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KUNR Today: Some Western states take up abortion bills, Tahoe granted $1 million to expand access

A tilt-shift view of South Lake Tahoe. A city is in focus from a distance, while a lake, trees and a mountainscape surround it.
Ryan O’Shea
Flickr Creative Commons
A view of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Friday, March 18, 2022.

Officials in Nevada county endorse hand count, paper ballots
By The Associated Press

Elected officials in a rural Nevada county say they want paper votes counted by hand during primary and general elections this year. But the person in charge of elections in Nye County said Wednesday it would be physically impossible to do that by the June 14 primaries.

Clerk Sandra Merlino told The Associated Press she’ll provide more information to the five Republican county commissioners who endorsed hand-counting. Nye County is the latest Nevada jurisdiction to join GOP lawmakers in several other electoral battleground states in moving toward banning electronic balloting and tallies.

Washoe County commissioners last month postponed acting on a similar proposal that would also post National Guard troops at voting sites.

Colorado, Idaho take up contrasting abortion bills
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Recent abortion bills in the region have captured national attention. Two Western states on either end of the spectrum exemplify a bigger battle.

Ahead of a Supreme Court decision with major implications for abortion rights, Western states have taken up the issue. Colorado state lawmakers recently approved a bill that enshrines the right to an abortion. In contrast, the Idaho Legislature has passed a six-week abortion ban that mirrors Texas’s law.

Elizabeth Nash is with the Guttmacher Institute, a research group advocating for reproductive rights.

“There’s been a real change in the legislatures in the West, and that does not bode well for abortion rights generally,” Nash said.

Nash says Western legislatures for decades hadn’t really focused on abortion restrictions, but that’s changed in the past five years. She says now, states like Wyoming, Montana and Utah come to the forefront when people think about abortion restrictions.

California lawmakers vote to make abortions cheaper
By The Associated Press

California lawmakers have voted to make abortions much cheaper for people on private health insurance plans. The Assembly voted on Thursday to ban private health plans from charging things like co-pays or deductibles for abortions.

The bill is headed for a Senate vote before heading to the governor’s desk. If signed into law, California would become the fourth state to ban these fees.

Democrats are trying to make it easier to get an abortion in California ahead of a potential U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer that could overturn Roe v. Wade. A bill would create a fund of public and private dollars to help people coming to California to get abortions.

Big new California reservoir on track for $2.2B federal loan
By The Associated Press

A long-delayed plan to build a giant lake in Northern California has gotten a big boost. The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday signaled its intent to loan the project nearly $2.2 billion. That would cover about half of the project’s total cost.

Officials with the agency promoting and overseeing the project called the loan a “game changer.” The project still must clear some regulatory processes, including an environmental review. That’s where it’s likely to face fierce opposition from environmental groups who say the project will divert too much water from the Sacramento River. Sites officials say the project will help the region withstand droughts.

Tahoe Conservancy grants $1 million to projects to expand access to Tahoe
By Kaleb Roedel

The California Tahoe Conservancy is giving $1 million in grants to help protect Lake Tahoe. The money will be used for projects that improve Lake Tahoe’s water quality and expand public access to its shores.

More than half of the grant is going to the City of South Lake Tahoe. The city plans to restore wetlands and build basins to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff. It also plans to improve and expand trails near the lake.

Sen. Cortez Masto introduces legislation to invest in police departments 
By Kaleb Roedel

Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has co-sponsored a bill to help fund small police departments across the country.

The Nevada lawmaker joined Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in introducing the so-called Invest to Protect Act. The bill would provide $250 million over the next five years. Only law enforcement agencies with fewer than 200 officers would be eligible. In Nevada, that includes every county police department except for Washoe and Clark counties. The funding would help agencies invest in recruitment, training and mental health support.

A similar bipartisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

Reno airport lands Spirit Airlines, new nonstop flight to Las Vegas
By Kaleb Roedel

Spirit Airlines will arrive at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in August. Spirit’s expansion to Northern Nevada will give the Reno airport a total of 13 airlines, which is the most ever in its history.

Spirit will bring two daily connections between Reno and Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

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.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

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