It’s that time of year again where I get to make some “clever” comment about how Advent is not only a time to prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but is also a time to prepare for the coming of the Nebraska Legislature!
If you happen to have “legislation” on your Christmas list, you can be sure that Santa will be happy to deliver it, though he’ll show up a little later than Dec. 25 with his offering. The bigger question, I suppose, is whether you consider legislation a gift or a lump of a coal. I’ll leave that one for you to figure out. If you’re anything like me, the answer depends on the specific legislative proposal.
As usual, the legislature commences the legislative session on the Wednesday after the first Monday of January, which this year falls on Jan. 8. This marks Day 1 of a 60-day legislative session. As you’ll recall, the Unicameral meets over a two-year biennium with the first year of the biennium always falling on an odd-numbered year with a legislative session lasting 90 working days.
In a “carryover” session, which is another name for the second year of the biennial legislature, senators hit the ground running. All legislative bills from the previous year that were active remain active. On top of this, the first 10 days remain the customary days for introducing legislation. If the number of introduced legislation matches the number introduced last January, we would be seeing another 739 legislative bills for consideration.
In short, there will be no shortage of work for senators (and everybody else who pays attention to the legislative branch) to undertake.
At this time of year, not only do I try to crack bad jokes about the advent of the legislature, but I also try to provide some practical suggestions for how you can prepare for the upcoming legislative session.
Join the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (CANN). It’s very clear: there is a lot going on in the legislature and it’s not always clear what you should pay attention to. You’ve probably got any number of other obligations you attend to throughout the day, and the political process probably doesn’t always make it to the top of that list. But you can be sure it is at the top of our list, and we want to help you pay attention to issues that matter most to us as Catholics.
Through CANN, you can receive regular e-mail updates about legislative activity and be alerted to “action items” when it is important for Catholics to make their voice heard in the legislative process by contacting their state senator.
You can join CANN through our website (www.necatholic.org) by clicking on the upper right-hand corner banner that says, “Join Our Network.” Invite a few family and friends to join, while you are at it. In fact, just go ahead and give them the gift of Christmas by signing them up yourself. I’m sure that’ll ensure you get on their “nice” list for 2020.
Follow the NCC on Facebook. The NCC has an active Facebook page where you can stay more regularly up-to-date on legislative matters, among other things. Simply search “Nebraska Catholic Conference” and ‘Like’ our page.
Contact the NCC any time. Never hesitate to call or write to the NCC. If you have a question about the legislature but don’t know who to turn to, give us a call. We’ll do our best to help you navigate the Unicameral. Or maybe you just want to get a quick summary rundown of the major bills the NCC is working on. We are happy to provide that as well. One of my favorite things is when people call the office to learn more about NCC initiatives. You can also contact us if you’d like us to come give a parish presentation and provide a legislative update to your fellow parishioners. Reach us at (402)477-7517 or write to 215 Centennial Mall South, Suite 310, Lincoln, NE 68508.
Know and Pray for Your Senator. As faithful citizens we have the privileged responsibility to elect our public officials. This means we should always be getting to know them, not only as people who vote on our behalf, but also as human beings. Take time to follow the work and efforts of your state senator. And, as always, pray for their work. They make many important and impactful decisions on any given day at the legislature, and the gifts of discernment and fortitude are critical to their work.
And, of course, pray for us at the NCC as we prepare for the 2020 legislative session. Pray that we can bear the light of Christ in the public square!