Omaha chamber urges Legislature to avoid measures contrary to ‘positive business environment’

(Courtesy of Greater Omaha Chamber)

LINCOLN — The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Wednesday saying that in the interest of “diversity, equity and inclusion,” the Nebraska Legislature should steer clear of bills that “threaten Nebraska as the warm and welcoming state we know it to be.”

“Inclusivity is the right thing to do,” says the statement from the Chamber, citing recommendations from a statewide, economic development report from 2021 called “Blueprint Nebraska.”

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Aimed at LB 574

The statement, signed by Chamber President Carmen Tapio and interim President/CEO Tim Burke, did not name a specific bill, but was clearly aimed at a proposal that would ban gender-affirming care for minors.

Supporters of trans Nebraskans hold individual signs spelling out

Supporters of transgender Nebraskans hold signs in the Rotunda of the Nebraska State Capitol to meet senators following the second day of debate on LB 574 on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

A Chamber spokesman later told the Examiner that while the letter was general in nature, it was intended as a comment on the transgender proposal.

That measure, Legislative Bill 574, has sparked controversy throughout the 2023 session. Despite a series of sometimes emotional filibusters, the measure has advanced to the final round of debate.

Amendment being discussed

Omaha Sen. Kathleen Kauth, the main sponsor of LB 574, is currently working with a committee of fellow senators to see if there’s an amendment that would improve support for the bill.

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha speaks on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature on March 22, 2023, in Lincoln. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

The Chamber statement said that the business organization was not “equipped to weigh in on issues that involve personal medical care decisions or medical decisions regarding parents, their children and their health care professionals. …”

The organization remains “fully committed” to “diversity, equity and inclusion” in recruiting and retaining a talented workforce, the statement said.

“We ask our elected officials to focus their work on being part of the long-term solution on the policy matters of the highest importance to Nebraskans. …” the statement said.


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