Archive for January, 2012

Nevada Group Files Initiative Petition To Allow Legislature, Governor To Raise Mining Taxes

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:50 pm January 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – A group called Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes filed a constitutional amendment initiative today with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office that would allow the cap on mining taxes to increase from 5 percent to 9 percent.

“This initiative is not a tax increase,” said Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who heads up the group. “It simply raises the cap on mining taxes and leaves the issue on whether to raise the tax in the hands of the Nevada Legislature and governor.”

Courtesy of Newmont.

Miller said the constitutional amendment would give the Nevada Legislature and governor the tools they need to enact fair tax reform in Nevada.

“It is our hope that the Nevada Legislature will utilize this constitutional amendment to make mining companies pay their fair share and enact tax reform that will lower the burden on small businesses and homeowners,” Miller said. “By fairly taxing out-of-state mining companies, we can lower taxes on the people of Nevada.”

Tim Crowley, president of the Nevada Mining Association, said he has not reviewed the proposal with his membership and so has no official position on the proposal. But he said it was “interesting” that a highly visible, anti-tax businessman is working to “pave the way for a tax increase.”

Groups seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot would need to collect 72,352 valid signatures by June 19. The measure would have to be approved by voters twice, in 2012 and again in 2014, to take effect.

The group said in its announcement that the largest gold mining company in Nevada is based in Canada and the second largest is based in Colorado, the group said in an announcement of the filing. The price of gold is currently more than $1,700 per ounce and many experts predict that it could reach more than $2,000 per ounce this year.

In 2010, mining companies in Nevada extracted more than $6.6 billion worth of gold, which netted them almost $2.8 billion in revenue. The same year, mining companies paid only $149.5 million in state and county taxes in Nevada

Taxes in other gold producing jurisdictions are much higher, the group said. For example, provinces in Canada tax net revenue up to 16 percent.

“Nevadans should benefit more from Nevada gold and foreign and out-of-state companies should benefit less,” Miller said. “Once the gold is gone, these companies will leave Nevada and take their billions with them. The mining companies can afford to pay their fair share.”

Miller said he formed Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes to give voters more options on tax policy in a year when the Nevada AFL-CIO has promised to put Nevada’s first business income tax on the ballot.

The Nevada News Bureau reported in November that several Nevada groups were considering a ballot measure to increase taxes for public education.

“If the Texas-style business margins income tax is going to be on the ballot, voters are going to need an alternative,” said Miller. “We are providing voters with a reasonable approach to tax reform.”

Nevada Gets Failing Grade For Science Standards In National Report

By Sean Whaley | 3:18 pm January 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – As Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Board of Education move ahead with the selection of a new state schools chief to push forward with education reform, a new report gives another reason for urgency: Nevada has received a D grade for its science standards from a national group.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute today released its report, “The State of State Science Standards 2012“, and if there is any good news, it is that Nevada is not alone in its poor marks.

DNA / Photo courtesy of Mike & Amanda Knowles via Wikimedia Commons.

“American science performance is lagging as the economy becomes increasingly high tech, but our current science standards are doing little to solve the problem,” the report says. “Reviewers evaluated science standards for every state for this report and their findings were deeply troubling: The majority of states earned Ds or Fs for their standards in this crucial subject, with only six jurisdictions receiving As.

The District of Columbia and five states: California, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia received As. Seventeen states received Ds. Another 10 received Fs.

Nevada received two of seven points for content and rigor, and one of three points for clarity and specificity for its science standards.

The report said: “The Nevada science standards are lamentably brief. Complicating matters, educators must piece together information from two separate and confusing documents to form a complete picture of what students must know and be able to do. Altogether, the materials furnish a very shaky foundation in the sciences.”

Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association and a long-time advocate for education reform, said the report isn’t all bad news for Nevada.

“The good news is, that this is a test, if you take a look at the last time this thing was scored, which I think was either three or four years ago, Nevada was pretty much down at the bottom of the pole,” he said. “So we’ve done something in our science programs to move up substantially. I think that is wonderful. We have a long way to go, obviously.”

Bacon said Nevada still has inequities in its science programs statewide because of the difficulty some districts have, particularly rural districts, in recruiting qualified chemistry, biology and physics teachers. A teacher shortage problem in the past in the Clark County School District also led to the use of long-term substitutes to teach math and science, he said.

Bacon said the recent adoption by the state Board of Education of the Common Core State Standards could make further improvement in science a challenge because the focus will be on English and math.

“I hate the thought but I suspect that we probably are not going to make as much progress in the next couple of years as we have made in the last few years because the common core standards are going to shift the focus back to the two primaries,” he said.

But getting the math standards in place will make it easier in the future to address the science standards, Bacon said.

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones recently commented that the score is not surprising because science is a subject where students struggle. Because of this, the district is implementing before- and after-school tutoring programs and increasing professional development for teachers.

The report identified four areas in particular where science standards are flawed: In the handling of evolution in the face of anti-evolutionary pressures; standards that are so vague as to be meaningless; attempting to teach science through discovery instead of direct instruction of specific content; and failing to link math to science.

In commenting on the findings, Fordham President Chester Finn Jr. said: “If America is to remain a prosperous, scientifically-advanced and economically competitive nation, then we must ensure that every school is teaching science to a very high standard. In this subject as in others reviewed by Fordham experts, the states set the bar, prescribing what schools should teach and students need to learn. They then develop assessments keyed to those standards. If our expectations are low and unclear, we’re guaranteeing the failure of our students and the weakening of our nation.”

Sandoval pushed hard for education reform in the 2011 legislative session, and has said the appointment of a new schools chief will be one of his most important as governor.

The Nevada Board of Education is set to interview five finalists next month for the position of state superintendent of public instruction. Three names will be forwarded to Sandoval for his final selection.

Education reform is also viewed by policy makers as a key element of Nevada’s efforts to grow and diversify its economy by producing an educated and well-trained workforce.


Audio clips:

Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association, says the report contains some good news because Nevada has moved up since the last ranking:

013112Bacon1 :22 to go, obviously.”

Bacon says further improvement may be slowed, however, due to a renewed focus on English and math standards in Nevada:

013112Bacon2 :13 the two primaries.”



Nevada Taxable Sales Up 9.6 Percent In November, Reflects Increased Consumer Confidence

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:03 am January 30th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s taxable sales rose 9.6 percent in November over the same month a year ago, driven in large part by car sales and improved business at bars and restaurants, the state Department of Taxation reported today. Taxable sales totaled nearly $3.4 billion for the month.

For the fiscal year that began July 1, 2011, taxable sales are up 8.5 percent through November.

Clark County sales were up 8.6 percent. Washoe County sales were up 5.3 percent.

Fourteen of Nevada’s seventeen counties recorded an increase in taxable sales for November 2011 compared to November 2010: Carson City, Humboldt and White Pine Counties recorded a decrease.

The Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers saw a 9.1 percent gain in November 2011 over November 2010, and the Food Services and Drinking Places were up 7.5 percent over the same period.

Bryan Wachter, director of government affairs for the Retail Association of Nevada, said the report is great news for the state economy.

“This validates that we saw a healthy Black Friday leading into holiday spending,” he said. “We’ll look for December taxable sales to kind of confirm that it was an ongoing kind of Christmas spending pattern as opposed to a one-time event, which we don’t think it was.”

The big jump in auto sales is good news as well because it shows increased consumer confidence in making large purchases, Wachter said.

Increased consumer spending, increased confidence and increased discretionary spending will generate more jobs and ultimately help turn the construction industry around as well, he said.

“It’s very encouraging to see other parts of the economy showing improvement,” Wachter said.

Photo by Chris "Mojo" Denbow via Wikimedia Commons.

The report showed that a number of other taxable sales categories saw strong growth as well: Clothing and Accessories Stores were up 14.8 percent; Utilities, up 197.3 percent; and Merchant Wholesalers – Durable Goods, up 19.6 percent.

The Construction Industry Classification was down again however, off 15.9 percent over November 2010. Nevada was hard hit by the housing market collapse.

But all other major taxable sales categories saw increases in the report, with Home Furniture and Furnishings up 15 percent, and Accommodations up 12.3 percent.

Gross revenue collections from sales and use taxes amounted to $266.3 million in November 2011, which represents an 8.8 percent increase compared to November 2010 and a 7.4 percent increase through the first five months of fiscal year 2012.

The general fund portion of the sales and use taxes collected amounted to $67.3 million, which represents an 8.5 percent increase compared to November 2010.

Compared to the May 2011 Economic Forum projections and based on department analysis, the general fund portion of the sales and use taxes is approximately 2.7 percent or $8.9 million above their forecast for fiscal year 2012 through November.


Audio clips:

Bryan Wachter of the Retail Association of Nevada says the report points to strong consumer spending through the holidays:

013012Wachter1 :24 think it was.”

Wachter says the big jump in motor vehicle purchases reflects stronger consumer confidence:

013012Wachter2 :26 of long-term purchases.”



Nevada Republican Party To Use Social Media To Report Feb. 4 Caucus Results

By Sean Whaley | 3:04 pm January 27th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Republican Party officials today announced they expect all the major GOP candidates will visit the state ahead of the Feb. 4 first in the West caucus.

The Nevada GOP is also introducing social media into the process, using the Google and Twitter platforms to report the caucus results beginning about 5 p.m. that day from 16 of the state’s 17 counties.

Final results won’t be known until sometime after 7 p.m. however, because of the Clark County GOP decision to hold one at-large caucus to accommodate religious concerns by some in the Jewish and 7th Day Adventist faiths who cannot participate until after sundown.

Clark County results won’t be complete until that late caucus concludes.

“I’m so excited about Feb. 4,” said Nevada GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian in a telephone conference announcing details of the event. “We are first in the West, which is vital, and as we’re watching everything take off across the country it looks like we may be the tipping point.”

Nevada State Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian.

The Republican presidential contest is expected to remain undecided through the Florida primary on Tuesday. Nevada is the next state in the process with its caucus. As many as 60,000 Republicans could participate.

Tarkanian said Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are all expected to campaign in Nevada in coming days. Romney won the caucus in 2008.

“And I am just so thrilled that we have the top four willing and able to come and participate here in our state,” she said.

The caucus events for most participants will occur in each county from between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Clark County is the only county to have the evening at-large caucus.

Jim Anderson with CAP Public Affairs, hired by the Nevada GOP to help win Nevada for Republicans in November, said the use of Twitter and Google is a new wrinkle in presidential politics.

“One of the really cool things that we’re doing with this caucus that I believe has never been done before is utilizing both Twitter and Google to get the results out in what we think is the most efficient way to date,” he said.

The Nevada GOP Titter account, NVGOP, will be used to tweet the results, Anderson said. The Google election results map will be used as well and be available on the state GOP website, he said.

It should be the fastest results coming out of a caucus in history, Anderson said.

“We think we’ve got a tool for this caucus that could be a model tool moving forward for primaries and caucuses for states all around the country,” he said. “We’re extremely excited about launching it in Nevada.”

State GOP officials said they do not believe holding the late at-large caucus in Clark County will hamper or skew the reporting of the results. The results will be checked to make sure no one voted twice.


Audio clips:

State GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian says all four major GOP contenders will be in Nevada for the caucus:

012712Tarkanian1 :26 here in Nevada.”

Tarkanian says she is thrilled that the four candidates will be participating:

012712Tarkanian2 :14 of last December.”

Jim Anderson with CAP Public Affairs says the Nevada GOP will be using Twitter and Google to get the results out:

012712Anderson1 :15 way to date.”

Anderson says the results will be released more quickly than ever before:

012712Anderson2 :20 and efficient way.”


Five Educators, Three From Nevada, Picked As Finalists For Nevada Public Education Chief

By Sean Whaley | 5:29 pm January 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Five finalists for Nevada’s top public education job were submitted today to the state Board of Education.

The names of three finalists will be forwarded to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his final selection after interviews are conducted by the Board of Education next month.

The five finalists, picked from 15 applicants who sought the position of state superintendent of public instruction, are:

- René Cantú Jr., currently the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation and former vice president of multicultural affairs at Nevada State College;

René Cantú Jr.

- James Guthrie, senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Unified School District in California.

- Magdalena Martinez, assistant vice chancellor for academic and student affairs with the Nevada System of Higher Education;

- Caroline McIntosh, superintendent of schools for the Lyon County School District;

James Guthrie.

- Sylvia McMullen, co-founder of the Education Data Collaborative and executive director of the Texas Education Reform Foundation, of College Park, Texas;

Keith Rheault, Nevada’s current superintendent who will be retiring in early April, said the state board is scheduled to interview the finalists on Feb. 22 and 23, voting on Feb. 24 on three finalists to forward to Sandoval for his consideration for a March appointment.

Sandoval wants a new schools chief on board well ahead of the 2013 legislative session.

As a result of education reform legislation approved by the 2011 Legislature, Sandoval now has the authority to appoint the new schools chief. In the past the 10-member Board of Education had the authority to select the superintendent.

Magdalena Martinez.

Magdalena Martinez.

The job pays about $121,785 a year plus benefits.

Sandoval has called the appointment one of the most important he will make as governor.

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, helped pick the five finalists.

The reform legislation in Senate Bill 197 also changes the makeup of the state Board of Education following the 2012 general election. The board will have four elected members, one from each of the state’s congressional districts, one member appointed by Sandoval and one member each selected by the Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker. There will also be four non-voting members appointed by the governor representing different public education interests.

Sandoval and lawmakers also agreed to a number of education reforms in the 2011 session, including a new teacher evaluation process to ensure the best educators remain in the classroom.


President Obama Talks Up Natural Gas Development In Remarks Today In Las Vegas

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:41 am January 26th, 2012

President Barack Obama visited Las Vegas today on a swing through the West, talking up energy development to create jobs and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

In comments delivered at the United Parcel Service hub on East Arby Lane, President Obama said development of natural gas reserves would serve both these purposes.

The president jogged out to loud, enthused cheers from a clearly friendly crowd.

President Barack Obama.

“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly a hundred years,” he said in his prepared remarks. “Developing it could power our cars, our homes, and our factories in a cleaner and cheaper way. And experts believe it could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”

The president’s visit, coming after stops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Chandler, Arizona, was meant to reinforce comments made Tuesday in his State of the Union address. His next stops are in Colorado and Michigan.

“Part of my blueprint for an economy built to last is American energy” the president said.

In his remarks, Obama touted the fact that oil production in the U.S. is the highest it has been in eight years, and dependence on foreign oil was less last year than at any time in the past 16 years.

He also announced that his administration will soon open up around 38 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for exploration and development, which could result in a lot more production of domestic energy.

“Here’s the thing, though,” he said. “Even with all this oil production, we only have 2 percent of the world’s reserves. So we need an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.”

Any natural gas development will come only with assurances that the environment and public health will be protected, the president said.

“That’s why I’m requiring – for the first time ever – that all companies drilling for gas on public lands disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

The president used the UPS site because of the company’s use of natural gas to power its vehicles.

The president arrived at the facility at 10 a.m. after an uneventful motorcade. A crowd of a few hundred gathered in a parking lot behind the facility to hear the speech.

“We started out with five companies that accepted the challenge, and UPS was one of the first. Less than a year later, we’ve got fourteen companies on board, and together, they represent one million vehicles on the road.”

To encourage even more use of natural gas, the president proposed new tax incentives to help companies buy more clean trucks.

He also said his administration will continue to work with the private sector to ensure the vehicles have places to refuel, developing five natural gas corridors along the nation’s highways.

“These are highways that have natural gas fueling stations between cities – just like the one the folks at UPS, South Coast Air, and Clean Energy Fuels are opening today between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City,” the president said.

UPS, along with local government and Clean Energy Fuels, a natural gas station deployment company, received a $5.6 million cost-share investment through the Recovery Act to purchase liquefied natural gas (LNG ) vehicles and construct a public LNG refueling station in Las Vegas.

This refueling station has created the first multi-state publicly accessible LNG refueling corridor in the country, enabling LNG vehicles to drive from the Port of Long Beach to Salt Lake City.

The president also said he will ask Energy Secretary Steven Chu to launch a new competition to encourage the country’s scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to discover new breakthroughs for natural gas vehicles.

“So we’re going to keep moving on American energy,” the president said.

The Nevada Republican Party criticized the visit, calling it an expensive, taxpayer-subsidized campaign stop.

“Barack Obama’s taxpayer-funded trip to Nevada today isn’t to promote new ideas or solutions to improve our state, but instead to promote his fledgling reelection campaign,” said party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian in a statement.

“When Obama talks about green jobs today, he hopes we forget about the 20,000 new jobs prevented from blocking the Keystone Pipeline and his green job debacle, Solyndra, that cost the taxpayers $500,000 and another 1,100 jobs lost,” she said.


State Treasurer’s Office Moves Forward With New Nevada Capital Investment Program

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:04 pm January 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Treasurer Kate Marshall announced today that a request for proposals for a manger to oversee a new investment program using up to $50 million from the state Permanent School Fund has been issued by the Nevada Capital Investment Corporation (NCIC) Board of Directors.

Submissions for the Request for Proposal must be received by the state Treasurer’s Office by March 9. A committee will then review the submissions and provide the NCIC board its recommendations as to the top candidates. The NCIC will select the top vendor.

Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall.

The fund manager will be responsible for the development of an investment plan for approval by the board, selection of private equity funds that will invest in Nevada businesses, for providing mentoring and networking opportunities for Nevada entrepreneurs, and for developing a collaborative partnership between Nevada System of Higher Education institutions, investors, and private industry.

“Based on the tremendous interest we have received from the private sector, we expect to receive dozens of submissions to our RFP, which will provide the board with the opportunity and the ability to select a professional firm that will seek investments in businesses located in Nevada, looking to expand in Nevada, or in businesses wishing to relocate in Nevada,” Marshall said.  “In accordance with SB 75, the fund manager’s primary and fiduciary investment responsibility is to generate a positive return; however, because of its statutory-mandated focus on Nevada, an ancillary benefit will be increased economic development and employment in Nevada.”

Sponsored by Marshall during the 2011 legislative session, Senate Bill 75 created the state’s first in-state private equity investment fund. The goal of this fund is to capitalize on investment opportunities in Nevada in order to increase funding for Nevada’s K-12 schools.

SB 75 created the NCIC, a nonprofit corporation overseen by a seven member board, including appointees by the governor and the Legislature. Under SB 75, up to $50 million from the state’s Permanent School Fund may be invested in private equity. The Permanent School Fund is comprised of non-tax dollars. Earnings from the fund go to Nevada’s K-12 schools.

State Lawmaker Asks AG To Respond To Query About $6 Million In Outside Legal Fees In Freeway Dispute

By Sean Whaley | 11:08 am January 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, has asked Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto why an outside legal firm was retained to defend the state against a freeway construction dispute. Legal costs charged to the state will total $6 million by the end of an arbitration hearing set for next month.

The Jan. 12 letter asked Masto why her office retained, or advised the Nevada Department of Transportation to retain, an outside law firm to defend the state against a $40 million claim filed by Utah-based Ames Construction, which built the first phase of the 395 bypass in the capital that opened in February of 2006.

Carson City bypass. / Photo courtesy of NDOT.

Brower also asked about the process that led to the retention of the firm of Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald to handle the case beginning in 2008. He also asks why a Nevada firm was not retained, and what controls are in place to monitor the fees being incurred.

Brower asked for a response within 30 days.

The attorney general’s office has not yet responded to Brower’s letter.

In a telephone interview, Brower said several constituents asked about the amount of fees incurred so far and why a Virginia law firm was retained to represent the state.

“Those two issues raised red flags with me, and so I thought it made sense to just ask a few questions of the attorney general’s office and ask her to clarify exactly, as I set forth in the letter, why the state has hired this out-of-state firm as opposed to an in-state firm or doing the litigation in the AG’s office,” he said.

“I think that some questions need to be answered, and I am frankly, concerned with the general management of litigation matters by the attorney general’s office,” Brower said. “And so here is another example that seems to raise some red flags.”

The concerns are strictly fiscal in nature, he said.

“We just don’t have money to waste,” Brower said. “At least this particular situation seems to suggest that maybe we are. Maybe there are good answers to all of these questions I raised in my letter but there is only one way to find out and that is to ask them.”

Scott Magruder, a spokesman for NDOT, said today the agency actually retained the firm, which is one of the leading construction litigation firms in the nation. The firm has an office in Las Vegas. The agency wanted quality representation because of the size of the claim, he said.

The $70 million contract for the first 3.5-miles of freeway bypass was awarded to Ames in 2003.

Gov. Brian Sandoval first raised concerns about the amount of legal fees at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Department of Transportation earlier this month. He said he had not seen such costs for a legal challenge before.

“Because even at those rates, $6 million, I haven’t seen that before,” Sandoval said at the Jan. 9 meeting. “I mean this just gets us to the mediation, as you say, and then we don’t know what the outcome of the mediation is going to be after that.”

State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The rates charged by the legal firm’s attorneys are as high as $340 an hour for the senior partner, but members of the board were told the rates are not excessive and have not changed since the dispute first began.

“That’s not an unreasonable fee,” Masto said at the meeting. Masto also serves as a member of the Transportation Board.

Dennis Gallagher, NDOT’s chief legal counsel with the attorney general’s office, told the board at the meeting that the legal fees also cover the experts hired to defend the state. He said the case is extremely complex and that Ames has not backed down from its $40 million claim.

“The state vigorously disputes this claim; has been defending it in court since 2008; we finally got it to a point where it will go to mediation the end of February and this latest amendment is to bring the fees current through the mediation, Gallagher said.


Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says the legal costs have raised red flags:

012512Brower1 :23 the AG’s office.”

Brower says he is concerned with the general management of litigation matters by the attorney general’s office:

012512Brower2 :23 go from there.”

Brower says the state does not have money to waste:

012512Brower3 :31 to ask them.”

Lawmaker Review Of 45-Year-Old Nevada Public Education Funding Plan Hits Financial Roadblock

By Sean Whaley | 2:23 pm January 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers today began a review of the state’s 45-year-old formula for funding public education with an eye towards addressing the needs of the state’s urban districts as they work to educate special education students, English-language learners and children in poverty.

The panel is still searching for funding for a study to help in the review, however. The failure to find private funding for a study could jeopardize any meaningful review in this interim, lawmakers were told.

Nevada public education funding formula study hits financial roadblock.

The panel decided to give the Clark County School District, which advocated for the review in the 2011 legislative session, until Feb. 21 to identify a minimum of $125,000 in private funding to perform the necessary study. The panel would then meet again on Feb. 28 if the funding is secured.

The New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study was authorized by the 2011 Legislature to look at the “Nevada Plan” the current funding formula adopted in 1967.

“As we know over the past several decades since the Nevada Plan was developed and adopted, our state has grown and changed significantly,” said Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, the chairman of the panel. “A periodic review of the state’s funding methodology for public schools is necessary to ensure that the funding methodology accomplishes what it was originally designed to do  - which was to ensure an adequate educational opportunity for all Nevada students regardless of individual school district wealth.”

Following a review of the Nevada Plan, the panel can then determine if inadequacies or inequities exist, he said.

“Then we can develop any recommendations for improvement, if necessary, to ensure that the state’s public school funding methodology equitably considers the individual needs and characteristics of Nevada’s public school student population,” Conklin said.

Joyce Haldeman, associate superintendent of community and government relations with the Clark County School District, said there is no intention with the review to take away funding from other school districts.

Instead, the state’s largest school district would like to see additional factors given weight in the formula, including English language learners, special education students, gifted and talented and students receiving free- and reduced lunches, she said.

The study is the result of Senate Bill 11 sought by the Clark County School District to consider a weighted enrollment formula to take into account the different educational needs of children in the larger districts.

Craig Stevens, director of government relations for the Nevada State Education Association, spoke in support of the study.

“Our state is simply too diverse and the needs are too specialized to have a flat rate just for every single child,” he said. “It really not only hurts those that need the specialization but those that do not as well. We fully support making sure that funds are differentiated so that the student gets the services that they need in order to be fully successful.”

Several parents from Clark County also expressed support for the study, saying the funding formula needs revision because it shortchanges the district.

But Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, a member of the panel, asked for justification for the review, noting a 2007 study by lawmakers identified no inequities in the Nevada Plan.

After spending nearly $250,000, the conclusion was that the Nevada Plan was highly equitable, he said.

“Now what’s changed between 2007 and today?” Hansen asked.

The committee debated how overarching any funding formula review should be, given that no money was allocated for a study. The consensus was that a narrow review, focusing on several key student populations, would be the most practical approach if funding is secured.

The Clark County School District had anticipated $125,000 in funding from a foundation to pay for a study, but the district learned the money will not be forthcoming, Haldeman told the panel. The district is looking for other funding sources, she said.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank, weighed in on the Nevada Plan in September 2011, noting that many people, including policy makers, are either confused or deliberately misleading on the issue of per pupil funding in the public schools.

The analysis suggested that when all sources of funding are included in per pupil expenditures, the dollars spent are much higher than are reported by the districts.


Audio clips:

Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, says the study is needed to ensure an adequate educational opportunity for all students:

012412Conklin1 :23 school district wealth.”

Conklin says once there is an understanding of the Nevada Plan, the panel can consider the need for any changes:

012412Conklin2 :27 school student population.”

Craig Stevens, director of government relations for the Nevada State Education Association, says the study is much needed:

012412Stevens :23 be fully successful.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, says the issue was studied in 2007 and no inequities were found:

012412Hansen :25 2007 and today.”


Nevada’s Jobless Rate Drops To 12.6 Percent In December, But Smaller Workforce Partly Responsible

By Sean Whaley | 12:20 pm January 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s unemployment rate fell by four-tenths of a percentage point to 12.6 percent in December, the second consecutive monthly decline that saw the number of jobless drop to 166,300, a state agency reported today.

A year ago, the rate, which is adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in the labor market, hit a record high of 14.9 percent.

“I am encouraged by the overall report of this month’s unemployment figures, with job growth slowly but surely returning to Nevada’s economy,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval. “This year, as we help businesses expand and recruit new businesses to Nevada, we will continue our focus on getting Nevada working again.”

Construction workers. / Courtesy of flickr Paul Keheler via Wikimedia Commons.

Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), said the drop in the jobless rate was the result of “continued modest employment growth, combined with (a) relatively stable labor force.”

However, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate increased slightly in each of Nevada’s sub-state areas.  In Las Vegas, the unemployment rate increased from 12.4 percent in November to 12.7 percent in December.

The unemployment rate in the Reno-Sparks area increased three-tenths of a percentage point to 11.9 percent in December.

In Carson City, the jobless rate climbed to 12.2 percent in December from 11.9 percent in November.

The unemployment rate in the Elko micropolitan area (includes Elko and Eureka counties) increased just one-tenth to 6.7 percent.

Based upon preliminary information, the unemployment situation improved in 2011 compared to the previous year. Statewide, the jobless rate averaged 13.1 percent in 2011, down nearly two full percentage points from the 2010 average of 14.9 percent.

In Las Vegas, the unemployment rate declined nearly two percentage points  – down from 15.2 percent in 2010 to 13.3 percent in 2011. Reno and Carson City experienced identical changes from 2010 to 2011, where the unemployment rate fell from 14.1 percent in 2010 to 12.5 percent in 2011. The jobless rate in the Elko area contracted by 1.2 percentage points, falling from 8.4 percent in 2010 to 7.2 percent in 2011. This was driven by record-high gold prices.

“Indeed, there are fewer unemployed workers,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, the decline in these rates in 2011 is not entirely due to an improving economy. A declining labor force also contributed to the drop in unemployment.

“As unemployed workers give up their job search or move beyond Nevada’s borders, the labor force declines and unemployment falls,” he said. “This was the case in 2011, especially during the first half of the year. During the year’s final months, we saw some signs of stability in the labor force numbers.”

On the jobs front, December employment readings came in 3,500 higher than a year ago, the fourth consecutive gain. For the entire year, Nevada added about 2,100 jobs (preliminary estimate), the first such gain since 2007.

“Many jobs were created during the economic boom of the mid-2000s, though a good many were artificially created by the housing bubble,” Anderson said. “With the bubble now deflated, a large number of workers are now left in the precarious position of seeking work elsewhere or retraining for new industries.”


Audio clips:

DETER economist Bill Anderson says the December jobs report overall is positive:

012312Anderson1 :22 50,000 to 60,000.”

Anderson says because the recession hit Nevada so hard, there is still a long ways to go to a full recovery:

012112Anderson2 :08 way to go.”


School Choice Limited But Expanding In Nevada As National Event Highlights Need For More Options

By Sean Whaley | 9:41 am January 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – As National School Choice Week gets under way today state officials say Nevada school children have more opportunities than ever before to choose a school that works best for them.

But one element of choice, a school voucher program, remains an unrealized and divisive issue for the state’s policy makers.

Successes include a strong charter school law that is helping make the semi-autonomous schools available to more Nevada students, expanding distance learning programs, home-schooling opportunities and the ability in the state’s largest school district for open enrollment, Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a Friday interview.

Another positive are the career and technical academies in the Clark County School District that allow students to focus on specific vocational programs, from aeronautics to fashion design, he said.

“They are remarkable,” Sandoval said. “That is a big component of choice in Clark County that is very popular.”

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Senate Education Committee in the 2011 session, also points to the state’s charter and magnet schools as examples of choice in Nevada.

“So I think we have a lot of great choices there,” he said. “We also have some decent laws on home schooling. Some parents want to have that ability to home school their kids but maybe they can’t provide sports or music so now they have that opportunity with some of the things that we’ve changed. So I definitely think it is important for parents to have some choices and options.”

National School Choice Week focuses on need for options

National School Choice Week – a series of hundreds of events shining a spotlight on the need for better educational options for children, kicked off in New Orleans on Saturday and runs through Jan. 28.

Sandoval issued a proclamation last week declaring National School Choice Week in Nevada while visiting a new charter school in Fallon. The Oasis Academy just finished its first semester with 120 students and has a waiting list, he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau.

Supporters of National School Choice Week believe that children and families deserve increased access to great public schools, public charter schools, virtual schools, private schools, and homeschooling.

School vouchers remain controversial in Nevada

But Nevada does not have a voucher program where parents could use taxpayer dollars to help pay to send their children to private schools. Efforts by Sandoval and state Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, to move in that direction in the 2011 legislative session were unsuccessful.

“I think the time has come for our state to move forward with regard to school choice and see how it works,” Sandoval said. “I think it would be extremely popular. I think there is a huge appetite amongst parents to have this opportunity.

“Competition is good,” he said. “And at the end of the day, the beneficiary is going to be the kids. And my goal is for every child to have quality education (and) a great teacher in every classroom every day.”

Sandoval said he supports a voucher program with means testing and will pursue the idea again in 2013, but the approach may change based on legal rulings on such programs around the country. Providing funding to parents instead of private schools, for example, might allow Nevada to avoid the constitutional prohibition on using public funds for “sectarian purposes.”

A handful of states offer voucher programs.

Another option is giving corporations that provide scholarships to parents for private school would get tax breaks, a program used in Florida.

Many Nevada lawmakers and members of the education establishment remain strongly opposed, however, to a voucher program.

Denis said the state needs to do more for its public education system before even contemplating the idea of a voucher program.

“If we were doing everything we could for public education then I would be willing to look at that issue in the future,” he said. “But we underfund education. You want to make sure the field is level.

“We’ve got some challenges but we’ve made some great changes in our reforms, and I think we’ll continue to do that,” Denis said. “But as far as the voucher stuff, I don’t think that there is support for that.”

Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, also opposes the idea of vouchers, saying there are quite a few other options for parents.

“The courts and the constitution say there should not be the commingling of public funds for that purpose and so we are opposed to vouchers,” she said. “We believe it undermines the public school system whether it is a charter school receiving state funding or a traditional public school receiving state funding. It takes money away from the system.”

It undermines the free education for all concept the country was founded on, Warne said.

Another component of choice, the open enrollment option in the Clark County School District, has a ways to go before it is a real option for many students.

Keith Rheault, Nevada’s superintendent of public instruction, said open enrollment is limited from a practical standpoint because of a lack of space at many schools to accept students from outside their attendance areas.

“Even though there is more flexibility, the choice probably isn’t as much as you think,” Rheault said.

School choice opportunities have expanded in Nevada

Nevada now has 31 charter schools serving about 8,000 students. Nevada’s passed its first charter school law in 1997. Nevada’s ranking among the states just improved to 20th from 23rd based on a national report issued last week by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Overall charter school enrollment now exceeds that of many of Nevada’s rural school districts.

The primary reason for the improved ranking was the 2011 Legislature’s adoption of Senate Bill 212, which created a new entity to focus exclusively on reviewing and approving charter schools in Nevada, a measure welcomed by Sandoval in his education reform efforts.

Sandoval said he has asked Steve Canavero, director of the new State Charter School Authority to review the states at the top of the rankings to see what more the state can and should do to promote the creation of the schools.

The state also has 174 private schools with just under 14,000 students enrolled. But Rheault said enrollment in private schools has been flat in recent years, due in part to the tough economy and the inability of parents to afford the tuition.

Rheault said distance learning, offered to some extent by the school districts and particularly in charter schools, is growing quickly in Nevada.

“The Nevada Virtual Academy, for example, I think started in 2007 with about 400 students, and they are strictly a distance ed school,” Rheault said. “I think they are over 2,000 students this year. We probably have over 5,000 or 6,000 students being educated just by distance education programs.”

But the option exercised by most parents is to send their children to the public school system run by locally elected boards in each of the 17 counties. For the most part, children attend the school they are zoned for by each district.

Public school enrollment was projected to total just under 422,000 this year.

National School Choice Week comes at a busy time for education reform in Nevada

On Tuesday, a panel of Nevada state lawmakers will begin looking at news ways of funding public education. And on Thursday, the state Board of Education is expected to receive the names of six finalists for the state’s top public education job. The names of three finalists will be forwarded to Sandoval for the position of state superintendent of public instruction, an appointment he has said is one of the most important he will make as governor.

The 2011 Legislature changed state law to allow the governor to pick the schools chief. Until now, the state Board of Education picked the superintendent.

The state is also pursuing a waiver to allow for flexibility in implementing the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Sandoval supports the move, which is expected to allow the state to tailor the requirements of the law to meet Nevada’s unique characteristics.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he will bring the voucher bill again in 2013:

012212Sandoval1 :37 state of Nevada.”

Sandoval says the time has come to move forward with school choice:

012212Sandoval2 :31 school choice bill.”

Sandoval says competition among public and private schools will benefit the kids:

012212Sandoval3 :17 classroom every day.”

State Sen. Mo Denis says Nevada offers parents a lot of school choices:

012212Denis1 :25 and some options.”

Denis says the state needs to fund public education before considering vouchers:

012212Denis2 :18 field is level.”

NSEA President Lynn Warne says the courts oppose vouchers:

012212Warne1 :30 choice of theirs.”

Warne says vouchers undermine the concept of a free public education for all:

012212Warne2 :22 was founded on.”


Democrats Caucus In Capital To Support President Obama For A Second Term

By Sean Whaley | 5:03 pm January 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nearly 250 capital city Democrats took time out today to participate in the party caucus, supporting President Barack Obama in a process that held no surprises for the party faithful.

The caucus at the Carson City Middle School was one of 118 held around Nevada today as the state Democrat Party gears up for the 2012 election.

Carson Democrat caucus leader Marty McGarry reviews the process for participants. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Unlike 2008, when the Democrat nominee was still undecided at the time of the caucus, the nonbinding ballot had two options: the president or uncommitted. Obama was getting strong support among participants.

The Nevada State Democratic Party reported that with 90 percent of precincts reporting, more than 98 percent, or 12,000 participants, supported the president.

Republicans will hold their Nevada caucus on Feb 4. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to be the favorite. He won handily here in 2008.

Life-long Democrat James Stevenson, 75, said he came out to support the president because of concerns that Republicans want to cut back on Medicare and other benefits Americans worked for.

“The Republican Party is trying to blackmail the middle class in this country,” he said. “They have threatened to take our Medicare away, which we pay for ourselves, they don’t pay for it. They want to get rid of the unions because the unions are the backbones of the middle class.”

“People have to wake up to what’s going on in this country,” Stevenson said.

The Democrat party used to stand up to the rich and the greedy, he said. The party today does not seem to be doing that, Stevenson said.

The Democratic Party is using Republican proposals to make cuts to Medicare benefits a major campaign issue. Republicans counter they are trying to make reasonable reductions in spending on Medicare and other entitlements to address the spiraling federal deficit.

Caucus participant Charlie Muller reviews the rules. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Jean Lea, 78, said she came out to support the president even though she hasn’t always voted for the party’s presidential nominee. Lea said she voted for Obama in 2008 and will likely do so again this year.

“My feeling is if I don’t come down and do this I have absolutely no recourse during the next four years to say my piece against or for legislation or anything else,” she said. “If you don’t vote keep your mouth shut.”

Rachel Sigman, an Obama volunteer, urged those attending to get started early in supporting the president’s re-election bid.

It seems as if there is more at stake in 2012 than there was in 2008, she said.

The caucus was the first step in the process of selecting delegates to attend the National Democratic Convention in September. Nevada will send 44 delegates to the convention in Charlotte, N.C.


Audio clips:

James Stevenson says Republicans are threatening the middle class:

012112Stevenson :25 the middle class.”

Jean Lea says if you don’t participate you have no right to complain:

012112Lea :20 your mouth shut.”


Reno Assemblyman Named GOP Caucus Leader In Unanimous Vote

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:08 pm January 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Reno Republican Assemblyman Pat Hickey was unanimously elected today to be the new GOP Assembly Caucus Leader.

The former minority Leader, Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, stepped down because of his intention to run for the Nevada State Senate in District 19.

Assembly Republicans currently hold 16 seats in the 42-member Assembly, while Democrats control 26 seats. Hickey said he is optimistic the caucus can improve on those numbers in November.

Hickey, who represents District 25 in Reno, returned to the Assembly in 2010 after an absence of several years.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey during the 2011 legislative session. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“As a caucus, we sincerely thank Pete Goicoechea for his leadership over the years,” Hickey said. “I am humbled and honored to be selected to follow in his footsteps. As the new leader, I will direct my energy and focus on supporting a strong conservative agenda and electing a dynamic slate of candidates this election cycle.”

Hickey was first elected to the Assembly in 1996 in the Democratic majority District 27. He then took time to focus on his family and business before running for Assembly in District 25 in 2010.

“The 2012 election cycle presents opportunities for our caucus to strengthen and grow,” Hickey said. “I am confident that our conservative message of limited government and fiscal responsibility will resonate with the people of this great state.”

In a telephone interview, Hickey said he believes Assembly Republicans have a chance to capitalize on GOP momentum in the state Senate and pick up several seats. Senate Republicans are optimistic they can retake the majority from Democrats, who now have an 11-10 edge.

“The level of enthusiasm at this moment in Republican state circles has extended from the Senate where they of course are sharing a realistic optimism they that are going to be in the majority,” he said. “And given the quantity and quality of candidates that we have attracted in Assembly races following redistricting, frankly, is giving us a great deal of optimism with respect to the prospects of significantly growing the caucus.”

In a perfect set of circumstances, Republicans could come close to taking the majority, but realistically the caucus could see its numbers increase to the high teens or low 20s, Hickey said.

The caucus is ahead of where it was in the last election cycle with fundraising, he said.

Hickey said he is in a position where he can devote all of his time to getting Assembly Republicans elected in November.

“I mean there are so many ingredients that go into a successful election cycle,” he said. “In the end it’s the quality of candidates and we’re especially hopeful this time because we think we’ve got some very good candidates who will no doubt be extremely competitive and in many cases successful.”

Democrats had a two-thirds, 28-vote veto proof majority in the 2009 legislative session. Assembly Republicans picked up two seats in the 2010 general election to take away the two-thirds advantage in the 2011 session.

Hickey, a small business owner, is a 4th generation Nevadan. He was born in Carson City and grew up in Lake Tahoe. He received his master of arts in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Hickey and his wife, Shin, have been married for 34 years and have four children.

Hickey’s election comes just days after Assembly Democrats voted to make Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, the leader of their caucus after a contested election.


Audio clips:

GOP Assembly Caucus leader Pat Hickey says Republicans are optimistic of regaining the majority in the Senate:

011912Hickey1 :23 in the majority.”

Hickey says that optimism is now extending to the Assembly as well:

011912Hickey2 :24 growing the caucus.”

Hickey says the caucus will have competitive and successful candidates:

011912Hickey3 :26 many cases, successful.”

Nevada Charter School Law Strengthened In 2011, National Group Says

By Sean Whaley | 4:13 pm January 18th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s charter school law was strengthened in 2011, seeing its ranking among the states moving to 20th from 23rd as a result, a national group reported this week.

Nevada’s overall score improved from 97 points to 111 out of a potential of 208 points in the report issued Tuesday by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Keith Rheault, state superintendent of public instruction, said the primary reason for the improved ranking was the 2011 Legislature’s adoption of Senate Bill 212, which created a new entity to focus exclusively on reviewing and approving charter schools in Nevada.

The State Charter School Authority makes Nevada one of only eight states to have a statewide authorizing agency focused on building high quality charter schools, said Gov. Brian Sandoval in August when he appointed Steve Canavero of Reno as director of the new organization.

The bill eliminated the previous approval process using a subcommittee of the state Board of Education.

The improvement is good news for those who support increased school choice, and comes as National School Choice Week is set to get under way on Sunday.

Nevada has 31 charter schools serving about 8,000 students. Nevada passed its first charter school law in 1997.

Potential areas for improvement in Nevada’s law include increasing operational autonomy and ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities, the assessment said.

The organization said that following one of the most positive years for state charter school legislation in recent memory, there were numerous changes in the rankings. Sixteen states saw their charter school law scores increase, 22 states’ overall scores remained the same, and four states fell in their overall score.

Maine’s law, which passed last year, vaulted to the top of the rankings. Of the states that allow charter schools, Mississippi’s law remains at the bottom of the list.

In its third year, “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws” ranks each of the country’s 42 state charter school laws. Each state received a score on its law’s strength based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS model law, which include measuring quality and accountability, equitable access to funding and facilities and limited caps on charter school growth.

“What’s most encouraging about the charter school movement’s legislative efforts is that they are more frequently marrying growth with quality and accountability,” said lead author of the report and NAPCS Vice President for State Advocacy and Support, Todd Ziebarth. “The long-term viability of the charter school movement is primarily dependent on the quality of the schools that open.  It’s critical that state lawmakers recognize the importance of charter school quality and accountability – and the impact that their laws have on it.  We are glad to see that they are increasingly doing so.”

In the 2011 rankings, the average score of all states with a charter school law was 100 (out of a maximum possible 208), and in this year’s rankings the average state score rose to 107, demonstrating that state charter laws are increasingly improving.  The top 10 states with laws best positioned to support the growth of high-quality charter schools are Maine, Minnesota, Florida, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Indiana, Colorado, New York, California and Michigan.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools describes itself as the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.


Audio clip:

State public education chief Keith Rheault says the improved ranking is due to the new charter authority:

011812Rheault :10 got started, so.”


Nevada Ranks 30th In Animal Protection, National Organization Says In New Report

By Sean Whaley | 2:17 pm January 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada ranked 30th among the states in how it protects animals in 2011, scoring only 25 points out of a possible 66, The Humane Society of the United States said in a national report released today.

Ranking first with 46 points was California, followed by New Jersey and Oregon with 40 points. In last place was South Dakota with eight points, with Idaho second to last with nine points.

Courtesy of The Humane Society of the United States

Nevada improved its score from 2010, but the organization noted that the state’s laws regarding the possession of dangerous wild animals are weak. Nevada ranked 30th in 2010 but had 24 points, one fewer than in the 2011 report card.

The third annual rating evaluates the states on a wide range of animal protection laws, including animal cruelty codes, equine protection standards, wildlife issues, animals in research and farm animal policy.

“Our Humane State Ranking provides a big-picture look at how states are faring on animal-protection policies, and how they rank in the nation,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “There are some states that are adopting innovative and strong policies to protect animals, while others are lagging badly. Animal protection is a serious matter for tens of millions of Americans, and we hope state lawmakers fulfill their moral responsibility and help us crack down on abuses.”

Nevada’s ranking was unchanged despite several new measures approved by the 2011 Legislature to further protections for animals.

They included Senate Bill 223, sponsored by Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, and Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, known as “Cooney’s Law” after a dog brutally killed with a box cutter, was the highest profile animal welfare measure considered during the session. The new law makes willful or malicious cruelty to pet animals a felony on the first offense. Under previous law, a felony charge could be issued only after a third act of cruelty.

Also winning approval were:

- Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, Parks, and Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, requiring the wildlife commission to regulate leg hold traps in congested areas.

- Senate Bill 299, sponsored by Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, requiring commercial dog breeders to be licensed and to have regular county inspections, bans the stacking of cages and the use of wire floors in puppy mills, and prohibits the breeding of dogs younger than 18 months of age. The bill applies only to commercial breeders selling dogs as pets, and exempts hobby breeders.

- Senate Bill 102, proposed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee, imposes civil penalties for illegally killing or possessing a trophy big game mammal, or for illegally killing or possessing certain wildlife species.

Not all measures were successful.

Senate Bill 364, which proposed to ban horse tripping, a practice of roping a horse’s legs used in some non-sanctioned rodeos, failed to win approval in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Supporters of the bill, including the Humane Society, said the practice is cruel and does occur in some non-advertised rodeos in Nevada.

Opponents said the proposal was an attempt to open the door to banning other types of rodeo events, and ultimately, rodeos themselves.