Westside Student Presents Bill to State Legislature


Courtesy of Marigold Helevy

Westside freshman Marigold Helvey presented her bill to the Nebraska Legislature on Feb. 4.

Westside freshman Marigold Helvey recently presented her own bill, Legislative Bill (LB) 251, to the Nebraska Legislature to lower the minimum age to register as an organ and tissue donor in Nebraska to 14. Helvey said that she realized the need for the bill while registering for her learner’s permit. Helvey’s bill will count towards her Girl Scout Gold Award project. 

“When you go into the DMV to get your learner’s permit, they ask you if you want to be an organ donor but they don’t actually register you until you’re 16, so I’m trying to move the age from 16 to 14,” Helvey said. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and my neighbor’s a transplant surgeon, and I’m getting my learner’s permit, so it all just kind of came together.”

Helvey presented the bill on Feb. 4 with the help of Live On Nebraska, a non-profit organization that advocates for organ and tissue donation. Helvey explained how the organization helped her to create and present her bill.

“They got a bunch of facts together and they also brought this mother whose daughter was an organ donor, and she testified,” Helvey said.

Helvey wrote the bill alongside Senator Machaela Cavanaugh, who helped testify the bill as well. Helvey said that the biggest challenge with the entire project was the act of testifying to the legislature. 

“The biggest challenge was probably coming up and presenting a good case,” Helvey said. “It wasn’t scary until I started speaking.”

Helvey said she hopes her bill will make a difference for those in need of donations.

“I think it is heartbreaking that some people who need a transplant have to wait a long time,” Helvey said. “I am passionate about helping to make a difference.”

Government instructor David Bywater explained how bills are passed and presented. 

“The idea is that they want to create a new statue to create a regulation on whatever it is they’re discussing, so a bill is creating policy,” Bywater said. “Whatever that policy is, if that’s about journalism or medicare, if it’s about the speed limit, that’s what a bill is. [It] is introducing a new statue policy.”

Bywater said that depending on the bill and type of courthouse, the time it takes for the bill to be passed differs.

“The idea is that when you introduce a bill, it has that session because once that session is over, a 60-day or 90-day session, once it’s over, that bill is dead,” Bywater said. “If they want to reintroduce it, they can, but they don’t carry bills over. So it depends, at least in Nebraska, normally it could take a year.” 

Bywater said that since it is rare for minors to be presenting a bill, Helvey’s case could be different than other bills. 

“It would be my guess that most bills don’t pertain to minors,” Bywater said. “So this is probably a very special circumstance.”