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Pete Ricketts

Lincoln Journal Star

A Nebraska City woman and lifelong Republican who unsuccessfully ran for the Nebraska Legislature is suing her own party, claiming the Nebraska GOP defamed her in ads and robocalls it sponsored to help her rival. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Janet Palmtag's lawsuit accuses the Nebraska Republican Party of knowingly lying in campaign ads that said she had broken the law and lost her real estate license. The party's campaign efforts in the race were intended to help state Sen. Julie Slama of Peru, who won the seat in the officially nonpartisan Legislature.

KLIN

Gov. Pete Ricketts has chosen an Iowa state government official to serve as the next director of the Nebraska Department of Transportation. Ricketts has appointed John Selmer, director of the strategic performance division of the Iowa Department of Transportation. Selmer, of Story City, Iowa, has served in his current job since 2012. Selmer has served in the Iowa agency for 31 years in a variety of roles, including administrative jobs. He spent nearly a decade as a district engineer.

ABC News

Nebraska should see at least 43 retail pharmacies participating in a new federal program to help provide coronavirus vaccinations, although state officials say they don’t have a good way to communicate with all of them to avoid mistakes. Gov. Pete Ricketts says he’s grateful for the additional 5,700 doses Nebraska will get through the federal program, but is concerned about how all the different businesses will coordinate with the state’s efforts. He says the federal program didn’t include a way for states and the retailers to ensure they’re on the same page. 

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska will start issuing emergency supplemental nutrition benefits to people who qualify on Feb. 9. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, will get increased money on their EBT cards. The extra assistance comes from the federal government. Recipients saw a boost earlier in the pandemic, but the aid eventually expired. Gov. Pete Ricketts initially declined to renew Nebraska’s request for the benefit as the economy recovered, but reapplied later as the number of virus cases surged.

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is self-isolating from the public after he was exposed to someone over the weekend who tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. Ricketts says he was near the person for longer than 15 minutes on Saturday. He had been scheduled Monday to participate in the Governor’s Annual Wellness Walk around the Capitol to promote fitness, but spoke to reporters instead through a video-conferencing link. Ricketts says his contact with the person who tested positive for the virus was for business and not a social gathering, but he didn't identify the person. 

KITV

Governor Pete Ricketts announced on Saturday that Nebraska is moving from the blue phase to the green phase in the state's pandemic response plan. This means indoor gatherings can now reach one-hundred-percent capacity, but events with more than 500 people must write a reopening plan and send it to their local health department. The governor also said any Nebraskans who have been given both doses of the COVID vaccine no longer have to quarantine after a close contact exposure. These residents are asked to self-monitor for symptoms and wear a mask for two weeks.

Lincoln Journal Star

Gov. Pete Ricketts is defending Nebraska’s approach to distributing coronavirus vaccines, saying the state won’t redirect doses away from rural areas that are outpacing Omaha and Lincoln with vaccinations. State officials reported Friday that 15 rural public health districts in Nebraska have already finished the first phase of vaccinations, which focused on front-line health workers. Those districts are now vaccinating the next high-priority group, consisting largely of residents who are at least 65 years old.

Lincoln Journal Star

Gov. Pete Ricketts says Nebraska will take steps to ensure public safety at the state Capitol on Inauguration Day, although he notes that last week’s rally in Lincoln to support President Donald Trump was peaceful. Ricketts made the comments as supporters of the outgoing president prepare for protests at state capitols throughout the country. A violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol last week to try to stop Congress from certifying that President-elect Joe Biden had won the race.

No Vaccine For Undocumented Meat Packers, Says Ricketts

Jan 6, 2021
WOWT

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is saying only documented workers in meatpacking plants will get the COVID-19 vaccine.  Ricketts says people who work in the plants are supposed to be in the U.S. legally, and there will be no conflict since people need to be in the country legally to work in the food-processing program.  UFCW Local 293 officials tell WOWT that there are plenty of undocumented workers employed in the state's meatpacking plants, and that the best way to keep the plants running is to vaccinate everyone. 

KETV

Nebraska’s corrections department will propose to lawmakers a new, $230 million prison to reduce chronic overcrowding that the agency's director says is likely to get worse. Corrections Director Scott Frakes will present the plan in the upcoming legislative session with backing from his boss, Gov. Pete Ricketts. State officials have tried for years to ease crowding in Nebraska’s prisons by expanding parole, changing some sentencing laws and creating new diversion programs.

Saint Francis Ministries

A whistleblower says a cash-strapped Kansas foster care contractor spent $80,000 on tickets to see the Chicago Cubs, a club owned by the Nebraska governor's family, as it sought new business in that state. St. Francis Ministries bought the tickets in 2019. That same year, the agency was awarded a $197 million, five-year contract from the state of Nebraska to oversee the care of abused and neglected children in the Omaha area. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services says St. Francis won the contract because it presented the best bid. 

KSLA

Cities in Nebraska juggle the issue of whether to require masks as the state's governor continues to resist issuing a statewide mask mandate while the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on the state. Grand Island police have made clear they'll enforce that city's mandate, passed last week, by charging violators with public nuisance counts. A surge in cases in recent weeks led Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts to reissue some statewide restrictions, including requiring masks in salons and tattoo parlors. But Ricketts has refused to impose a statewide mask mandate.

Norfolk Daily News

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is acknowledging that state officials should have moved more quickly to interview people who contracted the coronavirus in recent weeks so they could warn others who may have been exposed. Ricketts says the recent surge in virus cases created a backlog of people who needed to be called, and officials within his administration didn’t add more workers to help with the extra workload. The state now has a backlog of 2,600 people who still need to contacted.

UNMC

A prominent Nebraska infectious disease expert is sounding the alarm about the state’s surging coronavirus cases and calling for a statewide mask mandate, which Gov. Pete Ricketts has repeatedly refused to issue. Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said Thursday that the pandemic has reached its most dangerous point since the virus outbreak began earlier this year and described the recent increase in virus hospitalizations as unsustainable.

The number of coronavirus cases in Nebraska topped 100,000 as the state reported a record 3,440 cases Monday. Nebraska has had 101,601 cases since the pandemic began. There were also eighteen new deaths reported Monday to give the state 797 deaths. The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state also set a new record at 938. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said that if that number continues to rise and approaches 1,200 — when 25% of the hospitalized patients in the state have coronavirus — he will impose additional restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. 

Sioux City Journal

Gov. Pete Ricketts is standing firm in his opposition to a statewide mask mandate despite a recent surge in coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm Nebraska’s hospitals. Ricketts urged residents to voluntarily wear a mask, saying it’s one step of many to slow the pandemic. The Republican governor has focused heavily on getting voluntary compliance from residents, with campaigns urging people to avoid crowds, wash their hands frequently and stay home if they feel sick or show symptoms of the virus.

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and first lady Susanne Shore have gone into quarantine after both were exposed to a person with the coronavirus. Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage says Ricketts and Shore had dinner outside with three other people on Sunday night. One of the people who was with them tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. Gage says Ricketts and Shore will quarantine for 14 days. Neither is showing any symptoms, and both will get tested.

Vox

Nebraska officials are reacting to the election victory by President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.  Senator Ben Sasse released a statement offering his congratulations to Biden and Harris and urging them to be wise in the execution of their respective duties.  Congressman Don Bacon told the "Omaha World-Herald" that he urged President Donald Trump to take the high road.  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts stressed that the election isn't over until it's scrutinized by the courts. 

Remington Research Group

State regulators have found the Nebraska Republican Party and a political consulting firm liable for making illegal robocalls in a hotly contested legislative race. The Nebraska Public Service Commission issued the ruling against the state party and Kansas City-based Remington Research. The calls were made to help state Sen. Julie Slama, of Peru, who is locked in an unusually bitter race against challenger Janet Palmtag. Slama and Palmtag are both Republicans, and have each won key endorsements. Slama is backed by Gov.

KSNB

Low-income residents who qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage in Nebraska will have to work, volunteer or take classes or get job training if they want access to certain health-care services starting in 2022. Gov. Pete Ricketts says the federal government has approved Nebraska’s request to impose additional requirements on people who want coverage for vision or dental services or over-the-counter drugs. Nebraska submitted a two-tiered proposal to the federal government, with a prime plan that includes those extra services a basic plan that doesn’t.

Lincoln Journal Star

Some of the biggest conservative names in Nebraska politics are lining up against ballot measures to legalize casinos, which they argue would fuel an increase in gambling addictions and related social problems. Opponents of the legalization measure include Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, former Gov. Kay Orr and U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne, a former Nebraska football coach. Voters will decide next month whether to allow casinos at state-licensed race tracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus and South Sioux City. In-person, early voting for the general election started Monday.

Polls across Nebraska will be open as usual for the November 3rd General Election, even with a high number of people voting early. Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen says COVID-19 protections and precautions used in the state's primary election will again be in place for the general election. He says as more is known about COVID-19, he expects the percentage of those going to the polls in November to be higher than in the primary. Evnen also urged voters not to give their ballot to an unfamiliar third party who promises to turn it in on their behalf. Along with Gov.

A Nebraska state senator who is running for a new term made an embarrassing error in a recent campaign mail piece attacking his opponent. The mailing by Sen. Andrew La Grone, of Gretna, criticizes his legislative challenger, Jen Day, of Omaha. But the photo that purports to show Day is actually an image of one of Day’s campaign staffers, Brooklynne Rosado. Rosado, of La Vista, called the ad humiliating and says someone didn’t do their due diligence. La Grone is seeking to win his first election after he was appointed to his seat by Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican, in 2019.

Grand Island Independent

Nebraska voters won’t get the chance to legalize medical marijuana this year after the state Supreme Court ruled that the measure set to appear on the November ballot is unconstitutional. The court’s ruling was a win for social conservatives, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, who argued that the state shouldn’t legalize a drug that isn’t approved by federal regulators. Justices concluded that the medical marijuana proposal violated Nebraska’s “single subject rule” for ballot measures, which bars activists from bunching multiple issues into a single yes-or-no question for voters to address.

Nebraska has created a new state disaster response team to help local governments that are overwhelmed with massive wildfires and other disasters. The incident management team includes the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the state fire marshal and the Nebraska state forester. The team is designed to help organize state resources that are already in place and allow for faster response times. Gov. Pete Ricketts says it will only respond if local governments request it. Western Nebraska saw a major wildfire in Banner County last month that burned more than 4,000 acres.

The interim director of Nebraska’s Division of Developmental Disabilities will assume the job full-time starting next week. Gov. Ricketts Pete Ricketts announced Friday that he has appointed Tony Green, of Omaha, to the position within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Green has served as the division’s interim director since March 2020, and previously worked as its deputy director. He replaces Courtney Miller, who stepped down in April to take a new job in the federal government. Green began his career as a services coordinator within the division in 1990.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has named an engineering firm executive as the new director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources. Thomas Riley, of Eagle, will head the agency starting Nov 1. Riley serves as president of the Flatwater Group, a company he founded with offices in Lincoln and Imperial. The firm specializes in water resources engineering, restoration design and environmental engineering. Riley is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he received a bachelor of science in civil engineering and a master of science in civil engineering.

Ricketts Vetoes Execution Transparancy Bill

Aug 18, 2020
New York Times

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited prison officials from blocking the view of execution witnesses before the condemned inmate is declared dead, signaling that they’re willing to repeat the much-criticized step in a future execution. The bill was introduced after prison officials closed the witness viewing curtain for 14 minutes during the August 2018 execution of Carey Dean Moore, which prevented members of the media from seeing the full process.

Nebraska lawmakers have approved new tax credits for homeowners, farmers and businesses and put more restrictions on abortions as they finish a session marred by ugly public disputes and criticism that they didn’t do enough to address the coronavirus pandemic. The 60-day session ended after several last-minute, unsuccessful attempts to derail the tax and abortion bills. Lawmakers gave both measures final approval and sent them to Gov. Pete Ricketts, who’s expected to sign them. Lawmakers convened as normal in January but suspended their session in March out of concern about the pandemic.

Ricketts Forbids TikTok Use On State-Owned Phones

Aug 13, 2020
Forbes

No TikTok for Nebraskans with state owned cellphones.  In a news release, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced the state made the decision to ban the popular video app on state devices to safeguard against intrusive cyber activities from China.  Last week, President Donald Trump ordered a ban on Chinese owned apps like WeChat and TikTok saying they're a threat to U.S. national security.

 

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