80°F
weather icon Clear

Nevada lawmakers OK $8M in coronavirus relief

Updated April 7, 2020 - 3:27 pm

Nevada lawmakers on Tuesday approved more than $8 million in funds to help the state handle medical and economic threats posed by the new coronavirus.

The Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee, which met by videoconference, unanimously approved $6.25 million in emergency relief funds that will go toward helping the state purchase and distribute personal protection equipment for health care workers and COVID-19 testing kits.

The committee also approved $2 million in settlement funds that will go toward helping Nevadans who can’t pay their rent avoid eviction amid the unprecedented economic fallout caused by COVID-19.

But the proposal drew criticism from some Republican lawmakers who questioned where the money was going and expressed concern about distributing that money when the state is facing significant budget cuts itself.

Eviction moratorium

With hundreds of thousands of Nevadans out of work due to the shutdown of casinos and nonessential businesses last month, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a moratorium on evictions in Nevada, meaning people cannot be kicked out of their homes or apartments for missing their rent payments.

But the directive doesn’t absolve those people from paying that missed rent, and the state is likely to see a spike in evictions once the governor’s directive is eventually lifted, said Jessica Adair, chief of staff to Attorney General Aaron Ford.

The $2 million will come from funds Nevada received as part of a 2018 settlement with Wells Fargo, and goes to the United Way of Southern Nevada and United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

The money could be used to help pay for back rent for struggling families or for a security deposit and first month’s rent through the United Way, Adair said.

“I think that this funding will relieve a lot of anxiety that people are feeling right now,” Adair said.

No votes

Four Republicans voted against the rental assistance money — Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, Assembly Republican Leader Robin Titus, R-Wellington, and Assemblymen Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, and Al Kramer, R-Carson City.

Kieckhefer noted the potential $680 million in state agency budget cuts that Sisolak told state agency directors last week to start preparing for in the wake of the economic standstill created by the coronavirus.

“Now is not a good time to be using these state resources for something that is not a state program,” Kieckhefer said.

Wheeler said he was concerned that the United Way’s Southern Nevada branch was receiving 80 percent of the funds. Wheeler said Southern Nevada should get closer to two-thirds, or around 67 percent, of the funding, which he said was closer to the population distribution of the state.

Clark County’s roughly 2.2 million residents make up about 74 percent of the state’s total population, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea said he supported the move because the United Way will be able to get the money to the people in need faster than the state.

“There are going to be some places we won’t be able to access,” Goicoechea said. “I believe they can get them to the ground in the next 60 days that we might be missing otherwise.”

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, echoed Goicoechea’s comments about the need to get the money into the hands of Nevadans sooner rather than later.

“We are in the pandemic right now; this is ground zero,” Frierson said. “I’m saddened that we could possibly reduce this conversation to something about regions and balance when it’s really about where the problems are and getting the money there as fast as we possibly can.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation - VIDEO
The former senate aide claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator. Biden first denied the accusations via a public post on Medium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RJ interview with Sisolak on the reopening plan for Nevada - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on the plan for reopening Nevada during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak reacts to Goodman CNN interview- VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman repeated her call to immediately reopen businesses during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, leading to a reaction from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak praises Nevadans for staying at home, saving lives - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it’s still too early to know when the state’s COVID-19 shutdown orders could be lifted or when businesses could start to reopen their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump gives governors 3-phase approach to open US - VIDEO
President Donald Trump declared victory in America’s war against the “invisible enemy” as the president’s Coronavirus Task Force released “Opening up America Again” guidelines. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump names Jacky Rosen to task force on reopening economy - VIDEO
President Donald Trump named Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to be a member of his Opening Up America Again Congressional Group Thursday to advise him on coronavirus policy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president - VIDEO
On April 13, former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his official endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders drops out of 2020 Democratic race for president - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont officially announced an end to his 2020 presidential bid on Wednesday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic National Convention postponed - VIDEO
The Democratic National Convention was set to take place over four days in the middle of July. Democratic officials have now confirmed the convention will take place the week of Aug. 17. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus package - VIDEO
President Trump signed a bill providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreaK, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Cortez Masto shows support for Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto shows her support for senior state District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench in Nevada. (Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto)
Sen. Rosen supports Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen shows her support for Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench. (Sen. Jacky Rosen)
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews resigns following series of controversies - VIDEO
The "Hardball" host announced his departure Monday night, March 2, 2020, effective immediately. The anchor recently came under fire for comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucasus to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Candidates file for office in Clark County - VIDEO
Amy Klobuchar drops out of 2020 presidential race - VIDEO
On March 2, campaign officials announced Amy Klobuchar’s decision to suspend her presidential bid. The news comes on the eve of Super Tuesday and just one day after Pete Buttigieg also announced his decision to depart from the race. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Activist shouts warnings at Nevada Democratic chairman's home - VIDEO
A Southern California activist and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders spent nearly an hour shouting warnings and condemnations of the Democratic Party through a megaphone at the home of Nevada Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II on the eve of last week’s presidential caucuses, prompting him to call the police. (Maria Estrada)
THE LATEST