The 2023 Nebraska Legislative Session ended one week ago. It was a challenging one, to be sure. There were amazing highs (being in community with hundreds of Nebraskans at the Capitol, defeating a six-week abortion ban) and extreme lows (watching the legislature take away parental and human rights as well as bodily autonomy of pregnant people and trans youth). Every step of the way, we’ve been there together—demanding senators advance gender equity and reject political interference in our freedoms and rights.
The rhythms of progress ebb and flow. Below we overview some of our priority legislation and how the bills impact the progress and advancements made toward gender equity as well as new challenges to our collective work. It has never been clearer that the personal and political are one—our lives, bodies and futures have been made into battlegrounds. We’ll continue to show up—loudly, boldly and together—to ensure gender equity is within reach for generations of Nebraskans to come.
PROGRESS FOR GENDER EQUITY
LB 11 (Senator Carol Blood) provides clarification in domestic abuse protection orders to include household pets (passed in LB 157). This update reduces a common barrier to leaving abusive situations, especially for the majority of applicants filling out protection orders without legal assistance.
LB 35 (Senator Wendy DeBoer) invests in the workforce by supporting affordable child care (passed in LB 227). Investments in affordable child care help to meet workforce needs and support employees’ full participation in the workforce while increasing economic stability for families.
LB 84 (Senator Jen Day) maintains increased access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (passed in LB 227). Every household in Nebraska has a right to consistent and reliable access to food. Now, 10,000 Nebraskans will be able to support themselves and their families with expanded eligibility for two more years.
LB 183 (Senator John Cavanaugh) allows low-income petitioners in name changing proceedings to avoid paying fees (passed in LB 157). By removing this barrier, survivors of gender-based violence will have increased access to name-changing services through the courts.
LB 315 (Senator John Fredrickson) protects survivors of domestic and sexual violence from debt collectors (passed in LB 157). No survivor should be caught in the cycle of debt because they sought the medical care they needed in the aftermath of a sexual assault. LB 315 will not prevent a health care provider from seeking reimbursement for services—it simply prevents a survivor from being sent to collections.
LB 419 (Senator Anna Wishart) extends postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to at least six months (passed in LB 227). About 60% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. The extension of postpartum Medicaid addresses all the factors of preventable pregnancy-related deaths, and promotes the health and well-being of Nebraska parents and families.
LB 626 (Senator Joni Albrecht) the six-week abortion ban was stopped by one vote. Enough senators listened to the majority of Nebraskans and rejected this extreme political interference into people’s personal health care. That anti-abortion senators succeeded later in the session in passing a 10-week ban is evidence that they will find any way to push their personal beliefs on us all. We’ll stay ready to continue to advocate for your rights.
LB 757 (Senator DeBoer) extends the eligibility timeline for victims seeking to apply to the Crime Victim’s Reparations (CVR) program (passed in LB 157). This legislation provides better support to victims who were minors at the time of the crime by adopting trauma-informed best practices and providing additional time for survivors to apply for the CVR program. This is one step in improving the state’s CVR program to better meet the needs of survivors of gender-based violence. Special thanks to our former policy associate Natalia Tu for her work with survivor advocates on this legislation!
As we’ve stated before, the session was a challenging one but these critical advancements for gender equity, support for survivors of gender-based violence and economic investments in Nebraskans will have long-term positive impacts in our communities. We remain committed to leading dynamic change by advocating for effective policy solutions like these bills passed this session.
CONTINUED CHALLENGES FOR GENDER EQUITY
LB 77 (Senator Tom Brewer) allows for the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit. Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that an abusive partner will kill their victim. As we’ve seen in other states with similar legislation, LB 77 will have a devasting impact on freedom from violence in our communities as gun violence continues to impact women, children and families. We are proud to stand with many in our community in opposing this legislation.
LB 574 (Senator Kathleen Kauth) bans gender-affirming care for trans youth and restricts abortions at about 10 weeks. This bill dehumanizes Nebraskans by taking away their bodily autonomy. Attacks on trans people are tied to attacks on abortion care and LB 574 was a prime example. We cannot allow politics to be inserted into anyone’s personal health care. Last week, ACLU of Nebraska, on behalf of Planned Parenthood North Central States, filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction from the bill being enforced. Read more from ACLU of Nebraska.
This isn’t a game with wins and losses—nobody “wins” as long as injustices exist. These bills hurt Nebraskans and put people’s lives in danger. From the beginning of this legislative session, it was clear that some senators would stop at nothing to enact harm. Bills were prioritized and pushed without regard for Nebraskan’s input, lived experiences and specific expertise. This session was beyond frustrating, to say the least. Let us use the rage we’ve felt these past few months to fuel our actions moving forward.
On a personal note, I am beyond honored to have worked with you all during my first session as policy director at the Women’s Fund. While the past few months have been wild, I am fueled by your stories, strengthened by your shared expertise and energized by your tenacity for justice. Thank you all for showing up to advocate for gender equity.