Yesterday, I received an email alert from the Nebraska Advisory Group regarding an emergency bill that has been introduced by State Senator Kathy Campbell. Thirty-six of the forty-nine Senators voted to suspend the rules to allow Campbell’s bill to be introduced. This step was necessary because the introduction of new bills is closed for this session of the Legislature.
L.B. 1110 is scheduled for a hearing today at 1:30pm in Room 1510.
Campbell’s bill ought to make Nebraskans angry, for many reasons. Those who wish to see government shrink, irresponsible and unsustainable spending stop, and so often being left with an array of unsavory choices, should be motivated to get involved in a sustained effort to restore the government which was intended at the Framing of the Constitution.
L.B. 1110 is a perfect example of some of the worst of problems we’ve got to unravel.
In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States, Congress’ powers are enumerated as follows:
- To lay and collect taxes, duties, impose and excises (Uniform throughout the United States)
- To pay debts
- Provide for the common defense
- Promote the general welfare
- Borrow money on the credit of the United States
- Regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several States, and with the Indian tribes
- Establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization
- Uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies
- Coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, fix the Standard of Weights and Measures
- Provide for the punishment of counterfeiting
- To establish Post Office and post Roads
- Promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries
- Constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme court
- Define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and offences against the laws of nations
- To declare war, grant letters of mark and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water
- Raise and support armies
- To provide and maintain a navy
- Make rules for government and regulation of the land and naval forces
- Provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions
- Provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia
- To exercise exclusive Legislation in all cases whatsoever over [the District of Columbia]
This is not by any means a long list. It certainly is much, much, much shorter than the ever-expanding list of powers Congress has been exercising for a long time. While Congress is busy doing so many things it has no real business doing, it is failing at a number of items on “the short list”. I have highlighted items that are relevant to the issue of L.B. 1110.
There has been an ongoing, large scale influx of illegal immigrants across our southern border for decades. A very ill-advised and obviously failed attempt at what amounted to amnesty during the Reagan administration did nothing more than encourage an even larger influx ever since.
Democrats do not want this influx to stop because the incoming population provides a constant stream of new voters who pull the lever for them. Republicans don’t work very hard at stopping the influx because it serves the interest of corporations to have a ready pool of low-wage workers, and also because, let’s face it, the overwhelming majority of Republicans seem incapable of actually stopping anything.
The current loser, and this is directly relevant to L.B. 1110, is the Nebraska taxpayer. A federal government that fails to perform several of its key functions, chief amongst them, protecting our borders, is very busy making a lot of mandates.
Current U.S. law provides that any child born within the United States automatically becomes a citizen. That means that even if a child’s parents are not in the U.S. legally, citizenship is automatic. The Federal government mandates that Medicaid pay for the costs of delivery of said children.
Medicaid is funded partially by Federal dollars, partly by state dollars.
Recently, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services notified the State of Nebraska that it was in violation of Federal law as it was using Medicaid funds to pay for the prenatal care of illegal immigrants. The Nebraska HHS issued letters to some 5,000 people in Nebraska notifying them that they were being removed from Medicaid eligibility as a result of this Federal action.
Now comes the choice. Nebraska is forced by law to pay its share of the costs for the delivery of the baby. And the Federal government now refuses to pay for any of the prenatal care. And remember, the child will automatically become a citizen the second its born.
Physicians will tell you that the rate of complications and health problems in deliveries and children born from a mother who did not receive prenatal care are far higher than those who do. Complicated deliveries and unhealthy babies are more expensive to care for. In other words, it is far more cost-effective to pay for prenatal care.
It is no unimportant point that Nebraska is strapped financially. Our budget surplus vanished in 2009, and we actually had a shortfall of $380 million that triggered a special legislative session. Revenues for 2010 are projected to be lower. In other words, we cannot afford the expenses we currently carry, let alone adding any new ones.
Herein lies the conundrum…
Should Nebraska forgo funding the prenatal care and accept the increased costs?
Trying to solve this current problem in any way that is acceptable is impossible. If the State of Nebraska does not provide funding for prenatal care, there will be higher costs to its Medicaid program. If it does provide funds, it is in principle encouraging more illegal immigration – rewarding unacceptable violations of law.
This problem has to be unraveled at the “source of the knot”, not the frayed end of the string we are currently looking at.
How DO we solve the overarching problem of a Federal government that refuses to provide one of its core Constitutional functions?
Fortunately, the answer to that question is much simpler than what to say or do about L.B. 1110. I am not saying it is easy, just simpler. In the end, solutions relate to exerting Nebraska Sovereignty.
Here in Nebraska we should –
Be very consistent and persistent in communicating to our Senators and the Governor that they need to untether Nebraska from Federal money. Nebraska needs to become financially independent of the Federal government. Federal money always comes with strings. Generally, over time, the strings increase in number, but the money dries up.
To become financially independent, Nebraska’s budget should be examined for waste and cut back. We need to eliminate programs that are currently federally funded or replace them with our own funds.
Consistently ask our Nebraska elected officials what they are going to do pressure the Federal government about illegal immigration.
We must advocate for legislation, such as Oklahoma Representative Charles Key’s “Tenth With Teeth” measure, that proposes to establish an escrow account into which the federal tax dollars collected from Nebraskans are deposited instead of going directly to the Federal government. If there is an unconstitutional measure from the Federal government, a process is triggered that requires an examination by the State legislature. Should the Federal government sanction or withhold funds, the monies in the account would be kept by the State. I would propose to expand that policy to include unfunded Federal mandates.
Solutions at the Federal level….
Demand from our Federal office holders they address the issue of securing our borders.
Work towards changing Federal law so that citizenship is no longer automatic regardless of the status of a child’s parents. Current policy encourages illegal immigration. At minimum, in order to become a citizen, a child’s parents must each have gone through the lawful process of having obtained a “green card”.
Finally, as specifically pertains to L.B. 1110, I propose an indirect approach to this problem. In making contact with the bill’s sponsor, members of the Health and Human Services Committee, and your own Senator, ask them what they intend to do about the illegal immigration problem and its cost to Nebraska, the root cause of the current issue.
Health and Human Services Committee Members
To find your Senator, click HERE.
To find Governor Heineman’s contact information and your Federal office holders click HERE.