CARSON CITY – Newly appointed Governor Joe Lombardo ended his first week in office by signing executive orders ending the COVID-19 rules and directing the Department of Administration to make recommendations related to state employment.
The first of those executive orders, signed Friday, nullifies all regulations related to COVID-19, beginning with former Governor Steve Sisolak’s declaration of emergency on March 12, 2020.
Many of the rules, including the stay-at-home order, the use of face coverings and social distancing, have not been in place in more than a year. Sisolak ended the state of emergency on May 20, 2022, a move that “left the status of subsequent declarations unclear and uncertain,” according to Lombardo’s order.
The second executive order directs the Department of Administration to make recommendations related to the hiring and retention of state employees in an effort to address “a workplace vacancy rate of approximately 24 percent of legislatively approved positions,” according to the order.
The report, which must include ways to “simplify and improve” employee hiring and retention processes, must be submitted to the governor’s office by April 1.
The order also directs the department to develop a plan for state employees to “return to normal and customary pre-pandemic office conditions” by July 1.
“Starting in the next fiscal year, we expect everyone to return to working normal hours in a physical office,” said Lombardo’s chief of staff, Ben Kieckhefer.
In a brief briefing with reporters on Friday, Kieckhefer said the governor has committed to giving state employees a raise, but said more details will be made available during State of the State of Lombardo on Jan. 23.
He declined to say whether that increase would match Sisolak’s proposed budget, which suggested a 10 percent increase in the first year of the biennium and 5 percent the following year.
Kieckhefer also said the administration was preparing a budget that would make “unprecedented investments” in K-12 education, details of which will also be released during the governor’s State of the State.
“Like all things, we have taken into account the recommendations of the previous administration, but we will make our own decisions about what we believe is best for the State,” he said.
One of the administration’s top priorities concerns school choice, a policy that allows parents to choose where their children go to school regardless of residence through a variety of avenues, which may include vouchers and credits. prosecutors. Opponents of this policy argue that it can harm the public school system and cause inequalities.
Lombardo made it a feature of his campaign and now of his newly launched administration. In his appointment speech Tuesday, he promised to expand school choice.
Kieckhefer reiterated Friday the administration’s commitment to that policy.
“We believe in comprehensive school choice. This includes the choice within the private system, the choice within the traditional public system, the choice within subsidized schools”, he said. “If we listen to our constituents, I think we’ll be able to find a middle ground to advance that cause.”
Asked if Lombardo planned to repeal Sisolak’s executive order that protects out-of-state patients seeking an abortion and the caregivers who provide care for them, Kieckhefer said it was not in the administration’s immediate plans.
Lombardo previously said he would repeal the order, but later backed down during the campaign.