Weekly Column

Op-ED: Congress needs to back small town and rural life

Nearly nine in 10 rural Americans say the rural and small-town way of life is worth fighting for and protecting, but seven in 10 worry it is dying.

Those are the findings of a bipartisan poll of rural voters in Iowa and 25 other Southeastern, Midwestern and Great Plains states commissioned by the Center for Rural Affairs and completed by Lake Research Partners and the Tarrance Group.

The findings present a worthy challenge to Congress as it completes a new farm bill: Give the small-town and rural way of life the respect it deserves by investing in its future.

Rural America and the Affordable Care Act

On October 1, 2013, many Americans will begin purchasing insurance from health insurance marketplaces. As they begin to research and purchase insurance, millions for the first time, the cost in premiums for their choice of coverage will be a major consideration. Affordability will determine the success of the primary goal of the Affordable Care Act - enrollment in health insurance exchanges to increase insurance coverage and reduce the nation’s uninsured.

Community Inclusion: What's the Point?

A national conversation is focused on immigration reform. And with the significant demographic shift we have experienced, it’s time to talk about the value of inclusion in our towns.

With an influx of new Americans, we have real opportunities to embrace the changes that new folks create and also the knowledge that inclusive communities are stronger economically and socially. Inclusive communities attract new people, and research shows one of the reasons youth leave and don’t return is a lack of diversity.

Keeping the "Good Life" in Nebraska

Legislative Resolution 155 created the Tax Modernization Committee, which will consider six tax issues - fairness, competitiveness, simplicity and compliance, stability, adequacy, and complementariness (how the system’s parts affect each other). It’s a large assignment and some goals may push in opposite directions. The Committee is meeting this fall to take testimony, review the tax system and potentially recommend reforms. 

Healthcare and You: A Few of Your Questions Answered

As October approaches, so does the beginning of the marketplaces for health insurance provided for in the Affordable Care Act. These new health coverage marketplaces are where you can purchase affordable insurance, and find out if you qualify for subsidies. Of course, we hear many questions about how all this will work. For example:

I know my income determines whether I receive subsidies for health insurance. Is that my income before or after taxes?