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Nevada panel parcels out $1B-plus in federal pandemic aid

CARSON CITY — The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Wednesday approved allocations of more than $1 billion in federal pandemic relief assistance, including outlays for unemployment, education, public health, restoring job cuts and other uses authorized under the $2.7 billion Nevada received in American Rescue Plan funding.

The state also has transferred about $1.1 billion in federal pandemic aid to its general fund, with expenditures to be determined by the Legislature, committee members were told.

Approved in May, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan allocated $350 billion to state and local governments to cover the costs of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic in the areas of public health, economic impacts, lost public-sector revenue, pay for essential workers and infrastructure investments.

Besides the state’s share, local governments and school systems in Nevada received separate allocations, including $440 million to Clark County, $130 million to Las Vegas, $46 million to North Las Vegas and $37 million to Henderson. Nevada schools got $1.1 billion, and 13 Nevada localities with fewer than 50,000 residents shared $150.7 million, allocated according to population, with Nye County pegged to receive over $9 million, according to information given during an Aug. 4 meeting of the county commission in Nye.

Combined with the first round of aid provided under the earlier CARES Act, Nevada has received some $7 billion in federal pandemic aid. The state continues to seek public input on uses for the latest round of funding according to its recovery framework plan.

The funding allocated Wednesday, some of it according to legislation adopted in the 2021 session, includes $335 million to replenish the state’s unemployment compensation fund; $218 million in support grants to more than 9,000 licensed or registered child care providers; $200 million to public schools to address pandemic-caused learning loss; $66.3 million to restore nearly 800 positions in state government and higher education slated to be cut because of pandemic revenue losses; $54 million to upgrade the state’s unemployment information system; and $53.5 million to the state Public Charter School Authority for pandemic-related disruptions.

The balance of approved allocations included additional outlays for specific education programs; measures to address greater mental health needs arising from the pandemic; programs and services for the elderly, needy families, and veterans; and child abuse prevention programs, among other social services.

The committee, comprising the Legislature’s Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committee members, approved all the pandemic aid allocations unanimously.

In other business, it tabled action on the Department of Motor Vehicles’ plan to repay $6 million due to motorists for a wrongly assessed $1 technology fee added to DMV transactions. Courts ruled legislation passed in 2019 that extended the fee past its sunset date was unconstitutional. The DMV’s plan for making good on the reimbursements requires fine-tuning, committee members said in postponing action.

The committee also approved approximately $11 million in funding to help stand up operations related to the licensing and regulation of cannabis consumption lounges, a measure approved by the Legislature this year. The first such lounges could start operating in the first half of 2022, Cannabis Compliance Board Executive Director Tyler Klimas told the committee.

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