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Around the Rotunda
With JoAnne Young and Nancy Hicks

Sen. Arnie Stuthman of Platte Center started the conversation during a committee discussion.

What could you make from recycling all those beer cans sold in Whiteclay?

A lot of money, he concluded.

You could get about $57,000 for the Whiteclay cans, based on information from Lincoln's recycling manager and A-Can Recycling Center.

The estimate is based on these facts.

  •  In 2008, about 4.2 million 12-ounce cans of beer were sold by four Whiteclay businesses.
  •  In this part of the country, that much aluminum will bring about 46 cents a pound.

State has more proclamations than days of the year

Gov. Dave Heineman loves his Dr Pepper.

But that didn't stop him from signing an official proclamation declaring March as National Caffeine Awareness Month, calling attention to the deleterious effects of too much caffeine.

It's not all that hard to get a governor's proclamation. National caffeine awareness is one of at least 26 for March. Last year, there were 445 total proclamations. Most are the result of a constituent request and are important to a group of Nebraskans.

This is not the first caffeine awareness proclamation for Nebraska. Former Gov. Mike Johanns signed similar proclamations twice.

The goal is to "promote awareness, detection and prevention of caffeine addiction in Nebraska," according to an e-mail announcement on the proclamation from a national caffeine awareness group.

The state's chief medical officer says caffeine, though addictive, can be safely used in moderation. But there are side effects from drinking too much coffee or other caffeinated beverages, said Dr. Joann Schaefer, who admits to having an occasional cup of real coffee herself.

She recommends to patients that they stop or cut back on caffeine if they have these symptoms -- muscle tension, irritability, insomnia.

The proclamation states that "prolonged caffeine consumption can pose a significant hazard to health and longevity."

Schaefer simply suggests: "Just be careful with caffeine."

And coffee does not make you dehydrated, she said. That is a medical myth. Coffee decreases blood flow to the kidney and postpones the making of urine. But the kidneys make up for this over a few hours.

Lung association warms up to Karpisek

Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber and the American Lung Association were not best friends several years ago when Karpisek opposed the bill that banned smoking in bars across the state.

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"The association beat me up on my position on the smoking ban," Karpisek said.

But that's changed.

This year the American Lung Association supports Karpisek's proposed constitutional amendment (LR296CA) that would allow legal poker tournaments, which would be used to raise money for charities.

Last year, the association's corporate support dropped by 57 percent and individual giving decreased by 18 percent, Karpisek said.

The association could be one of the charities benefiting from poker tournaments.

Voters would have to approve opening the gambling door to poker tournaments. Then a future Legislature would create the specific system. That system likely would resemble the current bingo and keno systems, Karpisek said.

The poker proposal, Karpisek's priority bill, is his second attempt this year to allow additional legal gambling in the state.

The Legislature refused to advance another proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed wagering on simulcast horse races in bars across the state. That measure was intended to help the failing horse racing industry.

The poker amendment, still in the General Affairs Committee, is intended to help charities and nonprofits -- including volunteer firefighters.

Reach Nancy Hicks at 473-7250 or Reach JoAnne Young at 473-7228 or


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