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Growing a Culture of Life

By Governor Pete Ricketts

March 15, 2016


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Across Nebraska, pro-life values permeate our culture.  Just look around—you can see evidence of how Nebraskans value life almost everywhere.  You see it in the charitable spirit of Nebraskans who give of their time and treasure to their schools, churches, and communities.  You see it on billboards and homemade signs urging passersby to “Choose Life” as they drive around the state.  You see it in the thousands of Nebraskans that join Life Chain events in over 50 communities every year.


These are some of the things that have inspired my administration to ensure the state is fulfilling our commitment to caring for society’s most vulnerable people and to find new ways to protect life. 


With this in mind, we conducted a nationwide search to identify transformational leadership for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the agency which cares for some of our state’s most vulnerable.  The new leadership under Courtney Phillips is already delivering big results: Our call centers for public benefits have dramatically reduced call wait times.  Nebraska’s foster care system is meeting all six federal standards for the first time.  When news broke that our nation’s largest abortion provider may be negotiating prices for the body parts of aborted babies, DHHS looked into these allegations to ensure Nebraska abortion clinics were following the law.


In addition to improving the services of state agencies, we must also continue to pass good pro-life legislation to protect life.  Because of the hard work of Nebraska lawmakers like Lt. Governor Mike Foley, our state’s commitment to protecting life in our laws has earned us high marks nationally over the years.  For example, Americans United for Life ranks Nebraska as the sixth most pro-life state in the nation. 


While it’s been a few years since our Legislature has passed a new pro-life bill, the Legislature has the opportunity to approve a bill that would create pro-life license plates this year.  The bill, introduced by Senator Tommy Garrett of Bellevue and prioritized by Speaker Galen Hadley of Kearney, has bipartisan support with over 30 cosponsors.  This legislation directs the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to create “Choose Life” license plates, which would be available for purchase through the DMV as a specialty plate.  If this bill passes, Nebraska would join 29 other states which allow “Choose Life” plates.  These would be one of several alternative plates available to Nebraskans for purchase including military honor, beef state, and the 150th anniversary celebration plates among others.


With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, the “Choose Life” license plate bill is one of many priorities competing for limited space in the Legislature’s agenda.  If you would like to see the Legislature provide pro-life license plates as an option, please consider contacting your senator and urge them to approve LB768 before they adjourn this year.  You can find all the information you need to contact your senator by visiting


Our efforts to grow a culture that protects life in Nebraska shouldn’t stop here.  In the coming years, I look forward to working with the Legislature to continue to prioritize initiatives to ensure that our state’s laws respect unborn life, protect our senior citizens, and promote a healthy respect for innocent life at all stages.  Nurturing a culture that respects life in Nebraska will ensure that our state has a strong foundation to grow on for years to come.