More than 50 young people from across the state gathered for the Nebraska Children’s annual Legislative Days at Camp Carol Joy Holling in February to learn about the legislative process and voice their opinions on bills before the legislature.
The young people hailed from communities across the state from Omaha to Scottsbluff and represented organizations such as the Nebraska Children Advisory Board, the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council, the Connected Youth Initiative, the System of Care Youth Advisory Board, and the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential initiative.
“I loved getting to know new people and sharing my thoughts in topics,” Bailie from Scottsbluff said. “I enjoyed gaining friendships from this.”
On Saturday, the young people began by working on skills such as public speaking and how to advocate for your cause. They also learned more about the legislative process and got an overview of several bills of interest that are in front of the Unicameral this session.
On Sunday, the group started the day by hearing from Dawn Rockey, the former state treasurer and current executive director of CASA. They then started working on legislation advocacy. After reviewing more than 60 bills, the young people chose six to present on to state senators and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. They advocated for the passage in favor of the following bills:
- LB13 (introduced by Sen. Blood): Provide a sales tax exemption for breast pumps and related supplies and exempt breast-feeding from public indecency offenses
- LB170 (Blood): Provide a sales and use tax exemption for feminine hygiene products
- LB110 (Wishart): Adopt Medical Cannabis Act
- LB120 (Crawford): Require training on behavioral and mental health in public schools
- LB167 (Hunt): Prohibiting conversion therapy
- LB354 (Pansing Brooks): Change provisions relating to sealing of juvenile records
On Monday, the young people traveled to Lincoln to deliver their presentations to state senators and legislative aides during a luncheon.
In the afternoon, they met with Justice Stephanie Stacey, who talked to the group about the role of the Supreme Court. The day wrapped up with a meeting with Gov. Ricketts as they gave their presentations about the bills.
Despite adverse weather, the young people said they enjoyed the weekend and learned lessons they could take back to their communities. In addition, they enjoyed having their voices heard by their elected representatives.
“It was a fun experience and really exciting to learn new things,” Lillie from Scottsbluff said. “I saw how important these bills were to people and how passionate they felt about them. I loved getting to meet new people. I’m excited for next year.”