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Lawmakers look into ‘green jobs’

CARSON CITY — Lawmakers questioned Wednesday how Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford’s “green jobs” initiative would keep running once federal stimulus dollars are gone, and also asked about rules in the plan for contractors who would train and employ Nevadans.

Senate Bill 152 would use federal stimulus funds to train an estimated 3,200 workers for about $3,500 each, and cover costs of weatherizing about 6,500 homes and making government buildings and schools more efficient. The bill aims to reduce greenhouse emissions, lower energy costs and create workers ready for the renewable energy industry.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, asked Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, how projects started under the initiative would be funded once stimulus dollars run out, and then what would happen to workers hired for projects created by the initiative.

“Does the state have to pick up the balance or do you just stop?” Cegavske said. “So you have new employees. What happens to those people when their job ends? They’re hired and we have to tell them when they come in it’s only for this amount of time?”

Horsford said the purpose of the program is job creation and economic recovery, and that the initiative is not meant to be ongoing.

Although he didn’t know what future money would be available once the “one-shot” stimulus funds are gone, Horsford said Nevadans would be in a favorable position because they would be trained for emerging careers in green job industries.

“If it’s a success and the new administration continues to have a priority around funding for weatherization, then we will have lost nothing because we at least positioned ourselves to be able to capitalize on that in the future,” Horsford said. “In the meantime, we can serve thousands of needy families and people who need jobs.”

Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said bill requirements that contractors must provide prevailing wages and health care to employees and their families might limit contractors who participate in the program to organized labor. But Horsford said nonunion contractors who handle public works projects would qualify under the bill.

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