Vote Nevada Supporters,
NPR has a very useful data page with current information on the number of people vaccinated. The latest reports set the vaccinations per day at around 2.3 million, which is good and will hopefully get even better:
If you are interested in some long-form journalism on current and recent events, PBS Frontline offers hundreds of free documentaries on a wide range of topics: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/
On the legislative front, tomorrow, March 15th, is the deadline for legislator bill draft requests (BDRs) to be submitted as bills. After tomorrow, unless a BDR has a deadline exemption, it is dead for this session. There are quite a few BRDs still remaining, so, I would normally recommend identifying BDR ideas that we can prioritize for discussions over the interim and possible bills in 2023. But we are in a crisis and there are many issues that need to be addressed now, not just kicked down the road.
So, we need to brainstorm some strategies for tackling these issues in other ways through other levels of government. Please send me your ideas if you have been thinking about this problem too.
One topic that is very much alive is universal access to broadband internet service. Almost every issue being discussed this session includes a recommendation to improve access to internet service. Right now, Nevadans who lack internet access are cut off from telehealth, remote learning, online training, safe shopping, and even basic connections with family and friends.
Nancy Brune, Executive Director of the Guinn Center, makes a good case for universal broadband internet access in her Nevada Independent op ed today: https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/helping-nevada-women-power-ahead
I am also conversing with a co-founder of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance about the possibility of using grant funding to ensure our remote Native American reservations will be connected. https://www.digitalinclusion.org/
On the mental health front, assembly bill ACR5, which creates an interim study of behavioral and mental health workforce development has a hearing on March 18th at 4 pm in the Assembly Legislative Elections and Operations Committee. You can submit an opinion and written comments through the Opinion and Participate buttons on this page: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021/Bill/7662/Meetings
I am asking the committee to not only pass this resolution, but also to please put on the record the dire need to increase our number of mental health professionals in every category. We are all hearing about and even experiencing what is now being called the mental health pandemic, which will continue long after we have defeated the virus.
So, while a legislative study next year is helpful, we must start moving this work along by letting our Board of Regents know that higher education should start examining this component of workforce development now.
If you would like to start communicating with any or all of the Regents on behavioral and mental health workforce development, you can find their contact information here: https://nshe.nevada.edu/leadership-policy/board-of-regents/
After reading Dr. Brune’s op ed, I have decided to slightly tweak the topic for our March 27th community meeting. Previously, the topic was limited to inclusive workforce development, but now I would like to expand the topic to include inclusive small business development. If you would like to join this conversation, please RSVP here:
Our redistricting commission amendment sponsored by Senator Kieckhefer is still sitting as a BDR, so it is possible that the legislative leadership has decided to once again not even allow a public debate on the topic. Whether we get a hearing or not, here is the Vote Nevada plan to prepare for redistricting:
We will soon host a Zoom meeting to review the amendment and to start planning to run three simultaneous mock redistricting sessions in July and August. In June we will create three redistricting teams that will replicate the map drawing process as outlined in our redistricting commission amendment, with roles for both mock commissioners and members of the public.
Each team will staff its commission per the amendment’s process and the mock commission will interact with the team’s members of the public to draw actual maps.
After these mock redistricting sessions are finished, we will convene a community meeting to look at the outcomes and any issues with the map drawing process. All meetings will happen virtually to ensure every Nevadan can participate.
The Census Bureau has tentatively scheduled the release of state data on September 30th, so we can expect a special session for redistricting in October or November. Due to our mock redistricting sessions over the summer, we will have a large group of people ready to engage in the redistricting process to ensure our maps are fair. To help with technical and legal questions, Vote Nevada has partnered with the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. https://gerrymander.princeton.edu/
After the official maps are drawn, possibly litigated, and then approved, Vote Nevada will work with Fair Maps Nevada to refile the original redistricting commission amendment. We are spending the next seven months gathering a list of ballot petition signers who will commit to signing our ballot question petition as soon as we clear the fifteen-day legal challenge period.
We hope to have enough signers banked in our database to allow us to qualify our ballot question within two weeks. This will keep the cost to run the amendment low due to not having to pay to gather signatures and due to being able to show a judge that the petition is already qualified if someone tries to once again silence us through frivolous court proceedings.
If you are interested in reading the amendment and possibly joining our signers database, here is the amendment https://www.nvsos.gov/sos/home/showdocument?id=8106, here are resources that explain our amendment https://vote-nevada-blog.org/redistricting-resources/, and here is the form for joining the signers database https://forms.gle/4eT17UA4esxEDvYe8.
Lastly, our April 24th Earth Day meeting will focus on birds, which are literally the canary in the coal mine. Bird behavior tells us when something is wrong; and when hundreds of birds starve to death in New Mexico, something is very wrong. We have invited ornithologist Dr. Martha Desmond from New Mexico State University to chat with us about what happened in New Mexico and what this bird die-off can tell us about climate change. https://www.lascrucesbulletin.com/stories/nmsu-researcher-warns-massive-bird-die-off-is-an-alarm,4897
We will also hear from the Red Rock Audubon Society about local birding opportunities.
You can RSVP for that meeting here: https://actionnetwork.org/events/vote-nevada-why-are-the-birds-starving/
Thanks for being a Nevadan with me!
Vote Nevada is an advocacy engine coupled with a grassroots think tank. While we offer familiar civics education and engagement activities, we also provide a creative edge for developing solutions for persistent civic issues.