Posted by Shelli Dawdy
A long overdue follow-up report on efforts to see Nebraska’s Sovereignty Resolution, L.R. 292 successfully voted out of committee. If you would like background and additional information on the Sovereignty Resolution, click HERE and / or HERE.
I would like to thank everyone who helped with the efforts put forth to ensure there was an organized, coordinated show of force in support of the Sovereignty Resolution.
In a very short period of time, the grassroots of Nebraska, meaning concerned and informed people, pulled together and arranged for a leader in this movement to come to Nebraska to testify, got the word out, showed up to help, filled a hearing room and then some, and got together to celebrate after wards.
This effort on such a short fuse is proof positive that getting active right here in Nebraska on a Nebraska issue can be accomplished by active citizens.
More importantly, it is proof positive that it can be effective. Prior to carrying out these efforts, the passage of L.R. 292 out of the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee was in question. At the conclusion of the Friday, February 19 hearing, the measure’s most obvious opponent, Committee Chair Bill Avery, told the Lincoln Journal Star that he thought the Resolution would pass out of the committee onto the floor.
Of course we cannot and will not take this for granted. Of course, we all need to stand at the ready to make contacts to our own Senators once the Resolution is up for a floor vote.
Our efforts began by working with Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key’s legislative aide to schedule his trip to Lincoln. This was not an easy thing for Rep. Key to do, as the Oklahoma legislative schedule in February is very demanding. When I spoke with him in January about a return visit to Nebraska, he said he could only make that work if it was a Friday during the legislative session. One could say that the scheduling of the L.R. 292 hearing on a Friday was an answer to prayer.
While we worked out the arrangements’ for Representative Key’s visit, Linda, put together a list of issues associated with sovereignty and a list of possible people we knew who could articulate them well. We discussed efforts to let people know about the hearing, about putting together funds to pay expenses, and what kind of help we would need to succeed.
With less than a week to go, we were finally able to find flights that would work with the very short turnaround Rep. Key had available and could make other decisions, such as having an event in the evening where those interested could hear him speak. Finding a caterer who will accept a count right up ’til noon on the day of the meal is no small task, but we must put a plug in for B & R Catering, as their manager, Heather, was unflappable.
In order to get as many people to that hearing as possible, we needed other groups in Nebraska to alert their membership. We found help, as always, from Laura Ebke, State Director for Nebraska Campaign for Liberty. We also found help from 9/12 Omaha’s Dawn Klein and Michael Patomson, Butch Hughes from Hastings, 9/12 Grand Island, and Bill Sole of Omaha’s Minutemen Patriots (and 9/12).
On hearing day, volunteers arrived to man the entrances. The idea was to hand out stickers with the very nicely designed sovereignty logo contributed by our Louisiana friend, Jan. The stickers were an idea from Linda, who had seen this done in previously successful legislative efforts – they are to show a united front in the hearing – a visible sign to the Committee members where those in attendance stand on the issue. The volunteers were also stationed at the doors to collect the written statements of support solicited from citizens. This too, was an idea borrowed from previously successful efforts. The written statements of support, with adequate copies submitted can be entered into the official record for the hearing. Advance collection is done to make things run smoothly for the legislative aides and pages, who (we hoped) would have to deal with an overflow crowd.
And this is the opportunity to point out that despite all that may be wrong in government from the ground up, we as Nebraskans should take note that the folks who work at the State Capitol are excellent. They are accommodating and helpful and always seem to work to include citizens who are interested in either participating in their government’s process, or use the property for a gathering. Whether it has been a Tea Party or this sovereignty effort, everyone we have dealt with to date working at the Capitol has always been helpful, from Roxanne Smith, the Tourism Director at the Capitol Commission, to the Capitol Police, who stand guard.
At the February 19th hearing, pages and aides were well prepared to accommodate the overflow crowd and immediately opened up another room, setting up two closed-caption TVs for people to watch the hearing. Our state government is open to our participation. All we have to do is show up.
The hearing opened with a presentation from the Resolution’s sponsor, Senator Fulton. You can read a summary of his remarks in an article in the Lincoln Journal Star, February 20.
Representative Key’s testimony followed. In addition to his own prepared testimony, he was closely questioned, primarily by Committee Chair Bill Avery. Rep. Key gave outstanding answers to everyone of Senator Avery’s questions, which included every argument Sovereignty opponents typically raise in this debate.
The Lincoln Journal Star article referenced above details testimony that followed, including others who were part of the overall effort Linda coordinated, including that of Dr. Bryan Van Deun on federalism and Dr. Suzy Carter on economics. The hearing concluded with the very articulate testimony of Hillsdale College graduate and Nebraska farmer, Julius, who stressed the necessity of local control, using nothing less than Nebraska corn and soil as metaphors. Julius had a reputation through his history teaching at a local homeschool cooperative for being very articulate and knowledgeable and he did not disappoint.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported 150 people showed up for the hearing. While we did not take a count, we find this number to be likely accurate.
At 6:00pm, about half that number convened at Calvary Community Church for the evening event, which included a reception, a meal, music, and speakers.
Many thanks need to be given to Pastor Steve Davenport of Calvary, for so swiftly securing arrangements to use the Parkview Christian School gym for this event. The $2 per attendee collected was donated to the church for a youth mission group. Pastor Steve wrangled some members of his youth group to set everything up in advance.
Another round of thank yous needs to go to Sarah F. of Crete for arranging the excellent musical entertainment for the evening by Jeremy S., who skillfully played his guitar through the reception and meal.
All are grateful to have had the opportunity to hear from emerging candidate Matt Sakalowski who changed his plans for the evening to come to Lincoln. Matt is running for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional district seat.
Senator Tony Fulton addressed those in attendance, sharing his perspective on the efforts of the average citizen and how being a Senator in the legislature doesn’t remove some of the challenges of being human as one wades through the many issues and events that come up. Thanks to the Give Me Liberty TV crew, who were at the dinner, Senator Fulton’s speech is available.
Representative Key followed Senator Fulton. He spoke at length, giving his perspective on the process in our legislature, and sharing his thoughts on making grassroots efforts successful. He noted that Nebraska’s legislative process is more open than Oklahoma’s, that it is more transparent and easier to get a bill to the stage of a hearing in our state than in his. A question and answer period followed.
During my opportunities to address those in attendance, I pointed out the leaders of the other groups who had provided their assistance throughout the week and a half leading up to that day. I touched upon the many lessons learned. Just one of the many benefits of this whole effort is the coming together of so many groups in Nebraska. If this coalescing continues it is hard to imagine much limit to what we will be able to accomplish.
I concluded my remarks for the evening the way I had started…I referenced a very old song I could hear playing in my head.
L.R. 292 is “just” a resolution. Some folks had an expressed a frustration that it had no “teeth”. I had explained that while that is unfortunately true, it is a reflection of the mood of our legislature. Sovereignty is “controversial”. L.R. 292 can only be a starting point. We have so very much work to do.
Both in our efforts to restore a Constitutional, limited government, as originally intended by the Founders, and in our abilities to get things done, I was reminded, as noted of an old song. I could then and can now hear a song playing in my head…it’s by the Carpenters:
We’ve only just begun
Yes, it’s a bit “hokey”, I know. It makes me NOT cool, I know. Oh well…
Give Me Liberty TV also did an interview with Rep. Key the evening of the dinner:
Visit the Give Me Liberty TV website to watch the rest of the interview and check out their other episodes which air on Lincoln’s Time Warner Cable local access channel, Ch. 13 every Friday at 7:30pm and Monday at 1:30pm.