Archive for November, 2012

State Senate GOP Leadership Endorses Drivers’ Licenses For Deferred Action Program

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:08 pm November 30th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s state  Senate Republican leadership today expressed support for a state policy that makes thousands of young immigrants living in Nevada eligible for a state-issued driver’s license or ID.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, with the support of Gov. Brian Sandoval, announced this week that its policy would be to honor the employment authorization card granted to successful applicants under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Deferred Action program.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said he supports the DMV policy and hopes those eligible will take advantage of this opportunity.

State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson.

“These young men and women are living, working and attending school here in Nevada, and are doing everything in their power to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” Roberson said. “A driver’s license from the state of Nevada will aid in their ability to commute to and from work and school; will afford a sense of self-sufficiency; and will provide greater opportunities for thousands of Nevada families.”

Deferred Action, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a directive from the secretary of the DHS that grants temporary permission to stay in the U.S. to certain undocumented young people. Individuals who receive deferred action may apply for and obtain employment authorization. It is estimated that more than 20,000 young immigrants could benefit from this program in Nevada.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, also applauded the policy: “This DMV policy allowing young immigrants living in our communities to obtain driver’s licenses will benefit not only the young people and families eligible for deferred action, but will also help strengthen Nevada’s education system and our economy at large.”

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, commented on the safety aspects of the policy: “In order to secure a driver’s license, an individual must obtain the proper knowledge and skill level to pass a test to ensure they can safely drive on the streets. This policy will not only provide greater opportunity for so many young people in Nevada, it will also make our streets safer by ensuring training for those who may otherwise be driving without a license or adequate preparation.”

The Las Vegas Sun reported the drivers’ license policy earlier this week.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on June 15 announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria, would be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.

Napolitano said the deferred action program will offer the young immigrants two-year work permits and not deport them as a temporary measure until the country’s immigration policies could be changed with the adoption of the DREAM Act.


September Taxable Sales up 4.2 Percent, 27th Consecutive Increase

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:44 pm November 29th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada taxable sales totaled $3.7 billion in September for a 4.2 percent increase over the same month in 2011, the Department of Taxation reported today.

It was the 27th consecutive month of increases in the economic indicator as the state Economic Forum prepares on Friday to establish the general fund revenue estimates for the 2013-15 budget.

Clark County taxable sales were up 4.9 percent, while Washoe County saw a 9.1 percent increase.

Photo by Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons.

All major categories of taxable sales showed increases in September, with the largest seen in Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers, up 13.3 percent; Building Material and Garden Equipment Supplies, up 33 percent; Food Services and Drinking Places, up 2.9 percent; Telecommunications, up 95.3 percent; and Clothing and Accessories Stores, up 7.4 percent.

Other categories showing increases included the Construction Industry Classification, up 20.7 percent; Merchant Wholesalers – Durable Goods, up 5.2 percent; General Merchandise Stores, up 2.8 percent; Food and Beverage Stores, up 5.3 percent; Furniture and Home Furnishings, up 1.9 percent; and Accommodations, up 102.5 percent.

Eight of Nevada’s seventeen counties recorded an increase in taxable sales for September 2012 compared to September 2011. Churchill, Esmeralda, Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye and Pershing counties recorded a decrease.

The general fund portion of the sales and use taxes collected from the taxable sales amounted to $74.1 million, which represents a 4.5 percent increase compared to September 2011. Compared to the May 2011 Economic Forum projections and based on department analysis, the general fund portion of the sales and use taxes is approximately 4.5 percent or $9.4 million above the forecast for fiscal year 2013 through September.

Modified business tax collections totaled $94.2 million for the state general fund for the quarter ending September 2012. The September collections represent a 3.9 percent decrease compared to the same quarter prior year.

Reno Selected For IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:33 am November 29th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The city of Reno has been selected as one of only 100 recipients of IBM’s prestigious Smarter Cities Challenge grant for 2013.

Partners in the project include the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, University of Nevada, Reno, EDAWN, Desert Research Institute and the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization.

“Being chosen as one of IBM’s Smart Cities signals to the rest of the country, and internationally, that Reno is a community ready for knowledge-based economic expansion,” said Heidi Gansert, special assistant to the president for external affairs at UNR.

“The university is pleased to be part of the Smart Cities Team and will work with the city of Reno and other partners to help drive the local and statewide economy through workforce development, innovation and research,” she said in a statement earlier this month.

The $400,000 grant provides professional consulting and services and will allow Reno to create sophisticated analytics software which will provide citizens and developers complete access to information on properties within the city.

Brian Bonnenfant, program manager for the University’s Center for Regional Studies in the College of Business, said the spatial fiscal-impact model will allow for quicker turnaround on economic development projects and more informed decisions by city leaders.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build a system that’s important to economic development in the region,” Bonnenfant said. “We’re thrilled to be involved with this important work. We’ve worked on projects like this in the past in other communities – and specific projects in Reno – and see the possibilities this grant opens up.

“I see a variety of entities at the university becoming involved, such as the College of Engineering and the College of Science,” he said. “We’ve all worked with the city on a number of projects and have a number of resources this project can draw from.”

The Reno City Council approved a resolution in August to apply for the IBM grant to “develop a plan for the city, University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute to effectively coordinate economic development opportunities, especially through the implementation of technology commercialization, and thereby stimulate job creation in the city of Reno and the surrounding region.”

Federal Unemployment Program To Expire In January

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:39 pm November 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A federal emergency unemployment benefit program will expire on Jan. 2, cutting off about 25,000 Nevadans from the program, a state agency reported today.

The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program will expire unless Congress votes to extend the federal benefits as it has done in the past, said Renee Olson, administrator of the Employment Security Division of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

As a result, about 25,000 Nevadans currently receiving EUC will be abruptly cut off and each week another 1,000 claimants who are receiving regular unemployment, (which allows for a maximum of 26 weeks), will exhaust their benefits and not be able to move to the EUC program, Olson said.

However, claimants should continue to file their weekly claims so that benefits can be paid as quickly as possible if Congress does vote in favor of extending the EUC program, she added. There are nearly 32,000 people on the regular unemployment benefits program in Nevada.

“The last week payable for EUC benefits is December 29, 2012, which means those claimants on EUC will stop receiving benefits, even if they still have balances remaining on their claims,” Olson said. “In the past, claimants have been allowed to continue receiving benefits through the end of the tier they were in.”

Congress first enacted the federal benefits package in June 2008 in response to record high unemployment. Claimants currently qualify for a maximum of 73 weeks. In July of this year, the State Extended Benefits program ended, dropping the number of weeks from 99 to 79, then in September, six more weeks were cut, dropping the maximum weeks from 79 to 73.

Nevada’s unemployment rate is below its peak of 14 percent hit in October of 2010, but remains in double-digits as of October at 11.5 percent.

DETR Director Frank R. Woodbeck said the department is remaining diligent in its efforts to offer innovative training programs that will lead to positive employment outcomes for Nevada’s job seekers.

“We understand the severity of this situation and sympathize with our citizens who are still having a difficult time finding employment,” Woodbeck said. “I want to encourage these Nevadans to visit their nearest Nevada JobConnect office so that our counselors can assist them with job placement and training needs as they pursue gainful employment.

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck.

“Additionally, DETR is working tirelessly with the Governor’s Office on Economic Development and other partners to explore every opportunity to bring more industries to the state, while also creating training programs that will assist our job seekers in being prepared for a more diverse business environment,” he said.

Information on local support services may be obtained by calling 211; this is a centralized number for social support service directories.

Claimants are encouraged to visit DETR for updates on the status of the EUC program, as representatives in Telephone Claims Centers won’t be able to answer questions or provide any further information, Olson said.

Secretary of State Wants Voter Photos At Polls

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:16 pm November 27th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Secretary of State Ross Miller announced today he is seeking legislation in the 2013 session aimed at curbing the potential for voter fraud by including photographs of registered voters at polling places on election day.

Miller said today his proposal is not a voter identification measure. Instead it would be an upgrade to the current antiquated paper roster system by implementing electronic voter rosters with the enhanced feature of a photograph of each registered voter.

Secretary of State Ross Miller.

The requirement of a photograph in the new electronic roster would prevent ineligible voters from impersonating other, eligible voters at a polling place, Miller said. The proposed law, which is currently being drafted, will seek to import existing photographs of eligible voters from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database of drivers’ licenses and state identification cards.

The photographs would be part of a new “electronic poll book” as an adjunct to the existing poll books that currently use signatures for identifying voters. When photographs of the eligible voters are not available through the database, poll workers would be available to take photos at the polling place at the time of voting and verify their identity by way of an affidavit.

Voter ID laws have been passed in other states, but have frequently led to court challenges. Nevada does not now have such a law.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, proposed a voter ID law in the 2011 legislative session, but the measure did not win approval from a Senate Committee and died without action.

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, has submitted a bill draft request for a voter identification law for the 2013 session.

“This provides a significant safeguard in our election process while simultaneously ensuring that we don’t disenfranchise any voters,” Miller said. “It’s really just an enhancement of the existing system, by providing an electronic poll book that could include a photo to go with the already recorded signature.”

Nevadans Will Pay Nearly 5 Percent More If Tax Breaks Expire

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:12 am November 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Nevada family of four with a median income of $65,212 will see a nearly 5 percent tax hike next year if a collection of tax breaks are not renewed by Congress as it deals with the so-called “fiscal cliff”, according to a new report by the Tax Foundation.

The 4.92 percent tax increase as a percentage of the median income ranks Nevada 29th among the states in the higher rates they would pay, the study determined.

The biggest increase if the Bush-era and President Obama tax cuts disappear in 2013 would be the 6.82 percent rate paid in New Jersey. The lowest would be the 4.12 percent rate in Washington state.

The total tax increase in Nevada would be $3,211 from 2011 to 2013, with $1,000 coming from the Child Tax Credit, $907 from other Bush era tax cuts, and $1,304 from an increase in the payroll tax, according to the Tax Foundation’s tax policy calculator.

In an analysis of the fiscal cliff released earlier this month, the Tax Foundation notes that on Jan. 1, 2013, five taxes enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – also called Obamacare – will take effect as well, along with sequester spending reductions of $109 billion due to the failure of the “supercommittee” to reach consensus on budget reductions.

“Taken together this fiscal cliff could potentially reduce economic output by hundreds of billions of dollars,” the foundation reports.

Various estimates have but the effects of the fiscal cliff on the economy at 4 percent or more of the gross domestic product in 2013.

The Tax Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan tax research organization based in Washington, D.C.

Nevada Budget Likely To See Fewer Impacts From “Fiscal Cliff”

By Sean Whaley | 11:57 am November 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The impacts of the so-called “fiscal cliff” on Nevada’s state budget would likely be less significant than for many other states because of our lower dependence on federal spending, according to an analysis by the Pew Center on the States.

The impact on state tax revenues do not apply because Nevada does not have a personal or corporate income tax, according to the report The Impact of the Fiscal Cliff on the States. The report examines the potential effects on each of the states.

Analysis includes Nevada-specific numbers

On the federal spending cut side of the equation, Nevada’s share of federal grants subject to sequester, looked at as a percentage of state revenue, is slightly higher at 6.7 percent than the national average of 6.6 percent, and so could mean financial impacts.

But Nevada ranks well below the national average for federal spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product at 3 percent compared to the national average of 5.3 percent.

Nevada is also below the federal average for federal defense spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of the state GDP at 1.8 percent compared to the national average of 3.5 percent.

Federal non-defense spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of state GDP is 1.2 percent in Nevada compared to 1.8 percent nationally.

These numbers cited in the Pew report are all based on 2010 information.

And federal non-defense workforce as a percentage of total employment in the state is 0.9 percent in Nevada compared to 1 percent nationally, based on 2012 data.

But the Pew analysis notes: “The general economic slowdown that could result if the full fiscal cliff were allowed to take effect would likely overwhelm any of the separate impacts.”

Nevada officials are looking at the issue as one of several budget variables

The report, released Nov. 15, comes as Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is finalizing his 2013-15 state spending plan, which will take effect on July 1, 2013.

The impact of the federal fiscal cliff is just one more variable that could affect Nevada’s general fund budget. Another is expanding Medicaid to a new group of eligible state residents. Sandoval has not yet announced his decision on whether to support the expansion, which would be paid for nearly entirely with federal funds in the first few years.

“The Budget Division is currently evaluating the impacts of sequestration on federal funding to the state of Nevada,” said Director Jeff Mohlenkamp in a statement. “Specifically, we are researching reductions that would have direct impact on services to citizens. Some federal reductions may eliminate the resources to provide services but not eliminate requirements to maintain service levels. The potential for this type of unfunded mandate is of particular interest to the Budget Division as we prepare the budget for FY 2013 – 2015.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding other elements of the ‘fiscal cliff,’ ” he added. “ We understand the possible implications on the larger economy. At this point, we cannot speculate further as most of the critical decisions have not been made.”

The Pew study shows some states more dependent on federal spending

The Pew report on the fiscal cliff says that federal grants to the states constitute about one-third of total state revenues, and federal spending affects states’ economic activity and thus their amount of tax revenues.

Roughly 18 percent of federal grant dollars flowing to the states would be subject to the fiscal year 2013 across-the-board cuts under the sequester, according to the Federal Funds Information for States, including funding for education programs, nutrition for low-income women and children, public housing, and other programs.

Because states differ in the type and amount of federal grants they receive, their exposure to the grant cuts would vary. In all, the federal grants subject to sequester make up more than 10 percent of South Dakota’s revenue, compared with less than 5 percent of Delaware’s revenue.

Federal spending on defense accounts for more than 3.5 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the states, but there is wide variation across the states. Federal defense spending makes up almost 15 percent of Hawaii’s GDP, compared with just 1 percent of state GDP in Oregon.

The fiscal cliff, a series of expiring federal tax provisions and scheduled spending cuts, are set to take effect in January unless Congress reaches agreement on a deficit-reduction plan.

Scheduled tax changes account for roughly four-fifths – or $393 billion – of the total amount of the fiscal cliff. The scheduled spending cuts account for $98 billion – or about one-fifth – of the federal budget impact of the fiscal cliff. Over half of this amount is due to sequestration required under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“To understand the full cost and benefits of proposals to address the fiscal cliff, policy makers need to know how federal and state policies are linked,” said Pew Project Director Anne Stauffer. “The implications for states should be part of the discussion so that problems are not simply shifted from one level of government to another.”

If the full force of the fiscal cliff is realized, the federal deficit would be reduced by $491 billion, the Pew Center analysis says. However, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that the entirety of the fiscal cliff would be a major driver of a general economic slowdown in 2013. Such an outcome would likely negate the more specific, separate impacts described in the analysis.

“Given the uncertainty about whether any or all of the policies in the fiscal cliff will be addressed temporarily or permanently, it is important to understand that the effects of the different components will vary across states,” Stauffer said.


Nevada’s Public Employee Retirement Plan Saw Improvement In 2012

By Sean Whaley | 3:22 pm November 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The long-term unfunded liability of Nevada’s public employee retirement plan improved slightly in fiscal year 2012, up to 71 percent fully funded from 70.2 percent in the previous year, a state official said today.

The plan saw the modest improvement even though the return on investment for the fiscal year was only 2.9 percent. The small gain came after a record 21 percent investment gain in 2011.

The 2012 return was still better than the median gain of 1.15 percent for public pension plans in fiscal year 2012 reported earlier this year by Wilshire Associates.

Dana Bilyeu, executive officer of the Public Employees’ Retirement System, said the plan, which covers nearly all of Nevada’s local and state public employees, had assets of $27.4 billion as of June 30, 2012, up from $25.8 billion in 2011.

PERS Executive Officer Dana Bilyeu.

The unfunded liability dollar value increased as well, however, to $11.2 billion from $11 billion.

The numbers and percentages reflect the combined plans for regular public employees and police and fire fighters.

At its high point in 2000 Nevada’s public employee retirement plan was 85 percent funded.

The long-term unfunded liabilities of the PERS plan, and of public employee pension plans nationwide, are generating concern from policy makers, although Nevada’s plan is considered to be well managed and in better fiscal shape than many others around the country.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has advocated for a change to the pension plan for future workers from a defined benefit to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. Defined contribution plans eliminate any unfunded fiscal liability for states. The 2011 Legislature took no action on the issue but it is expected to resurface in 2013.

The financial health of Nevada’s public employee pension plan was found to be cause for serious concern because it was only 70 percent funded as of fiscal year 2010, the Pew Center on the States said in June. The funding ratio in Nevada is below the 80 percent benchmark that fiscal experts recommend for a sustainable program.

In response to the report, Bilyeu said in June the heavy reliance by Pew on the funding ratio for the state rankings presents an incomplete picture.

Nevada’s contribution rates, which will increase again in the next two-year budget, are based on an analysis by an independent actuary, and are fully funded each year, she said.

PERS manages retirement benefits for about 100,000 active government workers and more than 40,000 retirees.

Nevada’s Jobless Rate Drops To 11.5 Percent In October

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:47 am November 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s unemployment rate for October dropped to a seasonally adjusted 11.5 percent, down from 11.8 percent in September, the lowest it’s been in three and a half years, a state agency reported today.

The Las Vegas metro area still holds the highest unemployment rate in the state, at 11.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down 0.4 percentage points from September, said Bill Anderson, chief economist for the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

In the Reno-Sparks area the rate fell 0.2 percentage points over the month, to 10.6 percent. Carson City recorded a similar decline, from 10.9 percent to 10.7 percent. Las Vegas and both Northern Nevada metro areas all recorded their lowest October readings since 2008, he said.

Construction workers. / Paul Keheler via Wikimedia Commons.

Through the first ten months of the year, the unemployment rate averaged 11.9 percent. This is down nearly two full percentage points from the same period in 2011, which was 13.7 percent.

“October’s unemployment rate is the lowest rate since May of 2009, a significant step for our state,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval in a statement. “While this news is welcome, our state’s unemployment rate remains at a high level and continues to indicate the need for sustained economic diversification and private sector job growth.”

In October, a gain 2,500 new positions are typically expected compared to September, but preliminary estimates point to a gain of 4,700 jobs, Anderson said. Seasonally adjusted, this is an increase of 2,200 jobs.

Private sector job levels stand 1,200 higher than the prior month and 3,200 above year-ago readings. So far this year, private sector payrolls are up 11,100 compared to the first ten months of 2011, based upon estimates from the monthly survey of businesses.

Public sector payrolls have shown signs of leveling off in recent months, following an extended downturn.

“All things considered, available information suggests that Nevada’s labor market has been on the mend since right around the beginning of 2011,” Anderson said. “One of the broadest barometers of economic well-being, average weekly wages, has followed suit. After two years of outright declines during the recession, wages have been trending up ever since. Despite some weakness in this year’s second quarter, through the first half of the year, wages are up 2.6 percent from the same six-month period in 2011. So far this year, wages have averaged $830 per week.”


Audio clips:

DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson says Nevada’s labor market has been on the mend since early 2011:

111912Anderson1 :23 unemployment is declining.”

But Anderson says Nevada’s 11.5 percent jobless rate shows how big an impact the recession had on Nevada’s economy:

111912Anderson2 :15 dig out of.”



Football Betting Pushes Gaming Revenues Up In September

By Sean Whaley | 1:01 pm November 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Football fever helped Nevada casinos win $892.7 million from gamblers in September for a modest 3.3 percent increase over September 2011, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

Clark County reported a 3.7 percent gain, with the Las Vegas Strip posting a slight 1.2 percent increase with $496.8 million in revenues, the monthly report released today shows.

Photo by Mikerussell via Wikimedia Commons.

Most Southern Nevada markets reported increases in September, including a 6 percent gain in downtown Las Vegas and a 24.2 percent increase on the Boulder Strip.

Modest gains were reported across much of the rest of the state as well, with Washoe County posting a 0.6 percent gain, and South Lake Tahoe reporting a 5 percent increase in September over September 2011.

The slight increase in September came after a modest 3.1 percent decline in August.

Sports betting, particularly with the start of the NFL football season, was the major contributing factor for Nevada’s modest win, said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the state gaming agency.

Sports pools statewide won $53.4 million in September, an increase of 165.4 percent, or $33.3 million, over September 2011. The amount wagered was up 21.7 percent, or $75.1 million. And the amount “held” by the casinos was a strong 12.69 percent compared to 5.82 percent last year.

“Really what drove those results was football,” he said. “Football and sports pools total, the win amounts were record amounts for any month for the state in history. And then the handle, the amount wagered, was the second highest ever wagered for football and the highest amount ever for sports pools in total.”

Most bettors pick the favorites in sporting events and neither the college nor the NFL football teams did well in covering their point spreads in September, Lawton said. There were also two extra weekend days in September 2012 compared to September 2011 that helped drive the numbers.

The state had an overall gaming revenue increase of $28.7 million in September, and the sports pools were up $33.3 million by themselves, Lawton said.

“So without that it wouldn’t have been an increase for the state this month,” he said.


Audio clips:

Gaming Control Board analyst Michael Lawton says sports betting drove Nevada’s gaming win in September:

110812Lawton1 :16 pools in total.”

Lawton says sports betting gave Nevada a positive month in September:

110812Lawton22 :19 state this month.”


Mining Industry Big Nevada Job Creator

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:15 am November 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A report released today shows that Nevada’s mining industry has accounted for 14 percent of jobs added statewide in the past year and 33 percent of jobs added statewide since the recession ended in June 2009.

Courtesy of Barrick Gold Corp.

The Nevada Mining Association announced the findings, which come from a recent study completed by Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis.

“While accounting for just 1 percent of Nevada employment and 5 percent of Nevada GDP, the mining industry was responsible for 33 percent of the jobs added in Nevada since the end of the recession,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst for Applied Analysis.

“Furthermore, these were not jobs recovered that had been lost; rather, they represented real growth,” he said. “Industry representatives have indicated that there is unfulfilled demand for even more employees to join the industry.”

The report comes out ahead of the 2013 legislative session, where any discussion of raising tax revenues will likely include the mining industry. The industry was the subject of extensive hearings in 2011. Mining was also the focus this year of an initiative petition that would have allowed higher taxes to be imposed on the industry, but the proposal was withdrawn.

The Nevada Mining Association, in announcing the study, said in a news release that mining has helped foster low unemployment rates in many rural counties, including 4.9 percent in Esmeralda County, 5.4 percent in Lander County, 5.5 percent in Elko County, 5.9 percent in Humboldt County and 5.9 percent in Eureka County.

Nevada’s statewide jobless rate was 11.8 percent in September, the highest in the nation.

The association said the industry has added 1,200 jobs over the past 12 months, which represents an 11 percent increase in mining’s total workforce, and the number of Nevadans now directly employed in mining is more than 12,000, the association said.

The association in February 2012 estimated the industry would add 1,200 jobs this year, both in precious metal and industrial mineral production, after conducting an informal survey of members.

“These numbers support what the industry has known for some time,” said Tim Crowley, president of the Nevada Mining Association. “We have been adding jobs throughout the industry, and the Nevada Mining Association is seeing a record number of outside suppliers joining our membership ranks. The industry’s direct and indirect reach will only continue to grow and help Nevada recover in the coming years with several new projects set to begin operations.”

Nevada’s gold mines produced 5.3 million ounces of gold in 2010. Nevada is ranked as the fourth largest producer in the world.

Record Number Of Voters Cast Ballots In Nevada

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:08 am November 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – More than one million voters cast ballots in the 2012 general election, an all-time record high turnout for Nevada, the Secretary of State’s office reported.

Of the 1,257,621 active registered voters, a total of 1,013,195 voters, or 80.56 percent, turned out during early voting and on Election Day. Both the number and percentage of voters exceed the 2008 general when 970,019 voters, or 80.27 percent of active registered voters, cast ballots.

Photo by Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons.

“I believe an election like this, with record turnout and minimal problems, creates great momentum for future civic participation,” said Secretary of State Ross Miller. “It’s been clear for some time that we were headed for a potentially record-breaking turnout. We’ve been preparing for this for quite a while, and I’m proud to see fellow Nevadans participating like this. It’s healthy for the process.”

On Election Day, several commonplace issues arose at the polls, but all were immediately addressed by poll workers and members of the multi-jurisdictional Election Integrity Task Force.

Final race results and a breakdown of voter turnout are posted on the Secretary of State’s Election Night Reporting website at

County and local races will be canvassed to their respective county commissions by November 15. Statewide races will be canvassed to the Nevada Supreme Court on November 27.

Many New Faces In Nevada Legislature For 2013

By Sean Whaley | 12:10 pm November 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The 63-member Nevada Legislature will see quite a few new faces when it convenes Feb. 4, including 11 members in the Assembly and 10 members in the Senate, although several newly elected state senators have moved up from the Assembly.

One of the new Assembly members is Democrat Ellen Spiegel in District 20 in Henderson, who served in the 2009 session but lost re-election in 2010. Also new will be Republican Wes Duncan in District 37. Duncan unseated Democrat Marcus Conklin in the only loss by an incumbent in the 42-member Assembly.

Newly elected Assemblyman Wes Duncan.

One newly elected Assembly candidate’s future is in legal limbo. Democrat Andrew Martin won in Assembly District 9 in Las Vegas, but a Clark County District judge on Monday ruled him ineligible for the seat because he did not reside in the district. The ruling could be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Democrats now have a 27-15 majority in the Assembly.

In the 21-member Senate, five of the new members have all served in the Assembly. They include Democrats Tick Segerblom, Kelvin Atkinson, and Debbie Smith, and Republicans Scott Hammond and Pete Goicoechea.

A sixth new member, Joyce Woodhouse, previously served a term in the state Senate but lost re-election in 2010.

Only four new Senate members have no previous legislative experience: Democrats Patricia Spearman, who defeated Democratic incumbent John Lee in the primary, Justin Jones and Aaron Ford; and Republican Mark Hutchison.

Democrats maintained their narrow 11-10 edge over Republicans in the Senate for the 2013 session after several extremely close races split between the two parties in Tuesday’s election.


Nevada Voters Approve Legislative Special Session Measure

By Sean Whaley | 10:59 am November 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A majority of Nevada voters on Tuesday approved a measure sought by some state lawmakers that will now allow them to call a special session of the Legislature on “extraordinary occasions.”

The vote in support of the constitutional amendment was 54 percent to 46 percent opposed.

The Nevada state Senate in session, 2011. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The change will now allow the Legislature, on extraordinary occasions and only with two-thirds support of lawmakers in each house, to call itself into special session. Sessions would be limited to 20 days, but could be convened on a continuous basis if the extraordinary conditions requirement was met and with two-thirds support from lawmakers.

The term “extraordinary occasions” is not defined.

The constitution previously allowed only the governor to call a special session of the Legislature.

Currently, legislatures in 34 states are authorized to call a special session.

Nevada voters rejected the concept in 2006 but supported it in this election.

The measure was put on the ballot after Assembly Joint Resolution 5 was approved by the Legislature in both 2009 and 2011. In 2011, the proposal passed both houses by a party line vote with all Republicans opposed.

Opponents of the proposal were concerned the change could move the Legislature away from its tradition of meeting on a part-time basis by allowing lawmakers to call themselves into session on a continuous basis.

But supporters said giving lawmakers the authority to call themselves into special session could be critical if a situation like that in Illinois arose with impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Supporters said it would be unlikely for a governor facing impeachment to call a special session to allow for his own removal from office.

Democrats Narrowly Maintain Control Of State Senate

By Sean Whaley | 12:30 am November 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Nevada state Senate will remain in Democratic control following Tuesday’s election after three Republican candidates won victories in five closely contested races, one short of the number needed for a change of power.

Democrats won two of the five races in play for control of the Senate, maintaining the 11-10 status quo over Republicans.

Republicans needed to win four of the five contested seats to achieve an 11-10 edge and win control of the Senate. Democrats have controlled the Senate since 2008.

But Republicans won only three of the five races, all of which were closely contested.

The results ensure that both the 21-member Senate and the 42-member Assembly will remain in control of Democrats in the 2013 session, requiring GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval to work with the opposing party in both houses to push through his education reform agenda in the 2013 legislative session.

There were 12 Senate races in the Tuesday election, but only five were considered in play by the two parties.

Mark Hutchison, Republican victor in Senate District 6.

In Senate District 5, former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, defeated Republican and former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk for the four-year term. The final vote had 52 percent for Woodhouse to 48 percent for Kirk. Woodhouse served previously but had lost a re-election bid in 2010.

In Senate District 6, GOP attorney Mark Hutchison narrowly defeated Democrat businessman Benny Yerushalmi, 50.8 percent 49.2 percent.

In Senate District 9, Democrat Justin Jones defeated Republican Mari St. Martin by a margin of 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent.

In Senate District 15 in Washoe County, a closely watched race that pitted Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, against former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, Brower eked out a narrow victory. Leslie had resigned her previous seat to face Brower, but lost the hotly contested race 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent. More than $1 million was spent on the race by the two candidates, with Brower winning by a mere 266 votes.

In Senate District 18, GOP Assemblyman Scott Hammond defeated Democrat Kelli Ross, 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent.

Both GOP caucus leader Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, and Democratic leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, had high hopes for their slate of candidates.

In the Assembly, Democrats picked up a seat to take a 27-15 edge over Republicans, although there were some significant developments in a handful of the races.

Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, expected to be the next Assembly Speaker, lost a fiercely contested race to GOP newcomer Wes Duncan, by a margin of 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.

Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas.

Conklin’s loss opens up the leadership post among Democrats for the 2013 session.

In Assembly District 20, Democrat Ellen Spiegel, who lost a re-election bid in 2010, won her election bid over Republican Eric Mendoza.

And in a race sure to cause some difficulties for Democrats, candidate Andrew Martin won over Republican Kelly Hurst, despite being found ineligible for the seat by a Clark County District Judge on Monday due to a residency issue. Evidence presented at a court hearing resulted in a ruling that Martin did not actually live in the district.

In other races, President Obama’s strong showing in the Silver State did not have the coattail effect that Rep. Shelly Berkley, D-Nev., needed in her challenge to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. Heller narrowly defeated Berkley to keep the Senate seat for the GOP, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will maintain his position in the U.S. Senate with victories elsewhere across the country.

In the state’s four House races, former Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., won election in the 1st Congressional District. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., won a full term to the 2nd District, and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., defeated challenger John Oceguera for a second term in the 3rd District. The most closely watched race, in the new 4th Congressional District, saw state Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, defeat GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian.

Horsford will be Nevada’s first African American member of Congress.