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Where do we go from here? By Mary Lau

Under previous circumstances, this article would be about the successful candidates that have moved from the primary ballot to the general election. In consideration of social distancing, and COVID 19 related measures outlined by Governor Sisolak, Nevada conducted its first mail in ballot primary. There were a few locations where voters could drop off ballots on election day.

In a conversation with Bryan Wachter, RAN’s Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs, we discussed the great challenges of this election regarding ballot counting processes. Previous elections had hundreds of volunteers; this election utilized only election department staff, and they were required to verify signatures, compare them to voter rolls, and then tabulate outcomes as they always have. This is an exacting process that has received both praise and concern from various parties.

So, for now, no one can tell you how the election actually turned out. That will have to wait until at least June 19th. At this point there are trends but not any permanent determinations in who won or lost. Stay tuned for our RAN Express Lane for the “final, final” regarding primary election outcomes.

Another change in normal circumstances is the ever-fluctuating economic status of Nevada’s budget. Governor Sisolak has asked his administrators to prepare deeper budget cuts for his consideration. This in light of special interests who are advocating for no budget cuts or increased taxes. Clearly, our elected leaders – both federal, state, and local – would rather be dealing with business as usual instead of this perfect economic storm in which we currently find ourselves.

In watching the Economic Forum, it was apparent that fiscal staff and other reporting departments, are used to compiling numbers once they have been received and verified, then trying to develop an educated guess on the direction of our economy. This particular meeting had none of the forecasting expertise required for that determination; nor do I think the Economic Forum can use that kind of information. The Forum is required to set the amount of money available for the elected officials use in budgeting for the State of Nevada, and it cannot really make that determination with too much modeling verses hard dollars.

This dynamic exacerbates the difficulties facing both the Governor and legislative leadership in working on an agenda for the upcoming special sessions. We still need to have a budget discussion and we were also looking at possible business issues too. Those issues were largely centered around operations and the reality of COVID-19.

Now the legislature is also going to have to continue conversations regarding judicial and police reform earlier than the planned 2021 Legislative Session discussion. Regardless of how people feel about this topic, it is imperative we address them. It is important we implement reforms while at the same time putting in place some mechanism for ongoing discussion. I do not anticipate that Nevada will charge headstrong into this wave at this time, there were already discussions taking place on these issues during 2017 and 2019, but I do look for some change, and ultimately some guidance as to the direction that serves all communities of interest, and, at the same time, not destroy our law and order system along the way.

When RAN knows where we are going regarding all these issues, so will you. We are living in a rapidly changing world. Stay informed please.