STEPHEN FRAME/SHUTTERSTOCK

Commentary

January begins busy time for pro-life, legislative efforts

PRO-LIFE MASS AND NEBRASKA WALK FOR LIFE 

The Annual Pro-life Mass and Nebraska Walk for Life are only a few weeks away. Pro-life work can be taxing, so let the Lord pour over you His love and graces at the annual Pro-life Mass at 9 a.m. on Jan. 29 at St. Mary Church, 14th and K streets in Lincoln, before the Nebraska Walk for Life. Bishop Hanefeldt of the Diocese of Grand Island will celebrate the Mass. Father Justin Fulton, vicar general of the Diocese of Lincoln, will deliver the homily. The Mass will be livestreamed on the Nebraska Catholic Conference’s Facebook page. Please note that we will be observing any directed health measures in place at the time of the event.

Immediately following the Mass, the Walk for Life, sponsored by Nebraska Right to Life, begins at 10 a.m. on the north steps of the Capitol. Find more information at the Nebraska Right to Life website or Facebook page. We hope to see you at the largest annual demonstration in our great state!

LEGISLATIVE SESSION COMMENCES

The 2021 Nebraska legislative session convened the second session of the 107th Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 5. This second session marks the 60-day, “short” session, which will run through approximately mid-April. 

During the first 10 legislative working days, senators are introducing bills for consideration. On Jan. 10 they returned to debating important carryover legislation from last year as well. Beginning as early as Jan. 11, the Legislature will begin debating LB364, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which would help give more low-income families school choice. On Jan. 18, committee hearings will begin and all the introduced legislation from the first 10 days will have an opportunity to be heard. The Legislature will spend half their day in floor debate and half their day in committee hearings, eventually completing all hearings and moving to full-time floor debate.

The next four months of this legislative session will be chock full of robust debate, good and bad ideas, many opinions and many different actors. Your legislators, your neighbors and the Nebraska Catholic Conference need help from you this session. What can you do?

Pray: With many important issues on the table, including the right to life of the preborn child, poverty prevention, education policy, the rights of migrants and more, your senators have a lot of work ahead of them. If you’re not sure who your senator is, use the Legislature’s “Find Your Senator” tool at nebraskalegislature.gov. Please pray for senators, for legislative staff and others who work at the Capitol to help ensure the proper functioning of government and good policymaking. Please pray for us, too, as we advocate on behalf of the Church in Nebraska and bear the Light of Christ in the public square. Last but certainly not least, pray for other governmental officials, like our governor, who will work closely with the state Legislature to help develop and influence policy.

Take action: Your advocacy will be critical this legislative session. Stay in the know by joining the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (CANN). Through CANN e-mails, we will provide regular updates on the major issues taking place at the Capitol. We will also alert you when it is time to contact your state senator to ask them for their support or opposition to legislative bills important to us as Catholics.

You can also keep up with important legislation with ease using our “Legislative Bill Tracker” at necatholic.org, where we track the legislation that is relevant to Nebraska Catholics. We’ll give you the latest on an important bill, including the name and introducer, a brief description, the status of the bill in the Legislature, our position and our testimony. This tool is free to use and is updated regularly to keep you in the know.

Invite: Do you know someone interested in state politics? Personally invite a family member or friend to join our network at www.necatholic.org. As Bishop Hanefeldt regularly says: “There is strength in numbers.” 

As I mentioned above, the Legislature will be dealing with important, and at times, controversial legislation. Recently, Senator Julie Slama reported to authorities threats of violence that came on the heels of her introduction of a pro-life bill. The Nebraska Catholic Conference, Nebraska Family Alliance and Nebraska Right to Life released a joint statement condemning the threats, and I want to share part of it with you: “No public official, or any person regardless of their stance on any issue, deserves to have their human dignity degraded and disrespected … (We) implore all people on both sides of the issue to civility, decency, and charity as we consider the fundamental question in front of us. It is not only the outcome that will test us, but how we treat one another.” You can read the full statement on our website.

I mention this incident to remind us all that in a robust debate, there is room for passionate expression, data, principles, even for intense emotions. We know that there is no room for personal attacks, threats and violence, no matter the person or the issue at hand. I implore you to approach this and every legislative session with an abundance of civility, decency and charity.

 

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