Posts Tagged ‘Assembly’

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.

Final Redistricting Data, From Population To Party Registration Information, Available On Legislative Website

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:27 pm April 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Legislature’s website has the final redistricting plans for the state’s four congressional, 21 Senate and 42 Assembly seats with breakdowns of total populations, population by race and ethnicity, political party registration and other useful data.

Detailed maps of the new districts are also available on the website.

The information shows, for example, that that 21 state Senate seats all have total populations of about 128,000, with voting age populations ranging from a high of 103,154 in Senate District 11 in Southern Nevada to a low of 86,812 in Senate District 2 in Southern Nevada.

Senate District 17 in northern Nevada has the highest percentage of registered voters compared to the eligible voting population at 82.2 percent, while Senate District 2 in Southern Nevada has the lowest percentage at 46.7 percent.

The information includes party registration based on the 2010 census data that was used to draw the districts, but those numbers are different now with more recent voter registration data provided by the Secretary of State’s office.

The districts were drawn by three court-appointed special masters after Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature could not agree on how to draw the lines to reflect the population growth in the state since the 2000 census.

Democrats Introduce Revised Congressional Maps

By Andrew Doughman | 3:23 pm May 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Since the governor did not like their last redistricting plan, Democrats are trying again with revisions to their redistricting maps.

Gov. Brian Sandoval earlier vetoed the Democratic plan for the boundaries of political districts, which must be redrawn every 10 years according to U.S. Census demographic data.

The new plan is a second attempt for Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor to reach a compromise over appropriate political boundaries. If they cannot agree, the political tug-o-war could be resolved before a judge.

In a short afternoon hearing today, Democrats introduced and voted their second proposal, Assembly Bill 566, out of committee with Republicans again voting against it. Lawmakers could vote on the bill in the Assembly as early as tomorrow.

“One of the reasons we’re trying to move this stuff is because we want as much time as possible to consider them,” said Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who noted that the legislative session is scheduled to end soon.

Segerblom said that they did make changes based on what the governor had asked for.

The plan, however, provoked backlash from Republicans, who said their plan has never received a hearing, much less a vote.

Republicans also contended that the Democratic plans still are not fair.

“It doesn’t create enough competitive districts,” said Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson. “We want more competitive districts.”

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, noted that Republicans have not even put their data into the Legislature’s computer system.

“I’m not trying to start a fight here, but the Republican maps are not on the public GIS system,” he said. “I’m just perplexed whey we can’t get this information. I’d love to have this discussion.”

Democrats voted to have the Republican plan hosted on the Legislature’s information system.

The new Democratic proposal includes two solid Democratic-leaning districts, one solid Republican district and one district with a 7 percent Democratic edge.

In a statement released this past Saturday, Sandoval said he did not believe Democrats complied with the federal Voting Rights Act, which guides how states should treat ethnic minorities when drawing political boundaries.

So Democrats created a congressional district three with a 36.72 percent Hispanic population.

This district is represented by Republican Representative Joe Heck, who won by a slim margin over Democratic incumbent Dina Titus during 2010.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who saw the new proposals this morning, said that Heck’s winning margin was “inch deep” in the 2010 election, therefore making it difficult to keep his district Republican.

Compared to their vetoed plan, the Democratic proposal also moves Heck’s district solidly into Clark County, whereas before it had spread north into rural Nevada.

Heck is the only incumbent that Democrats and Republicans are considering as they draw new districts. Former Rep. Dean Heller became Sen. Heller after Sandoval appointed him to replace Sen. John Ensign, who resigned last month. Rep. Shelley Berkley has said she will face Heller in an 2012 election for that Senate seat.

Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned also Nevada one more Congressional District, giving Nevada four Congressional Districts.

In a Republican plan released earlier, Republicans had drawn one congressional district with a majority Hispanic population. They had also created two districts favoring Democratic candidates and two favoring Republican candidates.

New Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD01 675,138 0 31.12 47.33 22.29 13.03 26.28
CD02 675138 0 42.81 35.27 16.6 2.19 20.43
CD03 675137 -1 30.28 47.33 31.33 9.91 36.72
CD04 675138 0 35.27 42.28 19.3 8.99 22.7

Vetoed Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%
*former CD04 in last proposal **CD03 in last proposal

Democrats also offered minor amendments to their vetoed proposals for state Assembly and Senate districts. The governor had said in his veto statement that he thought the Democratic proposals were too skewed toward Democrats.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” Sandoval said in his statement.

Segerblom said he still believes there is time to compromise.

“It’s still early … lots of time to talk and negotiate,” he said.

If Sandoval vetoes this plan, Democrats may still have time to introduce a third proposal. So far, that plan is not yet in the works.

“There is no plan C,” Segerblom said.

 

Governor Sandoval Vetoes Democratic Redistricting Plan

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm May 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed the Democratic redistricting plan for new Congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts.

Sandoval, in a veto statement issued today, said that the Democratic plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act, which governs how ethnic minorities should be treated when the boundaries of political districts are drawn, and was created for the partisan gain of Democrats.

The veto represents the first rejection of proposed maps, drawn according to 2010 Census data, in what could be a long path toward compromise.

If the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor cannot reach common ground, the drawing of political districts may become a matter for the courts to decide. Anticipating the veto, Democrats have another redistricting bill that they can amend and send back to the governor.

At stake is the political representation of Nevada’s Hispanic community. Sandoval charged that the Democratic plan would dilute the Latino vote.

“Of the four Congressional seats it establishes, not one contains a Hispanic majority—though such a district can clearly and simply be drawn, consistent with traditional redistricting principles,” Sandoval’s statement read.

A Republican plan that did not receive a vote created a congressional district with a  50.7 percent total Hispanic population.

The governor also said the Democratic plan would not “afford Hispanics an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choosing.”

In an earlier speech on the Assembly floor, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, asked whether this logic implied that only a Hispanic majority could elect a Hispanic candidate.

“Nevada has proven that Hispanic and other minority candidates can and have been elected in minority influence districts,” she said.

Sandoval, Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, was himself elected with a majority of the white vote while losing the Hispanic vote.

In a Republican redistricting plan, Republicans created eight Hispanic-majority seats in the Assembly, four in the Senate and one in Congress.

Democrats spread Hispanic voters throughout more districts, creating two Senate, three Assembly and no congressional districts with a majority Hispanic population

Democrats responded to the veto and called the assertions that their party violated the Voting Rights Act “legally absurd.”

“It is nothing but a smokescreen in an attempt to obscure the partisan ambitions of a party that has a pathetic record on issues of minority rights,” the Democrats said in a statement released following the veto.

Some have said that partisan politics are behind the rhetoric.

During the 2010 election, Hispanics overwhelming voted for Democratic candidate Rory Reid in the gubernatorial race and incumbent Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate race.

A Hispanic population diffused over many districts should then create more Democratic-leaning districts while a Hispanic population concentrated in one district should create more Republican-leaning districts.

Hispanics now comprise 26 percent of Nevada’s population and are a voter bloc that both parties cannot ignore.

One in seven eligible voters in Nevada are Latinos, the sixth-largest Hispanic eligible voter population share nationally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Sandoval also said the Democratic plan seemed to benefit Democratic candidates politically.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” he said.

In earlier statements, Republicans had contended that Democrats had not drawn enough competitive districts and had created too many Democratic-leaning districts.

Democrats would have a voter registration advantage in three of Nevada’s four congressional districts in their proposal.Republicans would create a 2-2 split.

Republican incumbent Rep. Joe Heck would also lose a Republican majority in his congressional district under the Democratic proposal.

The Democratic proposal promises a 30 – 12 Democratic split in the Assembly and a 14 – 7 advantage in the Senate, according to voters registered Democratic and Republican in each proposed district.

The Republican proposal reflects a 26 – 16 Democratic advantage in the Assembly, which is the current ratio in the Assembly. The Republican plan for the state Senate would create 14 seats with more voters registered as Democrats and seven seats with a Republican voter advantage.

The Legislature is required to redraw the boundaries of political districts every 10 years based on changes in population released through the U.S. Census.

 

Democratic Redistricting Plans Pass Out of Senate And Assembly, Head To Governor

By Andrew Doughman | 3:54 pm May 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY — The political power game of drawing political boundaries escalated today as Nevada’s Democratic legislators passed their plans for new political districts.

Legislators will deliver the proposal for new Congressional and state Assembly and Senate districts to Gov. Brian Sandoval. The Republican governor has said before that he will veto any redistricting plan that he does not deem “fair.”

Republicans today contended that the Democratic plan was not fair.

“While the [population] numbers are equal [between districts], the numbers slanted toward the Democrats are somewhat unfair for the Republicans in the minority,” said Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, on the Assembly floor.

The governor has until Monday to veto the bill. If the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor cannot reach a compromise, the drawing of political districts could end up in the hands of Nevada’s judges.

Although the budget overshadows the legislative session, redistricting offers politicians an opportunity to blend combinations of voters to their favor. Although ostensibly governed by equal populations between districts, redistricting is an inherently political process.

“Every 10 years we get to select the voters that will be voting for us and we have a special responsibility to be fair in this process,” said Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, on the floor of the Assembly.

The Senate vote for the Democratic proposal broke along party lines with an 11-10 vote. In the Assembly, all Republicans voted against the proposal, joined by Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford, who said he was unhappy with how his party redrew his Las Vegas district.

Both Democrats and Republicans have focused much of the debate about political districts on Nevada’s growing Hispanic community. Hispanics now comprise 26 percent of Nevada’s population and are a voter bloc that both parties cannot ignore.

One in seven eligible voters in Nevada are Latinos, the sixth-largest Hispanic eligible voter population share nationally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Democrats would like to establish “minority influence” districts where ethnic minority populations comprise an influential voting bloc in several districts.

Republicans argue that Nevada should have a majority-minority “opportunity” district because 26 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic and therefore one of the state’s four congressional districts should be majority Hispanic.

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said the Democrat plan ignores the intent of the federal Voting Rights Act for congressional districts by failing to ensure fairness in representation for the Southern Nevada Hispanic community

The Republican plan created one of four congressional districts with 50.7 percent total Hispanic population. The Democrat plan creates no such district, which is in violation of the act, Hardy said.

“This plan actually creates four districts in which whites make up a significant majority,” he said. “Any plan that does not begin with an attempt to create a majority Hispanic district in Clark County fails to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the Voting Rights Act. It is something I personally cannot ignore in good conscience.”

On the Assembly floor, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, asked whether this logic implied that only a Hispanic majority could elect a Hispanic candidate.

“Nevada has proven that Hispanic and other minority candidates can and have been elected in minority influence districts,” she said.

Sandoval, Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, was elected with a majority of the white vote while losing the Hispanic vote.

The Republicans are calling for eight Hispanic-majority seats in the Assembly, four in the Senate and one in Congress.

Democrats spread Hispanic voters throughout more districts, creating two Senate districts and three Assembly districts with a majority Hispanic population.

The Legislature is required to redraw the boundaries of political districts every 10 years based on changes in population released through the U.S. Census.

Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned Nevada one more Congressional District, giving Nevada four Congressional Districts.

All districts must be nearly the same size. Map drawers use the U.S. Census total population figures for Nevada and divide those by the number of districts so that each district has an ideal size. The ideal size for a Congressional district is 675,000 people.

 

//Bureau Chief Sean Whaley contributed to this report.

After Tiff, Republicans Offer “Minor Tweaks” To Redistricting Proposal

By Andrew Doughman | 4:46 pm May 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY — State legislative Republicans have changed their proposals for new state Assembly districts.

The boundaries of some proposed districts were altered today after Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, publicly criticized Senate Republicans for their maps.

“We tried to resolve their concerns,” said Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville. “We heard their issues and concerns and sat down with them.”

Goicoechea said earlier today that the “minor tweaks” to the maps satisfied him.

“They made us a lot happier,” he said.

The amended maps show more boundaries that run along county lines in rural counties and in Washoe county.

Settelmeyer said these changes would mean rural legislators would represent fewer counties. That change allows lawmakers to travel to fewer county meetings in districts that already span hundreds of miles.

The Republicans’ proposal for Clark County Assembly districts largely stays the same.

The two Republican caucuses had drawn separate maps, but Assembly Republicans decided to shelve their proposal after a lawyer recommended that they keep it private.

The lawyer said the proposed map did not correspond with the federal Voting Rights Act, which governs how racial minorities are treated in the redistricting process.

Goicoechea said they would go along with the Senate’s proposals and adopt those as their own.

The proposed maps now also show streets, highways and bodies of water, which should make it easier for Nevadans to analyze the districts.

The updated maps also show district numbers that reflect the current numbers. The earlier maps had changed every district number, which means that no legislator could be deemed an incumbent or use the word “reelect” in a campaign.

Settelmeyer said the original intent had been to ignore incumbents and purely look at data while drawing maps.

Now that the maps are out, however, the numbers have been changed back, he said.

“It makes it easier for people to understand which numbers are which, so it helps eliminate some of the confusion,” he said.

The Nevada Legislature must draw new political districts every 10 years following population statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The updated proposals can be viewed here.

 

 

 

 

Republican and Democrats Release Competing Political District Maps

By Andrew Doughman | 5:03 pm April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State Republicans and Democrats today released their proposals for new state legislative political districts.

The competing proposals for state Assembly and Senate districts both keep the Legislature at its current size of 63 legislators.

The Democratic proposal, however, includes a new concept involving two Assembly districts nested within each Senate district. Democrats said they introduced “nesting” in order to simplify and harmonize how Nevadans are represented at the state level.

The proposal could also save thousands of dollars, said Larry Lomax, Clark County Registrar of Voters.

“The more the lines coincide … the less ballot styles you create,” Lomax said. “The fewer number of ballot styles you have, the cheaper it is to do your printing.”

Lomax said that his office printed 307 different types of ballots for the 2010 general elections in Clark County.

The Democratic proposal promises a 30 – 12 Democratic split in the Assembly and a 14 – 7 advantage in the Senate, according to voters registered Democratic and Republican in each proposed district.

The Republican proposal reflects a 26 – 16 Democratic advantage in the Assembly, which is the current ratio in the Assembly. The Republican plan for the state Senate would create 14 seats with more voters registered as Democrats and seven seats with a Republican voter advantage.

But the presence of large numbers of independents and third-party voters means many of these districts could swing blue or red.

About 470,000 Nevadans are registered as Democrats as opposed to about 405,000 registered Republican.

Republicans Release Congressional Plan, Hispanic Vote Proves Contentious

Republicans also released a plan for Nevada’s four congressional districts, one of which is new due to population growth between 2000 and 2010.

The districts include what Republicans say are two districts likely to elect Democrats and two districts likely to elect Republican candidates.

State legislative Republicans today released this plan for Nevada's four congressional district. Nevada earned one more representative to Congress as a result of population growth between 2000 and 2010. Please click here to see Clark County districts 1 and 4.

The proposals drew rapid criticism from Hispanic advocacy groups that called the proposals unfair to Hispanics. The proposed population of congressional district four contains 44.3 percent voting-aged Hispanics.

“This proposal does not enhance the ability for the Hispanic community to elect candidates of choice,” said Javier Trujillo of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, who said Hispanics are packed together to the extent that their vote is diluted in other districts.

Republicans, however, contended that a majority-minority district increases the likelihood that a Hispanic candidate will be elected to Congress.

Advocacy groups and legislators argued the same points about minority populations during a Democratic press conference today, touting the Democrat’s proposals as “common sense” and “fair” while disparaging the Republican proposals as unfair to their communities.

“There are several factors that we will discuss today that guided the development of this plan, including reducing population deviation, following county and city boundaries, fairly reflecting the diversity of our state and restoring common sense and reducing confusion,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas.

Proposed Maps Also Eliminate Seats For Two Incumbents, Eradicate Dual Senate Districts

Both proposals eliminate Clark County’s two dual-districts, which legislators and constituents alike had criticized.

Democrats and Republicans also offered similar responses to population shifts to Clark County. The two political parties agreed to eliminate the seats of Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka.

Growth in the southern part of the state meant that current districts are imbalanced and one northern Senate seat and one northern Assembly seat became southern seats in the new proposals.

Brower recently declared his intention to run for Congress and Goicoechea is expected to run for state Senate in rural Nevada, where Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, must leave the Senate due to term limits.

In an odd maneuver, the Republican proposal also changes the numbers of every district. Nevada law prohibits someone from using the word “reelect” if the district number changes.

Democrats have also touted how their maps include Assembly districts that are, as much as possible, bounded by the borders of cities.

Both proposals, however, do not always follow county lines, especially in rural counties.

The Republican and Democratic plans represent two different takes in what could be a lengthy process to hammer out a compromise between a Republican governor and a Democratic-controlled Legislature. If the two parties cannot reach a compromise, the drawing of political districts could end up in the hands of Nevada’s judges.

Parties Constrained By Redistricting Rules

Democrats and Republicans drawing the boundaries of political districts have to follow rules culled from a variety of past court decisions.

All districts must be nearly the same size. Map drawers use the U.S. Census total population figures for Nevada and divide those by the number of districts so that each district has an ideal size. The ideal size for an Assembly seat is about 64,300 people and about 128,600 people for a Senate seat.

Republicans and Democrats must also try to follow as closely as possible the boundaries of cities and counties when drawing maps. Natural boundaries like rivers and man-made boundaries like highways can also serve as convenient boundaries.

The political parties are also generally prevented from drawing incumbent legislators out of their districts.

Finally, the two political parties must consider “communities of interest” when creating political districts. This could prevent rural Nevadans from suddenly being thrown in the same district as urban Nevadans, or keeping a distinct downtown community separate from a suburban community.

Audio Clips

Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, says that the Democratic plan for redistricting:

042811 Horsford :20

 

Democrats Release Maps For Proposed State Assembly And Senate Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 5:03 pm April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY — State legislative Democrats have released their proposals for state Senate and Assembly districts.

Democrats will debate the proposals together with Republicans during meetings of the Assembly and Senate tonight. Republicans released their proposals for new state Senate and Assembly districts, as well as Congressional districts, this morning.

The Legislature is required to redraw the boundaries of political districts every 10 years based on changes in population released through the U.S. Census.

Please click here for party registration numbers for each of the proposed districts — the numbers of which correspond to the current districts and those districts’ Senators and Assembly members.

The map can be viewed below or click here for the full-sized map.

 

Democrats today released this proposal for 21 Senate districts and 42 Assembly districts. In the proposal, two Assembly districts are nested within each Senate district.

The proposal has 30 Clark County Assembly seats, five seats in rural counties, six seats in Washoe County and one seat split between Washoe County and rural counties.

The Senate proposal has 15 Clark County seats, three seats in Washoe County and seat split between Washoe County and rural counties.

The Nevada News Bureau has obtained from Legislative Counsel Bureau staff large .pdf files of the Democratic proposals. They are available for download below.

 

A Clark County map with Assembly districts nested within Senate districts.

large Clark County Assembly district map with incumbent homes.

A large Clark County Senate district map with incumbent homes.

 

Washoe County map with Assembly districts nested within Senate districts.

large Washoe County Assembly district map with incumbent homes.

large Washoe County Senate district map with incumbent homes.

 

A large statewide (rural) Assembly district map with incumbent homes.

A large statewide (rural) Senate district map with incumbent homes.

 

 

 

 

 

Legislature To See Democratic Proposals For New Senate And Assembly Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 2:16 am April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State legislative Democrats will reveal their proposed maps for the political boundaries of Nevada’s Assembly and Senate districts at 5 p.m. today.

The unveiling of the maps represents the first public look at what promises to be a contentious debate about the state’s political districts, which the Legislature is required to alter every 10 years following the release of U.S. Census data.

Sen.David Parks, D-Las Vegas, has earlier said that the first maps will most likely show districts that reflect the Legislature’s current size of 21 Senators and 42 Assembly members.

Senate and Assembly Republicans have not yet said whether they will join Democratic leadership in presenting proposed redistricting maps on Thursday.

The Legislature has a number of challenges in drawing political boundaries of Assembly and Senate districts:

  • Growth in the southern part of the state means current districts are imbalanced and one northern Senate seat and one or two northern Assembly seats will become southern seats. This means some northern incumbents will no longer have a district to represent.
  •  

  • The Legislature must decide what to do with state’s two dual-districts, which Parks and others have earlier said will likely go extinct with this round of redistricting.
  •  

  • The Legislature must consider protecting “communities of interest” when drawing districts. This could prevent rural Nevadans from suddenly being thrown in the same district as urban Nevadans, or keeping a distinct downtown community separate from a suburban community.
  •  

  • The state’s Assembly and Senate seats also have wide disparities in population, which Assembly Republicans have said resulted from unfair maps the Legislature approved in 2001.

These challenges are compounded by the split between a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a Republican governor. Both will likely have to agree on the proposal to pass the redistricting bill.

Members of both political parties want the maps to be fair, but there may be little agreement on actual proposals. Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he will veto any plan that is not “fair.”

So a showdown between a Republican executive and a Democratic-controlled Legislature could throw the matter into the courts. Some legislators think this is an inevitability.

“The court will be the ultimate decider,” Settelmeyer said.

Others contend that they can work out a compromise.

“You go out there, there’s fights, there’s fireworks … but at the end of the day why would politicians put their fate in seven justices [of Nevada's Supreme Court],” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

The Legislature will also have to draw new Congressional districts.

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said he expects the Legislature to unveil and debate proposed Congressional maps sometime next week. Those maps will reflect the addition of a fourth Congressional district added to Nevada due to population growth during the past decade.

At today’s presentation, legislators do not expect to debate the proposals. Legislative staff plan to present and explain the maps, after which Senate and Assembly committees will debate the merits and faults of each plan.

Assembly Republicans Hold With Gov. Sandoval On Higher Education Budget, Ensuring Funding Impasse Continues

By Sean Whaley | 7:39 pm April 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – After a lengthy hearing in the Assembly today on what several witnesses said were the catastrophic effects of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget recommendations for higher education, Republican members held firm with the executive branch in a series of funding votes.

The votes came in a meeting of the Committee of the Whole, where all 42 members of the Assembly heard testimony on what higher education officials and supporters said were reductions that would mean closing off access to higher education to as many as 19,000 Nevada high school graduates.

Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, talked about the effects of Sandoval’s budget in hearings in both the Senate and Assembly.

Higher education Chancellor Dan Klaich testifies in the Senate today/Photo: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Today he offered an alternative to the Sandoval budget that would increase student fees by 13 percent, require cuts in operating budgets of another 13 percent, and see $100 million in additional revenue from lawmakers. The final element of the plan would restore additional funding in the second year of the budget if the economy recovers and revenues come in higher than projections.

Sandoval’s budget would reduce state funding to the system by $162 million.

Heidi Gansert, chief of staff to Sandoval, and Andrew Clinger, the state budget director, defended the higher education budget and responded to questions at the hearings.

The administration’s position has been consistent: that the key to getting Nevada out of its economic downturn is to create more jobs, and that tax increases would slow any recovery.

The 16 Assembly Republicans held firm with Sandoval in the votes, which included questions about whether to support Sandoval’s proposed higher education budget. The Republican caucus picked up two Democrats in support when the vote was on the question of whether the Assembly should support tuition increases of 10 percent to 15 percent to offset some of the budget reductions to higher education in the Sandoval budget.

Democrats Harvey Munford and Marilyn Kirkpatrick, both from Southern Nevada, voted with Republicans on the tuition question.

Munford, D-Las Vegas, said he thought tuition increases seemed reasonable in light of the state’s financial situation.

“That’s a pretty common practice across the country when you’re short on funds,” he said. “Sometimes finding additional funding requires increasing tuition.”

Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, also said it seemed as though the Board of Regents would approve a tuition increase of somewhere between 10 to 15 percent anyway.

“I think we are going to end up raising tuition,” she said. “I just hope we can keep the same quality of education as we do that.”

The mostly party-line votes mirrored those in the Assembly on Tuesday, when the subject was the public education budget. The Senate budget hearings did not include votes by the 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans.

Democrats seeking to offset some of what they argue are the worst cuts in Sandoval’s budget need the support of a few Republicans to raise taxes or continue those tax increases approved by the 2009 Legislature that are set to expire on June 30.

Sandoval has been unwavering in his position that he will not raise taxes or fees as part of his two-year, $5.8 billion general fund budget. Democrats need three GOP supporters in the Senate and two in the Assembly to raise taxes and override a Sandoval veto.

In the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing, Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, asked Klaich about his alternative budget proposal: “For argument’s sake, if we need $100 million … where does that come from or where do we cut?”

Klaich replied that the Legislature could mitigate many of the worst cuts, including those proposed for higher education, if it considers extending the 2009 tax increase that is scheduled to end this July.

“We are talking about a budget that is built on giving a tax cut in the upcoming biennium to the largest businesses in the state by allowing the taxes to sunset,” he said.

The 2009 Legislature increased the business tax on the state’s largest employers as part of a tax package to help balance the current budget. Those increases were required to sunset, however, on June 30 of this year.

Sandoval has rejected any suggestion of extending the sunsets to add more revenue to his budget.

The Senate hearing also featured some of the state’s prominent businessmen speaking to the benefits of higher education. They said corporate philanthropy may be in danger if businesses cannot be assured the state views its universities and colleges as long-term, sustainable investments.

Representatives from businesses in the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce echoed last week’s chamber memo, in which the chamber outlined a plan for reforms to the state’s higher education system paired with a possible tax increase.

Today, a representative from the Henderson Chamber of Commerce made a similar statement.

“Members are almost universally supportive of higher education,” said Kirk Claussen of Wells Fargo and the Henderson Chamber of Commerce. “…If they can be assured that the taxes they are already paying into the state are being effectively and efficiently spent, they are willing to come to the table to talk about additional taxes to help support the system.”

The votes suggest that bringing the 2011 legislative session to a close won’t be an easy task. If an acceptable budget is not in place by June 6, when the session must end, at least one and possibly more special sessions could be necessary, running the budget debate well into the summer.

Nevada News Bureau Intern Andrew Doughman contributed to this report.

 

Legislators “Offended” and “Insulted” As They Make Symbolic Party-Line Vote Over Education Budget

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 am April 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – It was not until 30 minutes before midnight that a six-hour debate in the Assembly ended with a promise to talk more later.

After listening to presentations outlining more than $1 billion in “major reductions” to the K-12 budget, legislators debated their willingness to compromise or negotiate about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed general fund budget.

“My caucus will be voting gov rec,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, using an abbreviation for the governor’s recommended budget. “So you’re not going to get the wiggle room you’re looking for.”

In the end, all 16 Assembly Republicans voted in a symbolic motion to support a motion last night to pass Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended budget. All 26 Assembly Democrats opposed the motion.

The Senate will debate the same budget in the same process today.

Republicans repeatedly said they want to see specific tax proposals as well as a reassurance that reforms they want will pass out of the Assembly as a trade for tax increases.

“Until we have the discussions about the reforms and the revenue package, we will continue to have a discussion about gov rec,” Goicoechea said.

Democrats stressed the need to debate specifics of the governor’s proposed education budget. Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the Assembly needed to find common ground for an acceptable level of cuts before they could discuss additional revenues.

“We rarely change a lot … 10, 15, 20 percent of the budget,” he said.

He called the six-hour marathon hearing in the Assembly chambers a success.

“We got the temperature of where people are at,” he said. “It felt to me that we saw a few people who said we can look at a few things.”

Sprinkled throughout the hearing in Assembly chambers were instances of legislators calling each other “disingenuous” and saying they were “offended” and “insulted” with each other.

The verbal sniping came only hours after the Senate inducted former Sen. Bill Raggio into the Senate’s Hall of Fame. Raggio, a legislator who retired earlier this year, was a constant critic of the partisan hardening and lack of respect characteristic of 21st century political debate.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D- North Las Vegas, said Nevada’s Assembly was starting to look like D.C.

“If we want to have D.C. politics, here it is,” she said.

Both Democrats and Republicans did, however, say that the new process of having budget discussions involving all 42 Assembly members appealed to them more than having a few key legislators meet and make decisions in private.

But that does not make anybody more likely to agree.

“It looks like we’re going to be here for a very long haul,” said Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas.

Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, called the whole hearing a “farce,” to which Kirkpatrick, retorted: “if you don’t respect the institution, don’t come back.”

As Wednesday morning drew close, Goicoechea said there’s “no doubt” everybody wants to find a solution.

“This is the beginning, this isn’t the end,” Smith said. “This was the first tough discussion we had … We can’t call each other disingenuous because we disagree. It’s not a farce. It’s not a train wreck.”

But by 11:30 p.m., the only unanimous motion was for the Assembly to retire for the night.

 

Legislators Texting, Tweeting And Typing Has Some Crying Foul

By Andrew Doughman | 7:11 pm April 1st, 2011

RENO – Behind the laptop, beside the cell phone and next to the iPad tablet, somewhere, is a legislator.

“I ask you to please stop looking at your phones,” said Crystal Jackson, a UNR student. “Stop looking as if you’re bored.”

She made the remarks after legislators were more than two hours into listening to students and faculty testify about proposed higher-education cuts at the University of Nevada, Reno on Thursday.

Legislators often multi-task, perusing emails and e-documents while listening to testimony.

But Jackson raises important points: how much time do representatives of the public owe the public, and how acceptable is it to use technology when members of the public are testifying?

“It seems like our stories are falling on deaf ears,” said Charlie Jose, president of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, who testified earlier at UNR.

Often, legislators punch away at their keyboards as their committees listen to public testimony. Sometimes, only the chairperson of the committee speaks to members of the public.

Nevada Sens. Ruben Kihuen, left, and Mo Denis, both D-Las Vegas, look at an electronic device at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev., on April 1, 2011. Photo by Cathleen Allison

Still, nobody refutes the importance of public testimony, and some want to strengthen it.

Today, lobbyist George Flint testified about a bill from Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas. The bill would allow the public equal time to testify for and against a bill.

“The basic concept of our entire government is for everybody to be heard,” Flint said.

Legislators, however, do not have time to hear from everybody. The 120-day legislative session, a complex budget and a glut of bills means legislators are counting every second.

The dissatisfied students may also be bumping into what some have called the Carson City bubble, inside of which a brigade of lobbyists exert influence at the expense of those not physically in the Legislature.

“Probably the smartest thing the UNR students could do is hire a lobbyist,” said Flint, who has been a lobbyist for 49 years. “The way you get things done over here is to hire professionals who have the ear of these people [legislators].”

Flint is a lobbyist for a polarizing industry: Reno-area wedding chapels and some legal brothels. He knows as well as anyone that some lawmakers are set in their views. Three minutes or three hours of public testimony will not change their minds.

Still, it is important for the public to have a chance to have its say.

“If you’re going to walk out feeling like you’ve lost, you should walk out knowing you had enough time to make your case,” Ohrenschall said.

Nonetheless, technology has invaded committee rooms to the extent that people making their case cannot know if lawmakers are actually listening.

Assembly Minority leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said that this is the “price we pay” for integrating more technology into the legislative process.

For the first time this year, nearly all legislative documents are on a computer system. So when legislators are looking at their computers, they could be referencing relevant documents.

Orhenschall said that he gets text messages from his assistant, who tells him another committee is waiting for him to testify on a bill.

Some members of the Senate and Assembly also use Twitter and consistently Tweet colorful quotes as people testify.

So for better or worse, legislators seem to be connected to their laptops, iPads and cell phones.

“You know how Darth Vader had become more machine than man?” Ohrenschall said.

 

 

 

Allegations Of Gerrymandering Fly As Legislators Address Redistricting

By Andrew Doughman | 10:50 am March 16th, 2011
CARSON CITY – When it comes to redistricting this year, the line from the Assembly Republicans goes like this: the “fair” process is unfair.

They say the process resulted in gerrymandering in 2001, when the boundaries of political districts were last redrawn.

“It was gerrymandered to death,” said Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Henderson.

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea started a sentence like this: “Clearly, the way it was gerrymandered in 2001…”

The Assembly Republicans have data from the most recent election that they say shows that the current districts are unfair.

More Nevadans voted for Republicans than Democrats in the state’s 42 Assembly races last year.

But Democrats won 26 races to the Republicans’ 16.

Furthermore, Republican candidates earned more total votes than Democratic candidates during the past decade’s Assembly races.

But Republicans won fewer seats.

When electing representatives to the Assembly for the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 sessions, Democrats won 130 elections while Republicans won 80. Click to enlarge. (Legislative Counsel Bureau)

The past decade has produced a 3-2 Democratic advantage in the Assembly.

After the 2010 election, Victor Joecks of the Nevada Policy Research Institute wrote that the current Assembly districts are unfair.

Among other things, he noted that the largest Republican-controlled district has more voters than the eight smallest Democratic-controlled districts combined.

But Democratic Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who is leading the Assembly’s redistricting committee, shrugged off the claims.

“If you don’t have anything else to argue, argue it,” he said. “Districts have to be equal population. You’re not going to have equal votes.”

“Common sense is wrong.”

Legislators drew all 42 Assembly districts with almost equal populations in 2001.

Every 10 years, legislators redraw the political districts based on the most recent Census data. They put equal numbers of people in each district.

It is people, not voters that define “fair.”

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, employs experts to help legislators edit the boundaries of districts.

He said legislators are mandated to draw districts of equal population. The voter population in each district may differ, sometimes markedly.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has already said he wants the Legislature to draft a plan based on equal district populations or he will veto the plan.

“What is counted and what is important is the number of people, not the number of votes cast,” said professor William Eubank of the UNR political science department.

Two districts might have equal populations, but several factors affect voters numbers in each district. Some people cannot vote: children, teens under the age of 18, prisoners and some immigrants. Other demographic factors also predict whether an eligible voter actually will vote.

So what about that 3-2 split in the Assembly when Republican candidates got more votes?

“It’s one of those things that common sense tells you is wrong,” Eubank said. “But common sense is wrong.”

The Growth Problem

Even so, populations grow or shrink, leaving once-equal districts warped.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden,  is part of the bi-partisan group “Fair Vote.”

He said the current system is not “fair.”

“I don’t believe the last reapportionment was fair to both parties,” he said. “We did not take into account, which I think we’re obligated to do, growth.”

Take Assembly Districts 13 and 22 for example. Republicans dominate both districts. When they were drawn in 2001, they comprised the outlying areas of Las Vegas.

Assembly Districts 13 and 22, at left and along the bottom of this image, are among the largest in the state because they absorbed population growth in Clark County between 2000 and 2010. (Nevada Legislature)

Now there are more than 220,000 people in each. Another Clark County district, Assembly District 11, contains 42,000 people. Based on the 2010 Census, a district should have 65,000 people.

So it’s a Goldilocks problem. After 10 years of population change, no district is “just right.” Most are either too big or too small.

Republican legislators point to these districts as proof of gerrymandering, suggesting that in 2001, Democrats schemed to lock urban growth in a few Republican-leaning districts. This would restrain Republicans from gaining more seats.

Making the districts equal by population could still help Republicans in urban districts because it would spread out Republican voters currently in those two massive districts.

“If we get districts balanced with people, then the votes will follow,” Goicoechea said. “We’re going to get 65,000 people in each Assembly district and call it good.”

If only it were so simple.

Republican Assemblyman Accuses Democratic Senator Of Hijacking His Bill

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm March 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Freshman Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, watched as one of his first bills was introduced on the floor of the Assembly Tuesday.

Hansen’s bill would establish a state grants coordinator to help Nevada apply for and win more federal grants.

A few hours later, Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, stood at a lectern flanked by the American flag and the flag of the State of Nevada, and told a gathering of reporters about his bill.

Parks’ bill would establish a state grants coordinator to help Nevada apply for and win more federal grants.

The introduction of Hansen’s bill, Assembly Bill 243, was a matter of procedure. Parks delivered his speech under studio lights at a Democratic press conference attended by about a dozen journalists jotting down his words.

Parks’ proposal received press attention whereas Hansen’s bill did not.

“It’s either highly unusual timing or they thought it was a great idea and wanted to capture it for themselves,” Hansen said yesterday.

Parks said he was “totally unaware” of Hansen’s bill before Hansen e-mailed him yesterday.

Hansen said he had submitted his request for a bill November 4, 2010. He said it was an idea from the Sage Commission’s report, an underlined and annotated copy of which he keeps in his office.

He said he received the bill back last Friday and collected signatures from legislators of both parties Monday.

“They’re taking the political credit for it,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval had earlier said he would like to establish a grant coordinator for the state.

Parks said he had his idea independently from Hansen.

“We see that sort of thing all the time here,” he said today after a Senate floor session. “There was absolutely nothing deliberate. I did not see that he submitted such a bill draft. …These things happen. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no big deal.”

Parks submitted his bill draft request on Valentine’s Day.

Parks’ bill draft request description states that the bill “makes various changes concerning solicitation and use of grants.”

Hansen’s bill draft request description states that the bill “creates the position of State Grants Coordinator within the Budget Division of the Department of Administration.”

Parks bill, Senate Bill 233, was introduced on the Senate floor today.

Parks said that these sort of duplications happen. He cited one of his own bills that Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, introduced in the Assembly before Parks was able to introduce his.

Parks said that there may be “a little personal hurt” when something like that happens, but he hopes to reconcile Hansen’s bill with his own.

“Presumably, somehow along the way our bills will cross and we’ll work on the concept,” Parks said.

 

Secretary Of State Presents Campaign Finance And Election Reform Package To Legislature

By Sean Whaley | 6:53 pm March 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Secretary of State Ross Miller made his pitch for campaign finance reform before an Assembly committee today, saying that while his two bills are extensive and complex at 155 pages combined, the many provisions are necessary because, “we are behind the curve.”

Miller, in testimony before the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, said Nevada should provide increased transparency to voters about the campaign contributions and expenses of the candidates for public office.

The committee took no immediate action on the measures.

“This legislation has a lot in it – I get it – 155 pages of legislation, but it has a lot in it because we are behind the curve,” Miller said.

Secretary of State Ross Miller
Photo: Cathleen Allison/ NevadaPhotoSource.com

Of all the provisions in the two bills, the requirement of electronic filing of  campaign contribution and expense reports, the change in deadlines to make the filings more useful to the public, and having the secretary of state’s office be the single entity to maintain the information, are the most important, he said.

“If you remember only one thing from this package, it’s that those three things alone would send voters a message that transparency is a priority in our campaign and election processes, and the three go hand-in-hand toward increasing accessibility,” Miller said.

Nevada has consistently received poor grades for its transparency on election reform efforts, including an “F” in 2008 from the Campaign Disclosure Project.

Assembly Bills 81 and 82 would require online reporting of campaign contribution and expense reports so the data could be searched by voters. Filing deadlines would also be moved up so the reports would be filed before early voting begins.

The two measures would also provide for online voter registration, a process Miller said is more secure than the current use of voter registration cards. The bills would also increase fines for violation of voter registration laws.

Filing fees for candidates would also be increased for the first time in 20 years, to $3,000 from the current $500 for U.S. Senate candidates, and to $300 from $100 for legislative candidates. Other filing fees would increase as well.

Members of the Assembly panel asked questions and voiced some concerns, particularly about the increased penalties proposed for voter registration violations because of the many volunteers who perform such work, but there was no clear opposition expressed to the measures by lawmakers.

Several members of the audience testified in support of the proposal to require on-line filing of campaign reports by candidates, including Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said he supported the electronic filing of campaign reports, both to save employee costs and because of the improved transparency for the voting public.

But not everybody was in favor of the bills.

Lynn Chapman, Washoe County chairwoman of the Independent American Party, said the increased fees proposed in AB81 would be a hardship on some candidates, including herself. She ran unsuccessfully for Washoe County Public Administrator in 2010. The new fees would require $300 to file, up from $100 now, for a county office.

Janine Hansen, state president of the Nevada Eagle Forum and a candidate for the Assembly in the 2010 election, said the bills favor the rich and powerful.

“The secretary of state’s election bills, AB81 and AB82, secure the advantages for the rich, powerful incumbents and candidates anointed by the ‘powers that be,’ ” she said. “These twin bills are dangerous to the democratic election process.”

Hansen also objected to the increase in filing fees, saying they would be a disadvantage to challengers and minor party candidates.

“Has the secretary of state become a revenuer instead of an elections official?” she said.

Miller said the filing fees have not been raised in 20 years and do not cover costs. He said the filing fees would not keep candidates from seeking public office, and that candidates could gather signatures to qualify for the ballot instead.

A number of other speakers, both in Carson City and Las Vegas, voiced opposition to the bills on many different grounds, including the increase in filing fees. Some critics characterized the measures as a “power grab” by Miller’s office.

Audio clips:

Secretary of State Ross Miller says his election bills are lengthy because Nevada is behind the curve:

030111Miller1 :10 behind the curve.”

Miller says electronic filing of campaign reports, earlier filing of reports and having his office in charge of the information, are the most important elements of the reform package:

030111Miller2 :14 toward increasing accessibility.”