Posts Tagged ‘ira hansen’

Lawmakers Endorse New Weighted Funding Formula For Public Education, Specifics To Come Later

By Sean Whaley | 1:59 pm August 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers today recommended that Nevada’s public education funding formula be revised to take into account the higher cost of educating specific groups of students, including English-language learners and children in poverty.

But lawmakers also acknowledged that updating the formula won’t mean any significant changes in funding for the state’s 17 school districts until the state’s economy improves and tax revenues increase.

There is no proposal to shift current funding from one district to another to fund a new weighted formula.

The New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study was authorized by the 2011 Legislature to look at the “Nevada Plan” the current funding formula adopted in 1967. The Clark County School District sought the review to look at whether the state’s education funding plan needs to include additional funding for educating specific groups of students.

The six lawmakers serving on the panel supported the recommendation to revise the formula, which will be presented to the Legislature when the 2013 session gets under way.

But lawmakers deferred to the Department of Education the technical details of which groups should be included and how the different categories of students should be weighted in any new funding formula. Other groups that could be included in a weighted formula are gifted and talented and career and technical education, among others.

“The committee, I think, could find quick and unanimous support for the recommendation that we as a state consider changing our K-12 funding formula to one that considers a variety of different weights, including but not limited to; and then a comprehensive list,” said Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. “That tees up the issue then for the next session. It tells the Legislature as a whole that this committee did its job, it studied the issue and it decided it was worthy of legislative consideration.”

The recommendation came after the Clark County School District provided $125,000 to the legislative panel to hire a consultant to study the issue. The consultant, American Institutes for Research, issued a final report which found in part: “As low‐income students and English learners are widely accepted in the mainstream education finance literature to be associated with higher educational costs, it is our strong recommendation that funding adjustments be incorporated into the current funding system to account for these student need cost factors.”

The report found that Nevada is not in line with most other states on funding, being one of 14 states that does not adjust funding for low-income students and one of eight that does not account for the cost of English learners.

“I think what we’ve learned is that the 1967 formula is no longer adequate,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. “I think everybody on this committee agrees with that. It doesn’t meet the needs that it was originally intended to do.”


Audio Clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says lawmakers agree the funding formula needs to be changed:

082812Brower1 :22 a comprehensive list.”

Brower says the details can be worked out in the coming weeks and months:

082812Brower2 :26 just the opposite.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen says the review has shown that the Nevada Plan is no longer adequate to fund public education:

082812Hansen :27 categories should be.”


Sparks Assemblyman Ira Hansen Announces Re-election Bid

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:22 pm February 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, announced today he will seek re-election to District 32 in the 2012 general election.

Under the new court-approved redistricting map, Hansen’s district is the largest in size in the Assembly, and includes Lander, Humboldt, Pershing, Mineral and Esmeralda counties and parts of Washoe and Nye counties.

“My goal is to bring common sense solutions and real life experience to issues that affect ordinary workers and small business entrepreneurs,” Hansen said.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Hansen served as a member of the Judiciary, Education, and Natural Resources, Mining and Agriculture committees in his first term in the 2011 legislative session.

Hansen said his legislative successes include tort reform in construction defect law, expansion of 2nd Amendment protections, and illegal immigration reforms.

Hansen is a licensed master plumber and has been a Nevada contractor for 26 years. He is the owner of Hansen & Sons Plumbing & Heating.

“I know what it is like to work long hours and to meet a payroll,” Hansen said.

Hansen, currently serving as a member of the Public Lands Committee, said he is working hard to prevent the “endangered” listing of the Sage Grouse, which would be an economic disaster for rural Nevada. He is also fighting for an expansion of livestock grazing to reduce the buildup of cheatgrass – the cause of catastrophic wildfires in recent decades.

“It is wrong to waste tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars fighting avoidable wildfires,” Hansen said.

A third generation native Nevadan, Hansen and his wife, Alexis, have been married for 32 years. They have eight children and five grandchildren.


Thirteen Nevada GOP State Lawmakers Get High Ratings In First Report Card From Conservative Group

By Sean Whaley | 10:38 am November 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – The national conservative organization American Conservative Union ranked Nevada lawmakers for the first time in a report card released today, handing out top scores to five GOP state Senators.

Sens. Greg Brower, R-Reno; Don Gustavson, R-Sparks; Elizabeth Halseth and Michael Roberson, both R-Las Vegas; and James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville; all were named as “Conservative All-Stars of the Nevada Legislature” for scoring 100 percent in the ratings.

Another eight Republican lawmakers, two in the Senate and six in the Assembly, were identified as ACU Conservatives for scoring 80 percent or higher in the ratings.

State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

They are Sens. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas; Mike McGinness, R-Fallon; and Assembly members John Ellison, R-Elko; Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley; John Hambrick and Richard McArthur, both R-Las Vegas; Ira Hansen, R-Sparks; and Mark Sherwood, R-Henderson.

One lawmaker, Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, scored a zero on the report card and was identified as “A True Liberal of the Silver State.”

ACU Chairman Al Cardenas announced the rankings at a press event in Las Vegas.

“Just as we hold every member of Congress accountable for his or her voting record on the most important issues facing our nation, the ACU will ensure voters in Nevada have access to the latest information on their state representatives’ conservative credentials,” he said.

The ACU, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization, recently announced a new initiative to expand the ACU Congressional Ratings program to state legislatures for the first time ever, grading members on their votes on key conservative issues.

State Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

The ACU said in its report that it tracks a wide range of issues before state legislatures to determine which issues and votes, “serve as a clear litmus test separating those representatives who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles – constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values.”

The votes selected for the inaugural State Legislative Ratings in each of five targeted states – Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and the Commonwealth of Virginia – are not always considered the “most important” votes as defined by others, the ACU said in its report. Instead, the votes selected are chosen to create a clear ideological distinction among those casting them.

The group selected 31 legislative measures to score the 63 Nevada lawmakers, including Assembly Bill 299, which would have imposed a 50-cent surcharge on auto insurance policies to subsidize car insurance for low income residents, which the ACU opposed. The bill did not pass.

Another measure was Assembly Bill 321, which implemented the “Castle Doctrine” in Nevada, giving citizens the right to defend themselves in their own homes. The ACU supported the bill, which was approved by both houses of the Legislature.

The ACU also used the vote on extending a collection of taxes set to expire on June 30 in its report card. Assembly Bill 561 passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval as part of a budget deal between Democrats and Republicans.

“As pleased as we are to recognize a total of 13 members of the Legislature as true conservative patriots, we are disappointed there were not more members who adhered to conservative principles,” Cardenas said. “Thankfully, Gov, Brian Sandoval, a rising star of the conservative movement, has championed limited government and pro-growth policies by vetoing several ill-conceived pieces of legislation passed by the Nevada Legislature.”

“I am honored to be named the most conservative legislator in the Nevada Assembly,” McArthur said. “This rating will reinforce the ratings I have previously received from the Nevada Policy Research Institute and Citizen Outreach.”

McArthur scored 94 percent in the ACU ratings, ranking him as the most conservative member of the Nevada Assembly.

Gustavson said he was pleased to rank so highly in the survey.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise because I have been living up to my conservative values that got me elected and keep getting me elected,” he said. “So I’m very honored to have received the award.”


Audio clips:

Sen. Don Gustavson said he has been living up to his conservative values:

110311Gustavson :09 received the award.”


Legislative Panel Agrees To Review New Public Records Policy

By Sean Whaley | 4:43 pm October 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers agreed today to review its new policy on responding to public records requests after concerns were raised by the ACLU of Nevada.

Rebecca Gasca, legislative and policy director for the organization, told the Legislative Commission today that the new policy says that those seeking public records from the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) need to explain why they want the information when making requests.

The policy, adopted in August, improperly shifts the burden to the person requesting the public records to show that the need for the information is stronger than any public policy interest in keeping the information confidential, she said.

Gasca had already sent a letter to the commission from ACLU General Counsel Allen Lichtenstein explaining the concerns with the new policy in detail.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, a member of the commission, asked that the new policy be reviewed at its next meeting.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, called today for a review of the new public records policy. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“We did kind of, as I recall, went through it kind of quickly,” he said. “And there is some verbiage in it that I think we probably ought to review to see if it is a little too vague and a little too open ended.”

Gasca said the new policy would incorrectly apply a Nevada Supreme Court ruling in Donrey of Nevada v. Bradshaw and impose a “balancing test” to determine if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest served by not releasing the information.

The balancing test referenced in the court case applied to requests for criminal information, not general public records requests, she said.

“The policy of LCB that you passed at the last commission meeting actually broadly expands upon that and specifically states that requestors need to put in why they are requesting something so the LCB can balance those interests,” Gasca said.

While there was a comment from LCB Director Lorne Malkiewich that the new requirement will not be used as a basis for denying requests, this statement of intent was not included in the new policy, she said.

Concerns about the new policy have also previously been expressed by Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association.

In response to the ACLU letter, Malkiewich said the new policy, “was not proposed in an effort to restrict public access, but rather to reflect the state of the law and allow us to continue our practice of prompt, complete response to requests for public records.”

“In summary, the policy that I proposed and the Legislative Commission adopted does not conflict with state law; it reflects what the Nevada Supreme Court has recognized to be the state of the law,” he said. “We will not reject a request for failure to include such a statement, but a clear explanation of a particular public interest may tip the balance in favor of disclosure of a document that might not otherwise be disclosed.”


Audio clips:

ACLU representative Rebecca Gasca said the new legislative public records policy needs to be revisited:

102611Gasca :23 Nevada Supreme Court.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen called for a review of the new policy:

102611Hansen :10 too open ended.”

Legislative Commission Approves New Reporting and Public Records Policies

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

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

Sen. Steven Horsford/Photo: Cathleen Allison/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democrats Identify “Key” Republicans Who Might Vote For Taxes

By Andrew Doughman | 5:06 pm May 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Nevada State Democratic Party today called for Nevadans to press nine GOP “key legislators” to vote for new taxes.

Democrats are urging Nevadans to email these nine Republican legislators, saying that “grassroots action will turn the tide, but it will only happen if you participate.”

The list included four Senators and five Assemblymen. To override a veto from Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has said numerous times he will veto any new tax, three Republican Senators and two Republican Assembly members would have to join all Democratic legislators in voting for a tax.

“We think it’s important that these folks hear from their constituents, not just fellow legislators and lobbyists,” said Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas.

Many Republicans on the list have already been identified by advocacy groups and political commentators.

Representatives from the governor’s office were quick to condemn the letter.

“This letter is nothing more than a letter of desperation,” said Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval. “It’s clear the Democratic majority do not have the votes to pass a tax increase.”

Republicans in the Assembly earlier released a list of reforms that they hope Democrats will pass. Only after the reforms pass will they consider voting for extending $626 million in taxes passed during 2009 that are due to expire June 30. Those sunsetting taxes are part of a $1.2 billion Democratic tax plan that includes a new tax on services and a new business “margin” tax.

In the message today, Democrats say theirs is a “balanced approach” that restores harmful budget cuts to education and social services while also giving the state a more stable tax base.

For Republicans, the approach is more about reforms they can convince Democrats to pass.

“My attitude from the get go was: they give us substantial reforms, we give them sunsets,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. “They’re not new taxes … That’s our negotiating point.”

Lobbyists in the legislative building also called the Democrats’ move “desperate,” speculating that if Democrats had the votes they needed, they would keep mum about who those legislators were.

Democrats, however, say budget negotiations about government reforms and taxes are proceeding.

“Conversations with legislative Republicans are productive and ongoing,” Oceguera said.

But Hansen and other Republicans have said the reforms proposed so far are not enough.

“I don’t think there’s any chance they’ll [the reforms] meet anyone’s price,” said Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, who earlier said on the political television program “Face To Face” that all lawmakers have a price for voting for raising taxes.

Both Hansen and Kieckhefer are on the Democrats’ list.

That did not surprise Kieckhefer.

“People have considered me a swing vote on taxes since the day I announced my candidacy for office,” Kieckhefer said.

Another Republican on the list, Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said he is already receiving emails about taxes and the budget.

“I don’t mind hearing from people,” he said. “That doesn’t bother me.”

The full list and letter are here.


Assemblyman Asks Lawmakers To Put “Cards On The Table” In Forum Today

By Andrew Doughman | 12:47 pm April 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Sparks, is asking other legislators to “lay your cards on the table.”

As the budget debate in Carson City roils to no discernible conclusion, Hickey is bringing 21 lawmakers, business leadersa and academics to the Legislature to talk taxes and government reform.

“This forum will help get out into the open things that have only been talked about behind closed doors,” Hickey said. “As moderator, I plan to press participants to speak openly about the ‘end game’ here this session.”

That end game has traditionally involved closed door meetings between legislative leadership.

Hickey will moderate the “Recession, Revenues and Nevada’s Recovery” panel today between 3 – 5 p.m. at the Legislature. Viewers online can watch here.

Hickey said he would like to have a serious discussion in public that could evolve into legislative negotiations about the budget.

At the very least, the diversity of voices at the forum should provide an interesting sideshow to the day-in, day-out legislative hearings and committees.

Speaking at the forum span nearly every position on the tax debate. Politically, Hickey’s guests span the spectrum from left to right and include representatives from unions and contractors, free-market libertarians and progressive groups, chambers of commerce and school districts.

Hickey’s forum is not the only change in the legislative end game.

This year, Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate have said they will conduct budget hearings in the Assembly and Senate chambers. They say the move will lead to more transparency and include more legislators in budget discussions.

As first reported in the Las Vegas Sun, the change could prompt legislators toward a budget battle over education.

The Legislature has 49 days remaining to conclude its session, pass a budget and finish the drawing of political districts as required every 10 years by the U.S. Census.


Panelists for the “Recession, Revenues and Nevada’s Recovery” include:

Heidi Gansert, the governor’s chief of staff

Speaker Pro Tempore Debbie Smith, D-Sparks

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas

Tray Abney, Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce

Carole Vilardo – Nevada Taxpayers Association

Dr. Elliott Parker – UNR economist

Clara Andriola – Associated Builders and Contractors

Geoffrey Lawrence – Nevada Policy Research Institute economist

Dr. Heath Morrison – Washoe County School District superintendent

Mary Lau – Retail Association of Nevada

Dr. Tyrus Cobb – former assistant to President Ronald Reagan

Neil Medina – Northern Nevada Contractor

Jim Pfrommer – Education Alliance of Washoe County

Former Sen. Randolph Townsend

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, R-Mesquite

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks

Bob Fulkerson, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

Chuck Muth – Citizen Outreach

Dave Humke – Washoe County Commissioner

Danny Thompson – AFL-CIO union representative

Norm Dianda – Q&D Construction

Immigration Bills Fall Short As Deadline Passes

By Andrew Doughman | 10:42 am April 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Bills related to immigration at the Nevada State Legislature did not make it past an important deadline last week.

One bill from Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, would have required Nevada to use an electronic database to verify a person’s employment eligibility.

Another from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, would have mirrored an Arizona law whose proponents crafted to curb illegal immigration, but whose detractors say encourages racial profiling. That law is currently tied up in the court system.

The dearth of immigration bills makes Nevada somewhat of an oddity in the United States. Other states are considering or have passed immigration legislation. Most lawmakers have sought to apply more stringent standards to current laws.

Utah, however, has passed a law that would allow police to check immigrants’ status, but would also allow illegal immigrants to obtain a permit to work in Utah.

In Nevada, even the sponsors of immigration bills seemed resigned to the death of their bills as a bill deadline loomed last Friday.

Hansen and Hickey did not press a Democratic committee chair to ensure the bills passed.

The bills did not have the votes to pass out of committee, they said.

Hansen said that tepid comments from legislators in addition to ambivalence from the business community and unions ensured his bill would not be considered.

The immigration issue, however, has not been primary to any discussion at the Nevada Legislature. The state’s fiscal woes have ensured most discussions relate to the governor’s proposed general fund budget. Bills changing the state’s education policy have also gained traction.

But immigration is not popular. Assembly Republicans have listed several legislative priorities, which would have more effect on public sector and trade unions and trial lawyers than on immigrants.

According to the Pew Center, however, Nevada hosts a high percentage of illegal immigrants compared to its population.

Nevada’s foreign-born population has also grown during the past decade to nearly 20 percent of the population, according to the American Community Survey. This population comprises both citizens and non-citizens.








Smoking Bill Would Establish Smoking Zones On College Campuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The amendment seemed to quell opposition to the bill.

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

Three legislators still voted against the bill.

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

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

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


Republicans Accuse Democrats of Ignoring Republican Bills As Deadline Looms

By Andrew Doughman | 7:10 pm April 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Add it up and some of them have to die.

There is not enough time for the Legislature to hear every bill, but that has not stopped Republicans from accusing Democrats of ignoring Republican bills.

The partisan sniping comes as legislators are scrambling to save their bills from extinction of bills as a legislative deadline looms.

Republicans in the Assembly have the added weight of a list of bills they need to see passed before considering voting for a tax increase.

If some proposals are not given a look, “you’re not going to get a tax increase,” said Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas.

He accused some committee chairs of completely ignoring Republican bills.

Democrats see it differently.

“We don’t want to spend our resources, frankly, on things that don’t have a chance,” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, made a point that new legislators like Sherwood may have unrealistic expectations.

“I think part of the issue is that we have a lot of new people who have a vision in their head that everything will get heard,” he said. “And it just doesn’t happen.”

Oceguera also noted that there are more Democrats than Republicans, so the ratio of bills heard in committees reflects that.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, sent an email to Majority Leader Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, yesterday alleging that Senate Democrats also are ignoring Republican bills.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, Republican leadership in the Senate downplayed the allegations, calling them “isolated incidents.”

Roberson, who is a freshman legislator, said yesterday that he is not alone in his views.

“Some people would consider the way they’re [Democrats] running things foolhardy,” he said. “…If the Democrats don’t want to hear our bills, that’s their prerogative. However, we are elephants and we do have long memories.”

Democrats in leadership positions have yet to propose any tax increases, but would need some Republican help to overcome a veto from GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Sandoval has said repeatedly he won’t “trade taxes for anything.”

Other Republicans, however, might make trades, and how their bills are treated may be part of the bargain.

But the partisan rancor over who gets their bills heard does not apply to all committees.

Minority Assembly leader Pete Giocoechea, R-Eureka, said that the bills are just “slow coming” and there is not yet a problem.

He noted the Legislature still has seven working days left before the deadline for committees to pass bills.

Some committee leaders also do seem to be hearing bills from both parties. Today, Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, gave a contentious Republican bill a hearing.

The bill from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, resembles a controversial immigration law in Arizona. Democrats would almost certainly not vote for Hansen’s bill.

“She [Kirkpatrick] went out of her way to give me a hearing knowing that bill was dead on arrival,” he said. “There is a level of fairness in that they give me a chance to be heard.”

Next Friday is the first deadline for bills to pass out of their committee. Not all bills get hearings and more bills will die later.

That’s part of the process, says Oceguera.

“The process is built in such a way to kill bills,” he said. “It’s not built in a way to pass bills. It’s hard to pass a bill. It’s easy to kill bills.”


Immigration Bills Spark Heated Debate In Legislature

By Andrew Doughman | 1:10 pm April 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Two bills relating to illegal immigrants sparked heated debate in an Assembly committee this morning.

One from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, would impose penalties and restrictions on illegal immigrants in a way similar to a controversial Arizona law enacted this past year.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, proposed that the state adopt the federal “E-Verify” system, an electronic database that verifies someone’s employment eligibility.

Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, had to ask numerous times for both the support and opposition to keep their comments relevant to the bill.

“I want to stick to the merits of the bill because any time we single out one group or another we do a disservice to the state as a whole,” she told those listening to the hearing.

Meanwhile, observers on the social media site Twitter accused each other of racism and bigotry.

Hansen’s bill would require proof of identity to vote, restrict eligibility for Nevada’s Millennium Scholarship to U.S. citizens, prohibit non-citizens from obtaining driver’s licenses or receiving certain state benefits.

He said the bill is mainly about jobs.

“The number one issue that was confronted with was the economy and the second was illegal immigration,” Hansen said of his talks with voters while campaigning for office last year.

Hansen said that the state’s undocumented workers are preventing Nevada’s unemployed people from finding employment.

He cited figures that show Nevada has a high number of illegal immigrants. A recent Pew Hispanic Center study also found that Nevada ranks No. 1 in the nation in terms of the percentage of illegal immigrants comprising a state’s total population.

Hansen’s bill would cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars if passed into law. This is because it would require state agencies to spend more money to comply with the bills numerous requirements.

“You have half the kitchen sink here is what you have,” Kirkpatrick said of Hansen’s bill.

Hansen’s bill also would require the state to use the federal “E-Verify” database that verifies someone’s employment eligibility.

Hickey’s bill would require contractors bidding for state public works projects to use that system.

“I think this is a small first step,” he said. “This is not talking about all employers in this state, but starting with public works projects, which are tax-payer-funded ones.”

Opponents to the bill said that the federal database upon which E-Verify relies is rife with error. Contractors also objected to the language of the bill because it would make them responsible not only for their organizations, but for their subcontractors as well.

“The E-verify system is an attempt to try to do something that we support, but it has just not proven to be effective,” said Warren Hardy, lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors of Nevada.

The bills sparked reactions from the numerous Hispanic legislators who sit on the Assembly Government Affairs committee.

Assemblywomen Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, and Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, said that anyone testifying should restrict testimony to immigrants rather than Hispanics.

Others suggested that the bills would polarize the Hispanic electorate.

“It’s because of Republicans like [Assemblymen] Hickey & Hansen why R’s will have hard time making inroads with Hispanic voters in NV,” said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, via his Twitter account.

The government affairs committee took no immediate action on either bill.


Republican Assemblyman Accuses Democratic Senator Of Hijacking His Bill

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm March 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Freshman Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, watched as one of his first bills was introduced on the floor of the Assembly Tuesday.

Hansen’s bill would establish a state grants coordinator to help Nevada apply for and win more federal grants.

A few hours later, Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, stood at a lectern flanked by the American flag and the flag of the State of Nevada, and told a gathering of reporters about his bill.

Parks’ bill would establish a state grants coordinator to help Nevada apply for and win more federal grants.

The introduction of Hansen’s bill, Assembly Bill 243, was a matter of procedure. Parks delivered his speech under studio lights at a Democratic press conference attended by about a dozen journalists jotting down his words.

Parks’ proposal received press attention whereas Hansen’s bill did not.

“It’s either highly unusual timing or they thought it was a great idea and wanted to capture it for themselves,” Hansen said yesterday.

Parks said he was “totally unaware” of Hansen’s bill before Hansen e-mailed him yesterday.

Hansen said he had submitted his request for a bill November 4, 2010. He said it was an idea from the Sage Commission’s report, an underlined and annotated copy of which he keeps in his office.

He said he received the bill back last Friday and collected signatures from legislators of both parties Monday.

“They’re taking the political credit for it,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval had earlier said he would like to establish a grant coordinator for the state.

Parks said he had his idea independently from Hansen.

“We see that sort of thing all the time here,” he said today after a Senate floor session. “There was absolutely nothing deliberate. I did not see that he submitted such a bill draft. …These things happen. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no big deal.”

Parks submitted his bill draft request on Valentine’s Day.

Parks’ bill draft request description states that the bill “makes various changes concerning solicitation and use of grants.”

Hansen’s bill draft request description states that the bill “creates the position of State Grants Coordinator within the Budget Division of the Department of Administration.”

Parks bill, Senate Bill 233, was introduced on the Senate floor today.

Parks said that these sort of duplications happen. He cited one of his own bills that Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, introduced in the Assembly before Parks was able to introduce his.

Parks said that there may be “a little personal hurt” when something like that happens, but he hopes to reconcile Hansen’s bill with his own.

“Presumably, somehow along the way our bills will cross and we’ll work on the concept,” Parks said.


Governor’s Budget Could Add Another Pay Cut For Teachers

By Andrew Doughman | 8:28 am March 7th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Teachers could forfeit portions of their salaries awarded for obtaining masters of doctorate degrees under a new proposal.

In what could amount to a pay cut, Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed eliminating that type of compensation in favor of $20 million in performance pay.

Sandoval called the current system “costly” in his State of the State address during January. During the speech, he cited Bill Gates, who last year argued that paying teachers for advanced degrees does not help students learn more.

But Sandoval’s proposal is not just a policy change.

According to several estimates, teachers in Nevada collectively earn more than $100 million for their advanced degrees.

“Twenty million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to what we pay for master’s degrees,” said Joyce Haldeman of the Clark County School District.

Sandoval’s $20 million proposal would mean teachers compete for a smaller pot of money.

“We must live with current realities,” Sandoval said during his State of the State address. “Pay-for-performance is still included in my budget, just on a different scale.”

Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s senior adviser, said last Thursday that the governor has included the removal of pay for advanced degrees in the dozens of budget bills Sandoval recently submitted.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said the proposal could mean another cut for teachers just as teachers take a 5 percent pay cut and pay an increased amount of their salaries into retirement plans. She also said the change would derail what teachers had regarded as a reliable track toward higher pay in the future.

“You are dismantling a whole culture in the teacher pay system,” Smith said. “It is a big decision point.”

Haldeman said that she would support moving the school district from paying for educational attainment to paying for performance.

“Maybe it’s time to try something new,” she said. “I just want to make sure that the funding stays.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, is on the Assembly’s education committee. He said he would also support a policy change.

“I don’t care if you got a degree from Oxford; if you’re a lousy teacher, you’re a lousy teacher,” he said. “When you’re 50th in the nation and you’ve got no money, you’ve got to do something really innovative.”

Legislative legal staff are still working on drafting the bills, so the exact effects of the governor’s bills are unclear.

But Erquiaga said that the governor’s proposal would try to prohibit school districts from explicitly paying teachers for educational attainment.

This is the same way the governor plans to cut teacher pay by 5 percent.

Teachers and school districts bargain a contract separately from the state government. So they could still sign a contract that excludes a pay cut, but the state would have given school districts 5 percent less. The school districts would then not have the money to pay teachers even as they have a contractual obligation to do so.

The governor’s budget bills should be available to read soon.