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KUNR Today: Nevada Lawmakers Unveil Eviction Protection Bill, DMV To Refund Computer Upgrade Fee

A stack of legislative bills being placed in cubbies.
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
A Senate sergeant-at-arms places copies of proposed legislation in the cubbies outside the chamber inside the Legislature on March 15 in Carson City, Nev.

Here are your local morning news headlines for Friday, May 21, 2021.

Nevada Lawmakers Unveil Eviction Protection Bill
By Paul Boger

Nevada lawmakers have unveiled a measure aimed at helping renters facing eviction for nonpayment.

Assembly Bill 486 requires courts to temporarily halt nonpayment evictions if the tenant has a pending application for rental assistance. It also gives tenants the ability to sue their landlords for wrongful eviction if they refuse to accept rental assistance. Supporters say the measure is aimed at preventing a slew of evictions once the state’s moratorium ends on June 30.

Nevada has received about $350 million in federal coronavirus relief funds earmarked for rental assistance; however, state officials say they have had difficulty reaching out and connecting with tenants who need help.

Nevada DMV: Fee For Troubled Computer Upgrade To Be Refunded
By The Associated Press

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles plans refunds to motorists and will instead ask lawmakers to tap state highway construction funds to pay for a troubled computer modernization program. A DMV spokesman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the project will proceed after the state Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a $1-per-transaction fee the Legislature authorized in 2020. The current Legislature has allocated almost $60 million through 2023 to complete the project, and spokesman Kevin Malone says lawmakers approved a contingency plan for the potential loss of some $14 million the DMV Technology Fee had been projected to bring in.

Sen. Cortez Masto Wants Funds Set Aside For Youth Mental Health Concerns
By Jayden Perez

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto says she wants a portion of Nevada’s federal coronavirus relief funds to support improving children’s mental health.

Cortez Masto made the comments during a discussion on childhood mental health Thursday. She said talking to students has revealed how the pandemic has only exacerbated many of the issues they were facing.

“I will tell you, every single one of them — I don’t care if it was a rural county or an urban county that we have — it was the same thing. [The] isolation, high anxiety, concerns about whether they were learning what they needed to do as some of them were getting ready to graduate and go to college. Many of them feeling that they couldn’t learn,” said Cortez Masto.

Cortez Masto went on to say districts should focus on making more counselors available to children in school.

Nevada is expected to receive roughly $1 billion in federal money earmarked specifically for education under the American Rescue Plan.

COVID-19 Infection Rates Continue To Drop In Rural America
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The number of new infections across rural America is at its lowest level since July of 2020, according to data from the nonprofit aggregator USA Facts.

In Toole County, Montana, for example, there’s only one documented active case of COVID-19, but at the same time, only about a third of all residents there are fully vaccinated. Toole County Public health officer Blair Tomsheck says people are washing their hands and social distancing, but she also has a hunch there are folks hiding the fact that they may have COVID–19.

“People are not being completely honest, and they aren’t being tested like they were in the beginning, and if they are sick, they are just trying to stay home and stay out of the public eye,” said Tomsheck.

There’s a lot of hesitancy in Toole County to get the vaccine, and Tomsheck’s team has been using Facebook to dispel myths. Her goal is to get at least 70% of all eligible people there vaccinated.

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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