FCCLA members Shayla Jacobsen, Kaydance Maertins and Brooke Forbes with Senator Barry DeKay.

FCCLA members Shayla Jacobsen, Kaydance Maertins, and Brooke Forbes along with Adviser Ronita Jacobsen traveled to Lincoln February 8th to attend the Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers of Nebraska (FCSTN) 2023 Legislative Workshop. 

The day began at 8:00 a.m. at the Capitol Building in the Werner Legislative Chamber where they were welcomed by the FCSTN President, reviewed the day, and participated in ice breakers with the FCCLA State Officers. 

Senator Vargus from District 7, Omaha, was the first speaker of the day. He spoke about his path to becoming a senator, what this position means to him, and how lucky we are to live in Nebraska where we can have a voice in the laws that are passed.  Vargus talked about Legislative Bill 610 which is a bill relating to appropriations which would appropriate money to the State Department of Education to fund career and technical education programs and career education student organizations. Members learned that Nebraska is the only state where Career and Technical Education is not state funded. 

Jason Hayes, Director of Government Relations for Nebraska State Education Association spoke next.  He addressed the teacher shortage in Nebraska and spoke of bills hoping to help in addressing this issue. Hayes spoke on legislative bill 724, proposed by Senator Vargus, which would remove the basic skills and content knowledge test requirements (otherwise known as Praxis) for prospective teachers.  He also spoke on bills on the floor which are meant to assist with teacher recruitment and retention including apprentice programs. 

Members also spent the morning participating in a guided tour of the capitol.  They learned about the history, design, and artwork of the building. Following, they were able to attend hearings of their choice and participate in a scavenger hunt within the capitol.  They were able to take the elevator to the top and explore the various hallways and artwork.  For lunch, FCCLA members walked to the Governor’s Mansion for a catered lunch in the lower ballroom.  They were able to explore the lower and main levels of the mansion. 

Upon returning to the capitol, members found the capitol filled with supporters and opponents of different bills that were in hearings that day. Capitol Security had been visibly increased.  From the signs being held, most people were there to address LB 574.  Lines had formed from the hearing room to the capitol exists and both levels of the rotunda were filled. A news crew was also present with interviews going on. Members found this to be very interesting and a highlight of the day. 

In the afternoon, members were able to meet with Senator DeKay.  They talked with him about bills that were in hearings that they had heard about that day and asked questions regarding is support of them. 

“This was my first time in the capitol.” stated Brooke Forbes.  “I found everything interested and enjoyed seeing the number of people who showed up to testify at the hearings.”

“It was interesting to see the legislative process in action. To be able to see the senators talk about their bills and giving the reasons they want them to pass or not was very interesting,” stated Jacobsen. Martins agreed, “This was a very educational day that I would attend again.  I learned a lot about the process it takes to make something become a law.”