Vote Nevada Pre-Legislative Update: Pandemic Conditions Call for Unconventional Strategies

Vote Nevada Supporter:

If you remember the painfully slow recovery after the Great Recession, what we are hearing now about the upcoming legislative session sounds very familiar.  Legislative leadership has announced that due to the pandemic-caused revenue collapse to not expect bills with fiscal notes or any “heavy lift” policy reforms. 

For me and I am sure for some of you, this message triggers the usual frustration that comes with the snail’s pace of reform inherent in our normal biennial legislative sessions, while also compounding a COVID sense of panic as we face 120 days of bad news.

We must do something to help our most vulnerable community members who simply have no time left to waste.  Doing nothing is simply not an option, but what options are available?  

We can certainly track and advocate for all bills that specifically address our issues this legislative session.  To not lose time, however, we must also break down what we would like to accomplish into smaller, individual components and identify all bills that advance any part of our outcomes.  This will require a deeper than usual analysis of legislation as we search for individual trees in a very crowded forest; but if we are determined to make progress, reading every word of every bill is a necessary strategy.

If we engage in this way, determination will hopefully lead to collective creativity.  By identifying our desired outcomes down to their very essence, we may also find alternative modes of transmission to arrive at those outcomes. 

We could possibly overcome our dilemma by finding news methods for traveling from point A to point B.  Legislative bills might be the most efficient method, yet they are not the only means to get from here to there; we have a wide range of public agencies, governing boards, commissions, councils, and private organizations that could also help.

For instance, we desperately need more mental health and social services available for children, especially now under distance learning conditions.  A natural reaction would be, “We do not have funding to address this very real problem.”  Well, do any other governing bodies or agencies already have capacity to address this issue?  Is Nevada’s Health and Human Services agency already gathering data?  Are Nevada’s school districts, county commissions, or city governments looking at solutions?

Are there other ways to pay for these services?  What about Medicaid, federal grants, and private money?

We do have a free community college plan, it is the Nevada Promise program, which ties the federal Pell Grant to community college tuition rates.  But we need to ensure more of our students know about the Nevada Promise program and careers in behavioral and mental health. 

Our Nevada System of Higher Education Regents oversee the Nevada Promise program as well as workforce development initiatives.   So, possibly we could work with the Higher Education Regents, our school boards, and the State Board of Education, in addition to the legislature, to advance this mental health goal.

To make these types of strategies work, however, we will all need to put our heads together to share information.  To help kick things off, I have broken down our goals into components.  And I have added a new tab on our legislative tracking spreadsheet to include out-of-the-box ideas, resources, and pathways.

If you would like to contribute to the spreadsheet, please become a Vote Nevada supporter by emailing: info@vote-nevada.org

Vote Nevada is focusing on assisting anyone living under these conditions:

1.      Mental illness

2.      Domestic violence

3.      Addiction

4.      Homelessness

5.      Trafficking

To improve the well-being of those impacted by these conditions, we must address some root problems.  We can creatively craft solution opportunities for these root problems by weaving together programs and resources:

1.      Workforce development opportunities that include:

a.      Skills training, certificates, and degrees

b.      Access to the trades

c.      Completion timelines between one weekend to two years

d.      Stackable skills that allow trainees to start working quickly

e.      Access to financial aid and affordable higher education

2.      Holistic support services that include access to affordable and reliable:

a.      Housing

b.      Healthy food

c.      Broadband internet service

d.      Technology

e.      Transportation

f.       Childcare

g.      Health care

h.      Mental health care

3.      Advisers who can provide:

a.      Assistance in accessing programs and services

b.      Rapid guidance and answers to questions

4.      Connections to:

a.      Employers who hire based on training and degree completion

b.      Paid internships

c.      Mentoring

d.      Training for writing resumes

e.      Training in industry-specific communication

f.       Training in interviewing  

g.      Training in time management

h.      Assistance with a range of life skills

5.      Social recognition that includes:

a.      Competent and compassionate treatment

b.      The right to live without mortal fear

c.      Self-determination

6.      Legislative and governing decisions based on:

a.      Competent use of data

b.      Modern and easily accessible databases

c.      Identifying sources of collaboration

d.      Transparent implementation of laws and programs

e.      Assessment and evaluation opportunities

f.       Regular and transparent evaluations

g.      Public input per the Open Meeting Law

If you know any agencies and/or organizations already providing these resources or services, please add them to our Solutions Opportunities tab on the spreadsheet. 

We will get there together,

Sondra

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