Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill Friday morning that provides an additional $50 million for small businesses struggling in the pandemic.
The virtual bill signing of AB106 brings the total expenditures of the Pandemic Emergency Technical Support (PETS) Grant Program to more than $100 million, making it the largest small business assistance program in Nevada history, according to the governor’s office.
The bill was fast-tracked and passed unanimously by the Legislature this week. During the hearing on the bill, Treasurer Zach Conine said that more than 4,500 small businesses and nonprofits have received funding through PETS, which provides awards of up to $10,000 — but the overwhelming response to the program has left some applicants waiting.
“These businesses aren't just brick and mortar. They're people,” Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas) said via Zoom at the signing ceremony. “They're the backbone of our communities. By providing direct relief to small businesses and owners and nonprofits, we can help our community businesses keep their rent paid, keep the lights on and keep their workers on their payroll.”
Although the bill was mentioned as a priority in Sisolak’s 2021 State of the State address, Republican lawmakers have this week been critical of the governor’s handling of the pandemic in regards to small businesses.
“I am supportive of the $50 million in funding to help our small businesses that have been impacted by our blanket restrictions since last spring. I encourage the governor to loosen restrictions upon them and allow people to make a living,” Assembly Republican Caucus leader Robin Titus (R-Wellington) said at Wednesday night's Assembly floor session prior to the vote on AB106.
On Thursday evening, the governor announced that he is loosening some COVID-19 restrictions starting Monday, including lifting capacity limits for indoor establishments to 35 percent for restaurants, places of worship, gyms and casinos, and to 50 percent for libraries, museums, art galleries, aquariums and zoos.
At the bill signing ceremony, Titus said she was “pleased” that the first signed bill of the 2021 legislative session had unanimous bipartisan support.
“It is my hope that we can expeditiously get businesses back to full operation and quickly,” Titus said on Friday. “I look forward to continuing to legislate in a bipartisan manner as we move forward during these unprecedented times.”