Committees approve death chamber funding

Legislative money committees voted on Wednesday to spend $858,539 to build a new execution chamber at the Ely State Prison.

The old chamber, which was built decades ago as a gas chamber, is at Nevada State Prison in Carson City.

But NSP has been shut down since 2012 with just the license plate factory operating there and plans in the future to turn the historic part of the prison into a tourist attraction and historic center.

The joint subcommittee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means split on the issue Monday with the Assembly opposing that funding. Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, argued there are no executions planned in the coming two years and the money could be used elsewhere this session.

Kirner argued the old death chamber could still be used if necessary.

But Wednesday, with no comment on the merits, the Assembly reversed itself and voted to maintain the funding as requested by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The panel unanimously voted to eliminate the $1 million proposed for the statewide Energy Efficiency program. It took that cash and $253,752 cut out of the UNLV Hotel College project and put it into replacing steam boilers at Southern Desert Correctional Center. That $1.25 million project didn’t make the original list of Capital Improvement Projects proposed by the governor but corrections officials have described it as critical.

Eliminating the energy efficiency program also frees up $20 million in General Obligation Bond capacity for the state.

The Hotel College building is the biggest item on this CIP list by far at $48.8 million. That cost is being split equally — $24.4 million apiece — between state funding and donor raised cash. UNLV officials say they have already raise more than $14 million toward their share of the project.

Altogether, the proposed CIP budget totals $110 million in state funds, $5.16 million in highway funds and $120 million in other money for the 2016-2017 biennium.


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