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Nevadans are hearing a lot from Democratic Party candidates in their marathon to win the presidential nomination. 

Joe Biden made his rounds in Las Vegas over the weekend. KNPR Contributor John L Smith said the former vice president said if he's president, there will be no Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. 

Smith observed it is an interesting statement from a guy who represented Delaware, an area of the country where nuclear power is prevalent.

But, Biden has been to Nevada several times and knows the issues, Smith said. And if he doesn't know the issue in the state, he will.

“Because in my estimation, and it’s not just because I’m a hometown boy here, but it’s the most important caucus to start the season,” he said.

Iowa is the first state to caucus and New Hampshire is the first state primary, "but the fact is, Nevada looks a lot like America. It looks a lot like the Democratic Party and whoever comes here and dominates or even squeaks out a victory is going to have huge momentum going forward,” Smith noted.

Smith said Biden's speech also looked to address young people, which it seems all of the Democratic presidential hopefuls are trying to attract. At one point, he criticized rival Bernie Sanders, saying that all his ideas about free college and paying off student loans are good ideas but they are pie in the sky and will cost a lot of money.

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Smith said the former Veep got a reaction when he said young people want change, not socialism.

“It was an interesting statement to make because there were clearly folks whether they were shills in the crowd or just excited to hear him say that. There were some young people in the crowd who endorsed that,” he said.

Las Vegas City Council

The new faces on the Las Vegas City Council are shaping the issues heard at city hall. 

The city decided to increase city trash rates by about 5 percent or about 75 cents a month. The money will go to Republic Services to pay for the cleanup of homeless encampments in the city limits.

“Councilwoman Diaz and Councilman Creer made the point of saying, ‘look we need the help in our districts. We have a challenge with the homeless.’ You do a drive through of those areas and they clearly have a challenge. That’s the way they’re approaching it,” Smith said.

Councilman Stavros Anthony voted against the plan and he noted that he didn't think there was enough discussion about raising the rate.

Another topic was the new HOV lanes along the freeways. However, those are managed by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

“This is a state highway and a federal highway that is affected. So, whether their resolution can even carry weight is kind of a question and it seemed to be a question on the mind of the deputy city attorney who was listening,” Smith said.

The council, especially Councilman Anthony and Councilwoman Michele Fiore, want to change the hours of enforcement for the lanes from 24/7 to just rush hour, essentially.

Transportation officials maintain that HOV lanes improve the flow of traffic and cut down on carbon emissions. 

“Some people appear to think that an HOV lane is social engineering. That they’re trying to get you to carpool, which apparently is a bad thing, and that they’re trying to force and change behavior. It’s a fascinating study from my standpoint because I didn’t think it was controversial,” Smith said. 

Guests

John L. Smith, KNPR Contributor 

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