Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Nevada Has Biggest Increase in Food Stamp Caseloads

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:05 am July 26th, 2011

Nevada experienced the greatest growth among the states in food stamp caseloads between 2007 and 2010 with an increase of 128 percent, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute.

The jump in caseloads is attributable to a nearly 250 percent increase in state unemployment between 2007 and 2010, says the report.

The Unemployment and Recovery Project report said caseload increases across the country are a reflection of high unemployment, as well as increased participation rates and program changes that make it easier for families to get benefits.

Nearly 45 million people currently receive help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps), an increase of about 69 percent since the recession began near the end of 2007.

A recent Las Vegas Sun report said 329,105 Nevadans received assistance from SNAP in March, citing statistics obtained from the state Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.

Today, SNAP reaches about one in seven Americans.

  • – Over half of SNAP-supported households include children, and one in five include a disabled, non-elderly adult.
  • – About one in eight SNAP-supported households include elderly individuals.
  • – 96 percent are U.S. citizens, 1 percent are refugees, and 3 percent are documented non-citizens living in the U.S. long enough to qualify (aliens are not eligible for SNAP benefits).
  • – In 2009, about 29 percent of SNAP households had some earnings, 5 percent had some unemployment insurance, and many others reported disability or retirement income. Nearly one in five (18 percent) had no countable income.

According to a recent KRNV-TV report, not all Nevada SNAP money is spent in Nevada.

Romaine Gilliland, an administrator with the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, told KRNV that 98 percent of Nevadans on SNAP use their money in Nevada, but more than $955,000 is spent out of state each month.

Close to half of all out-of-state usage occurs in California. The next largest out-of-state usage is Arizona.

It is unknown how much SNAP money from other states is spent in Nevada.

The current debate over reducing the federal deficit has led some to propose scaling back federal program costs. The House Budget Committee passed a major restructuring that would block grant SNAP to the states with fixed federal resources.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would cut the SNAP program by $127 billion — almost 20 percent — over the next ten years (2012-2021).

In addition to possible cuts to SNAP, thousands of Nevada residents who rely on financial assistance to pay their power bills likely won’t get help this year because of federal funding cuts.

The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services recently said federal funding for Nevada’s Energy Assistance Program will amount to only $4 million this year, down from $15.8 million in the fiscal year that just ended June 30.

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Click the following link to see a U.S. map showing the percentage increase in SNAP enrollments across the country (PDF provided by the Urban Institute):

SNAP Enrollment Map 07-10

 

First Bills Of 2011 Legislative Session Now Available For Review

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:22 am December 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Lobbyists and policy-makers who can’t wait to get a jump on the 2011 legislative session can start their reading assignments now.

Forty-four bills have already been drafted and pre-filed on the Legislature’s website in advance of the session that will begin Feb. 7.

Included in the 17 Assembly bills are three from John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, aimed at further combating child prostitution in Nevada. Hambrick won unanimous support for a bill in 2009 providing for civil penalties of up to $500,000 against those convicted of human trafficking of minor children.

Hambrick now wants to extend that effort next session by increasing sentences for those involved in such crimes, including those who purchase the sexual services of an underage child, and allowing victims to clear their criminal records under certain conditions so they can go on to productive lives.

There is also Senate Bill 1, which appropriates $15 million for the cost of the 2011 session. The bill is the first passed when the Legislature convenes.

Among the other 26 Senate bills drafted and on file is Senate Bill 2, the biennial effort by Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, to appropriate enough money to public education to meet or exceed the national average. Schneider has introduced the bill in previous sessions without success.

Senate Bill 16, requested by the Senate Government Affairs Committee, would make changes to Nevada’s prevailing wage law.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the number of bills will grow significantly by Wednesday, when the approximately 155 measures sought by government entities must be pre-filed or they are deemed withdrawn. This list includes 91 measures from the executive branch, along with requests from the attorney general, Supreme Court, Clark County and others.

A total of 241 bills were pre-filed ahead of the 2009 session, he said. The pre-filing of bills helps legislative committees get to work right away when the session begins, Malkiewich said.

The Legislature has only 120 days to complete its work unless the governor calls a special session.

Oceguera Elected Assembly Speaker For 2011 Legislative Session

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:11 am November 4th, 2010

Assemblyman John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, has been unanimously elected as Speaker for the upcoming legislative session.

Oceguera has served as majority leader under former Speaker Barbara Buckley, who could not run again because of term limits.

The vote of the 26-member Democratic caucus on Wednesday will be formalized on the first day of the legislative session on Feb. 7.

Oceguera was first elected to the Assembly in 2000, and he will be termed out of office in 2012. The 2011 session will be his last.

He takes over a caucus that is slightly weaker in terms of numbers, but more significantly affected by the loss of a two-thirds veto-proof majority held by Democrats in 2009. Democrats lost two seats in the Tuesday general election, bringing their number down to 26 to 16 for Republicans.

The 2011 session will be critical for Democrats and Republicans as the once-a-decade process of redrawing political boundaries must be accomplished. A key issue will be whether to expand the size of the Legislature. Lawmakers will also have to create one new congressional seat.

“We fought hard to win each election to give us a majority,” Oceguera. “Now it is time to turn from the conflict of those elections to the cooperation we need to rebuild Nevada.”

Oceguera emphasized that Democrats in the Assembly are ready to, “work with every Nevadan, from every part of the state, from every political party, from every perspective,” to meet the challenges of the economy, jobs, education reform and more efficient, more transparent government.

“We celebrated an election victory Tuesday night,” Oceguera said. “But Nevadans won’t have a true victory until we build a more diverse economy, reform and support our schools, and create a government they can trust. We can no longer tolerate being in last place.”

Oceguera called on Republicans, including GOP Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval, business and labor leaders and Nevada citizens to come together to find common solutions.

“There’s a time for partisan differences, but now is the time to rebuild Nevada” he said. “We can’t wait for another election to come and go before taking action. Right now every one of us has the responsibility to become part of the solution, not part of the problem. There will be honest disagreements, but let those disagreements come with a real plan and specifics instead of simply slogans.”

The 16-member GOP Assembly caucus is deciding its leadership later today.

Assembly Majority Leader Wants to Eliminate Nevada Revenue Volatility, Teacher Tenure

By Sean Whaley | 7:13 pm September 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera said today he believes the Legislature will have a great opportunity in 2011 to look at ways of broadening the state’s tax base to eliminate the volatility that has created Nevada’s boom and bust funding cycles.

Lawmakers have been working with Nevada business leaders, from mining to banking, and with labor groups, to find common ground on how to fix the state’s fiscal problems, Oceguera said in an interview Monday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

But finding revenue to fill an anticipated state budget gap won’t be the only issue on the agenda for lawmakers and the state’s business and labor leaders, he said. Expanding the state economy and bringing new business to Nevada are also issues lawmakers must address next year, Oceguera said.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, also said reforms to the state’s education system, including retaining the best teachers and eliminating teacher tenure, have to be on the agenda for discussion in the upcoming legislative session.

“We have to retain our best teachers, so I think eliminating teacher tenure would be high on the list,” he said.

Oceguera said the position of both of the state’s leading candidates for governor that they won’t raise taxes is the right approach to begin addressing the state budget shortfall, which state fiscal experts say will be as much as $3 billion. The figure is disputed by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which says the shortfall is much lower.

“We need to look at where we can find efficiencies in government,” he said. “Once we finish that process, we’ll have to see if there is something left over that needs to be taken care of on the revenue side.”

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Audio clips:

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera says eliminating teacher tenure has to be considered as Legislature looks at education reform:

092010Oceguera1 :08 on the list.”

Oceguera says Legislature in 2011 will have a chance to fix volatility in state tax structure:

092010Oceguera2 :16 the tax base.”

Oceguera says lawmakers working with business and labor to deal with state’s challenges:

092010Oceguera3 :33 education component, so.”

Lawmakers Support Expansion of Nevada Legislature As Part Of Redistricting In 2011

By Sean Whaley | 4:15 pm July 21st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Several Nevada lawmakers serving on a panel gearing up for the critical task of redrawing the state’s political boundaries in 2011 said today they support expanding the size of the Legislature to provide better representation.

Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the Legislature should have added more seats to the Senate and Assembly in the 2001 redistricting process. Because Southern Nevada’s population has boomed for most of the decade, more legislative seats will move south from rural and northern Nevada unless more seats are added, he said.

This makes it almost impossible for some lawmakers to properly represent their districts, both because of the overall population growth and because some rural districts are geographically immense, Raggio said.

“They are not really manageable,” he said. “So you need to increase the size so that you don’t have districts with geographical areas that are just impossible or impractical for one person to represent.”

The Nevada Legislature has 21 state senators and 42 members in the Assembly for a total of 63 lawmakers. The state constitution limits the size of the Legislature to a maximum of 75.

Currently 14 of 21 senators are from Clark County. Twenty-nine of the 42 members of the Assembly are from Clark County.

Raggio said he believes the Legislature should consider expanding all the way to the full 75 allowed, with 25 members in the Senate and 50 members in the Assembly.

Raggio will be involved in the redistricting process but he won’t be crafting a Senate district for himself. The 2011 session will be his last.

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said they too support an expansion of the Legislature when interviewed after the meeting of the Legislative Commission’s Committee to Study Requirements for Reapportionment and Redistricting.

Goicoechea said at least two Assembly seats and one Senate seat need to be added in the 2011 legislative session. The Assembly Republican Caucus will push for that, he said.

Goicoechea said he would also like to see districts more closely mirror county lines where possible. Several rural Nevada counties have multiple legislative representatives right now, he said.

Smith said she believes more seats are needed to ensure adequate representation outside of Clark County. In the 2001 redistricting process, two Assembly seats and one Senate seat went south from Washoe County to compensate for the population growth. Smith saw her own district carved up as part of that process.

Smith lost re-election in 2002 following the redistricting by the 2001 Legislature. She was re-elected in 2004 and has served ever since.

Smith said the cost of an expansion would not be that great because the legislative building can accommodate more members.

Smith said she is not certain yet on how much of an expansion would be appropriate.

Redistricting occurs one every 10 years following the census count.

The Legislature must redraw their own districts to make them approximately equal in size. They will also redraw the state’s congressional boundaries. Given Nevada’s population growth since the last census, the state will likely expand to four seats in the House of Representatives from the current three seats.

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Audio:

Sen. Bill Raggio on need to expand size of Legislature:

072110Raggio1 :23 not very representative.”

Raggio on some districts being too large to represent:

072110Raggio2 :26 person to represent.”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith on concerns about representation:

072110Smith :8 means to representation.”

Gov. Gibbons Now Evaluating Legislative Requests For Budget Information

By Sean Whaley | 12:43 pm July 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons said his administration is reviewing requests for information from a legislative panel performing a review of base budgets but said the constant calls for more data and staff responses are burdensome and time consuming.

“We’re struggling to meet the needs of the public with a vastly decreased budget,” he said.

Gibbons said his administration is in the midst of its own top-down review of state spending as a preliminary 2011-13 budget is prepared. The state is looking at as much as a $3.5 billion shortfall in revenue compared to recent budgets, which could mean a spending reduction of as much as 40 percent from current levels without new revenues.

The size of the shortfall won’t become clear until the Economic Forum meets later this year to project tax revenues. The projections by the panel of private sector officials, which will be reviewed a second time in May 2011, must be used by the governor and Legislature in creating a balanced budget.

Gibbons was asked to comment about the legislative information requests following a decision he made earlier this month not to have executive branch staff participate or attend the legislative meeting on the base budget review.

The six-member Legislative Committee for the Fundamental Review of the Base Budgets of State Agencies is scheduled to meet again Aug. 10, and the panel has asked for responses to questions raised at its first meeting. The panel also asked administration officials to attend the August meeting.

The first meeting of the panel earlier this month did not include participation from the administration.

Citing separation of powers, Gibbons has directed his staff not to participate with the legislative panel’s budget review. But in an interview Tuesday, he said the most recent requests for information would be evaluated to determine if they could be accommodated.

Legislative leadership has sent Gibbons a letter asking for participation, noting that previous governors have cooperated with lawmakers performing work during the interim. They also noted that administration officials could be subpoenaed, but one lawmaker said there is no interest on the part of the committee in pursuing that alternative.

Gibbons and his administration are preparing a new budget for the next biennium even though Gibbons will not be governor. He was defeated in the June GOP primary by Brian Sandoval. A new governor won’t be picked until the November general election. The new governor won’t take office until January, just a few weeks before the legislative session begins Feb. 7.

State Budget Director Andrew Clinger sent a memo to all agencies in June saying the process of building the new two-year Nevada budget will be substantially different from past practice.

Given the fiscal crisis faced by the state over the past three years, Nevada can no longer craft a budget by taking the previous year’s expenditures, adjust for one-time expenditures and add inflation and caseload growth, he said.

“We must create a budget process that looks first at the outcomes citizens expect,” Clinger said. “Some of the questions this new budget building approach needs to answer are: What is the proper role of state government? What services must we provide? What is the most efficient way to provide those services? And, what is the best way to pay for them?”

Clinger said the administration has formed the Priorities of Government Working Group to help answer these questions by reviewing and prioritizing all state services.

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audio clips:

Gov. Gibbons on lawmaker budget information requests:

071410Gibbons1 :21 with fewer resources.”

Gibbons says he would like lawmakers to share their information as well:

071410Gibbons2 :10 comes that time.”

Bill Requests For 2011 Nevada Legislative Session Include Ban On Texting While Driving, Property Tax Protection, Castle Doctrine

By Sean Whaley | 2:17 pm July 1st, 2010

CARSON CITY – If a list of bills requested for drafting for the 2011 legislative session released today is any indication, a lot of lawmakers are concerned about people who use cell phones while driving.

Of the 152 bill draft requests submitted so far, mostly by lawmakers, three deal with cell phone use in vehicles: two to prohibit texting and a third to “restrict cell phone use” while driving.

The one-line descriptions of the bills being sought by lawmakers, interim legislative committees, state constitutional officers and others are made public on July 1 before each legislative session. The list will now be updated weekly through the session that begins in February.

The proposed bills to ban texting while driving were requested by Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, with three co-sponsors, and Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson. The bill to restrict cell phone use was requested by Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas.

A bill to ban texting while driving was introduced in the 2009 session by Breeden. It passed the Senate but did not get a vote in the Assembly.

Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, has requested a measure to amend the state constitution to create a uniform and fair method of assessing property taxes. Gustavson, who is running for a seat in the state Senate, said the proposal is similar to previous measures he has supported to cap property tax increases at 2 percent per year or the consumer price index, whichever is lower.

Gustavson and Sharron Angle, a former state lawmaker now running for the U.S. Senate, have sought such a change for years, usually trying to get the proposal on the ballot through the initiative petition process rather than the Legislature. It is modeled on the Proposition 13 tax cap approved in California. Gustavson said his proposal may get more attention in the Legislature if Republicans pick up some seats in the November election.

Right now people can’t budget for their property taxes because they don’t know what the valuation will be from year to year, he said.

The measure would help property owners in the Incline Village area of Washoe County who have seen their properties valued improperly, Gustavson said. Despite winning court cases to get refunds of excess property taxes, Washoe County has so far failed to return the money, he said.

The current property tax cap approved by the Legislature in 2005 is not constitutional because it treats residential property differently than commercial property, Gustavson said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, is seeking a bill to adopt the “Castle Doctrine” in Nevada to provide legal protections for homeowners who defend themselves against criminals.

A similar measure was introduced in 2009 by Assembly Democrat Harry Mortenson, D-Las Vegas, but did not even get a hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Hambrick said.

“It had bipartisan support; many people were in favor of it, but for whatever reason it never saw the light of day,” he said.

Hambrick said the principle is “your home is your castle” and you have the right in common law to protect your property. This would put the concept in state law as many other states have done to provide legal protections from either civil or criminal liability, he said.

Hambrick said he would like to see the measure get a hearing in the 2011 session.

Some bill draft requests are unlikely to see any consideration in the upcoming session because they have been requested by lawmakers who will not return in 2011. One example is a proposal by Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, to make the failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense. Right now drivers cannot be pulled over in Nevada for failing to wear a seat belt.

Unless another lawmaker picks up the proposal and submits a bill in the session, the issue may not see any action next year. Nolan lost re-election in the June GOP primary.

2010 Election Season Crucial with Redistricting on the Agenda in the Next Legislative Session

By Sean Whaley | 3:18 pm March 26th, 2010

CARSON CITY – As millions of Americans fill out their census forms over the next several weeks in the nation’s once-a-decade head count, they no doubt will see the process as a minor inconvenience at most.

But the 2010 census count isn’t just about adding up the population in each state. It is also the starting point for what most observers agree is the most political and contentious issue state lawmakers ever face: The redrawing of political boundaries for members of Congress and especially themselves.

The census count triggers the redistricting and reapportionment process every 10 years, which is designed to make political boundaries approximately equal in population in each state. The census can also lead to Congressional seats being relocated to states where populations have increased since the prior count.

In Nevada the process can pit party against party, national party interests versus local interests, north versus south and Assembly versus Senate. Add to the mix the desires of lawmakers who wish to protect their seats and ensure continued re-election, a major statewide budget crisis, a dozen or more freshman lawmakers and 120 days to get job done, and the 2011 Nevada legislative session will likely be both grueling and interesting to watch.

“It’s huge,” said Ryan Erwin, a political consultant who worked on reapportionment in Nevada in the 2001 session on behalf of Assembly and Senate Republicans. “Ultimately what happens will have a huge impact on Nevada politics over the next decade. Redistricting will have a longer term impact on the finances of this state than any two-year budget ever will.”

In one sign of how serious the issue is for the parties, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, in a memo put out March 15, identified Nevada’s state Senate as one of 10 legislative chambers having tight contests where Democrats need to work to maintain control this election year.

“The DLCC is determined to run the largest Democratic redistricting mobilization in history this year to ensure that our state legislative candidates have the resources needed to win against well-heeled Republican special interests,” the memo says.

The DLCC has established a fund to put $20 million into races that will have the greatest impact on reapportionment, the memo says.

Erwin, who was the executive director of the state Republican Party at the time of the 2001 redistricting, said the issues for lawmakers can be very personal. In the 2001 process, for example, there was a lawmaker who demanded that the hospital she was born in be included in her district, he said.

Others want double-digit voter registration advantages, Erwin said.

“It’s a very personal process,” he said. “You see the selfish side of people with redistricting more than with any other piece of legislation.”

But much of the process is bound by constitutional requirements for fair and reasonable district boundaries, and so only a portion of the process could be called discretionary, Erwin said.

In the 2001 process, which included the creation of a new Congressional 3 District in Southern Nevada, no one was really happy with the final result, which Erwin said is probably a sign that the process was fair.

“First and foremost you have a responsibility to create fair lines,” he said. “Second is to get what you want.”

In the 2011 process, lawmakers will likely have the chance to create a fourth Congressional seat given Nevada’s population growth over the past decade. Another issue on the table will be whether to expand the size of the Legislature, which now stands at 63 members.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who is running for the Washoe 1 Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bernice Mathews, D-Reno, due to term limits, said the process is critically important for both parties but the results are not always easy to predict.

“Republicans designed a lot of seats last time, and see what happened in 10 years,” she said. “It’s hard to predict what will happen in 10 years.”

The Senate in 2001 had a 12-9 GOP edge, and Republicans held on to the majority in the upper house until the 2008 election, when Democrats took the majority for the first time since 1991.

In the Assembly, Democrats ruled with 27 members compared to 15 GOP lawmakers. Democrats have held on to the majority ever since.

The importance of the redistricting process can be gauged in a variety of ways. For Leslie, winning her race is important because it is now the only Democratic state Senate seat outside of Clark County.

“From that point of view it could not be more critical to maintain at least one seat and hope to expand Democratic representation in northern Nevada,” she said.

But Leslie said she also favors an effort to create some more competitive seats in the process so that voters have a choice.

“It really serves Democracy better by creating a more even playing field,” she said.

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said enlarging the Legislature is an issue of particular concern to rural lawmakers, who have seen their districts grow large geographically because of the population growth in Southern Nevada.

Also on the Assembly GOP agenda is taking away the Democrat’s current veto-proof 28-seat advantage by winning as many new seats as possible.

“Otherwise it is pretty tough to play,” he said.

The process will be interesting because so many veteran lawmakers will not be participating due to term limits and other reasons, Goicoechea said.

Only two members of the Assembly, Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, will have gone through the redistricting process, assuming they are both re-elected this year.

“It’s almost a different generation,” Goicoechea said. “There aren’t as many scars. I do feel we will get along.”

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, who was involved in the 2001 redistricting process as a member of the Assembly GOP leadership, said the impending 2011 redistricting is why she and other Republicans are working so hard to regain the majority in the Senate.

“It is so essential that we have control for this redistricting,” she said. “Without it this will be very detrimental, not for two years, but 10.”

The last go-round was grossly unfair to Republicans in the Assembly, Cegavske said.

“We should have sued,” she said. “It was so out of whack and unfair.”

Cegavske, who herself is up for re-election to her Clark 8 seat, has two Democratic challengers who will fight it out in a primary. An Independent American candidate withdrew from the race.

Cegavske said she is taking nothing for granted in her race. She expects to be targeted because the Democrats would like to pick up two seats to get 14 members, a veto-proof majority.

“Redistricting should be about the representation of the people of Nevada,” she said.  “I believe in that. The side deals have to stop. It should all be out in the public and not behind closed doors.”

While Cegavske believes the GOP got a bad deal with the Assembly districts created in 2001, they were finalized without any representation from the Assembly GOP in a final late night meeting.

Then-Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, now a deputy chief of staff for Gov. Jim Gibbons, said there was no representation in the final meeting because there was nothing to negotiate.

Hettrick said he worked all session to try to come up with a compromise plan only to be told in the final days that Assembly Democrats had decided to draw the districts on their own. There was nothing to negotiate at any final meeting on redistricting because the bill had already been drafted, he said.

Hettrick said he offered to participate if there was a real chance of compromise with Democrats, but never got a call.

“I was asked to come in so it appeared I was agreeing with the plan,” Hettrick said. “There is no way I would have agreed to it.”

“It was a done deal,” he said. “There was no negotiating I was going to be able to do or not do.”

Former Gov. Kenny Guinn, who was involved in the 2001 redistricting process, said he recalls there was a strong interest on the part of Republicans to get as favorable a registration balance in the newly created Congressional 3 seat as possible, and so the Assembly districts ended up more favorable to Democrats as part of the give-and-take of the negotiations.

The new Congressional seat was won by then-state Sen. Jon Porter, R-Henderson, in the 2002 election, a seat he retained until losing in 2008 to former state Sen. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas.

But the strong Democrat majority in the Assembly had a lot to do with how the districts ended up being redrawn as well, Guinn said.

Another major issue in 2001 was a desire to create some districts that would give minority candidates, including Hispanics, an opportunity to run and win office in the state Legislature, he said.

Guinn said he believes Hispanic representation did improve as a result of the redistricting, although it occurred over time, not immediately. The issue of minority representation will likely come up again in 2011, and it has to be given serious consideration, he said.

Guinn said the 2011 redistricting process will be the most important in Nevada’s history. But he said the governor does not have a lot of power, other than that of persuasion, over the process.

The governor does have the power to veto any redistricting plan passed by the Legislature, however, which would require a two-thirds vote in both houses to override.

Erwin said the Assembly Republicans probably did as good a job as possible given their minority status in the Assembly.

“The reality is the minority party in redistricting rarely has the opportunity to make substantial gains,” he said.

In the 2010 election, a mid-term contest where voters frequently favor the minority party, Republicans have a chance to pick up a state Senate seat and possibly as many as four Assembly seats, he said.

Reducing the Democrat edge in the Senate and taking away a veto-proof majority in the Assembly will have a substantial impact on the redistricting process, Erwin said. Having a Republican in the governor’s office, which appears likely, will also help, he said.

For Democrats, “It will no longer be a home run,” Erwin said.

Ha

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:17 am March 5th, 2010

Ralston’s column today – more of a breezy best-of-the-week wrap-up – was good.  And funny.

Jerry Brown might run for mayor of Las Vegas:

On the program this week, Brown, annoyingly saying he anticipated the question, tried an initial dodge by talking about how focused he is on the city’s budget problems. Undaunted, I pressed on and he acknowledged, “I have been approached.”

(Side note: We always hear that line about being approached, as if it would sound too egomaniacal to have thought of it yourself. Who are these people who always “approach” folks to run for office? Is it always the same people who “approach” these potential candidates? Or are there roving gangs of approachers?)

The four contenders for Rory Reid’s County Commission chair were terrible:

Is this all they have? I know it’s early (although the primary is only 95 days hence), but I was quite distressed (it happens every two years) by the performance Wednesday night of the four leading contenders to replace County Commissioner Rory Reid. I will not single out any of them — state Sen. David Parks, union stalwart Greg Esposito, ex-School Board Member Mary Beth Scow and Planning Commissioner Ron Newell. They were, as a group, awful.

Awful how? you wonder.

If you walked into the Painters Hall where the Henderson Democratic Club met, you would have thought you had stumbled into a Clichés, Evasions and Pabulum Convention.

Gansert is leaving, and so are a lot of others:

Second, while there is always significant turnover in the Legislature from session to session, the changes come 2011 could be unprecedented. Because of term limits, retirements and electoral defeats, you may have half of each chamber populated by rookies.

Luckily, there are no huge or complicated issues on the docket for the 2011 Legislature.