Posts Tagged ‘Gibbons’

Gov. Sandoval To Pursue Constitutional Change For School Choice

By Sean Whaley | 2:02 pm January 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval will seek a constitutional amendment in the upcoming session of the Nevada Legislature to allow for public tax dollars to be used in a school voucher program that would include religious schools, a staff member said this week.

Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga, in a briefing with the media on Thursday, said a voucher bill submitted by former Gov. Jim Gibbons will be rewritten by the Sandoval administration. Sandoval intends to pursue the constitutional change, he said.

Changing the Nevada constitution is a complex process that would take as many as six years to accomplish, including voter approval.

“We will carry a voucher bill, . . . but our voucher bill will be a proposed constitutional amendment,” Erquiaga said. “We think the voucher program ought to cover all schools and they way they’ve done it, proposed to do it, would not be quite as comprehensive.”

Erquiaga did not elaborate on Sandoval’s school voucher plan.

There is currently a provision in the Nevada constitution that prohibits using public tax dollars for religious purposes.

Article 11, Section 10 of the Nevada constitution is a provision called a Blaine Amendment dating back to statehood, which prohibits the expenditure of public funds for “sectarian purposes.”

Courts have rejected voucher school programs in other states because of these Blaine Amendments.

Repealing the Blaine Amendment would require the Legislature to pass Sandoval’s proposal in two consecutive legislative sessions and then have it go to a vote of the people, which could not occur before 2014.

A handful of state lawmakers have tried and failed over the years to establish a voucher plan for Nevada students, giving parents a share of their taxes spent on public education so they can pick a school that best meets the needs of their children.

While other states have had some success, such measures have gone nowhere in Nevada. Two bills were introduced in the Assembly in 2009 to begin such programs. Neither bill got a hearing.

Gibbons tried without success in the 2010 special legislative session to get a hearing on a school voucher proposal that would have changed state law, not the constitution, and so not have required a vote of the people.

The proposal would have provided 75 percent of the local school district’s pupil support to licensed private schools, with no automatic exclusion for religious schools. The constitutional prohibition was to be avoided by a determination of the amount of religious instruction. If a religious-based school spent 25 percent or less of its time on religious instruction, then it would be argued the 75 percent state support would go to the academic instruction portion of the curriculum.

Critics were skeptical that such a law would withstand a legal challenge.

But the measure submitted by Gibbons prior to leaving office, Senate Bill 71, would exclude “faith-based” private schools from participating in the voucher program.

Erquiaga said Sandoval also will address the collective bargaining issue in his state-of-the-state address on Jan. 24, but he will not call for the complete elimination of the law as proposed by the out-going Gibbons administration in Senate Bill 41.

There is another collective bargaining reform bill, Senate Bill 78, requested by the City of Reno, that seeks reforms to the collective bargaining process, Erquiaga said.

Audio:

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga says a school voucher plan including religious schools is part of the governor’s 2011 agenda:

011411Erquiaga1 :08 quite as comprehensive.”

Erquiaga says Sandoval will propose a constitutional amendment so religious schools can be included:

011411Erquiaga2 :08 proposed constitutional amendment.”

Erquiaga says Sandoval will seek reforms to Nevada’s collective bargaining law, but will not seek complete repeal:

011411Erquiaga3 :16 elimination of it.”

Sandoval Announces 5 Percent Pay Cut For State Employees Instead Of Furloughs

By Sean Whaley | 5:03 pm January 12th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval delivered the bad news in an email to state employees today: His budget will propose a 5 percent across-the-board salary reduction for state employees instead of continuing with a furlough program.

“We must also continue the suspension of merit pay and longevity pay,” he said in the letter.

The change means a slightly larger pay cut than the 4.6 percent reduction in the one-day-a-month unpaid furlough program in the current budget.

“In my meetings with Cabinet officers, I heard consistently that the furloughs are difficult to manage,” Sandoval said. “They result in poor customer service and leave employees with unfinished work that awaits their return after a furlough day. While the 5-percent reduction represents more of a sacrifice than the 4.6 percent, I am hopeful there is a trade-off in workload management.”

Sandoval pledged that he and his staff will take the same 5 percent pay cut.

“I  regret that my first communication with you is to deliver news of this kind,” he said.

Heidi Gansert, chief of staff to Sandoval, said the letter was sent to alert state employees of what is in the upcoming budget to be unveiled Jan. 24.

Besides being difficult to work with, Gansert said the furlough program affects customer service.

“There’s inequity,” she said. “There are some people who take the furloughs and there are others who have been exempted out of the furloughs. This puts everyone on an equal footing.”

Gansert acknowledged that moving to a pay reduction will mean more work and less pay than under the furlough program.

She also acknowledged that the pay cut proposal was not vetted with legislative leadership.

“We had not talked about this specifically,” Gansert said. “The governor had discussed repeatedly in various discussions . . . that we were going to do something that was furlough-like.”

Former Gov. Jim Gibbons also proposed a 6 percent pay cut for state employees in his 2009 budget. The Legislature opted instead for the furlough program.

Sandoval Sworn In As Governor, Announces Regulation Freeze As Pro-Business Move

By Sean Whaley | 5:22 pm January 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval wasted no time getting to work after being sworn into office today, signing an executive order freezing many proposed administrative regulations as evidence that Nevada is a business friendly state.

The freeze, which will last until Jan. 1, 2012, has exceptions for regulations affecting the public health, public safety and security and those needed in the pursuit of federal funds and certifications.

Sandoval signed the order, and another establishing ethics requirements for certain public officers and employees, just minutes after being sworn in as Nevada’s 29th governor in a chilly ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol.

He also signed a proclamation urging parents to set aside time to read to their children.

Sandoval said bringing new jobs to Nevada is his top priority, and the regulation freeze is intended to demonstrate the state’s commitment to a business friendly climate.

“As I talked about during the course of my campaign, economic diversity and promoting our economy are my No. 1 priority,” Sandoval said. “This regulation will put a freeze on regulations in the state of Nevada.”

The freeze will allow his administration to review and ensure existing regulations are business friendly and to allow for the removal of any regulations that are obsolete or unnecessary. During the freeze, no new regulations will be proposed or acted on unless exempted from the order.

Sandoval said there was no specific regulation that prompted the order.

“I want it to be very important that we have a regulatory structure for the businesses that are here in the state of Nevada, as well as the businesses that may be coming here, to understand that Nevada is going to work with you,” he said.

“The key is getting people back to work,” Sandoval said. “I think we need to have a business friendly state, that’s why they are leaving California, because they are being over-taxed and over-regulated.”

Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert said the executive order is “setting the tone to keep Nevada business friendly.”

“Let’s kind of stop just adding regulations to the books and let’s see what we have,” she said.

In comments made in his office, Sandoval called the experience of being sworn into office by Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Douglas “very humbling.”

Douglas also administered the oath of office to the state’s other constitutional officers, including Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Secretary of State Ross Miller, Treasurer Kate Marshall and Controller Kim Wallin.

In the audience for the ceremony were Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. On the dais for the ceremony were three former governors: Bob Miller, Richard Bryan and Bob List. An empty chair represented the late Gov. Kenny Guinn. Former Gov. Jim Gibbons did not attend.

In his 13-minute inaugural address, Sandoval said he is optimistic about Nevada’s future.

“Some would have us believe that Nevada’s best days are behind us,” he said. “If we make the tough choices, the right choices, we will be rewarded with a dramatically different future. I believe it can be done. And I am optimistic that Nevada’s best days are yet to come.”

He also called for cooperation with legislative leaders, state officials and all Nevada residents in solving the state’s budget problems.

That spirit of cooperation will likely be tested after the 2011 session begins Feb. 7, however. Both the state Senate and Assembly are in the control of Democrats, and Sandoval is a Republican. Sandoval has said he will balance the upcoming two-year budget without any new taxes or fees, while some lawmakers of both parties have suggested tax increases will likely have to be part of any budget solution.

Sandoval acknowledged that tough cuts will be needed to balance the state budget, which will have about $5.3 billion in general fund revenue, well below current spending levels due to the loss of federal stimulus funds and expiring tax increases.

“I find no satisfaction in the difficult decisions we must soon make,” he said.

Sandoval planned to meet with legislative leaders today to continue budget discussions. He also plans to meet with the state’s mayors.

Sandoval said he will share in the sacrifice, forgoing a raise authorized by the Legislature and taking an additional pay cut as well.

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says regulation freeze is part of plan to ensure Nevada is business friendly:

010311Sandoval1 :23 are business friendly.”

Sandoval says he is optimistic about the future of Nevada:

010311Sandoval2 :13 the legislative leadership.”

Sandoval says Nevada wants to work with business to help in economic recovery:

010311Sandoval3 :12 work with you.”

Sandoval Administration Confirms No Fee Increases In Proposed Budget

By Sean Whaley | 2:24 pm December 22nd, 2010

CARSON CITY – There will be no fee increases of any kind in Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval’s budget when it is presented to lawmakers next year, Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert has confirmed.

“Given the state of our economy, the governor-elect has decided there will be no new fees or taxes in the budget,” she said. “We don’t want any obstacles to an economic recovery. We want as much money as possible spent in the private sector.”

Gansert said Sandoval’s staff is working with Budget Director Andrew Clinger to go through the budget prepared by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons in-depth to ensure any fee increases included in the plan are eliminated.

Gansert was asked to comment about the potential of fee increases in Sandoval’s budget after Robin Reedy, chief of staff to Gibbons, said a case could be made to seek fee increases for services provided by the state that are not fully covered by current assessments.

Reedy talked about the potential for fee increases in Sandoval’s budget in an interview Tuesday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

Reedy said she believes the next two-year budget can be balanced without new taxes, but added: “A lot of people confuse taxes and fees. And I am not one to say, and this is where the governor (Gibbons) and I do tend to disagree and we have our debates, is a fee is not a tax. If a fee is for a service that is basically helping a segment of either society or business, capitalism means they should pay that cost of doing business.

“So there are fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles and various other areas that deal with either car sales or other areas that are business, that what they pay in fees do not compensate what we pay in salaries and the cost of doing business,” Reedy said. “The government should not be subsidizing any part of the economy.”

Reedy said it will be up to Sandoval and his administration, however, to determine whether to include fee increases in the budget.

But Gansert made it clear that Sandoval’s budget won’t include fee increases.

“We’ve ruled out new fees and taxes,” she said.

Sandoval said in an interview earlier this year that a major focus of his administration will be on job creation to get Nevada’s economy on track, and that any tax or fee increases in his budget would only harm that effort.

“Raising taxes and fees is the worst thing we can do when our economy is struggling,” he said.

Sandoval’s position is at odds with some lawmakers who have suggested tax increases will be needed to balance the state budget.

The National Conference of State Legislatures recently reported that Nevada will have the largest percentage general fund budget gap of any state in both fiscal year 2012 and 2013.

The Nevada Economic Forum projected the state general fund would see $5.3 billion in revenues in the coming two years, well below current spending levels because of the loss of federal stimulus funds and temporary taxes that will expire on June 30, 2011.

Sandoval said after the projection was made Dec. 1 that the revenue level would require agencies to cut $1.2 billion from already reduced budgets submitted this fall to Gibbons.

Audio clips:

Gibbons Chief of Staff Robin Reedy says she believes fees should cover the entire cost of some state services:

122210Reedy1 :29 of doing business.”

Reedy says government should not be subsidizing any part of the economy:

122210Reedy2 :09 of the economy.”

Gov. Gibbons Appoints Former U.S. Senate Candidate Sue Lowden To Medical Board

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 6:16 pm December 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has appointed Sue Lowden to the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners. Lowden has lived and worked in Nevada for more than 30 years. She is a former Nevada state senator who recently ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

“Sue Lowden’s outstanding public service contributions to the people of Nevada make her an excellent choice for appointment to this important position,” Gibbons said. “Sue brings a long history of achievement in the public and private sectors to the board.”

“I am proud that Gov. Gibbons has chosen me for this position,” Lowden said. “I am looking forward to working with the other board members to protect our health system in Nevada.”

Some political observers believe it was Lowden’s suggestion that people barter with their physicians to obtain medical care that derailed her GOP Senate primary campaign. Lowden said previous generations paid for care by bringing a chicken to the doctor, a remark that was widely criticized as out of touch.

Lowden was a television anchorwoman and reporter in Las Vegas before embarking on a business career. She is a Nevada gaming licensee and currently serves as a member of the board of directors and secretary-treasurer of Archon Corp., a gaming and investment company. She is the former president of the Santa Fe Hotel and Casino and former executive vice-president of the Sahara Hotel and Casino – both in Las Vegas. Lowden earned a Women of Achievement Award from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Nevada’s largest business organization.

Lowden will take the seat of Las Vegan Van Hefner, who recently resigned from the board. Lowden’s term will expire on June 30, 2014.

Gov. Gibbons Announces Retirement Of State Public Safety Chief

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:14 pm December 6th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons today announced the retirement of Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Jerry Hafen. Hafen is a life-long resident of Clark County and was appointed to the top job at the agency in early 2008.

He will step down Dec. 31.

“Jerry Hafen has proven to be a respected leader in law enforcement in Nevada and I am proud of his accomplishments as DPS Director,” Gibbons said. “Jerry has proven time and again that the safety of the citizens of Nevada is his top priority.

“Under Director Hafen’s watch, the department has made numerous progressive moves to modernize their mission and engage other law enforcement agencies and citizens, all making Nevada a safer and better place to live,” he said.

The department is comprised of several divisions, including the Nevada Highway Patrol, Investigation Division, Division of Parole and Probation, DPS Training Division, Capital Police, Division of Emergency Management/Homeland Security, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Office of Criminal Justice Assistance and the Office of Traffic Safety.

“I am proud to have served for Gov. Gibbons and the people of Nevada,” Hafen said. “I am equally proud of all the sacrifices made by the hardworking men and women of the Department of Public Safety to serve the citizens of Nevada.

“I am also grateful for the relationships I have developed with sheriffs and chiefs throughout the state, as well as the heads of federal law enforcement agencies. It is truly a team effort to serve and protect the people of Nevada,” he said.

Under Hafen’s tenure, the department started a K-9 Unit using donated funds and money seized from major drug traffickers. The K-9 Unit and other programs implemented by Hafen are largely responsible for the disruption of drug trafficking operations, numerous drugs arrests, as well as the seizure of millions of dollars in illegal drugs and cash throughout the state.

Hafen also oversaw the creation of an anti-terrorism Fusion Center in Carson City, integration of Homeland Security into the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, training improvements and use of new grant funding to better train and equip staff in all DPS Divisions, introducing a massive new records management system, and standardization of DPS policies to make DPS staff more efficient and accountable.

Hafen began his diverse law enforcement career as a patrol officer in 1975 and has served as an investigator for the state Taxicab Authority, a state gaming enforcement agent and a senior investigator for the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety Bureau of Enforcement.

In 1995, Hafen moved to the Department of Public Safety’s Investigation Division as a criminal investigator. During Hafen’s tenure with the department, he has worked on investigations of criminal related activity pertaining to homicide, auto theft, narcotics enforcement, theft and fraud, sexual assault, organized crime, political corruption and internal affairs. In 2003, rising to the rank of DPS deputy chief, Hafen supervised and administered operations for the Division’s statewide Narcotics and Major Crimes Units.

Jerry Hafen

Nevada Information Technology Director Retires After 47 Years In Field

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:12 pm November 30th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons announced today the retirement of Information Technology Director Dan Stockwell after 47 years in the field, including 14 years with the state of Nevada.

“I consider Dan Stockwell a consummate professional and a good friend,” Gibbons said. “He can be proud of his service to the citizens of Nevada.”

“I would like to thank all of wonderful public service professionals I have worked with over the years with the State of Nevada,” Stockwell said. “We have truly laid the foundation for a bright future for our state.”

He began his career in the information and technologies field as data processing manager for the Nevada Air National Guard. Stockwell went on to establish a private business partnership with IBM Corp. and helped develop computer systems for the state’s hotels and casinos before moving to the state’s IT department.

To ensure a smooth transition at the Department of Information Technology (DoIT), Gibbons has appointed David Gustafson as acting director upon Stockwell’s departure. Gustafson is presently the agency’s deputy director. Gustafson has over 15 years of information technology experience and has worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft.

Stockwell’s last day will be Dec. 10.

Dan Stockwell

Initiative Petitions Proposing To Change Nevada Law Fail To Move Forward

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:27 pm November 8th, 2010

CARSON CITY – An initiative petition proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons to require public employee union negotiations to be subject to Nevada’s Open Meeting Law will not be turned in Tuesday.

Gibbons said his OPEN Government Plan will be introduced as a bill in the 2011 legislative session instead.

Gibbons had organized a committee to gather the required number of signatures to force the issue to go before the Legislature. The efforts have been suspended because of legislative support for the issue from the state Senate Republican caucus.

An initiative petition would have either required positive action by the Legislature or a vote of the people in 2012, however. If introduced as a bill, there is no guarantee the measure will be approved by the Legislature.

Other proposed initiative petitions won’t be turned in either.

Groups seeking to legalize marijuana for adults and require votes to unionize to be by secret ballot said today they do not have enough signatures from registered voters to pursue their proposals in the 2011 session.

David Schwartz with Nevadans For Sensible Marijuana Laws, affiliated with the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, said the group will continue to review its options in its ongoing legalization effort.

Voters in California on Tuesday rejected a legalization effort, although Schwartz said he was encouraged by the amount of support for the proposal. Proposition 19 received 3.7 million votes, or 46 percent.

Nevada’s Challenge To Health Care Law Could See Ruling By January But Appeal Certain

By Sean Whaley | 1:45 pm November 8th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The private attorney working on Nevada’s challenge to the new national health care law says a federal judge in Florida should rule on the case by January, setting the stage for an appeal that ultimately is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson gave Nevada and 19 other states a victory in October when he rejected the federal government’s efforts to get the lawsuit thrown out of court.

“I think by mid-January we will have a decision out of Judge Vinson,” said Las Vegas attorney Mark Hutchison, representing Nevada without charge in its challenge to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Vinson is now scheduled to hear arguments on Dec. 16 on two major legal issues: whether Congress can mandate individuals to purchase insurance coverage, and whether the law oversteps the federal government’s authority to tell states how to run their budgets by mandating an expansion of the Medicaid caseload.

The mandate by Congress to individuals to purchase insurance is a key element of the legal challenge, Hutchison said.

“He (Vinson) will decide whether or not, through the commerce clause, Congress can essentially regulate inactivity; that is, my decision or your decision not to purchase insurance,” Hutchison said.

The other issue is whether the mandate that states expand Medicaid coverage under the new law violates the 10th Amendment giving states authority over their own budgets and programs.

The mandate by the federal government is putting tremendous financial burdens on the state, he said.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has estimated the Medicaid mandate will cost Nevada $613 million over six years beginning in 2014 when a three-year federal payment to cover the cost of an increased Medicaid caseload goes away.

While the lawsuit remains active, Hutchison said actions by the next Congress could potentially make the legal challenge moot.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was swept away on Tuesday, and the new Republican majority has made repealing the health care law a top priority.

A repeal of the law would make the challenge moot, Hutchison said. If, in the alternative, Congress refuses to fund the implementation of the law, that too could sideline the challenge, he said. The argument could be made that the states would not have standing to challenge the law because it is not being put into effect, he said.

In his October ruling allowing the case to proceed, Hutchison said Vinson gave some hints about how he may rule. Vinson noted the Congressional mandate is unprecedented, saying in a footnote in his ruling there have been at least six attempts by Congress to implement universal health care in the past 90 years but that this is the first effort at a mandate.

Vinson said there may be a presumption that the mandate under the commerce clause is unconstitutional because it has never been used before despite claims by the U.S. Justice Department that Congress has the authority to do so.

“While the novel and unprecedented nature of the individual mandate does not automatically render it unconstitutional, there is perhaps a presumption that it is,” Vinson said in footnote 21.

“So I think that gives us a clue,” Hutchison said.

The ruling is also interesting in that it rejects an alternative effort by the federal government to justify the mandate under its taxing authority, Hutchison said. The penalty for not purchasing health insurance has always been defined as a penalty, not a tax, he said.

In his ruling, Vinson said: “Congress should not be permitted to secure and cast politically difficult votes on controversial legislation by deliberately calling something one thing, after which the defenders of that legislation take an ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ tack and argue in court that Congress really meant something else entirely, thereby circumventing the safeguard that exists to keep their broad power in check.”

The opposing motions for summary judgment that will be filed by the states and the U.S. Department of Justice will both say there is no need for a trial, only a ruling on the merits of the case.

Whichever way Vinson rules, the case will be appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hutchison said

Other challenges, by states and individuals, are proceeding in other jurisdictions. The challenge by Nevada and the other states also includes the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals.

Hutchison agreed to represent Nevada in the case after Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto declined to file suit on behalf of the state. The election of GOP candidate Brian Sandoval as Nevada’s next governor ensures the challenge on behalf of the state will continue.

“He (Sandoval) welcomes with open arms the state’s continuing involvement in this litigation,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison said Masto’s argument for declining to challenge the law – that it was frivolous – has been repudiated by Vinson’s ruling allowing the case to proceed.

He called Masto’s decision, “a poor exercise of professional judgment.”

“Now Nevada is one state that is right in the hunt on a very important issue that is going to be proceeding up the process ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Hutchison said.

Asked for a response, Masto said: “It sounds like Mr. Hutchinson is still trying to justify his involvement in this case. I can understand his concerns considering that two separate federal courts have already dismissed similar actions against the health care law and the judge in the Florida action has dismissed four of the six claims and will make a decision on the remaining claims sometime in December.”

Audio clips:

Las Vegas attorney Mark Hutchison says key question is whether Congress can mandate the purchase of insurance:

110510Hutchison1 :32 on its constitutionality.”

Hutchison says mandate violates 10th Amendment:

110510Hutchison4 :22 without federal interference.”

Hutchison says  Gov.-elect Sandoval wants the challenge to continue:

110510Hutchison3 :18 happy with that.”

Hutchison says Attorney General Masto should have challenged the health care law:

110510Hutchison2 :42 U.S. Supreme Court.”

Nevada Stimulus Spending Is Election Focus But Effectiveness In Dispute

By Sean Whaley | 1:51 pm October 25th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The question of how well the Gibbons administration has done in quickly and efficiently deploying Nevada’s share of stimulus dollars is difficult to quantify.

Gibbons, a Republican who is leaving office in January, was criticized by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., in a debate Wednesday for failing to move quickly to spend stimulus dollars. Titus said the bottleneck was not at the federal level, but at the state level. Congress specifically chose to put the money into existing programs to get it moving quickly to create jobs, she said.

Gibbons defended his handling of the nearly $2.5 billion in stimulus funds awarded to the state so far, saying: “The stimulus funds awarded to Nevada were spent and are being spent as expeditiously as possible in order to create as many new jobs as possible.”

Nevada’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act website shows the state has actually received and spent about $2 billion of the total awarded through June 30, 2010.

The majority of the stimulus funds received by the state have already been spent not on job creation projects, but on Medicaid caseloads and jobless benefits. Three jobless related programs alone account for nearly $1.3 billion in total spending in Nevada.

Titus is not alone in her criticism of Nevada’s efforts under Gibbons to quickly use stimulus funds to create jobs, especially early on in the process. The act was approved by Congress in February 2009.

In a letter to Gibbons on Oct. 1, 2009, Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, cited Nevada as a state that was not doing a good job in spending the funds, ranking 47th of 51 based on an analysis of the percentage of recovery act highway formula funds put out to bid, under contract and under way.

Nevada received about $201 million in stimulus funding for road projects.

“I strongly urge you to refocus your efforts to implement the Recovery Act and use the available funds to create and sustain family-wage jobs,” Oberstar said in the letter.

The state Democratic Party criticized Gibbons for the report as well, but Dan Burns, a spokesman for the governor, said in October 2009 the information was inaccurate. He also criticized Nevada Democratic leaders for bringing in stimulus money that put the state 50th per capita for its allocation of funding.

The Nevada Department of Transportation announced in February of 2010 it had obligated its entire stimulus funding a month ahead of schedule. The agency announced in May that stimulus funds will have created or saved 5,600 construction jobs by the end of the year.

The state was also questioned about its slow pace on spending nearly $19 million in stimulus funds for neighborhood weatherization projects. As of November of 2009, the state had spent less than $1 million and risked losing the money.

But the program moved into high gear, and Gibbons announced in May 2010 that the State Office of Energy and the Nevada Housing Division had received letters from the U.S. Department of Energy commending their efforts at quickly and efficiently spending the stimulus funds.

Nevada was identified as one of a small group of states that had 100 percent of its award through the environmental permitting process finished and 75 percent or more of the funds obligated.

“These accomplishments are a testament to your team’s strong planning and management,” U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program Director Mark Bailey said. “DOE applauds Nevada’s State Energy Office for your success and commends your hard work.”

John Restrepo of the Restrepo Consulting Group in Las Vegas, said the Gibbons administration may have been slow in getting going on spending the stimulus funds, but that the state has probably done as well as any other in getting the money into the economy.

Restrepo, who also serves on the State Economic Forum, a panel charged with predicting Nevada’s tax revenues for the next two years, said for him the bigger issue with the stimulus is whether it was big enough.

“In my humble opinion it was not large enough,” he said. “It was a tepid response in adding employment and addressing the longer term problem of our antiquated infrastructure.”

What can’t be proved conclusively about the stimulus spending is whether the state and national unemployment pictures would be worse without it, Restrepo said. Speaking as an analyst, Restrepo said he believes the recession would have been worse without the funding.

“The stimulus did some of what it was supposed to do,” he said. “We could have done better.”

Nevada State Controller Kim Wallin, a Democrat, said there is no way to compare how Nevada is doing on spending its share of stimulus funds with other states because there are no uniform reporting requirements.

But Wallin, who has some oversight responsibilities for the stimulus spending, does post a weekly report on her website showing the amount received for each project and the amount spent. Some agencies have not moved quickly to spend the money, she said.

The state Energy Program, for example, has been awarded $34.7 million but expended only $16.9 million as of Oct. 15, Wallin said.

A number of wildland fire fuel reduction projects under the direction of the state Department of Agriculture show low expenditures as well, she said.

While some agencies have done a good job of obligating and expending their funds, a number of other programs do not show any significant spending yet, Wallin said.

 “The whole idea of the stimulus was to get the money spent as quickly as possible to create jobs,” she said.

Jim Groth, director of the state Office of Energy, said Nevada is in the top 10 states in terms of expending its energy-related stimulus funds. In addition to the nearly $35 million for a variety of projects and programs, the office received another $9.5 million in energy efficiency and conservation block grant funds, he said.

The state has until April 2012 to spend the money, and it will all be put to use long before that deadline, Groth said.

The projects funded by the stimulus funds, and their progress, are updated weekly on the agency’s website, he said.

The job-creation programs have different deadlines by which the money must be expended and are included on the controller’s stimulus spending webpage. Some deadlines have already expired, while other projects run through 2014.

During the Wednesday debate in the closely watched District 3 race, Republican challenger Joe Heck said the stimulus act is not working nationally or in Nevada, as evidenced by the loss of jobs and high unemployment rate. Nevada leads the nation in unemployment, which remained unchanged at 14.4 percent in September.

The September report, released Friday, shows Nevada had nearly 24,000 fewer jobs than in the same month the year before.

Titus said the situation would be worse without the stimulus spending approved by Congress.

Titus also rejected any suggestion that District 3 has seen only minimal job creation from the stimulus.

The federal stimulus reporting website shows District 3 shortchanged in job creation, reporting only 187 jobs in the three months ending June 30. But that is because most of the state stimulus money flows through the state capital in Carson City, so the jobs are counted in District 2, represented by Dean Heller, R-Nev., who voted against the stimulus bill. The district shows 8,674 jobs created during the same period.

Nevada District 1, represented by Shelley Berkley, showed 439 jobs created.

Governor Gibbons Honors Soldier Killed In War On Terror – Capitol Flag Lowered Today

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:05 am October 23rd, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has ordered the flag at the state Capitol Building to be flown at half staff today to honor United States Marine Corps Sgt. Frank Zaehringer III.

Sgt. Zaehringer was killed in Afghanistan on Oct. 11 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Sgt. Zaehringer grew up in Reno. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2005, two years after graduating from Wooster High School. Sgt. Zaehringer leaves behind his wife, Cassie, and two step-daughters and his parents.

“On behalf of the citizens of Nevada and myself, I want to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Frank Zaehringer,” Gibbons said. “We will never forget the sacrifice made by Sgt. Zaehringer while he fought to bring freedom and liberty to the world.”

A Memorial Service for Sgt. Zaehringer is scheduled to be held at the Summit Christian Church, in Spanish Springs, on Pyramid Highway, today at 10 a.m.

Investigation Of Former Nevada Nuclear Projects Chief Remains Unresolved After Two Years

By Sean Whaley | 8:12 am October 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – An investigation into the conduct of the former executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, sought by a state lawmaker after questions were raised about salary increases he awarded himself on the job, remains unresolved after more than two years.

A Nevada News Bureau public records request sent to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office generated a brief response saying the matter regarding Bob Loux was still under investigation and no information was available for release.

Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, asked the Nevada Attorney General’s office on Sept. 11, 2008, for an investigation into Loux’s actions for “malfeasance in office and possible criminal activity.”

Due to a conflict, the attorney general’s office asked Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley to look into Gansert’s concerns.

No results of any investigation have yet been reported by Haley’s office.

Gansert said she does not know why an investigation is taking so long but that it needs to be concluded in an effort to get the salary increases Loux awarded himself repaid to taxpayers.

“It is important that the taxpayers, at the minimum, get their money back,” she said.

Loux gave himself raises that were unauthorized, Gansert said.

The excess salary has not been returned to the state, although Loux’s retirement benefits were adjusted downward to account for the unauthorized pay hikes, she said.

Loux won a state Ethics Commission ruling on the matter, but Gansert said that ruling was based on a technicality.

Loux could not be reached for comment.

Gov. Jim Gibbons called in September 2008 for Loux’s resignation after learning of the salary overpayments, calling the level of mismanagement at the office “severe.” Gibbons said the salary overpayments, which went to other officials in the office as well, came to light when Loux sought funds to cover a shortfall in his budget.

Loux actually served at the pleasure of the Commission on Nuclear Projects, which accepted his resignation in September 2008.

Asked for a comment on the length of the Loux investigation, Gibbons said: “These are the types of situations that erode the public’s confidence in government. The progress of this matter should have been closely monitored by the attorney general to make sure the interests of the people of Nevada are protected.”

Gibbons’ comment prompted a response from Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto: “Unfortunately, the governor continues to want to play politics with this issue and ignore the facts. Based upon an internal conflict in my office, the case was referred out of my office to an independent law enforcement agency for investigation to protect the integrity of the legal process and the public’s confidence in that process. The very nature of the conflict requires that my office have no further involvement in the case.”

The salary issue went to the state Ethics Commission in March of 2009 based on a complaint also filed by Gansert. The commission ruled 3-2 that because Loux’s salary was actually set by the governor, the allegation he violated ethics laws by exceeding the legislatively approved salary for his office was not at issue.

Loux’s response to the ethics inquiry was that he acted within his authority and responsibility.

Information provided to Ethics Commission staff disclosed that the governor sets the salaries of the commission employees, not the executive director, and that they can be set at any level as long as the total amount in the salary budget category for the agency is not exceeded.

The two dissenting commissioners said the Legislature did set Loux’s salary by reviewing and approving the governor’s recommended budget for the office. They said the question of whether he violated the ethics laws should have been reviewed.

Gansert said the Ethics Commission decision never got to the issue of whether Loux gave himself unauthorized raises at taxpayer expense in violation of the state ethics laws.

According to an Ethics Commission investigator’s report approved Nov. 7, 2008, Loux’s salary was set by the Legislature at $104,497 in 2006 but he was paid $120,537 that year. His salary was set at $108,677 in 2007 but he was paid $125,355. He was authorized a salary of $114,088 in 2008 but received $145,718.

Gansert said the excess pay should be returned by Loux.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons Gets ‘B’ Grade From Cato Institute For Stance Against Tax Hikes

By Sean Whaley | 12:56 pm September 30th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons has received a “B” grade from the Cato Institute for his performance in dealing with Nevada’s major budget and fiscal challenges over the past two years.

“Nevada is enduring tough economic times and government tax collections have fallen substantially,” the Cato Institute said in its 10th biennial fiscal report card of the nation’s governors. “Gov. Gibbons has generally refused to increase taxes to make up for the shortfall because that would make the economic situation even worse.”

The Cato Institute said: “In proposing spending cuts rather than tax increases to balance the budget, Gibbons noted: ‘It is not the role of the state government to put people out of work.’ ”

“He said the government would be ‘piling on’ the difficulty that citizens and businesses are already having if it raised taxes,” the report card says. “Gibbons has proposed business tax cuts and opposed and vetoed numerous tax increases. In 2009, he vetoed a big increase in sales and payroll taxes, but the Legislature overrode his veto. Gibbons has supported some modest tax increases, but he seems to understand that broad-based increases would damage the state’s pro-enterprise environment.”

In a statement, Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said the governor is proud of his record against raising taxes and opposing new taxes. He is also proud to have kept that promise he made to voters four years ago.

“It’s easy to say you won’t raise taxes,” Gibbons said, “Many people talk the talk. I am proud that I have walked the walk and stood up for the working families of Nevada.”

The report card calculated data on the taxing and spending habits of 45 of the nation’s 50 governors between 2008 to August 2010. The governors are scored from 0 to 100 on seven separate taxing and spending variables. The scores are aggregated and converted to letter grades, A to F.

Gibbons received a score of 61. Only seven governors had higher scores with the highest, a 74, going to Republican Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

The three other governors awarded an “A” in the report card were Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin is the only Democrat to get an “A” grade.

Seven governors were awarded an “F”: Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, David Paterson of New York, Jodi Rell of Connecticut, Pat Quinn of Illinois, Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Bill Ritter of Colorado and Chris Gregoire of Washington. All except Rell are Democrats.

The report notes that many states raised taxes even though the federal government “showered them with billions of dollars of added funding in last year’s ‘stimulus’ bill.”

The Cato Institute describes itself as a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

State Attorney General Defends Record, Denies Playing Politics Under Fire from Opponents

By Sean Whaley | 3:55 pm September 27th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Catherine Cortez Masto points to a number of accomplishments in her first term as attorney general, from reducing methamphetamine production in Nevada to cracking down on mortgage fraud, all while having to live with major budget cuts and fewer staff.

Masto, a Democrat running for a second term, faces Republican attorney Travis Barrick and Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen, who is running as the Independent American Party candidate, in the Nov. 2 general election.

Both Barrick and Hansen criticize Masto for two controversies in her first term: her misguided and unsuccessful effort to prosecute Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki , a Republican, for allegedly misusing college savings funds while state treasurer, and her decision not to follow Gov. Jim Gibbons’ directive to file a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law.

Both candidates question whether Masto has let politics play a role in her decisions as attorney general, a claim she denies.

Masto said people do try to play politics with such cases but that her office does not engage in such conduct.

“It never will be,” she said. “I will always look at it from a legal perspective, what’s the best interest for the state of Nevada; the people I represent.”

Barrick, who went to law school late in life, said many of Masto’s priorities are laudable but that she is failing to pursue other important initiatives as the top law enforcement officer of the state, such as improving the safety of the state prison system, which is dangerous for both correctional officers and inmates, and protecting mining and ranching interests from legal attacks by environmentalists.

Hansen, who says he has more experience than both of the other candidates combined, said as attorney general he would file a “friend of the court” brief in defense of Arizona’s new immigration law. Hansen said he would also push for a similar law in Nevada and if it was challenged, file a counterclaim against the federal government seeking compensation for Nevada for the costs of providing services to illegal immigrants.

Hansen has already filed a private class action lawsuit against the federal health care law, arguing it violates the individual constitutional rights of Nevada residents.

“It wouldn’t be business as usual with me in there,” he said.

Masto is leading in a poll done for the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. It shows Masto with 37 percent to 27 percent for Barrick. “Another party” candidate gets 3 percent in the poll and 22 percent are undecided.

Masto said one of the top issues she pursued upon being elected was methamphetamine production.

“Methamphetamine was a number one issue for us because we led the nation in first time use, both for our kids and our adults,” she said. “From my perspective we’ve done a phenomenal to address it.”

Masto said she worked with the Legislature in 2007 to put the common medicines used in the drug production behind the counter of pharmacies, which led to a huge drop in the number of labs manufacturing the drug in Nevada.

Masto acknowledges that one result of that successful effort has been to see more of the drug smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. But Masto said she is working with her counterparts in several Mexican states to address the drug importation issue, along with other important cross-border concerns including weapons trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking.

The efforts have produced results, as seen by the higher price and lower quality of meth found in Nevada, she said.

Now that meth use is under some control, a new threat is young people looking through the family medicine cabinets for drugs. As a result, Masto said the state and local governments are offering prescription drug roundups to collect and properly dispose of unneeded medications.

Masto said she is also working to address domestic violence, consumer fraud, especially for senior citizens, those who prey on families who face foreclosure, and Medicaid fraud, among many other issues.

With domestic violence, Nevada now leads the nation in the number of women murdered per capita as a result of domestic violence, she said. A gun is the weapon of choice in most of these cases, Masto said.

The state recently received a federal grant to perform a review of domestic violence fatalities with the goal of learning how to address the issue, Masto said. It will be a collaborative effort involving law enforcement, treatment providers, elected officials and others, she said.  As chairwoman of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, Masto said the state workers with the batterers as well to try to stem the violence.

“We’re doing all this with less,” she said.

Her employees are taking unpaid furloughs, but they also come in after hours to get their work done without being paid overtime, Masto said.

Masto said she has reached out to work with law enforcement and other groups involved in the various issues pursued by her office as a way of stretching scare resources even further. As a result, every major law enforcement agency in the state has endorsed her campaign, she said.

Masto has faced a few controversies in her first term as the top law enforcement office in the state overseeing the state’s largest law firm. Masto and Gibbons, a Republican, faced off over whether the state should sue over the new federal health care reform law.

Masto declined to intervene, saying the challenges under way did not require Nevada’s involvement and her office’s scarce resources could be devoted to other pressing issues. Gibbons went ahead independently to sue over the health care law.

Masto also took some pointed criticisms for pursuing the case against Krolicki, which was thrown out by a Clark County judge last year. Krolicki had been facing criminal charges regarding the expenditure of funds for a college savings program. Krolicki denied any wrongdoing and said the failed prosecution was politically motivated. Krolicki is running for a second term as lieutenant governor.

Regarding the health care challenge, Masto said she is a firm believer in states’ rights and has defended them, but her office has to pick and choose where to spend scarce resources.

“We have the highest unemployment rate, highest bankruptcy, highest foreclosure, these people are concerned, rightfully so, about how they are going to survive and keep food on the table,” she said. “So from my perspective if I have the ability to assist them in some form or fashion that is where I’m going to focus.”

The health care and Krolicki issues, along with Masto’s decision not to investigate former state nuclear projects director Bob Loux over a salary controversy, are the reasons cited by Barrick for running against Masto.

Masto, citing a conflict of interest, turned the Loux investigation over to the Washoe County Sheriff for investigation in September 2008. No results have yet been reported.

Barrick, who worked as a contractor for many years before going back to school and eventually earning a law degree, said he filed for the race because he did not see a conservative seeking to challenge Masto.

Barrick said his campaign is about bringing integrity to the job.

“One of the knocks on my candidacy is that I am a relative newcomer to Nevada politics,” he said. “My response to that was, the other side of that is, I don’t owe anybody any favors at all. You can see that just in the campaign contributions I have not received.”

While contributions are limited, Barrick said he defeated a GOP opponent in the primary who outspent him four to one, suggesting money in itself doesn’t decide who will win an election.

While supporting those goals Masto is pursuing, Barrick said he is concerned about the issues that are not getting the attention they deserve.

“I think the prison system is a mess,” he said.

Since the attorney general is a member of the Board of Prison Commissioners, Barrick said he would work to create a safer environment in the state’s prisons.

“My conscience will not allow me as a Nevada citizen to stand by and allow our prisons system to be barbaric both to the correctional officers and to the inmates,” he said.

Barrick said he also has questions about a controversial labor commissioner ruling in support of a tip pooling policy instituted by Wynn Resorts to include supervisors.

“The rich and powerful in this state are being given a pass on bad acts,” he said.

Hansen said he believes Masto’s priorities as attorney general have been misguided. In particular, she was obligated to file a lawsuit challenging the health care law when asked to do so by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“So she violated her duty,” he said. “She had no right to say no. I filed a private class action lawsuit because she failed to file one.”

Hansen said he would also seek to follow the lead of the Ohio attorney general, who sued several major Wall Street firms on behalf of the investors of the state and won a $1 billion settlement from American International Group, Inc. (AIG) and lesser amounts from other firms.

“What was our attorney general doing with her time while the Ohio attorney general was getting $1 billion for Ohio,” Hansen asked. “Well what she was doing is going after Brian Krolicki and getting thrown out of court because it was groundless. That’s what she did. That’s what she did for Nevada.”

Hansen said as attorney general he would also undertake a review of the various local gun laws in the state, particularly the requirement in Clark County that handgun owners register their weapons, to ensure their constitutionality. Hansen would then challenge any that violate the Second Amendment.

“I’m the most qualified and experienced candidate in this race,” he said. “And I don’t think anyone can deny that. That’s the truth.”

___

Audio clips:

Masto says she has worked to combat methamphetamine abuse in her first term:

092410Masto1 :19 a phenomenal job.”

Masto says she has worked directly with her Mexican counterparts to fight drug trafficking:

092410Masto2 :18 of our countries.”

Masto says she works collaboratively with law enforcement and others to make scarce resources go further:

092410Masto3 :27 find the solutions.”

Masto says she has focused on the issues that mean most to Nevadans:

092410Masto4 :17 going to focus.”

GOP AG candidate Travis Barrick says he has integrity and owes no one any favors:

092410Barrick1 :24 have not received.”

Barrick says Masto not working on important issues:

092410Barrick2 :13 of Prison Commissioners.”

Barrick says he would tackle prison problems as attorney general:

092410Barrick3 :17 other for it.”

Barrick says miners and ranchers aren’t being represented:

092410Barrick4 :09 are being represented.”

IAP AG candidate Joel Hansen says he has already challenged health care law on his own:

092410Hansen1 :47 way we want.”

Hansen says he would emulate Ohio AG and seek damages from Wall Street for Nevada investors:

092410Hansen2 :36 know about it.”

Hansen says Masto wasted time on Krolicki prosecution instead of recouping money lost by Nevada investors:

092410Hansen3 :17 did for Nevada.”

Hansen says he is the most qualified candidate:

092410Hansen4 :17 that’s the truth.”

Nevada Assembly Majority Leader Says Public Transparency Issues Will Be Major Focus Of 2011 Session

By Sean Whaley | 6:21 am September 10th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera said yesterday he will pursue a number of transparency measures in the 2011 legislative session with an eye towards providing the public with accountability and confidence in how the state spends taxpayer dollars.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Assembly Democrats have been working on a number of ideas since last session, including a two-year “cooling off” period before former state lawmakers and other officials could work as lobbyists.

Oceguera, who is expected to be elected speaker for the 2011 session, said Assembly Democrats want to go even further than some other proposals for a cooling off law to include state regulators and local government officials as well.

“Some of these ideas were part of a bill last session that didn’t make it out of the Senate but made it out of the Assembly,” he said. “So it has been on our radar since at least last session and we’ve tried to refine it and look at what we think we can get passed. But some of the issues we’re going to pass out of the Assembly one way or the other.”

The cooling off proposal predates the recent controversy over former Assemblyman Morse Arberry, who resigned to accept a lobbying contract with the Clark County District Court. The contract was rejected earlier this week by the Clark County Commission.

In announcing the proposals earlier in the week, Oceguera said: “We’re serious about reforming the way Nevada government does its business. Today, we are putting a series of reforms before the public. They are common sense and timely measures, and I will work for bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate.”

Among the reforms Assembly Democrats will pursue include:

- Establishing a two-year cooling off period before an elected official can be hired to lobby the government body where the individual served;

- Creating a two-year cooling off period before an elected official or regulator can be hired to work for any agency they regulated or oversaw;

- Putting the state’s checkbook online where taxpayers can see how tax dollars are spent;

- Putting the entire state budget on the web so taxpayers can see spending priorities;

- Requiring all candidates for public office to report every financial contribution, the amount and donor, online within 72 hours of receipt.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has created a transparency page on state government spending on his website, so at least some of the state budget and spending information is already available to the public.

Oceguera said the Assembly Democrat proposal for reporting campaign contributions goes even further than what is being sought by Secretary of State Ross Miller, who wants earlier reporting of contributions and expenditures as well. Miller also wants reports filed electronically so the public can search the information more easily.

Oceguera said he and Miller worked closely on other measures in 2009 and will likely do so on the campaign reports transparency issue in the upcoming session as well.

Efforts to improve the reporting and usefulness of campaign reports have ended in failure in the past. A proposal to require online reporting for most officials passed the Assembly in 2009 but the provision was deleted in a Senate Committee by Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno.

Transparency has become an issue for many lawmakers on many different fronts. Many of those running for seats in the state Senate and Assembly have responded to a transparency questionnaire sent out by the Nevada Policy Research Institute. It asks candidates for their views on the posting of state spending information online as well as the need for a searchable database for campaign contributions, among other issues.

Other lawmakers have previously weighed in with their own proposals, including Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, who has proposed a four-year cooling off period for lawmakers and statewide elected officials who want to become lobbyists.

Goedhart also wants a three-day wait before bills are voted on by the Legislature, another transparency proposal included on the NPRI candidate questionnaire.

Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, has weighed in with his own plan to change the campaign report filing deadlines to make the reports more useful to voters. He introduced similar legislation in 2009 that did not get a hearing.

Democrat candidate for governor Rory Reid in December released an ethics reform plan that includes a call for a two-year cooling off period before former lawmakers or state employees can represent private interests at the Legislature.

Twenty-six states have such laws. Nevada does not.

___

Audio clips:

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera says the Assembly will work to get transparency measures passed next session:

090910Oceguera1 :22 or the other.”

Oceguera says Assembly cooling off law would go further than what others are suggesting:

090910Oceguera2 :23 are talking about.”