Before I jump into this week’s legislative update, I want to draw your attention to two upcoming events you should attend.
Pro-Life Mass & Nebraska Walk for Life. The annual Bishops’ Pro-Life Mass takes place on Saturday, Jan. 27 (9 a.m.), at St. Mary Church in Lincoln. The Mass is an opportunity to pray in reparation for the millions of preborn lives lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade and to pray for God’s help as we continue to protect babies and moms from abortion.
The Mass is followed by Nebraska Right to Life’s annual Nebraska Walk for Life. The Walk draws thousands of pro-life Nebraskans. The Walk commemorates the injustice of abortion and the lives we’ve lost, and it brings pro-lifers together in solidarity for the fight ahead.
Archbishop Lucas will celebrate Mass and Msgr. Thomas Fucinaro will be the homilist. Please join us for this time of prayer and action.
Catholics at the Capitol. Preparations are in full swing for Catholics at the Capitol. This event brings Catholics from across the state to Lincoln so that we can bear the light of Christ in the public square.
At Catholics at the Capitol, the Nebraska Catholic Conference will educate, equip, and engage you on legislative bills and other public policy issues that matter most to us as Catholics and as a state. Make no mistake, your presence matters and affects how legislators view important bills on pro-life, religious liberty, school choice, and poverty assistance matters, among others.
Catholics at the Capitol is set for March 6 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will take place at St. Mary in Lincoln. This is also our 10th annual Catholics at the Capitol. Let’s make it the best one yet. Seats are limited to the first 250 registrants—so don’t miss out. Register now at www.NEcatholic.org!
Legislative Update. At the time this is written, the Nebraska Legislature has two days left of bill introductions. Around 400 bills have been introduced. A couple of hundred more are likely to be introduced. This is in addition to the hundreds of bills from last session which are still in “active” status.
So, what have been some of the highlights during days 4-8 of bill introduction?
Sen. Merv Riepe (Ralston), who was the decisive vote on last year’s heartbeat bill failure, has introduced legislation this session to remove criminal penalties for abortion, as well as create an exception to allow abortions at any point in a pregnancy for babies who have so-called “fatal fetal anomalies.” This legislation is a sad commentary on our culture. People are known for how they take care of the ‘least among us,’ and there can be no one more vulnerable than an unborn baby who has been diagnosed with a disability that will lead to his or her death.
These beautiful human beings deserve our unconditional love in their limited moments here on earth, within the womb and outside of it. We should not abandon these little girls and boys to abortion. Abortion will only compound their suffering as they are dismembered piece by piece. Abortion will also compound the suffering of their moms and dads who will be negatively affected by abortion.
There has also been a slew of legislative bills related to education, particularly to assist with teacher recruitment and retention. Over the last several years, the teacher shortage has been acutely felt by both public and non-public schools. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are looking for ways to use public policy to attract talented teachers to our classrooms and make sure we can retain them.
On the religious liberty front, Sen. Loren Lippincott (Central City) has introduced several bills to protect “our first, most cherished liberty,” as the U.S. Bishops have called religious liberty. One of his bills would ensure that school employees are protected in their religious expression, in the same way that somebody’s non-religious expression is protected. This would include talking about religious ideas, promoting religious belief, and hosting religious activities. This legislation is a sequel to the ‘Coach Kennedy’ case, which was successful during the U.S. Supreme Court’s last term.
Sen. Christy Armendariz (Omaha), Sen. Barry DeKay (Niobrara), and Sen. Rita Sanders (Bellevue) have brought various ideas to help combat human trafficking which, sadly, continues to be a significant problem in Nebraska. Over the last decade, the Legislature has done yeoman’s work to combat trafficking, but there is always more work to do. Similarly, Sen. Dave Murman (Glenvil) has introduced legislation to require digital identification verification, to help protect children from sexually harmful and obscene materials.
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!