Archive for October, 2012

Start Of Early Voting Sees Heavy Turnout In Capital

By Sean Whaley | 10:51 am October 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Scores of people waited in line at the county courthouse here this morning to become some of the first of more than 1.2 million registered voters statewide to cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election.

Election volunteer Cookie Callahan, left, waits to take completed ballots during early voting at the Carson City Courthouse today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Early voting starts today and runs through Friday, Nov. 2.

“We anticipate about 75 percent to 80 percent of registered voters will cast a ballot in the general election, although we are hopeful that turnout might exceed our projections,” Secretary of State Ross Miller said ahead of today’s voting kickoff.

Early voting poll locations are posted in the “Election Center” on the Secretary of State’s website, www.nvsos.gov, or accessible by clicking here.

Voters line up in Carson City on the first day of early voting. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

The Secretary of State’s office will post voter turnout statistics, including county and political party breakdowns, to the website daily beginning Monday, Oct. 22.

Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover told the Nevada Appeal  he expects well over half of the community’s 29,000 registered voters to cast ballots during the early-voting process.

More Than 1.2 Million Registered In Nevada For General Election

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:21 pm October 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – More than 1.2 million Nevadans are registered as active voters for the Nov. 6 general election as of the close of the registration Oct. 16, the Secretary of State’s office reported today.

Numbers released today by Secretary of State Ross Miller’s Elections Division show that Democrats registered nearly twice as many voters than Republicans since the end of September.

Photo courtesy of Joebeone via Wikimedia Commons.

Of the 1,257,621 active registered voters statewide, 41.9 percent (526,986) are Democrats, 34.7 percent (436,799) are Republicans, 17.4 percent (219,299) are non-partisans, 4.6 percent (58,130) are members of the Independent American Party, and the remaining 1.3 percent (16,407) are members of the Green, Libertarian, or other minor parties.

From Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, the number of active registered voters increased by 70,383. Democrats registered 33,380 active voters, while Republicans registered 14,754 active voters. Active registered non-partisans increased by 17,118 during the same time period.

The total number of active registered voters at the close of registration for the 2012 general election is up by 138,045 compared to the 2010 general election close-of-registration figures, and up by 49,860 compared to the 2008 general election close-of-registration figures.

This is the first election cycle where all 17 counties have had access to the online voter registration system. Since the May 22 registration deadline for the primary election, 41,471 Nevada residents registered to vote online.

“Our outreach efforts and the statewide availability of online voter registration are clearly encouraging and allowing Nevadans to participate in the democratic process,” Miller said. “Now they can use their status as registered voters to cast the ballots during early voting or on Election Day.”

Early voting in Nevada begins tomorrow and runs through Nov. 2. Early voting locations in all counties are available at www.nvsos.gov or by clicking here.

The Secretary of State’s office will post voter turnout statistics, including county and political party breakdowns, to the website daily beginning Monday, Oct. 22. To receive an email notification as soon as the statistics are updated, sign up for “Early Vote Reports” here.

Nevada’s Jobless Rate Declines To 11.8 Percent In September

By Sean Whaley | 11:45 am October 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s unemployment rate fell to 11.8 percent in September, a decline of three-tenths of a percentage point from the 12.1 percent rate reported for August and a significant improvement from September 2011’s reading of 13.6 percent, a state agency reported today.

The seasonally-adjusted rate remains above the 11.6 percent figure reported in May, which was a three-year low.

September’s household survey showed more Nevadans are working, partly contributing to the decline in the rate of unemployment, said Bill Anderson, chief economist for Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR). The 11.8 percent rate equates to a seasonally adjusted 161,600 individuals still unemployed, he said.

Bill Anderson, chief economist for the state Research and Analysis Bureau.

The number of Nevadans out of work fell by 4,300 in September, which is partly due to some falling out of the workforce, as well as people obtaining employment.

“Nevada’s economy and our labor markets are on the mend,” Anderson said. “We’re moving forward at a modest pace. It’s best not to get too worried about what happened in July when the rate jumped a few tenths of a point. And I’d also suggest not to get too excited about the decline in the rate from August to September. You average it all together and we’re slowly on the mend.”

Unfortunately there are lagging sectors in the private employment picture, most notably in construction, which are holding back the state’s overall numbers, he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he is encouraged by September’s job growth and the slight decrease in the jobless rate.

“I am also pleased that export activity is up one-third over last year and that Nevada is taking an increased role in the world’s economy,” he said. “This news further validates our efforts to reach out to foreign countries, which we will continue to do.”

Sandoval led a trade mission to the People’s Republic of China and South Korea in September.

Amongst the state’s three largest population centers, the Las Vegas metro area is home to the highest unemployment rate in the state, at 11.5 percent, which is not seasonally adjusted and so not comparable to the statewide adjusted rate. This is down from 12.3 percent in August and, more importantly, from the 14 percent reported a year ago.

In Reno/Sparks the rate fell 0.7 of a point, to 10.8 percent. A year ago, the region’s jobless rate stood at 12.9 percent. Carson City is home to a 10.9 percent rate, down from 11.5 percent in August and 12.8 percent last year.

“The news is encouraging, as a year ago, there were an estimated 188,300 Nevadans counted as unemployed,” Anderson said. “Monthly measures are subject to wide swings, and it is perhaps best not to put too much weight behind that volatility; however, when evaluated as a whole, the economy is slowly moving in a positive direction.”

Typically during the month, about 7,500 jobs (not seasonally adjusted) are added in the state, the majority of them in the public sector coinciding with the start of a new academic year. This year, however, 14,600 jobs were added, resulting in a seasonally adjusted gain of 7,100. Through the first three quarters of the year, private sector jobs are up by more than 12,000 compared to the same period last year.

Additionally, more jobs are expected to be added during the holiday season, making modest gains over last year, Anderson said. From September to December 2011, Nevada added 4,100 jobs, however prior to the recession, seasonal job gains approached 9,000 during the holiday hiring period.

The good news on the jobless front is expected to continue, he said, after the agency reported Thursday that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell in September to their lowest level in five years, dropping to under 14,000 in a month for the first time since September 2007.

Initial jobless claims are a leading indicator and suggest improvement going forward in the near term, Anderson said.

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Audio clips:

DETER Chief Economist Bill Anderson says Nevada’s economy and its labor markets are on the mend:

101912Anderson1 :26 on the mend.”

Anderson says the low rate of initial jobless claims in September suggests Nevada’s unemployment rate should continue to improve over the near term:

101912Anderson2 :12 the near term.”

 

September Unemployment Claims Reach Five-Year Low

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:26 am October 18th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell in September to their lowest level in five years, dropping to under 14,000 in a month for the first time since September 2007, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) reported today.

Initial claims represent the first step in filing for unemployment benefits, and with 13,932 initial claims filed – the lowest since before the 2007 recession began – Nevada continues to show steady progress toward economic recovery, the agency reported. This compares to 16,693 claims filed in September 2011.

Since the beginning of the recession, initial claims peaked at 36,414 in December 2008, and the previous low point for initial claims was 15,500 in May 2008.

“While the news is encouraging, September typically represents a low point in initial claims each year, so this one month is not enough by itself to establish a new trend,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for DETR. “As Nevada has been recovering from the 2007 recession, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits has been steadily falling when compared to the prior year, registering a decline in 33 of the past 34 months.”

After the rate of job loss peaked in late 2008 and early 2009, initial claims initially fell sharply by an average of nearly 20 percent in 2010. Since then, the pace has slowed to an average of 8.2 percent through eight months in 2012. However in recent months, the rate at which initial claims are declining has begun to increase, falling at a rate of 9.7 percent over the past five months, after falling at just 6.5 percent over the first four months of the year.

Because initial claims are related to people entering unemployment, they can be considered a leading indicator of changes in overall employment levels.

“Particularly, this tells us that the number of people losing their jobs continues to fall, an important step to establishing steady growth in employment overall,” Anderson said. “At the same time, the rate of claims and, by extension, job loss remains elevated and the pace of employment growth is likely to remain slower than what Nevada was accustomed to prior to the recession.”

Nevada Holiday Hiring Outlook Positive For 2012

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:56 am October 18th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada retailers are expected to add more than 4,000 seasonal positions through December, the Retail Association of Nevada (RAN) said today.

The estimate is based on an assumption that hiring in 2012 will be comparable to last year, when the state added 4,100 retail positions between September and December for a 3.2 percent increase in total employment in the sector.

During the past five years, the Nevada retail sector grew by an average of 3.9 percent during the same time frame. Should conditions prevail that are more in line with the longer-run historical average, the state will see a gain in retail positions closer to 5,000. Based on company announcements and news accounts thus far, it is likely that 2012 hiring levels will fall somewhere between the two, RAN said in a news release.

Unfortunately, competition for available positions is expected to be as tough as it was during the last several holiday seasons, the association reported. Currently, there are 164,100 unemployed Nevadans, down only slightly from levels reported around this time in 2011. Seasonal hiring will provide modest and short-term relief.

Thus far, several national retailers with locations in Nevada have publicly announced major seasonal hiring plans. Actual hiring activity may vary from estimates depending on individual store needs:

- Amazon – 1,250 estimated seasonal hires at the fulfillment center in Fernley;

- Macy’s/Bloomingdales – 900 estimated seasonal hires statewide;

- Target – 900 estimated seasonal hires statewide;

- Wal-Mart – 500 estimated seasonal hires statewide;

- Kohl’s Department Stores – 490 estimated seasonal hires statewide;

- Toys ‘R’ Us – 250 estimated seasonal hires at the McCarran Distribution Center for store distribution, e-commerce in Reno and seasonal store positions statewide;

- Best Buy – 150 estimated seasonal hires statewide.

Nationally, holiday hiring is expected to reach 700,000 in 2012, an increase of 6 percent compared to the 660,000 reported in 2011.

 

Washoe County Exceeds Registered Voter Record By 10,000 For Nov. 6 General Election

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:37 pm October 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Washoe County registered an all-time high of 241,400 voters prior to the close of registration Tuesday, exceeding the record of 231,400 for the General Election in 2008.

Registered Republicans in the county outnumber Democrats by a thin margin of 1,160 voters, with 91,937 Republicans and 90,777 Democrats. Nonpartisan and minor party voters now registered in the county total 58,686.

Photo by Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons.

“We’re very impressed with the citizens of Washoe County,” said Senior Deputy Registrar Luanne Cutler. “More than 2,600 registered in the final week and took advantage of our extended hours to do so, and we believe this General Election in our county will be one of the most closely contested in the nation.”

Early voting in Washoe County and statewide begins this Saturday and continues through Nov. 2. There are 22 early voting locations throughout the community and a complete list is available at www.washoecounty.us/voters/12EVSchedule.htm.

Two Nevada Charitable Groups Out Of Compliance Over Use Of Special License Plate Funds

By Sean Whaley | 3:12 pm October 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – An annual review of funds distributed to charitable groups from the sales of special license plates has found that the University Medical Center Foundation in Las Vegas failed to provide required documentation on the use of the money, and some information that was provided was inaccurate.

A UMC spokesman said today the deficiencies are being corrected.

The review by the state Legislative Auditor has been submitted to the five lawmakers serving on the Commission on Special License Plates.

University Medical Center Foundation special license plate design.

In a letter to the lawmakers dated Sept. 28, Legislative Auditor Paul Townsend said UMC was notified of the reporting requirements on July 26, and the facility was contacted three times by phone in September.

“UMC did not respond timely and subsequently submitted forms and records on Sept. 17, 2012,” Townsend said in the letter. “Our review found the amount reported in license plate revenues for fiscal year 2012 was inaccurate. UMC reported revenues of $2,574, but state records show $7,943 was sent to UMC. Also the balance sheet provided by UMC did not balance.”

Townsend said in an email today that UMC is working on correcting the deficiencies identified in the review.

UMC is to use the money it receives from the new plate to support the development of multi-organ transplantation. It has received $7,943 in special license plate revenues but has not spent any of the funds yet.

Brendan Bussmann, director of community relations at UMC, said the failure to submit the proper documentation was a misunderstanding that is now being rectified. It was the first filing required for the new plate, he said.

“And we’re working with them to correct that and get an accurate and amended report to them promptly,” he said.

UMC has the only transplant program in the state, Bussmann said. The kidney transplant program currently is beating national averages in outcomes, he said.

“And with the proceeds from this plate, we’ll be able to help facilitate some current and future needs for that program and being able to provide support to the community at large that requires transplants,” Bussmann said.

He encouraged Nevadans to apply for the special plate.

“I think it is a very cool design and it goes to a great cause,” Bussmann said.

The charitable group Horse Power, which was the subject of a review by lawmakers earlier this year, also failed to provide complete information for the September report, including failing to provide bank reconciliations for three consecutive years.

Horse Power is required to use the funds, which totaled just over $108,000 in Fiscal Year 2012, for the benefit of wild horses. The group has received $471,354 from 4,851 special license plates since 1998.

Concerns identified in a May 2012 hearing regarding proper documentation from Horse Power were not entirely resolved with the receipt of further information from the group, Townsend said in the letter.

The group is not receiving new funding from the special plate until the concerns are resolved.

One example is the failure of Horse Power’s Board of Trustees to review the compensation paid to Executive Director Sally Summers, listed at $35,580 for calendar year 2011, and make any needed changes. No documents were provided in response to this request.

Townsend said auditors did not identify any evidence of improper practices by the organizations that submitted complete information. The review did not include actual audits of the charitable organizations, however.

State law requires certain organizations receiving revenue from the special license plates to provide the financial information so legislative auditors can determine if there are procedures in place to ensure fees are expended for proper purposes. Governmental entities included in the state’s executive budget are exempted from the reporting requirements.

Nevada’s special license plate program has generated significant revenues over the years.

The 34 types of special plates listed in the audit, from support of the Atomic Testing Museum to Nevada Ducks Unlimited and Friends of Red Rock Canyon, are now on 206,932 vehicles and generated nearly $4.4 million in 2012. Since 1998, the plates, which have been produced at different times, have generated just over $37 million.

The 12 state agencies receiving funds that are exempted from the reporting requirements include the Department of Wildlife and volunteer fire fighters, which report the information in the executive budget.

The Las Vegas Commemorative plate has generated the most revenue, totaling $13.5 million since the city’s 2005 centennial. The funds are used to commemorate Las Vegas history, including the restoration of historic buildings.

The license plate to support environmental work at Lake Tahoe has generated $5.5 million since 1998.

The variety of special license plates to support Nevada’s veterans home have generated nearly $3.6 million since they were first offered, including $514,803 in 2012.

 Nevada Special License Plates

License Plate # Of Active Plates FY2012 Revenues Total Revenues
Animal Appreciation  2,321 $50,686 $316,908
Atomic Testing     977 $21,683 $125,639
Boulder City Chamber  1,908 $41,249 $281,353
Desert Preserve     945 $20,605 $259,634
Nevada Ducks Unlimited     289 $6,020 $59,933
Federal Lands Around Las Vegas     440 $9,547 $62,095
Friends of Red Rock  1,835 $40,817 $130,902
Future Farmers of America  1,402 $30,097 $315,697
Horse Power  4,851 $108,563 $471,354
Hot August Nights  1,698 $38,394 $290,605
Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project  2,789 $62,647 $544,734
Las Vegas Commemorative 78,646 $1,743,883 $13,476,255
Mt. Charleston  2,711 $58,113 $486,598
Nevada Carpenters Union     124 $2,667 $24,657
Nevada Library Association     287 $5,962 $60,567
Nevada Wildlife Record Book  3,962 $85,637 $579,684
Professional Firefighters  2,874 $60,358 $694,026
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe  3,086 $66,515 $723,239
Reno Air Races  1,595 $34,902 $220,672
Search and Rescue     170 $3,667 $19,098
Support of Rodeos  6,544 $142,013 $1,401,869
University Medical Center Foundation     291 $7,943 $7,943
Exempt Organizations
Aviation    359 $7,495 $82,572
Department of Wildlife  1,062 $28,402 $28,402
Donation of Human Organs  1,056 $22,329 $195,560
Education of Children in the Arts  5,186 $57,521 $696,445
Lake Tahoe Basin 17,181 $370,129 $5,552,118
Missing or Exploited Children  3,828 $42,833 $499,956
Nevada Tourism     346 $7,254 $76,179
United We Stand 17,107 $369,152 $2,961,039
UNLV  4,137 $92,991 $999,008
UNR  7,515 $165,596 $1,493,374
Veterans 27,492 $514,803 $3,569,196
Volunteer Firefighters     552 $11,736 $111,378
Totals 206,932 $4,361,454 $37,098,502

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Audio clips:

UMC spokesman Brendan Bussmann says the correct information will soon be provided to the Legislative Auditor:

101712Bussmann1 :18 to them promptly.”

Bussmann says the funds will enable UMC to provide additional support to those Nevadans needing transplants:

101712Bussmann2 :14 that requires transplants.”

 

Nevada Agencies Request $6.46 Billion In New Budget, Up $279 Million From Current Spending Plan

By Sean Whaley | 1:02 pm October 15th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s next two-year general fund budget would grow by $279 million to $6.46 billion based on the initial spending requests submitted by state agencies, information released today by the Budget Division shows.

State Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp, who will continue to piece together Gov. Brian Sandoval’s final recommended 2013-15 budget through at least December, said the increase in spending is due primarily to the growing public education and Medicaid populations. The public education piece is estimated at $18 million. The Medicaid population increase is expected to cost $104 million.

State Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The budget is still subject to a variety of revisions by Sandoval between now and January when it is released to the public and lawmakers. The final budget will depend greatly on available tax revenue, which will be set by the state Economic Forum in early December.

“We’re wrestling quite a few different variables that all have to be factored in before ultimately those decisions are made,” Mohlenkamp said.

The agency request budget also includes the cost of expanding Medicaid to already eligible Nevada residents expected to enroll in the program because of the federal Affordable Care Act. This piece is expected to cost $86.6 million.

The budget does not include an expansion of Medicaid to a newly eligible group of Nevadans provided for under the health care law, Mohlenkamp said. Sandoval has yet to make a decision on that issue, he said.

“We have decision units prepared, that should the governor make the decision to opt in, then we can very quickly make that happen within the budget,” Mohlenkamp said.

The budget does anticipate the continuation of several tax increases that are now set to sunset on June 30, 2013. It also, for now, continues salary reductions and furloughs for state workers that would save approximately $160 million.

Sandoval has said he will consider restoring some of the reductions if general fund revenues are sufficient to do so.

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, praised Sandoval and his budget staff for helping state agencies limit their spending increases.

“While not perfect, these agency budget requests are a concrete step toward limiting the growth of government from already inflated levels,” he said. “Besides limiting spending increases, this budget shows the power of performance-based budgeting, which focuses on providing the highest level of outcomes for every dollar spent.”

Lawrence also warned lawmakers against using any higher revenue projections from the Economic Forum to boost spending.

“Higher-than-expected revenue projections from the Economic Forum should be used to lower taxes on struggling Nevada families, instead of as an excuse to increase government spending,” he said.

Mohlenkamp said the spending numbers released today are expected to be within the general fund tax estimates set by the Economic Forum.

“We do believe that we are in the range, but we don’t know how close we are to actually what the Economic Forum will come in at,” he said. “But that’s pretty much of an unknown right now.”

The final budget will be the first to comprehensively include performance-based budgeting, Mohlenkamp said. The process is expected to make the budget more transparent so the public can easily understand where the money is being spent. It will also provide better accountability on whether the state is achieving its goals, he said.

Several major initiatives being proposed in the budget include a restructuring of the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, with the mental health side going to the Health Division, and the developmental services piece going to Aging and Disability Services.

“It’s a fairly major restructuring that is going on within Health and Human Services,” Mohlenkamp said.

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Audio clips:

Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp says Gov. Brian Sandoval has not yet made a decision on expanding Medicaid:

101512Mohlenkamp1 :25 decision on that.”

Mohlenkamp says the state’s tax revenues remain an unknown until the Economic Forum meets:

101512Mohlenkamp2 :19 unknown right now.”

 

 

Carson Judge Will Rule Later On Challenge To Teacher-Backed Margin Tax Petition

By Sean Whaley | 10:59 am October 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Carson City District Judge today heard the latest challenge to a teacher-backed initiative petition that seeks to levy a 2 percent tax on companies making gross revenues in excess of $1 million a year to raise money to support public education.

But Judge James Wilson did not immediately rule on challenges to the “Education Initiative” filed by the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson.

Josh Hicks, an attorney representing the committee, said regardless of how Wilson rules, the legal issues raised in the court hearing will likely be taken to the Nevada Supreme Court for a final ruling.

In the meantime, the Nevada State Education Association is continuing to gather signatures to qualify the measure for submission to the Legislature in 2013.

Gary Peck, executive director of the association, said between 55,000 and 60,000 signatures have been collected so far from registered voters to qualify the petition. The group has until Nov. 13 to collect a minimum of 72,352 signatures to take the measure to lawmakers. The Legislature would then have 40 days to approve the proposal or it would go to the voters in 2014.

The proposed Texas-style margins tax would raise an estimated $800 million a year for public education.

“We remain confident that at the end of the day, the initiative is going to withstand this legal challenge,” Peck said. “We are certainly going to continue to gather signatures. We have received enthusiastic widespread support from the public.

“We have a study, conducted by Applied Analysis, that shows the costs that would be associated with failing to properly invest in K-12 education here in Nevada,” he said. “And I think the general public understands that if we want to have a thriving diverse economy where we have the kind of high-skilled workforce that we need to attract businesses, we need to be investing in our public schools. And we don’t do that.”

Hicks raised several legal issues during the brief court hearing, challenging whether the petition conforms to requirements that it deal with a single subject and if it offers a clear explanation about what it does. He questioned whether the 200-word description of effect adequately explains to those signing the petition what it would do.

Wilson said he too has concerns about the description of effect.

Francis Flaherty, attorney for the teachers, rejected Hick’s concerns.

“There is nothing hidden in this initiative, your honor,” he said.

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Audio clips:

Teachers Association Executive Director Gary Peck says he is confident the initiative petition will be upheld:

101212Peck1 :21 from the public.”

Peck says the association has a study showing the consequences of not properly investing in public education:

101212Peck2 :30 don’t do that.”

 

Congressional Candidates in District 3, 4, Discuss Issues In Statewide Televised Debates

By Sean Whaley | 12:04 am October 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Candidates in two of Nevada’s hotly contested Congressional races debated the issues Thursday in separate 30-minute discussions on public television.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., faced off against state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, in the 3rd Congressional race, while Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian debated state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in the race for the newly created 4th Congressional District.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

Heck has a slight lead in the District 3 race in Las Vegas, while Tarkanian has a modest edge in District 4 despite the strong Democratic registration advantage in the district that covers northern Clark County and much of rural Nevada.

Oceguera called the federal Affordable Care Act “a good start” that needs to be expanded, while noting that Heck has voted repeatedly to oppose the measure.

Good elements of the bill include no caps on medical costs and prohibitions on excluding people for preexisting conditions, he said.

Heck, a physician, agreed there are good elements in the bill, but that Congress needs to repeal the law and replace it with a better measure making health insurance affordable for everyone.

On the issue of Social Security, Heck was asked about a comment he made in 2011 but later backed off from when he called the program a “pyramid scheme.” Congress needs to look at a variety of options increase the solvency of Social Security, including looking at raising the retirement age, he said.

“Part of the problem right now is the high unemployment rates under this administration, and we have fewer people paying into the system because they are not working,” he said. “So the first thing to help shore up Social Security is get the economy started, get people back to work, so more people are paying into the system.”

3rd Congressional District candidate John Oceguera.

Oceguera said Heck has repeated the pyramid scheme statement on several occasions, making it clear he wants to privatize it. Oceguera said he would work to preserve and protect the program, not privatize it.

Oceguera was asked about his goal of protecting small business while at the same time supporting the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year. He said the expiration of the tax cuts has to be part of a balanced approach that includes elements such as ending tax cuts for big oil companies and those companies shipping jobs overseas.

Heck said Oceguera voted in the Assembly to raise taxes on business, and the National Republican Congressional Committee has made his legislative record the focus of a campaign spot.

But Oceguera said that vote actually lowered payroll taxes for a majority of Nevada businesses.

The biggest controversy in the 30-minute discussion was an ad being run by Oceguera criticizing Heck, a former state Senator, for votes on a rape crisis center and abortion.

The ad cites Heck’s 2007 vote on a bill funding a crisis center, and also says the Republican tried to restrict access to abortion for victims of rape.

Oceguera said he stands by the ad.

“Congressman Heck’s record on women, women’s health and safety, is clear,” he said. “He voted to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, he voted twice to defund Planned Parenthood. He voted to make it so that the IRS could go in and audit a rape victim to ask them to have them prove that they had been raped.”

Heck said Oceguera’s statements are blatantly false and have been rejected by the media.

“The votes that he references in the Senate were the end of session pork bills that had 30 to 40 different little pet projects, some of which were very reasonable and very worthwhile, but which never received a public hearing,” he said. “I’m into transparency and accountability. If my opponent wants to pass bills and pet projects and pork in the middle of the night, what will he do in Congress?”

In the second debate, Tarkanian spent much of his time criticizing Horsford for what he said were mischaracterizations of his positions.

Horsford said his references to Tarkanian’s positions on Medicare privatization, immigration and other issues are accurate and point out his extreme positions.

Tarkanian said he supported Arizona’s anti-immigration law because the state had a right to do what it thought necessary to protect the health and safety of its residents. Nevada’s elected officials have to review for themselves if such a law is needed here, he said.

Horsford says Congress needs to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Tarkanian criticized Horsford for consistently voting in the Legislature to raise taxes on business.

“He does have a record and it’s a failing record,” he said.

Horsford said he is proud of his record in the Legislature, working across party lines to create jobs and reduce payroll taxes on small business.

“He’s not accurate,” Horsford said. “I have a strong record, he does not.”

He said Tarkanian has run for office four times and been rejected by voters because of his extreme positions.

Tarkanian said Horsford has spent years in the Legislature but has failed to come up with plans to create jobs.

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Audio clips:

Rep. Joe Heck says Congress needs to consider changes to preserve the Social Security system:

101112Heck :13 into the system.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says he stands by an ad criticizing Heck’s positions on women’s health and safety:

101112Oceguera :20 had been raped.”

 

Berkley In Attack Mode, Heller Takes More Restrained Approach In Second Senate Debate

By Sean Whaley | 10:11 pm October 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley used a second Senate debate tonight to attack Sen. Dean Heller on issues ranging from Medicare to online poker legislation, while her Republican opponent took a more restrained approach in the hour-long discussion on public television.

Berkley accused Heller of supporting a bill by Rep. Paul Ryan to change Medicare to a voucher program for those aged 55 or younger, adding to the cost of their health insurance.

“My opponent voted twice to end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies,” Berkley said. “That’s not the way to fix Medicare, that’s the way you destroy Medicare. Why? Because it’s going to increase the cost of Medicare, health care for older Americans, by $6,400 a year.”

She repeated criticisms made by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that Heller failed to uphold his end of a deal to get online poker legislation passed in Congress that would help Nevada.

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

But Heller, who is reportedly ahead in several polls in the hotly contested Senate race, did not respond in kind, instead taking a more restrained approach on topics ranging from gas prices to immigration reform.

Heller said his support of the Ryan budget plan would not lead to the privatization of Medicare, and that online poker legislation would be passed by the end of the year after the Nov. 6 election with him and Reid working in concert.

Heller said the poker bill has been turned into a political issue that cannot be addressed until the election is over.

“And I’ll be the first to say, that I believe I have two opponents in this particular race; I have the Congresswoman, and I have Sen. Reid also,” he said. “And I’m OK with that. Because we’re going to continue to push forward, and I’ll continue to push forward on the online gaming. And we’re going to get a bill passed before the end of the year. And I’m going to do that with the help and support, working together, with Sen. Reid.”

While the two candidates focused on the issues in the debate, which was marred in Northern Nevada by several lengthy technical interruptions related to the weather, the more sensational ad wars continue unabated on the airwaves.

Rep. Shelley Berkley - D-Nev.

A Berkley ad now running says she is the real supporter of the middle class and job creation, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee is focusing on Berkley’s previous international travels at taxpayer expense.

In response to a question about a bill that would provide Bureau of Land Management land to the city of Yerington to allow for the development of a job-creating copper mine project, Berkley said she supports the measure even though she voted against it in a package of several bills.

Berkley said she looks forward to voting for a “clean” bill that does not include other measures that are unrelated to the proposal, which has been pushed by Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

Heller questioned Berkley’s commitment to the bill, saying that only in Washington, DC can you say you support a bill but vote against it.

Berkley acknowledged in response to a question that she voted in 1999 for a bill that deregulated the financial services industry, which has been blamed in part for the 2008 financial meltdown.

Berkley acknowledged voting for the Glass-Steagall Act, which she called a mistake, but said the country needs to look forward at what can be done to protect the American people. Berkley said she voted for the Dodd-Frank bill to reign in the worst excesses of the banking industry.

“My opponent had an opportunity to reign in the worst abuses of Wall Street by voting for the Dodd-Frank bill and he didn’t,” she said. “So unlike me, who is fighting for the middle class and trying to make some sense out of this and give these banks some regulation so they can never get us into this mess again, so we never have massive unemployment because of their avarice and greed and we never end up with a housing crisis like we did.”

But Heller said Berkley’s voted for deregulation while former Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., opposed the bill. She then voted for the bank bailout bill and then supported Dodd-Frank was to give her and her colleagues cover for earlier supporting bank deregulation.

“So when the banks came and said hey, we want to be deregulated, my opponent said OK,” he said. “When they said we made bad decisions because of this deregulation, they said we want to be bailed out, she said OK. And then what happened is they passed Dodd-Frank. The purpose of Dodd-Frank was to give cover for those who voted for the bailout.”

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Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says Sen. Dean Heller voted twice to end traditional Medicare coverage:

101112Berkley1 :16 $6,400 a year.”

Berkley says Heller did not support a bill to reign in the excesses of Wall Street:

101112Berkley2 :27 like we did.”

Heller says he will work with Sen. Harry Reid and get an online gaming bill passed by the end of the year:

101112Heller1 :17 with Sen. Reid.”

Heller says Berkley’s vote for the Dodd-Frank bill was to give herself cover for voting for bank deregulation and the subsequent bank bailout bill:

101112Heller2 :18 for the bailout.”

 

 

Halloween Spending Expected To Total $118 Million In Nevada, Up 10.4 Percent Over 2011

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:03 am October 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Goblins and ghosts are expected to be good for business in Nevada this Halloween.

The Retail Association of Nevada (RAN) reported today that Silver State residents will spend $118 million on Halloween-related merchandise this month if national trends hold true locally.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), approximately 71.5 percent of U.S. consumers will celebrate Halloween this year, up from 68.6 percent last year and a record number for the holiday. Spending is also expected to increase, with consumers reporting they will spend an average of $79.82 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $72.31 reported last year.

Assuming national trends hold true in Nevada, an estimated 1.5 million residents ages 18 and over will be shopping to help their families celebrate Halloween this year. If Nevada consumers’ spending on the holiday keeps pace with national averages, celebrants will generate $118 million in Halloween-related revenue at retailers statewide.

Compared to last season, when total spending was estimated at $107 million, revenue collected by Nevada retailers will increase by 10.4 percent.

RAN President Mary Lau said: “Retail spending is rising in Nevada, and Halloween is always a great excuse to make a few fun purchases. With Halloween spending in the state expected to reach its highest level yet, there is reason to remain optimistic about sales trends throughout the rest of the year, especially during the approaching winter holiday season.”

Of those celebrating Halloween this year, it is estimated 51.4 percent will decorate their home or yard, up 1.9 percentage points from the 49.5 percent reported last year. Approximately 45 percent will dress in a costume, up from 43.9 percent last year.

Notably, 35.7 percent of those surveyed said they would look for inspiration for Halloween costumes within a retail store or costume shop; others will consult such sources as print media, friends and family, television, and Facebook, to name a few.

Additionally, 15.1 percent say they plan to dress their pets in a costume as well. Also notable, 25.9 percent of consumers say the state of the economy will impact their Halloween plans, causing them to spend less; of these consumers, 18 percent will make a costume instead of purchasing one from a store.

 

Residency Challenge In Assembly 9 Race Set For Monday Hearing

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:48 pm October 10th, 2012

A Clark County District judge will hold a hearing Monday on a residency challenge filed against Assembly 9 Democratic candidate Andrew Martin.

The court challenge was filed last week by Republican candidate Kelly Hurst, who submitted information allegedly showing that Martin actually resides outside the district in violation of state law.

Assembly District 9 GOP candidate Kelly Hurst.

District Court Judge Jerry Wiese will hear the matter at 9 a.m. in Department 30.

Hurst today also called on Martin to suspend his campaign based on the information gathered by private investigator Tom Dillard allegedly showing that Martin resides at 3317 Daylight Moss St. in Assembly District 2 and not at 7159 S. Durango Drive, Unit 307, in District 9, as he claims.

Martin responded last week by saying Hurst committed an extreme invasion of his privacy in a “desperate attempt to distract voters with false accusations” of his standing in the community.

Martin said the facts are that he lives in his home at 7159 S. Durango Drive, Unit 307, in District 9, and that his previous residence cited in the complaint as his residence is used only as an office.

“We have a very important election coming up,” Hurst said in a statement released today. “I’ve spent the past year going door-to-door talking with friends and neighbors in Assembly District 9. One overriding theme I hear daily is that people want their elected officials to approach the tough decisions facing our state with integrity. They want their elected officials to be honest with them; someone to tell them the facts while looking them in the eyes.

“It is because of these conversations I have had over and over again that I respectfully ask Mr. Martin to suspend his campaign,” Hurst said.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, has also weighed in on the lawsuit.

“Nothing goes to the heart of the democratic process more than the integrity of elections,” he said. “Our very system of government hinges upon the fragile foundation of public trust. It is disappointing that Mr. Martin would violate that trust.”

Nevada Casinos Report Modest Decline In August Revenue Report

By Sean Whaley | 12:58 pm October 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos raked in $859.2 million from gamblers in August, but it wasn’t enough to stave off a modest 3.1 percent revenue decline over August 2011, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

Clark County was down 3.4 percent with $727 million in revenues, but the Strip was off only 1.2 percent with $490.9 million taken in on table games and slots.

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Other Clark County markets saw bigger declines, including downtown Las Vegas, off 8.4 percent; North Las Vegas, down 13.1 percent; and the Boulder Strip, off 17.7 percent.

Washoe County saw a 5.1 percent increase with $68.1 million in revenues, but South Lake Tahoe was down 19.5 percent with $22 million in winnings.

The modest decline comes after a $1 billion, 17 percent gain in July.

The decline came as Las Vegas saw an increase in visitation in August, up 1.5 percent to 3.34 million visitors, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the state gaming agency, said a timing issue with slot machine revenue was a factor in the lackluster August report, which happens when a month ends on a weekend and some revenue is actually reported in a different month.

July 2012 slot win was inflated by 8.6 percent because July 2011 had the last weekend’s revenues roll into August, he said. As a result, August 2012 was down 7.8 percent in slot revenue compared to the higher revenue numbers reported in August 2011.

But the August report would have been much worse if it had not been for baccarat play on the Strip, Lawton said.

“Baccarat had a really strong month, being up $28 million, or 29 percent,” he said. “Volumes for baccarat were strong, up 29.6 percent or $237.6 million. So usually when we see a month like that where baccarat was so strong we expect to see a positive month. But then, like I said, there was some underlying issues with slot accounting that kind of came into play and that’s why the month wasn’t positive.”

The August Strip win would have been off by 9 percent, or $29.9 million, without the baccarat performance, Lawton said.

“Baccarat is really keeping the Strip’s head above water,” he said.

The metric on the Strip that is of concern is slot volume, which was down in August for a fifth consecutive month.

“And prior to these five declines we actually had experienced 11 increases in the prior 13 months,” Lawton said. “So, definitely seeing some loss of traction in that slot spend. And calendar year to date, slot volume on the Strip is down 1.8 percent.”

The recent declines suggest the Las Vegas mass market customer is not spending as much right now, he said.

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Audio clips:

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, says baccarat play helped make August a better month than it would have been otherwise:

101012Lawton1 :24 month wasn’t positive.”

Lawton says recent declines in slot volume on the Strip are a concern:

101012Lawton2 :35 down 1.8 percent.”