Over 115 Nebraska business, nonprofit leaders sign letter opposing bills attacking LGBTQ+ rights

By: - May 4, 2023 5:03 pm
trans rights

A recent message written in chalk outside of the Nebraska State Capitol. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — A letter delivered Thursday from more than 115 Nebraska business and nonprofit leaders told Gov. Jim Pillen and state lawmakers that bills attacking LGBTQ+ rights are hurting job recruitment and retention in the state.

One measure, Legislative Bill 574, would block minors from receiving gender-altering procedures while another, LB 575, would ban transgender girls from competing in girls sports in schools.

‘Harmful social legislation’

The letter calls the two bills “harmful social legislation” that are bad for Nebraska businesses in their efforts to retain workers, recruit new employees and fill the estimated 80,000 job vacancies in the state.

“Nebraska can avoid major competitive risks — and win investment, business, and talent — by sending a clear and consistent signal that all are welcome here and Nebraska is open for business,” it stated.

(Courtesy of Greater Omaha Chamber)

The letter follows a similar message delivered last week by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce urging diversity and inclusion and avoiding laws that threaten Nebraska’s image “as the warm and welcoming state.”

Gov. Pillen’s office, in response to the letter, said that “protecting Nebraska kids is good for business.”

“We welcome all people to Nebraska, but we should not let kids make irreversible life-altering decisions until they are adults,” the governor said.

‘Inclusive environment’ demanded

But the business leaders and Omaha chamber see it differently, as driving away potential employees and business conferences from the state when the “next generation of workers” are insisting on “inclusive” workplaces.

“When recruiting top talent, a welcoming stance toward all people matters — not just for marginalized workers,” the letter said. “The next generation of workers, Millennials and Generation Z, aren’t just wanting inclusive environments, they are demanding it.”

LB 574 on final reading

LB 574, which would ban gender-altering care for minors, has advanced to final round debate after its main sponsor, Omaha Sen. Kathleen Kauth, agreed to discuss possible amendments to the proposal, which has not yet been set for third-round debate.

LB 575, or the “Sports and Spaces Act,” has not advanced out of the Legislature’s Education Committee.

In response to Thursday’s letter, Kauth said the business leaders are ignoring that conservatives feel very differently about her bills.

She said she didn’t think that people would move because of these issues, but if they did, Nebraska would benefit from workers leaving “very liberal states” that have adopted pro-trans legislation.

“There are a lot of people with voices who are saying ‘yes’ we want these policies,” Kauth said.

Introduction of the bills has inspired a session-long series of filibusters led by Omaha Sens. Machaela Cavanaugh and Megan Hunt in protest. They maintain that such bills are “hateful” and involve decisions that should be made by parents and medical professionals, and not government.

Nationally, bills that block gender-affirming care have been introduced and passed in several conservative states. Advocates say that minors should wait until they’re older to undertake surgeries or medications that could have life-altering impacts.

The letter:

 As business leaders in Nebraska, we are grateful for the leadership and support shown from the legislature to the business community.

An issue we have a high degree of interest in is improving Nebraska’s ability to retain and attract talent to meet business needs. According to the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, there are currently 32 available workers per 100 open jobs, meaning there are nearly three jobs per available worker in Nebraska.

The challenges we face in filling the approximately 80,000 positions we have available in the State is hurting our business’ ability to compete and meet client expectations. It is also impacting our current employees who may be overly burdened with assuming the workload and responsibilities from the jobs left unfilled.

Due to our limited talent pool, many of our businesses are being forced to create jobs in other states that we would prefer to grow in Nebraska. For those businesses who are unable to hire outside the state, they simply need to try to find a way to continue without adequate workforce. Some have given up and closed, others continue to work hard to figure it out.

We fully understand our role as business owners and leaders to solve this issue. However, the State can and should help as well. We commend you for the work you have done related to tax policy that is helpful for talent attraction and retention. 

However, the current social legislation being considered is equally important regarding the impact on talent. How we handle and vote on the current legislation being considered could either help us or hurt us.

The image and message of some of the current legislative policies (e.g. LB 574 and 575) sends a message to the marginalized communities that live here and for those of us who love and care for all Nebraskans is nothing short of discouraging and disappointing. The image this casts outside of our state is equally discouraging and disappointing.

Nebraska can avoid major competitive risks –and win investment, business, and talent –by sending a clear and consistent signal that all are welcome here and Nebraska is open for business. This message matters to large and small businesses, to tourism and travel bookers, and to talented workers.

When recruiting top talent, a welcoming stance toward all people matters—not just for marginalized workers. The next generation of workers, Millennials and Generation Z, aren’t just wanting inclusive environments, they are demanding it.

According to Pew Research, by the year 2025, 75% of the global workforce is expected to be made up of Millennials, therefore this is something Nebraska must be ready for in order to be a great place to do business in the future.

Businesses are watching state legislatures. They are investing in states with laws that foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and a robust workforce. And states that sanction discrimination simply cannot compete. Non-discrimination protections are an investment in stronger communities and a stronger economy.

Nebraska does not experience much net positive people migration as it is. This type of legislation makes it even more difficult for those of us who are working hard to improve migration performance.

We ask you to support Nebraska businesses by improving our ability to retain and attract talent for our workforces by voting against harmful social legislation like LB 574 and 575.


A Novel Idea Bookstore

American National Bank

Audubon Great Plains

Bailey Lauerman


Bellevue University



Boldly Go Philanthropy

Carson Group

Category One Consulting

Cause Collective

Collective for Youth

Combined Health Agencies Drive

Community Information Trust

Completely KIDS

CQuenceHealth Group


E Creative

Eagle Printing & Sign


Elevate Omaha

Emspace Inc.

enCourageAdvocacy Center

Ervin & Smith

Family Service Lincoln 

Fiedler Law Firm P.L.C.

Field Day Development

Friedman Law Offices PC LLO

Front Porch Investments

Give Nebraska

Gregg Grossman Inc.

Griffin Investments

Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln

Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine

Heartland Chiropractic Clinic

Heartland Family Service

Heartland Workers Center

Heartland Workforce Solutions

Holy Name Housing Corporation

Hope Harbor Inc. 


Inclusive Communities 

Indigo Bridge Books 


Kids Can Community Center

Kindred Psychology

Koenig|DunneLaw Firm

Kutak Rock LLP

League of Women Voters Greater Omaha


Lukas Partners

LUX Center for the Arts


Medical Maize LLC

Medical Solutions

Method Holdings Ltd.

MOEC (Metro Omaha Education Consortium)



Nebraska AIDS Project

Nebraska Appleseed

Nebraska Children’s Home Society (NCHS)

Nebraska Civic Engagement Table

Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative

No More Empty Pots

Nonprofit Association of the Midlands (NAM)

OBI Creative

Omaha Academy of Ballet

Omaha Community Foundation

Omaha Girls Rock 

Omaha Public Schools Foundation

Omaha Steaks

Omaha Symphony 

Omaha Zoo Foundation

Partnership 4 Kids

Pearl Street Counseling LLC

Prime Choice Insurance

Principal Financial Group 

Rabble Mill

Radio Talking Book Service

RISE Academy

River City Gender Alliance – RCGA

Robert Hancock & Co.

Sam & Louie’s Scottsbluff

Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue Inc. 

She’s Electable LLC


Signature Performance Inc. 

Solstice & The Veil

StoneburgGroup LLC

Stubbs Chiropractic

Sun Valley Landscaping

Sunrise Inspirations PC 


Ten Thousand Villages

The Bridge Behavioral Health 

The HUB Central Access Point for Young Adults

The Rose Theater


Urban Abbey UMC



Vis Major Brewing Co

Voices for Children in Nebraska

Warren Distribution


Wilhelm Mortgage 

Women’s Fund of Omaha

YWCA Grand Island 

YWCA Lincoln

Zaiss& Company


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.