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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
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Current location: Bryan, Texas
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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Anti-drug constitutional amendment clears Senate panel on party-line vote

BOISE — The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 6-2 along party lines Friday to approve SJR 101, an anti-drug constitutional amendment that would “lock in” Idaho’s current drug laws and forbid legalizing any additional psychoactive drugs in the future.

“This is an effort to keep Idaho Idaho,” Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, the lead sponsor of the measure, told the committee.

He said other states that have legalized drugs have brought about a “change in culture,” saying, “We don’t need to look far to see the evidence of this culture change. States around us … have not preserved their cultures. They were once where we are now.”

“Many of them are moving to Idaho because of the culture we maintain here,” Grow said.

Read more: https://www.postregister.com/news/local/anti-drug-constitutional-amendment-clears-senate-panel-on-party-line-vote/article_e9d61563-2501-500e-ba56-ac8081666e8f.html
(Idaho Falls Post Register)

Rural counties rebel against Sisolak orders

As COVID-19 continues to rage across the state, a growing number of rural counties in Nevada are pushing back against the state’s pandemic restrictions.

While the resolutions seek to override many of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directives relating to restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, the governor and Attorney General Aaron Ford, in a joint statement issued Friday night, called them “mere statements and nothing more,” and said that the counties’ actions have “no force of law.”

Lyon County on Thursday became the latest rural county to rebel against Sisolak’s emergency directives that put restrictions on businesses, with the county’s board of commissioners passing a resolution on a unanimous 5-0 vote that declared a state of economic emergency “due to COVID-19 gubernatorial-mandated regulations and orders.”

The resolution, which mirrors one passed by White Pine County in December, claims that the governor has implemented the restrictions without “meaningful input” from rural communities, which it claims violates their constitutional rights. Elko and Eureka counties have also passed resolutions that call on the governor to lift business and gathering restrictions on rural counties.

Read more: https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/nevada/rural-counties-rebel-against-sisolak-orders-2269360/

Las Vegas man arrested after Capitol riots: Time for people to 'rise and stand up'

One of two men arrested Thursday in the Las Vegas area in connection with the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capital took to social media in the weeks leading up to the incident to encourage others to join in.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday by the FBI, Ronald Sandlin wrote on Facebook that “if you are a patriot I believe it’s your duty to be there. I see it as my civic responsibility.”

Las Vegas resident Nathaniel J. DeGrave, 31, and Sandlin were arrested together Thursday at DeGrave’s Las Vegas apartment.

The criminal complaint, which includes images of the men rioting, accuses DeGrave with “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.”

Read more: https://lasvegassun.com/news/2021/jan/29/las-vegas-man-arrested-after-capitol-riots-time-fo/

FBI Criminal Complaint Document
Nathan DeGrave from Las Vegas is observed in this video grab wearing black tactical gear, including what appears to be body armor, a helmet, and a mask/face shield during a protest in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

Sisolak, aiming to grow energy industry, tours UNLV lab

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday toured a UNLV lab researching technology that could allow for the transmission of electricity over long distances, something the Democratic governor said could potentially grow Nevada’s energy industry.

Sisolak's visit Friday followed his pledge in his State of the State speech earlier this month to diversify Nevada's tourist-reliant economy.

UNLV physicist Ashkan Salamat led Sisolak on a lab tour and explained his landmark research on a room-temperature superconductor, technology that would allow electrical current to flow from one point to another across a long distance without energy loss that currently occurs in the electrical grid.

The technology has been hailed as a breakthrough that theoretically could open the door years from now for a solar farm in Nevada to power cities on the East Coast.

Read more: https://lasvegassun.com/news/2021/jan/29/sisolak-aiming-to-grow-energy-industry-tours-unlv/

Thunderdome won't attend Burning Man 2021, if it happens. Others might.

The Thunderdome Death Guild, the gothic desert gang best known for its friendly human fighting cage, is tapping out of Burning Man 2021, if it happens.

The Guild since 1999 has annually erected a raucous battleground where friends and foes can swing from the ceiling of a massive steel cage and beat each other with foam clubs as Burners roar above blasting punk and metal tracks.

Yet the popular attraction, based on a scene from the 1985 movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, will not be showing up this year, no matter the Burning Man Project's decision, the Guild said in a Facebook statement Wednesday.

"We care a lot about each other, other people, and our impact on the world. Because we have a lot of very thoughtful people in camp, despite the immediate desire to 'do that thing we do' and to see each other, it is not a complicated choice to say, 'No, we will not do the thing,'" said Marisa Lenhardt Patton, camp lead of the Death Guild, the camp that hosts Thunderdome.

Read more: https://www.rgj.com/story/life/arts/burning-man/2021/01/29/thunderdome-not-apart-burning-man-2021-if-happens/4297280001/
(Reno Gazette Journal)

Proposed state employee health insurance cuts leads to state workers pushback

Amid a slew of cuts attempting to mitigate projected budget shortfalls in a state largely dependent on tourism and gaming for revenue, state employees are protesting proposed changes that would reduce health care coverage options provided by the state.

The proposed cuts in the Nevada Public Employees' Benefits Program (PEBP) budget would reduce life insurance benefits from $25,000 for an active employee to $15,000 and from $12,500 for a retiree to $7,500, eliminate long-term disability insurance and lower Medicare Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) contributions from $13 to $11 a month per year of service. Though Gov. Steve Sisolak in his State of the State address touted only a 2 percent state budget cut, programs such as PEBP are feeling the cuts more deeply than others.

The proposed cuts will affect worker retention and place an undue burden on essential workers who rely on long-term disability coverage as a safety net, College of Southern Nevada professor Maria Schellhase said during a Monday meeting of a legislative budget subcommittee.

"From September to December of 2020, three full-time faculty members in my department passed away — two related to COVID-19 complications and the other to breast cancer," Schellhase said. "Now is not the time to eliminate or reduce any aspects of faculty health benefits. Any changes affecting the health related quality of life, or well being, of any employee group would be a mistake."

Read more: https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/proposed-state-employee-health-insurance-cuts-leads-to-state-workers-pushback

Lawmakers will participate in committee meetings virtually at start of session

Lawmakers won’t be gathering in person during committee meetings and will instead participate virtually at the start of the legislative session next week.

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas) gave additional details to The Nevada Independent on Friday about accommodations meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Typically, groups of lawmakers would convene together for hours in close proximity as they consider bills in committee rooms.

“Because not everyone, including staff, have been vaccinated, and not everyone is compliant [regarding] masks, we are not yet confident in the environment being safe so we are starting committees virtual,” he said. “No one will be allowed in committee rooms and we will assess changes as we assess conditions.”

Legislative staff announced the broad strokes for session logistics last week, indicating that the session will begin closed to the public, with participation carried out through video conferencing and a limited media presence. Lawmakers and staff are prioritized for vaccination, and leadership hope to open up the session more broadly once more people are vaccinated, although leaders declined to give a clear picture last week about how many members had been vaccinated.

Read more: https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/lawmakers-will-participate-in-committee-meetings-virtually-at-start-of-session

Sisolak rejects 80 percent seizure from inmate accounts in favor of half

Nevada prisons will no longer seize 80 percent of the money deposited for inmates by families and friends. Instead, the state will take half the money, which is used by prisoners to buy necessities such as food, soap, toothpaste and toilet paper.

Gov. Steve Sisolak, Attorney General Aaron Ford and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, acting as the Board of Prison Commissioners, voted Monday to rescind a regulation imposed by Department of Corrections Director Charles Daniels last year without the board’s approval.

Daniels said the increase was designed to bring the state in line with the constitutional mandates of the victims’ rights measure Marsy’s Law, which calls for “full and timely” restitution for victims of crime.

The state collected some $220,000 in the few weeks the policy was in effect. Sisolak, Ford and Cegavske want the difference returned to inmates’ accounts. But a deputy attorney general said he’s not sure that’s possible because the money was collected by the state, and by law, should be turned over to victims.

Read more: https://www.nevadacurrent.com/2021/01/25/sisolak-rejects-80-percent-seizure-from-inmate-accounts-in-favor-of-half/

Nevada is horrible at leveraging federal grant money. Can it get better?

Lawmakers Thursday announced intentions to create a new cabinet-level office focused on bringing more federal grant funding to Nevada.

During a roundtable with Nevada service providers, legislators joined Gov. Steve Sisolak and a group of Nevada nonprofits to discuss how the state can maximize Nevada’s federal grant funding.

Federal grant money is frequently contingent on state funding — the more a state contributes to public programs and services that are eligible for federal grant funding, the more federal money is leveraged.

“Nevada has historically underperformed at taking advantage of federal grant dollars and resources,” Sisolak said during the roundtable. “Nevada ranks 47th in the nation when it comes to leveraging federal grant dollars.”

Read more: https://www.nevadacurrent.com/2021/01/29/nevada-is-horrible-at-leveraging-federal-grant-money-can-it-get-better/

Another new high-rise - this one a 50-story tower - planned for downtown Austin

Yet another high-rise is planned for downtown Austin, as the area's real estate market keeps booming despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The new 50-story tower is to be built at West Fifth and Colorado streets, and plans call for a mix of residential and office space. The project is being developed by an affiliate of Stonelake Capital Partners.

The working name for the development is “5th & Colorado.” Stonelake said the proposed project's "full branding and identity" will be announced later. Groundbreaking is tentatively set for the first quarter of 2022, with the tower scheduled to be completed early in 2025.

Stonelake isn't commenting on the project's estimated cost or financing details.

Read more: https://www.statesman.com/story/business/2021/01/29/downtown-austin-office-50-story-skyscraper-residential-5th-colorado/4292254001/
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