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Senators must learn from 2019

At times during the 2019 session, the Nebraska Legislature did impressive work, reaching agreement on complex or divisive issues.

But at other times, a combination of factors tripped up state senators badly, pulling the body into disarray. The result was embarrassing failure on two preeminent issues: a tax policy overhaul focused on property tax relief, and a revamp of state business incentives.

The failure to find agreement on the tax policy and school funding issues, in particular, should spur serious soul-searching by Speaker Jim Scheer and other leaders about how this Legislature is handling negotiations on those matters.

A fatal roadblock has been a "my way or the highway" attitude by some lawmakers, thwarting consideration of new ideas and the development of a broader coalition.

The 2019 session had its successes, but it also was marred by major failures. The questions now: Will enough senators learn the right lessons to move forward, and will Scheer and others exert the leadership necessary to set the course for success next session?

For Nebraska's sake, the answers need to be yes.

- Omaha World-Herald


Demographic trends a challenge, chance

Trending data tell the story of Nebraska's changing population makeup. Generally, the state is becoming more culturally diverse, older, better educated and better paid.

From a workforce standpoint, Nebraska has reached a critical juncture. For the first time in history, elders 75 years and older outnumber children age 5 and younger. Of serious concern is the forecasted decline in prime age workforce, those 25 to 64 years old. This segment of Nebraska's workforce is at the tipping point with a slow decline projected to occur over the next 10 years.

Since 2010, Grand Island has experienced a 6.2 percent increase in population. David Drozd, research coordinator for the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, noted that one of the reasons Hall County's population continues to grow is the in-migration of people from some 30 different countries. Without these new residents, the population of Grand Island and Hall County would have followed the decline trend experienced in the rural counties of the state.

According to Drozd, ethnic populations in Grand Island have increased from less than 10 percent in 1990 to about 50 percent of the workforce currently. That strong, gradual growth has fueled Grand Island's economic growth and prosperity.

- Grand Island Independent


Trump too flippant on missile tests

President Trump deserves credit for consequential efforts, including two summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, aimed at improving relations between the United States and North Korea and producing stability on the Korean peninsula.

However, as we also have said before, broken North Korea promises and Kim's overall record demand a vigilant approach by President Trump and his administration.

To this end, we found President Trump's shrug of the shoulders over North Korea's ballistic missile tests troubling.

In his zeal to build a positive relationship with him, President Trump risks losing appreciation of who Kim is: an unpredictable dictator who leads a repressive, brutal regime and hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt.

It's in the interests of the U.S. and its friends, like Japan and South Korea, for President Trump to talk to Kim, but he should keep his eyes wide open and keep Kim at a comfortable arm's length when he does.

- Sioux City (Iowa) Journal

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