Two new legislative initiatives require our attention
February 6, 2020
When it comes to public policy efforts, the month of January makes the ol’ adage, “When it rains, it pours,” sound like an understatement.
Nebraska’s legislative session begins, hundreds of new legislative bills need to be read and analyzed, and committee hearings start, along with National Migration Week, National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Religious Freedom Day, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Pro-Life Mass, the Nebraska Walk for Life, the National March for Life, National School Choice Week, Catholic Schools Week, U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments, and other activities.
These diverse activities remind us of the beauty of Catholicism: Christ came to redeem every aspect of our humanity. Everything under the sun belongs to the kingship of Jesus Christ. These events and activities are to be celebrated and memorialized because they are intended to serve the common good, which Christ would have us pursue as a civil society.
In the midst of all this busy-ness, there are two legislative initiatives to which I particularly want to draw our attention.
INTRODUCTION OF LB1202
The Unicameral has again seen the introduction of school choice legislation. Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha, chairwoman of the Revenue Committee and an ardent school choice advocate, has re-introduced scholarship tax credit legislation with LB1202, the Opportunity Scholarships Act.
LB1202 continues last year’s school choice efforts with LB670. LB1202 would provide more scholarship opportunities to low-income students to pursue an education at parochial or private schools that are best for them. It does this by providing tax credits to donors to direct some of their state income tax liability to scholarship-granting organizations.
Scholarship tax credit policies exist in 18 states across the country. It cannot be repeated enough times: These programs transform lives. Children experience greater educational outcomes. Low-income families are truly able to exercise real educational choice. And the state’s taxpayers save millions of dollars because of their initial investments in education.
Be on the lookout for LB1202 and its progress. Visit www.InvestInKidsNebraska.org to learn more.
‘CHANGING’ YOUR SEX
Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue and Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha both introduced legislation – LB754 and LB873, respectively – that would make it extremely easy for a person to change their sex on a birth certificate. Sen. Blood withdrew her legislation, noting that Sen. Hunt had also introduced a bill on the subject and did not want the Legislature to duplicate efforts by having a committee hearing on two similar bills.
In short, these legislative proposals would allow a person – and this includes a child – to change the sex on their birth certificate with a simple doctor’s note that the change is “warranted” or, after providing the reason for the change, with a court order directing a change in the certificate.
Pope Francis has made it clear: We must always lovingly accompany people in their difficulties and struggles. He has also vehemently opposed the “ideology of gender.” In “Laudato Si’” (“On Care for Our Common Home”), the Holy Father stated: “Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology.” Our sexuality is a gift to be received from God, not something to manipulate.
Among the various concerns of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), we opposed the legislation for its detrimental effect on girls’ high school athletics. The Nebraska School Activities Association currently requires a biological male, who has not had their sex changed on their birth certificate, to undergo hormone therapy treatment if they want to compete in girls’ athletics. While we objected to this problematic policy, which forces children to medically manipulate and damage their body, we noted that it was adopted to achieve safety and fairness for female athletes.
Rather than providing a level playing field for female athletes, by allowing boys to compete against girls LB754 and LB873 would undermine equality and fairness for girls striving to train hard, gain an edge against their female competitors, and strive for excellence.
As always, follow our work more closely by joining the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska at www.necatholic.org and visit the NCC on Facebook for regular updates.