By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Lance Gilman, partner-broker of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, recently returned from Washington D.C., excited about President Trump’s ability to cut federal regulations instead of writing them.
The “bottom line for the whole session” was “Donald Trump’s focus on de-regulating our country,” Gilman said.
Gilman, also a Storey County commissioner, met with high-ranking members of the Trump administration along with other state, county and municipal leaders from across the nation.
Gilman returned home impressed that the Trump administration would seek the opinions of “grass-roots” elected officials. He’s confident the deregulation agenda will spur economic development in Northern Nevada.
He also liked the Trump administration’s willingness to listen.
“The White House is implementing a new program and they are bringing back the governors and commissioners and mayors from the various grass-roots levels,” said Gilman. “Trump is eager to get feedback to all of the federal agencies as to what is going on out here in the world.
“They are looking at simplifying, deregulating and (seeking) less paper work,” said Gilman. “I believe this is a first in the United States, that they are taking a lot of feedback from us. (It was) lots of fun,” Gilman said.
“The thing that amused me greatly, that over the period of about five hours, one afternoon, we had virtually every major federal department talk with us and have a dialogue,” Gilman added.
Trump is erasing regulations of former President Obama through executive orders after campaigning on a promise to do so.
By July of his first year in office, Trump had withdrawn more than 800 proposed regulations from President Obama’s administration, according to multiple news reports.
The Trump administration also eliminated 16 federal regulations for every new one proposed, Gilman said. The Washington Examiner reported on the 16-to-1 ratio last month.
Gilman called Trump’s deregulation agenda, “the untold story of the administration,” suggesting that Trump’s deregulation plan is a bigger victory than Trump placing a new justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Absolutely and maybe more so,” Gilman said, referring to Trump’s successful nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. “I’m sure this is what is driving our stock market. Folks are aware. It is happening at all levels — financial, development — it’s just amazing.”
Gilman is optimistic about future federal funding for projects in Northern Nevada. He also sees Trump cutting the length of time to get permits for developments and building projects under of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Before Trump, getting NEPA approval for projects could take up to nine years, Gilman said.
“We’re going to see some major changes in the amount of paperwork necessary and the timelines they are now committing,” Gilman said.
Highway construction and expansion was discussed with federal officials, Gilman said.
“One of the issues we are looking at locally is federal infrastructure,” he said. “And with federal infrastructure, you are talking I-80, maybe new highways or infrastructure development. Our NDOT gets a lot of compliments from the federal level. They (Trump administration officials) were very complimentary of NDOT. But NDOT’s hands are tied when it comes to NEPA permits. That is your national environmental permit. (They must be approved) before you can touch anything of a federal nature, and those permits average nine years to get one.”
While I-80 would be a priority for Gilman’s Tahoe-Reno Industrial Complex (TRI), he also sees many more areas where federal highway dollars could be spent in Northern Nevada.
“(U.S.) 395 is running north and south with heavy traffic, so the information that I received from NDOT is that they would like to see about $3 billion worth (of projects) over the next 10 years or so implemented here in Northern Nevada. All of that, of course, needs NEPA permits.
“But we are (also) talking about connector roads running from west to east. To get out to TRI, do we go from Sparks? Do we go from South Reno? How do we improve I-80?…The spaghetti bowl could use a facelift. Those are the elements I think everybody is typically looking at here.”
When it came to federal funding for infrastructure, the conversation in Washington D.C. was not just about highways, Gilman said.
“You know, infrastructure of airports are a big part of his (plan),” Gilman said of Trump. “There’s also infrastructure on all of the new technology. They are looking at utilities. They are looking at wind generation and solar and telecommunications. So when they talk about our infrastructure, they have a broad pallet of expectation.”
While the Trump administration can make plans, Congress must approve the funding, Gilman said. His confidence of Congress does not match that of the Trump administration.
“I don’t understand what is happening on Congress, candidly,” Gilman said. “I’m very disappointed in that side of our government.”
Trump is not getting the credit for what he is trying to accomplish, Gilman said.
“I am going to tell you that Trump is like that duck and he is paddling real fast under water,” he said. “And so the elements that he is changing, specifically about improving the regulatory environment, we don’t see that in our press.
“Unfortunately, the main media press is not looking for what is happening in a positive nature in our nation,” Gilman said. “It’s all about bash, bash, bash bash. And I don’t like turning on the news anymore. I’m just disappointed. There are a lot of optimistic, positive things going on but nobody wants to give (Trump) credit.”