Catholics visit with Sen. Mark Kolterman, right, during a previous Catholics at the Capitol event in Lincoln. The event gives attendees an opportunity to learn about and express, in person, their opinions concerning key legislation of concern to Catholics. NEBRASKA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE

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Catholics invited to ‘meddle’ in politics

Pope Francis advises that “A good Catholic meddles in politics.”

Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), echoes that sentiment as he invites Catholics to take part in the political process March 9 during the eighth annual Catholics at the Capitol event in Lincoln.

Catholics have an opportunity to learn about legislation currently being considered by the Nebraska Legislature and visit with their senators to make their voices heard about bills of particular importance to Catholics.

“When Catholics show up, legislators listen,” Venzor said. “They pay attention, they know that numbers matter, that constituents matter, and that those voices matter. When we show up in large numbers, they listen.”

The event begins with registration at 8:15 at St. Mary Church, 1420 K St., and prayer at 8:45 a.m. in the church basement.

The program begins at 9 a.m. with opening remarks by Sen. Mike McDonnell followed by a keynote address by Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers, who will speak about his responsibilities, how his faith influences his political work, and some of the major issues facing the Nebraska Legislature this session.

NCC staff and state senators also will present policy overviews concerning the top priorities the NCC is supporting this session, along with education on how to be effective as a “public witness to our faith on legislative issues,” Venzor said.

Presentations include:

  • Marion Miner, NCC associate director for pro-life and family, and Sen. Joni Albrecht discussing major pro-life bills, such as LB933, the Human Life Protection Act. This bill would protect human life from the moment of conception, in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

 

  • Jeremy Ekeler, NCC associate director for education policy, and Sen. Lou Ann Linehan discussing bills such as LB1237, a revision of the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which was filibustered in its original form, and LB1014, a bill to allocate funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which would provide $60 million to help students from low income families make up for learning loss caused by the COVID pandemic.

 

  • Venzor and Sen. Tom Brewer discussing LB774, the First Freedom Act, a bill that would help restore First Amendment protections and heighten the legal standard for religious liberty in Nebraska.

 

After the presentations, attendees will go to the State Capitol to observe the Legislature in session, then return to St. Mary Church for lunch at 11:45 a.m.

The lunch program includes:

  • Sen. Anna Wishart discussing the appropriation of federal coronavirus relief aid and her legislation to ensure women in poverty have adequate health care for up to one year postpartum.

 

  • Sen. Justin Wayne discussing the need to ensure coronavirus relief aid assists those most impacted by COVID, especially those experiencing issues of poverty, housing, unemployment and underemployment, food assistance and other issues.

 

Then, after lunch, attendees will return to the Capitol and meet with their state senators to discuss those bills and other issues of most concern to Catholics.

Venzor said it’s a “great joy” to be able to be together again since last year’s event was held virtually because of the pandemic.

“It’s a great way to come together as Catholics,” he said. “Catholics at the Capitol reminds us that we’re doing this together, we’re in solidarity. … We get to celebrate what we’re doing while advancing really important, good policies.”

 

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: Catholics at the Capitol

WHERE: St. Mary Church, 1420 K St., Lincoln

WHEN: March 9

8:15 a.m. registration; 9 a.m. program, both in the church basement; 11:45 p.m. lunch with senators; event concludes at 1:30 p.m.

COST: $15; includes refreshments and lunch with state senators

TO REGISTER: Go to necatholic.org; deadline March 4