January not only marks the beginning of a new calendar year, but the beginning of a new session of the Nebraska Legislature. Over the next five months, state legislators will introduce bills, hold public hearings, and debate and ultimately pass some new legislation.
State Senators will work for hours serving the people of Nebraska in our State Capitol, which bears a notable inscription of the wise words from Hartley Burr Alexander, “The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.”
These words always remind me that while we elect senators to represent us in the making of laws and protection of our government, it is vital that we all exercise our responsibility to make our voices heard about issues that matter to us.
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say to our elected officials or even to know what bills you should know or care about (we can help!). Or you might wonder if anyone will really listen or be moved, which is why I love the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).
Jesus tells his disciples: “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for his people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice from my opponent.’”
After constant refusal, the judge finally relented, saying, “Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her…” (Luke 18:4). This woman changed the mind of a Godless judge just because she persevered, knowing that what she was seeking was right. Although Jesus told this parable to show the power of persistent prayer, I think we can all apply this lesson of perseverance to advocacy.
We are all called to advocate for justice and witness to goodness and truth. This means defending the weakest among us and working to build a more just and loving society. While we can each play our part in our families and communities to do this, it is also important to contact your elected officials about policies and issues that will greatly impact the culture in which we live.
Advancing educational and economic justice
For over a decade, the NCC has supported legislation to help bring educational opportunities to low-income families. As Catholics, we believe that parents have the right to choose a school for their children which corresponds to their convictions and that they should have true liberty in their choice of schools.
Nebraska remains one of only three states in the country with no policy that helps kids receive the education that is the best fit for them, regardless of income or zip code. This year, Senator Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, along with 14 cosponsors, introduced LB364 which would create a scholarship tax credit program benefiting kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch who wish to attend a private school of their choice.
Strong opposition and misinformation have stalled this legislation every year it has been introduced. But as scholarship organizations and schools must turn hundreds of kids away due to lack of funds every year, advancing school choice in our state remains a pressing social justice issue. Just as the persistent widow is confident as she advocated for justice, I invite you all to be steadfast in advocating for those children and families hoping for opportunity.
The public hearing for LB364 will be held Thursday, Jan. 28. Please take a moment to send a short message of support to Senator Linehan and the members of the Revenue Committee (listed here):
Senator LouAnn Linehan – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Joni Albrecht – email@example.com
Senator Eliot Bostar – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Tom Briese – email@example.com
Senator Mike Flood – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Curt Friesen – email@example.com
Senator Brett Lindstrom – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Rich Pahls – email@example.com
To learn more about scholarship tax credit legislation, visit investinkidsnebraska.org.
You can keep up to date on this bill and get action alerts on other important bills by joining our network at necatholic.org. In trust and prayer, let us raise our voices like the persistent widow, confident that a faithful Father is on our side. And together, we can bear the Light of Christ in the public square.