How many times have Nebraskans demanded tax reform? How much time and energy is used to pursue a new tax system? Is this a case of perfection being the enemy of the good? Are we so afraid of making a mistake that we are unwilling to risk changing the tax system to see how it could be different? Or do elected officials and candidates for office merely need an issue to beat the fundraising drums?
Our sky-high taxes are the number one issue cited by every candidate currently running for office. Everyone promises to get something done when they get to Lincoln – so what happened?
Proponents of tax reform were trying to get the EPIC Consumption Tax Reform added to the ballot to be voted on by the citizens of Nebraska. Senator Erdman brought the bill to the floor, needing only 25 Yes votes to win this General File motion. According to Mark Bonkiewicz of Nebraskans for Founders Values, “We were mighty disappointed in many of our moderate and conservative senators who voted No or PNV (present not voting.)”
Although more than 70 Nebraskans packed into the balconies to watch the debate and show their support for the bill, there were only a few Senators actually on the floor participating in the debate. A debate that should have taken up to eight hours was over in two and a half. Only 19 of our 49 Senators thought Nebraskans should have the chance to vote individually on EPIC as a ballot initiative (that’s about one-third), 14 Senators gave a straight No (a little over one-fourth) three Senators had excused absences and did not vote. That left 13 Senators – one-fourth of our elected representatives – who voted Present Not Voting (PNV).
It would be one thing if a PNV or absent vote reduced the total number of votes needed to pass a bill, but it does not.
We elect these individuals to show up and do the job of evaluating information and making decisions. This bill merely wanted to pass the decision-making for our tax overhaul to the citizens of Nebraska – you know, the ones paying the taxes! One-fourth of our elected representatives deliberately chose to ignore their responsibilities. They did NOT do their job!
What could have possessed one-fourth of our representatives to sit and deliberately say, “I’m here, but I don’t choose to let you know what I think about this bill.”
Are they so overly cautious about making a mistake they are simply frozen? Then resign. We need people who will take action – even if we don’t like the action taken.
Are they concerned the citizens of Nebraska do not have the intellectual capacity to evaluate a bill that directly affects them and analyze whether or not to support it? How dare they – these are representatives elected by the people, for the people, of the people. They are no more or less intelligent than any other citizen.
Do they believe the citizens of Nebraska just don’t pay that much attention to the votes, and rather than taking a stand one way or another they straddle the fence and keep voters in the dark? These Senators voted PNV: Arch, Brandt, J. Cavanaugh, M. Hansen, Hughes, Jacobson, McKinney, Morfeld, Sanders, Stinner, Walz, Wishart and Erdman – the bill’s sponsor who changed his Yes vote to PNV thinking he could call for a second vote the next day. Senators Day, Lindstrom and Pahls were excused.
If you didn’t like the bill itself – take a stand and vote no. You have one job – VOTE! -30-