Nebraska Legislature

District 21

$10 $25 50$
Joseph Couch on the steps of the capital building in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska Legislature

District 21

$10 $25 50$

Issues

  • My top priority is preventing the crisis from getting worse by passing a State Climate Action Plan. Part of our state plan needs to include a carbon budget.
  • No matter what prevention steps we take now, there are some unavoidable consequences we will face. Therefore we must prepare our agriculture and infrastructure for the future.
  • Nebraskans know how to turn a profit and benefit their community from our natural resources, but we're ignoring two of our most bountiful resources: wind and sunshine.
  • We can eliminate our dependence on coal. It has always been harmful to both our planet and health; now it's harmful economically.
  • One way to help our climate and farmers struggling in trade wars is to incentivize crop diversity and regenerative agriculture.
  • Increasing Nebraska's industrial hemp growers would not only sequester carbon but provide economic opportunities for all sorts of products from paper to plastics.
  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are major polluters and hurt family farms. If we're going to have them we need protections such as residential setbacks and Nutrient Management Plans.
  • Farm bankruptcies are at a 15 year high. We can do better to prepare our family farmers for the future.
  • Our state is too reliant on property tax revenue and it's not fair. We can shift the burden to income taxes if we update our broken brackets.
  • If you make $30,420 a year, you are in the highest income tax bracket in Nebraska. The Middle Class in Nebraska is roughly defined as earners between $30,000 and $100,000. I would like to give the middle class a tax cut by stretching these brackets up to $100,000.
  • The nuances in our tax brackets shouldn't be among our lowest earners. We need to balance our system so the middle class isn't paying the same, or lower, rates as Warren Buffet.
  • The State Penitentiary in Lincoln is currently at 180% capacity. Nebraska Corrections, in general, is at 160%. Put simply this is dangerous. Dangerous for our corrections officers and dangerous for the inmates. Call Governor Ricketts at (402) 471-2244 and tell him we need an emergency task force.
  • This problem isn't new; our prisons have been overcrowded for decades. We spent $4.6 million in 2012 on overtime for corrections staff. In the 17-18 FY, that number is $13.3 million. We cannot afford to continue mass incarceration.
  • Like the Climate Crisis, it isn't enough to react to this problem. We know its cause: Mass Incarceration and the failed War on Drugs. We need to establish better rehabilitative programs to reduce recidivism.
  • Voter turnout, especially for local elections, is depressingly low. While I hope I can simply inspire a larger turnout, I know there are barriers to voting for many people.
  • Voting Day should be a national holiday; I'll settle for a state holiday.
  • Vote by Mail should be completely free.
  • We should enact automatic voter registration and same-day registration.

Why am I Running?

My first experience in the legislature, a senator asked me if I could prove that I had a great-great-great-grandfather. Seriously, if you don't believe a senator doesn't understand how history or sex work, you can read the transcript yourself. It was during a hearing on a bill that's being pushed across the country to mandate "In God We Trust" displays in our public schools. Instead of talking about religious pluralism and separation of church and state, several Education Committee members decided to display their ignorance and hold a trial for evolution.

The bill in question may seem small, but it's part of a nationwide effort to reshape our nation's history while opening the door for things like anti-LGBTQ bigotry. This is already on display as seen by senators filibustering a bill to protect Nebraskansfrom being fired for being themselves.

It also speaks to a larger issue of scientific illiteracy. Members of our legislature misunderstanding science and not trusting the experts aren't just threats to our schools; it threatens our entire state and planet. Climate Change is a serious issue that affects our state's economy, our homes, and our future. We need more senators who not only believe in Climate Change, but understand it, its devastating effects, and thus why we need a sense of urgency in our response.

That alone isn't enough to motivate me to spend a year of my life knocking on strangers' doors to earn a job which pays $12,000 a year. I see some senators, even from different political ideologies, whose courage and dedication inspire me. These are public servants who strive for an educated public who reciprocates with constructive and critical feedback.

"The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen" is inscribed above the capital's north door. It's an important idea - especially in our unicameral where all citizens of Nebraska are regarded as the unofficial "second house." It's an idea that I think we can build. While some senators do their best to foster transparency, others actively criticize those who watch NET streams. We can make it much easier to observe, comment on, and participate in our government. And we should because watchfulness is our salvation.

Please reach out using any method that works for you and tell me about the issues important to you. My phone number, email, and social media sites are listed below!