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Commentary: Rural lawmakers focused on getting Nevada back to work

Commentary: Rural lawmakers focused on getting Nevada back to work

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Over the last month Nevada’s economy has been dealt a severe blow. Individuals face uncertainty and small businesses may not reopen once the shutdown ends. Everyone is feeling the pain of our current situation and the only way to avoid irreparable damage is to reopen our economy while adhering to strict health and safety protocols.

Businesses in rural Nevada are shutting down with no option to re-open when this is all over. Additionally, many ranchers, farmers, feedlots, and agricultural producers are having to destroy food because there has been a major disruption in the distribution chain. We must put people back to work. The logistics of food creation, distribution, and supply is extremely critical for our citizens.

Nevadans are greatly affected by this shutdown with filings for unemployment reaching a total of 330,174 this year, the most of any year in Nevada’s history. This coincides with an inability to process claims which affects the ability of Nevadans to financially survive this shutdown. Governor Sisolak even supported cutting 49 positions in Nevada’s Unemployment program. It is essential people get their unemployment claims processed quickly to make ends meet.

This week we learned Nevada will receive a smaller proportion of Small Business Administration loans relative to states of a similar size. Additionally, Democrats in the U.S. Senate have stalled a further small business stimulus package rather than continuing to fund the current program. This will have a disproportionate effect on locally owned small businesses and the people they employ.

While our economy has taken hit after hit, Governor Sisolak’s response has consisted of drastic one-size-fits-all shutdown orders. There has been a lack of communication with some counties and cities and members of the Legislature. Most notably Governor Sisolak has shown a complete disregard for the effects of the shutdown on the hospitality industry in Nevada. This information blackout has thrown many areas of our state into a paralysis of inaction as communities and businesses are unable to take proactive steps without a basic framework to plan for the reopening of the economy.

In contrast to Governor Sisolak’s handling of the current situation, the Trump Administration recently put forward a three-phase plan to reopen the American economy. Phase one allows for some businesses to reopen while practicing strict social distancing, phase two allows for more reopening with moderate social distancing, and in phase three most businesses can reopen with unrestricted staffing. Most importantly this plan recognizes urban and rural areas have been affected in different ways and each phase is designed to flexibly respond to the issues communities are facing. Previous phases can be reinstituted in case of a potential recurrence of the virus. Overall, it is a well-balanced and measured plan that should be adopted by Nevada.

During this time of crisis, failing to consider reopening the economy and refusing to communicate will only deepen the crisis Nevada is experiencing. We need a basic framework going forward so municipalities and businesses can begin to plan how to heal the economic damage which has been done so far. Senator Pete Goicoechea and I are working daily together to re-open businesses and our great state of Nevada.

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Assemblyman John Ellison represents Assembly District 33 and Sen. Pete Goicoechea represents Senate District 35.

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