The Senate gave final legislative approval early Tuesday to a late-session measure authorizing $16.5 million in Nevada spending to help fix a multimillion dollar foul-up in building a Nevada Highway Patrol communications system.
SB499 appropriates most of the money from the state's highway fund and $1.8 million from the state funds. The lawmakers' Interim Finance Committee would have final say on how the money is spent, and could also go for other state agencies' radio systems which may face similar problems.
The NHP could face big Federal Communications Commission fines for operating a communications system without proper federal licenses for three years.
The patrol spent $14 million on a contract with Motorola to build the computer radio system to link troopers with each other, the dispatch center and other law enforcement agencies. It was activated in 2000.
However, no one ever applied to the FCC for licenses for the frequencies, and the FCC is asking the patrol to get off those frequencies this month.
The error will force the highway patrol to switch to an old communications system, and could mean the agency will have to start over to build a system as fast and as capable as the one it would have to dismantle.