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There’s a lot on the line in this session of the Legislature: advancing school choice, defending the pro-life cause, protecting girls sports, assisting the poor, fighting for religious liberty, safeguarding medical conscience rights—the list goes on.

In this first quarter, we have completed bill introduction. Just shy of 600 legislative bills were introduced. This is in addition to the 820 bills that were introduced last year. Many of these “carryover” bills from last year are still active for passage this year.

As bill introductions wrap up, there will be no shortage of more interesting and impactful legislation. Stay tuned… and see you at the Pro-Life Mass and get registered for Catholics at the Capitol. God bless!

We have arrived at the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January, and you all know what that means, right? The Nebraska State Legislature is in full swing and off to the races, as of Wednesday, Jan, 3.

The month of December has the Nebraska Catholic Conference engaged in serious preparations not only to receive Christ into our hearts yet again, but to make sure that our i’s are dotted and our t’s are crossed for the upcoming legislative session.

My prayer is that Nebraskans, in these next 11 months, will know in their hearts and minds how serious a threat this ballot proposal is to innocent human life. Nobody is more vulnerable than preborn babies. And nobody deserves more love and support than a mom in a challenging, difficult, or crisis pregnancy.

Pro-abortionists unveiled ballot initiative language Nov. 16 seeking to establish a “right to abortion until birth” in the Nebraska constitution. Joined by you, the Nebraska Catholic Conference, along with our statewide pro-life friends, Nebraska Family Alliance, Nebraska Right to Life, and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, will be wholly dedicated to defeating this effort as we fight for the very lives of preborn babies and moms.

Being a Christian in today’s culture, and certainly working for the Church, requires getting off the bench, removing any compartmentalization of one’s faith, and “speaking truth in love” in the public square.

If you have ever felt, as I have, that perhaps you have not done enough to bring Christ to your neighbor, this is your opportunity. Resolve to take advantage of it. We will fight a happy fight for babies and mothers—and we will bear witness to the love of God.

On Halloween, abortion extremists in Nebraska announced a trick they’ll play on Nebraskans over the upcoming campaign season: a full-fledged ballot initiative effort to enshrine Roe v. Wade-style abortion protections in the Nebraska state constitution.

The flourishing of law to reflect the common good means we have a great deal of work to do within the culture.

Politics can easily become infatuated with naming one’s enemy. Nothing says what you stand for like saying who your enemy is, and what your enemy doesn’t stand for. You see this, perhaps most clearly, during campaign season. It’s a popular tactic that brings in the votes and the money.

In 2018, the Nebraska Catholic Conference, along with our other pro-life partner organizations, and with the legislative leadership of State Senator Joni Albrecht, helped to pass into law LB1040. This legislation provides for commemorative certificates for nonviable birth.

This year’s Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet and Conference is on Oct. 6 and 7. And registration closes at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1.

This last session, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB574 (introduced by Senator Kathleen Kauth of Omaha), which provides two critical protections for human dignity.

Pro-Life Party! The annual Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet & Conference is just around the corner, and you should register! Pro-lifers from across the state of Nebraska will convene in Lincoln Oct. 6-7 to celebrate all that we have accomplished in this first year since the demise of Roe v. Wade.

This legislation particularly focuses on the poor and vulnerable by prioritizing them for scholarships. We all know students get one shot at their K-12 education, and the Opportunity Scholarships Act makes sure kids succeed at that one shot.

In a post-Roe world, the Church has a special call to walk with moms. First of all, they themselves deserve it. But also, we owe a special reverence and duty to their labor of love to bring more gifts of life into this world.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, Who is the Truth, we are called to be prophetic. This means we are called to speak in a way that moves the hearts of others to the Truth. My prayer for you is that you will be witnesses to the fundamental truths and values that underlie our historic school choice legislation that is under attack.

We’ve been talking a lot about school choice lately, but it’s hard not to. Our recently passed law, to get more scholarships to low-income families, has the power to transform generations of children by offering them more and better educational opportunities. But that legislation is being threatened by opponents who seek to repeal the law. So, what can you do to protect school choice for Nebraska families? I’m glad you asked, because these future scholarship families need your help today!

LB753 is a scholarship tax credit policy that has been supported by Nebraska’s Bishops for two decades. This policy provides educational opportunity to Nebraska families who cannot otherwise afford the best education possible for their child.

The Opportunity Scholarships Act is truly groundbreaking legislation that prioritizes the most vulnerable children and families in our communities. Over 30 years after the first school choice program was established, Nebraska joins the other 49 states that have passed legislation that puts the rights of parents and kids first.

LB574 is an important victory, not for us as pro-life advocates or even for the governor and state senators. It is an important victory for children, born and pre-born.

May the “terror of demons, cornerstone of families, and zealous defender of Christ” inspire us all to joyful perseverance as we advocate for and support the rights of families to choose the best education for their children.

If you’ve had a kid in Catholic school, there is a very good chance you’ve filled out paperwork for the textbook loan program. Maybe you knew it, maybe you didn’t. And if you didn’t have a kid in Catholic school, you might be asking: what on earth is the textbook loan program?

Last Thursday, the Nebraska Legislature failed preborn babies with beating hearts. Falling one vote short of defeating a filibuster, the Unicameral failed to advance to the third and final round of debate LB626, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act.

The Nebraska Catholic Conference has regularly supported legislation to increase access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (more popularly known in years past as the food stamps program). SNAP ensures that we—as a government (or community of persons)—are meeting the needs of the hungry.

This year’s Catholics at the Capitol, by the grace of God, ended up being on the same day as the first round of legislative debate on LB626, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act, introduced by Sen. Joni Albrecht.

LB574 would prohibit subjecting children (anyone under 19) to puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and mutilating surgeries for the purpose of attempting to change the child’s sex.

This year, the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) has either supported or opposed over 50 legislative bills.

Before full legislative debate begins on LB626, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act, it would serve us well to recap what LB626 does and to respond head-on to the argument—made time and again by opponents—that this bill will prevent doctors from providing appropriate medical care to women. In fact, if it passes, LB626 will make Nebraska’s pro-life laws the most generous to doctors in the United States.

The main event the last two weeks at the Nebraska Legislature has mostly consisted of legislative hearings. We have testified in support and opposition of numerous pieces of legislation on varying topics, which I would like to review with you.

To pass legislation like the First Freedom Act, we need your voice and influence. You can easily advocate on bills like LB277 by joining our Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska at www.NEcatholic.org/TakeAction. While you’re on our website, don’t forget to register for Catholics at the Capitol! God bless your efforts—and pray for ours!

Our annual advocacy day, Catholics at the Capitol, is on Wednesday, April 12. Catholics at the Capitol is a great way to be engaged, educated, and empowered on the legislative bills that matter to us as Catholics.

Please pray for Nebraska to join the other 48 states who have passed school choice policy.

The NCC finds it particularly important to make sure we are helping moms and babies both before birth as well as after birth. We must do this not only in our own private charitable efforts, but we must also come together as a state to ensure these needs are met.

LB753 is a form of school choice legislation that is known as scholarship tax credit legislation. Scholarship tax credits are a form of tax policy that provide an increased incentive for donors to contribute to scholarship granting organizations, which then turn around and use those charitable contributions to provide education scholarships for families in need of more educational opportunities for their children.

Our vision is to build a true culture of life in Nebraska—one where every person is celebrated, valued, and protected, no matter the circumstances of his or her conception. We will work diligently in the coming years to realize that vision, and it is important to witness consistently to the dignity of every person, including every preborn child, even as we pursue imperfect legislation meant to limit evil to the greatest extent possible in a given time.

For this, I am deeply indebted to Pope Benedict. This gentle German showed me the endless depths of a life lived in the heart of Jesus Christ. May he rest in the peace of this same heart!

In the midst of your focus on Christmas and the New Year, I invite you to also consider what work we have ahead of us this next legislative session, especially on the pro-life front.

Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-169 to pass the so-called Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). Following a similar vote by the U.S. Senate, the RFMA then headed to President Joe Biden’s desk. President Biden signed the bill into law Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Nebraska’s 108th Legislature will convene in less than one month. The opening days of session are both joyful and stressful. New Senators will be sworn in, while family and friends look on with excitement. Legislative leadership will be elected. And bill introductions will begin in full force.

We are now one month out from Election Day and one month away from Nebraska’s 108th Legislature, First Session.

My prayer as always is that you’ll take your role to be involved in the public policy process very seriously, and will begin cultivating those relationships with your public officials to help move the needle in favor of peace and justice!

As you evaluate the candidates on the major moral and societal issues, don’t forget to determine where they stand on issues that matter to you or your community. The number of issues that make up the “common good” are practically endless, and I pray you will do your best to pray and act like a faithful citizen this Nov. 8!

As Catholics our obligation during election season is to figure out where the candidates stand on any number of issues, including conscience rights and religious liberty.

As Catholics we have an “obligation to oppose policies promoting intrinsically evil acts” and this demand “has a special claim on our conscience and our actions” when it comes to voting for candidates.

As you prepare to vote this election cycle, you need to look hard at the candidates. Take off the rose-colored lenses that make us believe we are dealing with perfect candidates. Every candidate has some level of imperfections in their fundamental principles or in the way they will implement public policies. Assess every candidate based on your conscience informed by the Catholic faith.

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