Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday shut the door on speculation that a special session of the Legislature might be called to enact a ban on vaccine mandates in Nebraska and said he will recommend priorities for next year's federal COVID recovery funding without introducing a proposal of his own.
Those two topics were raised in questions at a news conference where Ricketts celebrated the success of a state re-employment program that has helped families receiving supplemental nutrition assistance benefits increase job skills leading to re-employment and reduced reliance on government assistance.
"We want to help people get that next job," Ricketts said.
Vaccination should be voluntary, the governor said in answering a question about reports that he would call a special legislative session to consider a ban on vaccine mandates if 33 senators favored such action.
"I don't believe we have the votes to pass such a bill," Ricketts said.
Thirty-three votes would be required to end a filibuster by opponents and to enact legislation that would take effect immediately.
At the beginning of his news conference, the governor repeated his oft-stated view that "it's always a great idea to get vaccinated," but his position is that decision is an individual's choice.
As for federal pandemic recovery funding assistance, Ricketts said he will make his recommendations to the Legislature's Appropriations Committee.
Ricketts did not identify any pandemic funding priorities of his own.
The Appropriations Committee fielded a variety of proposals at a hearing last week.
Stephanie Beasley, children and family services director at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, cited a number of success stories that have resulted in low-income Nebraskans acquiring job skills, finding employment and raising their income under the SNAP Next Step program.
"There are a lot of great success stories," she said, as people move into "a job that provides a livable wage."
April Claussen told her story of going to community college to gain work skills and graduating two days before her son graduated from high school; she now works at the Nebraska Department of Labor.
The voluntary state program also provides job search coaching and interviewing skills.
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