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Office staff for Nevada senators also dealing with furloughs

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Updated: 10/04/2013 2:20 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) – The partial government shutdown has led to layoffs in the Nevada senators’ offices.

About two-thirds of Sen. Dean Heller’s staff and more than 50 percent of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office have been furloughed.

No other Nevada lawmaker’s office has idled workers.

Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said staffers are trying to field emails, contacts through the website, and phone calls, but they are getting so many constituent and non-constituent contacts that they are admittedly way behind.

Their voice mail box, for instance, fills up within 5 minutes each time they clear it.

She said they will likely change the language of the message on the website to clarify/explain that they are reading/receiving messages as they come in, but due to high volume, responses may take some time and non-essential requests may have to wait.

Heller’s office is fully staffed to answer calls, according to spokeswoman Chandler Smith.

“Senator Heller believes that every one of his staff members is critical to the mission of this office and he finds it extremely difficult to furlough any one of these hard-working individuals. At the same time, as some workers at Lake Mead, the VA Regional Office in Reno and other federal posts in the state are unable to report to work today, it is only fair that what is occurring in this office reflects what is happening back home in Nevada,” Smith said in an email to News 3.

“While about two-thirds of the staff is furloughed, members of Senator Heller’s staff in the Washington D.C., and state offices are available to respond to mail and answer phones, with the Senator taking a shift answering calls just this afternoon. Any Nevadan concerned about how this shutdown will affect any particular government benefit is encouraged to contact our office, and we will assist however we can.”

There have been no furloughs for Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s office, and Democrats Rep. Steven Horsford and Rep. Dina Titus are also fully staffed.

“All of our offices are fully staffed, and we are always available to help constituents with any concerns they may have,” said Tim Hogan of Horsford’s office.

“All staff have been designated as essential in order to allow us to continue providing critical services to the residents of District One,” said Caitlin Teare from Titus’ office.

Greg Lemon with Heck’s office said, “Both of our offices are fully staffed, open for business, and ready/able to assist constituents during regular business hours. We are fielding calls, processing responses to constituents, and accepting case work requests as per usual. Constituents can expect the same level of service from our offices as before the government shutdown.”

News 3 was not able to reach Rep. Mark Amodei’s office.
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