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Who is Steve Halloran? Nebraska Senator faces ire for dragging colleague’s name into rape scene

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Who is Steve Halloran? Nebraska Senator faces ire for dragging colleague’s name into rape scene


Senator Steve Halloran stirred a storm on Monday after he invoked a colleague’s name while reading a book passage about an explicit rape scene.

During the 83-second reading, Senator Steve Halloran repeatedly inserted Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s name into the text as the victim.(X@NebraskaMegan)

The incident occurred during a Nebraska legislative debate over keeping profanity and pornography out of K-12 classrooms. However, the session ended abruptly after Halloran’s statement sparked outrage.

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When lawmakers were debating on Legislative Bill 441, Halloran warned his colleagues that he would be quoting the bill’s hearing testimony, according to Nebraska Examiner.

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The bill introduced by Sen. Joni Albrecht aims to eliminate a prosecution exemption for schools that give pornographic materials to students in K-12 schools.

Before concluding his arguments during the debate, Halloran read an excerpt from Alice Seabold’s “Lucky,” which he claimed was available in at least 16 Nebraska school libraries. The book recounts Sebold’s pain of being raped in college and highlights the importance of discussion on trauma and victimisation.

During the 83-second reading, Halloran repeatedly invoked female Senator Machaela Cavanaugh’s name into the text as the victim.

At least two of Halloran’s colleagues — Sens. Julie Slama and Megan Hunt — have called for his resignation.

Also Read: Utah parents allegedly admit to sexually abusing teen daughter in a bid to teach her about…

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Machaela Cavanaugh reacts: ‘It was harassing’

Calling out Halloran, Cavanaugh termed the “incident out of line, harassing and disgusting” as she was left tearful on the floor.

“That was about a book about sexual violence. I have done nothing but try to have a respectful debate with Sen. Albrecht about her bill that impacts my children,” she stated, hoping that other coworkers and Republicans will defend her.

Albrecht, who left the floor immediately, said she was “mortified” after Cavanaugh’s name was mentioned.

Meanwhile, Julie Slama of Dunbar, a conservative, responded to Cavanaugh’s tweet and slammed Halloran, stating that “no context makes this appropriate.”

Also Read: A mower sparked a Nebraska wildfire that has burned an area roughly the size of Omaha, officials say

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Halloran defends self, says ‘I was addressing her lawyer brother’

In an email to a Nebraska teacher on Monday evening, Halloran claimed that he was referring to Cavanaugh’s lawyer brother, John, reported Nebraska Examiner.

“If you would have listened closely, I was addressing her lawyer brother … John!”

Meanwhile, Cavanaugh rejected Halloran’s claims that he was talking about her brother rather than her as “dismissive”.

“Context matters — which was the crux of the bill being debated. Inserting my or my brother or both of our names into the reading of an explicit excerpt from a story about rape is the context of this video,” she wrote.

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‘Ecstatic’: Nebraska caregivers get some relief in the form of a tax credit

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‘Ecstatic’: Nebraska caregivers get some relief in the form of a tax credit


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Thirteen years ago, Nebraska nursing instructor Tara Spiehs Garst had to leave her job to take care of her son who was born with Trisomy 18, a genetic condition that causes multiple birth defects.

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Three years later, she had a daughter who was born with the same condition. Since then, Spiehs Garst’s family has lived on a reduced income and pays thousands of dollars out of pocket for services and supplies, having to cut numerous corners. Spiehs Garst even went without a cell phone for a year, but the emotional impacts have been just as daunting.

“My people that I interact with are physicians, are therapists, my children’s medical providers, that’s who my social interaction is with because they’re my full time job,” Spiehs Garst said. “I can’t leave them to go and do other things. Somebody has to be there to take care of them.”

She is just one of 179,000 caregivers in Nebraska who face similar challenges, including emotional and financial burdens, every day.

These challenges sparked the Caregiver Tax Credit Act, sponsored by Nebraska State Sen. Eliot Bostar. The act would create a nonrefundable tax credit for caregivers that would cover about 50% of eligible expenditures used for the care of family members each year. The maximum credit is $2,000, and it is $3,000 for family members who served in the military or who have a dementia diagnosis.

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This potential tax credit comes as federal and state governments are trying to solve the senior care crisis, in which the cost of care continues to skyrocket while more of the population ages. Today, there are over 53 million caregivers in the United States, as people have stepped in to care for family members who can’t afford rent at senior care centers or to pay at-home nurses.

“We’re relying more and more on caregivers and family members to provide that care because the healthcare system is bursting at the seams,” Associate State Director for Advocacy and Outreach with AARP Nebraska, Jina Ragland said. “We have a huge desert of accessibility to health services but also for having the workforce development enough to provide inside facilities.”

If passed, Nebraska would be the second state to establish a caregiver tax credit. Bostar’s bill is modeled after Oklahoma’s, which went into effect at the beginning of this year. Unlike Oklahoma’s legislation, Nebraska’s potential tax credit would not have an age requirement for eligible family members, recognizing that people of all ages receive care at home.

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The non-refundable tax credit would be capped at $2.5 million, but Ragland points out that it would save the state money in the long run. According to the Nebraska AARP, family caregivers in the state provide over 168 million hours of unpaid care valued at approximately $2.8 billion every year.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of the U.S. care system, helping parents, spouses and other loved ones remain in their homes,” Bostar said during a floor debate last month. “LB 937 will help ensure Nebraskans in need or care can stay in their homes when their health is failing, eliminating the need for the much more costlier option and added emotional burden of being cared for in a taxpayer-funded nursing home.”

Although the tax credit has wide bipartisan support, it saw an unexpected roadblock during the first round of debate in late March when a handful of amendments, including a controversial dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations to crisis pregnancy centers, were tacked on at the last minute. The credit was eventually advanced and passed with a unanimous vote on the second to last day of session. Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen has until Wednesday to sign it into law.

“With the baby boomer generation retiring and getting older and all of our nursing homes seemingly closing right and left, we will have to address more creatively how we take care of these folks,” state Sen. Jana Hughes said during floor debate. “Encouraging them staying at home is a very, very good thing.”

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More: Caregivers spend a whopping $7,200 out of pocket. New bill would provide tax relief.

‘The backbone’

Like caregivers across the country, Sarah Rasby of Nebraska had to make financial and emotional sacrifices to take care of her 35-year-old twin sister, Erin Lewis, who went into cardiac arrest and survived an anoxic brain injury, leaving her unable to walk, speak or move her body. Rasby spent hours a day caring for her sister for three and a half years before she passed away in 2022.

“There’s just really not a lot of time for the caregivers to care for themselves because they’re giving so much of their life to the other person,” Rasby said, noting may caregivers face social isolation. “The tax credit will help them identify as caregivers, but at the same time, those in the thick of it will start feeling some more value.”

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Joyce Beck had made similar financial and emotional sacrifices to take care of her husband, Jerry. Beck’s husband suffered a heart attack while he had multiple sclerosis and had to have a quadruple bypass at the age of 52. He was later diagnosed with cancer, leading Beck to retire early from her position as a hospital CEO to care for him after it spread. Jerry eventually passed away about three years ago.

Beck is “ecstatic” the caregiver tax credit passed, saying it is an acknowledgment of the sacrifices caregivers make and will relieve some of the financial burdens they face.

“I’m proud that Nebraska is the second state in the United States to pass this because it shows the rest of the country that we are compassionate, we care about our people, and we want to take care of everyone,” Beck said.

Although she’s not a caregiver anymore, Beck knows the experience all too well. She wasn’t able to return to work after her husband passed and had to collect her pension and social security early on top of paying thousands of dollars out of pocket for medical bills. Despite the financial and emotional hardships, she was honored she got to spend the last few years of her husband’s life caring for him.

“It’s so hard to watch someone pass away by inches, it’s like almost a nightmare to watch,” Beck said. “It is truly just an honor to be able to take care of someone like that and to help them every step of the way. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do but it is the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.”

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Douglas County GOP central committee flips endorsements to Dan Frei and John Glen Weaver • Nebraska Examiner

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Douglas County GOP central committee flips endorsements to Dan Frei and John Glen Weaver • Nebraska Examiner


OMAHA — Newly elected leaders of the now-populist Douglas County Republican Party brushed aside questions about the legitimacy of hosting its April meeting Tuesday without the approval of its chairman and flipped the party’s federal endorsements.

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., thanks about 50 elected Republicans for supporting his reelection campaign. He announced their support Monday at Memorial Park in Omaha. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Until this week, Douglas County had been the lone county GOP in the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District to endorse Nebraska’s Republican incumbents in the House and Senate, including Rep. Don Bacon and Sens. Pete Ricketts and Deb Fischer.

Members of the group’s central committee who attended Tuesday’s meeting voted to withdraw endorsements of Bacon and Ricketts and voted by voice without an audible objection to endorse their opponents in the primary, Dan Frei and John Glen Weaver. Fischer kept her endorsement.

State GOP Chairman Eric Underwood and national committeewoman Fanchon Blythe basked in victory over a county party they and local organizers worked to change. Blythe said she helped register 100 delegates for the county convention.

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For nearly two years since populists took over the state party, the Douglas County GOP fought to preserve a place within a more traditional party structure for the moderate Republicans who have won races in the more politically divided 2nd District. 

“I’m proud of what you’ve done,” Underwood said of the takeover. “But there are next steps…. More and more people are coming to this party because of the stability that you’re bringing.”

Censure vote rare

The group also censured Bacon. The Douglas County GOP last rebuked a member of the congressional delegation  — then-U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse — in 2021.

That Sasse censure vote fell short of passage when an organized group left the room, so it passed as a separate sense of the group, or rebuke.

Nebraska 2nd District U.S. House candidate Dan Frei seeks the endorsement of the new leadership committee of the Douglas County GOP on Tuesday. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

The 2nd District primary winner will face Democratic State Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, who lost to Bacon in 2022 by three percentage points.

State and local populists have faced pushback from current and former county party leaders who preferred a big-tent party and those who back Bacon and Ricketts. Both incumbents hold sizable leads in primary polling and are likely to win. 

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One upset Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed concerns that an active and engaged local GOP chapter had turned against itself. He said new party leaders “are the dog who caught the car. Now what are they going to do with it?”

No immediate comment from Bacon, Ricketts

Neither the Bacon nor Ricketts campaigns had any immediate comment. Both have previously criticized some of the actions of the state party in pushing to flip local parties in a new direction, including in Sarpy County and more recently in Saunders County.

Bacon announced more than 100 endorsements Monday from state and local Republican elected officials, many of whom said the party should be unifying around the GOP candidate who can win a general election in the Omaha area.

Douglas County Republican Party chairman Chris Routhe, at  left, speaks to campaign volunteer Andy Allen during the party’s “day of action” for down-ballot candidates on Tuesday. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Ricketts, long a top donor for the state GOP, has stopped giving to the party since the new leaders ousted a team in 2022 that was loyal to him. None of Nebraska’s all-GOP congressional delegation sought the state party endorsement this year.

Douglas GOP Chairman Chris Routhe, reached on a “day of action” he organized Tuesday for local down-ballot Republicans, said he did not call the county GOP meeting, as required by the county party constitution. He called the gathering “unsanctioned.”

Routhe said late last week that he was waiting until after the primary election to hold the party’s next meeting, following the county party convention. His critics said he tried to cancel a long-planned regular meeting that included a reserved room at a hotel.

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“While I and many others were out knocking on doors for … candidates across Douglas County, two NEGOP state party leaders organized an unconstitutional meeting,” Routhe said. “Therefore the results of tonight’s unofficial meeting are null and void.” 

‘MAGA patriots’

Those assertions mattered little in a Marriott Regency ballroom packed with people who called themselves “MAGA patriots” loyal to former President Donald Trump. Nor did they worry Mike Moran, the chair of the county GOP’s constitutional committee.

Moran argued that 85 of the county party’s 115 central committee members were present and that the party’s constitution allows them to call a meeting on their own.

U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., speaks to supporters during his campaign kickoff event Aug. 23, 2023, in Omaha. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

“We govern, not the chairman,” Moran said. “The decision of whether we are going to have this meeting lies with this group.”

The group elected former Douglas County GOP chair Jon Tucker to chair the meeting. Tucker and interim 2nd District chair Scott Petersen spoke at the meeting, evoking their similar roles in organizing a county party leadership change in 2012. 

Weaver told the group, “I came to this body before, and I was denied, so I’m persistent. I knew when the vessel-less cowards that are controlled by Pete Ricketts did not endorse me, I knew they were cowards.” 

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Doing enough for Trump?

Weaver and other speakers complained that Nebraska’s congressional delegation wasn’t doing enough to support Trump. Weaver said if he were in the Senate today, he’d be in New York City, “going after the judges and crooked judicial systems that we’ve got” there.

Nebraska U.S. Senate candidate John Glen Weaver is running against U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Trump is on trial in New York on 34 felony counts, accused of conspiring with a tabloid publisher to conceal hush money paid to a porn star with whom Trump allegedly had an extramarital affair. Prosecutors allege he wanted to avoid a potentially negative campaign story during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Frei also was endorsed Tuesday by the Saunders County GOP, which changed leadership recently as well. The previous leaders had not endorsed in the 2nd District House race.

Frei, speaking at the Marriott, criticized Bacon’s support for aid to Ukraine, saying he would never “tell you one thing on the campaign trail and do something different in Washington.”

Several of those in attendance asked whether the county party could stop airing and sending radio advertisements and mailers proclaiming the county GOP’s endorsements of Bacon, Ricketts and Fischer, but were told they might be too late to stop.

The effort to remove Bacon’s endorsement received 76 votes, Tucker told the county party crowd. The push to rescind the Ricketts endorsement received 63 votes, after a handful of people left the meeting.

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Underwood said the time for “transactional politics” was done. He said it was time to find “people that you want to validate.”

“Politically, this is changing our mindset,” he said.

Andy Allen, a Douglas County GOP volunteer who participated in Routhe’s call for helping local candidates, said he thinks Republicans pushing to flip the endorsements should have sought them when the incumbents did.

He said both sets of candidates could have been endorsed. He said party members need to remember that Douglas County is diverse and requires appealing to more than just the support of people who are “my way or the highway.”

“Sometimes you have to be willing to listen,” he said. “We’ve got some people that don’t seem to understand that listening is an important part.”

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Vince Genatone Commits To Nebraska | Hurrdat Sports

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Vince Genatone Commits To Nebraska | Hurrdat Sports


After a pit-stop at Montana, Vince Genatone is the latest in-state player to find a home at Nebraska. 

Genatone, a three-sport star at North Platte in the 2022 class, spent his first two seasons at Montana. He entered the transfer portal earlier this year after his redshirt freshman season. 

On Tuesday, he committed to the Huskers. 

“Coach Rhule and his staff are very well known for developing their players and that is what I am looking for, is to be developed,” Genatone told Hail Varsity. “Where better than Nebraska?” 

At 6-foot-1, and 220 pounds, he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining when he gets to Lincoln. 

A quick trip from North Platte to Lincoln to visit campus and meet the coaching staff on Tuesday sealed the commitment. 

“They have a very welcoming staff,” Genatone said. “I got to watch practice today and toured all of the facilities. All of the coaches treated me like I was already a part of the family.”

Genatone starred at both running back and linebacker at North Platte and was also a stand-out wrestler and track athlete. He ran the ball 100 times for 911 yards and 13 touchdowns and was among the state’s leader in tackles with 136 including 14.5 for loss (3.5 sacks) as a senior, guiding the Bulldogs to a 7-4 record and state tournament appearance.

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