Posts Tagged ‘Brian Sandoval’

Barbara Vucanovich, First Woman From Nevada To Serve In Congress, Honored At Reno Dinner

By Sean Whaley | 9:20 pm August 18th, 2012

RENO – Friends, family and political colleagues gathered today to honor and pay tribute to the first woman to serve in Congress from Nevada, the now 91-year-old Barbara Vucanovich.

About 250 guests gathered at Rancharrah for the celebratory dinner, which not coincidentally raised a healthy sum for Republican candidates in the November general election.

Two successors in the 2nd Congressional District, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and current Rep. Mark Amodei, joined in honoring Vucanovich, who was working for then-U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt in 1982 when he urged her to run for the newly created seat.

Rep. Mark Amodei, Barbara Vucanovich and Sen. Dean Heller. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Vucanovich, 61 at the time, rose to the challenge and won the seat, serving for seven terms. She became good friends with President Ronald Reagan and other influential political leaders during her 14 years in office.

Heller, wearing one of Vucanovich’s old campaign buttons, said he first met her when he was visiting Washington, DC, more than 20 years ago. Heller called her office on the spur of the moment and Vucanovich offered to take him to lunch at the Congressional dining hall even though she did not know him.

“To this day, when people come out to Washington, DC, I take every opportunity, every chance that I can, to take them to the Congressional dining room, or the Senate’s dining room, and I tell them every time, the reason I’m doing this was because the first time I came to Washington, DC, Barbara Vucanovich took me to lunch,” he said.

Amodei, who took over representation of the district when Heller was appointed to the Senate in May 2011, said there are two remarkable facts about her service that stand out for him.

“One is, it was never about Barbara, which is a phenomenally rare thing in politics, and the other one was, Barbara Vucanovich served 14 years and came home, and that’s a rare thing that I think is really neat too -  one of the things I respect most about her,” he said.

Vucanovich took the lead on many issues affecting Nevada and helped line up support in the House of Representatives to create the Great Basin National Park in 1986; the only national park created in the contiguous United States during the Reagan administration. She was also instrumental in getting the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit repealed.

Reno Assemblyman Pat Hickey with Barbara Vucanovich. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

In an interview Friday, Vucanovich said she is dismayed at the sorry state of discourse and civility  in Congress, not to mention the inability of Republicans and Democrats to reach agreement on critical issues, including the budget deficit. But Vucanovich said she does not have a magic solution to change the political climate for the better.

“It’s kind of discouraging and it’s not good government,” she said.

Attitudes were different during her tenure, Vucanovich said.

“We would disagree in committee or disagree on various issues but when the day was over we patted each other on the shoulder and said, ‘nice day, how is your family.’ I know a lot of nice Democrats and we get along fine.”

“The president, of course, was Ronald Reagan, and although he had a Democratic Congress and so forth everybody liked him,” Vucanovich said. “And it was fine for me, he was there for six years so we were friends and I felt like it was very comfortable. And he was a friend with (House Speaker) Tip O’Neill. I mean they would have differences but then they would have a drink at night.”

Vucanovich has told her story in a new book, “Barbara F. Vucanovich – From Nevada To Congress, And Back Again.”

When she was elected, Vucanovich was one of only a handful of women serving in the House.

“It was different and there were very few women as I say, only 19 of us, and so we got to know each other,” she said. “A lot of us had differences of course, but we were always friendly to each other and it was a great experience.”

Vucanovich held many key roles during her tenure, including chairwoman of the very powerful Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction; only the second woman ever to chair an appropriations subcommittee at that time.

“If you are a woman running for office in Nevada, Barbara Vucanovich is the first endorsement you seek,” said Randi Thompson, a former legislative candidate.

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Audio clips:

Former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich says her then-boss, Sen. Paul Laxalt, encouraged her to run for the seat:

081812Vucanovich1 :12 I did it.”

Vucanovich says she was of 19 women in the House:

081812Vucanovich2 :14 a great experience.”

Vucanovich says she was fortunate to serve during much of Ronald Reagan’s two terms:

081812Vucanovich3 :30 drink at night.”

Sen. Dean Heller says he first met Barbara Vucanovich more than 20 years ago in Washington, DC:

081812Heller :26 me to lunch.”

Rep. Mark Amodei says Vucanovich’s career in Congress was never about her but about her constituents:

081812Amodei :15 most about her.”

 

 

 

Gov. Sandoval Defends Conservative Credentials, Says Online Sales Tax Revenue Is Matter of Fairness

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 8:31 pm April 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today that a recent deal announced with Amazon.com to collect sales taxes from on-line purchases in Nevada beginning in January 2014 is only the tip of the iceberg.

Tax revenues to Nevada could total $200 million a year if all on-line purchases were assessed the state sales tax, he said. Nevada’s sales tax rate varies by county but is between 6.85 and 8.1 percent.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program, Sandoval said the voluntary agreement reached with Amazon could be the first step in an effort to collect the state sales tax from all on-line purchases. He also defended the move as not being a new tax for Nevada residents, but one they are supposed to pay anyway.

Sandoval said the agreement with Amazon, which could begin sooner if Congress acts to allow states to collect the tax from on-line retailers, is worth an estimated $16 million to $20 million a year.

“The universe could be up to $200 million in uncollected sales tax,” he said.

Sandoval said he pursued the agreement to help small businesses in Nevada, many of which are at a competitive disadvantage to on-line retailers. Sandoval said he has visited more than 150 businesses in Nevada and the advantage held by internet retailers is an issue that comes up frequently.

“You can drive down almost any street in the state of Nevada and see businesses that have closed,” he said.

Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12 percent as of March.

The issue was brought to Sandoval by the Retail Association of Nevada, which praised the deal announced earlier this week. The same deal has been established by governors in other states, including Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina.

In the wide-ranging interview, Sandoval also defended his conservative fiscal credentials after announcing the extension of a set of taxes set to sunset on June 30, 2013, the Amazon deal that will increase costs to Nevada consumers and an economic plan that will dole out state funds for business expansion.

Sandoval said he decided to continue the sunsetting taxes to deal with an expanding Medicaid population and to avoid further cuts to education.

“I think it is important that we don’t start pitting senior citizens against kindergarteners,” he said. “I’m still a fiscal conservative and Nevadans are not going to be paying one cent more in taxes than the day I took office.”

As to his economic plan and the use of a $10 million catalyst fund to encourage business relocation and expansion, he said: “What we are doing is no different than the most conservative governors in the United States of America.”

Sandoval also  said he has received many phone calls from conservatives who are supportive of his decisions, but that not everyone will support all of his decisions as governor.

“If I am pleasing everybody, I am lying to somebody,” he said.

Sandoval also said he would “respectfully” decline any invitation from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to be his running mate. Sandoval said he intends to finish his term and run again for governor in 2014.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he reached a deal with Amazon to help Nevada small business:

042612Sandoval1 :22 a competitive disadvantage.”

Sandoval says he started with Amazon but the state can now move on to other on-line retailers:

042612Sandoval2 :15 uncollected sales tax.”

 

 

Former State Sen. Bill Raggio, Lion Of Nevada Politics, Dead At 85

By Sean Whaley | 9:46 am February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Bill Raggio, a lion of Nevada politics and the state’s longest-serving state senator, passed away during a trip to Australia on Thursday. He was 85.

Officials from around the state expressed sorrow and sympathy for Raggio’s family when news of the loss of the highly-regarded lawmaker was first reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston early today.

Longtime family friend Greg Ferraro told Ralston: “Officially, Bill Raggio passed away last night at 10pm PST of respiratory illness in Sydney Australia. Funeral arrangements are pending.”

Raggio was traveling with his wife, Dale.

Raggio was first elected to the state Senate in November 1972, serving in 19 regular and 13 special sessions. He resigned in mid-term in January of 2011 citing health issues.

But Raggio had lost his leadership position in the Senate Republican Caucus after the November, 2010 general election. He had rankled some of his fellow Republicans by supporting U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s re-election bid over GOP rival Sharron Angle.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he will order flags to half-staff on the day of his funeral.

“Sen. Raggio’s career exemplified the very best of public service,” Sandoval said. “His dedication to law and order, higher education, and the fiscal health of this great state spanned literally decades of Nevada history and touched the lives of tens of thousands of Nevadans. I have said before that if there was a Mount Rushmore of Nevada politics, Bill Raggio’s image would forever be carved there.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who served with Raggio in the state Senate, said: “This is the end of an era in Nevada. Bill was an icon of legislative public service and it was a privilege to serve with him in the state Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who helped induct Raggio into the state Senate Hall of Fame in the 2011 legislative session, said: “From his service as a District Attorney to becoming one of the longest serving legislators in Nevada history, Sen. Raggio always put the people of Nevada first. Nevada has truly lost one of its finest statesmen.”

At his hall of fame induction ceremony, Raggio said he never imagined that he would serve 10 terms in the state Senate, but that in retrospect, he realized he spent nearly half of his life in the Legislature.

“As I said we’ve had tough times, and we’ve had some serious issues that we’ve had to deal with,” he said. “And obviously we’ve often disagreed. But in the end I always felt that the final result was in the best interest of the state of Nevada and I was privileged to be a part of that process.”

Raggio said his highest honor was earning his Eagle badge as a Boy Scout, but that his induction in the Senate Hall of Fame, “ranks right up there.”

He was known to work across the aisle with Democrats to resolve contentious issues and bring legislative sessions to an end.

Raggio was highly regarded by lawmakers in both parties. He was also greatly appreciated by the Nevada Capital press corps for his sharp wit and outspoken nature on issues from education reform to tax policy.

His thorough knowledge of the legislative process was also legendary, and he used it to his advantage at every opportunity.

Raggio also had a great sense of humor and enjoyed kidding members of the press corps on a regular basis.

Raggio was known for “borrowing” $20 from colleagues and anyone else he could convince to hand over the cash, particularly lobbyists. Needless to say, the $20 was never returned.

Nevada’s Jobless Rate Falls To 13 Percent In November, First Drop Since May

By Sean Whaley | 4:31 pm December 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s unemployment rate fell in November for the first time since May, to a seasonally-adjusted 13 percent, a state agency reported today. The rate is down nearly two percentage points from the same time last year, pushing the estimate of jobless Nevadans down to 171,800 from 198,200.

The rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point from October’s 13.4 percent rate.

“This month’s unemployment number, while still unacceptably high, shows that we are starting to see steady increases in hiring,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval. “In addition to a trend of adding jobs on a consistent basis, we are beginning to see increased signs of growth. While the recovery remains fragile, it appears economic growth will come at a modest and steady pace.”

Photo courtesy of Jay from Cudahy via Flickr.

In Las Vegas, the unemployment rate fell to 12.5 percent in November from 13.1 percent in October. The jobless rate dropped in the Reno-Sparks area, falling from 12.1 percent in October to 11.6 percent in November. In Carson City, the unemployment rate fell to 11.7 percent from 12 percent in October.

The unemployment rate in the Elko area fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.6 percent.  Elko’s unemployment rate is two percentage points below the national average and more than five percentage points lower than the statewide rate.

“Nevada’s economy continued on a path of stabilization in November, while showing modest improvement overall,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR). “Employment grew for the fifth consecutive month, adding 1,300 jobs in November based on a seasonally adjusted basis. In all, employers have added 7,800 jobs since June.”

The news is not all positive, however, he said.

A broader scan of workforce indicators suggests deeper structural weakness than the unemployment rate suggests, Anderson said. While the publicized unemployment rate (includes unemployed workers actively seeking employment) has fallen significantly in the last year, a broader measure of unemployment has not followed suit.

When you account for the discouraged (includes the unemployed who would like a job, but are not seeking employment) and the underemployed due to economic reasons, the unemployment rate is running at 23.3 percent based on a four quarter moving average.

“I’m certainly encouraged by the decline in the unemployment rate; I’m encouraged by some modest growth on the employment front; but I just think it’s important to qualify those positives by noting that we still have a long way to go,” Anderson said. “We have a big hole to dig out of.”

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Audio clips:

Bill Anderson, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), says the November report is arguably the best in quite some time:

121911Anderson1 :21 to make up.”

Anderson says there is still a lot of ground to make up, however:

121911Anderson2 :19 dig out of.”

 

Sandoval Skips Republican Governors Association Conference

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:34 am December 5th, 2011

Gov. Sandoval was one of the few GOP governors who did not attend last week’s Republican Governors Association (RGA) annual pow-wow in Orlando.

He cited schedule conflicts including the conference on tourism in Las Vegas and said “Nevada comes first.”

More than two dozen of the nation’s 29 Republican governors attended the event, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, vice chairman of the national organization, and Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, who is serving as chairman.

McDonnell touted “historic victories in Louisiana and Mississippi” in 2011 and said the organization is raising “record sums” in remarks made at the conference.

Next year, Democrats will defend in eight of 11 states scheduled to hold governors’ races. The states with gubernatorial elections in 2012 are: WA, MT, DE, IN, MO, NC, ND, NH, UT, VT and WV.

Other members of the RGA Executive Committee include: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

In addition to naming members to the executive committee, the governors tapped Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as Policy Chairman of the association’s Public Policy Committee.

The RGA’s choice of Orlando as a conference location was no doubt tied to Florida’s key role in the presidential primaries and general election.

The Republican National Convention will descend on Tampa and the greater central Florida area in August 2012.

 

 

New Poll Shows Sandoval with Strong Crossover Support, Reid as Unpopular as Ever. Also, Nevadans Love Baseball.

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:42 pm November 4th, 2011

A new survey from Public Policy Polling shows Gov. Brian Sandoval’s approval numbers hovering in the mid-40s, with 45 percent of the voters in the state approving of him and 38 percent who disapprove. He continues to show relatively strong crossover support with 26 percent of Democrats approving of him.

Other survey findings:

– Sen. Harry Reid’s plus/minus numbers are holding steady with 42 percent of voters approving and 52 percent disapproving. Reid’s numbers are even worse with independent voters who show him at 31/65 approval/disapproval.

– Nevadans are divided on the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protest movements. By a narrow margin, more see Occupy Wall Street favorably (42/40) while seeing the Tea Party negatively (43/45).

– If Nevada voters had their choice, they’d most like a major league baseball to come to the state. A MLB team was the first choice of Nevadans by 27 percent, followed by 23 percent who would like an NFL team, 13 percent who want an NBA team, and 8 percent who would most prefer an NHL team.

– San Francisco sports teams are the most loved by Nevadans. The Giants lead the MLB pack with 21 percent fan support to 16 percent for the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers and Yankees both have 14 percent support, followed by 13 percent for the Cubs, 9 percent for the Angels and 5 percent for the Braves.

– As for NFL teams, the 49ers are most beloved by Nevadans with 19 percent fan support compared to 12 percent for the Cowboys, 11 percent for the Packers and Raiders, 9 percent for the Steelers, 8 percent for the Broncos, 7 percent for the Cardinals, and 5 percent for the Chargers.

Wednesday Political Round-Up

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:21 pm October 26th, 2011

Some snippets and blurbs from the week so far for your enjoyment, Dear Readers:

Presidential Race

Magellan Strategies this week released an autodial poll of 673 likely Nevada GOP caucus goers. Results:

Mitt Romney – 38%

Herman Cain – 26%

Newt Gingrich – 16%

Ron Paul – 7%

Rick Perry – 5%

Michele Bachman – 2%

Rick Santorum & Jon Huntsman – 1%

Other – 1%

Also interesting, the Favorable/Unfavorable ratios from the poll:

Cain	  69%	 19%
Romney	  67%	 23%
Gingrich  63%	 26%
Bachmann  41%	 45%
Santorum  28%	 43%
Paul	  32%	 51%
Perry	  25%	 58%
Huntsman  13%	 57%
NV GOP Caucuses

The Union Leader in New Hampshire couldn’t resist one more jab at Nevada (via OpEd), but they got one thing wrong. According to NV Republican Party chair Amy Tarkanian, when the executive board voted to set the caucus date for Feb. 14, they were not aware of NH’s statute requiring that no other contests be held for seven days after their first-in-the-nation primary. Tarkanian quipped in a phone conversation this week, “That would have been nice to know.”

And just in case you were in a coma over the weekend, the NV GOP caucus date was moved to Feb. 4.

Senate Seats

Public Policy Polling says Rep. Shelley Berkley has moved into a tie with Sen. Dean Heller in the Nevada Senate race at 45%. In PPP’s last poll, in late July, Heller led 46-43.

Three dozen political action committees must believe it’s going to be close, because they have hedged their bets and given money to both Berkley and Heller in 2011, reports Ralston.

Politico writes a story on Sen. Harry Reid’s loyalty to the President.

YouTube Campaigns

Expect anti-Obama/Berkley/Reid videos like this one from the National Republican Senatorial Committee from (and the rest of Team GOP) for the next 12 months. (Black helicopters = nice touch.)

And expect lots of anti-Heller videos like this one from the Nevada Democratic Party and Team D.

And ads like this one from American Crossroads (aka Karl Rove, Inc.), who is apparently making a play for the Hispanic vote in Nevada (and I am sure elsewhere).

Congressional Races

Dina Titus talks to the Sun about her possible primary race against…someone.

Titus may well end up facing off with Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, in the 1st Congressional District, where she lives. It is is a heavily Democratic district with 43 percent Latino population, which would seem to favor Kihuen, but Titus is well-known and will be (as she confidently asserts) a formidable candidate.

State Sens. John Lee and Steven Horsford, both D-North Las Vegas, live in the brand spanking new 4th Congressional District. Horsford, the Democratic majority leader for the past four years, has the clear advantage in the match-up with Lee, who is a conservative Democrat.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, will be campaigning against Rep. Joe Heck, R-Las Vegas, in the 3rd Congressional District. Titus lost to Heck by less than 2,000 votes in 2010, but after the redistricting maps are finalized the lines and demographics will be different.

As for the 2nd District, newly elected Rep. Mark Amodei has yet to hear about a challenge, although Sharron Angle’s name keeps (inevitably) popping up as a possible primary opponent.

Ray Hagar has the run-down on Amodei’s staff hires.

Miscellaneous

Gov. Sandoval and staff sing “Home Means Nevada” in honor of Nevada Day.

Just what we need: a political reality show.

Halloween decorations are up in the Secretary of State’s Scare’s office. Ross Miller reports that this one is scaring the kids.

Also, the Governor’s mansion looks ready to go.

 

New Medicaid Contractor Misses Deadline After Controversial Bid Award

By Sean Whaley | 12:54 pm October 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A firm hired in January to take over operation of the state’s Medicaid billing and information systems has failed to complete the first key step in the process by an August deadline and has been given an extension to Dec. 5.

The Medicaid contract with HP Enterprise Services is one of the biggest for the state at a cost of $177 million over five-plus years, and proved controversial when it was approved by state officials in January.

HP had originally committed to transferring the existing Medicaid Management Information System now being operated by Magellan Medicaid Administration by Aug. 1, a five-month process that began March 1.

But Charles Duarte, administrator of the state Division of Health Care Financing and Policy, which oversees the Medicaid program, said this week the work was not completed by the deadline. The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to an extension to Dec. 5 to complete the transfer, he said.

The issue was HP finding the number of qualified staff it needed to complete the transfer on time, Duarte said.

The company is on track to complete the transfer by the new deadline, an assessment shared by a separate independent contractor called Public Knowledge hired by the state to oversee the work, he said.

“So far what we’ve seen with HP is they have been very willing to live up to their commitments and we’re going to hold them to that,” Duarte said.

An HP executive involved in the transfer said today the new deadline will be met.

“We’re definitely firing on all cylinders to make that date,” said Stu Bailey, general manager for state and local government health care in the Western U.S. for the company. “We meet with the state on a regular basis to ensure that. The IV&V (independent validation and verification) has been heavily involved to validate that what we’re saying and what we’re doing is on track, so we’re feeling comfortable that that date will be met.”

Bailey said two issues, one involving the scope of the project not being precisely as it was described in the request for proposal, and the other being staffing issues, led to the delay. The company is transferring its California Medicaid contract to a competitor and the process has taken longer than expected, making staff unavailable for the Nevada transfer, he said.

The HP contract was approved by the Board of Examiners, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, in January, but not without controversy. The second lowest bidder, ACS, raised numerous concerns about the negotiations that resulted in HP winning the contract, including $30 million in additional value that brought the cost of the HP bid close to that of ACS.

Because of the cost involved in filing a formal protest, including a $245,000 non-refundable charge to post a bond, ACS elected not to challenge the award, however.

ACS elected not to comment for this story.

Duarte said the delay in completing the transfer is resulting in some missed savings to the state, but the amount of money lost so far has not yet been quantified. State officials do expect the company to make up those lost savings once the transfer is complete, he said.

“There are other ways of achieving those savings through the contract term and we’re going to leave that open for discussion after the transfer,” Duarte said. “All of our focus right now is making sure that that goes off smoothly so there is no interruption in provider payments and authorization of services for Medicaid recipients.

“But I will be intently working with them after the takeover to make sure that we can achieve those savings that we said we were going to achieve – and that they said they would,” he said.

The Medicaid information system is critically important to Nevada and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which share in the costs of delivering medical services to the approximately 300,000 low-income Nevada recipients, typically families, seniors and the disabled.

Source: U.S. Government.

Nevada health care providers, including doctors and dentists, suffered major financial difficulties in 2003 when the state transitioned to a new Medicaid information system operated by First Health Services Corp. that encountered numerous problems when it first started up.

Bailey said he has been made well aware of the concerns, not only by Duarte and his staff, but by Nevada lawmakers and health care providers as well.

The company has been meeting with state officials and the current contractor on a weekly basis for the past six months to ensure a smooth transition, he said.

Duarte said the HP contract is not for a new system, but what he calls a “lift and drop” where the existing system is transferred to the new contractor.

The transfer process is now in the stages where both systems are being tested in parallel prior to finalizing the transfer, he said. The timely transfer of the system is important because some of the Magellan staff is going to work for HP, and so the company won’t be able to continue to provide the services required indefinitely, Duarte said.

“There is going to be a point in time in which Magellan can’t continue full operations, and so again, that is another driving reason why we want to get this done Dec. 5,” he said.

HP Enterprise Services will serve as the fiscal agent for the state’s Medicaid program when the transfer is complete, managing the state’s Medicaid system, including the processing of payments to medical providers, for the life of the contract.

Duarte said the state does have the ability to seek damages for a failure of the company to deliver on the terms of the contract, but that the decision at this point was not to “lawyer up” but instead to get the work done.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is also involved in ensuring HP and the state get this work done, he said. When certified, Nevada will get enhanced federal funding, he said.

The Medicaid program is one of the costliest in the state budget, accounting for $1.6 billion this year, with $500 million of that coming from the state general fund. Federal support and other sources make up the rest of the budget.

HP Enterprise Services is the largest provider of Medicaid information system services in the country, operating in 21 of 38 states that have outsourced their programs. It processes about 1 billion provider claims each year.

Bailey said the company is successful because it works to ensure client satisfaction.

“I’ll tell you it’s not enough for us to have the business,” he said. “Beyond that we need to have clients that are happy. Client satisfaction is big on our radar screen.”

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Audio clips:

Nevada state Medicaid Administrator Charles Duarte says the focus now is completing the transfer on time and without disruption:

101911Duarte1 :22 for Medicaid recipients.”

Duarte says he will be working with HP to ensure projected savings are achieved:

101911Duarte2 :11 said they would.”

Duarte says HP so far has been willing to live up to its commitments:

101911Duarte3 :08 them to that.”

Duarte says the current contractor won’t be able to continue to provide services indefinitely:

101911Duarte4 :11 done Dec. 5.”

HP Executive Stu Bailey says the company is confident it will make the Dec. 5 deadline:

102011Bailey1 :22 will be met.”

Bailey says client satisfaction has been important to the company’s success:

102011Bailey2 :33 doing for them.”

 

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.

Rogich: “I don’t think Perry has a lot to lose by playing here”

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:12 pm September 26th, 2011

Rick Perry’s candidacy has breathed new life into the Nevada caucuses. So says Molly Ball, who notes that the recent endorsement of Gov. Brian Sandoval (along with a little help from savvy consultant friends Mike Slanker and Pete Ernaut) could make Perry a contender in a state formerly assumed to be a virtual lock for Team Romney.

Thus far, other than a Romney fundraiser and recent economic plan rollout in North Las Vegas (plus a quick June visit from former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman), Nevada has not seen much GOP primary action despite being third in the nominating state line-up after Iowa and New Hampshire.

In a Magellan Strategies poll released in early September, Perry was beating Romney 29-25 percent (a virtual tie when the margin of error is considered). However, caucus results are hard to gauge with surveys, and Perry was likely enjoying a bump because he had just announced his candidacy in South Carolina.

In her story, Ball asks whether Rick Perry — with “his Western, cowboy profile and anti-Washington rhetoric” — will appeal to libertarian-leaning (and I would add, Tea Party loving) Nevada Republicans, especially in the rurals.

Probably.

Sandoval’s endorsement can also help in the long run, but if Perry should implode — something some in the GOP fear after a couple of lackluster debate performances by the chief executive of the Lone Star state — then the governor’s nod won’t mean much, if anything. (And Sandoval may well live to regret his early endorsement.)

Nevada’s caucuses are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18, just after the New Hampshire primary.

In the 2008 caucuses, Romney earned 51 percent of the vote to Ron Paul’s 14 percent while John McCain came in third.

Operative Sig Rogich told Ball that Perry has little to lose by trying, but:

“I think Nevada’s still Romney’s to lose,” Rogich said. “It certainly helps Perry to have a popular governor like Sandoval endorse him, but Romney’s been on the ground here for four years.” Romney also has the advantage of his army of loyal Mormon supporters in the state, he noted.

 

 

 

In Case You Missed It: This Week in Nevada Politics

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:07 am September 15th, 2011

Here is my latest ICYMI installment with a nice round-up of snippets, blurbs and links, Dear Readers.

Presidential Race

This week, Gov. Sandoval endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for governor.

On the eve of the CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference presidential debate in Las Vegas next month, a national Democratic-aligned group will convene a summit here.

A CNN poll says the Republican Party is split right down the middle between tea party supporters and those who do not support the movement.

RNC chief Reince Priebus this week said there still time for other candidates to get in the GOP race.

2nd Congressional District

After an easy win on Tuesday, Mark Amodei took office this morning as the newest U.S. House member representing Nevada. The oath was administered by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Amodei was sworn in along with Bob Turner, a Republican from New York who won his own special election.

The Nevada House delegation seniority, per @RollCall now goes as follows: Rep. Amodei is No. 433, Rep. JoeHeck is No. 382, and Rep. Berkley is No. 147.

A spokesman for Sharron Angle says she will be watching Nevada’s newest congressman closely.

Is a special election in Washoe County in September 2011 a national bellwether? Former Nevadan and Politico reporter Molly Ball says yes, but on the morning of the election Steve Sebelius disagreed and yesterday @RalstonFlash Tweeted the following:

Hey, Harbinger 2012 Caucus, some #s for you: NV voters NOT eligible for #nv02 special represent 65% of NV electorate. Breakdown: 46%D-32%R.

Translation:  The 2nd congressional district does not represent or reflect state voter registration statistics, nor is a special election comparable to a regular/presidential year general election, so people shouldn’t read too much into Amodei’s 20-point win in the district and/or 10-point win in Washoe County.

Congressional Candidates Without Borders

State Sen. John Lee headed to D.C. this week to talk about his congressional candidacy with Sen. Harry Reid and other Democratic Party leaders.

U.S. Senate Race

The conversation continues re: Rep. Shelley Berkley’s advocacy for legislation that benefitted her husband’s medical practice (the original New York Times story is here). Jon Ralston penned a good column saying there are (at least) two ways to look at the situation.

And Berkley tells the LVRJ she now thinks she should have disclosed.

Miscellaneous

Gov. Sandoval wants to talk to Washoe and Clark Counties about their refund requests.

UNLV might go ahead with an arena project, sans taxpayer dollars.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being asked for clarification on its recent ruling on Yucca Mountain.

Jane Ann Morrison wrote an interesting piece this week about the constitutional reasons for the “leap frogging” of Nevada’s high court judges as they take turns being Supreme Court chief.

Reid had a 20-minute Twitter town hall this week.

Sandoval Endorses Perry, Opposing GOP Teams Coalesce

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:48 pm September 13th, 2011

If you’ve not yet heard, Dear Readers, Gov. Brian Sandoval today endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president.

“Our nation needs a leader in the White House who understands the role of government and our economy,” Sandoval said in a press release. “Governor Rick Perry has the strongest record of job creation, fiscal discipline and executive branch leadership among the presidential candidates.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Sandoval said Perry created a “tremendous blueprint for job creation” in Texas, where Perry has claimed to have created over 1 million jobs while the rest of the country floundered economically.

“I consider Gov. Perry a friend and I am proud to endorse his campaign for President,” said Sandoval.

The endorsement comes in part because Perry, the then-inbound chief of the Republican Governor’s Association, became a friend and adviser to Sandoval during his primary campaign against sitting Gov. Jim Gibbons as well as during his gubernatorial campaign against Rory Reid.

As Jon Ralston blogged in his analysis of the endorsement, “relationships matter.”

This endorsement likely means that close Sandoval advisers Mike Slanker and/or Pete Ernaut have been (or soon will be) retained by Team Perry, who was/is wise to seek their expert services in order to get his ground game going in the Battle Born state.

Another interesting “consultant connection” is that of one David Weeks, an Austin-based operative who has done television ad work for Perry, Sandoval, Sen. Dean Heller and who first did work in Nevada in the 90s for then-House candidate John Ensign.

Sandoval’s endorsement comes a day after Perry received the endorsement of another prominent Republican governor, Lousiania’s Bobby Jindal.

Also on Tuesday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.

Gov. Romney, who has the present-day ground game advantage because he won the Nevada caucus in 2008, has been endorsed by by Rep. Heck (for whom he has stumped and raised money) and will be helped by longtime GOP consultant Ryan Erwin.

 

 

 

 

Sandoval Appoints New Taxation Chief

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:51 pm August 31st, 2011

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval today announced he has named William Chisel as Director of the Nevada Department of Taxation, effective Monday, September 12th.

“Bill Chisel’s experience as Chief of Internal Audits uniquely prepares him to serve as Director of the Department of Taxation,” Governor Sandoval said in a press release. “Bill has an in-depth understanding of the state’s budget, management and operations and will be able to lead the Department to efficiently collect revenues owed the state, while working closely with the taxpaying businesses who comprise his new customer base. I particularly wanted accounting expertise in this leadership post, so Bill’s credential as a Certified Public Accountant played an important factor in my decision.”

Chris Nielsen, who had been serving as Interim Director, will return to his post as Deputy Director of the Department.

William Chisel, currently Chief of the Division of Internal Audits, assisted in developing the 2012-2013 performance based budget. The governor’s office says Chisel’s recommendations resulted in about $145 million in taxpayer benefits over the last three years and increased the significance of audit findings from $1 to $55 million per year.

Prior to his current position, Chisel was a Senior Auditor at the Nevada Gaming Control Board where he managed the Audit Division’s Northern Nevada research and development department. A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Chisel is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Legislative Commission Approves New Reporting and Public Records Policies

By Anne Knowles | 1:56 pm August 24th, 2011

The Legislative Commission today approved new fees for public record requests and a new expense report form for elections as well as appointed members to two dozen committees that meet during the interim.

Sen. Steven Horsford/Photo: Cathleen Allison/NevadaPhotoSource.com

The commission approved a new policy allowing the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) to charge a fee for providing public records.

“In the past, the LCB has not charged for public records request, but we’ve gotten some very large document requests,” said Brenda Erdoes, legislative counsel.

The LCB will now charge either the actual cost or, lacking that information, five cents a page after the first five pages and 10 cents a page for color paper.

The policy also allows LCB to charge a “reasonable fee for the extraordinary use of personnel,” in response, Erdoes said, to instances like the one in which the LCB was asked to scan into electronic form four filing cabinets of paper documents.

The policy says the “rate shall be at gross hourly wage or a portion thereof of the lowest compensated individual reasonably available and qualified to respond to the request.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, asked for clarification of other language in the new policy, which reads LCB “shall deny any for information if, on balance, the public interest in nondisclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

Erdoes cited a case in which a rejected job applicant requested personnel information on the new hire and said that while not all such requests involved personnel issues, the deciding consideration is “public interest as a group versus private interest.”

The commission also approved a new contribution and expense report form presented by Scott Gilles, Deputy Secretary of Elections. The new report, to be used starting in 2012, comes in two forms: one for political action committees (PACs) that advocate passage or defeat of a ballot question, which must report expenses after $1,000, and everyone else, including candidates, who must report expenses above $100.

The new forms are required by Assembly Bill 452, one of several campaign finance reform bills passed by the Nevada Legislature this past session.  The bills came on the heels of the controversy surrounding Rory Reid’s campaign for governor, in which the campaign formed 90 shell PACs to get around campaign contribution limits.

Reform was also prompted by a failing grade for Nevada from Campaign Disclosure Project for the state’s campaign disclosure laws.

The bill made two primary changes to the expense reporting procedure, said Gilles after his testimony before the committee. It added additional deadlines for filing reporting and mandated that all filing be done online. Both changes provide greater transparency, Gilles said, because reports will be filed more often and can be searched online.

The 12-member commission, meeting in both Las Vegas and Carson City via videoconference, also appointed members to both statutory and interim committees as well as several interim studies.

Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill passed this session to fill interim committees with members of existing legislative committees that already oversee the issues pertaining to each committee, requiring the commission to fill the vacated spots.

The commission also approved the budgets for the committees and studies and gave LCB Director Lorne Malkiewich the flexibility to change the budgets going forward.

“All the money has not been allocated,” said Malkiewich, “and I would request that unless something jumps off the page, if one committee needs a lot more or another needs a lot less, that otherwise we adjust budgets at future meetings.”

Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, chair of the committee, paid tribute to Malkiewich, who has said he plans to leave the LCB before the 2013 session and who is about to celebrate 30 years there.

“I’d like to thank him on behalf of the entire legislature for his phenomenal work,” said Horsford.

In Case You Missed It: Political Blurbs

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:52 am August 20th, 2011

Welcome to a new weekend feature here on the blog. We’ll bring you recent links, snippets, stories and Tweets you may have missed in Nevada and national politics. Enjoy. Feel free to post your own favorites in Comments.

Presidential Primary

Governor Sandoval’s name keeps popping up in stories about possible vice-presidential picks for the Republican ticket. This week Politico listed him among “the geographically and demographically ideal” along with Mark Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

This “270 to Win” interactive electoral map is fun to play with.

GOP presidential contenders are seeking Nevada endorsements. So far, Rep. Joe Heck, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and nine state legislators have given Romney their nod.

CD-2 Special Election

The four candidates debated this week in Reno.

John Boehner hearts Mark Amodei. Really. And so does Mitt Romney.

Emily’s List (now over 900,000 members strong) endorsed Kate Marshall. So did the Alliance for Retired Americans.

The federal healthcare overhaul legislation is at issue on the airwaves. Amodei is linking Kate Marshall to the health care law approved by President Barack Obama and Congress, while Marshall released an ad slamming Amodei for supporting a Republican plan to privatize Medicare.

Republicans blame Marshall for Nevada’s credit rating downgrade.

AD does a fact check on the NRCC’s claim that Marshall was responsible for a huge business tax increase.

Kate Marshall chimed in (sorta) on Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell’s failure to disclose his business relationship with Mark Amodei in the special election case.

Marshall pointed out that she has raised more money than Amodei.

Americans for Prosperity commissioned a Magellan robo-poll. The survey says Amodei is up by 13 points.

Mediscare

Duck! Political canons are being fired every five minutes re: which party (or candidate) wants to kill Medicare. The latest:

– The national parties both try to control the Medicare message in the CD-2 special election race.

– Case and point:  The National Republican Congressional Committee TV ad attacking state Treasurer Kate Marshall.

– The Kate Marshall campaign responded with this TV ad claiming Mark Amodei wants to end Medicare.

– Mark Amodei’s mom defends him on the issue in this new TV ad.

Ever wonder what the truth is about rising Medicare costs? A Columbia Journalism Review reporter gives us an overview of a new Annals of Emergency Medicine report that explains.

Politifact evaluated DCCC claims that certain Republicans have voted to end Medicare.

Heller & Berkley

Medicare is an issue in this race, too.

In a June (internal) poll, Berkley was up 42-37 over Heller. The last PPP poll had Heller up over Berkley 46-43 (but within the margin of error). Most pundits are calling it a toss-up or giving a slight edge to Heller with disclaimers that it is too soon to say.

Both candidates seek the support of Nevada’s veterans who make up roughly 10 percent of the state’s population.

Dean Heller has gathered some D support for his call for debt committee transparency.

 

Education

The Clark County School District and the teachers union have reached a bargaining impasse that is “unlikely to be resolved” by Aug. 29, the first day of school.

State superintendent of schools Keith Rheault said Nevada will seek exemption from the No Child Left Behind Act after comments in which U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the program an “impediment” and “disincentive” for educators. States can ask for relief beginning in September.

Various & Sundry

A Nevada judge fined the now defunct ACORN $5,000 for a voter-registration compensation scheme. The field operative who created and ran the incentive program is serving three years of probation. (I had fun blogging about the FBI raid on the Las Vegas ACORN office back in 2008.)

The Clark County Commission decided against packing electoral districts with minorities. The same issue is at the center of disagreements over state legislative and congressional redistricting.

Lorne Malkiewich, the longtime director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, says he is going to retire before the beginning of the 2013 session.

Your 401(k) may in the tank, but Nevada mining company shareholders are doing well.

After push-back via recent public comment, the BLM says it is now going to evaluate the cost-benefits of that controversial pipeline project.