Nebraska senators pose for a photo with students after lawmakers approved the school choice measure LB753. NEBRASKA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE


What’s Up With School Choice?

If you’ve been following the school choice issue in the legislature, you may be wondering what the latest scoop is. And if you aren’t following it, it’s the right time to catch up. In the remaining 20-ish days of session, school choice will be a main attraction of legislative debate. For now, put on your seatbelt and let’s go for a Q&A ride.

First off, what’s school choice? It’s the basic idea that parents are the primary educators of their children, and they have a responsibility and a “right to choose a school for [their children] which corresponds to their convictions.” The state, then, has a duty and responsibility to ensure parents, especially if they are low-income, have the concrete ability to exercise their parental right to direct their child’s education.

How has school choice been advanced in Nebraska? Last year, Nebraska became the 49th state in the country (at least we weren’t last, right!) to adopt a school choice program. Through the leadership of Senator Lou Ann Linehan and Governor Jim Pillen, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB753, the Opportunity Scholarships Act, into law. This law provides tax credits to taxpayers for contributions to scholarship-granting organizations. These SGOs then turn those contributions into scholarships for low-income students and other students in need of school choice.

The Opportunity Scholarships Act has been in legal effect since last year and is already collecting tax credit contributions, accepting applications for scholarships, and distributing scholarships to students.

If you are interested in making a tax-credit contribution or applying for a scholarship, do not hesitate to contact our good friends at

But isn’t LB753 under a ballot referendum? Immediately after LB753 was signed into law, school choice opponents launched an effort to repeal LB753. They collected the requisite signatures to place LB753 on the November 2024 ballot. Nevertheless, the program is still operating, raising money and giving scholarships.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan recently filed a legal challenge with the Secretary of State, Bob Evnen. She alleged that the Secretary of State should not have accepted the referendum petition, as it violated the Nebraska Legislature’s constitutional power to pass revenue-related bills. Secretary Evnen issued his response stating that 1) the question Sen. Linehan was raising is a constitutional issue that needs to be presented to the courts and 2) he complied with state statutes for accepting the petition. Whether the Nebraska Legislature, Sen. Linehan or some other interested party challenges this ruling remains to be seen.

Weren’t other school choice laws introduced this session? Yes, four school choice bills were introduced this session. Sen. Steve Erdman (Bayard) introduced an education savings account bill that would also substantially change how education funding works in Nebraska. Sen. Ben Hansen (Blair) introduced a bill to provide $1500 for every student entering or already enrolled in a non-public school. Sen. Linehan (Elkhorn) introduced two bills. She introduced one bill to make changes to LB753. The other bill (LB1402) would provide $25 million in state funds to the state treasurer to manage a program for distributing scholarship funds to students in need of more educational options.

So, where are these four bills in the process? Moving forward, only two of these bills are still active. Sen. Linehan prioritized LB1402 as her “personal priority bill, ” meaning it will be guaranteed debate by the Nebraska Legislature. It has also advanced from the Appropriations Committee on a 6-3 vote after an incredible public hearing where many families testified about the importance of school choice. Sen. Linehan has also been public that if LB1402 advances into law, she will seek to have LB753 repealed. In short, Sen. Linehan is fighting hard to make sure Nebraska remains a school choice state.

Why repeal one bill and seek to advance a different school choice program? There are many reasons for ensuring Nebraska remains a state that supports school choice, but the most important reason is this: kids! Every child only gets one shot at their K-12 experience. This educational experience can make or break their future. It is critical that every child can find a school that best fits their educational needs. This is precisely what LB753 has already been doing, and this is what LB1402 will do if passed into law.

What can I do to help? Any time now, the Nebraska Legislature will debate LB1402 so we can find a new way of guaranteeing children educational freedom. We will need countless Nebraskans to lift their voices to support school choice when that moment comes. To do that, we urge you to join the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska at! From there, you will receive our action alerts on critically important legislative matters and have a way to easily contact your state senator.

We need you to pray, pray, pray. Passing school choice in Nebraska has been a David and Goliath-like battle. The opposition to school choice is overwhelming, well-organized and well-funded. Pray that their efforts will be thwarted and that families and students will prevail as we strive to give them educational freedom.

Together, our voices and prayers can make a huge difference in the laws of our state – never take this for granted!

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


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