In letter to President Obama, Nevada Senator seeks to ensure local groups can receive money to conduct business at state hotels
March 20, 2009
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid today sent the following letter to President Barack Obama regarding the use of economic recovery funds. Reid wants to clarify language implementing the law to ensure that non-profit and other groups in Nevada can receive funds to conduct programs supported by the law at space within Nevada’s hotels. Text of the letter follows:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to you about an issue relating to the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA, P.L. No. 111-5) that is critical to the State of Nevada. Section 1604 of the AARA included a prohibition on the use of funds appropriated by the bill for certain facilities, including casinos and other gaming establishments. It has come to my attention that solicitations and related guidance relating to requests for funding under the bill includes language to implement section 1604 that is vague and overly broad, causing confusion and discouraging many eligible beneficiaries in Nevada from applying for funding.
Specifically, the language on grant solicitations and other guidance creates the impression that otherwise eligible grant/funding recipients conducting activities wholly appropriate to the grant/funding program may not hold events at facilities that are part of a hotel/casino complex. This is a non-sensical and overly broad interpretation of section 1604. The intent of section 1604 was to prohibit the facilities delineated in that section from being direct beneficiaries of funding provided under the ARRA (e.g., to receive construction funds or funds to assist their operations). It was not intended to restrict the location of activities wholly appropriate to the grant/funding program and conducted by otherwise eligible grant/funding recipients.
The overly broad language hurts non-profits in Nevada, especially. Nevada has a long history of community integration with hotel/casino complexes, which has created a unique environment in which hotel/casino complexes are often the most appropriate venue for certain activities, particularly holding public events such as community outreach events, Parent Teacher Association meetings, domestic violence trainings, and other workshops.
A couple of specific examples are illustrative of the problems caused by the overly broad language. The Department of Justice-Office on Violence Against Women’s Transition Housing Assistance Program offers funding to provide victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking supportive services such as short-term housing assistance. In many Nevada rural communities the only hotel rooms available are in casinos. The overly broad restriction deprives victims of a safe place away from their attackers. Additionally, the Department of Justice-Office on Violence Against Women has encouraged domestic violence coalitions to hold community conferences and workshops to stimulate the local economy. The only suitable conference space in Nevada is often found in hotel/casino complexes. If the overly broad language is maintained, it would be impossible to hold conferences and workshops in many Nevada communities.
Nevada organizations that could qualify for grants/funding under the AARA are already being dissuaded from applying because of this confusion. Therefore, it is my hope that you will ensure that the appropriate office(s) issue a clarifying statement as soon as possible that an entity otherwise eligible to receive a grant/funding under the ARRA, conducting activities otherwise eligible to receive a grant/funding under the ARRA, is not restricted in the location of the activity.
Thank you for taking steps to rectify this misunderstanding.
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