Ken Haar

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Ken Haar
Member of the Nebraska Legislature
from the 21st district
Assumed office
January 2009 (2009-Jan)
Preceded by Carol Hudkins
Personal details
Born (1943-03-10) March 10, 1943 (age 74)
Freeman, South Dakota
Political party Democratic
Residence Malcolm, Nebraska
Alma mater University of Nebraska (B.S., M.S.Ed.)
Profession Educator

Ken Haar (born March 10, 1943) is a politician from the U.S. state of Nebraska. A resident of Malcolm, Haar occupies a seat in the Nebraska Legislature. He is a member of the Democratic Party.[1][2]

Haar was born in Freeman, South Dakota. He graduated from Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1961, then attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he obtained a B.S. in education in 1965 and an M.S. in educational administration in 1973. He served on the Lincoln city council from 1989 to 1997.[1]

Legislative elections[edit]

In 2008, Haar ran for the Legislature from the 21st Legislative District, which covers the northwestern corner of Lancaster County, including the northwestern portion of Lincoln;[3] incumbent Carol Hudkins was ineligible to run under Nebraska's term-limits law.[4] In the nonpartisan primary, he placed first of six candidates, receiving 28.3% of the vote; Raymond businessman James Jeffers, a Republican, came in second, with 24.9%.[2][5] Haar and Jeffers, as the top two vote-getters, moved on to the general election.

In the general election, Haar was targeted for defeat by anti-abortion groups, on the grounds that his wife, Chris Funk, was the head of the Planned Parenthood organization in Nebraska and western Iowa, and that Haar had voted for funding for the organization while on the Lincoln council.[6][7] When the election was held, the margin was narrow enough to require a recount;[8] this determined that Haar had won by a margin of 20 votes, with 7806 votes to Jeffers's 7786.[9]

Haar ran for re-election in 2012. In the nonpartisan primary election, he received 51.0% of the vote; Lincoln attorney Mike Hilgers took 46.2%; and Bryan C. Ifland, 2.8%.[10] Hilgers, a Republican described by the Lincoln Journal Star as "Catholic and pro-life", stated that his chief concern was jobs and the economy, although abortion-related issues were important to him as well.[11] Haar won the general election, with 50.3% of the vote to Hilgers's 49.7%.[12]

Legislative tenure[edit]

During his first term in the Legislature, Haar sat on the Education Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.[1][13] In 2015, he left those committees and was named to the Appropriations Committee.[14][15]

Haar has been described as a "leading environmentalist" in the Legislature.[16] In 2011, it appeared that the U.S. State Department would soon render a decision to permit or prohibit the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to Texas and would run across Nebraska. Haar called for a special session of the Legislature to pass legislation that would give the state authority to alter the pipeline's route; this, he said, would enable Nebraska to reject a pipeline route that crossed the Sandhills, where groundwater lies near the surface.[17][18] Governor Dave Heineman called the session in November 2011;[19] in the course of it, speaker Mike Flood announced that pipeline operator TransCanada had agreed to a change in route to bypass the Sandhills. Haar described the outcome as "a win-win".[20] In December 2012, Haar, together with pipeline opponents Bold Nebraska and the Sierra Club, urged the state's Department of Environmental Quality to delay its report on the pipeline route, arguing that further study was necessary.[21] In 2014, when 34 of the 49 Nebraska legislators signed a letter urging the State Department to approve the pipeline, Haar was one of three legislators who signed a letter calling for its rejection.[22][23]

In the 2013 legislative session, Haar introduced, and named as his priority bill, LB583, which called for a report on the effects of climate change on the state.[24] An amendment by Beau McCoy added "cyclical" before "climate change"; McCoy, who expressed disbelief in anthropogenic climate change, stated that this would remove politics from the bill.[25] The measure passed by a margin of 32–12 and was signed by governor Heineman.[26] When the Nebraska Department of Agriculture issued its request for information for the study, it interpreted the amended phrasing as excluding human-caused changes, an interpretation to which Haar took strong exception, appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show to say so.[27] Eventually, the study was cancelled, after the University of Nebraska–Lincoln announced that it would do its own study of the matter.[28]


  1. ^ a b c Nebraska Blue Book 2008–2009, p. 303. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  2. ^ a b "Recount gives District 21 seat to Haar". Wahoo Newspaper. 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  3. ^ "Legislative District 21 - LB 703 (2011)". Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-24.Archived 2015-02-05 at Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Hicks, Nancy, and Joanne Young. "Legislative recount: No final winners yet in two Lincoln races". Lincoln Journal Star. 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  5. ^ "Official Results of Nebraska Primary Election: May 13, 2008", p. 35. Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  6. ^ Hicks, Nancy. "Pro-life group targets Haar due to wife". Lincoln Journal Star. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  7. ^ Ertelt, Steven. "Nebraska Abortion Business CEO's Husband Seeks State Legislative Seat". 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2015-02-25. Archived 2015-02-26 at Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Young, Joanne. "State orders recount of District 21 race". Lincoln Journal Star. 2008-11-30. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  9. ^ "Official Results of Nebraska General Election: November 4, 2008", p. 16. Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  10. ^ "Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska: Primary Election, May 15, 2012", p. 34. Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  11. ^ Young, Joanne. "Candidate's out-of-state funds raise speculation". Lincoln Journal Star. 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  12. ^ "Official Results of Nebraska General Election - November 6, 2012", p. 14. Nebraska Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  13. ^ Nebraska Blue Book 2008–2009, p. 301. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  14. ^ "2015 Legislative Committees". Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-25. Archived 2015-02-22 at Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Young, Joanne. "No predicting what might happen on Legislature's Appropriations Committee". Lincoln Journal Star. 2015-01-11. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  16. ^ Hammel, Paul. "Nebraska lawmakers warm to climate change study". Kearney Hub. 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  17. ^ Hammel, Paul. "Unicam needs to discuss Keystone pipeline route, says Haar of Malcolm". Kearney Hub. 2011-08-13. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  18. ^ Hammel, Paul. "Neb. lawmakers open session devoted to pipeline". Norfolk Daily News. 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  19. ^ Young, Joanne. "Heineman calls Nov. 1 special session on pipeline". Lincoln Journal Star. 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  20. ^ Litton, Charlie. "Flood compromise moves TransCanada, Keystone XL out of Sandhills". Norfolk Daily News. 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  21. ^ Hammel, Paul. "Pros and cons of Keystone XL aired one last time". Kearney Hub. 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  22. ^ Winter, Deena. "More than two-thirds of NE lawmakers sign letter supporting Keystone XL". Nebraska Watchdog. 2014-03-06. Retrieved 2015-02-26. Archived 2014-07-12 at Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Duggan, Joe. "3 Nebraska senators sign letter urging rejection of Keystone XL pipeline". Omaha World-Herald. 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  24. ^ In each session of the Nebraska Legislature, each member is allowed to name one priority bill, which is generally considered ahead of other bills. See "Glossary of Legislative Terms", Nebraska Legislature, retrieved 2015-02-26.
  25. ^ "Changes to climate committee amended, advanced". Unicameral Update. 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2015-02-26. Archived 2013-09-03 at Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "LB583 - Provide duties for the Climate Assessment Response Committee" (bill history, LB583, 103rd Legislature). Nebraska Legislature. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  27. ^ Young, Joanne. "'Absurd' climate study definition prompts letter from senator".
  28. ^ Young, Joanne. "State will not duplicate climate change study proposed by university researchers". Lincoln Journal Star. 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2015-02-25.