League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Nebraska Unicameral, District 39

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that never supports or opposes any political party or candidate for office.

PDF of 2020 Primary Douglas County Voters’ Guide | Find voter information specific to your ballot at vote411.org.

The primary election is May 12. Find out more about voting by mail: Extensive guide | Quick video guide

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Allison Heimes (D):
Website: www.heimesforlegislature.org
Occupation: Attorney Education: JD, Creighton University School of Law MS, Creighton University BA, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Military Experience: Military Spouse
Volunteer Experience: Foodbank of the Heartland, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Kim Foundation, Attorney of the Day for immigrant kids, etc.

Lou Ann Linehan (R):

Website: www.LinehanforLegislature.com
Occupation: State Senator
Current Public Office, dates held: State Senator, Legislative District 39 including Elkhorn, Valley, Waterloo and portions of Millard and West Omaha, elected 2016; chair, Legislature’s Revenue Committee, elected 2019
Past Public Office, dates held: none
Education: attended University of NebraskaLincoln and University of Nebraska at Omaha; Lewiston (Nebraska) High School
Military Experience: None/ While working for the U.S. Department of State, Lou Ann was assigned to Iraq several times between 2008 and 2012 where she worked closely with the U.S. Military.
Volunteer Experience: St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Elkhorn; Women’s Center for Advancement of Omaha, 2014 Distinguished Honoree; City Charter Review; Cable Television Board; past president, Meyer Board Auxiliary; treasurer, Parent Teacher Assoc; CCD education teacher

Candidate Responses

Does Nebraska need to change its method of redistricting? Why or why not?

Allison Heimes: We need to use algorithmically derived district remapping that optimizes the creation of new districts based on equal numbers of voters and compactness and avoid the anti-democratic practice of gerrymandering.

Lou Ann Linehan: Redistricting is a specific and clear duty of Nebraska’s non-partisan Unicameral Legislature. In fact, Article III Section 5 of Nebraska’s State Constitution explicitly places this authority with the Legislature with the following sentence: The Legislature shall redistrict the state after each federal decennial census. I do not support delegating this duty outside the Legislature where the State Constitution clearly and appropriately places this authority.

How should the problem of prison overcrowding be handled?

Allison Heimes: Is the primary function of prison to punish individuals for misdeeds or is it to rehabilitate people who have taken a wrong turn in life? I believe prison’s primary function is to rehabilitate individuals so that they can rejoin society. Thus, we need to create rehabilitative programs and provide mental health treatment to inmates. We can limit the amount of people in prison for nonviolent drug offense and offenses related to mental illness if we address the root causes of criminal behavior.

Lou Ann Linehan: The solution is more beds and adequate programming for inmates who will re-enter society after prison. In the last two years more beds have been added including a 100 bed dormitory and a 160-bed work-release facility for women. One hundred beds are under construction at the State Penitentiary, and work has begun on a 64-bed facility for elderly and mentally ill inmates. The Legislature has also approved 384 more beds at the Lincoln Correctional Center for the state’s worst-behaving inmates.

Do you feel there is a need for voter ID, if so why and how should it be implemented?

Allison Heimes: No, there should not be any barriers to voting. It is my opinion, that in addition to no voter ID laws, election day should be a national holiday so that everyone can participate in their civic duty.

Lou Ann Linehan: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of December 31, 2019 a total of 36 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification. Voter identification laws are intended to prevent in-person voter impersonation and increase confidence in the election process, and I agree with those objectives. However, these laws cannot infringe on individual voter rights or serve as a discriminatory poll tax so they must be implemented carefully.

Should there be increased restrictions on money in politics? Why or why not and what specific restrictions would you support?

Allison Heimes: We need campaign finance reform. I have many ideas on this matter, but to keep my answer brief and to the point, we need to have a ceiling on how much money can be raised total. Ceilings would prevent incumbents from being able to out-raise challengers before it’s even an election year, they would prevent big companies and millionaires from being able to buy elections, and it would even the playing field for candidates who aren’t wealthy, but who truly want to advocate for their districts.

Lou Ann Linehan: Nebraska candidates disclose all contributions and expenses over $250 and non-individuals, including corporations, also report contributions in excess of $250. These requirements provide transparency for how campaigns are funded. Adding restrictions on campaign contributions increases the likelihood contributions will end up in dark money organizations which lack any transparency. Consequently, I oppose more restrictions which would increase unregulated, unaccountable campaign spending.

Does Nebraska need a paid family medical leave program? Why or why not? 

Allison Heimes: The healthcare system we currently have is not ideal. It is difficult to find affordable insurance, hospitals bill high amounts for basic treatments, and few employers offer paid sick leave, so when an individual gets sick it is catastrophic for a family. Medical emergencies bankrupt families. We need to offer a parachute for suffering families. If your reasons for running for office don’t include taking care of your constituents and their families, then you aren’t running for the right reasons

Lou Ann Linehan: Many large employers offer paid family medical leave and I applaud them for choosing to do so. What many employers have found is that in order to compete for employees they need to offer an attractive benefits package including things like paid family medical leave. However, many smaller employers can find it cost prohibitive to offer this benefit and I don’t support imposing a mandate that would hurt small businesses which are the backbone of our state’s economy.

About Us

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN: 47-6025006). Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha does not endorse the contents of any web pages linked here.

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