Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Cegavske’

Lawmakers Approve $11.7 Million Plan From Attorney General To Help Homeowners In Foreclosure Crisis

By Sean Whaley | 2:55 pm August 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Several lawmakers raised questions today about a proposal put forth by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to spend $33 million over three years on outreach, counseling and legal assistance to homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

The program outlined for the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee (IFC) by Masto is proposed to be the first phase of a plan to use $57 million Nevada received from the country’s five largest banks as part of a national settlement over the mortgage crisis. Nevada received another $30 million in a separate settlement with Bank of America.

Despite the concerns expressed during a lengthy discussion, the vote to approve the program was unanimous.

Photo posted by Gruntzooki via Wikimedia Commons.

The program is expected to provide a one-stop shop for homeowners to get free access to certified counselors and legal assistance if needed so they can access the many programs available to those who qualify.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, expressed concerns that the IFC, made up of the members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees, was being asked to approve a program before it could be evaluated by the full Legislature in 2013.

He also questioned whether the $33 million in expenditures for the services outlined by Masto was the best use for the money rather than getting it directly into the hands of homeowners in need.

Concerns were also expressed by a number of other Republican members of the IFC about aspects of the proposal.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, questioned if the IFC even had the legal authority to implement such a major policy decision.

“I mean, if this was a proposal that came to the Legislature, we would have days of hearings on it in multiple chambers,” he said. “This is a, I think, major policy decision about how we’re addressing one of the most significant problems facing the people of this state and it’s being made by a small subset of the legislative body and there are voters in this state who are disenfranchised from making this decision.”

But the Legislative Counsel said it was appropriate and similar actions have been taken in the past by the committee.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the program outlined by Masto will help distressed Nevada homeowners access $25 billion available nationwide that will be doled out on a first-come, first-served, basis. Failing to get the program started now could mean that Nevada homeowners, among those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, will not get their share of those funds, he said.

The debate over the $33 million is missing the big picture, Horsford said.

The approval today was only for the first year’s worth of funding of $11.7 million. The $10.8 million in years two and three will be part of the Attorney General’s proposed budget for the 2013-15 biennium that will be reviewed by lawmakers in 2013.

The first year budget includes $9.4 million for public outreach and access to HUD-certified counselors. Another nearly $1.2 million will go to Nevada Legal Services and the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to provide assistance to homeowners. Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley is executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Nearly $570,000 will be spent on expanding an existing call center operated by the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation (NAHAC), a non-profit arm of the Nevada Housing Division. Just under $500,000 will go to the Attorney General’s office for staff and expenses to investigate mortgage fraud and administer the entire program.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, expressed concerns about the funding for the legal aid, questioning if the money would be used to commence new legal actions against the banks on behalf of specific distressed homeowners. Her concerns were echoed by Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka.

Masto assured lawmakers the spending on legal aid will be used to assist homeowners, not initiate lawsuits.

“This is not about giving legal aid so they can go out and start suing,” she said. “This is actually about providing relief to the homeowners who are distressed. There’s a lot of legal issues they may deal with beyond just suing the banks. And that’s what legal aid provides.”

Despite the concerns lawmakers agreed the urgency of the situation required their action.

“We do need to get the ball rolling,” Goicoechea said. “It isn’t doing us any good in this state to have people living in homes, not making any type of mortgage payment on it, destroying that home, and the bank doesn’t have the ability to foreclose it, can’t get the certification in place, and it isn’t doing our state or our economy any good.”

The funds to be used for the program were paid by the banks to settle state and federal investigations into robo-signing allegations.


Audio clips:

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer says the major policy decision should be made by the entire Legislature:

082312Kieckhefer :26 making this decision.”

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea says that while he has concerns, the state needs to take action:

082312Goicoechea :17 economy any good.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says the legal aid funds won’t be used to sue the banks:

082312Masto :13 legal aid provides.”


Panel Recommends $4 Million In State Funding In Next Budget To Move Forward With Student Tracking System

By Sean Whaley | 2:12 pm July 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – A state panel charged with implementing a system to track individual student performance from preschool through entry into the workforce is recommending that $4 million in state funds be appropriated by Gov. Brian Sandoval and the 2013 Legislature to help accomplish the task.

The P-16 Council, led by chairwoman and state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, finalized its recommendations to Sandoval on Monday, proposing the funding to ensure the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) project moves forward in the next two-year budget.

“Everybody’s really been doing a yeoman’s job, I mean really working hard to get the information that we need to continue on,” she said. “I think the governor is going to be very pleased. I’ll be anxious for his review as well.

“So we’re really excited to be able to move on with this,” Cegavske said. “And we’re going to be like other states. It took a lot of people a long time to put theirs together and we’re not going to be any different. But I’m very hopeful that all entities will join and we’ll be able to get this done in a reasonable amount of time.”

State Sen. Barbara Cegavske.

Sandoval issued an Executive Order  on Oct. 7, 2011 asking the council to take the necessary steps to create the system to track students, following the lead of other states as part of an effort to reform education and improve student performance in Nevada.

The effort got a boost in June when the Nevada Department of Education was awarded a $4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to develop the SLDS. Nevada was one of 24 states to receive funding to support the design and implementation of its tracking system.

The three-year grant will create and assign a Unique State Personal Identifier so that students, teachers and those in the workforce can be followed from pre-school through grade 12, into post-secondary education and on into the workforce.

The grant will also be used to fund an in-depth technical needs assessment at the state Department of Education, the Nevada System of Higher Education and the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to determine solutions for implementing the enhanced SLDS. The assessment is expected to be completed by June 2013.

But the P-16 Council, in its report, said that state funding will be needed to accomplish the solutions identified in the assessment. In addition, funding will be needed to incorporate early childhood data into the SLDS – a project that is not included within the grant.

As a result, the council made the funding recommendation to support the next steps of the SLDS project and sustain it beyond the grant funding.

The council made no recommendations on data polices, such as which data elements will be shared and how, or how privacy will be protected, saying such decisions are premature until the needs assessment is completed.

In introductory remarks to the council in November 2011, Sandoval said he wants Nevada to create a data system that will put it on a par with states that have successfully accomplished the task, including Florida, Maine, Connecticut and Washington. The information, including performance measures of educators, is critical to moving Nevada forward in student achievement, he said.

A new panel, called the Teachers and Leaders Council, was created as a result of legislation passed in the 2011 session, Sandoval said. It is charged with developing a statewide performance evaluation system for administrators and classroom teachers. Half of the evaluation must be based on student data, which is why the charge to the P-16 Council is so important, he said.

“This is a historical moment, this is really a crossroads in the state of Nevada and we have some great opportunities to really improve the delivery of education in this state,” Sandoval said.

The Department of Education has already created a student data system, but it is not as comprehensive as required for Sandoval’s education reform efforts.

A national report showed that Nevada made progress in this data collection effort in 2011. The Data Quality Campaign’s (DQC) seventh annual state analysis, Data for Action 2011, shows that states have made major progress building their student data systems. More states than ever – 36, up from zero in 2005, including Nevada – have implemented all of DQC’s 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.


Audio clips:

P-16 Council Chairwoman Barbara Cegavske says the members of the panel worked hard to finalize the report:

073112Cegavske1 :10 be very pleased.”

Cegavske says Nevada hopefully will soon have a quality student data tracking system:

073112Cegavske2 :23 amount of time.”



Nevada Legislature’s Bill Draft Request List Published, Includes Measures For Lobbying Reforms, Voucher Schools

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:52 pm July 1st, 2012

CARSON CITY – A list of 144 bills requested for drafting for the 2013 session was posted on the Nevada Legislature’s website today.

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

The list of bill draft requests, most coming from individual lawmakers, includes proposals to require lobbyists to report their spending when the Legislature is not in session, and another to amend the state constitution to allow for voucher schools.

The lobbyist reporting bill was requested by former Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who resigned from her seat in mid-term to run in Senate District 15 against Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. Leslie sponsored a similar bill in the 2011 session that failed in the Assembly.

The voucher school measuring is being sought by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. Gov. Sandoval supports the creation of voucher schools and is expected to pursue some type of voucher program in the 2013 session, which begins Feb. 4.

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 both the 2009 and 2011 sessions, but did not get a hearing in either session.

The bill draft request list will be updated weekly through the 2013 session.

The list contains only a single descriptive line for each measure requested, along with who made the request.


Lawmakers Criticize State Agencies For Seeking To Move Funds From Positions To Equipment

By Sean Whaley | 1:02 pm June 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford said today he is disappointed that a number of state agencies are seeking to divert funds intended to fill vacant jobs to other purposes, including the purchase of vehicles, computers and furniture.

He accused them of “gaming the system” by seeking to shift their budget priorities one year after the Legislature adjourned and as the 2012 fiscal year comes to a close June 30.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“Now, a year later from us adjourning, we have agencies here requesting to move money from the personnel category, because you have been unable to fill the vacancies, for whatever reason, and now you want to spend it on furniture, on computers, on vehicles that you did not request or that you did not justify during the budget process,” Horsford said. “And I have to say, I take offense to that.”

Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he would be voting against all of the requests. He made the statement as the meeting of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee began. The committee meets in-between legislative sessions to approve changes in state agency budgets.

Horsford was joined in his concerns by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, a lawmaker who has typically been on the other side of issues with the Democrat during their years together in the state Senate. Horsford is running for the 4th Congressional seat that Cegavske had also sought as a Republican. She lost in the June 12 primary to Danny Tarkanian.

“And I am in whole-hearted agreement with you; will be voting against anything that is reverting those funds from what was positions that were asked for and they are saying they can’t fill,” Cegavske said. “One of the areas I’m really concerned about is whether or not they really tried to fill them.”

Horsford said if agency administrators knew they could not or chose not to fill positions reviewed by the Legislature in the 2011 session, the money could have been put to other critical needs.

“Because had we known that you didn’t need some of these positions, we could have made the decision to eliminate them at that time and then use that money in other priority areas of state government,” he said. “We have teachers being laid off, we have children not being served in developmental programs like early intervention services, we have people being turned away from our mental health hospitals, and we could have used this money.”

The first agency up for a request was the Taxicab Authority, which sought nearly $319,000 to relocate its Las Vegas office and purchase new furnishings and equipment.

Lawmakers asked why, if the agency knew its lease was expiring last fall, the idea of a move was not brought to the 2011 Legislature.

The Taxicab Authority staff testifying at the meeting have only recently joined the agency and had no information on why it was not addressed in the session. Charles Harvey took over as administrator of the agency in May, 2011. The session ended in early June, 2011.

The request was deferred to the next IFC meeting.

Horsford said he hopes that the new performance-based budgeting process being used to develop the next two-year budget for consideration in the 2013 session will address these issues.

“Because you should not automatically get funding for positions that you didn’t even fill in the last biennium as agencies,” he said.


Audio clips:

Sen. Steven Horsford says he is offended at the attempt by agencies to move funds from personnel to equipment purchases:

062112Horsford11 :30 offense to that.”

Horsford says if the positions were not needed the money could have been put to critical state needs:

062112Horsford2 :26 used this money.”

Sen. Barbara Cegavske says she questions if agencies even tried to fill the positions:

062112Cegavske :17 to fill them.”



Republican Candidates For New 4th Congressional District Focus Mostly On Issues In Debate

By Sean Whaley | 8:39 pm May 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Three of the Republicans seeking the right to challenge state Democratic Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford for Nevada’s new 4th Congressional District seat sought to establish their conservative credentials in a televised debate today.

Barbara Cegavske, in the middle of her final four-year term in the state Senate, Danny Tarkanian, who has run for elective office on several occasions including a campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010, and Dan Schwartz, a businessman and attorney fresh to the political arena, are seeking a victory in the June 12 primary to advance to the November general election.

In a televised debate on the Face To Face television program, the candidates took the opportunity to sell themselves  voters.

The debate was fairly subdued, without any real fireworks among the three candidates.

The sharpest attack came when Schwartz’s television ad was aired, which criticized Tarkanian for running repeatedly for a “taxpayer funded” job. Schwartz called himself a job creating businessman and a constitutional conservative in the spot.

Dan Schwartz.

“The question is, he’s run three times and Nevadans have said they’ve considered it, they just haven’t pulled the lever,” Schwartz said in commenting on his ad.

Cegavske said she would examine the federal budget line-by-line to find savings in an effort to achieve her campaign goal of cutting $1 trillion in federal spending in her first year in office. The U.S. Department of Education would be the place to start with the Commerce Department second, she said.

“You can go through all the agencies, and if you start looking through each one, you bring that money back to the states, give block granting, and you can cut administration,” she said.

Tarkanian offered some specifics on what he would do if elected, pointing to flaws in the Endangered Species Act and potential protections for the Sage Grouse that are stifling job growth in Nevada.

“Everywhere I go in rural Nevada, everywhere I go in the Mesquite area, they complain that if you are on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and you want to get a mine started, if you want to do anything on BLM land, it takes seven to 10 years to get it processed through the federal government,” he said.

Danny Tarkanian.

The same process takes three to five years at the state level, Tarkanian said.

“Why does it take almost twice as long in the federal government when Nevada needs jobs. We should make it easier for people to get permitted,” he said.

Tarkanian also said his proposal for tax fairness means eliminating tax loopholes and tax breaks and lowering the income tax rate for average Americans.

The three candidates agreed with Gov. Brian Sandoval that Internet purchases should be subjected to the state sales tax. Sandoval recently reached an agreement with Amazon to collect the tax on Nevada purchases. Their positions conflict, however, with U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck, both R-Nev., who oppose the so-called Main Street Protection Act.

The three candidates agreed for the need to repeal the federal health care law, but they also argued that worthwhile elements, such as providing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, should be continued independently.

Tarkanian said his biggest concern with the law is the cost to the state’s Medicaid program, which cannot be afforded. The health care system can be strengthened by allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines and by providing for the portability of health insurance plans, he said.

Cegavske said the law has to be repealed in its entirety as the first step.

Barbara Cegavske.

“And anything that is salvageable or people think is good then you can bring those issues back,” she said. “We don’t have the money to pay for Obamacare.”

Schwartz said repeal is necessary although there are some elements worth preserving such as letting children stay on their parents insurance through age 26.

Then the real problems have to be addressed such as how hospitals are paid, he said.

“Another real problem is that we as Americans all feel entitled to health care,” Schwartz said. “And we just can’t continue with a system that just says you can get whatever you want.”

Tarkanian is leading in the fundraising race for the primary, while long-time state lawmaker Cegavske has been endorsed by Nevada’s two GOP Congressional representatives: Mark Amodei and Joe Heck. Cegavske served with both men in the state Senate.

The Republican candidate faces a challenge in the district, however, newly created as a result of the 2010 census. The district, which includes parts of urban Clark County and much of central rural Nevada, has a Democratic voter edge.

Through April, there were 111,978 active Democrats registered in the district, compared to 89,182 Republicans, for a 44 percent to 35.1 percent for Republicans. There are also 39,273 nonpartisan voters.


Audio clips:

Sen. Barbara Cegavske says federal spending can be slashed using block grants:

052112Cegavske1 :18 cut his budget.”

Cegavske says Nevada cannot afford the federal health care law:

052112Cegavske2 :12 pay for Obamacare.”

Candidate Dan Schwartz says Danny Tarkanian has failed to win the support of Nevada voters in past campaigns:

052112Schwartz1 :05 pulled the lever.”

Schwartz says federal health care costs must be curtailed:

052112Schwartz2 :27 whatever you want.”

Candidate Danny Tarkanian says federal permitting rules need to be streamlined:

052112Tarkanian1 :24 to get permitted.”

Tarkanian says the federal health care law will bankrupt the state:

052112Tarkanian2 :16 health care system.”


Nevada 2012 Political Races Crystallize As Candidate Filing Period Ends

By Sean Whaley | 5:42 pm March 16th, 2012

(Updated to reflect that one of the Senate races in play is District 18, not District 19.)

CARSON CITY – After months of prognostications and political maneuvering, Nevada’s 2012 election season crystallized today as the state’s two-week filing period for public office came to a close.

Next up: A June 12 primary followed by the Nov. 6 general election, which will see a lengthy ballot topped by the presidential race, a competitive U.S. Senate race and four congressional contests.

Also at stake is control of the state Legislature, particularly the state Senate, where Democrats have a razor thin 11-10 majority.

Nevada is a battleground state in the presidential contest, a state President Obama won in 2008. Turnout for the presidential race is expected to have a major impact on “down ballot” races.

As evidence of Nevada’s importance, President Obama is making another trip to Southern Nevada on Wednesday to tour a Boulder City solar facility.

A number of minor party and independent candidates are vying for a number of elective offices as well.

The U.S. Senate race will see primaries for both parties, with incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., facing a handful of challengers. Heller was appointed to the Senate in May by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of John Ensign.

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

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is challenging Heller for the seat, also faces several Democrat challengers.

In the 1st Congressional District in urban Las Vegas, where former Democrat Rep. Dina Titus is viewed as the favorite to succeed Berkley, there are no other filed Democrats. Several Republicans have filed for the seat as well.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who won the seat in a special election in September 2011, is also the favorite to win a full term. He has no GOP opponents. Several Democrats have also filed for the seat.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., faces a challenge from Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas. Heck is seeking a second term. Other candidates representing both parties have also filed.

In the 4th Congressional District, created by Nevada’s population increase based on the 2010 census, Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, is the only Democrat, while a crowded field of Republicans, including state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, and Danny Tarkanian, have filed.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Twelve state Senate seats are in play in the 2012 elections, and Democrats and Republicans expect a fierce battle to win control of the 21-member body.

There are several Senate races that could affect the balance of power, and the two major parties have already picked their candidates in most of the contests:

- Senate District 5, where former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk, a Republican, faces Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse. Republican Annette Teijeiro is also a candidate in the race.

- Senate District 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison is facing businessman and Democrat Benny Yerushalmi. Thomas Welsh is also a Democrat in the race.

- Senate District 9, where Republican Mari Nakashima St. Martin faces Democrat Justin Jones. Brent Jones is also a GOP candidate, and Frederick Conquest has filed as a Democrat.

- Senate District 15, where incumbent Greg Brower, R-Reno, faces former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who resigned her Senate 13 seat to challenge the attorney who was appointed to fill out the term of the late Sen. Bill Raggio.

- Senate District 18, where Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, faces Democrats Kelli Ross and Donna Schlemmer. The Democrat Senate caucus has not yet endorsed in this race. Assemblyman Richard McArthur, R-Las Vegas, and Republican Conrad Vergara, have also filed.

Early today, a number of state senate candidates were unopposed. By 5 p.m., however, showing how competitive the two parties are, every race had at least two candidates.

The Assembly is less likely to see a switch away from Democrat control.

While Assembly Republicans see an opportunity to make gains on Democrats in the 2012 general election, they have an uphill battle with only 16 of 42 seats currently.

A few Assembly incumbents ended up running unopposed, including Republicans Ira Hansen in District 32, Pat Hickey in District 25, Tom Grady in District 38 and John Ellison in District 33, all of which are in northern Nevada.

In Clark County, Democrats Marilyn Kirkpatrick in District 1, Harvey Munford in District 6, Oliva Diaz in District 11, Richard Carillo in District 18, and Republican  John Hambrick in District 2, also face no opponents.

More than 230 candidates filed for various offices in Clark County.

Dozens more filed with the Secretary of State, Washoe County and with election officials in the other counties around the state.

One potential candidate who opted not to run is Republican Sharron Angle, a former member of the state Assembly who ran against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2010.

Instead Angle announced on her website that she is going to produce a documentary on voter fraud, a statement that prompted a response from Secretary of State Ross Miller, who oversaw the 2010 Nevada general election where Reid handily beat Angle.

“Our multi-jurisdictional Election Integrity Task Force has always aggressively investigated any leads and successfully prosecuted election law violations,” Miller said in response to media requests for comment. “However, we can’t send out our investigators until we have basic information about what crime may have been committed, when it happened and who may have been involved. The unsupported fraud claims on Ms. Angle’s campaign website don’t give us enough information to even open up a case file.

Nevada Political Season Gets Under Way Today With Dozens Of Candidates Filing For Office

By Sean Whaley | 6:21 pm March 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – There was a flurry of candidates filing for office and some political maneuvering today as Nevada’s 2012 election season officially got under way.

Over 90 candidates filed for a variety of offices in Clark County.

Another 17 filed with the Secretary of State’s office and others filed in their respective counties around the state.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces a strong challenge from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., filed in Carson City for election to a full term in the Senate. He was appointed to the position in May by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Berkley is expected to file next week.

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

Dozens of other candidates filed on the first day of the two-week filing period, including Danny Tarkanian, a Republican who is seeking the newly created 4th Congressional District seat in portions of Clark County and rural Nevada.

And state Senate Republicans, looking to win back a majority in the 21-seat Senate for the 2013 legislative session, backed a new candidate for Senate District 9 in Clark County to replace Elizabeth Halseth, a Republican who resigned in mid-term.

Las Vegas physician Vick Gill, who had earlier this month announced as the GOP candidate for the seat, withdrew from the race, paving the way for third-generation Nevadan Mari Nakashima St. Martin to run for the seat instead.

Republicans need to hold on to the Senate 9 seat if they are to win the majority. Democrats have an 11-10 edge and are fielding a slate of candidates with the goal of maintaining control of the Senate for a third consecutive legislative session.

“I am running for the state Senate not just as a concerned citizen but as a new mom,” St. Martin said in announcing her candidacy. “I know our city, our state and many of the residents of the 9th district have seen some hard times in the last few years but I want my daughter to experience the opportunity and growth of the Nevada I knew growing up.”

St. Martin graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and currently works for a local small business as a sales and community outreach representative. Her past experience includes working as communication director for Congressman Joe Heck’s campaign, communication director for the Nevada Republican Party and as an aide in Washington, DC to Heller when he represented Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.

Justin Jones, a Democrat, also filed for the Senate 9 seat today.

In a statement released on his filing, Tarkanian said a December poll shows him as the clear front-runner in a Republican primary for the seat and one who can beat expected Democrat candidate Steven Horsford, currently the state Senate majority leader. Several other Republicans, including state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, are expected to file as well. Cegavske has a major fund-raiser set for this Friday in Las Vegas and another tomorrow in Washington, DC.

“Nevada needs to refuel its economy through job creation, innovation and deregulation,” Tarkanian said. “By utilizing the resources Nevada has at her very fingertips, we can infuse new business into our economy and revitalize dormant industries; all while saving taxpayer dollars.”

The U.S. Senate race saw other candidates file as well today, including former university regent Nancy Price, a Democrat.

The primary election will be on June 12 to select one candidate from each party to appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. If only one candidate files from a party, that candidate automatically appears on the general election ballot.

The general election will see races from U.S. President on down to local Nevada races.

Tarkanian Runs RoboPoll, Mulls Run in NV-04

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:28 am November 16th, 2011

Update/correction:  Danny Tarkanian did not commission this poll.

Strategic National has conducted a (very) small-sample robopoll in NV04.

In a primary match up against state Sen. Barabara Cegavske, Tarkanian is ahead 54 percent to 8 percent. (Chalk most of this margin up to Tarkanian’s advantage based on name recognition — but it means that Cegavske would have to work hard and spend a significant amount of money in a primary race against him. I’m sure Tarkanian is hoping this poll will discourage her.)

In a match-up against a generic Democrat, the poll says Tarkanian wins 44 percent to 29 percent with this group of (303) likely voters. Undecideds were at 27 percent. Based on the cross tabs of the survey (see below) — assuming all respondents affiliated with a party went with the candidate of their own party — independent and third party voters leaned Tarkanian’s way.

Cegavske beat the generic Democrat 37 to 33 percent with 30 percent undecided.

Tarkanian is at 33 percent very favorable/favorable, 52 percent neutral, and 10 percent unfavorable in the poll.

Cegavske is at 13 percent very favorable/unfavorable, 74 percent neutral, 8 percent unfavorable (which again just means that most respondents don’t know her).

The breakdown of the respondents was 54.5% Female and 45.5% Male.  Partisan registration was 45.5% Democrat, 33.0% Republican, and 21.5% Independent or 3rd Party.  The survey has a Margin of Error of +/- 5.63%, at a 95% Confidence Interval.

Tarkanian told me last night that he would likely make a decision over Thanksgiving weekend, so we will probably know by the end of the month or early December.

In past conversations with me, Tarkanian has said he feels that if he does not run for Congress this cycle, he will lose valuable momentum and the name-recognition advantage leftover from the 2010 U.S. Senate primary race. He acknowledges, too, that this is likely his “last shot” after unsuccessful runs for the state Legislature, Secretary of State and U.S. Senate.

Part of Tarkanian’s calculus is his belief that there will be much higher Republican than Democratic turnout, especially in the rural parts of that (new) district, and also that he can win over a majority of independents. He also claims that updated precinct reports he’s seen show active Democratic voters have dropped from 42,400 to around 28,000 in that district.

Re: his relationship with Cegavske, Tarkanian spoke warmly of her, said they are “very close” and that she has “been like a mentor” to him. I’m guessing that if he jumps in, he hopes she’ll change her mind about running (remember, candidate filing is not until March).

As for his wife’s position as Nevada Republican Party chair and whether that will be a problem should he choose to run, Tarkanian said it “clearly isn’t a conflict” because the party does not endorse in primaries. Not sure everyone in the central committee will see it that way…

Also, in the presidential race, the survey shows:

Gingrich at 31 percent

Cain at 22 percent

Romney at 21

Paul at 9

Perry at 3



State Sen. Barbara Cegavske Announces Run For Congress In New District 4

By Sean Whaley | 4:59 pm November 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, made it official today, announcing she will run for congress in the new District 4 in northern Clark and much of rural Nevada.

“I am running for Congress because I believe we can fix the serious problems facing Nevada and our country,” Cegavske said. “Our state leads the nation in unemployment and foreclosures and for far too long Washington politicians have been out of touch. Nevada voters have my word that I will work every day to get government out of the business of punishing our job creators and in the business of protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for our seniors.”

Cegavske said her campaign will focus on solutions.

“We can improve our economy and get people back to work if we send people to Congress who are committed to sound fiscal policy, sensible tax policy and regulatory reform,” she said. “I am committed to protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for our senior citizens and for future generations.”

Cegavske, representing Clark District 8 in the senate, is in the middle of her last four-year term in the upper house. She will be termed out of office in 2014.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Cegavske is the second Republican to announce for the new district, created because of Nevada’s population increase reported in the 2010 census.

Las Vegas businessman Dan Schwartz also plans to run for the seat.

Two Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, and Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, have announced they are seeking the seat as well and will face off in a primary.

The district has a healthy Democrat voter registration edge, 45.9 percent to 33.2 percent Republican. Nonpartisan voters make up 15.5 percent of the district with the remaining 5.4 percent minor party registrations.

Cegavske said she will formally announce her campaign for congress in January with a trip to all counties in the district. The district includes parts of Clark and Lyon Counties and all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties.

Cegavske began her legislative career in the Assembly in 1997, serving through 2001. She was elected to the Senate in 2002.

Governor Asks Council to Review Education Data Systems

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 7:51 am October 8th, 2011

Gov. Brian Sandoval yesterday signed an executive order directing the P-16 Advisory Council to review education data systems in Nevada.

The Council, created by state statute, is intended to help coordinate education efforts in Nevada from the preschool through postsecondary levels and has the authority to address the data information system for public school students.

Esther Bennett Elementary School, Sun Valley, Nevada

“The effective use of high-quality education date is integral to the success of these reforms and establishing an effective education data system requires the cooperation of the executive and legislative branches of government, local school districts, Nevada’s System of Higher Education, educators in classrooms and early childhood care providers,” Sandoval said in a press release.

The Council, consisting of eleven members, includes Bret Whipple, Erin Cranor, Caryn Swobe, Stacy Woodbury, John LaGatta, Senator Joe Hardy, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, Cedric Crear, Sue Daellenbach, Linda Johnson and Senator Barbara Cegavske.

According to the executive order, the Council’s recommendations will address the following:

– Establishing a cross-agency governance structure with representatives who have decision-making authority

– Identifying resource needs in the areas of staffing, technology and funding

– Developing policies that outline what data are shared and how; where they will be stored; how often they will be updated; who will conduct analyses; how privacy will be protected

– Creating a vision for the state’s longitudinal data system to ensure it will support the state’s education and workforce development needs

– Necessary legislation to carry out the Council’s recommendations.

The executive order requires quarterly reports on February 1, May 1, and August 1 of 2012 and for all work to be completed by August 1, 2012.

Senator Roberson’s Majority PAC Debut a Veritable NV GOP Who’s Who

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:07 pm August 21st, 2011

Behold the long list of Host-supporters at the Republican Senate Majority PAC’s kick-off event in Tivoli Village next month. Host contributions are $5,000 so by my math, funds raised will be at least $35,000.

Senator Mike Roberson organized the event and is heading up the GOP effort to raise money and retake the Nevada Senate next year. The Democrats currently have an 11-10 majority, but 10 senate seats will be open come November of 2012.

Some say the role nicely positions Roberson to lead the Republican Senate caucus and if his efforts are successful, possibly the Senate itself.

In June, Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness chose Roberson over veteran state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, who many expected would lead the caucus.

Roberson has said he will work hard to raise money and recruit candidates and that he is “confident” Republicans can win the upper house. He also denies there is any bad blood between he and Cegavske, insisting the two are “on the same page” with what needs to happen over the next 15 months.

In a memorable moment on the senate floor during the 2011 legislative session, Sen. Mike Schneider called Roberson the “rookie from Green Valley” as he criticized him for signing a pledge not to raise taxes.

Looks like the rookie is making a play for permanent pro status, while both parties wait to see how the new Senate districts are drawn.

Roberson has already proven he can raise money and run successful campaigns. During his own 2010 election, Roberson raised $380,000 to unseat incumbent Democrat Joyce Woodhouse.

Another key player in the GOP effort is Sen. James Settelmeyer, whose campaign gave $1o,ooo to Roberson’s campaign at a crucial time last year. Some have floated Settlemeyer’s name for a possible leadership position, but he has so far been non-committal about his interest.


Democrats Refuse To Hear Republican Redistricting Proposal After Tiff

By Andrew Doughman | 8:50 pm May 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – After Republican legislators declined to reveal exact data for their redistricting proposal, Democrats refused to give the bill a hearing today.

Then, Democratic legislators voted over Republican objections to pass their own redistricting proposal to a vote on the Senate floor.

Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the previous Democratic redistricting plan, which proposed revised boundaries for Congressional districts, as well as state Assembly and Senate districts, as required by the 2010 Census.

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 by a judge.

Republicans  contended that Democrats were trying to blitz through hearings and pass their bill without making an effort to compromise.

“If we knew that there was going to be some meaningful working together on these maps and this other one wasn’t going to be pushed out like the last one was, we would be more than happy to,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

The statement, however, contradicted what Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, told the Las Vegas Sun.

“I’m going to call our guy now and see if we can’t get it released,” he said of the data in a Las Vegas Sun story published last week. “The public needs to be able to compare the maps.”

Yesterday, Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he would discuss releasing the data with GOP attorneys, but he first wanted a hearing on the Republican bill.

Democrats, who control the Legislature’s committees because they are the majority party, first scheduled a hearing for the Republican proposal, but decided not to hear it after Republicans did not release their data.

“We can’t have an open and honest conversation about these maps while the data is being withheld from the public,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “I would move that we move on and not hear the bill as scheduled. There can be no discussion or deliberation without the information provided to the public.”

Although Republicans provided a bill, the 194-page document contains arcane references to Census block tracts, which are nearly impossible for people to visualize.

Cegavske said Republicans have provided maps for people to examine, but Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, contended that the exact data used to construct the maps have not been made public, therefore making the maps impossible to analyze or evaluate.

The Legislature’s information-technology staff has the complex data, but has not been authorized to release it.

“I am happy to come to the table to compromise, but that’s impossible when the other side is not releasing all the data to the public so this can be a fair open and transparent process,” Horsford said.

Cegavske countered that Republicans want an open process.

“It is supposed to be fair and open and that’s all we have ever asked for,” she said.

She said that Democrats had “fast-tracked” Democratic proposals through the Senate and Assembly, which gave no time for true compromise.

After the hearing, Cegavske said nobody but the Democratic Party has requested the data. Holding the 194-page Republican bill, she said the data Democrats want is in her hand.

“All you have to do is work this backwards,” she said. “It’s all here … they can do it in a heartbeat.”

She said it was a “mistake” for Democrats to have released the Democratic data in the first place.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, who was standing nearby, said Democrats “want us to do their homework.”

During the evening hearing in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, legislators spent little time debating the actual merits or faults of any redistricting proposal.

Legislators briefly discussed the federal Voting Rights Act, with Cegavske asking if the Democratic proposal complies with the federal law and Democrats asserting that it does.

Legislators were chided during opportunity for public comment.

“The ACLU is certainly disappointed in political posturing on both sides of the aisle,” said Rebecca Gasca of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “We think that the Legislature is doing a disservice to constituents in this state.”









Senators Sit On Floor In Impromptu Debate With Camping Activists

By Andrew Doughman | 5:18 pm May 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Senate Republicans gave new meaning to the legislative jargon “floor debate” today.

Several lawmakers sat on the floor outside their offices today as they talked to activists who have been camping on the Capitol lawn since yesterday night in support of new revenue.

The impromptu, hour-long debate featured a variety of popular budget topics including teacher pay, textbooks in schools, higher education tuition and taxes.

It all started when about two dozen campers requested an audience with Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, who did not have room for them in her office. So she stepped outside, and they sat on the floor together.

Several other Republican senators joined her soon after, and Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, offered shortbread Girl Scout cookies all around.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Warren Hardy, a former legislator and current lobbyist who watched the debate. “It’s a great dialog. If I were still a senator, I would be right in the middle of it because I think that’s the respect these people deserve.”

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, speaks with Michael Flores, a ProgressNOW organizer, outside her office in the halls of the Legislature. //PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Republicans fielded a variety of questions from tough critics, some of whom are from organizations like Progress NOW Nevada and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Those groups have supported Democratic plans for new taxes and have opposed Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

One girl asked about a shortage of textbooks in her Clark County School District high school.

Responding, Roberson said that many Clark County School District employees earn six-figure salaries and he wants more money going into the classroom.

Bob Fulkerson of PLAN called the response a “good sound byte,” but not a solution for poor rural school districts.

Roberson, in a familiar line, said that collective bargaining is “bankrupting the state,” after which several people shouted: “no.”

“If every teacher makes concessions, you will not have one teacher laid off,” Roberson said.

Republicans touted reforms to collective bargaining and advocated for the governor’s recommendation to cut teacher and state employee salaries by 5 percent, saying that it is the same suffering that private sector employees have had to bear during this recession.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, listens to a young girl ask him a question about the K-12 system as he sits outside legislative offices with a group camping outside the Legislature to show support for taxes. //PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau.

The conversation was mostly an exercise in disagreement: over taxes, over the influence of public sector unions, over teacher pay, over tuition.

“If you want taxes to happen immediately, why can’t reforms happen immediately?” asked Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, as Roberson, Cegavske, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, looked on.

McGinness had met with the group of campers earlier.

“They talked to me about taxes and I talked to them about the governor’s budget,” he said. “We agreed to disagree.”

Similar disagreements are happening behind closed doors as McGinness and other legislative leaders from both parties are talking about taxes and the governor’s budget. McGinness said he thinks it is likely legislators will meet almost every night to reach a budget compromise.

Seated on the floor, no Republican had a sudden revelation that taxes will save Nevada and none of the campers disavowed taxes, but both groups seemed pleased with the debate.

“I’m so proud of you for sitting on the floor with us,” Cegavske said. “This is awesome.”

Michael Flores, a Progress NOW organizer, said it was “amazing” to talk to legislators for that long in an open-forum debate.

“This is what Democracy looks like,” he said.

In Redistricting Battle, Political Parties Argue Over “Who Loves Hispanics More”

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 pm May 11th, 2011

CARSON CITY — A Republican Hispanic governor will soon decide the fate of a Democratic redistricting plan that has both political parties embroiled in a debate over fairness to Nevada’s Hispanic population.

Legislative Republicans, who voted against the plan, and Democrats are each claiming they truly have the best interests of Nevada’s largest minority population in mind as they consider the boundaries of new political districts.

As political columnist Jon Ralston asked on Twitter: “who loves Hispanics more?”

But some people in the Hispanic community object to the odes both parties are singing about fair political representation for the Latino community.

Is the Hispanic community being used?

“It’s quite obvious,” said Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Nevada group Hispanics in Politics.

He said he does not like the Republican plan for Congressional districts because it lumps all Hispanics together in one big group. But he also does not like the Democratic plan, which he said fractures key Latino communities into different districts.

“We are throwing the Democratic plan out of the window,” he said.

Romero said that he and other Hispanic advocacy groups will introduce their own plan for Congressional and state Senate and Assembly districts by the end of this week.

At stake is the power of a new voter bloc comprising 26 percent of Nevada’s population and one of every seven voters in Nevada, a number that could be higher if historically low levels of voter registration in the Hispanic community improve.

The Latino factor also makes Nevada a “key state” during the 2012 presidential elections.

“When you consider we’re about to enter a presidential election year, the Hispanic community is a community everybody is eyeing,” said Javier Trujillo of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Political parties could spend millions in attempts to sway Hispanic voters to the left or right, but every 10 years politicians are free — in fact, mandated — to choose the voters themselves. That is their business this year as the Nevada Legislature embarks on the decadal ritual of redrawing political boundaries in accordance with U.S. Census demographic data.

So far, both parties have accused each other of violating the federal Voting Rights Act, which addresses redistricting rules for ethnic minorities, in favor of partisan gain.

“They’ve clearly put their partisan interests ahead of what is morally right for the Hispanic community, and they’ve violated federal law in the process,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Democrats said nearly the same thing in a press release:

“Republicans opposed these maps on a party line vote while trying to mislead Nevadans on the purpose the Voting Right Act to mask their own partisan agenda.”

The Democratic plan passed out of the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday and now awaits Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature or veto. It creates Congressional districts with Hispanic populations ranging between 20.5 and 33.6 percent of districts’ total populations.

A Republican proposal that did not receive a vote has Hispanics comprising between 14.4 percent and 50.7 percent of Congressional districts’ populations.

Republican Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 32.0% 45.5% 17.7% 9.9% 20.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 35.7% 16.6% 1.9% 20.4%
CD 03 675,138 0 40.8% 37.5% 12.2% 5.5% 14.4%
CD 04 675,137 -1 20.8% 57.8% 44.3% 14.2% 50.7%

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%

Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned Nevada one more congressional district, giving Nevada four seats.

UNR political scientist Eric Herzik said during an interview today that behind the squabbling about numbers lies the political reality of the Hispanic vote.

“The issue is not whether the districts are in compliance with federal law,” he said. “This is politics, partisan politics. …They’re both about trying to maximize party influence in districts.”

He said minority groups, including Latinos, tend to vote Democratic.

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.

“If you diffuse the Latino vote, you can create more Democratic-leaning votes,” he said.

Likewise, he said the Republican proposal to create a district with more than 50 percent Hispanic population is a “shield” and the Republican party’s public concern is not the “root of their complaint” with the Democratic proposal.

“It works better for them if they can give up one overwhelmingly Democratic district,” Herzik said.

The historical data, however, only goes so far.

Romero contended that Latinos are independent-minded and value fair representation over agreement with Democrats.

“If we did follow party lines we would support the plan the Democrats issued,” Romero said. “We don’t.”