Wednesday April 24th, 2019 10:06PM

Nebraska on pace to pass budget targeting abortion providers

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska inched closer Wednesday to passing a budget that could deny federal money to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, at least temporarily, despite furious opposition from a handful of lawmakers.

Lawmakers advanced a budget measure that would prevent health clinics from getting family-planning dollars if they perform, counsel in favor of or refer patients to abortion services.

The bill also would require health clinics to demonstrate physical, financial and legal separation from abortion providers. Although supporters said Planned Parenthood could still qualify, opponents said the group won't have time to legally separate its abortion and non-abortion services before the bill becomes law.

Referrals would still be allowed in emergencies under the newest version of the measure, crafted as a compromise to help push it through a legislative filibuster. One group that opposes abortion hailed the bill as "good news for pro-life Nebraskans."

But the agreement faced sharp criticism from some lawmakers, who accused their colleagues of bowing to the wishes of Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the state's longest-serving senator, blasted fellow lawmakers as "spineless" and said the governor had beaten them.

"I have wasted 44 years in this worthless Legislature," said Chambers, a left-leaning independent.

The 44-4 vote on Wednesday night followed a prolonged stalemate and two failed attempts to advance the budget. One final vote is required before it goes to Ricketts, who inserted the measure into his proposed budget.

Nebraska is one of seven conservative states that have focused this year on funding from Title X, the nation's only federal family-planning program that offers reproductive health services to low-income people. Planned Parenthood is a major recipient.

In Nebraska, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland operates two of the state's 42 health centers that receive Title X money, but sees nearly one-third of the state's 28,000 Title X patients for services such as pap smears and birth control.

In April 2017, President Donald Trump rescinded an Obama administration rule that prevented states from excluding a qualified provider "for reasons other than its ability to provide Title X services."

A measure similar to Nebraska's has won approval from Tennessee lawmakers, but Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has not yet approved it. Last year, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order directing state agencies not to allocate Title X funding to health care providers affiliated in any way with abortion clinics.

Federal law already forbids abortion providers from getting Title X money, but opponents said the bill could jeopardize funding for health centers that provide referrals.

Supporters pointed to a 2016 state audit that accused Planned Parenthood of the Heartland of misusing at least $3,500 in public money for services related to abortion. Such misuse could jeopardize funding for the entire program, said Nate Grasz, a policy director for the Nebraska Family Alliance.

Planned Parenthood has said the money was privately raised, but miscoded by staff members.

The budget measure "is a reasonable adjustment to Nebraska law that protects valuable services of Title X by completely separating them from the abortion industry," Grasz said. "Greater separation provides more accountability and transparency."

In a statement, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland accused the governor of using the budget as a "political weapon" against the organization.

"Gov. Ricketts has aligned himself with the Trump-Pence administration, and it is clear he will do anything in his power to take away basic human rights from women," said Meg Mikolajczyk, a lobbyist and attorney for the group.

Failing to pass the budget would have created other problems for the state.

Without agreement on a package, some senators said they'd likely have to return to the Capitol for a special session shortly after their regular session ends on April 18. Nebraska lawmakers are only required to balance their budget once every two years, but in practice they vote on a package annually to adjust for sudden drops in state revenue and new, unexpected expenses.

This year, for instance, Ricketts requested an additional $24.7 million to pay for an influx of children into the state's child welfare system. Lawmakers also began this year's session with a projected $173 million revenue shortfall, and the stalled budget includes cuts to ensure the state's finances remain in balance.

"It is absolutely critical that the Legislature move the budget forward and get it to my desk with the pro-life budget language," Ricketts said Monday in a column sent to Nebraska newspapers.

Because it's in the budget, lawmakers would have to approve the measure again next year. If it survives the third and final vote, some lawmakers said they would try to remove it next year.

"You don't put this type of nonsense into a budget bill, because you can hold it hostage on one issue," said Sen. Adam Morfeld, a Lincoln Democrat.


Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard contributed from Columbia, South Carolina.


Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Health - Women's health, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care
© Copyright 2019
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Nebraska on pace to pass budget targeting abortion providers
Nebraska is on pace to pass a budget that could deny federal money to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, at least temporarily
10:45PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Oklahoma Legislature passes tax hikes for teacher pay
A package of Oklahoma tax hikes aimed at generating hundreds of millions of new dollars for teacher pay and averting statewide school closures has received final legislative approval
10:28PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Towns' franchise-record 56 lead Wolves over Hawks 126-114
Karl-Anthony Towns scored a franchise-record 56 points and added 15 rebounds for his league-leading 63rd double-double as the Minnesota Timberwolves recovered to beat the Atlanta Hawks 126-114 on Wednesday.
10:28PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Rival Koreas begin high-level talks meant to set up summit
The Koreas have started high-level talks to prepare for an April summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in amid a global diplomatic push to resolve nuclear standoff
9:49PM ( 1 hour ago )
'Roseanne' reboot opens big with about 18 million viewers
Viewers were eager to see ABC's reboot of "Roseanne," with an estimated 18.4 million tuning in to its debut
9:44PM ( 1 hour ago )
North Korean nuclear site more active ahead of Kim meetings
Increased activity at a North Korean nuclear site has renewed concerns about the complexities of denuclearization talks as President Donald Trump prepares for a summit with Kim Jong Un
9:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Trump is hopeful, but some skeptical ahead of US-NK talks
President Donald Trump is expressing optimism after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping
8:11PM ( 2 hours ago )
Community mourns Sacramento man killed by police at wake
A South Sacramento church is the latest site of mourning over the death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark at the hands of police last week, with family, friends and strangers gathering Wednesday for his public wake
8:05PM ( 2 hours ago )
Emails: Conservatives slammed Pence in 2015 for changing law
Emails released to The Associated Press show then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence faced widespread backlash from conservatives after agreeing to change a "religious freedom" law critics decried as anti-gay
6:38PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Judge allows Trump foreign gifts case to proceed
A federal judge allows Maryland, D.C. to proceed with their lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of accepting unconstitutional gifts from foreign interests
4:21PM ( 6 hours ago )
Bribery charges behind him, Menendez runs for re-election
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has officially launched his bid for a third term with no mention of the corruption charges that dogged him until recently
2:57PM ( 8 hours ago )
Orange County joins fight against California sanctuary law
Orange County leaders vote to join Trump administration lawsuit against California sanctuary law
1:47PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Historic vote: Ireland sets abortion referendum for May 25
Ireland will have a May 25 referendum on whether to lift a constitutional ban on most abortions
3:21PM ( 7 hours ago )
Yucky ducky? Study reveals bath-time toy's dirty secret
Scientists have the dirt on rubber ducky and it's clear many children's favorite bath-time friend is _ as parents have long suspected _ far from squeaky clean
10:48PM ( 1 day ago )
Lawsuit challenges FDA delay of e-cigarette review
Several anti-smoking groups are suing the Food and Drug Administration over a decision by Trump administration officials to delay the review of e-cigarettes, which they say pose a health threat to U.S. children
2:20PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Health
Zuckerberg plans to testify before Congress
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg knows there is pressure on him to testify before Congress about the company's privacy practices and plans to do so in the coming weeks, according to a source familiar with the matter
9:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Facebook ending ad targeting using outside data
The Latest: Facebook to end ad targeting using outside data from data brokers
8:49PM ( 2 hours ago )
Republic Records president out amid sexual misconduct probe
Republic Records says Charlie Walk, who has been a top executive at several record labels and worked with artists such as Ariana Grande and The Weeknd, is leaving his job as president of Republic after a sexual misconduct investigation
7:50PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Protests erupt in Poland over plan to tighten abortion law
Thousands of people protested in Warsaw and other cities across Poland on Friday against the conservative government's latest attempt to restrict abortion
3:51PM ( 5 days ago )
Idaho to require personal details of women getting abortions
Idaho will require abortion providers to report how many times their patients have terminated a pregnancy in the past and other personal information under its latest anti-abortion law
7:59PM ( 6 days ago )
Judge temporarily blocks most restrictive abortion law in US
The most restrictive abortion law in the United States has been blocked, less than 24 hours after Mississippi's governor signed it
4:53PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Health - Women's health
US stock indexes end choppy day of trading slightly lower
U.S. stock indexes struggled to find direction Wednesday, ending the choppy day of trading with a loss for the second straight day
5:06PM ( 5 hours ago )
Stocks veering between gains and losses in afternoon trade
U.S. stock indexes are veering between gains and losses as the recent run of choppy trading continues
3:42PM ( 7 hours ago )
Equifax hires financial executive Mark Begor as new CEO
Equifax appoints Mark Begor as its CEO as the credit reporting company continues to try to recover from fallout surrounding a massive data breach
1:08PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Sen. Menendez leaves corruption case behind, seeks 3rd term
US Sen. Bob Menendez has put a federal corruption case behind him and is set to officially kick off his campaign for a third term
12:09AM ( 22 hours ago )
Tech stocks pull market sharply lower, erasing early gains
A steep, late-afternoon sell-off in technology companies pulled U.S. stocks sharply lower Tuesday, knocking 344 points off the Dow Jones industrial average
5:01PM ( 1 day ago )
US stock indexes are mostly lower after a midday gain fades
The major U.S. stock indexes are veering mostly lower in afternoon trading after a midday gain faded away.
2:12PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Health Care
Oklahoma Legislature passes tax hikes for teacher pay
A package of Oklahoma tax hikes aimed at generating hundreds of millions of new dollars for teacher pay and averting statewide school closures has received final legislative approval
10:28PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Towns' franchise-record 56 lead Wolves over Hawks 126-114
Karl-Anthony Towns scored a franchise-record 56 points and added 15 rebounds for his league-leading 63rd double-double as the Minnesota Timberwolves recovered to beat the Atlanta Hawks 126-114 on Wednesday.
10:28PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Arizona teachers demand 20 percent raise at Capitol protest
Thousands of teachers descended on the Arizona State Capitol Wednesday to demand increases to public education funding
10:26PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Students rally against gun violence in Paul Ryan's town
Wisconsin students have rallied against gun violence in House Speaker Paul Ryan's hometown after marching for several days
10:20PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Stormy Daniels seeking Trump's answers under oath
Stormy Daniels wants Trump to answer her attorney's questions under oath about a pre-election payment meant to keep the porn actress silent about alleged tryst
10:12PM ( 46 minutes ago )