Money headed to DETR one way or another

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 5:32 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Throughout last year KOLO 8 News Now talked to Nevada residents who had applied for and waited months just to talk to someone about their unemployment benefits.

“I am calling every single solitary day. How many hours? Usually 4 to 5 hours a day, every day every day,” Maureen Daane told us.

“Every day, making 200 plus calls and never having anybody pick up or call me back,” said Dan Davis.

“Frustrated,” said Debra Ward. “We can’t get through. We are disconnected. This isn’t working. I’m not going to call anymore. I am disconnected every 5 minutes,” she said.

The system was designed to take in and then deliver unemployment benefits to those who qualified for those benefits. Federal money was infused in Nevada to help cover those workers who did not fit into traditional categories.

The sheer number of claims, and programs overran the system, a system even the governor admitted was antiquated and needed updating.

“We were very inclusive list of things that needed to be included in the bill. So we did. We put it in the DETR Bill,” says Senator Scott Hammond, Republican, and sponsor of SB 419. Senator Hammond says of all the bills facing the Nevada Legislature. SB 419 or the DETR Bill is not only one of the most important, but could enjoy bi-partisan support.

The bill would infuse $40,000,000 into the DETR System, allowing for different IT departments to talk to one another and efficiently get unemployment checks to those who need them.

“We’ve heard the stories and we want to help out,” says Senator Hammond. “The money is there. we need to be getting on this right away,” he says. The senator says the DETR Bill should have already received the much needed attention it deserves.

But in the democratic controlled assembly and senate it is getting short shrift.

Democratic Senator Chris Brooks says the state is waiting on federal money sure. But designing a legislative bill to infuse DETR with needed funds might not be the answer. “If we can take federal funds we need to use a mechanism to take federal funds,” says Senator Chris Brooks, a Democrat representing District 6. “That mechanism is more than likely going to be a budget amendment coming from the Governor’s Office to fund DETR at a higher level with direction on how to spend that,” says Senator Brooks about another vision for DETR Funding.

Senate Bill 419 may not get a hearing. It was supposed to be before the Commerce and Labor Committee Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Both sides agree DETR needs the money to update its system. The questions is: Is it done through a legislative bill? Or do lawmakers simply wait for an infusion in federal money?

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