KUNR Today: Nevada Prepares For Federal Pandemic Funds, Mining Ban Considered To Protect Sage Grouse | KUNR

KUNR Today: Nevada Prepares For Federal Pandemic Funds, Mining Ban Considered To Protect Sage Grouse

May 12, 2021

Here are your local morning news headlines for Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

Democrat Joins Nevada Secretary Of State Race
By Paul Boger

An ex-staffer for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is looking to become Nevada’s next Secretary of State. Democrat Cisco Aguilar announced his candidacy Tuesday.

The Las Vegas attorney previously represented the Nevada System of Higher Education, Nevada Athletic Commission as well as several prominent athletes. So far, Aguilar is the only Democrat to declare a run.

Former Assemblyman Jim Marchant and Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir have announced their intent to run for the Republican nomination.

Whoever wins will replace Republican Barbara Cegavske who has come under fire from groups alleging fraud in the 2020 general election despite all evidence to the contrary. Cegavske is termed out and ineligible to run for reelection.

Conservative Group Alleging Voter Fraud Drops Lawsuit
By KUNR Staff

A conservative group alleging Nevada’s Secretary of State failed to do her job during the 2020 election has dropped its latest lawsuit. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the suit filed by several former elected Republicans claimed vote totals were diluted by ballots cast by noncitizens.

The lawsuit aimed to push Secretary Barbara Cegavske to remove noncitizens from the state’s voter rolls, which is something her office already does.

The state previously asked a Carson City judge to drop the case in February, citing a lack of evidence.

Nevada To Receive $2.7B In Federal Pandemic Aid
By The Associated Press

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and state lawmakers are preparing to distribute $2.7 billion in pandemic relief after the U.S. Treasury Department released guidelines about President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package.
 

State and local governments will be allowed to use their shares of the relief dollars on public health, to backfill some revenue shortfalls and for relief programs for businesses and at-risk populations. State officials also expect to receive billions more in funds specifically designated for local governments, schools and other infrastructure.
 

The funding will allow Nevada to avoid painful budget cuts but could provoke battles over how to best spend it.

U.S. Treasury Department Announces Allocation Formula For Tribal Aid
By Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

The latest coronavirus relief package includes $20 billion for tribal governments. On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the highly anticipated allocation formula for that money.

The Department will use self-reported tribal citizenship and employment numbers to divide up the funding.

Gabe Aguilar is President of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in southern New Mexico. He said his tribe plans to spend the aid on a housing project.

"What we realized during the pandemic is we have quite a bit of families where they’re just overcrowded. The reason we found out is one got COVID, all of them got COVID," he said.

Aguilar was hoping the size of each tribe’s land base would be factored into the allocation formula, but he said it does a good job balancing competing tribal interests.

Some tribes could receive funding as soon as this week.

Mining Ban Considered To Protect Bird Species In US West
By The Associated Press

The Biden administration says it is considering a ban on new mining on large expanses of public lands in Western states to protect a struggling bird species, the greater sage grouse.
 

The Interior Department review announced Tuesday will cover millions of acres of land and comes in response to a February court order. A temporary ban on mining was imposed under former President Barack Obama but dropped by the Trump administration.
 

The affected lands were in Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. The wide-ranging, chicken-sized sage grouse has lost territory to human development and wildfires, and its population plummeted in recent decades.

Head Of Washoe County Health District Supports Vaccine Requirements For Students
By KUNR Staff

Washoe County’s top public health official said he supports COVID-19 vaccination requirements before students can return to school this fall. According to KRNV, Washoe County Health Officer Kevin Dick said it’s a way to protect students and staff from the coronavirus.

School officials said they’ll support the health district’s recommendation on the matter.

The Nevada System of Higher Education also recently announced plans to draft a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students returning this fall.

Sparks Police Officer Suspended For Tweets Seeks $1 Million
By The Associated Press

A Sparks police officer is seeking $1 million in damages after he was suspended for four days for making comments on his private social media account that the city says constituted threats to Black Lives Matters’ activists and others.
 

The City Council voted Monday to hire independent counsel to defend the city against the lawsuit filed last month by George Forbush. The lawsuit says the city violated his constitutional right to free speech when it punished him because of views expressed on his personal social media.
 

One of his posts last summer said he planned to “build a couple AR pistols just for BLM, Antifa or active shooters who cross my path and can’t maintain social distancing.”