The Nebraska Unicameral just completed Day 30 of the legislative session, meaning we are already one-third of the way done, and things are cranking up. Somewhere around half of the 821 legislative bills have received a legislative hearing, and after a couple of weeks of all-day committee hearings, the legislature has returned to morning floor debate and afternoon committee hearings.
As we hit this point in the legislative session, your advocacy will be critical to the success of many of the Nebraska Catholic Conference's (NCC) major legislative priorities. Let’s cover some ways you can be engaged in advocacy moving forward.
Register for Catholics at the Capitol
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. We will fully equip you on legislation and give you the confidence you need to have influential conversations with your state senator.
This year’s keynote speaker is none other than our new Governor, Jim Pillen. Governor Pillen will talk to us about his vision for the state of Nebraska, why his Catholic faith matters to him as a public official, and some of the big legislative bills he is supporting this legislative session. We are very excited to give you the chance to hear from Governor Pillen!
The line-up will also include praying with and hearing spiritual words of wisdom from Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt of the Diocese of Grand Island. We will also learn from a number of state senators who will present and drill down on a number of key legislative bills they have introduced, such as protecting babies with beating hearts; getting scholarships for low-income kids; helping Ukrainian migrants receive driver licenses; advancing religious liberty and medical conscience rights; and helping low-income moms receive adequate health insurance coverage after they’ve given birth, among other issues.
And, of course, you’ll hear from Nebraska Catholic Conference staff.
If you’ve never been to Catholics at the Capitol, this is your year. Even if you’re not that politically involved, this is your year to step out a little bit and join us in a low-pressure, joyful setting to become more politically involved. If you’ve joined us on several occasions, this is your year to bring family, friends, and parishioners with you!
The program runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check-in and registration begin at 8 a.m., morning prayer with Bishop Hanefeldt starts at 8:30 a.m., and our welcoming and keynote begin at 9 a.m. I say this for those of you who want to come but might be driving from a little farther away: it’s okay if you can’t arrive right at 8 a.m. The location is St. Mary Church in Lincoln, conveniently located across the street from the Capitol.
Register at www.NEcatholic.org or don’t hesitate to contact our office (402.477.7517).
Join Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska
Another way to stay updated and advocate is to join our CANN Network. Through CANN, we provide regular e-mail updates about what is taking place at the Nebraska State Capitol, and we also tell you when we have critical moments when your advocacy is needed.
As the legislative session ramps up, we are going to have several big pieces of legislation on which your voice will be needed. If you aren’t connected to CANN, it will be difficult for you to know when your legislative advocacy is needed.
As former State Senator and Lieutenant Governor and returning State Auditor Mike Foley says: “Legislative issues are won by those who show up.” If we aren’t showing up by calling, writing, or meeting with our state senators, then we can expect to lose and let others speak up for our values. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit right with me, and it calls me to action.
Join CANN at www.NEcatholic.org by clicking on the yellow “Join Our Network” banner.
In other news
Very briefly, I want to tell you that this last week we participated in legislative hearings on strengthening religious liberty protections, prohibiting so-called “gender reassignment” procedures on minor children, protecting medical conscience rights, assisting low-income and middle-income families with economic tax credit policies, and making smart educational investments for our children with special needs. And that’s just one week for us in the Nebraska Legislature.
Pray for our efforts, that God continues to give us the grace to bear the light of Christ in the public square!