Posts Tagged ‘Atkinson’

Two Democrat State Senate Candidates Debate In Race To Succeed Steven Horsford

By Sean Whaley | 7:59 pm June 6th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Two Democrats seeking to succeed Steven Horsford in the 4th Senate district in Clark County disagreed today in a televised debate on a business margin tax sought by teachers to fund public education.

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, currently representing District 17, and Katherine “Katie” Duncan, president and founder of the Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce, discussed the issues on the Face To Face television program in advance of the June 12 primary.

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson.

The candidates were asked if they support the initiative petition filed today by the teachers union to implement a business margins tax.

While supporting the margin tax in 2011, Atkinson said he would have to review the proposal filed today by the teachers union before he could support it. The lawmaker said he does believe Nevada’s tax base needs to be broadened, however.

“Do I think that we need to do something to broaden our tax base, absolutely we need to do that,” Atkinson said. “We’ve talked for years about it. Haven’t done a whole lot about it. And it’s time that we do something about it. We’ve talked to some very interested groups over the past few months that do indicate that they do want to be involved and they do want to do something about broadening our tax base.”

Duncan said she does not support the margin tax, and noted that Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is expected to come to the Legislature next year with a lottery proposal that will have the support of the gaming industry. Duncan said she will support Goodman’s efforts at the Legislature to raise money for public education.

Senate 4 candidate Katherine "Katie" Duncan.

The lottery will be gaming based, not a government-sponsored proposal, which is why the gaming industry will come on board this time, she said.

“I’m just supporting her education initiative,” Duncan said. “She has taken education as one of her primary focuses knowing that if we don’t up the bar on our education we lose all the new businesses that are looking to move into the state (that) are looking for an educated workforce.”

District 4 is dominated by Democrats and is a safe seat for the party as it faces Republican efforts to take control of the 21-member Senate.

Democrats now hold an 11-10 edge.

Horsford is seeking the new 4th Congressional Seat created as the result of the 2010 census. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, with more than 25,000 registered Democrats to just over 6,000 Republicans.

The winner will face Republican candidate Linda West Myers in November.

Western State Lawmakers, Including Nevadans, Traveling To Hawaii For Annual Conference

By Sean Whaley | 2:57 pm July 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Lawmakers from 13 western states, including some from Nevada, will converge on Hawaii at the end of the month.

But lawmakers won’t be in the tropical paradise to relax or play golf. It’s all about policy and regional issues confronting the states at the 64th annual meeting of the Council of State Governments-WEST. CSG-WEST is a nonpartisan organization that brings Western legislators of both parties together to share best policy practices, cooperate on regional issues and participate in legislative effectiveness training.

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, is one Nevada lawmaker who will be attending the event. Atkinson is vice chairman of the organization this year, and will serve as chairman in 2013, when the conference that attracts between 1,000 and 1,500 people will be held in Las Vegas.

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson will bring the CSG-West conference to Las Vegas in 2013. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

Atkinson said he will be too busy to take in much of Hawaii’s beauty during the event, which will be held in Honolulu from July 30 to Aug. 2.

“I’m vice chair so I probably touch every aspect of the conference,” he said. “Right now on my calendar I probably have 12 or 13 things already I’m going to be doing over there. So I definitely will be going for business.”

The conference is in Hawaii this year because the chairman of CSG-WEST is Hawaii Representative Marcus Oshiro.

CSG-West seems to be popular with Nevada lawmakers because the states that are members share common issues and concerns, Atkinson said. Nevada and other states participate in other organizations as well, including the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the American Legislative exchange Council (ALEC).

“So we’re able to talk to each other and get through some of these things,” Atkinson said. “It’s a great networking opportunity for that.”

Nevada lawmakers who decide to attend the conference will either be paying their own way or as representatives of  CSG-West, however. The Nevada Legislature has no funding to pay lawmaker expenses for attending such conferences.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the Legislature this year did pass a bill to pay the cost of the dues for being members of the three organizations and several others. Assembly Bill 492 allocated $711,000 for Nevada’s dues to the groups for the next two years.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, will be attending as well, although it is not clear how many of Nevada’s 63 legislators will make the trip.

Smith is serving as chairwoman of the Fiscal Affairs Committee, and is also a member of the Executive Committee as well as serving on two other panels.

“I really like the organization,” she said. “They do a lot of good training. On the fiscal side there is a lot of good information about what is going on in other states. They bring in national speakers. I am going to be working very hard.”

Audio clips:

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson says he has a full agenda at the upcoming conference:

072211Atkinson1 :17 committee as well.”

Atkinson says Hawaii just happens to be hosting the conference this year:

072211Atkinson2 :22 it just happens.”

Atkinson says CSG-West is popular with Nevada lawmakers because it focuses on Western issues:

072211Atkinson3 :28 opportunity for that.”


Low-Cost Auto Insurance Bill Gets Rough Treatment In Senate Hearing

By Sean Whaley | 5:30 pm May 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A bill that would charge most Nevada drivers a fee to subsidize a low-cost auto insurance pilot program for eligible residents of Clark County ran into some rough questioning today at a Senate hearing.

The bill, sought by Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, was the subject of some serious vote trading to get the two-thirds support required to move it out of the Assembly last month.

The bill required a two-thirds vote because it would impose a 50-cent fee per insured vehicle per year to establish a lower-cost auto insurance policy for low-income Clark County residents who are having trouble paying for a regular policy.

In testifying for Assembly Bill 299 in the Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee, Atkinson said the intent of the program is to provide a way to reduce the number of uninsured drivers in Nevada, a number put at 19 percent by the Nevada Sage Commission in a 2010 report.

“I’ve heard first hand that too many low-income drivers remain uninsured because the cost of standard insurance premiums are beyond their financial reach,” he said. “Walking my district this past summer, my constituents told me that they are having a difficult time paying for insurance even when they are great drivers with no driving convictions on their records.”

Atkinson said his proposal is modeled on a similar program in California that has extended auto coverage to thousands of motorists.

The program, which would be administered by the Nevada Division of Insurance, would lower the cost of an insurance premium by about $184 a year, he said.

There are a number of requirements individuals would have to meet to be eligible for the program, including having good driving records as defined in the bill, Atkinson said.

But Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the bill would create a process of wealth distribution, which he would oppose. The eligibility criteria for the low-cost insurance at 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines also suggests that huge numbers of Clark County residents could participate, he said.

“To say you can’t afford car insurance, and that everyone else should pay so you don’t have to, I mean what we’re talking about is wealth redistribution,” Roberson said. “Maybe some are OK with that but I’m not.”

Jim DeGraffenreid, representing the Nevada Republican Party, said the California program the proposal is modeled after has not been successful. The California program insured fewer than 50,000 drivers out of an estimated 3.5 million uninsured drivers, he said.

DeGraffenreid also said it would cost $800,000 to expand the bureaucracy of the Division of Insurance to administer the program, a figure Atkinson said was not correct.

DeGraffenreid’s comments prompted Roberson to ask why Nevada would want to emulate a failed California program.

Joe Guild, a lobbyist representing the State Farm Insurance Co., said the company estimates the policy would save only about $50 a year. Because the low-cost policy would provide only $3,000 worth of property damage coverage instead of the $10,000 provided for in regular policies, it could also cost the low-cost participants more out-of-pocket if there was an accident, he said.

Guild said State Farm is not opposed to the proposal, however.

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) submitted a letter in opposition to the bill, saying the program “is unlikely to do anything other than create a new state bureaucracy for taxpayers and insurance consumers to fund.”

The letter went on to ask, “. . . when one considers the very low participation rate in the California Low Cost Auto Program, one needs to question why Nevada taxpayers and insurance consumers should be assess a 50 cents per passenger vehicle fee to fund a program that hasn’t been even remotely successful in a neighboring state?”

A number of other individuals testified in opposition as well.

The bill did see some support from Jan Gilbert, representing the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, who said the pilot program should be given a chance. The savings, while modest to some, could help families who are finding it tough to make ends meet, she said.

After listening to the opposition testimony, Atkinson said he was surprised by the comments. None of the people testifying against the bill made an appearance when it was heard in the Assembly, he said.

Drivers will pay for those who choose to drive without insurance one way or another, and the low-cost program is the better alternative, Atkinson said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Audio clips:

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson says he proposed the low-cost auto insurance plan to help those with financial difficulties in the economic downturn:

050611Atkinson :20 on their records.”

Sen. Michael Roberson questions why some drivers should be required to subsidize insurance for others:

050611Roberson :15 that, I’m not.”


Nevada State Lawmaker Selected For Leadership Position With Western Legislative Policy Group

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:57 pm September 21st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson has been selected to serve as vice chairman of the Council of State Governments-West in 2011.

The organization of state legislators from the Western U.S. holds regular meetings on issues and concerns common to western states.

As a result of his selection as vice chairman at the group’s meeting this past week at Sun Valley, Idaho, Atkinson will automatically become chairman of the organization in 2013 after serving as chairman-elect in 2012.

As chairman, Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, said he will bring the conference and its more than 1,000 attendees and their families to Las Vegas in 2013. The organization includes participating lawmakers from 13 western states.

The conference will be held in Hawaii next year.

Atkinson said the CSG-West meetings provide an excellent chance for legislators to discuss common challenges and exchange ideas. Nevada lawmakers who attend pay their own way; participation is not funded with taxpayer dollars.

Atkinson chaired the water and public lands committee at the Idaho conference. Water, energy and environment are all issues of concern and interest to the participating states, he said. Pat Mulroy, general manager of  the Southern Nevada Water Authority, made a presentation on western water issues to the committee.

Atkinson said the conferences don’t offer easy answers to the complex issues facing western states, but plenty of good ideas are brought forward that lawmakers can take back to their home states for discussion and debate.

“Sessions focus on issues we are all facing: budget deficits, renewable energy development, education reform, the need to improve infrastructure and public lands issues,” he said. “We have the opportunity to hear from experts and to learn what other states in our region of the country are doing to address these challenges.”


Nevada lawmaker Kelvin Atkinson says CSG-West conference offers opportunities to hear good ideas from lawmakers in other states:

092110Atkinson1 :09 some good stuff.”

Gibbons, Lawmakers Meet to Discuss Budget in First “Open Door” Session

By Sean Whaley | 2:40 pm December 21st, 2009

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons and nine state lawmakers from both political parties spent about an hour today informally discussing potential solutions to the state’s budget shortfall, including a discussion of state employee furloughs versus pay reductions.

The first “open door” meeting proposed by Gibbons to discuss solutions to a current $67 million shortfall in the state general fund budget was productive, according to two of the lawmakers who attended.

The meeting was not open to the general public, and it disbanded before an invitation to the media to attend the last 15 minutes of the get-together could be accommodated.

Gibbons left to attend another engagement after about an hour of discussion.

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said the governor appreciated the open dialogue with the five Democrats and four Republicans and said there was agreement to continue the meetings on a regular basis.

“The important thing was to have a starting point for a dialogue, which seemed to go very well today,” he said. “The second thing is, make sure your dialogue includes the exchange of ideas. Everyone got a chance to speak.”

Burns said the furlough and pay reduction discussion came up because not all state employees are now being required to take a furlough day as required by the 2009 Legislature to help balance the budget. Key correctional positions are exempted, for example, creating an inequity with other state employees, he said.

Gibbons had proposed a straight pay cut for all employees instead.

“It is not fair to have a certain segment that doesn’t have to take a furlough or some sort of pay reduction, and a certain segment that does,” Burns said.

Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, who attended the meeting via videoconference from Las Vegas, said he welcomed the chance to talk directly with Gibbons.

“I needed the opportunity to lobby him to have a special session in order to clear the decks so we can get the Race to the Top money,” he said.

Some lawmakers have called on Gibbons to quickly call a special session so a Nevada law prohibiting the state from receiving the federal stimulus funds to improve student achievement can be repealed and an application can be submitted next month.

Gibbons has so far rejected the call for an early special session, saying Nevada is better off applying for the second round of funding in June.

Coffin said he also pushed for a legislative change at a special session to allow the state to use $160 million in borrowed funds to help get through this fiscal year rather than next year. Only $30 million in the loan from a local government investment pool can be used this year without the change.

Some lawmakers have proposed accessing the borrowed funds now rather than making immediate budget cuts to balance the budget.

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said the meeting provided good interaction.

“It opened a line of communication which is good to see,” he said. “There have been times when the Legislature and the executive branch have not talked that much.”

Settelmeyer said he agrees that it is better to wait to call a special session so that the Race to the Top issue and the budget problems can all be addressed at the same time.

Settelmeyer said he is concerned about the inequities in the application of the one-day-a-month furlough requirement. The fact that the furloughs do not apply to all employees equally was an unintended consequence the legislation failed to recognize, he said.

Settelmeyer said he would rather see staff prepare a list of all the new programs approved by the Legislature over the past 10 years so they can be evaluated as to whether they are necessary.

“Are they all necessary or are there some programs we could do without?” he asked. “I don’t want to see any more cuts to state employee salaries across-the-board.”

Other lawmakers attending the meeting included Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas; Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington; Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka; Assemblyman John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas; Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson; Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, and Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson.