Nebraska Legislature


Good News, Bad News

I have some good news, and I have some bad news. So, let’s start with the good news.

Good News: Helping Moms and Babies. Last Tuesday, Governor Jim Pillen signed into law LB857, a bill introduced and prioritized by Senator George Dungan (Lincoln). The bill creates the Prenatal Plus Program.

The final version of the legislation that was signed into law states: “The purpose of the Nebraska Prenatal Plus Program is to reduce the incidence of low birth weight, pre-term birth and adverse birth outcomes while also addressing other lifestyle, behavioral and nonmedical aspects of an at-risk mother’s life that may affect the health and well-being of the mother or the child.”

LB857 will provide mothers with the ability to access healthcare services such as nutrition counseling, psychosocial counseling and support, patient education and health promotion, breastfeeding support and targeted case management.

As we stated in our supportive testimony at the committee hearing back in February: “Mothers of preborn and newborn babies who are without adequate family and social support ought to be of special concern and must be a special focus for a society attempting to realize a culture of life.”

Sen. Dungan’s LB857 is an important contribution to the numerous ways our state public policy seeks to walk with mothers in need. This legislation gives us one more opportunity to make sure moms and babies receive the care they need, so the health, safety and well-being of mothers are safeguarded and that babies get the proper prenatal care they deserve to thrive in and outside the womb.

During floor debate, LB857 was amended to include Senator Carolyn Bosn’s (Lincoln) LB933. The addition of this legislation will ensure that mothers on Medicaid have access to continuous glucose monitors, which is another important health measure for pregnant mothers who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

We are excited about LB857’s passage and signing into law. We thank Sen. Dungan and Sen. Bosn for their leadership on their respective bills and for the overwhelming support of the Nebraska Legislature and the Governor.

Bad News: Not Protecting Girls’ Sports. Last Friday, the Legislature debated Senator Kathleen Kauth’s LB575, the Sports and Spaces Act. This legislation would have created a uniform, statewide policy for children in school to use private facilities that correspond with their biological sex. In addition, children participating in sports would play on a sports team that corresponds with their biological sex.

While you might be thinking this sounds like a basic, common-sense bill, we live in a time where there is significant cultural confusion about human sexuality. And that was reflected in the final vote of the Legislature. While there were 31 Senators to support overcoming a filibuster, this number fell short by two votes, as 33 of the 49 Senators must vote in support of ending a filibuster.

LB575 is important to preserving girls’ opportunities in sports. Males who identify as girls can dominate in female sports with irrefutable biological advantages like bone density, muscle mass and lung capacity. Without the protections of LB575, girls are at risk of missing out on opportunities to break records, earn scholarships and access fair competition, as we have seen in other states where males have competed in girls’ sports to the determinant of female athletes.

We are grateful for Senator Kauth’s courage and leadership over the last two years in addressing the transgender issue. She has presented the issue intelligently and with charity. While LB575 did not advance, we remain grateful that last year’s LB574 passed, which provides broader protections for minors against the transgender industry, which pushes surgeries and hormonal drugs on children who are struggling with their sexual identity.

Moving Forward. Once the legislative session has ended, we will continue to provide some recaps of the session to highlight the important victories that occurred. In the meantime, please pray for our state senators. Every session is long and difficult. They handle major topics of critical impact on the state. Pray that the post-legislative session period is a chance for renewal and continued service to the common good of Nebraska.

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at

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