Archive for May, 2012

Plan To Move Nevada Primary Closer To General Election Likely To Face Tough Road In Legislature Next Year

By Sean Whaley | 12:21 pm May 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A proposal by Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, to move Nevada’s primary election back to September to shorten the campaign season didn’t get out of the starting gate in 2011.

The Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee held one hearing on Assembly Bill 157, which had cosponsors from both major political parties. But it also saw serious opposition from state election officials and never came up for a vote.

Photo by Guroadrunner via Wikimedia Commons.

Even so, Hickey said he would like to again pursue the idea of moving the primary closer to the November general election in the 2013 legislative session. The Assembly GOP caucus leader announced his intentions Monday while discussing proposed reforms to the campaign finance and lobbying reporting laws. Hickey said he is not set on a particular date for the primary.

But the election season goes on too long with the June primary and voters lose interest, he said.

“In shortening the length of the campaign season we might actually create an electorate that is actively engaged rather than being turned off and tuned out by the time November rolls around,” Hickey said.

It would also reduce the amount of time Democratic and Republican candidates would have to campaign against each other, Hickey said.

“By doing so we might even make progress in restoring a measure of civility to campaigning or at the very least, shorten the period we make enemies of each other in the dog days of summer before we arrive in Carson City before the cold days of winter needing to make peace with each other,” he said.

The late Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, was an advocate for moving the primary back to September.

But several Nevada election officials opposed the change in the 2011 hearing, arguing a September primary is too close to the November general election to ensure ballots can be prepared and delivered to voters, especially overseas military personnel.

In 2005 the Legislature changed the primary from September to August to accommodate the time concerns of election officials. August primaries were held in 2006 and 2008.

But Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said at the 2011 hearing that the August date proved imperfect because of the heat of the summer in Las Vegas for those campaigning and because of concerns that many potential voters were on vacation.

The Legislature changed the date again in 2009 to the second Tuesday in June, which was used in the 2010 election season. The primary this year is June 12.

The Secretary of State’s office also opposed the change back to September during the 2011 hearing, citing the same concern about the U.S. Department of Justice requirement for mailing out overseas ballots.

Lomax said today that a September primary is not doable because of the need to comply with the federal regulations for overseas ballots. The August primary was not popular either because of the heat and concerns about participation by voters, he said.

“I understand what they say about the additional campaigning . . . but early voting starts here next week and there is nothing going on but signs posted around,” Lomax said. “So I don’t know how much that turns off the voters.”

The only significant television or radio advertising on the air in Southern Nevada is not local but is related to the presidential race, he said.

The second Tuesday in June has proved to be a good date for a variety of reasons, and Lomax said it should be left alone.

Hickey acknowledged that a bill changing the primary will face opposition from many lawmakers. There are arguments that a shorter campaign season favors incumbents, he said.

“I really do think that with 10- and 12-month campaigns every other year we take ourselves away from doing the work in the interim,” he said. “I think it does contribute to the animosity and the distance that members of both parties feel from each other with long and heated campaigns such as they are. And maybe more importantly I really do think we wear the public out and I think we turn a lot of them off.”


Audio clips:

Assemblyman Pat Hickey says a shorter campaign season might improve relationships between the two parties:

052212Hickey1 :16 with each other.”

Hickey says a shorter campaign season could lead to an actively engaged electorate:

052212Hickey2 :32 November rolls around.”



Republican Candidates For New 4th Congressional District Focus Mostly On Issues In Debate

By Sean Whaley | 8:39 pm May 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Three of the Republicans seeking the right to challenge state Democratic Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford for Nevada’s new 4th Congressional District seat sought to establish their conservative credentials in a televised debate today.

Barbara Cegavske, in the middle of her final four-year term in the state Senate, Danny Tarkanian, who has run for elective office on several occasions including a campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010, and Dan Schwartz, a businessman and attorney fresh to the political arena, are seeking a victory in the June 12 primary to advance to the November general election.

In a televised debate on the Face To Face television program, the candidates took the opportunity to sell themselves  voters.

The debate was fairly subdued, without any real fireworks among the three candidates.

The sharpest attack came when Schwartz’s television ad was aired, which criticized Tarkanian for running repeatedly for a “taxpayer funded” job. Schwartz called himself a job creating businessman and a constitutional conservative in the spot.

Dan Schwartz.

“The question is, he’s run three times and Nevadans have said they’ve considered it, they just haven’t pulled the lever,” Schwartz said in commenting on his ad.

Cegavske said she would examine the federal budget line-by-line to find savings in an effort to achieve her campaign goal of cutting $1 trillion in federal spending in her first year in office. The U.S. Department of Education would be the place to start with the Commerce Department second, she said.

“You can go through all the agencies, and if you start looking through each one, you bring that money back to the states, give block granting, and you can cut administration,” she said.

Tarkanian offered some specifics on what he would do if elected, pointing to flaws in the Endangered Species Act and potential protections for the Sage Grouse that are stifling job growth in Nevada.

“Everywhere I go in rural Nevada, everywhere I go in the Mesquite area, they complain that if you are on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and you want to get a mine started, if you want to do anything on BLM land, it takes seven to 10 years to get it processed through the federal government,” he said.

Danny Tarkanian.

The same process takes three to five years at the state level, Tarkanian said.

“Why does it take almost twice as long in the federal government when Nevada needs jobs. We should make it easier for people to get permitted,” he said.

Tarkanian also said his proposal for tax fairness means eliminating tax loopholes and tax breaks and lowering the income tax rate for average Americans.

The three candidates agreed with Gov. Brian Sandoval that Internet purchases should be subjected to the state sales tax. Sandoval recently reached an agreement with Amazon to collect the tax on Nevada purchases. Their positions conflict, however, with U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck, both R-Nev., who oppose the so-called Main Street Protection Act.

The three candidates agreed for the need to repeal the federal health care law, but they also argued that worthwhile elements, such as providing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, should be continued independently.

Tarkanian said his biggest concern with the law is the cost to the state’s Medicaid program, which cannot be afforded. The health care system can be strengthened by allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines and by providing for the portability of health insurance plans, he said.

Cegavske said the law has to be repealed in its entirety as the first step.

Barbara Cegavske.

“And anything that is salvageable or people think is good then you can bring those issues back,” she said. “We don’t have the money to pay for Obamacare.”

Schwartz said repeal is necessary although there are some elements worth preserving such as letting children stay on their parents insurance through age 26.

Then the real problems have to be addressed such as how hospitals are paid, he said.

“Another real problem is that we as Americans all feel entitled to health care,” Schwartz said. “And we just can’t continue with a system that just says you can get whatever you want.”

Tarkanian is leading in the fundraising race for the primary, while long-time state lawmaker Cegavske has been endorsed by Nevada’s two GOP Congressional representatives: Mark Amodei and Joe Heck. Cegavske served with both men in the state Senate.

The Republican candidate faces a challenge in the district, however, newly created as a result of the 2010 census. The district, which includes parts of urban Clark County and much of central rural Nevada, has a Democratic voter edge.

Through April, there were 111,978 active Democrats registered in the district, compared to 89,182 Republicans, for a 44 percent to 35.1 percent for Republicans. There are also 39,273 nonpartisan voters.


Audio clips:

Sen. Barbara Cegavske says federal spending can be slashed using block grants:

052112Cegavske1 :18 cut his budget.”

Cegavske says Nevada cannot afford the federal health care law:

052112Cegavske2 :12 pay for Obamacare.”

Candidate Dan Schwartz says Danny Tarkanian has failed to win the support of Nevada voters in past campaigns:

052112Schwartz1 :05 pulled the lever.”

Schwartz says federal health care costs must be curtailed:

052112Schwartz2 :27 whatever you want.”

Candidate Danny Tarkanian says federal permitting rules need to be streamlined:

052112Tarkanian1 :24 to get permitted.”

Tarkanian says the federal health care law will bankrupt the state:

052112Tarkanian2 :16 health care system.”


Assembly Republican Leadership Calls For More Campaign Finance Transparency

By Sean Whaley | 1:28 pm May 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – The leader of the Assembly Republican Caucus today used a Tuesday reporting deadline for candidates running for election this year to announce several proposals to require more accountability and transparency in the financing of campaigns in Nevada.

“In order to help reduce the influence of money in Silver State politics and to empower the public with real-time information about campaign expenditures and contributions, I would propose to my fellow state lawmakers, as well as to Gov. Brian Sandoval, Secretary of State Ross Miller and other state officials, that we begin the 2013 Legislature with a serious commitment to put our Nevada election campaign house in order,” said Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno.

Among the proposals presented today at a press briefing at the state Capitol: more “real time” reporting of campaign contributions, particularly in the periods leading up to the primary and general elections; reporting of gifts, including travel, by lawmakers in-between legislative sessions; enhancing auditing capabilities to ensure compliance with campaign finance laws; and establishing a cooling off period before retired lawmakers can return to lobby the Legislature. Another proposal would require ending fund balance reports showing how much money incumbents have on hand after an election.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey discusses his campaign finance reform proposals today with Assembly candidate David Espinosa, right, and Assemblyman Randy Kirner. Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“With so many outstanding individuals serving in the Nevada Legislature, I’m asking members of both parties to lead the way in establishing higher standards of public transparency and accountability,” he said.

Hickey was joined by Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, and Republican Assembly candidate David Espinosa, in calling for the Legislature to take up campaign finance reform as a priority in the 2013 session. A similar event was also scheduled for Las Vegas later today.

The proposals were first reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston on Sunday.

Hickey acknowledged that some progress was made in campaign finance reporting reforms in the 2011 session.

Bills sought by Miller now require electronic filing of campaign contribution and expense reports, and they will be filed Tuesday, well before the June 12 primary. The reports will be required to be updated before primary election day as well. The filings are also now more easily searched by the public.

But other efforts to make reforms, such as requiring the disclosure of trips paid for by lobbyists for lawmakers for “fact-finding” missions to such locations as London and the Bahamas, failed to see approval in the Democrat-controlled Assembly, Hickey said.

The trips cited by Hickey were paid for by PokerStars, a company that sought online gaming legislation in 2011. Three Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Steven Horsford and Assemblymen William Horne and Kelvin Atkinson, went on the trips. Founders of the company were later indicted by a federal grand jury for illegal gambling, among other charges.

There was also an effort by some Nevada lawmakers to require a two-year cooling off period from lobbying by former public officials, including lawmakers, but the provision was stripped from a campaign finance reform measure.

Kirner said Nevada ranked low in a national report released in March looking at state government transparency and accountability, making Nevada a high risk state for potential corruption. The ideas presented today should get bipartisan support, he said.

“And so these proposals, these new measures, I think, bring a sense of openness to the relationship between lobbyists and the Legislature, and presents a greater sense of accountability, which I think is in the interest of our citizens,” Kirner said.

Former state lawmaker and current lobbyist Jim Spinello, who works for R&R Partners, said anything the Legislature can do to increase transparency would be a positive development. Spinello, who served in the Assembly in from 1987 to 1990, said he tried to deal with the ending fund balances of candidates during his tenure without success.

“People have a right to know and should know how their elected officials are being influenced,” he said. “Anyone who says campaign contributions are not a form of influence would be kidding themselves.”

The technology available today makes such proposals as more frequent reporting of campaign contributions easily accomplished, Spinello said.

But campaign contribution limits to political parties and PACs could be more difficult with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizen United case, he said. The state of Montana is asking the court to reconsider aspects of its ruling, and 22 states, including Nevada, have joined in the request.

Geoffrey Lawrence with the Nevada Policy Research Institute, in a commentary published today, said increased lobbying and campaign finance transparency are badly needed.

The bill sponsored by then-Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, in 2011 that would have required lobbyists to report all spending on lawmakers, not just spending during a legislative session, passed the Senate but died in an Assembly committee without a vote, he said. It would have required reporting of trips like those paid for by PokerStars.

“Given the very recent history of apparent corruption in the legislative process, it’s imperative that lobbyist and campaign-finance reform be enacted to ensure greater transparency. SB 206 would have been a solid first step in that direction,” Lawrence said.

Hickey said he has briefed the Sandoval administration and Miller on his proposals, which he too said should receive bipartisan support. He has not yet discussed the ideas with Democratic lawmakers.

Sandoval said in a statement: “Increased transparency in government is good for the political process and should legislation be proposed, I look forward to working with the Legislature on meaningful reform.”

Hickey said other campaign-related ideas he would like to see discussed include moving the primary from June to a date closer to the November general election to reduce the length of the campaign season, and imposing limits on donations to candidates, political action committees and political parties.

“In shortening the length of the campaign season we might actually create an electorate that is actively engaged rather than being turned off and tuned out by the time November rolls around,” he said.


Audio clips:

Assemblyman Pat Hickey is calling on lawmakers to make campaign finance reform a priority in 2013:

052112Hickey1 :12 transparency and accountability.”

Hickey says a shorter campaign season might make for a more involved electorate:

052112Hickey2 :12 November rolls around.”

Assemblyman Randy Kirner says a recent study ranked Nevada low on transparency and accountability:

Kirner :22 of our citizens.”



Nevada Jobless Rate Drops Below 12 Percent In April For First Time In Nearly Three Years

By Sean Whaley | 10:21 am May 18th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s jobless rate dropped below 12 percent for the first time in nearly three years in April, a state agency reported today. The statewide seasonally adjusted rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 11.7 percent.

It was the eight consecutive month of declines, and brings the state jobless rate down from a peak of 14 percent reached in October 2010. The number of unemployed Nevadans has fallen from 193,600 to 158,600 over the period, the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) reported.

“Nevada has recorded year-over-year private sector job gains every month since early 2011, a clear sign that we are slowly but steadily working our way toward a stronger economy,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval. “We will continue to push for job growth in our economy, especially in key economic sectors to ensure the unemployment rate continues to decline.”

New job growth in Nevada is being driven by the private sector, which has added employment in every month since January 2011. So far this year, private sector job levels are trending about 13,800 higher than a year ago. That is on top of approximately 12,000 new jobs added in 2011. Those improvements are being partially offset by declines in the public sector, which has lost 6,400 jobs since January 2011.

Mining employment hit 16,000 jobs in April, setting a new peak dating back more than 20 years.

Courtesy of Barrick Mining Corp.

The unemployment rate in each of the state’s three metropolitan areas fell below 12 percent and reached levels not seen in nearly three years. In the Las Vegas region, the unemployment rate fell to 11.6 percent in April, down from 12 percent in March. The unemployment rate in the Reno-Sparks area fell by six-tenths to 11.4 percent in April.

In the capital region, the unemployment rate fell six-tenths to 11.8 percent in April, down from 12.4 percent in March. In the Elko micropolitan area (Elko and Eureka counties), the unemployment rate declined three-tenths to 6.3 percent. The rate is 5.2 percentage points lower than the statewide average and 1.4 points lower than the national average of 7.7 percent.

The local rates are not seasonally adjusted.

“Much has been made of late about the underlying reasons behind the downtrend in the unemployment rate,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for DETR. “While job growth has been positive of late, contributing to the drop in the jobless rate, there are some structural forces at play, as well. Specifically, the labor force participation rate (LFPR) has been trending down both at the state and national level for many years.”

At the beginning of the recession, about 66 percent of the U.S. population was in the labor force (either employed or unemployed). As of April, the LFPR was just 63.6 percent, suggesting individuals (presumably without a job) are dropping out of the labor force and are not counted amongst the unemployed.

In Nevada, the labor force participation rate has been trending down since the early 1980’s, after reaching a peak of 73.7 percent. The current LFPR stands at 64.9 percent, down from 67.8 since the start of the recession. While recent declines in the LFPR can be attributed to a poor job market, longer term trends point to changes in the structure of the economy and demographics of the population.

Results were mixed for Nevada’s major industry sectors. Mining employment rose by 100 in April and set a new series peak dating back to 1990. The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 2,900 jobs, with a strong showing from retail trade (+1,600), transportation/warehousing/utilities (+1,100); and an increase of 200 jobs in wholesale trade.

“On the down side, a number of industries shed employment in April,” Anderson said. “Construction (-900) continued to trend down, setting a new post-boom low.”


Audio clips:

DETR economist Bill Anderson says the April report shows stable and steady improvement:

051812Anderson1 :23 a year ago.”

Anderson says mining activity has led to low jobless rates in much of rural Nevada:

051812Anderson2 :27 of the state.”




GOP Candidates For Senate 18 Face Off In Televised Debate Ahead Of June 12 Primary

By Sean Whaley | 7:56 pm May 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Two Republican members of the Assembly who both want to move into the Senate in District 18 faced off today in a televised debate that focused primarily on a controversial 2011 tax vote.

Two-term lawmaker Richard McArthur and freshman Scott Hammond emphasized their divergent positions on the tax vote during the match-up on the Face To Face television program.

McArthur emphasized his conservative credentials, noting he was one of the few Republican members of the Assembly who in 2011 voted against a measure to extend a set of expiring taxes into the current budget to balance state spending plan. He received the highest score in the Assembly from the American Conservative Union.

GOP Senate 18 candidate Richard McArthur.

Hammond, who is endorsed by the Senate Republican Caucus, said his vote to extend the sunsets still resulted in 70 percent of Nevada businesses paying less in modified business taxes. The sunset extension eliminated the tax on businesses that reported less than $250,000 annually in annual wages. A recorded statement from 2010 showed Hammond telling an audience that he would not raise taxes, however.

Asked about his vote, Hammond said: “In the 2011 session, what we voted to do was actually to decrease spending by $500 million and over 70 percent of the businesses in the state of Nevada are now paying less in taxes on their MBT (Modified Business Tax) than they were, or were going to. So basically when I took over office people now are spending less in taxes than when I took over.”

But McArthur said the decision to extend the sunsets, based on a Nevada Supreme Court ruling that some said called into question a number of elements of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget that relied on local tax revenues, was overstated. The ruling in the Clean Water Coalition case found that Sandoval could not take $62 million in local revenues to bolster the state budget.

The case created only a small $62 million hole in the budget and did not require the extension of the expiring taxes, McArthur said.

“The budget wasn’t in jeopardy,” he said. “There wasn’t any problem. That was $62 million. That was easily covered.”

Sandoval, a Republican, recently announced his intentions to extend the sunsets another two years to avoid any further cuts to education

The candidates also talked about what they would support to reform public education.

McArthur said the education reforms approved in the 2011 session were minimal.

McArthur said he wants to end social promotion, a practice of advancing students to the next grade regardless of their achievement. Sandoval has made this issue a top priority of his 2013 education reform plan. McArthur also supports vouchers, which would give parents tax revenues to pick a school, including religious-sponsored schools, for their children to attend.

Hammond said he supports more school choice, including an expansion of charter schools. There needs to be more competition, he said.

GOP Senate 18 candidate Scott Hammond.

The Senate 18 district in Clark County, newly created as a result of redistricting due to the 2010 census, has a Republican voter advantage, 40.7 percent to 37.6 percent as of the end of April. It is one Republicans are counting on in their effort to take the majority in the 2013 session. Democrats now have an 11-10 edge in the 21-member Senate.

In the GOP Caucus endorsement of Hammond, Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said: “Assemblyman Hammond is exactly the kind of candidate Nevadans are looking for. He has a thorough understanding of the issues facing our state and is not afraid to tackle the tough issues. He will be a great addition to the Senate.”

Two Democrats, Kelli Ross and Donna Schlemmer, are also running in a primary for the seat.

Hammond teaches government and Spanish for the Clark County School District and political science at UNLV. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and their three children.

McArthur is a retired FBI agent with 25 years of service. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife of 41 years.


Audio clips:

Assemblyman Scott Hammond says his vote to extend a package of expiring taxes in 2011 did not increase taxes:

051712Hammond1 :19 I took over.”

Assemblyman Richard McArthur says the Supreme Court ruling did not create a budget hole requiring additional taxes:

051712McArthur1 :14 that $62 million.”



Lawmaker Panel Unanimously Selects Staffer Richard Combs As New Director Of Legislative Counsel Bureau

By Sean Whaley | 3:41 pm May 15th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Richard Combs, currently an Assembly fiscal analyst and member of the LCB staff since 1994, was the unanimous choice today of a legislative panel to become the next director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

The recommendation of the Committee to Consult with the Director will now go to the Legislative Commission for action later this month.

The committee interviewed five candidates for the position today, including four current members of the Legislative Counsel Bureau staff. The fifth candidate was the assistant director of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel for the state of Utah.

Lawmakers on the panel came down to two finalists after the interviews: Combs and Paul Townsend, currently the legislative auditor and a member of the LCB staff since 1987.

Members of the panel discussed the need to hire a director who could be ready for the 2013 legislative session while at the same time seeking someone with leadership capabilities.

“Always in the back of our mind is next session because it is like the inevitable, right,” said Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas. “But there are more sessions past that too. And the next person, at least in theory, could be here for awhile. And you want somebody who can carry on the traditions, deliver all the services that LCB currently does, but is also open to change, open to new ways of accomplishing the same thing, maybe more efficient.”

Combs will succeed Lorne Malkiewich, who retired as director of the LCB in early April after serving in the position for more than 18 years. The position pays $138,000 a year.


Audio clip:

Assemblyman Marcus Conklin says the new director should be someone who is open to change:

051512Conklin :29 maybe more efficient.”


Presidential Race Gets Local Focus As Obama, Romney Supporters Weigh In On Jobs, Deficit

By Sean Whaley | 2:50 pm May 15th, 2012

CARSON CITY – While Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were campaigning elsewhere today, Nevada Democrats and Republicans took up the battle for the presidency on their behalf.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., held a telephone conference call to talk up Romney’s credentials as a “turnaround specialist” who will get the country back on track. He also criticized Obama for failing to get spending or the national deficit under control as he promised early on in his presidency.

Mitt Romney speaks at a rally in Reno in February. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Nevada labor officials, meanwhile, attacked Romney’s business practices while with Bain Capital, a private equity firm he headed that has been criticized for cutting jobs.

As the Las Vegas Sun reported today, between 2000 and 2002, Stage Stores, a clothing chain, shut down three stores in rural Nevada as part of a bankruptcy. The stores’ closures came after Bain Capital had sold off its interest in the company in 1999.

Romney’s time at Bain Capital and his jobs record is the subject of a new ad by the Obama campaign.

In a Reno press conference featuring Todd Koch, president of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council, Romney’s economic philosophy was defined as: “CEOs and wealthy investors prosper by any means necessary – even when it means companies fail and workers get left behind.”

“No one here today is challenging Romney’s right to run his business as he saw fit,” Koch said. “However, this is about whether the lessons and values Romney drew from his time as a buyout specialist are the right lessons and values we want in our president. In deal after deal, Romney and his partners’ first priority was to make a personal profit regardless of the cost to others.”

Paul McKenzie, secretary treasurer of the Northern Nevada Building Trades Association, said: “The bottom line here is that Stage Store’s workers really lost out, and Romney and his partners did not. This was the quintessential case of two different sets of rules, and that’s not the kind of economy we want. Romney economics aren’t a prescription for a stronger economy and they aren’t a prescription for a stronger country.”

In his remarks, Heck said Obama’s recent comments on same sex marriage are an example of a campaign effort to avoid the real issue, which is the national debt.

“Unfortunately President Obama has no rationale to offer for his own reelection, and no record of achievement to run on in the area of debt and deficit. All he has is a record of broken promises,” Heck said. “As Mitt Romney said it’s still the economy, and we are not stupid.

“You probably remember that when he first was elected he pledged to cut the deficit in half, stating that if he was unsuccessful that this would be a one-term proposition,” Heck said. “Well instead, we’re on track to have the fourth, greater than a trillion dollar deficit this year, all under this president’s administration.”

Obama was actually referencing the economy when he made the one-term proposition comment in February 2009. But he also promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.

President Obama in Reno on Friday. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Heck said Romney’s record of accomplishments in business, creating a successful Salt Lake City Olympics and cutting spending as the governor of Massachusetts makes him one of the most qualified candidates for president in modern history.

“This country needs a turnaround specialist, and Mitt Romney’s career has been about taking things that are failing, and turning them around, and making them successful,” he said.

Romney will simplify the tax code and cut corporate tax rates to bring business and manufacturing back to the U.S., Heck said.

In response to a question, Heck addressed Romney’s time at Bain Capital and the fact that there were some job losses.

“There will be some pain and suffering in trying to turn around the economy,” he said. “And while there may have been some jobs lost during some of those reorganizations of companies that Gov. Romney brought back from the brink, the ultimate end point was that there was a creation of more jobs than jobs actually lost,” he said. “Now those jobs may have been in a different area, and certainly that is no consolation to the person who lost the job in their home town if the job was created somewhere else.”

But he pointed to Romney’s successes with the retailers Staples and Sports Authority.

Nevada lost more than 70,000 construction jobs in the current downturn, and many of those workers have left the state and are not likely to return, Heck said.

“And that’s part of the process in trying to turn around the economy,” he said. “And I think that is what we’re going to see nationally as we try to stimulate our economy and go back to a pro-job growth economic outlook.”


Audio clips:

Rep. Joe Heck says Obama has failed to address the federal deficit:

051512Heck1 :24 are not stupid.”

Heck says Obama promised early on in his term to cut the deficit:

051512Heck2 :20 this president’s administration.”

Heck says Romney’s time at Bain Capital resulted in more jobs created than lost:

051512Heck3 :27 created somewhere else.”

Rep. Joe Heck Joins With Sen. Dean Heller In Opposing Federal Legislation To Require Online Sales Tax Collections

By Sean Whaley | 7:24 pm May 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said today he agrees with his congressional colleague in opposing federal legislation requiring online merchants to levy sales taxes on purchases.

Heck, interviewed on the Face To Face television program, said he agrees with U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in opposing such legislation in Congress.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

The question of internet taxation has become an issue in Nevada with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recent agreement with online retailing giant Amazon to begin collecting Nevada sales tax on purchases.

The deal reached by Sandoval and Amazon is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, or sooner if federal legislation is passed to allow states to collect revenues from internet purchases.

Heller said in a statement that he remains opposed to such federal legislation.

“Sen. Heller does not support imposing a federal internet sales tax mandate,” said Chandler Smith, campaign spokeswoman for Heller, in response to an email inquiry. “The Amazon agreement in Nevada is a state issue.”

Heck today said he agreed with Heller although he had no issue with Sandoval’s deal with Amazon. But the sales tax rate is different in many counties, he said.

“I do, I do,” Heck said. “I don’t think we should be collecting the sales tax at this time via the internet until the state figures out a way to be able to apply whatever tax rate they are going to apply in a uniform manner. We have a different rate here than we have in Washoe than we have in Elko. Which sales tax is the state going to collect.”

Heck was also asked about President Obama’s announcement last week that he believes gay couples should have the right to marry.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “I believe that the people of the state of Nevada have made that decision, they put it in our state constitution.”


Audio clips:

Rep. Joe Heck says now is not the time for federal legislation requiring internet sales tax collections:

051412Heck1 :15 going to collect.”

Heck says marriage is between a man and a woman:

051412Heck2 :09 our state constitution.”


Heller Asks Senate Leadership To Schedule Vote On No Budget, No Pay Act

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:10 pm May 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asking them to schedule a vote on the No Budget, No Pay Act (S. 1981).

Saying he is frustrated with Congress’ “consistent failure” to pass a budget, Heller introduced the No Budget, No Pay Act. This bill requires Congress to pass a concurrent budget resolution and related appropriations bills in order to receive pay. Pay is not awarded retroactively if Congress passes a budget after the deadline has passed.

In his letter, Heller said in part: “More than three years have passed since Congress adopted a binding budget resolution. The Senate Budget Committee failed to mark up a budget once again this year, demonstrating that the budget process in this body is fundamentally broken. Each of the budgets slated for a vote this week faces substantial opposition from members of whatever party did not introduce that particular budget. These budgets are being brought up in order to fail.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

“That’s why I’ve been advocating my No Budget, No Pay Act (S. 1981) for nearly a year,” he said. “My legislation calls on the House and Senate to pass a concurrent budget resolution and all regular appropriations bills before the beginning of each fiscal year. Failure to do so would result in the loss of pay until we take our jobs seriously and make these bills our legislative priority.”

The proposal and a companion measure in the House have some bipartisan support.

Heller testified in support of the bill in a Senate hearing held in March of this year.

“Members of Congress are willfully refusing to put our nation on a path to long-term fiscal responsibility,” Heller said at the hearing. “In crafting the No Budget, No Pay Act, to force Congress to face reality and take responsibility for running this country, this legislation requires that the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives pass a budget and all appropriations bills by the beginning of each fiscal year. Failure to do so would result in the loss of pay until Congress takes its job seriously.”

The nonpartisan group No Labels gave its support to Heller’s measure after it was introduced. The NNB had earlier erroneously reported the idea had come from the No Labels group.


Audio clips from March hearing:

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller says members of Congress are failing to put the country on a path to fiscal responsibility:

051412Heller1 :26 rating in history.”

Heller says the bill would require Congress to approve a budget by the beginning of each fiscal year or go without pay:

051412Heller2 :26 its job seriously.”



Finalists Named For Legislative Counsel Bureau Director

By Sean Whaley | 11:45 am May 14th, 2012

CARSON CITYFive finalists, including four current staff with the Nevada Legislature’s Legislative Counsel Bureau, are seeking the position of director of the agency.

Paul Townsend, currently the legislative auditor and a member of the LCB staff since 1987; Kevin Powers, chief litigation counsel and a member of the LCB staff since 1996; Richard Combs, currently an Assembly fiscal analyst and member of the LCB staff since 1994; and Nicolas Anthony, currently senior principal deputy legislative counsel and a member of the LCB staff since 2008; are all finalists.

The fifth candidate is Bryant Howe, currently the assistant director of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel for the state of Utah.

The candidates are seeking to replace Lorne Malkiewich, who retired as director of the LCB in early April after serving in the position for more than 18 years.

The position pays $138,000 a year.

A brochure announcing a search for a new director describes the ideal candidate as, “a leader who is decisive, credible, trustworthy, and result-oriented. The ideal candidate must have exceptional analytical skills and strong political acumen.”

A reception for the five finalists is set for 7 p.m. today at the Legislative Building here in the capital.

A panel of lawmakers charged with selecting finalists for the position, the Committee to Consult with the Director, will interview the candidates Tuesday. The panel is also scheduled to discuss its recommendations for the new director for forwarding to the Legislative Commission for the final selection.

The Legislative Commission is scheduled to meet May 30.

Malkiewich, who had more than 30 years with the Legislative Counsel Bureau, is now the chief operating officer for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in Reno.

Obama Visits Reno, Urges Congress To Expand Mortgage Refinancing Program

By Sean Whaley | 3:36 pm May 11th, 2012

RENO – President Barack Obama made a brief stopover here today, visiting with a couple who refinanced their home through a White House initiative helping underwater homeowners who have government-backed loans.

After meeting with Paul and Valerie Keller, Obama urged Congress to expand the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP) to other mortgages as well.

President Obama greets the crowd in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

The Kellers were able to save $240 a month by refinancing using the program, he said.

“Now, Val says that they’ve been talking to some of their neighbors  – maybe some of you are here today – and you’re saying, well, that sounds like a pretty good idea. And a lot of folks across the country recognize this is a smart thing to do not only for homeowners but for our economy, because if Paul and Val have an extra $240, $250 a month, then they might spend it on the local business.

“And that means more money in the economy, and businesses do better, and slowly home prices start rising again,” Obama said. “So it makes sense for all of us.

“There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t make this happen right now,” Obama said to a small crowd gathered on Ridgecrest Drive in north Reno. “If they started now, in a couple of weeks, in a month, they could make every homeowner in America who is underwater right now eligible to be able to refinance their homes – if they’re making their payments, if they’re responsible, if they’re doing the right thing.  And think about all those families saving $3,000 on average a year – that’s a huge boost to our economy.”

Obama said that since the announcement, refinancing applications have gone up by 50 percent nationwide and 230 percent in Nevada.

“That’s the good news,” he said. “People are taking advantage of this.”

Obama’s Nevada visit comes as he campaigns for a second term in the White House. He won Nevada in 2008, but with the highest unemployment rate and one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation, the state is considered to be a toss up.

His visit prompted a response from the Mitt Romney campaign by Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

In a conference call, Amodei and Krolicki said they do not want the president’s focus on the success of the Kellers to overshadow what they called his overall failing policies.

“How many people fit that profile?” Amodei asked about the Kellers. “When you look at the success of those policies, we are still in critical condition in relation to housing in Nevada.”

“I appreciate the fact that the president is coming to town and sitting in the living room with the Kellers, but it is not going to solve our problems,” Krolicki said. “We need a president that is encouraging job growth. The easiest cure for a foreclosure is a job.”

Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange released a statement praising Obama’s proposal: “The president’s mortgage refinancing plan would make a real difference to families nationwide and here in Nevada. This key piece of the president’s ‘To-Do List’ could help families save up to $3,000 a year, reducing foreclosures, boosting the economy, and speeding the recovery of the housing market.

“In contrast, Mitt Romney told Nevada families facing foreclosure they need to ‘hit the bottom’ and called for rolling back laws to protect families against the mortgage abuses that helped create the financial crisis,” she said.

But at least one news report has questioned whether the Kellers are the responsible homeowners as described by Obama. CNBC reported that the Kellers did a “cash out” refinancing in 2007 that helped put them in their current predicament.

It was Obama’s first visit to Reno since April 2011, but he has also visited Southern Nevada twice this year and First Lady Michelle Obama was in Las Vegas at a fundraiser last week.

He arrived in Reno after attending a fundraiser in California.

President Obama with Paul and Valerie Keller in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Obama hinted at the difficulties facing many Nevadans as he began his remarks, noting that “it is going to take a long time for the economy to fully recover. More time than any of us would like. But there are plenty of steps we can take to speed up the recovery right now.”

In addition to the refinancing program, he identified four other “common-sense policies” on Congress’s “To-Do” list that can help now in the economic recovery: end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, give small business owners tax breaks for hiring more workers and paying higher wages, extend tax credits for clean energy companies and create a Veterans Jobs Corps so that veterans can get work as police and firefighters.

Americans for Prosperity – Nevada (AFP-NV) today questioned Obama’s call that Congress extend certain clean energy tax credits, arguing they have a bad track record of creating jobs or promoting green energy technology.

“Hard working Nevada taxpayers want to know why the president continues to ignore the facts and waste their money on expensive, unproven ‘green energy’ boondoggles like Solyndra,” said Adam Stryker, state director of AFP-NV. “It’s time for the president to stop bowing to blind ideology and support real job creation.”

In his concluding remarks, Obama said: “I need all of you, and everybody who is watching, to push Congress on their “To-Do” list,” he said. “Nag them until they actually get it done. We need to keep moving this country forward. Send them an email. Tweet them. Write them a letter if you’re old-fashioned like me. But communicate to them that this will make a difference. It’s one small step that will help us create the kind of economy that all Americans deserve.”


Audio clips:

President Obama says the refinancing program is good for the economy:

051112Obama1 :33 all of us.”

Obama says people are taking advantage of the program:

051112Obama2 :13 the good news.”

Obama says people need to tell Congress to get moving on the “To-Do” list;

051112Obama3 :35 all Americans deserve.”




Nevada State Lawmakers Relying On Political Action Committees In 2012 Election Contests

By Sean Whaley | 6:29 am May 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – They have names like “A Better Nevada PAC”, “A Bolder Nevada” and “The Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus”.

They are all political action committees formed or renewed by state lawmakers this year to help promote their parties, push their candidates and protect their ranks in an effort to maintain and/or win control of the Assembly and Senate.

In all there are more than 20 PACs representing two dozen incumbent state senators and members of the Assembly filed with the Secretary of State’s office for the 2012 election season. There are more than 260 PACs in total filed with the office this year.

The Better Nevada PAC was formed by former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, a Democrat who resigned her seat to run for the Senate 15 seat in Reno now held by Sen. Greg Brower, a Republican. The purpose of the PAC is “to support candidates working to better the quality of life indicators in the state of Nevada.”

The Bolder Nevada PAC was formed by state Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, “to promote good government at all levels.” Hardy, in the middle of a four-year term in the state Senate, is not up for election this year. He is affiliated with several other PACs as well.

The Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus, newly formed in April to support the election of Hispanic candidates to state and local offices, has as its officers three Southern Nevada Democratic Assemblywomen: Irene Bustamante Adams, Lucy Flores and Olivia Diaz. All three are running for re-election this year.

The traditional process for candidates to win election is to receive contributions directly from donors, but there are limits on the amounts that can be accepted. The other standard process is for the Senate and Assembly GOP and Democratic caucuses to form PACs to accept funds for distribution to their candidates. Many of the PACs registered with the Secretary of State’s office are these leadership groups.

But other PACs are being formed by individual lawmakers or groups of lawmakers such as the Battle Born Leadership Group formed by Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, and the Lighthouse Leadership PAC formed by Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, who is running for a seat in the state Senate.

The JOBS FIRST PAC was established by GOP Sens. Michael Roberson, Greg Brower and Ben Kieckhefer to “promote pro-business public policies in Nevada.” It has $10,000 so far, donated in turn by the Nevadans First PAC, which was run by former Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, who is now Gov. Brian Sandoval’s chief of staff.

These PACs serve an important purpose for financing campaigns. They give state lawmakers the ability to bring in large donations than candidates cannot accept individually due to contribution limits. The money can then be distributed to party candidates in critical races. They also allow the individual officers of the PACS to wield more political influence by doling out the dough.

Another advantage is that PACs allow donors who may not want to be reported as having contributed to a specific candidate or candidates to do so through a third party.

The growing trend of such PACs was recently noted by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston.

Republican political consultant Ryan Erwin said legislative leaders and caucuses from both parties have used PACs for a long time to help fund targeted races.

“As term limits and now redistricting create shorter term leaders we will continue to see more leadership PACs evolve,” he said. “In Nevada, which has lenient campaign finance and reporting laws, the emergence of additional vehicles to raise and spend money will continue to have a more prominent role in the process.”

There is a lot at stake in the 2012 election, with Senate Democrats trying to hold on to or even expand their razor-thin 11-10 majority while Republicans are seeking to regain control, and where Assembly Republicans are trying to make a dent in the 26-16 Democrat advantage in the 42-member house.

Hambrick, who has the luxury of not facing an opponent in his re-election bid this year, said a PAC provides more options to support party candidates than direct contributions can do. PACs are limited in the amount they can donate to a candidate, but there is no restriction on the use of the funds spent by a PAC directly for polling or other campaign related activities.

“It’s another avenue for particularly candidates that may not attract some of the deep pocket donors to at least get something to help pay for a mailer or to get some signs out,” Hambrick said. “If you look at my PAC compared to Joe Hardy’s you’ll see a significant difference. But I get a little bit of money that can help out.”

PACs are required to report donations and expenditures just like candidates, he said.

“Every dime has to be accounted for,” Hambrick said.

Hambrick reported just over $9,000 in donations to his PAC in the 2010 election cycle.

Leslie said she has not been actively seeking contributions to her PAC because she is focused on her own campaign.

“It is a way to collect additional funding outside the campaign limits in a legal way,” Leslie said in an email response. “It is also useful for some corporations who don’t want to be identified as supporting a particular candidate for various reasons. It also allows those in leadership to collect funds for other candidates and earn their loyalty and support.”

Some of the legislative-affiliated Political Action Committees in 2012

PAC Name Key Officers Amount of Contributions Listed in 2012 Annual C&E Report from 2011
A Better Nevada Sheila Leslie $0
A Bolder Nevada Sen. Joe Hardy $2,100
A Brighter Nevada Sen. Joe Hardy $6,000
Assembly Republican Caucus Assemblymen Pat Hickey, Lynn Stewart $176,596
Battle Born Leadership Group Assemblyman John Hambrick $0
Boulder City Leadership PAC Sen. Joe Hardy, Assemblyman Lynn Stewart $3,000
Democrat Senate Majority PAC Sens. John Lee, Mark Manendo No report yet on file
Jobs First PAC Sens. Michael Roberson, Greg Brower, Ben Kieckhefer $10,000
Liberty PAC Sen. Don Gustavson $100
Lighthouse Leadership PAC Assemblywoman Debbie Smith $500
Majority 2012 Sens. Mo Denis, David Parks, Mark Manendo, John Lee $15,503
Nevada First Assemblyman Marcus Conklin $0
Nevada Hispanic Leadership Fund Sen. Mo Denis $8,078
Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus Assemblywomen Irene Bustamante Adams, Lucy Flores, Olivia Diaz No report yet on file
Nevada Progress Sheila Leslie $0
NV Majority PAC Sen. Ben Kieckhefer $62,422
Republican Assembly Leadership Caucus 2012 Assemblymen Pat Hickey, Lynn Stewart $30,095
Republican Assembly Victory Fund, 2012 Assemblymen Pat Hickey, Lynn Stewart $0
Rural Republican PAC 2012 Assemblymen Pat Hickey, Tom Grady $32
Senate Majority PAC 2012 Sen. Michael Roberson $160,252


Audio clips:

Assemblyman John Hambrick says his PAC lets him help out up and coming  GOP Assembly candidates:

051012Hambrick1 :10 some signs out.”

Hambrick says some other lawmakers have bigger PAC war chests:

051012Hambrick2 :13 can help out.”


Gov. Sandoval, Japanese General Consul Participate In Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony

By Sean Whaley | 5:09 pm May 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval and Japanese Consul General Hiroshi Inomata participated in a cherry tree planting ceremony today on the state Capitol grounds.

The trees were donated to the state to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the planting of cherry trees in Washington, DC, that were donated by the people of Japan as a sign of friendship. The 3,020 cherry trees were presented to the people of the United States and were accepted by President William Howard Taft.

Gov. Brian Sandoval; Jack Bryan, grandson of former Gov. Richard Bryan, Controller Kim Wallin, Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Cherry and Japanese Consul General Hiroshi Inomata particpate in the tree planting ceremony today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.Japanese Consul General Hiroshi Inomata, Jack Bryan, grandson of former Gov. Richard Bryan, Controller Kim Wallin, Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Cherry and Gov. Brian Sandoval participate in the tree planting ceremony today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

The blossoming cherry trees are an annual attraction in the nation’s capital.

Five were planted in the Capitol Complex. The sixth tree has been planted at the Governor’s Mansion.

“I was honored to accept six trees from the consul general,” Sandoval said.

Inomata noted that the trees are small now, but they will bloom as will the friendship between the people of Nevada and Japan.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he was honored to accept the gift of the six cherry trees:

051012Sandoval :24 the Governor’s Mansion.”

Japanese Consul General Hiroshi Inomata says the trees will grow as will the friendship between Nevada and Japan:

051012Inomata :16 years to come.”


Lucky Gamblers Help Push Nevada’s Gaming Win Down In March

By Sean Whaley | 1:57 pm May 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s casino winnings took a tumble in March after two strong months in 2012, dropping 10.9 percent compared to March 2011, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported today.

The decline was led by Clark County markets, including the Las Vegas Strip, which was down 14.9 percent over March 2011.

Casinos statewide brought in $854.6 million from gamblers in March, just over $100 million less than in March a year ago.

Photo by Quenot via Wikimedia Commons.

The decline comes after the Nevada gaming industry reported gains of 18.4 percent in January and 5.7 percent in February.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he was still awaiting full details on the March report, but noted the state is ahead for the fiscal year even with a slow month.

“Of course we want to see numbers going up, but in the big picture this is one month in time, and that for the year we’re still ahead,” he said. “We’re going to have some ups and downs with regard to this but over all Nevada is strong and we’re doing well.”

All the major Clark County markets were down in March. Downtown was off 11.9 percent and North Las Vegas was down 17.8 percent.

Washoe County fared better, posting a modest 0.45 percent gain, but South Lake Tahoe was also down in March, by 14 percent.

A big part of the story was that gamblers were luckier than usual in March, said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board. The percentage of money wagered by players but “held” by casinos was lower than average on games and tables such as 21 and roulette, he said.

If the March hold had matched the 12 month average hold, the statewide win would be down only 3.4 percent. The Strip would be down only 4.2 percent.

Another factor in the Strip numbers was baccarat, the card game played by high rollers. Casinos won $39.8 million from baccarat players in March, a nearly 52 percent decline from March 2011. The volume of play was down and the hold percentage was lower than average, Lawton said.

“The gamblers ran a little bit luckier,” he said.

Another factor was that March 2012 is being compared to March 2011, which saw a 5.1 percent statewide gaming win and a 12.9 percent gain on the Strip.

A third was the CONEXPO-CON/AGG event in Las Vegas in March of 2011 that is only held every three years and so did not occur this year, Lawton said.

“So there were some things that added to why this was going to be a struggle,” he said. “Even with this, fiscal year-to-date the state is still up 2.2 percent,” he said. “And it was a strong quarter for the state. The state was up 4 percent for the quarter.

“My take is it’s a bump in the road,” Lawton said. “We had a strong quarter. We had five consecutive months of growth. The fundamentals were still there. Our volumes were still up in slots. Our total volume was still up when you combine tables and slots together. We just had a soft month when we look at those table games hold percentages.”


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says it is only one month and that the win is still up for the year:

051012Sandoval1 :07 we’re still ahead.”

Sandoval says Nevada overall is strong:

051012Sandoval2 :05 we’re doing well.”

Gaming analyst Michael Lawton says Nevada is up 4 percent for the first quarter:

051012Lawton1 :10 for the quarter.”

Lawton says the March report is a bump in the road:

051012Lawton2 :21 games hold percentages.”



Sen. Heller, Gov. Sandoval Disagree On Internet Sales Tax

By Sean Whaley | 3:28 pm May 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recent agreement with on-line retailing giant Amazon to begin collecting Nevada sales tax on purchases is unlikely to see federal legislation supporting the policy from Nevada’s junior senator.

The deal reached by Sandoval and Amazon is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, or sooner if federal legislation is passed to allow states to collect revenues from internet purchases.

Sandoval said today he has discussed the issue with U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, but that Heller is opposed to such legislation at the federal level.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“I have spoken with Sen. Heller,” he said. “Sen. Heller is not supportive of the, I think it is called the Main Street Fairness Act.”

Chandler Smith, campaign spokeswoman for Heller, confirmed he does not support such a proposal.

“Sen. Heller does not support imposing a federal internet sales tax mandate,” she said in response to an email inquiry. “The Amazon agreement in Nevada is a state issue.”

Sandoval said he has not had a discussion about such a proposal with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The most recent effort to force on-line retailers to collect sales taxes is being pushed by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Ten., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

Sandoval said the agreement he reached with Amazon is identical to those established by governors in other states, including South Carolina, Indiana, California, Tennessee and Texas.

“So there are some very conservative governors out there that have taken the identical position that we have,” he said. “I’ll say it again that this is not a new tax. This is something that is required to be collected.”

Sandoval has estimated that the deal with Amazon will bring in between $15 million and $20 million a year. He said the deal is good for the state.

Sandoval jokingly noted that he’s doing his part.

Sandoval said he bought a pair of old City of Reno cufflinks on eBay on Monday, paying a grand total of $3.99. Sandoval said he then filled out a form provided by the state Department of Taxation to remit his 30 cents in sales tax to the state.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says U.S. Sen. Dean Heller is opposed to federal legislation requiring sales tax collections from on-line purchases:

050812Sandoval1 :08 Street Fairness Act.”

Sandoval says Nevada’s agreement is identical to those entered into by several other governors:

050812Sandoval2 :14 to be collected.”