The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 15, 2001, Image 1

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    . __________a
nrirttn r. — - _A romance for Valentines:
UNL Theater produces
NU gymnastics has an
extra bounce to its step
and pop to its punch with
these three freshmen
in SportsThursday/10
■ The state's $12 million chunk has
been earmarked to cover health care,
and groups are fighting for their part
It must be die money.
When state senators gathered
Wednesday to divvy out an estimated
$1.2 billion, people showed up.
A lot of people showed up.
Testifiers, aiming to get a piece of
the financial pie, overflowed a joint
hearing of the Appropriations and
Health and Human Services commit
Tobacco companies will hand over
the hefty chunk of change to the state as
part of a settlement deal meant to
refund the state for the Medicaid bucks
it spent on ailing smokers.
Lawmakers have earmarked the
tobacco dollars for improvements in
health care and health care costs. Since
the settlement, health care groups and
agencies have been vying for the money.
But dollar signs weren't on every
one’s mind Wednesday.
Kenny Olson braved icy roads for a
different reason.
Olson went to the hearing to tell
senators about his wife, Eleanor.
Eleanor has Alzheimer’s disease.
For a while, Olson said, he could
take care of his wife without too many
But, he said, as age began to sneak
up on him and Eleanor’s disease pro
gressed, it became more difficult to give
her the care she needed.
Eventually, Olson said, he was
forced to move Eleanor to a nursing
But a month away from his wife
proved to be too much.
“It was the most miserable month of
my life,” he said.
With the help of respite services,
Olson said, he was able to bring Eleanor
These services help keep disabled and
sick people at home under the care of a
friend or family member as opposed to
moving them to nursing homes.
"In 1941, we exchanged vows, and
we promised to always take care of each
other,” he said.
And Olson said respite services have
let him fulfill a promise to the woman
he loves.
LB692, introduced by Sen. Dennis
Byars of Beatrice, would help people
like Olson by funneling more state
money into respite services.
Byars said this money will not only
support caregivers, but it will ultimately
save the state money.
The alternative to respite services,
he said, is to pack the sick and elderly
into nursing homes.
These facilities drain large sums of
money from Medicaid accounts, Byars
Committee members in the joint
session heard testimony on eight bills,
including the bill introduced by Byars,
geared towards improving Nebraska’s
health-care system.
And according to all in attendance,
the state needs the aid desperately.
Byars said Nebraska is in the bottom
tier in terms of state spending on public
Please see TOBACCO on 3
is still
With the approval of a plus
minus grading system, the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
is still not following the norm.
Though it has been argued
by Academic Senate members
as a more standardized grading
system, only four of the Big 12
Schools - the University of
Missouri-Columbia, the
University of Colorado at
Boulder, Iowa State University
and Texas Tech University - use
the plus-minus grading system.
Five use a straight letter
grading system with no pluses
or minuses; one, Baylor
University, has UNL’s previous
plus-only grading system and
the University of Kansas in
Lawrence uses a mixture of
grading systems throughout its
The five which use the
straight letter grading system
are the University of Oklahoma,
the University of Texas at
Austin, Texas A&M University,
Oklahoma State University and
Kansas State University.
The University of Missouri
Columbia instituted an option
al plus-minus grading system
with a weighted A+ in 1988 and
moved to a standard plus
minus system - with a 4.0 A+ -
in the fall of 1998, said Christian
Basi, a MU news spokesman.
Russ Zguta, chairman of
Mizzou’s faculty council, said
student opinion was the main
force behind making the plus
minus mandatory.
“The students became con
cerned about the fact that it was
not being uniformly used,”
Zguta said. He said he supports
the plus-minus grading system
because it provides professors
with a more accurate grading
Kathy Jones, a registrar at
Iowa State University, said the
plus-minus grading system has
been in place at the institution
since 1981. She said the faculty
moved to the plus-minus from a
straight letter system to grade
more precisely - an issue stu
dents supported as well.
“I think (the students)
would complain if it went
away,” she said.
Daryl Mehl, an Oklahoma
University academic records
specialist, said though
Oklahoma uses a straight letter
grading system now, he would
n't be surprised if in five years
the university switched to the
plus-minus scale.
Brigid Spackman, a
University of Texas at Austin
Please see GRADING on 3
Jennifer Lund/DN
SCRAPING KX: Commuters woke up Wednesday morning to sleet and snow, which caused a sheet of ice to freeze on their cars. Some wielded ice scrapers while others waited while their cars' defrosters melted the ice.
Bill targets discrimination
■ Sen.Emie Chambers proposed LB19, which
would try to stop employers from showing bias
towards homosexuals or heterosexuals.
They can’t get married.
But if a bill proposed by Sen. Ernie Chambers of
Omaha passes, gay people might be able resist dis
crimination in the workplace.
LB19 would stop employers from discriminat
ing against employees based on their sexual orien
The bill’s protection halo would cover hetero
sexuals and homosexuals and would apply to all
business with more than 15 employees, including
State of Nebraska employees.
The University of Nebraska already includes
sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy.
Angela Clements, a junior political science
major, said the bill would firm up Nebraska’s
Nondiscrimination Act
And, she said, the bill would put Nebraska on
track with the rest of country.
Former President Clinton issued an executive
order prohibiting discrimination against people in
federal offices, and the governor of Iowa also issued
an executive order barring discrimination based on
sexual orientation in his state, Dements said.
But, she said, Nebraska's policy would expand
beyond the other measures by protecting hetero
sexuals and homosexuals.
“It’s not just targeted to homosexuals,”
Dements said.
Despite its umbrella coverage, Guyla Mills, lob
byist for the Nebraska Nonpartisan Family Council,
said she wasn’t impressed with the bill.
Mills said she has consistently been opposed to
same-sex marriages and employment protection
on the basis of sexual orientation.
She said she didn’t think Chambers' bill would
pass this session.
“People in the state of Nebraska are not in favor
of this,” she said.
If the bill is passed, Mills said, it would infringe
upon businesses’ rights of freedom and would cut
into the hard-fought battles her group has partici
pated in year after year.
Mills was the driving force behind last year’s
passage of Initiative 416, which bans same-sex
marriages, domestic partnerships and civil unions.
“Fundamentally, employers have the right to
choose the parameters of the character of the peo
ple they employ," she said.
Economically, Mills said, gays don’t need to be
In her own research, Mills said she found out
the average income for subscribers to a gay news
paper to be $60,000, well above the national aver
“If that's true, it means they don't need econom
ic protection,” she said.
Mills said the conditions people of color face
shouldn't be compared with that of gays.
She said when TV actress Ellen DeGeneres
announced she was a lesbian, she compared her
self to Rosa Parks, “coming to the front of the bus.”
Mills said she was outraged by DeGeneres’
comparison, as were several of her black friends.
Mills said discrimination happens every day,
and there’s no way laws can be devised to prevent
each instance.
Please see EMPLOYERS on 3
Juvenile system
comes underfire
■ LB272 establishes a justice
institute to address the needs
of local and state agencies.
The juvenile justice system
in Nebraska could use some
And with the passage of a bill
that would establish the
Nebraska Juvenile Justice
Institute, help could be on its
LB272, introduced by Sen.
Nancy Thompson of Papillion,
would provide coordination
between state and local agen
cies responsible for juvenile jus
tice systems and would use
research to identify and address
the needs of the system.
The bill was held in the
Judiciary Committee on
Currently, coordination
between probation services and
the Office of Juvenile Services is
nonexistent, and no state data
base exists for juvenile justice
statistics, said Denise Herz,
assistant professor of the UNO
Department of Criminal Justice,
in her written supporting testi
The institute would be
placed within the Department
of Criminal Justice at the
University of Nebraska at
The UNO criminal justice
department is ranked as one of
the best programs in the coun
try and the institute would be
advantageous to the depart
ment, Herz said.
The bill has two main goals -
to address the large number of
minorities and women in
Nebraska correctional facilities
and to provide better training to
juvenile justice practitioners.
Though the current training
of juvenile justice practitioners
is adequate, Herz said, the bill
would identify the gaps in train
ing and seek to fill these gaps.
One of those gaps is the
increased number of female
Please see JUVENILES on 3