Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) holds 6th annual convention | TSLN.com

Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) holds 6th annual convention

During the month of September, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) members gathered in Valentine for their sixth annual convention. Three Nebraska state senators who agreed to be on a morning panel felt like they were on the hot plate.

All three, Senators LeRoy Louden, Abbie Cornett and Tyson Larson, were part of the morning Senator Panel which has been a trademark of the ICON convention for several years. The senators all agreed once again this year the Keystone pipeline, property taxes and education were big topics for discussion.

“Money is tight, we all know that,” said Cornett of District 45 in Bellevue. “I’ve been in the legislature for several years now and it took me five years to finally get a handle on all the underlying issues. Nebraska’s economy does mirror the national economy even though our unemployment is lower.”

Cornett said when the government in Washington, DC, was having day-to-day difficulties in July before the national debt issue was temporarily resolved, unemployment was higher in Nebraska and state residents were not spending money. The state rebounded in August and she believes this will happen again as the national debt issue works toward a resolution.

If the federal crisis ends with the national government shutting down, education will be impacted in Nebraska, Cornett said. She added road construction and repair and medical care through medicare and medicaid will also be impacted. She estimated possibly one-third of Nebraska’s state budget supported by federal funds will go away.

Louden of District 49 pointed to the conditions of roads in Nebraska as the biggest problem. Since fuel tax is used for other purposes, funds for road repair and construction used to match federal funds are hard to find.

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“You who have scales on your ranches and farms have noticed the usual scale testing in July has been delayed,” said Louden. “This is just one example of some of the types of services which will be cut because of the tight economy.” He said he has had comments from video auctions which are very concerned because scales have not been tested. Because the scales have not been certified, the weights of cattle sold on video can be questionable.

Cornett is part of a no-name committee which meets once a year to take a look at Nebraska’s budget. They consider if the budget is balanced, is there enough in cash reserve and is the money on hand enough to pay the bills.

“The federal government surely keeps states under their thumb by passing laws which require states trying to get federal money to do a certain project like passing seat belt laws to get highway funding,” said Cornett. “When will this go away? When the people stand up and say no more.”

A similar situation is very visible with the hodge-podge of laws across the nation to deal with illegal immigration. Each state is passing laws to deal with the situation in their states but the federal government won’t make any decisions.

Louden pointed out the state aid formula for education should be rewritten. He estimates five school districts in the state get over half of state aid to education. Cornett agrees the formula is broken. Agricultural property is footing the bill for education.

Cornett believes it is time to define education. The state is required by the constitution to educate its youth but she wonders what education really is.

“I believe education is the same as in the past; its reading, writing and math,” said Cornett. “I believe we need to add computer science to that list.” So for an education in Nebraska, there needs to be a teacher, a building and they need a ride. That doesn’t include funding a swimming pool in the facility or a weight room. Extracurricular activities should not be funded in any way with state funds but should come from within the district itself, however those patrons wish to pay for it.

The dollars have become disconnected from education and level of achievement of Nebraska students Cornett said. She believes the state needs to take a closer look at graduation rates and college success in the first year to track how well Nebraska students are prepared for the next step.

Larson of District 40 in northeast and central Nebraska said he sees state funding needs as pitting kids and their education against concrete or in rural Nebraska, mainstreet vs. ranchers, farmers and agriculture.

When calling for a special session for the Unicameral, Larson strongly opposes spending the $10,000 a day it will cost the state. The other senators agreed.

“Until we know exactly what is being proposed as far as a bill about the pipeline and where it goes, who would support it, it would be a waste of senators’ time and the state’s money to hold a special session,” said Larson.

“We want the safest pipeline we can have, make sure it isn’t substandard in any way and know what will happen if there’s a need for cleanup,” said Cornett.

The ICON ranchers also talked to the senators about the animal ID issue. ICON members have been participating in meetings and hearings on brand laws being held around the state. They proposed the legislature pass a resolution which will direct the State Veterinarian to begin conversations with neighboring states to create an agreement for interstate travel of livestock with neighboring states. Brand and health papers have stood for years when selling livestock and have been a tried and true method for guaranteeing animal health.

The morning senators’ panel was moderated by Jim Ruby, executive secretary of Environmental Quality Control for the state of Wyoming. Ruby grew up in Nebraska and has been involved in the unicameral for several years.

The afternoon sessions included a presentation from Scott Cotton about the next generation of ranchers; Sherry Vinton, a Nebraska Environmental Trust board member, talked about the workings of the Trust; and Tanya Storer talked on Natural Animal Welfare as opposed to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

During the month of September, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) members gathered in Valentine for their sixth annual convention. Three Nebraska state senators who agreed to be on a morning panel felt like they were on the hot plate.

All three, Senators LeRoy Louden, Abbie Cornett and Tyson Larson, were part of the morning Senator Panel which has been a trademark of the ICON convention for several years. The senators all agreed once again this year the Keystone pipeline, property taxes and education were big topics for discussion.

“Money is tight, we all know that,” said Cornett of District 45 in Bellevue. “I’ve been in the legislature for several years now and it took me five years to finally get a handle on all the underlying issues. Nebraska’s economy does mirror the national economy even though our unemployment is lower.”

Cornett said when the government in Washington, DC, was having day-to-day difficulties in July before the national debt issue was temporarily resolved, unemployment was higher in Nebraska and state residents were not spending money. The state rebounded in August and she believes this will happen again as the national debt issue works toward a resolution.

If the federal crisis ends with the national government shutting down, education will be impacted in Nebraska, Cornett said. She added road construction and repair and medical care through medicare and medicaid will also be impacted. She estimated possibly one-third of Nebraska’s state budget supported by federal funds will go away.

Louden of District 49 pointed to the conditions of roads in Nebraska as the biggest problem. Since fuel tax is used for other purposes, funds for road repair and construction used to match federal funds are hard to find.

“You who have scales on your ranches and farms have noticed the usual scale testing in July has been delayed,” said Louden. “This is just one example of some of the types of services which will be cut because of the tight economy.” He said he has had comments from video auctions which are very concerned because scales have not been tested. Because the scales have not been certified, the weights of cattle sold on video can be questionable.

Cornett is part of a no-name committee which meets once a year to take a look at Nebraska’s budget. They consider if the budget is balanced, is there enough in cash reserve and is the money on hand enough to pay the bills.

“The federal government surely keeps states under their thumb by passing laws which require states trying to get federal money to do a certain project like passing seat belt laws to get highway funding,” said Cornett. “When will this go away? When the people stand up and say no more.”

A similar situation is very visible with the hodge-podge of laws across the nation to deal with illegal immigration. Each state is passing laws to deal with the situation in their states but the federal government won’t make any decisions.

Louden pointed out the state aid formula for education should be rewritten. He estimates five school districts in the state get over half of state aid to education. Cornett agrees the formula is broken. Agricultural property is footing the bill for education.

Cornett believes it is time to define education. The state is required by the constitution to educate its youth but she wonders what education really is.

“I believe education is the same as in the past; its reading, writing and math,” said Cornett. “I believe we need to add computer science to that list.” So for an education in Nebraska, there needs to be a teacher, a building and they need a ride. That doesn’t include funding a swimming pool in the facility or a weight room. Extracurricular activities should not be funded in any way with state funds but should come from within the district itself, however those patrons wish to pay for it.

The dollars have become disconnected from education and level of achievement of Nebraska students Cornett said. She believes the state needs to take a closer look at graduation rates and college success in the first year to track how well Nebraska students are prepared for the next step.

Larson of District 40 in northeast and central Nebraska said he sees state funding needs as pitting kids and their education against concrete or in rural Nebraska, mainstreet vs. ranchers, farmers and agriculture.

When calling for a special session for the Unicameral, Larson strongly opposes spending the $10,000 a day it will cost the state. The other senators agreed.

“Until we know exactly what is being proposed as far as a bill about the pipeline and where it goes, who would support it, it would be a waste of senators’ time and the state’s money to hold a special session,” said Larson.

“We want the safest pipeline we can have, make sure it isn’t substandard in any way and know what will happen if there’s a need for cleanup,” said Cornett.

The ICON ranchers also talked to the senators about the animal ID issue. ICON members have been participating in meetings and hearings on brand laws being held around the state. They proposed the legislature pass a resolution which will direct the State Veterinarian to begin conversations with neighboring states to create an agreement for interstate travel of livestock with neighboring states. Brand and health papers have stood for years when selling livestock and have been a tried and true method for guaranteeing animal health.

The morning senators’ panel was moderated by Jim Ruby, executive secretary of Environmental Quality Control for the state of Wyoming. Ruby grew up in Nebraska and has been involved in the unicameral for several years.

The afternoon sessions included a presentation from Scott Cotton about the next generation of ranchers; Sherry Vinton, a Nebraska Environmental Trust board member, talked about the workings of the Trust; and Tanya Storer talked on Natural Animal Welfare as opposed to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

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