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The Nevada Independent

Lombardo endorses Susie Lee's lands proposal in rare support for Democrat-led initiative

Lee had asked the governor to support her bill that would expedite appraisals on public lands in the wake of his housing spat with Biden.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
CongressGovernmentState Government

On the day President Joe Biden visited Nevada in March to lay out an ambitious housing agenda, Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) sent the president a letter urging him to focus on cutting bureaucratic red tape to release more public land to demonstrate his seriousness on the issue.

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) chimed in on social media, agreeing with the governor and then putting the heat back on Lombardo, asking him to endorse a bipartisan bill she sponsored to streamline the process for appraising public lands before potential transactions, such as turning land over to developers for housing.

On Thursday, Lombardo did just that, taking the rare step of publicly endorsing a Democratic bill in Congress — let alone one by a Nevada Democrat in a competitive seat where the governor has weighed in on the race to oust her. 

The endorsement appears to be Lombardo’s first of a federal Nevada Democrat’s bill since he took office in 2023.

Lombardo’s endorsement of Lee’s Accelerating Appraisals and Conservation Efforts (AACE) Act also comes amid rising tensions over housing between the governor and Democrats in the state Legislature, as Nevada Democrats have hammered him about his vetoes on several housing proposals in the last legislative session, even going so far as to dub him the “veto villain.”

“Congresswoman Lee’s AACE Act will help eliminate federal red tape so we’re able to move more efficiently on new housing and infrastructure projects here in Nevada,” Lombardo said in a statement. “As we seek innovative housing solutions in our state and across the country, I’m pleased to endorse this bipartisan legislation.”

The act would permit the Department of Interior to contract with appraisers who are credentialed in any state to evaluate public land for potential transfer, rather than only being able to use appraisers credentialed in the state where the parcel of land is located. When federal land transactions are being considered, the department must first get the land appraised to ensure fair market value is being followed.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

The bill is a small bureaucratic fix that aims to streamline the often lengthy process of federal land transactions, a potential salve for developers in the state who say they are running out of land to build housing. 

In Nevada, members of both parties — from Nevada’s two Democratic senators to Lombardo — have expressed interest in building affordable housing on public lands. The AACE Act itself now has bipartisan support among Nevadans and members of Congress, where it passed through the House Natural Resources Committee and has drawn 10 co-sponsors, eight of whom are Republicans.

While Lombardo’s endorsement may not carry too much influence in Congress, throwing his weight behind the bill gives Lee a high-profile new talking point in Nevada on her record of bipartisanship — a campaign message she deploys frequently.


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