Legislative issues heating up 2/26/2016

The 104th Nebraska Legislature is now at the midpoint of its 60-day second session. In addition to some carryover legislation from last year’s session, 445 new bills have been introduced this year.

The Nebraska Catholic Conference has identified a number of bills of interest and concern. What follows is a brief overview of some of the key bills NCC is opposing and supporting.

LB 586 (Oppose)  This bill would make “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” protected classifications under Nebraska’s employment laws. This bill was introduced last year and was debated for a few hours before being pulled from the agenda because of insufficient votes to advance it. It carried over to this year’s session and Sen. Adam Morfeld, its introducer, has prioritized it, guaranteeing it will receive further debate by the Legislature. Please contact your senator now and urge him/her to oppose this bill.

LB 1056 (Oppose)  This bill, introduced by Sen. Ernie Chambers, proposes to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide. Proponents are relentless in their efforts to legalize assisted suicide state by state and they have some momentum after California legalized it last fall.

The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee conducted a public hearing on LB 1056 Wednesday, Feb. 24. Perhaps providentially, this is the same day as the Catholics at the Capitol event.
Please also send an email to Judiciary Committee members urging them to reject LB 1056.  A list of Committee members is available atwww.nebraskalegislature.gov.

LB 943 and LB 944 (Oppose)  These two bills, introduced by Sen. Matt Hansen, propose to replace the terms “husband” and “wife” with “spouse,” and “mother” and “father” with “parent” in all Nebraska statutes. These bills were prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling redefining marriage.

The Conference opposes any changes made to conform Nebraska’s statutes to Obergefell. Five Supreme Court justices wrongly declared same-sex unions to be the equivalent of marriage. Nebraska should not ascribe moral legitimacy to an erroneous judicial opinion by enshrining that opinion in the state’s democratically–passed laws.

LR 389 CA (Oppose)  This bill, introduced by Sen. Burke Harr, proposes to place on the ballot in November the question of whether Nebraskans want to remove the Constitutional amendment that recognizes marriage as a union of one man and one woman.  This bill was also prompted by the Obergefell ruling.

LB 975 (Support)  This bill, introduced by Sen. Mark Kolterman, would prohibit the state from taking an adverse action against a foster care or adoption provider for declining to provide a child welfare service that conflicts with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.

Child placing agencies in other states have been forced out of providing services to children because of policy decisions made by state or local government which lacked protections for faith-based agencies.

LB 767 and LB 768 (Support)  Both of these bills were introduced by Sen. Tommy Garrett. LB 767 would ban “dismemberment abortions” commonly referred to as D&E (Dilation and Evacuation) which involves dismembering a living unborn child and removing it, piece by piece. LB 768 would authorize a “Choose Life” license plate in Nebraska.

LB 701 (Support)  Introduced by Sen. Heath Mello, LB701 removes the sunset provision on a program that that allows recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) to use hours the recipient spends working toward an associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate to count toward the recipient’s work activity requirement.

LB 1036 (Support)  Introduced by Sen. Kathy Campbell, this bill proposes reforms to payday lending businesses. It would allow affordable payments over time and cap the interest that can be charged at 36 percent per annum and maximum monthly maintenance fee of $20.

Information on these and other bills can be found online at www.necatholic.org. On our website you can also sign up for Catholic Advocacy Network Nebraska which will keep you informed on these important issues and give you an easy opportunity to make your voice heard.