Rep. Mark Amodei visits Fallon to respond to federal, county questions |

Rep. Mark Amodei visits Fallon to respond to federal, county questions

Aly Lawson
Congressman Mark Amodei talks shop with Churchill County leadership at the board of commissioners meeting last week during Amodei's federal update for the county.

Congressman Mark Amodei visited Fallon last week including the Churchill County Board of Commissioners’ meeting to provide a federal update and answer questions.

Amodei also visited Naval Air Station Fallon for an update on the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) modernization proposal. The congressman said he’s trying to use this crucial political period not to improve his golf game but to travel to locations and hear from his constituents.

“It’s nice to be back at high altitude, working for the folks who hired you for the job,” he said.

Amodei said the base meetings discussed expansion needs, issues and processes. In speaking to the commission, he touched on the agricultural aspects, transportation problems, mineral effects as well as the potential for area economic impact.

“We want to be partners with you all the way through it,” he said of those involved, adding he feels his relationship with the base is good, as has been the case with the commission and city council.

Amodei said historically he has been a supporter and wants the Navy to continue in the “Oasis of Nevada” for commercial reasons but also from a warfighting standpoint. He said that doesn’t mean one doesn’t ask questions and get into the specifics along with potential solutions such as, “If not Fallon, where?”

“We want to be as robust on fact-finding as possible,” he said. “We’ve established pretty strong communications up and down the chain from D.C. to San Diego to hear in Fallon … We’re looking forward to getting things right.”

Resident Jim Falk thanked Amodei for his hard work on public lands issues but expressed concern over the Navy range’s proposed hefty expansion. Amodei responded by mentioning advancing technology, training requirements as well as safety requirements.

“The final decision is something where you weigh what do they need to train?” he posed, emphasizing the importance of the public comment stages and evaluating environmental impact statements when released.

“We haven’t said we’re done with anything,” Amodei said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re at the start of the process.”

Amodei noted the person who gets to push red or green on this wins the general election in 2018, so he has to be alive and reelected the congressman said smiling.

“I know this body is up to it,” he said of the proposal. “Go get ‘em, Tigers — or Greenwave in this instance.”

Commissioner Pete Olsen inquired, “Where I we going with healthcare?”

Amodei said he thinks they’ll get there by the end of the year, reminding the house passed the bill.

“Did it need work? Yeah, it did,” he said, adding the Affordable Care Act that passed several years ago was completely partisan, which he wasn’t saying is bad or good but just a fact. “There are some good things in the Affordable Care Act that need to carry on — some things are problematic.”

He said the problem did not arrive over eight years; medical costs have been matriculating upward for two or three decades. He added you have to get started on issues that are not going away and are going to continue to metastasize.

Amodei explained the bill is about 25 percent of the healthcare work needed, taking care of things directly related to the budget but leaving behind much regulation that also requires 60 votes in the senate — in the house, the legislation with the most votes wins.

The congressman said costs continuing to rise and those who are “uninsurable” with a preexisting condition, which is a common reality, are the two largest issues and added Medicaid requires a deep dive to fully understand. He said the question becomes will what works in Philadelphia work in Winnemucca? No.

Amodei said we need to take the whole administrative matrix and shrink it, so it doesn’t fit all 50 states but does fit locally — and to make it so even with a $5 copay everybody has “skin in the game.” He also said he’s not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

“As the American people, we’re fed up with nothing happening on this,” Olsen said.

Amodei summarized the congressional issue as can the king’s horses and can the king’s men put Humpy Dumpty back together again?

“Because if we can’t, it’s our fault,” he said.

Commissioner Bus Scharmann, and Amodei agreed, that rail in the area should be an easy choice to commit to and makes sense.

“I really appreciate you getting involved and coming to the base, and getting an understanding of the FRTC and the modernization going on out there,” said commissioner Carl Erquiaga. “You always say you’re a process guy and I believe you are.”

Amodei had also gone over how he expects the area to be fully funded at last year’s payments in lieu of taxes level.

Comptroller Alan Kalt said he appreciated Amodei’s geothermal and PILT support but noted if PILT is reduced in the future, they need to know right away since that revenue stream is 15 percent of each payment on the loan for the new county detention center.

“I’m picking up what you’re putting down,” Amodei said, noting the comment. “Thank you. We’ll keep that toward the top of our screen … in case there’s any doubt at all, we want to know.”

Amodei also reviewed the public lands topic and how he always wants matters conducted in the light of day and to give people a voice, even if that results in the majority of the people in the state deciding something isn’t necessary presently.

“I think our process is stronger,” he said. “I think the public lands process is alive and well. (Bill) 1482 provided a good learning opportunity for us.”

He emphasized work will be done here if there is a county resolution to start it, having those things start from the grass roots up.