The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, January 23, 1997, Page 6, Image 6

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Senator proposes bill
to increase housing fund
By Erin Gibson
Senior Reporter
The Legislature will decide this
spring how to help fund 34,860
new housing units for Nebraskans,
Gov. Ben Nelson announced
Based on recommendations
presented Wednesday by the Af
fordable Housing Trust Fund Com
mittee, Sen. Don Wesely of Lincoln
will present a bill to put revenue in
the Affordable Housing Trust
Nelson said the fund was estab
lished by the Nebraska Affordable
Housing Act passed during last
year's legislative session.
Committee Chairman Dale
Tinstman said $ 10 million invested
in the fund could provide much
needed affordable housing for Ne
braskans and help to fill a projected
statewide housing need of 34,860
units by the year 2000.
“There is a dramatic need for
housing in this state,” Tinstman
Currently, private industry is
not building enough housing priced
at about $70,000 to $80,000, an
amount affordable for households
earning an hourly wage of about
$12, he said. Housing in Nebraska
also is aging and deteriorating and
in need of renovation. About 29
percent of housing statewide is
more than 58 years old, he said.
The trust fund would help Ne
braska communities fill this hous
ing need, Tinstman said.
Laying the foundation
I To finance the fund, Wesely’s
| bill proposes the Department of In
surance policy premium tax be
raised from .25 percent to 1.25 per
cent to raise $11.2 million in tax
revenue. Nebraska currently has
the 48th lowest insurance tax of any
state, he said. Wesely said his pro
posal would move Nebraska to
Wesely also suggested the docu
mentary stamp tax — paid when
real estate property is exchanged—
be increased from $1.75 to $2.75
per $1,000 of property value. The
increase would generate an addi
tional $3.7 million for the fund.
In a report made public
Wednesday on the trust fund,
Tinstman and his committee also
suggested getting revenue by redi
recting about 25 percent of lottery
funds currently allocated to the
Solid Waste Landfill Closure As
sistance Fund. An initial $2 mil
lion could also be requested from
the general fund, according to the
But Nelson said the state will
not be asked to fill the entire hous
ing need. State money invested in
the trust fund should spur private
industry to help build more afford
able housing, he said.
“The state can identify a prob
lem, and the state can help with a
solution, but private industry is
holding the keys when it comes to
affordable housing,” Nelson said.
The state will allocate money
from the fund to communities
across Nebraska, he said. Commu
nities will then decide how to best
use the funds they receive, Nelson
said. .
Bringing it home
According to the committee’s
report, the state would be divided
into six regions, plus the Lincoln
and Omaha metropolitan areas, for
allocation. All regions will receive
funding based on population, with
a $250,000 minimum.
The committee suggests the
Omaha metro area, which com
prises 32 percent of the state popu
lationTreceive more than $2.6 mil
lion. The Lincoln Metro Area could
receive $883,750, the report said.
Timothy Kenny, executive di
rector of the Nebraska Investment
Finance Authority, said many com
munities could use funds allocated
to build lots to spur private-indus- j
try builders.
Vacant lots with water and
sewer lines and streets are not
available in many communities, he
said. This prevents private indus
• try builders from starting affordable
housing projects, he said.
And Tinstman said this lack of
affordable housing could hurt
Nebraska’s growth in the future.
“If businesses that exist here
now are going to stay, we need to
get on this.”
Sufficient housing is often un
available for workers when new
businesses open in the state’s small
communities, he said. For instance,
there was not enough housing
available for workers in Oshkosh
when a Cabella’s plant opened
Committee member Robert
Horak, a vice president at First
National Bank of Omaha, s^id the
state must help fill this affordable
housing gap. The gap was once
closed by federal mortgage subsi
dies, he said, but those subsidies
ended about 10 years ago.
“If we don’t do something, it’s
going to get worse.”
A Way To Find Community
Assistance for Seniors
for a darker tan
Chambers adds proof
for his aid-in-dying hill
By Erin Schulte
Senior Reporter
After Sen. Ernie Chambers of
Omaha drafted LB406, known as the
Physician Aid-In-Dying Act, he heard
a story.
A family came and told him about
the death of one of their parents who
had terminal cancer. The patient was
in excruciating pain, could not swal
low food or water and the shallow
breaths the patient took reeked of fe
“Tb me, that is not dignity,” Cham
bers said. The family’s story was proof
that his Aid-In-Dying Act would help
You can starve them to death,
dehydrate them, and that’s all right,”
he said. “But you cannot allow thfm
to receive assistance in dying from a
The spouse of the dying patient
wanted to administer a lethal dose of
drugs, Chambers said, but did not be
cause an autopsy would have revealed
the cause of death—and because ftfe
patient was in no condition to admin
ister the drugs, the spouse would have
been sent to jail.
“The children would lose both par
ents instead of one,” Chambers said.
The state has no compelling inter
est in keeping terminally ill patients
alive, Chambers said, and there is no
societal right, either. The decisions
should be made by people directly in
volved in the situation.
And death is by no means the so
lution to every physically or psycho
logically painful situation, Chambers
said. But in cases where a competent
adult decides it is the best option, he
or she should be allowed that decision,
he said. ,
* /
Some stipulations include:
■ The terminally ill patient —
who will most likely die within six
months—must be 19 or older and be
mentally competent.
■ The patient must sign a request
for aid-in-dying (called an advance
directive). Two witnesses must be
■ The witnesses cannot be related
to the patient, be entitled to his or her
estate, have a creditor’s claim against
the patient, or be the attending physi
■ The advance directive may be
evoked at any tim&^
■ No doctor or health care pro
vider would be required to perform
aid-in-dying against his or her will.
■ Anyone concealing an advance
directive would be subject to a class 1
misdemeanor. Anyone who falsified
the advance directi ve of another per
son would be guilty of homicide.
■ Aid-in-dying would not be con
sidered suicide for insurance purposes.
■ The attending physician can re
quest a psychological test.
■ The attending doctor can't be
charged with murder or assisting sui
No amount of suffering, others say,
should justify physician aid-in-dying.
Guyla Mills, executive director of
the Nebraska Family Council, said the
organization opposed the legislation.
“Life is precious and doctors
should not be put in a position where
instead of upholding life they are the
takers of life,” Mills said. “Only God
has the right to dictate when life
should end.
“Every stage of life has value,”
Mills said.