Controversial foster care bill advances to the floor

Published: Mar. 18, 2016 at 10:48 PM CDT
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Two state senators stormed out of the Judiciary Committee on Friday after the committee voted to advance a controversial foster care bill to the floor for debate.

The bill would allow faith-based foster care agencies to refuse to work with same-sex foster parents, while keeping state funding.

The measure advanced out of the executive session on a 5-3 vote after a heated debate among committee members.

Adam Morfeld is one of those senators who stormed out of the meeting.

"I am vigorously opposed to this bill. I am going to engage on extended debate on the bill and make it so we have a long conversation about why this is harmful for kids and families in Nebraska," Morfeld said.

Compass, a faith-based family service agency which receives state funding, supports the bill. They say, if anything, the bill is progressive thinking for the state, and it allows foster care agencies like theirs to help refer candidates elsewhere if they do not see eye-to-eye.

Bill Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Compass, said, "Other families who don't identify with a faith-based agency are referred to foster and adoption agencies that prepare them to serve children."

Compass thinks if passed, the bill will do great thing for the state of adoption here in Nebraska.

"We believe that LB 975 will provide the most homes for hurting kids and will make sure no prospective foster parent misses an opportunity to serve children," Williams said.

Some senators believe the bill could pass with certain amendments, but Sen. Morfeld says the measure shouldn't advance at all.

"When it comes to the basis of discriminating on the basis of religion and LGBT status, I don't think there is compromise, particularly when it includes tax payer dollars we should be contracting as a state with agencies that have the best interests of the child in mind, not the political and religious interests of the adults," Morfeld said.

Legislators only have 15 days left to discuss the bill before the session ends.

Of course, the measure could always be up for discussion in the next session.