Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Berkley Defends Actions In Preserving Kidney Program, Calls For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

By Sean Whaley | 8:06 pm June 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Shelley Berkley defended her efforts to preserve a kidney transplant program in Nevada in 2008, saying she never advocated for anything that was not in the best interests of patients and patient care.

Berkley, D-Nev., defended her role in preserving the program in response to questions in an interview on the Face To Face television program.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Berkley, who is facing U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in a battle for the seat that could tip the balance of power in the Senate, also expressed disappointment that the U.S. Supreme Court today did not completely reject Arizona’s immigration law.

In a lengthy discussion of her ethics review, Berkley defended her actions.

“The reality is I’ve never done anything, or never advocated for anything that wasn’t in the best interest of patients and patient care,” she said.

Berkley said she has sponsored or co-sponsored over 100 pieces of health-related legislation, from breast cancer to osteoporosis, because of her commitment to patient care in Nevada.

“Would I have really stood back and done nothing when I knew that there was a possibility that the only kidney transplant program in the entire state of Nevada was going to be closed,” she said. “At the time it was going to be closed there were 200 Nevada patients waiting for a kidney transplant. This is a life-saving operation.”

The House of Representative’s Ethics Committee is expected to announce its course of action in the Berkley ethics issue by July 9. A complaint filed by the Nevada Republican Party,, prompted by a New York Times report, involves allegations that Berkley used her position to help her husband’s medical practice.

On the U.S. Supreme Court decision today repealing three of four major sections of the Arizona immigration law, Berkley said she was disappointed that the law was not rejected in its entirety.

She echoed the comments of many other elected officials today by saying the ruling makes it clear Congress and the president must address comprehensive immigration reform. The alternative is 50 different laws on immigration in the 50 states, Berkley said.

Berkley also offered qualified support both for the federal stimulus package approved early on in the Obama presidency, as well as the federal health care law that will see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday.

Berkley said she voted for the health care law because in balance, it was best for Nevadans, particularly the 600,000 residents who don’t have health insurance. The vote was not the result of pressure from then-house majority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi or anyone else, she said.

Berkley said she supported the stimulus bill even though it was not a “silver bullet” because it was a good first step and necessary to move the economy forward.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says her votes on a kidney transplant program were to ensure patient care:

062512Berkley1 :08 and patient care.”

Berkley says she had to act to save the program:

062512Berkley2 :20 life-saving operation.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Schwartz.

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

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

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

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

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

Danny Tarkanian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barbara Cegavske.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Audio clips:

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

052112Cegavske1 :18 cut his budget.”

Cegavske says Nevada cannot afford the federal health care law:

052112Cegavske2 :12 pay for Obamacare.”

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

052112Schwartz1 :05 pulled the lever.”

Schwartz says federal health care costs must be curtailed:

052112Schwartz2 :27 whatever you want.”

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

052112Tarkanian1 :24 to get permitted.”

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

052112Tarkanian2 :16 health care system.”


New Report Projects Debt-driven Tipping Points for Nevada and the States

By Anne Knowles | 11:27 am August 22nd, 2011

A new report on the financial outlook for the nation’s states says Nevada could reach a debt-driven “tipping point” in 2034.

The Fiscal Health of the U.S. States, a report by Jeffrey Miron with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, says a more sober assessment of states’ pension funds liabilities as well as projected growth in health care costs show that all states are in worse fiscal shape than generally believed.

Part of the issue is that officially reported pension liabilities assume a certain interest rate when discounting future payouts (typically, about 8 percent, the historical return on stocks), but this is a “risky” and “problematic” approach, according to Miron.

“The pension obligations of state and local governments, the future payouts owed to those already collecting pensions, and the future payouts to those not yet retired but contributing are certain in the sense that state and local governments have legal obligations to make these payments,” he says.

“Standard financial economics holds that non-risky future payments should be discounted at a non-risky interest rate, which is much lower than 8 percent. A lower interest rate makes the appropriate present values larger,” Miron concludes.

The result of faulty projections will be $1.3 trillion more in total state liabilities than is commonly believed, according to Miron.

Miron says all states could reach debt ratios exceeding 90 percent – the so-called “tipping point” – sometime this century. Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and South Carolina could be the first, starting in 2023, and others, such as Alaska, wouldn’t reach the tipping point until 2068.

Nevada’s current debt ratio, using a formula based on a lower discount rate for its pension liabilities, is 16 percent.

The report says rising health care costs, though, are an even bigger problem for the states than pension obligations.

The report cites rising Medicaid costs as the primary cause of skyrocketing costs, although it doesn’t provide projections. The report suggests changing the way states receive funding from the federal government for the program.

“One possibility is converting Medicaid into block grants to states, with each state having substantial leeway to determine exactly who and what is covered under the state plan,” the report says.

For the block grant approach to make a difference, though, the formula for adjusting it over time would have to limit the rate of increase relative to the past several decades. In the short term, such a change could mean less care is available for state Medicaid beneficiaries, the report acknowledges.

The report also cites the new health care exchanges established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a contributing factor to rising costs, although states can presently receive federal assistance to either set up the exchange or opt out, requiring the federal government to implement it.

Florida Judge Rules Health Care Law Unconstitutional

By Andrew Doughman | 4:01 pm January 31st, 2011

A Florida judge ruled today that a key provision of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, a Ronald Reagan appointee serving in Pensacola, Fla., ruled in favor of the 26 states that argued the law’s provision that imposes penalties on people who don’t purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.

In a 78-page ruling, Vinson said that the law will remain in effect so long as the appeals process continues. He did, however, rule that the whole act would be declared void if appellate courts uphold his decision.

“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void,” Vinson writes.

He ruled that the “individual mandate” requiring individuals to purchase health insurance oversteps the regulatory authority of Congress through the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The requirement does not take effect until 2014. Other implementation deadlines come sooner.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has said before that portions of the law were “unconstitutional.” He supports the lawsuit to which Nevada is a party.

Time is of the essence in settling this issue because we are being forced to implement portions of this law,” he said in reaction to the Florida ruling.

Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services is already implementing the first phases of the law, which include setting up a statewide health insurance exchange.

Mike Willden, the department’s director, has said that the state will continue implementation so long as the law is upheld.

Supporters of the law have held that the controversial “individual mandate” requirement of the law is important for other important elements to take effect, including the provision that bars insurance companies from denying a person coverage for preexisting conditions. Unless everyone has insurance, the idea of spreading risk among the populace may not work.

Nevada had joined the lawsuit under former Gov. Jim Gibbons via attorney Mark Hutchinson after the state’s Democratic attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto declined to pursue legal action.

Before the challenge reaches the Supreme Court, Congress may change the act. Sen. Harry Reid already wants to remove a section that he said imposes burdensome reporting requirements on small businesses.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say on the constitutionality of this bill.  As I have stated before, the President should work with Congress to find real solutions to healthcare reform instead of allowing a protracted court battle,” said Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nevada.

Newly-elected Republican Congressman Joe Heck has also recently said he’d like major overhauls to what he called the “job-killing” law.

Today’s ruling comes after U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled in a Virginia case that some parts of the act were unconstitutional. Previously, two other judges had thrown such challenges out.

The Obama administration appealed the Virginia ruling and is expected to appeal today’s ruling. The Florida case may now move to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Some expect the case will eventually be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling further illustrates the party-line split when it comes to the constitutionality of the Obama law.

Nearly all 26 of the attorneys general and governors involved in the lawsuit are Republicans. Judges appointed by Democrats have upheld the law’s constitutionality whereas Republican appointees have ruled it unconstitutional.

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.”

GOP Congressional Candidate Joe Heck Admits Race Will Be Close, Reaches Out To Undecided Voters

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:58 pm September 27th, 2010

Republican Congressional candidate Joe Heck said today he expects the race between him and incumbent Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., to be decided by no more than 2 percentage points in the November general election.

Heck, a physician and former state lawmaker who served with Titus in the Nevada Senate, said on the Nevada NewsMakers television program today: “It’s going to be a neck and neck race.”

“So we’re working hard on the folks that we need to reach out to, the undecideds, the nonpartisans, we’re doing well in those groups, and we think that is what is going to carry us to victory on Nov.2,” he said.

Heck said he does not know if the Tea Party Express will back his campaign, but that anything the group does to energize Nevada voters will benefit him in the Congressional District 3 race against Titus, who is completing her first term.

“Anything that movement does to energize the conservative vote to turn out will have a trickledown effect in CD3,” he said.

Polls show the two candidates in a statistical tie. The race is considered a key to which party will control Congress following the mid-term election.

Heck said the federal health care law has some positive elements, such as requiring coverage for preexisting conditions, but that too much of it is flawed. An example is the requirement for younger healthier people to pay substantially more for coverage to support older participants with more costly medical conditions, he said.

“There is $1 billion in this bill appropriated to the federal government for the cost of implementation of the bill,” he said. “So any bill that is going to cost $1 billion to implement certainly has some flaws.”

Heck said if he is elected to Congress his approach to the health care law will be to repair those good sections that have flaws, repeal unworkable elements and replace those parts that are good in concept but that need more realistic solutions.

Heck, who has been criticized by Titus backers for a vote in the Nevada Senate in 2007 to oppose requiring health insurance companies to cover a new cervical cancer drug, said the statements ignore his real legislative record in support of reforms to improve access to health care. There were concerns about potential side effects from the drug, he said.

“They want to pick one vote on one issue and try to make it seem I was against women in heath care when actually I was standing up for women in health care,” he said.

Heck said mandated coverages drive up the cost of health insurance and Nevada has a high number of mandates already.

Audio clips:

Republican Congressional District 3 candidate Joe Heck says his race against Titus will be close:

092710Heck1 :14 on Nov. 2.”

Heck says any Tea Party Express efforts in Nevada will help him in his race:

092710Heck2 :22  on Nov. 2.”

Heck says the new federal health care law has flaws:

092710Heck3 :09 has some flaws.”

Heck says he worked in the state Legislature to improve access to health care:

092710Heck4 :07 in health care.”

Team Heck: “Titus Dodges Debates”

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:50 pm June 18th, 2010

From the Inbox via the Joe Heck for Congress campaign this afternoon:

Titus Dodges Debates

Today, Dr. Joe Heck’s campaign for Congress issued the following statement following a phone call with Congresswoman Dina Titus’ campaign. Grant Hewitt, Dr. Heck’s campaign manager called Congresswoman Titus’ office in order to set up the debates as challenged and ultimately accepted according to the Las Vegas Review Journal on Wednesday, June 16th.

“While Dina Titus’s campaign continues their evasive rhetoric, the voters of southern Nevada wait for a real answer to Dr. Heck’s complete debate challenge. Our campaign is looking forward to introducing the Congresswoman to her electorate and the issues that matter most for the hard working families of southern Nevada,” said Hewitt. “While we understand that she is busy voting at the behest of Nancy Pelosi, we also must note that the voters we have spoken with would prefer that she come home and discuss the issues rather than blindly cast a ballot in favor of another expensive, job-killing policy,” concluded Hewitt.

During the phone call Titus’ campaign manager refused to establish a timetable to accept the full debate challenge, nor would they schedule a meeting with the Heck campaign to confirm a debate schedule. Throughout the call it was clear that the Titus campaign has no interest in addressing the challenge other than to keep with the rhetoric that the incumbent will eventually debate; addressing the complete challenge and debating the serious issues facing southern Nevada appears to not be a top priority.

Dr. Joe Heck sent Congresswoman Titus a letter requesting “five formal, public debates on specific policy topics agreed upon by both parties.” A spokesperson for Congresswoman Titus stated she has received “several requests” and are in the process of “determining what will be possible to accomplish.” Dr Joe Heck secured the Republican nomination for Nevada’s 3rdCongressional District and will challenge incumbent Dina Titus who has voted with Speaker Nancy Pelosi 97.2 percent of the time.


Yep, that’s gonna be one of Team Heck’s main mantras:  Titus is just a mini-Pelosi.

Titus will, of course, have to agree to debate Heck.  Which Team Heck very well knows, but taunting her publicly until she does is a lot of fun for the campaign staffers.

I’m guessing Titus will agree to do it two, maybe three times between now and the election.  And that we’ll see the first one sometime in July/early August.

The latest Mason-Dixon poll had Heck beating Titus 49-44, but the margin of error was 6% so we still have to call it pretty much “even.”  The M-D match-up in December showed the two in a dead heat at 40-40.

Most national pollsters have this race in the “Toss Up” column, and you can bet the neighborhood bank there is going to be a Lot of cash spent in CD-3 by both parties and their friends.  The Republicans are (of course) going to target all the most vulnerable House seats all summer long, and this is one of them, for a variety of reasons:

Titus is a Democratic incumbent (and a freshman Rep to boot) in a district that is badly suffering with high unemployment and foreclosure rates.

Also, she voted for health care reform, which was wildly popular in her party but maybe not so much in her Congressional district.

Joe Heck, who also happens to be a doctor, talked fairly articulately about health care the other night on Face to Face.  And when given the opportunity to distance himself from fellow Republican nominee Sharron Angle on the (related) issue of phasing out Medicare altogether, he did so, indirectly, by saying the idea (but not Angle) is “ludicrous,” as follows:

Ralston: “Are you for privatizing/phasing out Social Security and Medicare?”

Heck: “I am committed to making sure our seniors have the benefits they are entitled to and that they’ve earned, whether it’s Social Security or Medicare. And it’s ludicrous on its face to think that me, as a physician, would want to see Medicare dissolved….”

Ralston: “So you’re saying Sharron Angle is ludicrous?”

Heck: “That is not what I am saying. I am saying for me to think to privatize or to dissolve Medicare just doesn’t make sense as a physician. It’s critically important for seniors to have that coverage, to receive the health care that they receive once they reach the age of 65.”

Efforts By Citizens To Access November Ballot End In Failure

By Sean Whaley | 5:05 am June 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – One proposal sought to increase mining taxes and another wanted to define life as beginning at conception. A third would have required secret ballots for employee votes on whether to join a union and yet another would have given Nevada residents the right to reject participation in government backed health care.

But none of these citizen-backed proposals to amend the Nevada state constitution will be on the ballot come November. Legal challenges, the cost and time required to circulate petitions and other factors have led to all such measures ending in failure this election cycle.

Yesterday was the deadline for groups to turn in the nearly 100,000 signatures needed to qualify constitutional amendments for the ballot.

The only group to come close, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, announced Monday it would fall short of the number of signatures needed to ask voters to consider increasing the mining tax.

Jan Gilbert, northern Nevada coordinator for PLAN, said a legal challenge by the well-financed Nevada mining industry did hurt the group’s efforts. The effort was also made more complex by the 2009 Legislature by requiring signatures to be collected in the state’s three congressional districts, she said.

In Clark County, where all three of Nevada’s representatives have constituents, signature gatherers had to determine which of three petitions to use for each registered voter, Gilbert said.

The process shouldn’t be so easy that voters have to consider 20 or 30 ballot questions every two years, but it should be fair, she said.

Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen, who has in the past argued in court in support of several constitutional amendment efforts, said the process is intentionally designed by the Legislature to thwart the public’s will.

“They don’t want the people to have this input,” he said. “They have been hostile to the process.”

Hansen, who advocated for an initiative petition to impose a spending limitation on state government four years ago, said the process is set up to allow expensive legal challenges by opponents. Most citizen groups can’t afford to fight such legal challenges, and if they do and they win, any funds to collect signatures are then depleted, he said.

“The right of ordinary people to do this has essentially been destroyed by the Legislature’s burdensome requirements,” Hansen said.

The TASC measure to limit the growth of state government to inflation and population growth was kicked off the ballot by the Nevada Supreme Court after supporters had won in district court, he said. Hansen, who argued to put the measure on the ballot, said a typographical error was cited as the reason by the Supreme Court to not let it go to the voters.

The court in its ruling said the error was significant and not just a minor typo.

Hansen said such rulings frustrate the will of the voters who clearly want the measures qualified for the ballot.

Since the Legislature is unwilling to simplify the process, the only answer may be an initiative petition by the people to amend the state constitution to reform the process for placing such measures on the ballot, he said.

“It’s very discouraging,” he said. “I have not been involved in any of these this year because nobody has the heart for it anymore.”

Hansen, a candidate for attorney general with the Independent American Party, said he would work if elected to advocate for the public’s right to access the ballot.

“Whatever I can do from that position, I will do it,” he said.

Gilbert said another challenge for PLAN was the requirement for nearly 100,000 signatures, a significant number resulting from the strong turnout in the 2008 presidential election. The signature requirement in other years can be much lower depending on turnout at the prior general election.

A challenge to the mining tax proposal was just argued in front of the Nevada Supreme Court earlier this month. Gilbert said she does not know if a ruling will be forthcoming now that the group has not filed its signatures.

The legal challenge by the Nevada Mining Association could only be contested by PLAN with the help of attorneys who worked for free, she said.

Gilbert said PLAN believes the petition effort has laid the groundwork for the Legislature to consider mining tax increases in the 2011 session.

If a citizen-backed constitutional amendment does make it on the ballot, it must be approved twice before it can take effect. The Legislature can place such amendments on the ballot after approving them in two consecutive legislative sessions.

The process is equally complex for citizens who want to change an existing state law rather than amend the constitution, but the time frame to collect signatures is longer. Several such petitions are circulating, including one by Gov. Jim Gibbons to open up the public employee negotiating process to the open meeting law. The deadline for signatures for these measures is Nov. 9.

Audio files

Jan Gilbert of PLAN says there are obstacles to petition drives in Nevada:

061510Gilbert1 :14 get those signatures.”

Gilbert says initiative process shouldn’t be too easy but should be fair:

061510Gilbert2 :16 that is achievable.”

Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen says Legislature has intentionally made petition process difficult:

061510Hansen1 :22 having this voice.”

Hansen says Nevada Supreme Court has frustrated will of people:

061510Hansen2 :20 think we will.”

Governor’s Special Counsel to Travel to Florida for Oral Arguments in Health Care Reform Lawsuit

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 7:32 am May 14th, 2010

Las Vegas attorney Mark Hutchison says he will soon be going to Florida for oral arguments in the federal motion to dismiss the health care lawsuit being brought by 20 states including Nevada.

Reagan-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson will hear arguments challenging the states’ right to bring the suit on September 14, 2010 in the Northern District of Florida.

“Because there are 20 states named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit now, we will likely assign one lawyer to present oral argument to the judge during oral argument on behalf of all of the states,” said Hutchison.

“The decision identifying who that lawyer will be has not yet been made,” he said.

The amended complaint adding Nevada and a number of other states to the lawsuit will be filed today.  Hutchison said a decision is expected in October or November.

Hutchison said he also plans to attend a hearing, for which the date has not been set, on the states’ motion for summary judgment.  The motion will ask the judge to declare the health care legislation unconstitutional and bar its implementation in the states.

Despite criticism that the lawsuit is a futile attempt to thwart the health care reform bill,  Hutchison said he is confident in the strength of the suit’s legal positions.

“There are many legal experts, scholars, judges and lawyers who believe that that the health care legislation will be declared unconstitutional by the courts,” he said.

“The principles at issue in this lawsuit are broader than the specific legislation in question and rise above the political maneuvering associated with its passage,” said Hutchison.

“This case is about preserving and respecting the system of constitutional government established at the founding of this country,” he said.

Hutchison contends that the health care legislation represents an unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states and on the rights of citizens by mandating, for the first time in U.S. history, that residents purchase something or be punished by the government through the imposition of a fine.

“Such a mandate exceeds the powers of the federal government under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, particularly the commerce clause, and violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments as well as the Constitution’s principles of federalism and dual sovereignty,” said Hutchison.

Hutchison said he believes it is likely the case will end up in the nation’s highest court.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has stated publicly that he expects the case to reach the court within the next two years.

Hutchison says his office has had no communications with the Nevada Attorney General since the governor appointed him as lead special counsel for Nevada in the lawsuit challenging the health care legislation.

“Although we recognize that the Attorney General has a different view, we continue to believe that the governor has the authority under state law and by virtue of his office to appoint special counsel to represent the state given the Attorney General’s decision,” said Hutchison.

Harry Reid TV Ads

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:24 am April 29th, 2010

Ralston has (all 3 of) them posted for your viewing pleasure.   Come back and drop Comments about them if you wish…

Latest Rasmussen #s on US Senate

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:38 am April 29th, 2010

Here’s the poll.

Snippets and comments:

– Harry Reid’s support still at around 40%

With TV ads hitting this week, we’ll see if Reid can gain some points.

–Reid unfavorables at 47% with favorables at 23%

– Lowden v. Reid match-up = 52-39%

– Lowden is viewed very favorably by 15% of Nevada voters and very unfavorably by 19%

Hm!  Unfavorables there are up a bit.  Due to Bartergate and the media’s obsession with chicken puns, no doubt.

– Tarkanian v. Reid = 51-41%

– 19% have a very favorable opinion of Tarkanian, while 15% regard him very unfavorably

– Angle v. Reid = 48-40%

– Angles very favorables are at 9% with very unfavorables at 11%

Tea Party Express is raising money and now up with ads for her, so we’ll see what happens.

– 53% of Nevadans favor health care reform repeal (national #s are at 58%) while 44% oppose

– 57% of Nevada voters favor immigration legislation like AZ’s while 31% oppose

– 60% of voters in the state say America is overtaxed, compared to 66% of voters nationwide

Average Joes and Janes to Explain How Harry Reid and Health Care Reform Have Helped Even Though Few Benefits Have Actually Kicked In Yet

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:30 pm April 28th, 2010

That’s the gist of Harry Reid’s new ad campaign, from what RalstonFlashed a couple of hours ago:

Reid to go up with huge ad buy defending health care reform law

Best defense is a good offense campaign begins Friday with a series of spots featuring individuals talking about how various aspects of the new law have helped them, sources confirm. I understand the buy will be larger than any of those currently purchased by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s GOP foes.

Game on.

Yep. Here comes the money!

Reid’s health care narrative between now and November:

“I’m Harry Reid, and I single-handedly saved all of Nevada’s sick and dying. And quite possibly some of their household pets as well. A vote for me is a vote for your poor, ailing auntie AND her cute little dog.”


Dear Campaign Season: How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:50 am April 23rd, 2010

How can one not love this stuff, to the depth and breadth and height one’s spirit can reach?  The object of my affection, a press release from a very enthusiastic Team Gibbons:

Governor Gibbons’ Campaign gains momentum, opens third campaign office in two weeks

For Immediate Release

Governor Jim Gibbons Campaign Headquarters

Carson City, NV

April 22, 2010

Jim Gibbons’ surge to national prominence as a leader in the fight against a barrage of government take-overs has Nevada supporters buzzing. In the past two weeks, the Governor’s re-election campaign has opened three new campaign offices in Henderson, Reno and Pahrump, while a “tidal wave of support” continues to build.

Surge! To national prominence!! As a leader in the fight!!!

Actually, the only national mentions of Gibbons I saw this week were commentaries on his place on CREW’s Worst Governor’s list. And a few mentions of the Mazzeo case.  (To be fair, there was one Fox News piece about Gibbons and health care back on April 7. And there are many Nevadans who do support his desire to sue the federal government. Not sure this qualifies him as a “national leader,” though.)

But let’s continue:

“The support for Governor Gibbons’ re-election bid has been unbelievable,” said Governor Gibbons’ Campaign Chairman, General Ron Bath.

Unbelievable!! Which, of course, could be interpreted in one of two ways:  unbelievable in its depth, breadth, and height, or unbelievable because it’s so anemic for a sitting Republican governor in a state that tends to like Republican governors and is probably about to elect another one.  Can you guess which way Team Gibbons is pitching it?

“We are seeing true grassroots support, and a tidal wave of support growing. It’s the veteran coming up and shaking the Governor’s hand, the college student thanking him for not just going with the usual bureaucracy, and the mother deeply appreciative for lowering her taxes. So you all can see — it’s not just the Governor’s message, it has been his actions, the promises that the Governor has kept with Nevadan voters, this is what is resonating, and we’re excited.”

Well, all right then.  Three people love and appreciate Gibbons!  It’s a tidal wave of support!!  Look out!!!

Opening these three new offices will enable the Gibbons Campaign to meet the demand from local volunteers who want to make a difference in their communities by supporting and working for their Governor.

Meet the demand!  The voters want Gibbons and they need office space!!  And he will not deny them the opportunity to make a difference!!!  He will provide them with desks and chairs and ballpoint pens!!!!

Ok, I am done now.

I’ll leave you with these poetic words which speak to my deep love of Nevada politics, compliments of Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

’til the next exuberant campaign press release based on no evidence whatsoever, adieu!!

Gibbons’ “Constitution Defense Fund” Meets Goal of $3,500

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:13 pm April 20th, 2010

I guess people are more excited about suing the federal government than donating money to schools.  Gibbons’ gift-cards-for-education program didn’t raise more than a few hundred dollars, but he now has the $3,500 needed to legally challenge the health care reform plan.

Las Vegas attorney Mark Hutchison has agreed to work pro bono, but there will be costs associated with joining other states in a lawsuit.

As reported by the Las Vegas Sun today:

“I am pleased to see that our fund has reached its goal less than two weeks after its establishment,” Gibbons said in a statement. “We are proceeding with our legal work and plan to file appropriate documents with the court by mid-May.”


The governor said any future donations will be deposited and held in trust for any unexpected costs of the lawsuit. If there are no additional costs, the funds will be returned to the donors who contributed after the $3,500 goal was met.

Gibbons today re-re-re-restated his opposition to the health care reform law on the basis of states’ rights.  Yeah, we get it!

Still no word on the spat between Gibbons sand Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who refused to sue when told to do so.  Curious to see how that all plays out, because some attorneys in the state say she’s in violation of state law and others say, no.

Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Sandoval Answers Questions on Issues

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:17 am April 14th, 2010

This morning in a statewide media conference call moderated by the Nevada News Bureau, candidate Brian Sandoval fielded questions on numerous issues including the 2003 Supreme Court ruling on the two-thirds legislative supermajority needed to increase taxes, tax policy, the Tax Pledge, budget cuts and higher education salaries, renewable energy mandates and the state’s health care reform lawsuit.

Sandoval maintained that as his press release said yesterday, he did not agree with the controversial 2003 Supreme Court ruling. He said he did not publicly state his views at the time because rules of conduct prevented him from doing so.

“The rules of conduct are such that I could have found myself subject to a bar complaint had I criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Sandoval. “However, my spokesperson at the time did issue a statement that went as far as I was able to go in expressing my opinion.”

“We didn’t seek invalidation of the two-thirds vote – the court did that on its own,” Sandoval spokesperson Tom Sargent told the Reno Gazette-Journal on July 16, 2003.

Sandoval also defended his position on taxes, saying as governor he would veto a corporate income tax.  He also said he does not believe tax increases are inevitable.

“Many believe [tax increases] are a foregone conclusion, but I do not,” said Sandoval.  “We have a spending problem in this state, and that is how I will approach the issue if fortunate enough to be elected governor.”

But Sandoval said he has not signed the Tax Pledge because it would “tie my hands behind my back.”

When asked how he can reconcile his refusal to sign the Tax Pledge with a statement made in a recent radio interview with Dawn Gibbons — in which he answered with an emphatic “no” in answer to a question about whether he would, under any circumstances, consider supporting a tax hike — Sandoval said he considered being on record enough of a “pledge.”

“I haven’t signed any pledges, and I am going to remain consistent on that,” added Sandoval.

Sandoval said that as governor he will be committed to finding cuts in the state budget and referred to the proposal he had submitted prior the special session that included a four percent reduction in pay to higher education salaries as well as the the reduction of some benefits.

Regarding Nevada’s need to attract and develop industry and create jobs, Sandoval said he is not in favor of clean and renewable energy mandates similar to the one’s passed in California but that he does believe renewable energy is an important part of the state’s recovery.

“Between solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and other clean energy sources, Nevada has some unique and valuable natural resources,” said Sandoval.  “We need to attract those kinds of businesses here.  But I would oppose any mandates that are generally harmful to the business environment.”

Sandoval also defended what some perceived as a curious delay in announcing his support for Governor Gibbons’ effort to join a lawsuit to challenge the recently passed health care reform legislation.

When asked why he had to deliberate overnight on the issue, Sandoval insisted he never had to think about it.

“We had put out a release that we opposed the bill, two months beforehand,” said Sandoval. “So, that next day, to clarify and make sure everyone knew my position, that I was consistent, I came out with statement.”

Sandoval said he believes Attorney General Masto’s duty on the issue and to the state is clear.

“If you have a client, you take the case if it has merit and if you are ordered to do so,” said Sandoval. “The governor is that client. And the case does have merit.  As the state’s attorney, she should take the case.”