State Senator Behind Special Session Letter Says More Could Join Effort to Address Vaccine Mandates

Oct. 20, 2021, 4:45 p.m. ·

Nebraska Legislative chamber
Nebraska legislative chamber. (Photo courtesy Nebraska Unicameral Information Office)

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The Nebraska Secretary of State is sending out certified letters this week polling state senators who didn’t sign a separate letter calling for a special legislative session to address employers requiring vaccines.

Earlier this week, 26 state senators, including Ben Hansen of Blair, delivered a letter to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office, asking for a special legislative session to address mandatory vaccine requirements. Although 33 senators would have to agree to a special session, Hansen said there’s hope some could come around in the next ten days.

“I think some really thought like, you know, I want to talk to some people in my district and I want to see how this goes and then I can make a better decision down the road, which I’m fine with. If they want to think about things, that’s okay, ” Hansen said. “There were some that were like, no, I’m not signing on to either of them, just because they didn’t think a special session is right at the moment to address this problem.”

He said to be clear, the session would be limited to one topic.

“This is not about whether vaccines are good or bad, this is not about masks, this is not about current mandatory vaccinations K-12 schools,” Hansen said. “What we’re talking about here is whether we feel employers should mandate a medical procedure such as a COVID-19 vaccination on their employees or we punish them for it.”

Senator Robert Clements of Elmwood co-signed the letter and said although there’s not much chance the effort will succeed, they’re working on it.

“We do have organizations who are very interested in this topic that are contacting the senators who did not sign, so we’re working on that, but it’s probably a longshot,” Clements said.

Governor Ricketts has said he would call a special session if 33 senators agree. Both Senators Hansen and Clements said a better outcome would be for employers to give employees options instead of just the possibility of losing their jobs if they don’t comply.