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KUNR Today: Nevada Lawmakers Approve Agency Budgets, Brothels Back In Business

An image of Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus speaking to Assembly Majority Leader Jason Frierson
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus speaks to Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson inside the Legislature on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Carson City, Nev.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Monday, May 3, 2021.

Nevada Lawmakers OK Budgets, Prep For End-Of-Session Sprint
By The Associated Press

Nevada lawmakers have voted to approve the budgets for numerous state agencies. They funded new positions in the Colorado River Commission and the state public health department, which plans to create a new Office of Data Analytics. The early morning finance committee meeting was the first time in the 2021 legislative session that lawmakers convened over the weekend. With only a month left until the part-time Legislature adjourns, it marked the beginning of a final sprint during which lawmakers will make final changes to the state budget and vote to change state law.

Governor To Have Nevada COVID-19 Task Force Step Back June 1
By The Associated Press

The coronavirus task force that Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed a year ago to handle the state's pandemic response will stop meeting regularly after June 1. That's the date the Democratic governor has set for lifting coronavirus mitigation restrictions except mask mandates statewide. Sisolak said Friday that Caleb Cage also will step down as COVID-19 response director and return to the Nevada System of Higher Education with a promotion to vice chancellor of workforce development and chief innovation officer. Sisolak said the pandemic isn't over, but state response efforts will focus on mass vaccination of state residents.

Nevada Tribes Calling For Federal Help To Address Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women
By Noah Glick

Tribal communities across the country have been facing a crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Many are working on the issue in Nevada, but challenges remain.

Savannah's Act was signed into law in 2020 by then-President Donald Trump. The law is designed to improve coordination between the federal government and tribal governments. Ultimately, it would keep track of women and girls who go missing in a centralized database.

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada co-sponsored the bill.

“We do not have specific data because the way that we capture the data doesn’t necessarily identify them as a Native woman or girl, and that is part of the challenge and why we need this database,” Cortez Masto said last week in a roundtable with Nevada tribes, but there’s another issue getting in the way: trust.

Walker River Paiute Tribe Chairman Amber Torres says there hasn’t been enough funding from the U.S. government over time to support the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA, which oversees issues on tribes. She adds consultations only go so far.

"Consultation can just be check-marking some boxes. That’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for action, justice for our people, and so, again, making sure that we have the adequate funding because you’re talking about one special investigator at the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] level, 27 tribes in Nevada, unacceptable," she said.

Torres said there is some hope, with the recent appointment of Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, to lead the Department of Interior, but she says there is still much work left to do.

Low Lumber Supply Keeping Housing Prices High
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

In several parts of our region, housing prices just keep going up, and the latest sign that they probably won’t slow down anytime soon is the cost of lumber. Demand for lumber is way up these days - and the supply is low, so the price is high. Why that’s happening now is more complicated, but has a lot to do with the pandemic.

"A lot of people were staying at home, they were going to do remodeling projects--new decks, new fences," said Todd Morgan, with the University of Montana.

Plus, Morgan said transporting lumber got more complicated during the pandemic, but even before that, tariffs and a mountain pine beetle kill in Canada slowed down lumber imports, which at one point supplied a third of the lumber in the U.S.

Morgan said prices are expected to come down, but estimates for that have ranged from one year to as long as three years. In the meantime, one other supply issue in the Mountain West is likely to keep housing prices high.

"Land. They quit making land a long time ago. We're still making lumber," he said.

Drones Drop Pine Seed, Soil Over Forests Ravaged By Fire
By The Associated Press

Conservationists on the California-Nevada border are experimenting with a new way to try to revive forests devastated by wildfires: by using drones to rain balls of nutrients, soil and pine seeds over the ravaged landscapes. Teams working on the project told the Reno Gazette Journal they hope it will prove to be an easier alternative to replanting by hand in order to replenish steep, remote and hard to reach areas that burn. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest partnered with the groups Flying Forests, the Desert Research Institute and the Sugar Pine Foundation on the project.

Legal Brothels Reopen In Nevada
By KUNR Staff

As counties were given the green light to loosen COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend, many businesses across the state began to reopen, including legal brothels. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that sex workers have adjusted to COVID-19 safety protocols, including the state mask mandate. During the pandemic, many had moved to social media. The newspaper reported that not all brothels across the state have opened.

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