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KUNR Today: Cortez Masto calls out gas companies, Nevada using $500 million on affordable housing

A woman stands at a podium speaking. There is a Nevada State Democratic Party sign attached to the podium.
Daniel Clark
The Nevada Independent
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto speaks during the Nevada Democratic Party election night event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Nov. 6, 2018.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Friday, March 11, 2022.

Nevada using $500 million in federal funds for affordable housing
By Gustavo Sagrero

Affordable housing in the Mountain West has become increasingly inaccessible for people living there. Because of this, Nevada will carve out $500 million from federal pandemic relief funds to build in the state.

Governor Steve Sisolak had a voice of urgency as he laid out how the state will work with private, federal and local groups to get this plan going.

“We’ve got folks that so desperately need and deserve a nice place to live, and we’re really thrilled we can provide it and do more,” Sisolak said.

Nevada has two years from now to commit this money to projects and four years from now to use it by then. That’s a tight turnaround for $500 million worth of affordable housing, according to Stephen Aichroth, administrator for the Nevada Housing Division. Before all that, it’ll have to get final approval at the state legislature over the next few months.

A recent report by the University of Nevada shows the Reno-Sparks region needs nearly 6,000 housing units for people to work in the area. The report also shows the average wage of roughly $60,000 isn’t enough.

Sen. Cortez Masto calls out oil and gas companies for putting profits over consumers 
By Kaleb Roedel

Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is calling out oil and gas companies. She says it’s for putting profits over people feeling pain at the pump. At a Senate hearing Thursday, Masto said the industry has more than 9,000 approved permits to drill in the U.S. that have not been used.

“Major oil companies in the United States have said that they would rather use their earnings from higher prices to boost payouts to shareholders and expand their operations slowly, rather than rush to drill new — or develop existing — wells,” Cortez Masto said.

For the last decade, U.S. oil producers have been consistently drilling as much as they could. That’s kept supply high and prices low. Now, oil investors are pushing for companies to keep their production down and focus on profits.

Nevada’s average gas price sits at a record-high $4.77 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. The national average is a little more than $4 a gallon.

Report: Nevada ranks last in the nation in mental health
By Kaleb Roedel

Nevada is last in the nation in overall mental health rankings, according to a recent report published by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

It shows that nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness have not gotten treatment for it, and 65% of the state’s youth who’ve had a major depressive disorder have not received services.

The data focuses on how many people have mental health or substance use issues, access to adequate insurance, and access to mental health care.

Nevada virus response shifts from emergency to more routine
By The Associated Press

The next phase of Nevada’s COVID-19 response will focus less on everyday cases and more on those most vulnerable. The state will also put more focus on hospital staff shortages exacerbated by an influx of patients who put off treatment during the pandemic. New infections and hospitalizations are falling to their lowest levels since last June.

State health officials said Thursday they’re changing the way they collect and report coronavirus data as the state “moves from a public health emergency to routine disease surveillance efforts.” The changes include a move from daily to weekly reporting of statistics. Nevada’s new case average has fallen to 135, down from a January peak of 5,908.

Colorado bill would create an office for relatives of missing and murdered Indigenous women
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Advocates are cheering a Colorado bill that would create an office for missing and murdered Indigenous relatives. It would put the state in the company of several others in our region.

A look at the numbers explains the urgency. Federal data show more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime. More than half have endured sexual violence. Meanwhile, Indigenous women and girls face murder rates 10 times the national average.

The office would work across jurisdictions and provide support to affected families. Democratic State Senator Jessie Danielson co-sponsored the bill.

“We looked at states like Wyoming and others that had established offices or task forces. Because the states in the Mountain West region that have already tried to work on the issue, I figured we could learn from what they’ve done,” Danielson said.

If the bill passes in the state legislature, Colorado would join Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, along with multiple states nationwide.

Reno airport to start flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul in September 
By Kaleb Roedel

The Biggest Little City is getting a new flight to the Twin Cities this fall. That’s when Sun Country Airlines will start non-stop flights between Reno-Tahoe International Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The new route will run twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays.

Sun Country is also adding new flights from Las Vegas to Green Bay and Madison, Wisconsin.

Reno-Tahoe sees visitor numbers continue to climb in 2022 
By Kaleb Roedel

Reno-Tahoe started the year strong when it comes to attracting visitors. In January, Washoe County hotels and resorts collected nearly $28 million in taxable room revenue. That’s up 33% compared to January of last year. It was also the second-most room tax revenue the county has ever seen in the month of January.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

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