A disagreement over weatherization-program hiring practices in Nevada has prompted state lawmakers to delay the stimulus-funded program’s launch until September 17.
The agency that oversees the state’s weatherization program, the Housing Division of the Department of Business and Industry, has received federal funds for weatherization based on a proposal it submitted to the Department of Energy in April that included a plan to send out requests for contractors to get started on weatherization work as quickly as possible, a recent story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes. Five contractors had been selected and were ready to begin work pending the release by state lawmakers of an initial $10 million in federal funds, a Department of Business and Industry official told the paper.
But lawmakers say the Housing Division cannot ignore a state law that took effect on July 1, which requires the agency to allocate funds not only to contractors but for training unemployed workers via state-approved apprenticeship programs run by unions, community colleges, and private companies.
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, a Democrat from Las Vegas, asked the Senate’s Finance Committee to delay implementation of the program until after a September 17 meeting, which has been scheduled to discuss the program in detail.
The Review-Journal did note that the Housing Division had planned to request more funds for weatherization work in October that would have included apprenticeship programs, but that idea is now on hold. It possible a resolution could materialize before then, but the political climate in Nevada is contentious, with Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate reiterating this week that they have lost confidence in Governor Jim Gibbons, a Republican who served in the U.S. House of Representatives before running for governor and taking office in 2006.
Weatherization programs in most states are well underway, with implementation issues slowing only a few, including the program in Indiana, which has been delayed while the DOE addresses its concerns over the way the state is allocating funds and the qualifying criteria and spending limits it has set for weatherization recipients.