Civics Center: Change is afoot in Washoe County

Hartung out at Washoe County Commission, UNR students to vote on funding student media, and Reno considers reversing earlier decision to create sixth ward

Much of the attention around civics is dominated by the Nevada Legislative Session, which is underway. While lawmakers are proposing hundreds of bills, there are some other changes happening in northern Nevada that we wanted to focus on this week.

Vaughn Hartung resigns as Washoe County Commissioner, Gov. Lombardo to appoint a replacement

Washoe County Commission Chair Vaughn Hartung resigned from his post to take a job with the state.

According to reporting from the Reno Gazette-Journal, Hartung is being tapped to fill a vacancy with the Nevada Transportation Commission, a division of the Department of Business and Industry.

Gov. Joe Lombardo will now appoint a new member to the county commission, someone who lives in District 4 like Hartung.

Student journalism in trouble?

Through Thursday, students at the University of Nevada, Reno are weighing in on three ballot questions, the first of which would add a $0.67 student media fee to every credit hour taken by students.

The fee would cover the budgets for The Nevada Sagebrush, Insight Magazine, Brushfire Arts & Literary Journal, and Wolf Pack Radio.

In an op-ed last week posted to The Nevada Sagebrush, editor Emerson Drewes urged students to vote yes on Question 1.

“This year, we’ll make it through to see the end, having around $30 thousand contracted. However, during the 2021 to 2022 school year, we barely made $14 thousand. If that happens two more times, our reserves would be depleted and we would be dead,” Drewes wrote.

Students will also be voting on campus representation, as well as two other ballot questions: Question 2 would decrease the number of credit hours required for students to serve as justices in student government, and Question 3 would increase the stipend for student senators to $5,000 a year.

Reno Could Lose At-Large Seat, Gain Sixth Ward

There is one more bill in the statehouse that could have a big impact in Reno. If passed, SB12 would reverse an earlier decision by Reno City Council to drop the at-large council seat in favor of a sixth ward.

In 2017, Nevada lawmakers passed a bill that would remove Reno’s at-large seat in favor of establishing a sixth ward, with a council member elected only by residents of that ward.

During a hearing on the bill, attorney Scott F. Gilles, for the City of Reno testified, “The reason for this change is to give ward members direct influence on who is elected to represent them. This will result in a council member who better represents his or her ward.”

If SB12 passes in this year’s session, Devon Reese, the current at-large councilmember, could be left without a seat – or the ability to run for re-election depending on how the wards are determined. If the bill does not pass, Reno has until June 5 to redraw lines for wards.

Carly Sauvageau with The Nevada Independent has a great write-up that is worth reading.

Bill would halt plan to give Reno a sixth ward, maintain at-large city council position >>

2023 Nevada Legislative Session Roundup

The Nevada Legislature is underway and hundreds of bills have been proposed so far. Here’s a few reports from local and regional media outlets on some of the proposed legislation.

The Nevada Independent: Bill seeks cameras in certain classrooms to ‘protect’ students with disabilities >>

The Nevada Independent: Lawmaker seeks better records on missing and murdered Indigenous people >>

Nevada Current: Senate bill to spend more public money on private schools may not get a hearing >>

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Lawmakers propose decriminalizing magic mushrooms for research >>

Noah Glick is the Executive Editor for the Sierra Nevada Ally. He is an award-winning journalist, writer, and audio and podcast producer, whose work has been heard nationally on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and more. He is a multiple regional Edward R. Murrow Award winner for his reporting on climate, energy, and housing.

Founded in 2020, the Sierra Nevada Ally is a self-reliant 501c3 nonprofit publication with no paywall, a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, offering unique, differentiated reporting, factual news, civics information, and explanatory journalism on the environment, conservation, and public policy, while giving voice to writers, filmmakers, visual artists, and performers. We rely on the generosity of our readers; please donate here.


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