Effects on Children

While our country is engaged in an intense debate about immigration policy, largely absent from the discussion is the impact of our nation’s policies on the children of immigrants. Today, there are an estimated 5.5 million children with unauthorized immigrant parents, about three-quarters of whom are U.S.-born citizens. Last week, the Urban Institute released a major report, “Facing Our Future:… Read more →

Finish The Job – The Need For Reform Remains Unchanged

(originally posted at New Nebraska Network) This past week has been full of speculation about the future of health care reform which has been frustrating for health care reform advocates.  Many of us have worked tirelessly this past year to make comprehensive health care reform a reality, coming further than any previous generation.  The recent shift in the Senate should… Read more →

Finishing Reform Right

This week, Congress is negotiating the final health care reform bill that will make critical improvements to our broken health care system.  This is great news for the 224,000 Nebraskans – 45,000 of them children – who lack coverage today, and the thousands who struggle to afford their current coverage.  But for health care reform to be most successful, it… Read more →

2,100 People

Think for a minute:  Who do you know that lost a job in 2009?   Chances are that you can think of someone.  I can think of many: The wife of an old friend, a caller to Nebraska Appleseed’s Intake line, a parent I know at a local school…Job loss has been difficult for many families this year.  Nebraska has a… Read more →

Nebraskans Deserve a Vote

This past Saturday the Senate honored the basic principles of our democracy and voted to begin the debate to allow the health reform bill to reach the Senate floor. Sixty Senators voted on the motion to proceed, while thirty-nine voted against it. We are disappointed that Senator Mike Johanns was one of those thirty-nine who voted to block the democratic… Read more →

Freedom at Last: So Long, Lou

These past two weeks have been big weeks for immigration reform: Secretary Napolitano announced that the Administration will push for immigration reform early in 2010, rather than waiting until after the mid-term elections, Rep. Luis Gutierrez held a virtual town hall meeting on reform for more than 60,000 people in house parties around the country, and Lou Dobbs left CNN.… Read more →

Moving One Step Closer to Health Insurance Reform

This week we move closer than ever before to enact comprehensive health insurance reform legislation. For months we have been talking about health reform. It has been a long process, but an end is soon approaching. On Saturday, November 7, the House of Representatives passed its version of health reform legislation. The House bill will create a health insurance system… Read more →

Be a Part of History on Wednesday

On Wednesday night (7pm central), join a national town hall phone call with Congressman Luis Gutierrez for an exciting conversation about next steps for rational and humane immigration reform. People will be joining the town hall from parties all across the country. Take the simple step of hosting a party. It can be very informal – just invite a friend or family… Read more →

6 Tips for Nonprofit Advocacy

Did you know that in issuing regulations on lobbying, the Internal Revenue Service has stated that public charities “may lobby freely” so long as lobbying is within specified limits? Last week, I had the pleasure of sharing that message at the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands (NAM) Annual Summit http://www.nonprofitam.org/ The Summit was a great event, with fantastic attendance and… Read more →

How Can Nebraska Come Out Ahead In The Economic Recovery?

Brain drain, a high proportion of low-wage jobs, and the current economic downturn all negatively impact the well-being of Nebraska’s families, communities, and economy. At the same time, our workforce is one of the most dedicated in the nation and, in spite of recent increases, our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation. So what do we… Read more →

Thousands of Families Call for Immigration Reform

I just returned from an inspiring march on Washington, D.C., where thousands of families gathered on Tuesday to call for action to fix our broken immigration system. At the event, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) – who earlier this year hosted a Families United interfaith tour to help educate members of Congress about the effect of the current system on families… Read more →

Speaking Truth to Power

Yesterday was an exciting day for Appleseed’s Health Care Access Program. We participated in a briefing on Capitol Hill about health care reform and rural communities. The event brought the voices of rural people to Congress and brought attention to rural health care issues which have often been absent from the national debate or used as an excuse to oppose… Read more →

Safe Haven Revisited

It has been about a year since Nebraska’s original safe haven law went into effect and 36 children, most of them teenagers, were dropped off at local hospitals before the Legislature went into special session to restrict the law to infants up to 30 days old. This spring, lawmakers took a first step in addressing some of the broader issues… Read more →

Fix the Baucus Bill

Health care reform took one step further this past week when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) unveiled his proposal for health care reform. Now every committee of jurisdiction has come out with a health care reform bill which is a huge achievement. The Senate Finance Committee bill will play a critical role in health care reform. This makes… Read more →

Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the Constitution, marking one of the most important historical moments in U.S. history. What does Constitution Day have to do with health care? Well, in August we saw the Constitution thrown around in confusing ways by opponents to health reform. Today, on the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, we should… Read more →

State Fair Stories

I spent last Sunday helping to staff the Health Care Reform booth at the Nebraska State Fair.  Amid the Mexican cigars, infra-red spas and the only glue you’ll ever need, I stood with information from the American Cancer Society, AARP and Nebraska Appleseed ready to educate the passing fair-goers and advocate for health care reform.  I had braced myself for… Read more →

Nebraska Faith Leaders and Public Call for Action on Immigration Reform This Year

[singlepic id=119 w=320 h=240 float=left]Yesterday, we were honored to take part in a powerful event highlighting the continuing urgency for immigration reform. A large gathering of prominent local leaders from diverse faith traditions held a prayer vigil with people of faith and good will calling for the humane treatment of all immigrant families and a workable immigration policy to help… Read more →

Nebraskans Turn Out for Health Care Reform

[singlepic id=111 w=320 h=240 float=left]”Wow!” was all I could think to say yesterday after the fabulous rally at the State Capitol.  Between 600 and 700 Nebraskans turned out to show their support for health insurance reform!  Rally goers heard from several speakers, including a representative from the White House, Nick Rathod, who is a native of Hastings. Senators Jeremy Nordquist… Read more →

A Tall Order for Foster Care Reform

One of my first blog posts this summer focused on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ release of its most recent federal review of Nebraska’s foster care system.  As a result of the state’s failure to pass the federal review, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) is required to develop and implement a program improvement… Read more →

Second White House Meeting on Immigration Reform Responds to Thousands of Community Questions

While we’re immersed in one of the most important opportunities for our country’s future, the movement for health care reform, the White House and community advocates last week took a moment to demonstrate continued urgency and momentum for a fixing broken immigration system. Nearly 100 labor, business, law enforcement, faith and community leaders met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary… Read more →

Immigration Court Craps Shoot

Just over a year ago, images from the Postville, Iowa, immigration raid shocked Americans and caused many to question how this could possibly be coming out of the American legal system. We saw large groups of detainees shackled together in the National Cattle Congress livestock fairground, denied access to legal advice, and processed in group proceedings. These judicial proceedings violated… Read more →

Health Care Reform – What’s in it for me?

It goes without saying that meaningful health care reform is essential to provide coverage for the tens of millions currently uninsured. But what do the reform bills currently moving through Congress do for the far greater number of people who already have insurance? Insured Americans are already bearing a huge burden of out-of-pocket costs that are growing much faster than… Read more →

The Need for Equity in Health Care

On Wednesday night in Omaha, the members of the Nebraska Health Care for America Now coalition hosted a community conversation on health disparities among minorities. This was the third in a series of conversations about the health disparities that currently exist in our system and how and why those disparities should be addressed in national health care reform. In the… Read more →

Failure is Not An Option

Senator Reid announced this afternoon that the Senate would not be able to have a full vote on a health care bill before August.  This is extremely disappointing.  The delay means that our families must wait even longer for the health care they need, must struggle harder to afford their coverage, and more people will become uninsured. This delay must… Read more →

Nebraska Immigrant Family Bonds Protected by State Supreme Court

Since the formation of the our Child Welfare System Accountability Program in 2003, Nebraska Appleseed has been dedicated to enforce constitutional, federal, and state statutory requirements for providing adequate child welfare services in the State of Nebraska, and using legal advocacy to support needed policy reform initiatives. In particular, we are committed to working on issues at the intersection of… Read more →

Involving Local Police in Federal Immigration Enforcement Is Dangerous Policy

Our failure to create a workable immigration system continues to wreak havoc on many other community policies – the latest example is a new extension of the federal program to enlist local police in federal immigration enforcement duties. Asking state and local law enforcement to don a second hat as federal immigration officers has dangerous ramifications for public safety. When… Read more →

Lessons from a Young Lawyer

It has been five years since I was sworn into my first bar in the state of Wisconsin.  In fact, just the other day, I received information in the mail from my law school about our upcoming class reunion.  The ABA’s Young Lawyers Division defines a “young lawyer” as a lawyer under the age of 36 years old or admitted… Read more →

Trust Movement: Health Care Reform in Action

A not so famous, but entirely important psychologist, Alfred Adler once said, “Trust movement. Life happens at the level of events, not words. Trust movement.” I was reminded of these words as I stood on top of Upper Senate Park last week and looked over the thousands of people standing in the blistering sun rallying for health care. Admittedly, I… Read more →

White House Meeting a Major Step for Immigration Reform

A few days ago, we saw a major step forward for immigration reform this year. On June 25, President Obama held a bipartisan meeting with Congressional leaders to talk about moving immigration reform as a top priority. This meeting demonstrated the momentum that has been building around the issue, including thousands of calls to the White House and Members of… Read more →

Giving Nebraskans a Choice

I’m writing this blog entry while watching President Obama’s interview on health care with ABC news and a room full of advocates, providers, economists, businesses, and everyday Americans.  It is remarkable to me, and very encouraging, that so many people are engaged and that we are having this kind of public dialogue on this critical issue. One of the most… Read more →

The CWSAP FCRLRC – Huh?

At Nebraska Appleseed, we have a tendency to develop long, drawn-out, flowery titles for our work that don’t lend themselves very well to catchy acronyms. Most Appleseeders credit our founding director, Milo Mumgaard, for this tradition, though it has out-lived even Milo’s tenure. For example, the “Child Welfare System Accountability Program” or the “CWSAP” is Appleseed-speak for our work around… Read more →

It’s Almost Here…

Health care reform is in the air. Last week, Appleseed, Nebraska’s Health Care for America Now coalition (HCAN), and SEIU, organized a rally in support of health care reform to counter a different event that was organized against health care reform. We had an impressive turn out given the spontaneous nature of the event — further proof that health care… Read more →

Federal Review of Nebraska’s Child Welfare System: Round Two

This spring, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its most recent federal review of Nebraska’s foster care system. Nebraska’s foster care system was previously reviewed in 2002 and, while none of the 50 states were in full compliance with federal standards at that time, Nebraska was ranked among the worst-performing states. Nebraska made some positive gains in… Read more →

Health Care Can’t Wait

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes.  It reflects a wisdom that we have often lost sight of in this country when it comes to health care.  As a nation and a state, we have failed to make the investment in a rational health care system.  The result is 460,000 Nebraskans who were… Read more →

Continue to Shine a Spotlight on Children’s Behavioral Health Needs

Last fall, 36 children, most of them teenagers and pre-teens, were dropped off under Nebraska’s broad safe haven law.  In November, the Nebraska Legislature went into special session and limited the law to infants up to 30 days old.  However, the crisis that was exposed by the safe haven law – the older children in our community with unmet behavioral… Read more →

What does YOUR immigration system look like?

Yesterday, together with faith, immigrant, community, civil rights, small business, legal, economic, and other community leaders, we began a nation-wide, community-based effort to reform immigration for America – for all of us, so that our country and communities can move forward. Here in Nebraska, we came together in both Lincoln and Omaha -with voices from large and small towns from… Read more →