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Public Policy Potpourri

            As a kid, I absolutely hated the smell of potpourri. Grandma would sometimes have it at her house or it’d be in the craft store that I would occasionally get dragged into. No matter where I would run into the smell, it would make me feel nauseous.

            But there is one kind of potpourri that I do like, and that’s a potpourri of public policy issues. The beautiful (and fun) part about being Catholic and working on legislative issues is that on any given week we are working on a mixed bag of policy proposals. As I mentioned in my last column, all things belong to Christ and Christ wants all things restored to Him.

            Last week’s potpourri included, among other things, celebrating school choice and scholarship tax credits, supporting a positive policy that would assist victims of human trafficking, and opposing legislation that would fundamentally undermine human sexuality—and I’d like to focus on the last two things.

            Supporting Victims of Trafficking. The Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on LB745, introduced by Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue. This legislation would provide a uniform and consistent policy that helps law enforcement officials in their investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking and other violent crimes.

              Federal immigration law allows an immigrant victim of human trafficking or other violent crimes the ability to pursue a T or U visa. These visas provide the victim with a means for a legal status and stability after suffering sexual and violent abuse.

To qualify for these visas, the immigrant must demonstrate that they have been helpful with the investigation and prosecution of the criminal activity of which they were a victim. This is done by having law enforcement certify their helpfulness and compliance in an investigation or prosecution.

            However, for a variety of reasons, law enforcement agencies do not always respond to certification requests in a timely manner. This leaves the immigrant victim without the ability to pursue their visa and obtain a legal status that can assist in their restoration.

            LB745 would require law enforcement agencies to respond to such requests within a 90-day period. This requirement does not mandate that the agency must certify the request. It just simply provides a timeframe, so that victims of trafficking and violent crimes can get the help they need.

            We supported this legislation both because it combats human trafficking and the assistance it provides immigrants as they seek to establish a legal presence in our country.

“Changing” Your Sex. Sen. Carol Blood and Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha both introduced legislation—LB754 and LB873, respectively—that would make it extremely easy for a person to change their sex on a birth certificate. Sen. Blood withdrew her legislation, noting that Sen. Hunt had also introduced a bill on the subject and did not want the Legislature to duplicate efforts by having a committee hearing on two similar bills.

In short, these legislative proposals would allow a person—and this includes a child—to change the sex on their birth certificate with a simple doctor’s note that the sex change is “warranted” or, after providing the reason for the sex change, with a court order directing a change in the certificate.

Pope Francis has made it clear: we must always lovingly accompany people in their difficulties and struggles. He has also vehemently opposed the “ideology of gender”. In Laudato Si, the Holy Father stated: “Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology.” Our sexuality is a gift to be received from God, not something that to manipulate.

Among our various concerns, we opposed the legislation for its detrimental effect on girls’ high school athletics. The Nebraska School Activities Association currently requires a biological male, who has not had their sex changed on their birth certificate, to undergo hormone therapy treatment, if they want to compete in girls’ athletics. While we objected to this problematic policy which forces children to medically manipulate and damage their body, we noted that it was adopted to achieve safety and fairness female athletes.

Rather than providing a level playing field for female athletes, by allowing boys to compete against girls LB754 and LB873 undermine equality and fairness for girls striving to train hard, gain an edge against their female competitors, and strive to excellence. 

As we continue to work on a potpourri of public policy issues, keep us in your prayers and daily sacrifices. And know of our prayers and sacrifices for you!

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