Posts Tagged ‘Hambrick’

Hundreds Of Trees Planted But Few Jobs Created In Clark County Federal Stimulus Project

By Sean Whaley | 2:00 am August 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – If a $490,000 grant to plant trees in Clark County public places as part of a federal job-creating stimulus project should be measured by the “greening” of Southern Nevada, then the effort might be considered a modest success.

Thirteen different government and nonprofit entities applied for 1,814 trees for planting at 35 different public areas in Southern Nevada through the grant. A total of 1,541 trees have been provided to the agencies and groups for planting, mostly at schools and parks around the Vegas valley.

Photo by Nevit Dilmen (2006)

But if job creation to help the country out of the “great recession” is the measure of success, then the funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Clark County “Nursery Greening Project” is not likely to win high marks.

According to the Nevada state Division of Forestry, which administered the grant, few jobs were created. Two positions, equivalent to less than 1.5 full-time jobs, were preserved at the Las Vegas State Tree Nursery. A third position through Manpower Inc. of Southern Nevada was created. In addition, 11 individuals were hired for various aspects for projects to include planters, program development, trainers and drivers. The jobs were short term.

Seven temporary jobs were also created for workers at First Choice Tree Service to plant the trees in 15 gallon containers. A total of 480 hours were worked.

The federal website that monitors American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects, reports the tree planting grant has created 1.72 jobs.

Pete Sepp, vice president for communications and policy at the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union, said the project appears to have generated little benefit in the way of job retention or creation.

Pete Sepp, vice president for communications and policy at the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union.

“At first blush this does seem to have amounted to an awfully high expenditure for a rather low level of results,” he said. “Planting trees is a wonderful thing but if the goal was to preserve or create jobs, a near half million dollar expenditure for a few retained and a few created would strike most taxpayers, especially unemployed ones, as a poor value.”

The project, and many others, raises the question of whether the estimates of job creation through ARRA were ever credible to begin with, Sepp said.

The Nevada News Bureau first reported on the grant in July last year. A public records request to the state Forestry Division provided the results of the grant and its success at job preservation and creation.

Bob Conrad, public information officer for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said of the program: “ARRA projects were solicited to state agencies, and we were given 24 hours to put together very short project proposals. ARRA money had to go through state agencies, and the U.S. Forest Service selected the projects by county.”

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers defended the project in an emailed statement: “The recovery act has given hundreds of Nevadans access to green-collar job training in more than a dozen landscaping workshops, and hundreds of trees have been planted in urban settings, improving quality of life and improving energy efficiency. Trees are a long-term investment – the people of Nevada are reaping the benefits of the recovery act now, and will continue to do so for years to come.”

Nevada state Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, tongue firmly in cheek, said the benefit of the job-creation project has been misunderstood.

Nevada state Assemblyman John Hambrick. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

“Obviously when you look at it, what the public does not understand, and obviously you are missing the point – those trees are very special trees,” he said. “They are money trees. And as they plant them, obviously the county will harvest the bills that grow on the money trees. So in actuality it was an investment.”

After the Nevada News Bureau reported on the program, it along with tree planting efforts in several other states, made a list of 100 questionable ARRA projects assembled by two U.S. senators in 2010 in a report called “Summertime Blues.”

Even President Obama joked in June that the 2009 $787 billion stimulus bill, aimed at creating jobs with “shovel ready” projects, “was not as shovel ready as we expected.” The stimulus was intended to keep the national jobless rate from exceeding 8 percent, but that did not happen.

Even so, defenders of the stimulus said the jobless rate, which stood at 9.2 percent as of June, would have been worse without the grants, extended unemployment benefits and other elements of ARRA. Nevada’s June jobless rate was 12.4 percent, tops in the nation.

Sepp said such claims are questionable.

“It’s impossible to start disproving negative situations through government expenditure levels and employment levels,” he said. “In the end this package over-promised and under-delivered.”

Conrad said an original estimate of 2,500 trees to be planted through the grant was an error. The correct number was 2,000, with 801 purchased from the state’s Las Vegas nursery and 1,195 purchased from L.E. Cooke Co., a tree supplier to nurseries around the country. The trees cost $33.50 each for just under $70,000 total. Of the total, 220 died or were not sellable, and 235 remain to be awarded to the different entities for planting.

Tree types made available for planting included Arizona ash, black locust, desert willow, honey locust and sweet acacia, among others.

Some of the entities requesting and planting the trees includes the city of Mesquite, which received 150 trees, the city of Henderson Parks and Recreation Department which received 128 trees, and a nonprofit group See Spot Run, Inc., which created a dog park in Boulder City.

The Division of State Parks also planted 35 trees at the Mormon Fort State Park in downtown Las Vegas.

Other projects included in the nearly half million dollar stimulus funding grant were tree care classes for Spanish-speaking green-industry workers, a city/regional tree inventory, and urban canopy assessments. Funding for the tree-care classes totaled $30,000.

In a report on the project by the state Division of Forestry, two classes of five, three-hour sessions were held in November 2010 and March 2011 for the Spanish-speaking workforce. There were 510 attendees.

A request for proposals for the tree inventory was issued in July.

About 90 percent of the grant has been obligated to positions, salaries, sub-grants and projects, with about 60 percent spent so far.

According to the Nevada Division of Forestry, the recovery act provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture with $28 billion in stimulus funding, with $1.15 billion of the total allocated to the U.S. Forest Service for forest restoration, hazardous fuels reduction, construction and maintenance of facilities, trails and roads, green energy projects and grants to states, tribes and private landowners. The grant to the state Division of Forestry for the tree program came from this pot of funding.

The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was awarded $46 million in ARRA funding, of which the tree-planting project was one project. Nevada state agencies were awarded $3.3 billion total.

Audio clips:

Pete Sepp, vice president for communications and policy at the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union, says taxpayers do not appear to have received much value from the program in terms of job creation:

080411Sepp1 :15 level of results.”

Sepp says the tree-planting project appears to be a poor value for jobs created or retained:

080411Sepp2 :23 as poor value.”

Sepp says ARRA over-promised and under-delivered:

080411Sepp3 :21 and under-delivered.”

State Assemblyman John Hambrick says (in jest) the trees are an investment that will pay off:

080411Hambrick :22 was an investment.”

Budget Deal Announced Today Includes Extension Of Taxes, Major Reforms

By Sean Whaley | 5:03 pm June 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders from both parties announced a budget agreement today that will see tax extensions and restorations of funding to public and higher education in exchange for significant policy reforms in education and collective bargaining.

The agreement came on the 115th day of the session, and virtually guarantees that lawmakers will adjourn the 2011 session by Monday as the constitution requires.

“Nevadans deserve leadership, stability and consensus, and I believe this budget and reform package provide all three,” Sandoval said at a press briefing attended by numerous lawmakers, lobbyists and other interested parties.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, called the agreement fiscally responsible and a true compromise that “protects the most essential funding for our schools, our community colleges and universities, and services for our most vulnerable.”

Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, head of the Assembly GOP caucus, said the deal is the best that could be achieved among the two houses and parties.

“None of us got everything we wanted,” he said. “But the bottom line is we hung together.”

Faced with a recent Nevada Supreme Court decision that threw his budget into turmoil, Sandoval reluctantly agreed to extend higher business taxes on the state’s largest employers for two more years to bring in nearly $300 million. The budget deal also includes a reduction in tax exemptions for the mining industry that will bring in another $24 million to the state general fund.

In all, the two-year state budget that begins July 1 totals $6.24 billion. This does not include another $265 million in other revenue that will go directly to the state’s public schools system bringing total spending to about $6.5 billion.

Sandoval decided to agree to extend sun-setting taxes because of the court ruling issued last week over the decision by the Legislature in 2010 to sweep a$62 million local government water fund. The court said it was impermissible. While opinions on the effect of the ruling differed, ultimately $481 million in anticipated revenue was eliminated from Sandoval’s proposed budget. The ruling forced lawmakers and Sandoval into intense budget negotiations.

Until Sandoval opted to relent on the tax issue, Republicans had held firm with him opposing new revenues to increase funding to public education, higher education and health and human services programs.

In exchange for extending the sun-setting taxes, Sandoval and Republican lawmakers won a number of reforms, including the elimination of teacher tenure and ending the seniority system used in the public schools for layoffs.

“These reforms do not hurt good teachers,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “If you are a good teacher, you have a job.”

The reforms also include the complete elimination of the modified business tax for 70 percent of the state’s smallest employers. This group currently pays a 0.5 percent rate based on payroll.

Other reforms include the elimination of health care benefits upon retirement for new state hires. The state currently subsidizes health insurance for retirees. The change effective Jan. 1, 2012 will save an estimated $275 million over the next 30 years.

There are also reforms to the state’s collective bargaining law, including a provision allowing agreements to be reopened in cases of fiscal emergency and eliminating bargaining for supervisory public employees. There will also be a study on how to deal with the $10 billion unfunded liability of the Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The governor will also get to appoint the superintendent of public instruction.

One area that remains an issue is construction defect reform.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, said Assembly Bill 401, proposed by Oceguera, is not real reform. The construction industry is expected to oppose the measure, he said.

“It does absolutely nothing,” Hickey said.

Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the budget bills implementing the spending plan should be introduced tomorrow. A final joint money committee hearing set for later today will put the few final minor finishing touches on the budget, she said.

But even with the increased funding, Leslie said the 2011-13 spending plan is not one she is proud of, or believes adequately funds important social and education programs.

“We’re eliminating programs like a senior outreach program,” she said. “We have the highest suicide rate for seniors in the country, and we eliminated the one outreach program for senior mental health that we have.”

It does eliminate the unacceptable securitization of the insurance premium tax proposed by Sandoval as a way to generate $190 million in additional funds for the budget, Leslie said. It also eliminates the use of the school bond reserve funds.

One bit of bad news for Nevada’s economic future was mentioned in passing in the budget compromise. Nevada’s forecast for revenue from unclaimed property was revised downward by nearly $34 million. The reason is the relocation of a division of Citibank now located in Southern Nevada.

The state’s unclaimed property fund has benefited from the Citibank presence because money belonging to the company’s customers from around the world ends up here when the owners cannot be identified. The company turned over $36 million in unclaimed property this year. With the relocation, this revenue will no longer flow to Nevada.

Reaction to the budget and reform deal varied.

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, R-Mesquite, said: “I think neither one of us ended up real happy with the situation. I think we’re both pleased we have come to a consensus. They didn’t get their $1.2 billion tax package; we’re really happy about that.

“We had five reforms we wanted. We didn’t get all of them,” he said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said: “The Republican Assembly caucus had certain goals and priorities in mind and we stuck to them, but unfortunately through no fault of the governor he was handed a devastating blow by the Supreme Court’s ruling and he had to pick up the pieces.

“I had personally hoped for a little more depth in construction defect and collective bargaining reforms,” he said.

Nevada News Bureau Editor Elizabeth Crum contributed to this report

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the budget deal is the result of leadership and consensus:

060111Sandoval :12 provide all three.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says budget deal is bipartisan and fiscally responsible:

060111Oceguera1 :18 our most vulnerable.”

Oceguera says work is still needed on reforming the state’s revenue structure:

060111Oceguera2 :12 state forward, thank-you.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford says the reforms to teacher tenure won’t harm good teachers:

060111Horsford1 :13 a great job.”

Horsford says Nevada policy makers came together while facing the biggest fiscal challenge of any state:

060111Horsford2 :13 to the plate.”

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea says not everyone got all they wanted in the deal:

060111Goicoechea :15 resolve this issue.”

Sen. Sheila Leslie says the budget is not one she is proud of because of the necessary cuts to important programs:

060111Leslie :12 that we have.”

Victims Of Sex Trafficking Get Legal Protections Under New Nevada Law

By Sean Whaley | 1:27 pm May 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A bill allowing victims of sex trafficking to clear their criminal records of prostitution-related crimes in order to get a fresh start in life was signed into law today by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Assembly Bill 6 is the most recent effort by Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, to combat the illegal sex trade in Nevada that frequently involves underage children.

“I am humbled by the support shown for the victims of sex trafficking,” Hambrick said. “It is a serious problem for our community and our country, and I’m proud that we have taken a step to help the victims who were not only forced into the sex trade but had to bear the burden of being convicted of prostitution.”

Assemblyman John Hambrick holds a copy of AB6 with Gov. Brian Sandoval's signature. The bill was signed today./Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

The bill, which will take effect Oct. 1, received unanimous approval in both the Assembly and Senate.

“It was hard work,” Hambrick said. “We had a lot of people within the community, particularly in the south, a large spectrum from the faith communities, the Jewish Federation, the Religious Alliance in Nevada, the two Catholic bishops, the Episcopal bishop, they all worked hard. I’m just very pleased it got through the way it did.”

Efforts will continue to combat this problem, he said.

“We have to continue this journey,” Hambrick said. “We started this last session going after the traffickers, this one is relief for the victims. The journey is not over with yet. Next session there will be additional bills coming forward.”

According to Nevada law, it is a crime for anyone to engage in prostitution outside of a licensed Nevada brothel; however, AB6 will give Nevada courts the ability to vacate a judgment if the person was a victim of sex trafficking or involuntary servitude.

“The victims of sex trafficking are often recruited as children, and this legislation can give them a fresh start without the conviction for prostitution, something completely beyond their control,” Hambrick said.

The bill is a continuation of Hambrick’s successful efforts in the 2009 legislative session to combat human trafficking. He won unanimous support for a bill in 2009 providing for civil penalties of up to $500,000 against those convicted of human trafficking of minor children. Funds collected under the law can be used to provide care to those minors exploited for sexual purposes.

Las Vegas was identified in 2009 by the FBI as one of 14 cities around the country with high rates of child prostitution.

Audio clips:

Assemblyman John Hambrick said the bill was passed with the help of many people, including those in the faith community:

051911Hambrick1 :19 way it did.”

Hambrick says his efforts to stop human trafficking will continue:

051911Hambrick2 :11 bills coming forward.”

First Bills Of 2011 Legislative Session Now Available For Review

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:22 am December 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Lobbyists and policy-makers who can’t wait to get a jump on the 2011 legislative session can start their reading assignments now.

Forty-four bills have already been drafted and pre-filed on the Legislature’s website in advance of the session that will begin Feb. 7.

Included in the 17 Assembly bills are three from John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, aimed at further combating child prostitution in Nevada. Hambrick won unanimous support for a bill in 2009 providing for civil penalties of up to $500,000 against those convicted of human trafficking of minor children.

Hambrick now wants to extend that effort next session by increasing sentences for those involved in such crimes, including those who purchase the sexual services of an underage child, and allowing victims to clear their criminal records under certain conditions so they can go on to productive lives.

There is also Senate Bill 1, which appropriates $15 million for the cost of the 2011 session. The bill is the first passed when the Legislature convenes.

Among the other 26 Senate bills drafted and on file is Senate Bill 2, the biennial effort by Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, to appropriate enough money to public education to meet or exceed the national average. Schneider has introduced the bill in previous sessions without success.

Senate Bill 16, requested by the Senate Government Affairs Committee, would make changes to Nevada’s prevailing wage law.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the number of bills will grow significantly by Wednesday, when the approximately 155 measures sought by government entities must be pre-filed or they are deemed withdrawn. This list includes 91 measures from the executive branch, along with requests from the attorney general, Supreme Court, Clark County and others.

A total of 241 bills were pre-filed ahead of the 2009 session, he said. The pre-filing of bills helps legislative committees get to work right away when the session begins, Malkiewich said.

The Legislature has only 120 days to complete its work unless the governor calls a special session.

Rural Nevada Lawmaker Goicoechea Retains GOP Assembly Leadership Post

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:02 pm November 4th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Rural Nevada lawmaker Pete Goicoechea was elected as minority leader today by the 16-member Assembly Republican caucus.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, will continue in the leadership position he assumed when Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, stepped down. Gansert did not run for re-election to the Assembly. She was named yesterday to Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval’s transition team.

“I am honored to have the support of the Republican caucus as we enter the 2011 legislative session,” Goicoechea said. “I’m excited as our members are stepping forward and preparing to lead in the coming months and make a firm stand in the Legislature for small, effective government.

“We look forward to working with Gov.-Elect Sandoval, our colleagues in the Senate, and the Democrats in the Assembly in the coming months,” he said.

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart was elected assistant leader. Assemblymen Mark Sherwood and Tom Grady were elected whips.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, also sought the leadership position.

“I had hoped for another outcome, but Pete is a good man,” Hambrick said. “He is an upfront individual. I am supporting him 100 percent. We will be unified going into session.”

Assembly Republicans picked up two seats in the Tuesday general election, giving them 16 members and enough to take away the two-thirds veto-proof majority held by Democrats in 2009. It was the first gain for the caucus since 2002.

Nine members of the caucus are newly elected.

State Lawmaker Plans To Continue Mission In 2011 To Combat Child Prostitution In Nevada

By Sean Whaley | 6:24 pm September 29th, 2010

CARSON CITY – State Assemblyman John Hambrick has requested four bills for the 2011 session to continue with his mission of eliminating child prostitution in Nevada.

Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, won unanimous support for a bill in 2009 providing for civil penalties of up to $500,000 against those convicted of human trafficking of minor children. Funds collected under the provisions of Assembly Bill 380 can be used to provide care to those minors exploited for sexual purposes.

Hambrick now wants to extend that effort next session by increasing sentences for those involved in such crimes, including those who purchase the sexual services of an underage child, and allowing victims to clear their criminal records under certain conditions so they can go on to productive lives.

“Human trafficking is one of those things our parents would not have discussed in ‘polite’ society,” Hambrick said. “But the time has come to open the windows. We – all of us – must wake up and realize that Las Vegas is the national capital for human trafficking. Men come to our community and ‘buy’ the bodies of girls, some as young as 11 years old. This battle has to be fought and won.”

Las Vegas was identified in 2009 by the FBI as one of 14 cities around the country with high rates of child prostitution. Additionally, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department handled 150 cases of child prostitution in 2008 alone.

Hambrick said he was made aware of the situation after retiring to Las Vegas and getting involved in politics. Hambrick said he was skeptical at first, but soon learned the truth of how severe the problem is in Southern Nevada.

“Las Vegas is leading the country in this horrendous crime,” he said.

Hambrick said he has yet to see results from AB380, which took effect Oct. 1, 2009, because the last major prosecution for this crime was handled by federal officials.

Hambrick said Judge William Voy, a juvenile court judge in Clark County, wants to establish safe houses for the victims of these crimes. The new law could have generated some funding for the project if the federal prosecution had been handled at the state level instead, he said.

The civil penalties may seem large, but those engaged in his human trafficking make vast amounts of money, he said.

In testimony in support of AB380 in 2009, Las Vegas Police Sgt. Victor Vigna said that in a recent case his unit handled, a panderer had $400,000 in cash in his house.

Going after the money is the only way to bring a halt to child prostitution, Hambrick said.

Hambrick saw strong support for his 2009 measure.

Lois Lee, founder and president of Children of the Night, a Los Angeles organization dedicated to helping child prostitution victims, testified in support: “A.B. 380 is an obvious step in the right direction to begin to address the plight of young people – women and girls – who are victimized by prostitution and have nowhere to turn for help.”

Lee said Hambrick’s new proposals have merit as well. The concern is whether they will be applied equally to all offenders by law enforcement. Such laws have frequently been used nationally to target specific groups including women, minorities and homosexuals, she said.

“I think the intent of his legislation is excellent,” Lee said. “My concern is will it be enforced in the spirit that the Assemblyman wrote it.”

Hambrick’s new measures would:

-          Clarify that the crime of involuntary servitude can also include subjecting another person to commercial sex acts (similar to human trafficking under federal law).

-          Increase criminal and civil penalties for pimps and buyers. It would allow for jail time for someone convicted of either crime to increase to seven years minimum and 20 years maximum. It would also increase fines to as high as $50,000.

-          Allow for staggered penalties for buyers. The younger the victim, the more time a buyer would be required to serve. It would allow for the possibility of a life sentence with parole eligibility after 10 years in prison.

-          Allow a victim to start with a clean slate by petitioning a court to vacate convictions if certain conditions are met.

Audio clips:

Assemblyman John Hambrick said he did not realize the magnitude of the problem:

092910Hambrick1 :30 this horrendous crime.”

Hambrick said one of his new proposals would give victims a fresh start:

092910Hambrick2 :11 would be gone.”

Lois Lee, founder and president of Children of the Night, says the intent is excellent but such laws must be enforced fairly:

092910Lee :09 Assemblyman wrote it.”

GOP Caucus Discusses Expansion of State Sales Tax, Reduction of Business Taxes

By Sean Whaley | 4:55 am August 24th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea said today Nevada voters should be asked to expand the state sales tax to include food purchases as a way to raise revenue and broaden the tax base.

But any such revenue hike should be accompanied by a reduction in the state’s regressive business taxes, he said.

Asking voters to apply the two percent state share of the sales tax to food could bring in half a billion dollars over the two-year budget, he said.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said he believes new tax revenues will be needed to get a balanced budget in the 2011 session, but that any revenue increase should come in tandem with reductions in the modified business tax.

Goicoechea, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said he believes the state will be able to get by with less than $1 billion in tax increases.

“But I do believe we’re going to have to have some revenue increases, and I would hope they come in the way of reforms,” he said.

Goicoechea said it is unfortunate the sales tax expansion idea was not put before the voters in the upcoming November election.

Goicoechea said he is willing to look to expanding the sales taxes to services as well, but that any such expansion would have to cover all services uniformly. In the initial discussions on a services tax there are already groups clamoring to be exempted from such a levy, he said.

“If you’re going to put a sales tax on services, then no exemptions, everyone gets to pay,” Goicoechea said. “But let’s balance it with reducing some of these other very regressive taxes on business.”

Drastic budget cuts will also have to be a part of any balanced budget, he said.

The expansion of the sales tax while reducing the overall rate was proposed earlier this year by the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Several members of the GOP caucus running for re-election this year had mixed reactions to Goicoechea’s suggestions.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said tax reform is fine as long as it is revenue neutral. Goedhart said the NPRI proposal to broaden the sales tax to include food and services is a good starting point.

The overall 6.85 percent sales tax rate could then be reduced to about 3.5 percent, and the state could also do away with the modified business tax, reduce or eliminate the insurance premium tax and significantly lower vehicle registration fees, he said.

The expanded sales tax would then allow the state to begin growing its way out of its fiscal problems, Goedhart said.

As chairman of the Nevada chapter of Americans for Tax Reform, Goedhart said total government spending on services in Nevada is about $40 billion, which puts the state in the middle of the states in spending per capita. The Legislature should have no trouble finding $3 billion in savings out of $40 billion in total spending to balance the budget, he said.

Goedhart pointed to excessively high public salaries such as those earned by firefighters as one example of where spending reductions can be made.

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, said any specific tax proposals are premature, and that the idea of going to the voters for an expansion of the state share of the sales tax to include food would not help in the upcoming biennium.

Since the proposal is not on the ballot for November, it would not be able to go to the voters until 2012, he said.

But Grady said with a shortfall that could be as high as $3.5 billion, “everything is on the table.”

“I agree with Mr. Goicoechea we’re going to have to look closely at zero-based budgeting,” he said.

But if the Legislature gets to the point where it can’t fund education or prisons, then it will have to find money elsewhere, Grady said.

The Legislature needs to wait to see what proposals the new governor will have, and it needs to know how short the budget is before there is a discussion of taxes, he said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said Goicoechea’s proposals are not new but come from the NPRI study on expanding the sales tax released earlier this year.

“We need to look at the NPRI study at least as a starting point,” he said.

But the Legislature also has to keep in mind that the Nevada economy is suffering and businesses are not in a position right now to create new jobs, Hambrick said.

“We need to provide some relief,” he said.

Goicoechea has joined Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in saying taxes will very likely have to be part of any plan to erase a $3 billion shortfall in what is expected to be required to provide government services and education for the next two years.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, has not weighed in publicly on the tax discussion. Oceguera is expected to become speaker in the 2011 session.

The two leading candidates for governor, Republican Brian Sandoval and Democrat Rory Reid, have rejected the idea of balancing the state budget with tax increases.

Goicoechea said the critical issue for the 14 Assembly Republicans in the November election is picking up at least one or two more seats to take away the two-thirds majority now held by Assembly Democrats. A two-thirds vote is required to raise taxes, and without at least 15 members the Assembly Republicans will wield little power in those discussions.

Budget discussions and the all-important debate over redrawing state political boundaries make it critical for Republicans to have enough members to have a place at the negotiating table, he said.

“You don’t want to be on your back when you’re waging a fight which you are if you are irrelevant and under 15 (members),” he said.

Seats Republicans see as potential take-aways include the open District 40 seat in Carson City and the District 13 seat in Henderson now held by freshman Democrat Ellen Spiegel, Goicoechea said. Republicans also want to hold on to the District 13 seat in Las Vegas that is now open with the departure of Republican Chad Christensen, he said.

Goicoechea said he is encouraged by some of the voter registration trends and the large number of nonpartisan and minor party voters who may support Republicans in November.

Hambrick said he believes Republicans have a few other opportunities to pick up Assembly seats in November. They include the open Assembly 31 seat in Sparks, the Las Vegas 5 seat held by Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop, and the Henderson 29 seat held by Democrat April Mastroluca, he said.

___

Audio clips:

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea says taxes will be part of budget debate next year:

082310Goicoechea1 :15 that we have.”

Goicoechea says a tax on services has to be across the board with no exemptions:

082310Goicoechea2 :10 taxes on business.”

Goicoechea says key for Assembly GOP is to pick up seats in November election:

082310Goicoechea3 :30 go to session.”

$490 Thousand in Federal Stimulus To Be Spent on Nevada Tree Planting, Tree-Care Classes

By Sean Whaley | 4:16 pm July 9th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Federal government efforts to create jobs through stimulus funding have expanded to encompass an urban Clark County tree planting effort and related activities, including tree care training for Spanish-speaking workers.

The Nevada Division of Forestry has received funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to make 2,500 trees available for free for planting by nonprofit organizations, government entities and others on urban public lands in Southern Nevada.

Money for the Nursery Greening Project comes from a $490,000 grant the U.S. Forest Service has allotted for Clark County urban tree projects, said Adria DeCorte, who is overseeing the tree-planting portion of the project for the state Forestry Division.

Other projects included in the nearly half million dollar stimulus funding grant are tree care classes for Spanish-speaking green-industry workers, a city/regional tree inventory, and urban canopy assessments. Funding for the tree-care classes totals $30,000.

When averaged out, if all the trees are planted, the cost per tree will be $196.00.

The grant has generated some criticism by those who question whether any real sustainable jobs will be created.

When told about the project, Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said it does not sound like it will do much for job creation. It sounds more like a program sought by U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid to win votes, he said.

“It’s just unfortunate that these pork barrel things are coming forward now,” Hambrick said.

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said in an emailed statement it is clear to him the stimulus is not working and the current economic policies are doing little to create jobs.

“My top priority in Congress is to get our economy turned around and Nevadans working again,” he said. “The government cannot spur the economy with deficit fueled spending. Funding tree planting during record drought conditions in Nevada not only is poor use of federal dollars, but makes very little sense.”

Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson said the project is in line with ARRA goals and was selected due to the unemployment rate and economic downturn in the Las Vegas area.

“The project funding has retained several jobs as well as created several more associated with care, potting, transporting and ultimately out-planting of these trees,” he said. “The project is consistent with the administration’s ARRA goals and the many benefits of a healthy urban forest, including energy conservation.”

A statement from the U.S. Forest Service said in part: “Clark County has been devastated by the current economic recession. Funds will be used to retain and create jobs to grow and plant urban trees suited to the desert southwest. Education and training for tree care workers will also be provided to plant and manage trees for public health and safety.”

Similar urban tree planting projects are under way in other states using federal stimulus money. Nearly $700,000 in stimulus funds are being spent to plant 1,500 trees in Georgia. A Pennsylvania nonprofit group received $300,000 in stimulus funds to plant 1,157 trees in 17 different municipalities to reduce pollution from storm water runoff. South Carolina is spending $850,000 on competitive grants to cities and towns in part for urban tree planting.

According to the Nevada Division of Forestry, the recovery act provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture with $28 billion in stimulus funding, with $1.15 billion of the total allocated to the U.S. Forest Service for forest restoration, hazardous fuels reduction, construction and maintenance of facilities, trails and roads, green energy projects and grants to states, tribes and private landowners. The grant to the state Division of Forestry for the tree program came from this pot of funding.

Pete Sepp, vice president for communications and policy at the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union, said some of the more questionable stimulus projects are just now seeping into the public consciousness. Much of the initial stimulus funding went to specifically defined categories like unemployment assistance, he said.

“People will likely be surprised by what they see,” Sepp said. “You can select from huge panoply of very questionable projects.”

One project that saw a lot of criticism was $3.4 million for an underpass in Florida to protect turtles.

Sepp said the tree planting project will likely create temporary employment at best, except on the government payrolls.

Many of the stimulus projects do not appear to be directed at long-term job preservation or creation, he said. In many cases they were aimed at quality of life or green environmental issues, Sepp said.

“It is exactly what you are going to see more of in the very near future,” he said.

An extended payroll tax holiday might be one better way to generate job retention if not job creation in the private sector, Sepp said.

The Nevada stimulus website shows that the state Division of Forestry is expected to receive nearly $4.4 million in ARRA funding, including the $490,000 for the urban tree project.

Positions either created or anticipated for the different elements of the $490,000 grant include half a dozen individuals already hired to plant bare-root, purchased trees into pots. Two positions at the state nursery were also retained with the grant. DeCorte said her position was also created by the stimulus funds. Others will include tree planters, trainers to be hired for the Spanish-speaking tree care classes, and workers for both the tree inventory and canopy analysis.

The purpose of the tree-planting stimulus project is to increase public awareness of tree benefits, provide tree-care education, involve citizen volunteers in urban forestry programs and increase tree planting.

The stimulus funding has paid for the trees, which are at the Las Vegas State Tree Nursery in northwest Las Vegas. Applications are being accepted from various entities and groups through Aug. 27. The tree planting cannot begin until the fall. The nursery sells trees to private buyers for specific types of projects, such as wildlife habitat, for $25 each for the 15-gallon size, which is the size of the trees to be used in the tree-planting effort.

DeCorte said no applications have been received yet, but several are in the preparation stages. A panel will review the applications and decide which groups should receive what number of trees, she said. The application is five pages.

The Nursery Greening Project will provide between five and 50 trees per project. If all the trees are not allocated in the first round, a second round will be implemented. Tree varieties include Chinese elm, desert willow and black locust, among others.

All tree-planting projects must be maintained for three years. Criteria used in evaluating the applications include the retention or hiring of positions, the level of increased public awareness of tree benefits, selection and care, and level of social, economic, aesthetic, environmental or education benefits to the community.

___

audio clips:

GOP Assemblyman John Hambrick on the urban tree program:

070910Hambrick :9 of Southern Nevada.”

National Taxpayers Union spokesman Pete Sepp on questionable stimulus projects:

070910Sepp1 :27 what they see.”

Sepp on Clark County urban tree program:

070809Sepp2 :28 for those jobs.”

Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson in support of the project:

070910Anderson :31 of small businesses.”

Independent American Party Files Candidate List, Looks to Make Headway in 2010

By Sean Whaley | 11:50 am March 4th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The Independent American Party (IAP) this week released its list of candidates for 38 different offices, including the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and all three congressional seats. There are candidates for state and local offices as well.

Nevada State GOP Chairman Chris Comfort said he does not believe his party’s opportunities to win races in the November general election will be affected by the presence of conservative minor party candidates.

“I don’t envision that being an issue at all,” he said. “When you look at the (Independent American Party) numbers versus our numbers, they only have 44,487 (active) registered voters.”

But IAP Party Chairman John Wagner said Republicans still blame the minor party for losing the Assembly District 40 seat in the 2008 general election. A victory there would have given Republicans 15 seats, the margin needed to block a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. The 2009 Legislature did vote to raise taxes.

The IAP may also have also played a role in the Clark County Senate 5 race where incumbent GOP Sen. Joe Heck lost to Democrat Shirley Breeden. IAP candidate Tony Blanque took 2,843 votes, while Breeden beat Heck by only 765 votes.

Secretary of State Ross Miller yesterday released the voter registration numbers as of the end of February. It shows the GOP closing on Democrats, with 392,920 active Republican voters versus 456,532 Democrat voters. There are also 163,153 active nonpartisan voters.

Democrats had just over a 100,000 vote advantage leading into the November general election in 2008, so the gap has narrowed considerably.

Comfort said he believes the party will be in a statistical dead heat with Democrats by October.

“We are speaking to our independent friends,” he said. “We are resonating well. Our party has a fire in the belly that we haven’t seen in a long time.”

Republican victories nationally, including the U.S. Senate win in Massachusetts in January, are evidence the momentum has shifted, Comfort said.

But while the gap between Republican and Democrat active voters has narrowed, it isn’t because of new registration activity by either party. Both parties have fewer active voters than in November 2008 due to the move of some registered voters to inactive status. Republicans narrowed the gap because more Democrats than GOP voters were moved to inactive status.

In Clark County the move to inactive status is done every two years. About 70,000 Clark County voters were moved to inactive status, said Pam duPré, public information officer for the secretary of state’s office. Voters on inactive status can still vote.

Wagner, who was the “spoiler” candidate in the Assembly District 40 race in Carson City in 2008, said he believes his party has a real shot at winning some races this year.

“People are fed up with the Democrats and the Republicans,” he said. “So I think people are looking for change. All we’ve been so far is shortchanged. I think we will do fairly well this year.”

Wagner, who spent many years as a Republican, is again a candidate for Assembly 40. He disagrees that his votes in that race in 2008 cost Republicans, because not all of the 1,067 votes he received would have gone to GOP challenger Cheryl Lau. Lau lost to Democrat incumbent Bonnie Parnell by 563 votes.

Wagner said if he decides to remain a candidate for the seat, he will run to win, viewing the major party candidates as too liberal. Parnell is not seeking re-election.

Jon Kamerath, who is the IAP nominee for the Clark County Assembly District 2 seat now held by Republican John Hambrick, said he too believes the party could win some seats come November. Kamerath has not yet filed for the seat but intends to do so unless the party decides he could better serve as a candidate in another elective office.

Kamerath ran for the Assembly 2 seat in 2008, getting only 601 votes compared to 11,781 for Hambrick.

While Hambrick is one of the better members of the Assembly based on his voting record, Kamerath said he is loyal to the IAP and believes the Legislature should reduce spending and lower taxes.

“I would like to cut government even more,” he said. “I want to cut property taxes and sales taxes. I will take the race very seriously.”

Kamerath said he believes the IAP has a chance in 2010 because of voter disaffection with the major parties. Nevada has seen its largest tax increases in history in recent years while Republicans served in the executive branch and with complicity from some Republicans in the legislative branch, he said.

Bipartisan Budget Deal in Place

By Sean Whaley | 8:10 pm February 28th, 2010

(Updated at 1:47 a.m. on March 1, 2010)

CARSON CITY – As a deal to close an $805 million budget gap was announced today, bringing a close to a sometimes rancorous six-day special session, Republican lawmakers say they helped shape the debate that led to a minimal use of taxes and fees to balance the spending plan.

And in another more modest victory, Republicans in the Legislature won bipartisan support for a resolution asking the 2011 Legislature to consider opening up to public view the collective bargaining process used by local governments and employee unions to negotiate salaries and benefits.

Gov. Jim Gibbons asked for consideration of the collective bargaining proposal in his proclamation adding issues to the special session, and Assembly Republicans had made it a key point in their acceptance of any budget-balancing plan.

The proposal, along with a collection of education reform measures sought by Gibbons, including a voucher school proposal, did not get hearings, however.

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, called it a win for her 14-member caucus, which is in a difficult bargaining position because of its minority status. Democrats in the Assembly outnumber Republicans 28 to 14, enough votes to approve new fees without support from the GOP members.

“Our caucus is very concerned about transparency,” she said. “We recognize that billions of taxpayer dollars are spent through collective bargaining process and we believe the taxpayers deserve to know where that money is spent.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, also welcomed the decision to seek transparency in the labor negotiation process.

Legislative leaders of both parties also praised Gibbons, who is facing a tough primary election battle against former federal judge Brian Sandoval, for working with them to craft an acceptable plan.

Gibbons spent long hours with lawmakers in closed-door meetings with legislative leadership over the past few days to come to an agreement.

The praise from Raggio was particularly noteworthy, given that he and Gibbons had exchanged some pointed criticisms in the days leading up to the session and during the session itself. Raggio has said in public comments he believes Sandoval is the only Republican candidate with a chance of defeating Democrat Rory Reid in the governor’s race.

Gansert has endorsed Sandoval in the primary race.

In announcing the agreement, Gibbons said everyone had to give something up to get bipartisan support and he credited Democrats and Republicans for working together.

“It took a lot of give and a lot of take and a lot of debate, some of it heated at times,” he said.

Raggio said the cuts to be implemented by the Legislature will be severe.

“There is going to be some pain out there,” he said. “Hopefully some of this will be an impetus for us to take a long hard look at how we fund state government, not to mention what goes on in local governments,” he said.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said she was pleased to be able to reduce the cuts to public and higher education. The agreement reduces public education cuts to $117 million instead of $211 million. Higher education is cut b y $46 million instead of $76 million.

Some of the “worst of the worst” cuts to Health and Human Resources programs were also restored, she said.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, also highlighted the ability to reduce the cuts first proposed by Gibbons.

“There are certain parts of the plan that each one of us don’t like,” he said.

But reducing the education cuts from 10 percent to 6.9 percent was a big victory, Horsford said.

Gansert said the language encouraging the 2011 Legislature to subject the collective bargaining process to the state open meeting law was added to Senate Concurrent Resolution 1, which passed the Senate earlier this week urging local governments and employee groups to mutually address the budget shortfall. Gansert said the language is as strong as allowed, since current lawmakers cannot bind future Legislatures to a particular course of action.

The vote on the budget bill in the Assembly was 34-8, with all eight “no” votes coming from the GOP caucus. The vote in the Senate was 20-1. Only Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, voted no.

While voting against the budget plan because of the mining and banking fee increases it contains, Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, said Republicans clearly influenced the dialogue over how to balance the budget.

When Assembly Republicans proposed their own plan that balanced the budget without new taxes or fees not contributed directly by users, it pushed Democrats to move away from those revenue sources, he said.

“Us showing a united front, with a solution, absolutely drove the Democrats to a resolution that is less reliant on more spending, more taxes and more fees, and back to being more fiscally responsible,” he said.

Gansert, who voted for the bill, said the Republican influence can be seen in that only about $52 million of the total shortfall is being addressed with new fees. Most is coming from $26 million in a mining claim fee increase that was modified to exempt small operators and $13.8 million from an increased fee on banks when filing notices of default.

That is just a fraction of the overall shortfall, she said.

The caucus did also agree to restore some cuts Gibbons had proposed in public and higher education, Gansert said.

“We absolutely don’t like all of it,” she said. “It was a struggle to add anything back to tell you the truth.”

Gansert predicted that some, but not all, of her caucus would vote for the plan and her prediction held true.

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, opposed the budget bill because of the banking and mining fees.

“There are some difficult pills in there to swallow,” he said.

Settelmeyer said he would have liked to see progress in the special session on the collective bargaining proposal as well.

“Our caucus stood up as a group and said it was important to us,” he said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, voted for the agreement once he received assurances that the mining claim fee will not affect the small operators.

He praised Gibbons and the leadership for working out an agreement.

As to the failure of the Legislature to consider Gibbons’ other issues, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the proper focus of the special session was balancing the budget.

“These other policy concerns are best brought up in a regular session when the public can have full access and deliberations can be held. I don’t think it is appropriate to take up major policy reforms in a special session,” she said.

Afternoon Updates, Gibbons in Leg Building, Possible Deal Tonight?

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:32 pm February 27th, 2010

The governor is in Buckley’s office with both she and Horsford.  We’re hearing there is a strong possibility of a deal tonight.  We can only hope…

Notes/snippets:

– Re: gaming, Horsford said earlier there’s a “placeholder” for them. Meaning, prob’ly, we’ll ding ‘em with whatever is needed at the end.

– Looks like we’ll hear Water, but many in Assembly saying there is not enough time to fully examine and understand it now.  Want to wait until 2011 session.  A consultant submitted a letter on the issue today; Ralston has it.  Not long after it was posted, Bob Fulkerson of PLAN sent out an email missive pointing to the link to the letter on Ralston’s blog and saying the following:

The memo linked above is from a California financial manager with extensive financial ties to Clark County. (Yes, it is in his self interests to do what Pat Mulroy tells him to.) It has just been delivered to members of the NV Legislature.

It’s a thinly veiled threat that, without coming right out and saying it, admonishes the Legislature to overturn the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding due process for water protestants. Failure to act now could threaten credit for Las Vegas, the memo alleges. It completely ignores the fact that further additional processes will not even truly delay SNWA’s Pipeline Project, which will not be built for many years anyway – if ever.

The memo is a gross over-reaction to a very narrow ruling in a case involving major Constitutional due process problems. These issues cannot be legislated away. Trying to do so will only create a more complicated mess for every branch of Nevada’s government.

If you have not contacted your legislators yet telling them what an abominations this bill is, please do so right now!

– Earlier, Ralston Flashed that “lawmakers have only transmitted two of the session’s bills to the governor’s office” — electronic child support measure and the bill to pay for the special session — “leading the Gibbonsites to believe they hope to send most over at once so the veto clock is synchronized on them. No one wants the veto/override scenario but it’s possible lawmakers are not taking any chances so are holding all bills until a deal is reached.”

– Education progress:  Passage of three bills: AB4, AB5 and ACR 2.  AB4 provides school districts the flexibility in previously mandated class-size reductions for first-to-third grades (i.e. allows districts to increase student-teacher ratios by 2 students per class – 18-to-1 in 1st and 2nd grades, and 21-to-1 for 3rd).  Will result in some teacher layoffs and/or transfers in some counties.  AB2 allows school districts the flexibility to use money that has been specifically earmarked for new textbook purchases to be used for other stuff.  Both AB4 and AB2 are temporary; they sunset on 6/30/11.  ACR2 asks school districts to make every effort to do what they can to avoid massive layoffs and make sure that the quality of education does not diminish during the crisis.

– LG Brian Krolicki earlier testified before the Assembly on the GOP’s idea to securitize unclaimed property funds. Dems grilled him as to why trading future revenue for a one-time payoff is a good idea. Some of my Tweets from that interaction:

– Krolicki on Assembly floor: “This idea to monetize unclaimed property is only a tool to bridging gap…could generate up to $120M.”

– Krolicki (cont): “…agreeing 2 enter into selling of securities…need 2 pledge at 2x coverage ($14M/year) at conservative rate (5%)”

– Speaker Buckley interrupts Krolicki: “I am going to put a limit on length of Qs & As. We’d like to sine die sometime soon.” #nvss #amen

Note:  #nvss = nevada special session (search and follow the tag for all the coverage)

– Conklin to Krolicki: “…aren’t we just adding to next biennium’s shortfall by taking this money?” Krolicki: “Better of bad options”

– Gansert 2 Krolicki: “Could this be held as a last resort, maybe even pull trigger in 2011; how fast could we move?” K: “60 to 90 days”

– State Treasurer Kate Marshall on reality of $ from unclaimed property: “$50M in ’09 was record year. $77M in, $27M paid back.”

– Buckley asking about side-by-side analysis of this in other states. Marshall says CA & AZ did similar, bond/credit rating downgraded.

And a good Tweet from Ralston:

– I am puzzled: Why is this monetization scheme any more ridiculous than any of the other gimmicks they are using to balance the budget? #nvss

– Ed Goedhart, the sole “no” vote on two Assembly measures so far, reconfirms he will vote “no” on all “revenue enhancing measures,” even the ones suggested by his fellow Republicans, with the exception of borrowing money from the Clark County School District Capital Projects Fund and the possible exception of borrowing from the Clark County Reclamation Fund.  When asked if he will be the “sole” No vote on the other measures, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”  His explanation is the same as always when asked.  “These are temporary band-aids. We’re looking at a $3 billion shortfall in the next biennium.  We need reform, not these desperate measures that kick the can down the road.”

– Other Assembly Republicans are not saying much (at least, not to me).  Snapped and Tweeted a pic of Oceguera discussing the budget with Settlemeyer, Hambrick, Goicoechea and Hardy during a brief Assembly recess earlier this afternoon.  For whatever that is worth.

Assembly Speaker Says Governor’s Education Reform Plan Not Likely to Get Hearing in Special Session

By Sean Whaley | 12:37 pm February 26th, 2010

(Updated at 2:37 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2010)

CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said “probably not” when asked this morning if the Legislature will have the time to consider education reform and the other measures included in Gov. Jim Gibbons proclamation for the special session now entering its fourth day.

Gibbons on Wednesday amended the proclamation to include a number of issues he had previously asked the Legislature to consider at the special session, including amendments to the state’s collective bargaining law, a school voucher, or scholarship, program and elimination of the state mandates for smaller class sizes in the lower elementary grades of the public schools.

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said the governor would be disappointed if the Legislature did not make an effort to take up at least some of the proposals included in the proclamation.

“The governor would like to see some effort by the Legislature to consider all of the education reform measures,” Burns said. “But he would like to see at least some effort to consider some of the proposals he has made, to have the Legislature show they have some level of interest in modernizing the system of public education in this state.”

Burns acknowledged that Gibbons has called on the Legislature to finish its work by the end of the day Sunday. But the pace of the Legislature up to now, described by some as “glacial,” already has afforded some time to consider education reform, he said.

“We’re in the fourth day,” Burns said. “How many bills have come to the governor’s office?”

Gibbons still has not received the bill to change Nevada law to allow the state to compete for federal Race to the Top funds, passed by the Legislature on Wednesday, he said.

While pleased that lawmakers are now picking up the pace, and that lawmakers are actively working on solutions to the $900 million budget shortfall, Gibbons will be surprised and disappointed if the Legislature can’t take the time to consider one single idea to improve education, Burns said.

“All we’re asking for is a fair shake,” he said. “The governor has said he will bring the issue up again.”

While hearings on education reform do not appear likely, the Assembly today did introduce a bill to allow for the temporary increase in class sizes in the next school year to deal with the impending public school budget cuts.

Assembly Bill 4 would allow school districts to add two students to class sizes in grades 1, 2 and 3. Those classes are now limited to 16 students per teacher in grades 1 and 2 and 19 students in grade 3.

Joyce Haldeman, representing the Clark County School District, supported the bill, saying the addition of two pupils to the classes in these three grades would save the district $30 million next school year.

Gibbons wanted the class-size mandate permanently repealed.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said he believes the measures should be given some attention, even though lawmakers are under pressure to balance the budget and adjourn as soon as possible.

“We owe any governor the courtesy to at least look at these,” he said.

The two houses could divide the proposals to speed the process up, Hambrick said.

“Give him a chance in the batter’s box,” he said.

Raggio, Gansert Getting Pushback from Conservative Caucus

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:03 am February 24th, 2010

As expected, Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert is getting pushback from many of her conservative, staunchly anti-tax members (hello, John Hambrick and Ed Goedhart – for two).

On the Senate side, Raggio is also dealing with pesky legislators who will not agree to vote for anything that might tarnish their conservative creds.

(The LV Sun has a write-up here.)

And/but as Ralston asked this morning:  “How many times can Raggio and his lieutenant, Randolph Townsend, be the votes Majority Leader Steven Horsford needs to count to 14?”

We’re talking to peeps all day and will have pithy quotes and updates and maybe even a story for you.

In any case, Horsford and Buckley are moving forward:  bills to be intro’d shortly.  (Some say that will happen this afternoon.  Waiting for confirmation.)

Aspirations of Assemblyman John Hambrick (R-Las Vegas)

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:05 pm February 15th, 2010

Hambrick was just on Face to Face along with Senator Bob Coffin.  Talked special session, tax issues, water issues.  And acknowledged, when asked pointedly if the word on the street was true, that he is indeed interested in Heidi Gansert‘s job title:  Assembly Minority Leader.

Clark County Republican Party, Grassroots Leaders Organize for 2010 Elections

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:23 am October 26th, 2009

Las Vegas — Clark County Republican Party (CCRP) event organizers packed the house for their “Flip the House” kick-off coalition meeting Saturday afternoon.   Approximately two-hundred and twenty attendees filled the auditorium at the Clark County Public Library on East Flamingo Road.

Among those in attendance were U.S. Senate candidates Danny Tarkanian, Sharon Angle, and Bill Parson.  Other candidate attendees included Joe Hardy, Lynn Stewart, Elizabeth Halseth, John Hambrick, Tibbe Ellis, Eric Morelli, Glenn Greener, Richard McArthur, Kathryn Njus, Geraldine Lewis, Matt Passalacona, Scott Neistadt, Joseph Tatner, and Barbara Altman who is running for the School Board.

Clark County Republican Party (CCRP) precinct administrator Duane Libbe opened the event and welcomed the crowd to enthusiastic applause.

“This meeting kicks-off our “Flip the House” action program.  We are going to take back the legislature.  With only eight months to the primary and thirteen months until the general elections, it is time for us to roll up our sleeves, stop talking about last year’s problems and get to work,” said Libbe.

CCRP coalitions director Frank Ricotta echoed Libbe’s comments and welcomed grassroots leaders from around the Las Vegas valley.

“I am encouraged to see so many grassroots organizations in attendance today.  Thank you for coming, and I hope this is a sign of things to come,” said Ricotta.

In attendance were representatives from Nevada Patriots, Citizens Awareness Network, Nevada Active Conservatives, Nevada Innovative Coalition for Education, Nevada Federation of Young Republicans, Nevada Conservatives for Freedom, Nevada Health Care Professionals Coalition, Las Vegas Republican Meetup Group, Sun City Conservatives, the Southeast Las Vegas Glenn Beck Meetup Group and the Las Vegas Sean Hannity Meetup Group.

Republican Assembly Caucus executive director Monica Moradkhan was the first guest speaker.  She warmly greeted the attendees and then addressed divisions within and between the party and grassroots groups by invoking Ronald Reagan’s “big tent” conservatism.

“We have to unite for the common good in order to elect Republicans in the 2010 general elections,” said Moradkhan.

“We cannot let divisions over single issues prevent us from supporting the best candidate available,” she said.

Nevada Senate-Minority Whip, Barbara K. Cegavske, also spoke at the event.  Cegavske is running for her third and final term due to term limits.

“I am saddened by what I see going on in Nevada right now,” she said.

“I am also tired of our ever increasing debt.  Of course, we have to make sure we have the essentials, but – just like Nevada’s families – the state needs to live within its means,” she said.

“We also need to create jobs to Nevada.  We need a strategy to bring businesses here, and we need to stop legislating mandates that drive up costs and fees to small businesses,” she said.

Cegavske then presented a seat-by-seat analysis of the state assembly and senate races in 2010.  She twice referred to the Democratic party’s desire to pick up two more senate seats and reminded attendees that fifteen Assembly seats are needed for veto power.

“There are seventeen term-limited seats up for grabs, in addition to all the others.  There is going to be huge turnover.  We need to strategize and capitalize where we can,” she said.

Cegavske also alluded to disagreements about candidate endorsement within her caucus.

“I did not agree with our caucus in endorsing candidates early  That was not my choice.  I thought we should have waited a little longer, for more good people to come out,” she said.

Cegavske received enthusiastic applause when she talked about the state of Nevada’s public education system, school choice and competition.  At one point she circulated a handout of the K-12 educational governance structure in Nevada.

“This so-called structure borders on the ridiculous,” she said.

“I have tried for two sessions to get a governance bill introduced, to change the educational structure in Nevada.  I will try again as I serve my final term.  This should be something both parties can agree on,” she said.

Frank Ricotta closed the meeting by challenging every attendee to commit to an action item.

“Help us find more candidates.  Volunteer to work for a candidate, or be a precinct captain, or knock on doors.  We need to work the precincts to sign up voters and collect email addresses.  We also need more volunteers to staff the CCRP office,” he said.

After the meeting, Ricotta said he was pleased with the turnout and pointed to the long line of people signing up to be volunteers.

“People are energized.  It’s good to see,” he said.

Sharon Angle talks with a grassroots activist before the meeting

Sharon Angle talks with a grassroots activist before the meeting