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Respecting the Rule of Law

By Governor Pete Ricketts

March 29, 2016


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The rule of law is foundational to how we as Americans and as Nebraskans create an ordered society.  Without respect for the law, for our national and state constitutions, for private property, or for individual rights, our lives would be chaotic and our economy would be unstable.


As Governor, it is my duty to work with the Legislature to ensure that our laws create the orderly society we need to protect our rights.  As my administration examines legislation, we are always looking to grow our state, protect public safety, and ensure that Nebraska continues to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family.


This session, we have been working with senators to apply these principles.  In recent weeks, senators voted to kill legislation that would have granted public benefits for drug dealers with repeat convictions.  Additionally, the Legislature also voted down a bill which would have granted additional taxing authority to political subdivisions that have increased their property taxes an average of more than 96 percent over the last decade.  Just this week, the Legislature wisely rejected Medicaid expansion for the fourth year in a row.  This bill was based on a failed model of expansion used in Arkansas, and posed great risks to our state.


While the session has only a few weeks left, taxpayers should pay close attention to the bills senators have brought to the floor to debate.  Much of the work of the session happens in the closing days, and there are still key proposals which will be debated on the floor of the Legislature.


One such bill, LB947, would give individuals who have come to Nebraska illegally access to professional and commercial licenses.  Specifically, this legislation would extend benefits to a group of people who have immigrated illegally and have been deemed temporarily to be lawfully present in our country by the Obama administration.  It is important to understand that President Obama unilaterally granted this status through executive order and it is only temporary.  As your Governor, I have consistently opposed expanding public or taxpayer benefits to these individuals who came illegally because it undermines the rule of law.  


If LB947 passes, Nebraska will be rewarding illegal immigration and preferencing those who are here illegally over those who use our legal immigration system.  This sends the message that immigrants need not respect our laws.  Think about what this means on a practical level.  Nebraska has a multitude of international students studying at our universities and state colleges on legal student visas.  Those who have followed our laws to be here must then get a work visa if they want to get a professional Nebraska license to stay and work here.  This bill would allow people who came here illegally to circumvent the legal system used by the law-abiding immigrants coming to our state today.


In recent years, the Unicameral has granted some benefits to individuals who have come here illegally in spite of the concerns I hear from Nebraskans.  A previous Nebraska Legislature gave in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, which means we preference illegal immigrants over a legal student from Kansas, Colorado, South Dakota, or Iowa.  Last year, I vetoed a bill that gave driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and this Legislature overrode that veto.


Nebraska should not continue down this path.  In spite of the federal government’s failures, we should uphold the rule of law to preserve the Good Life and ensure that our state remains the best place to live, work, and raise a family.  Until the federal immigration system is fixed, we will continue to experience the impact of the federal government’s failures on a daily basis.  Giving benefits to individuals who came here illegally is not a solution for the schools, communities, and churches in our state that are on the front lines of dealing with the fall out of the federal government’s failure to enforce immigration laws.


If you agree and want to see the Legislature defeat LB947, I encourage you to contact your State Senator.  The bill is on its second round of debate in the coming weeks, and senators are listening for your feedback.  You can find all the information you need to contact your senator by visiting