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Governor Declares Human Trafficking Month, Announces Vaccination Signup Site

Attorney General Doug Peterson (at podium) January 11, 2021

Lincoln, NE (January 11, 2021) Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed January as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” during a press conference at the state Capitol Monday.  The Governor also gave an update on the State’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nebraska Attorney General (AG) Doug Peterson joined the Governor to discuss the State’s efforts to prevent human trafficking.  Additionally, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Incident Commander Angie Ling overviewed the progress of coronavirus vaccination in Nebraska.

Gov. Ricketts: Human Trafficking Awareness

  • Senators across party lines have stepped up to help stop human trafficking in Nebraska.
  • We started with LB 294e in 2015 from Speaker Jim Scheer.

o  It provided additional recourse to trafficking victims, allowing them to seek civil remedy against their perpetrators.

  • In 2018, we had two bills from Senator Patty Pansing Brooks.

o  LB 289 increased penalties for human-trafficking related crimes.

o  LB 1132 strengthened reporting requirements for victims of sexual assault.

  • In 2019, we had LB 519 from Senator Julie Slama.

o  Among other things, the bill eliminated the statute of limitations for sex trafficking of a minor and created the new criminal offense of sexual abuse of a detainee in the first and second degree.

  • Working with State Senators, community groups have had a major impact in combating human trafficking in Nebraska.

AG Peterson: Human Trafficking

  • Prior to 2015, several criminal activities related to human trafficking were not covered in Nebraska under federal law.  The federal law applies only to activities occurring across state lines.  It does not cover activities internal to a single state.
  • Thankfully, the Legislature took action in 2015, and in subsequent years, to pass legislation specific to Nebraska that addresses human trafficking.
  • The laws passed by the Legislature have empowered law enforcement to investigate human trafficking and to prosecute criminals.
  • The website of the Attorney General’s Office has annual reports on human trafficking in Nebraska.  For more information, go to ago.nebraska.gov/nebraska-human-trafficking-task-force.
  • There are numerous individuals, agencies, and partners working together to combat human trafficking.  These include the Nebraska State Patrol, child advocacy centers across Nebraska, and community service organizations that assist victims of human trafficking.

Angie Ling: Coronavirus Vaccination

  • As of last night, 76,882 vaccines have been administered in Nebraska.  Over 38,000 doses were administered last week alone.
  • The State will launch a Vaccine Registration and Administration System in late January.  This system will allow Nebraskans to register to receive the vaccine by entering some basic information to determine what phase they are in and when their phase is open.

o  The information includes name, date of birth, email address, phone number, occupation, and some health questions.

o  This information is strictly confidential and will only be used to determine phase eligibility and to administer the vaccine.

  • After registering, Nebraskans will be notified that they are eligible to receive the vaccine.  Then, they will either be directed to schedule their vaccination if their phase is open or will be put on the wait list.

o  If placed on the wait list, once their phase is open, registrants will be notified that they can schedule an appointment either through the Vaccine System or with any local providers offering the vaccine.

o  The system includes a vaccine finder to help identify providers who have the vaccine available.

  • The State will also have a call center to assist persons who do not have internet services.
  • After healthcare and long-term care residents are vaccinated, Nebraskans age 75 and older will be next.  There are three ways for this group to get vaccinated.

o  Through community vaccine clinics with the local health departments

o  Through select healthcare systems

o  Through select pharmacies

  • Local health departments have information on their websites and Facebook pages on how to get on a list right now.  DHHS also has a coronavirus information line that you can call for assistance.  That number is 402-552-6645 or toll free at 833-998-2275.

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