Sisolak signs bill authorizing another $50 million in small business grants (updated)

Gov. Sisolak signed the bill via a virtual ceremony Friday morning.

Gov. Sisolak signed the bill via a virtual ceremony Friday morning. Courtesy Zoom

STORY UPDATE, 10:30 a.m. Friday: Gov. Steve Sisolak signed AB106 into law via a virtual bill-signing ceremony that occurred at 9:15 a.m. Friday, thus making available an additional $50 million for small business grants.

It's the first bill approved and signed this legislative session.

Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce; Michael Brown, executive director of the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development; and Mary Beth Sewald, president of the Vegas Chamber, were among those who attended, in addition to Nevada legislative leaders.

"We can't say thank you enough ... I also want to give a shout-out to 32 other chambers of commerce in the state, all of whom pushed out this information about the PETS grant," Silver said during the virtual event. "... Our small businesses provide the goods and services we all rely upon every day, so this lifeline to them is so important ... to the vitality of our communities and the ongoing sustainability of the economy and people's lives, their family's lives, and for customers the opportunity to shop at small businesses."

You can watch a replay of the virtual ceremony here. 

The original story from 8 a.m. Friday is below.

Effectively declaring a state of emergency, the Nevada Legislature on Thursday passed the bill appropriating an additional $50 million for small business grants to be authorized under the Pandemic Emergency Technical Support (PETS) program.

AB106 — which was introduced on Tuesday and fast-tracked for approval — was passed unanimously by both the Senate and Assembly and forwarded to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk.

He plans to sign it Friday, Feb. 12, at 9:15 a.m., according to a press release.

The PETS program was originally created in October with $20 million in CARES Act money, a number that quickly grew to $51 million due to the huge demand for grants from small businesses in the Silver State.

In the four days the program was open for applications, the state received more than 13,500 submissions, according to previous reports; more than 4,500 small businesses and nonprofit groups received funding from the initial $51 million, meaning roughly 9,000 applications were not accepted.

The bill was fast-tracked this week so that, “we could get this out immediately so small businesses can get their money," said Senate Finance Chairman Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas.

He said the main reason the additional $50 million has been sitting there since October is the conflicting and constantly changing rules from the Trump administration on how and what they could be used for.

He said the state wasn’t able to finally determine how the money could be used until the end of December.

Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said it's important to “finally get these funds out.”

According to a Feb. 10 story from The Nevada Independent, the extra $50 million in AB106 will provide grants to an additional 4,500 businesses; Treasurer Zach Conine said that there are no plans to reopen the program to new applicants considering those roughly 9,000 applications have been waiting since the first application round in October.

Sen. Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, said unfortunately, the money will come too late for many small businesses because of those delays he said having to sit on the money for several months “is a little bit of an embarrassment.”

“So many of those who applied are no longer in business because of the governor’s shutdown," he said.

Hansen urged fellow members of the Legislature to enact laws restraining the governor’s authority to unilaterally shut down the state using emergency powers and lay out a process where the legislative branch has a say in that process if it goes past a month or so.

Hansen has a bill draft that would do just that in this session.

NNBW Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.


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