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KUNR Today: Extreme Fire Season Expected In Mountain West, Some Progressive Bills Die In Legislature

An image of Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro.
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro speaks with the media inside the Legislature on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Carson City, Nev.

Here are your morning news headlines for Monday, May 17, 2021.

Extreme Fire Season Expected Across Mountain West
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

All signs are pointing to an extreme fire season across the region this year. The Mountain West is facing a number of water shortages, according to Boise State University professor Moji Sadegh.

“We are down on river flows, we are down on dam storage, we are down on soil moisture. It’s hotter. Everything is converging,” Sadegh said.

Unfortunately, he says the hotter it is, the dryer it gets, and things can deteriorate quickly. In the last few weeks, our region has been drying up rapidly. Now, a whopping 84% of the West is in a drought.

Sadegh said the best case scenario is if people are extraordinarily cautious this year, especially around campfires and fireworks. He said more than 80% of wildfire ignitions are caused by humans.

“So, we should all be very careful...so that we do not turn a bad situation into a disaster,” Sadegh said.

The U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior have already called for preparations for the upcoming season.

Progressive Bills Stall In Nevada; Activists Disappointed
By The Associated Press

Democratic Party-aligned groups and activists rebuked leaders from their own party Friday after proposals they championed did not make it past a key legislative deadline. Proposals to limit police use of force, crack down on housing discrimination and ban law enforcement agencies from using ticket and arrest quotas passed through the Nevada Legislature on Friday. Efforts to limit when the death penalty can be sought and when landlords can take tenants’ security deposits and charge late fees stalled amid heated opposition. Democratic lawmakers noted that significant reforms remained under consideration, while progressive activists said they were disheartened that key proposals were no longer under consideration.

Nevada DMV To Stop Collecting Technology Fee
By Paul Boger

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles will stop collecting a $1 technology fee after the state Supreme Court determined the money was collected unconstitutionally. In a press release, the department announced it will stop collecting the fee as soon as possible.

The court ruled the fee unconstitutional after lawmakers erroneously tried to extend fee collections past their initial termination date. Department officials say they have not established a timeline to refund the fees to taxpayers.

Latinos Want Vaccines But Face Additional Hurdles
By Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Many unvaccinated Hispanic Americans are eager to get the COVID-19 shot, according to a new survey, but that community faces barriers.

About one-third of unvaccinated Hispanic respondents want to get vaccinated as soon as possible, compared to about 16% of non-Hispanic white and Black respondents. The survey comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Those results point to an opportunity for our region’s public health officials.

Gabriel Sanchez heads up the Center for Social Policy at the University of New Mexico. He said one thing that can be a barrier is being asked to provide an ID or social security number to get vaccinated.

"Unfortunately, given the anti-immigrant policy climate that Latinos have been living in over the last decade, there’s a lot of fears about that. 'Will I lose access to public benefits? Can I face deportation or anybody in my family?' " Sanchez said.

The survey found that half of Hispanic respondents didn’t know the shot is available and free to all adults, even those who are undocumented or lack health insurance. Sanchez said health departments and doctors should be filling that information gap with information and resources in Spanish.

In Nevada, 23% of Hispanic residents have received at least one dose, compared to 46% of non-Hispanic whites. That’s a much smaller gap than the national average.

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.
Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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