Arbitrary limits hurt cottage industries

Our state's cottage industries can run into a jam if they attempt to broaden their customer base and deepen their profits. However, the law for homemade food sales limits them to farmers markets, creating an unnecessary hurdle for the growth of these small in-home businesses.

The problem with limiting cottage industries to farmers markets should be obvious. The season for farmers markets is late spring, summer and early fall.

LB304 is a solution to this problem. It aims to open the gate for cottage industries to grow their profits. The proposal would allow individuals to sell to consumers directly from their homes or online all year long if their goods already are authorized for sale at farmers markets. It would require cottage food producers comply with food safety requirements in the county where they prepare their products, such as obtaining a food handler permit.

For entrepreneurs who have discovered a viable niche and are developing their products to appeal to a wider market, growing annual receipts is key, especially if they're applying for a small business loan.

- Kearney Hub

Omaha VA clinic an innovative model

An innovative approach developed in Omaha, plus strong work by Nebraska lawmakers in Washington, helped clear away the federal roadblocks for the new VA clinic being built in Omaha. It's encouraging to see the construction proceeding in a timely fashion.

Congress needed to change federal law in order for such a partnership to be used. Reps. Lee Terry and Brad Ashford worked closely with Omaha business leaders and across the partisan aisle to get congressional leaders to allow a vote. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry lent support, and Sen. Deb Fischer directed the legislation to Senate approval and continues to monitor the project.

A private-sector design review method reduced the construction timeline by almost four and a half months, according to a Government Accountability Office report mandated by the legislation.

Innovative thinking, public-private collaboration, effective navigation of legislative hurdles — other U.S. communities can benefit from studying and emulating this Omaha success.

- Omaha World-Herald

Preventing outbreaks wise public policy

All 50 states require specified vaccines for students. But in certain pockets of the country, parents are increasingly opting out of vaccinations for their kids, which has had consequences.

Preliminary figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there were 372 measles cases in the U.S. last year and, so far in 2019, there have been 206 reports in 11 states.

We should not take our relative safety for granted. The spread of conspiracies about vaccines, much of it on social media — even in the face of overwhelming medical evidence of their safety — puts us all at risk.

Some might balk at the idea of requiring vaccinations. But this country has a long history of acting for the public good in this area. The first state law mandating vaccinations goes back more than 200 years, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right to compel vaccination more than 100 years ago.

Our country has avoided the kind of outbreaks that have so recently afflicted Europe. But we must be vigilant to protect the steps we have taken that contribute to making it so.

- Quad-City (Iowa) Times

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