Will the state Legislature hold a special session to deal with COVID-19 vaccine mandates? This is the question which seems to be on everybody’s minds these days. 

Well, the answer to this question is a very definite: Maybe!

On Oct. 20, Sen. Rob Clements of Elmwood and Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair filed the necessary paperwork along with signatures from 26 Nebraska state senators calling for a special session of the state Legislature just to deal with the vaccine mandate problem. According to Nebraska State Statute 50-125, members of the state Legislature may call for a special session once two-thirds (33) or more of the state senators have signed onto a statement calling for one. 

Bob Evnen, who is Nebraska’s Secretary of State, has sent certified letters out to the remaining state senators to illicit their responses to the call. At least seven more state senators are needed to sign onto the statement calling for a special session by 5 p.m. Nov. 1, in order to make it happen. 

Gov. Ricketts may call for a special session of the state legislature with or without any of these signatures from state senators. The governor has the authority to call for a special session of the Legislature on his own anytime he believes it is necessary.

Sen. Clements and Sen. Hansen acted on behalf of the Legislature and filed the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State simply to expedite the process and get the ball rolling. They filed the paperwork knowing that they did not yet have the required signatures of two-thirds of the state senators.

Calling for a special session of the Legislature does not guarantee that vaccine mandates would ever get blocked or outlawed in Nebraska. The Unicameral Legislature is a non-partisan body where every state senator has both a voice at the microphone as well as a single vote on the voting board. Passing legislation in the Unicameral Legislature often requires bipartisan support. So, unless a particular piece of legislation appeals to both sides of the political aisle, a special session of the state Legislature could end up being a waste of time as well as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Nevertheless, vaccine mandates have now become the most pressing issue in our state and people are losing their jobs because of these vaccine mandates. So, this problem must be dealt with as soon as possible.

On Oct. 21, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a special session of the Florida Legislature in order to deal with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate problem. Gov. DeSantis called for a special session in order to “provide protections for employees facing termination because of unfair and discriminatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates and to reaffirm that government entities including school districts may not fire any employee based on COVID-19 vaccine status.”

I believe the time has come for Gov. Ricketts to make a similar move.

Nebraska’s statement reflects similar purposes as Florida. According to our Secretary of State, the Nebraska special session would convene “…for the purpose of adopting legislation to prohibit employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines and legislation to prohibit government and/or educational entities from mandating COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of receiving services.”

I believe the situation created by these COVID-19 vaccine mandates has been tragic for many Americans. No one ever should lose their job because they refuse to put a foreign substance into their own body which could be detrimental to their health. This special session is necessary because the current COVID-19 vaccine mandates are ignoring people’s medical and religious exemptions, natural immunity, the real science of COVID-19 vaccines, and individual liberty to choose what goes into a person’s own body.

Steve Erdman represents dist. 47 — west of Lincoln County — in the state legislature. His district includes the town of Sidney. Contact him at Room 1124, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, (402) 471-2616, email: serdman@leg.ne.gov

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