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KUNR Today: U.K. Variant On The Rise In Washoe County, Lawmakers Advance Nearly 150 Bills

An image of Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson alongside Assembly Leader Jason Frierson
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
Assembly Majority Floor Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Speaker Jason Frierson on the first day of the 81st session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Apr. 22, 2021.

67 Additional U.K. COVID Variant Cases In Washoe County
By Jayden Perez

Washoe County has confirmed 67 new cases of the B.1.17 variant of COVID-19 in the past month. The Washoe County Health District has identified 112 total cases of the so-called U.K. strain of the coronavirus since its last report. Health officials say most of the cases were spread through private gatherings and sporting events.

Washoe County Businesses May Soon Open At Full Capacity
By Jayden Perez

Beginning May 1, Washoe County businesses will no longer have to follow capacity limits. That's if a proposed COVID-19 mitigation plan approved by the Washoe County Commission Wednesday is approved by the state. Under the proposal, businesses will still be asked to follow social distancing procedures, but pandemic-capacity limits will otherwise end. The statewide mask mandate will also remain in effect.

Organizers can begin submitting plans to the county for events larger than 500 people. Strip clubs and nightclubs would be allowed to reopen on June 1.

The Washoe County Health District and the City of Reno have rejected the county's proposal.

Lawmakers Advance Nearly 150 Bills Ahead of Deadline
By Paul Boger

Nevada lawmakers advanced hundreds of pieces of legislation ahead of the most recent deadline, including the passage of nearly 150 bills. Among the measures that squeaked past the wire was AB286 which looks to ban so-called "ghost guns."

Lawmakers also approved a handful of housing and tenants rights bills, which could prohibit landlords from denying applications for individuals reliant on public assistance or disability benefits. Democratic Sen. Dina Neal of Las Vegas said the measure also bans landlords from looking at an applicant’s arrest record.

“In my process of bringing this bill forward, I met several women who had not been able to find housing who had literally couch-surfed or lived with their mother," Neal said. "It’s very important that we establish that we are not going to exclude them from having stability for their family and their children, who we are returning them to, within our society.”

Lawmakers also redirected a number of particularly controversial and high-priority measures to budgeting committees, essentially declaring them exempt from the deadline. Those measures include AB321, making voting-by-mail the standard, AB341, which would create cannabis consumption lounges, and AB116, which decriminalizes traffic tickets.

NV Attorney General Spoke On The Threat Of Domestic Extremism In Nevada
By Jayden Perez

Nevada's top law enforcement official says domestic extremism has become a significant threat to the state. The discussion was part of a lecture series presented by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said extremists often use similar tactics as public officials to dupe individuals.

“One of those is to serve false legal documents, such as summons and fines, or even warrants for arrest on representatives for the government from their own made-up courts. That is paper terrorism, so to speak, and although this tactic begins as a nuisance, it can quickly escalate to violence,” Ford said.

Law enforcement officials estimate there are as many as 500 so-called "sovereign citizens" currently living in Nevada. Those are people who refuse to acknowledge any government authority.

New Group To Study Housing Issues In Incline Village And Crystal Bay
By KUNR Staff

A new group is looking to study housing issues in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. According to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Washoe County's slice of Lake Tahoe is the last in the area to undergo the analysis.

The Washoe-Tahoe Housing Partnership says it will conduct a needs assessment in the community and will then create a strategic plan for Incline Village and Crystal Bay.

Prisoner Visits Will Soon Resume In Nevada
By KUNR Staff

The Nevada Department of Corrections will soon allow prisoner visits to resume after a year-long pause. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, two people may visit an inmate at the same time beginning on May 1. No one under the age of five will be allowed to visit, and all visitors will have to take a rapid COVID-19 test before they can enter the facility.

California Governor Declares Drought Emergency In Two Counties
By The Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a drought emergency in two Northern California counties as the state grapples with depleted water supplies after a dry winter. Wednesday’s announcement affects Mendocino and Sonoma counties, where grape growers and wineries are major users, but it could expand statewide. It comes as California is expected to face another devastating wildfire season and as about three-quarters of the American West is in what's called a megadrought. California officials say this is the fourth-driest year on record, especially in the northern two-thirds of the state. Farmers are pleading for Newsom to declare a statewide emergency, saying they need to be prioritized.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Jayden Perez is a former web producer and student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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