Posts Tagged ‘campus’

Smoking Bill Would Establish Smoking Zones On College Campuses

By Andrew Doughman | 11:56 am April 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY — A bill that would partially ban smoking on college campuses passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.

Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, amended Assembly Bill 128 to require colleges and universities to establish campus smoking zones outside of which a person would not be able to smoke.

Under the amendment, the smoking zones would have to be a reasonable distance away from walking paths and doorways.

In an earlier hearing, legislators had criticized his bill for banning smoking on campuses outright.

The chairman of the committee, Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, had said he was afraid it would drive smokers across the street from campuses and disrupt local businesses. He wondered where smokers would end up.

“So, the parking lot in front of Chipotle?” Horne said. “So I can eat my burrito bowl and pass through a cloud of smoke?”

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 already outlaws smoking inside of buildings, but this has not rid campuses of tobacco smoke, said Aizley, a former professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The amendment seemed to quell opposition to the bill.

“I think here it is a good compromise,” Horne said. “The campuses can identify places on campus away from entries into buildings where persons can have a smoke.”

Three legislators still voted against the bill.

“There’s a personal freedom factor that we’re kind of starting to get into a point where we’re infringing on people,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks.

He said it was wrong to mandate the establishment of smoking zones at Nevada’s college campuses when no such zones are required on the Capitol grounds outside the Legislature.

Hansen’s comments were, however, in the minority. He joined Assemblymen Kelly Kite, R-Minden, and Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, in voting against the bill.

 

Partisan Politics Enter Fray As Regents Consider Closing Colleges

By Andrew Doughman | 3:59 pm April 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Campus closures, consolidations and mergers are back on the table after the Board of Regents today undid a vote from last month to not consider campus closures, which itself followed a February vote to consider campus closures.

Many of the smaller colleges are in districts represented by Republicans.

Some Republicans consider the Regents’ move a political one. The threat of campus closures could be a bargaining chip Democrats can use later to convince Republicans to vote for tax increases.

“I’ve never seen political hayday as bad as this,” said Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, whose district includes Great Basin College. “I’m not a supporter of blackmail.”

Democrats refuted the claims.

“It’s more of a reality check that they’re going to have to take some pretty drastic measures,” said Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, the chairwoman of the Assembly Ways and Means committee.

But, she said, the Legislature is a political environment. Last month, Assembly Republicans released their own list of bargaining chips that they would trade for taxes.

“We’re fooling ourselves if we think that these decisions won’t be somewhat political,” Smith said.

The Board voted 10 – 3 to again consider closing campuses. They did not, however, vote on any actual campus closures.

Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, spoke at the meeting in Las Vegas in support of considering campus closures.

Horsford has been a driving force in putting the possibility of closures back on the table. He earlier asked Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich to develop full plans for how the universities and colleges of Nevada will absorb Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed $162.4 million higher-education budget reduction.

“I would urge you to reconsider your earlier action that took campus closures off the table as one of the implications of reduced funding for higher education,” Horsford said. “One of the realities we must face – in light of the new information on the full extent of the governor’s proposed cuts – is that if those cuts are accepted, campuses would have to close.”

The debate in the Legislature mirrored the Regents’ debate about campus closures.

“It’s hogwash, it’s politics, and I’m not in favor of it,” said Jack Schofield, a regent representing Clark County. “I’m not in favor of getting this thing back in where we can emasculate anything that we’ve worked for.”

Regent Michael Wixom, who represents Clark County, said that all they are doing is gathering information about campus closures.

“If I’m going to make an informed decision, I have to follow that process,” he said.

Regent Ron Knecht, a former Republican Assemblyman from Carson City, was the primary supporter of keeping campus closures off the table. He said it would cause undue stress and demoralize students, staff and faculty at institutions considered for closure.

“Apparently some politicians have some political battle to fight with the governor and minority party legislators and that fight is more important that those considerations,” he said.

Assemblyman Pete Livermore, R-Carson City, represents a district that includes Western Nevada College.

“I believe it’s an issue of targeted political pressure,” he said.

The Regents met in March at Western Nevada College and heard a preliminary report from Klaich that closures could save $7 to $15 million.

The Regents voted to not further consider closures at that meeting after hearing hours of public testimony during which students and faculty described how detrimental those considerations could be to morale.

Following today’s vote, the Regents will again consider all options to mitigate cuts. To that end, they also voted unanimously to support raising revenue for higher education.

The campus closures, however, appear to be more politically contentious than the unanimous vote.

“I’m a little concerned that you keep asking a question until you get the answer you want,” said Livermore.

Senate Hears Bill That Would Allow Guns On College Campuses

By Andrew Doughman | 12:13 pm March 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – When the Amanda Collins testified before a Senate committee, she recounted an emotional story of her brutal assault at University of Nevada, Reno campus.

Collins said she was defenseless when serial rapist and convicted murderer James Biela attacked her in a UNR parking garage.

She was testifying in support of a bill from Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, that would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring their firearms onto Nevada’s college and university campuses.

Collins had a permit to carry a concealed firearm, but had left it at home knowing that it was illegal to carry her weapon onto campus.

“The unanswered question of my life is and will remain to be, ‘what would have changed if I was carrying my weapon that night?’” she said.

Earlier this summer it took a Nevada jury just six hours to convict Biela of the rape and murder of Brianna Denison. Biela was also found guilty of three other felony charges, including the rape of a Collins in October 2007 and the rape and kidnapping of another woman a few months later.

In her testimony this morning, Collins raised a question that guided the several hours of testimony that followed: “what if?”

Gun advocates, firearms safety businesses and students said people must pass rigorous requirements to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon; they know the law and would not misuse their firearms. If firearms are allowed on campus, people on campus would be more safe, they said.

“It’s important to know that law-abiding citizens are just that: law abiding,” Lee said.

Furthermore, the senator said, the current ban creates an “arbitrary line” between on-campus and off-campus that oftentimes is no more different than one side of the street from the other.

Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, teaches night classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He said that his students sometimes do not feel safe leaving his class.

“They are very cognizant of the fact that there are places around the campus that are not the safest,” he said.

Hammond said would feel safer if trained permit carriers were in his classes.

Hours of testimony from individuals provided the committee with a series of situations. If “bad guys” were to attempt violent acts on campuses, the ability to carry a firearm on campuses would allow people to protect themselves.

“To single out college students and staff and leave them more vulnerable than the rest of the population just seems unfair,” said Scott Durward, a firearms trainer for Blackbird Tactical Training in Reno.

Adam Garcia, police chief at UNR, said that campuses are safer than the surrounding community. But in regards to Collins, who was still in the room when Garcia testified, he said “we failed miserably.”

Garcia and other representatives from police departments throughout Nevada opposed the bill, saying it would make campuses less safe if guns were to be allowed. He said raucous sporting events involving alcohol and firearms could pose a security threat.

“These events could become killing fields,” Garcia said.

Frank Adams, representing the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association, said that the bill poses “grave concerns.” If guns were to be allowed on campuses, he asked the committee what procedures police would follow in terms of storing guns in dormitories and managing guns at sports events.

He also said that Nevada’s Board of Regents generally govern their own affairs. This bill would be unusual because it instructed the board to act a certain way.

“Many private businesses elect to restrict any weapons, concealed or not,” Adams said.

Jim Richardson of the Nevada Faculty Alliance said that the bill would mandate that universities allow people with permits to carry their guns on campus while not changing laws governing allowing firearms in the Legislature, airports and the other government buildings.

After three hours of testimony, Lee held the bill for further discussion.