Civics should be a graduation standard

State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha has introduced Legislative Bill 868, which would require all high school students to pass a 100-question civics test as a graduation requirement ("Civics test worth a look," Jan. 23 World-Herald editorial).

The lack of students' civic knowledge — not just in Nebraska but all over the United States — is Krist's impetus for the bill's introduction. The questions would be from the naturalization test of the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. I support this bill.

The Nebraska Association of School Boards is opposed to the bill, saying it does not want curriculum and graduation requirements linked. The State Board of Education, reasons the school boards association, should be allowed to do its job.

I believe the school boards association is 100 percent wrong in its opposition.

Roger Hansen,Minden, Neb.

Why continue to punish smokers?

Here is my take on the proposed cigarette tax:

The only ones supporting the tax are nonsmokers.

Douglas County already added a 3 percent occupation tax to cigarettes to help fund the cancer center, so don't say that taxes have not been raised in quite a while.

Why are only smokers responsible for lowering farmers' property taxes? Shouldn't it be everyone?

If people think $1.50 per pack more will help, do the math. That is approximately $45 per month more for a "pack-a day-smoker." Let's raise every Nebraska resident's taxes by that amount each month and see the sparks fly.

Comparing other states' taxes to ours doesn't hold water. It is all a matter of how each government entity shifts its tax base.

Back to the new cancer center, will smokers get reduced rates since they have contributed more than non-smokers?

Medically speaking, if smoking is such a burden on health care, why doesn't the government just ban it? Because there are too many government programs that rely on the tax — both federal and state.

Raising the tax will push people to buy cigarettes elsewhere.

Joe Hoover,Omaha

Don't regulate motorcycling riding

Hypocrites in Nebraska believe in requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets because they say it saves lives and money ("Helmets save lives, money," Feb. 21 World-Herald editorial).

If that is the standard to regulate risky behavior by individuals, then why even allow the sale of cigarettes, which we know causes lung cancer and costs millions of dollars a year?

Why isn't it a primary offense in Nebraska not wearing a seat belt? Driving without a seat belt is very risky behavior.

Why spend tax dollars to encourage 35-pound bicycles to ride on the streets right next to 4,000-pound cars? Now that is extremely risky behavior.

Motorcyclists can be singled out because they are a minority with an image problem and without the necessary political clout to gain freedom of choice. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is not a public health issue requiring regulation. Let those who ride, decide.

Richard Putz,Omaha

Protecting Nebraska's ratepayers

A hearing on Legislative Bill 1068 is scheduled for today. This bill is a response in part to the recent 6-2 decision by the Omaha Public Power District board to increase customer service rates 341 percent over the next three years.

LB 1068 won't mitigate the social and environmental impacts of that rate hike, which penalizes customers who use less energy while rewarding those who consume more.

However, I do believe that some form of safety net needs to be implemented to protect Omaha's citizens from extreme increases of service rates in the future.

Introduced by State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, the bill would create customer advocacy through requiring the Public Service Commission to review rate hikes of more than 2 percent and protect the public from extreme increases in the future.

Unfortunately, it is already assumed LB 1068 will die a quick death.

It makes me wonder: Are our elected officials actually casting votes in the best interest of the people they represent?

Christopher Robert Anderson,Omaha

Valued members of the community

Thank you for the nice article in the paper on Zemua Baptista's wrestling career at Friend High School ("Two-time state champ Baptista leads by example on and off mat," Feb. 19 World-Herald).

He is indeed a role model for the youth of our community.

As a member of the Friend United Methodist Church, I would like to add a few more facts on the family's history. Zemua's father, Dr. Paixao Baptista, earned his doctorate at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He then became a pastor in the Nebraska Methodist Conference. This is the reason they "bounced around the Cornhusker State" (as stated in the article).

The Rev. Baptista was assigned to the Friend Dorchester churches in 2005, and race has not been an issue. As Zemua stated, "just another family in town."

They are loved and respected by our congregation and the community.

Diann McClatchey,Friend, Neb.

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