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KUNR Today: Nevada Legislature Reopens To Public, Lyon Co. Brothels Reopening Soon, Too

An image of the Nevada Legislature building
Jana Sayson
KUNR Public Radio

Here are your local morning news headlines for Friday, Apr. 16, 2021.

Nevada Lawmakers Open Building, Limits Still In Place
By Paul Boger

The Nevada Legislature reopened its doors to the public for the first time since the start of the pandemic Thursday, but in-person access to lawmakers is still limited.

After two special sessions and months of holding meetings barred to the public at large, lawmakers are once again allowing the general public to enter the legislature.

Under the new rules, up to 63 members of the public can enter the building by making appointments. Registered visitors must also submit to a COVID-19 rapid test in a parking lot next to the legislative building before they can enter. Access to committee hearings will remain by appointment to ensure social distancing.

Despite the restrictions, lobbyists such as Elliot Malin say they are happy to be back in the building.

"I've been able to have some face-to-face over Zoom, but it's not the same. We're not able to work out or flush out those issues that we normally would. It's not just lawmakers. Half of lobbying is lobbying lobbyists, having those conversations of trying to come to the middle ground with each other, so we can get good policy passed," he said.

Only a handful of people took advantage of the building reopening, with less than 20 people registering for appointments Thursday.

Nevada’s Coronavirus Test Positivity Keeps Ticking Up
By Paul Boger

Nevada's COVID-19 test-positivity rate continues to tick upward. The latest data from Nevada's coronavirus response shows the rate at 5.5% Thursday. That's a steady increase from late last month when the state's test positivity was at 4.2%.

The metric measures the total number of positive coronavirus tests performed in the state and serves as a way to determine community spread.

The upward tick also coincides with the climbing number of new daily cases. Health officials reported nearly 550 new cases of the virus Thursday, as well as six additional deaths, both of which are well beyond the anticipated average. Hospitalizations around the state are also starting to climb.

Burning Man To Decide Fate Of Summer Event By End Of April
By KUNR Staff

Burning Man organizers say they'll make a decision by the end of the month on whether they'll hold the counterculture festival in the Black Rock Desert this summer.

First reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal, organizers expect roughly 60,000 people to attend the event if it takes place.

The festival recently opened 1,000 reservations — at $2,500 each — which would guarantee a chance to buy tickets to the next two events when they eventually go on sale.

Biden Could Tap Montanan To Lead Public Lands' Agency
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

It's not official yet, but multiple news outlets are reporting the Biden administration will nominate a Montana woman to head the Bureau of Land Management.

Tracy Stone-Manning worked in environmental organizations in Montana and with Western Democrats like Montana Senator Jon Tester and former governor Steve Bullock. She currently works with the National Wildlife Federation.

Jerry Johnson is a political science professor at Montana State University. He’s watched Stone-Manning’s career for 25 years and said she’s good at getting people to work together, like ranchers and environmentalists.

“She’ll just tell you the way it is, then let’s try to sort where we might disagree,” Johnson said.

Johnson expects some pushback from Western senators in the confirmation process, but he doesn’t think she’ll face as much opposition as Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. That’s because he said Stone-Manning has largely stayed out of the political spotlight.

Still, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso’s office said he wants any new BLM director to preserve the agency’s multiple uses for public lands, including energy development, grazing for ranchers and recreation.

The Latest: Half Eligible Californians Have At Least 1 Shot
By The Associated Press

Gov. Gavin Newsom says nearly half of Californians eligible for vaccination have received at least one shot against the coronavirus. He is urging more residents to sign up for appointments and not let apprehension get in the way of getting protected against the illness. The nation’s most populous state on Thursday began vaccinating anyone age 16 and over regardless of occupation or health condition. The move comes as California and other states have seen vaccine supplies rise in recent weeks. But officials are working to address hesitancy, particularly in some of the communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

Lyon County Give Green Light For Brothels To Reopen
By KUNR Staff

Legal brothels in Lyon County plan to reopen May 1, but some county officials are sounding concerns. County commissioners approved the reopenings 4-1 this week.

According to the Nevada Appeal, all patrons must continue to wear masks, but all other restrictions on public gatherings will end. Some other county officials say they're concerned the decision will lead to an uncontrolled increase in new coronavirus cases.

They're asking the governor to create "trigger points" to help counties decide when restrictions should be reinstated.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative.
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