Posts Tagged ‘John Hambrick’

Nevada Legislature’s Bill Draft Request List Published, Includes Measures For Lobbying Reforms, Voucher Schools

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:52 pm July 1st, 2012

CARSON CITY – A list of 144 bills requested for drafting for the 2013 session was posted on the Nevada Legislature’s website today.

Nevada State Senate in session, 2011. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The list of bill draft requests, most coming from individual lawmakers, includes proposals to require lobbyists to report their spending when the Legislature is not in session, and another to amend the state constitution to allow for voucher schools.

The lobbyist reporting bill was requested by former Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who resigned from her seat in mid-term to run in Senate District 15 against Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. Leslie sponsored a similar bill in the 2011 session that failed in the Assembly.

The voucher school measuring is being sought by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. Gov. Sandoval supports the creation of voucher schools and is expected to pursue some type of voucher program in the 2013 session, which begins Feb. 4.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, is seeking a bill to adopt the “Castle Doctrine” in Nevada to provide legal protections for homeowners who defend themselves against criminals.

A similar measure was introduced in both the 2009 and 2011 sessions, but did not get a hearing in either session.

The bill draft request list will be updated weekly through the 2013 session.

The list contains only a single descriptive line for each measure requested, along with who made the request.

 

Some Nevada Welfare Recipients Have Fun on Taxpayer Dime But Most Spending Appropriate

By Sean Whaley | 7:26 am March 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – There are a few withdrawals in vacation destinations like New Orleans and Hawaii. There are a few from such tourist locations as Angel Stadium in Anaheim, SeaWorld San Diego and Pier 39 in San Francisco.

There are about 1,600 withdrawals in more than 35 states and the territory of Guam. And there are about 100 withdrawals at liquor stores and quite a few at Nevada casinos or slot parlors.

Three Nevada TANF withdrawals occurred on Hawaii's Big Island. / Photo: DBKing via Wikimedia Commons.

But a review of more than 65,000-plus debit card withdrawals by recipients of Nevada’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash grant program show the vast majority were made in Nevada at banks, ATMs, gas stations and grocery stores.

The records, provided by the state Division of Welfare and Supportive Services as a result of a public records request by the Nevada News Bureau, show withdrawal activity from June through December of 2011.

Some of the withdrawals with which taxpayers might take issue include a dozen transactions in Hawaii. The Hawaii withdrawals were made primarily in the Honolulu area, at the airport, a car rental firm and banks, although three transactions occurred on the Big Island.

The withdrawals at amusement parks and tourist destinations ranged from $20 at Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California to a high of $440 at one of the Honolulu locations.

View NV TANF Map fullsize

State welfare agency says benefits being used properly

Miki Allard, staff specialist with the state welfare division, said Nevada taxpayers should take comfort in knowing that the vast majority of withdrawals through the TANF program appear to conform to the purpose of the program.

“My sense is that benefits are being used for their intended purpose,” she said. “There is no definitive answer because they can go to a bank, get the money and go do whatever they want with it. But I don’t see that our tracking shows any type of pattern of abuse.

“My analysis is that taxpayers should feel that the body of evidence shows that our benefits are being paid exactly, and used exactly for what they are being paid for,” Allard said.

The Nevada News Bureau decided to review the TANF withdrawals after the Los Angeles Times reviewed records in California and found more than $69 million in TANF funds, intended to help the needy pay their rent and clothe their children, that had been spent or withdrawn outside the state, including millions in Las Vegas, hundreds of thousands in Hawaii and thousands on cruise ships sailing from Miami.

The story, published in October 2010, found $11.8 million withdrawn in Las Vegas from January 2007 through May 2010, the implication being the money was used for gambling or other entertainment purposes.

NNB’s review of Nevada’s records found money withdrawn in states from Arkansas to Wyoming, and Washington, DC as well as a small number in Guam. The Guam withdrawals were made on Marine Corps Drive, suggesting they may have been made by a military family.

About 2.4 percent of the 65,536 transactions reviewed were out-of-state. No evidence of withdrawals from cruise ships or 4-star hotels were identified, except for one withdrawal at a Washington, DC Marriott hotel.

There are no restrictions currently on where recipients can withdraw cash once they are found to be eligible for assistance. The one exception is the cards cannot be used outside of the U.S.

And the withdrawals don’t indicate for certain what products were purchased, for example whether liquor was purchased at a liquor store or whether a withdrawal at a casino means the recipient was gambling.

Some restrictions on use of TANF debit cards are coming

Congress just earlier this year imposed some limitations on where TANF funds can be withdrawn, including casinos, liquor stores and adult entertainment venues. The limitations were put in the recently approved payroll tax cut bill and require states to implement a plan to prevent benefits from being accessed in these locations within the next two years.

Nevada’s TANF benefits are not overly generous compared to many other states.

The cash grant for an eligible family of three in Nevada is $383 a month with reductions for reportable income. The amount increases with the size of the family, reaching $708 with for a family of eight with no reportable income. Families up to 130 percent of the federal poverty rate are eligible for the assistance, with some adjustments for income.

Nevada’s TANF program budget for the current fiscal year totals just under $79 million, with nearly $26 million in stand funds and $53 million in federal dollars. There were 30,100 beneficiaries as of January 2012.

Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, said the rate of questionable payments identified in the NNB review suggests that oversight efforts have been paying off in the form of fewer wasted resources, although constant revisions to the process are always necessary to keep the program one step ahead of benefit abuse.

“However, I’d also point out that it’s still difficult to gauge the government’s official ‘improper payment’ rate in TANF,” he said. “This is a somewhat broader definition that might include not only payments for questionable items or activities, but also payments to those who didn’t qualify or overpayments based on mistakes made in applications.”

Sepp cited a 2012 Government Accountability Office report on improper payments, which said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been unable to require states to participate in developing an improper payment estimate for the TANF program due to statutory limitations.

Nevada lawmakers say with some exceptions, program appears to be working as intended

Former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who resigned to run for a new Senate seat, said: “I’d say while there are a few isolated questionable withdrawals, it is very reassuring to know that the vast majority of TANF recipients seem to be utilizing the program for its intended purpose.”

Even some transactions that might appear questionable could have reasonable explanations, she said.

The modest cash grants aren’t going to stretch past food, rent and gas anyway, Leslie said.

“As I recall, we’ve only increased the monthly allotment once since the early 90s, and certainly inflation has eaten that up many times over,” she said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said the public has every right to review the data and ask questions about the use of the cards in other states and for possible inappropriate purchases here in Nevada.

Hambrick said he has particular concerns about the use of the cards in liquor stores, since it is likely that at least in some cases, benefit recipients are purchasing alcohol.

“The liquor stores bother me a little bit more,” he said. “I’m not sure how many people go into a liquor store just to use the ATM. I mean that could be true. But chances are if they are in there, I’m sure, who knows, they could be buying raffle tickets or they could be buying alcohol.”

About 100 TANF withdrawals occurred at liquor stores. / Photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons.

The small number of questionable transactions “is a pretty good batting average,” Hambrick said. Even so, the agency needs to be sure it is looking at questionable transactions, he said.

Hambrick questioned if the agency could set up a system whereby staff would get an alert if a card was used in what he called “an exception to the rule” type place such as a casino or out-of-state use.

“What I would call an exception report,” he said. “We’ve got Smith, who just rented a car in Hawaii, and they’d do some more research; oh that’s fine. Technology should allow them to pop those unique places up and at least have a quick review.”

Allard said casinos are often used for withdrawals in Nevada because they are convenient, especially for those without transportation or who live in rural areas of the state and where local casinos are an economic lifeline.

There are also no prohibitions on a recipient taking a child to a baseball game or amusement park, she said.

Out of state usage not a violation in and of itself

Allard said there are situations where a recipient in Nevada is required to travel out-of-state, to care for an elderly parent or as part of a job search with the state’s highest-in-the-nation jobless rate.

“We track out-of-state usage, and if there is a long pattern of out-of-state usage, or a repeated pattern of out-of-state usage, we will investigate that,” she said. “But just for a sporadic use out of state, we don’t feel that indicates abuse.”

Allard said the withdrawals are reviewed manually to check to see if someone is receiving benefits in two states, or if there is an out-of-state income source, and for other reasons.

The out-of-state withdrawals, which numbered in the hundreds, were at Wal-Marts and gas stations for the most part. Many out-of-state withdrawals also were in adjacent states where Nevada recipients would likely shop, from Wendover in Utah to Mountain Home, Idaho to Bullhead City, Arizona.

“The LA Times article suggested that people were living on the dole and living big and traveling all over the country and using their benefits to fund expensive vacations,” she said. “If that was your game, if you were gaming the system, mostly likely you wouldn’t come to Nevada to do it, you would go to California because their benefits are almost twice as high.”

Allard said the coming prohibitions imposed by Congress may cause hardships for some Nevada recipients. People who live in Jackpot, for example, don’t have a bank nearby and rely on the local casino, she said. Benefit recipients also aren’t always very mobile, so a mother with an infant might use an ATM at a liquor store close by rather than walk a mile to a bank, she said.

“And a lot of our clients are disabled,” Allard said. “So they are able maybe to get in their power wheelchair and go to the closest ATM available, and now they are going to find that closest ATM doesn’t work for them.”

Selected Nevada TANF Transactions June To December 2011

Merchant Name Date Address City/State Amount
Angel Stadium 06/06/2011 2000 E. Gene Autry Anaheim, CA $140
American Savings Bank 07/09/2011 700 Keeaumoku St. Honolulu, HI $60
American Savings Bank 09/02/2011 75-5595 Palani Rd. Kailua-Kona, HI $300
American Savings Bank 09/02/2011 700  Keeaumoku St. Honolulu, HI $360
Bank of America 07/02/2011 Chinatown San Francisco, CA $300
Bank of America 07/06/2011 Sedona Uptown Mall Sedona, AZ $300
Bank of America 10/02/2011 One Powell San Francisco, CA $40
Bank of America 10/05/2011 LAX Terminal 6 Departure Los Angeles, CA $100
Bank of Hawaii 09/01/2011 Times Temple V Kaneohe, HI $20
Cardtronic 06/01/2011 300 Rodgers Blvd. (Honolulu Intl. Airport) Honolulu, HI $20
Cardtronic 08/01/2011 3299 N. Nimitz Hwy. Honolulu, HI $440
CT Travel 06/02/2011 6000 N. Terminal Parkway (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Intl. Airport) Atlanta, GA $300
CT Travel 09/04/2011 11000 Terminal Access (Southwest Florida Intl. Airport.) Fort Myers, FL $300
Curbside D 08/01/2011 1030 Elysian Fields Ave. New Orleans, LA $200
Curbside D 08/01/2011 1030 Elysian Fields Ave. New Orleans, LA $300
Hard Rock 09/03/2011 Pier 39 Building Q-1 San Francisco, CA $20
Honolulu I 08/01/2011 3375 Koapaka St. Honolulu, HI $100
Honolulu I 08/01/2011 3375 Koapaka St. Honolulu, HI $40
Honolulu I 08/01/2011 3375 Koapaka St. Honolulu, HI $100
K&G Grocery 06/02/2011 98064 Kamehameha Hwy. Aiea, HI $60
Knott’s Berry Farm 08/01/2011 8039 Beach Blvd. Buena Park, CA $40
Knott’s Berry Farm 08/01/2011 8039 Beach Blvd. Buena Park, CA $20
Marriott Wardman Park 10/05/2011 2660 Woodley Park Washington, DC $380
Matsuyama Food Mart 11/01/2011 73 3454B Mamalahoa Hwy. Kailua-Kona, HI $240
Reno Aces 06/05/2011 250 Evans Ave. Reno, NV $100
Six Flags Magic Mountain 07/01/2011 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway Valencia, CA $160
Six Flags Magic Mountain 07/01/2011 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway Valencia, CA $160
U.S. Bank 07/02/2011 SeaWorld-Arcade San Diego, CA $200

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Audio clips:

Miki Allard, staff specialist with the state welfare division, says the vast majority of withdrawals through the TANF program appear to conform to the purpose of the program:

030812Allard1 :20 pattern of abuse.”

Allard says the agency tracks out-of-state usage:

030812Allard2 :22 that indicates abuse.”

Allard says Nevada’s benefits are low compared to California and so there is no incentive to “game” the system:

030812Allard3 :33 twice as high.”

Allard says a lot of Nevada’s TANF clients are disabled and can’t travel far to use the cards:

030812Allard4 :15 work for them.”

Allard says taxpayers should feel confident the benefits are being used properly:

030812Allard5 :14 being paid for.”

Assemblyman John Hambrick says the use of the cards in liquor stores is a concern:

030812Hambrick1 :17 be buying alcohol.”

Hambrick says out of the ordinary transactions should be reviewed:

030812Hambrick2 :32 in four miles.”

 

 

New Campaign Launched In Nevada To Combat Human Trafficking

By Sean Whaley | 4:23 pm February 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A new campaign aimed at helping truck drivers and truck stop employees become more aware of how to identify and alert authorities to instances of underage children being forced into acts of prostitution was announced today by two Nevada organizations.

The Nevada Trucking Association and the Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association said the campaign will use materials developed by a national organization, Truckers Against Trafficking, to help truck drivers and truck stop employees combat incidents of human trafficking.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Nevada Trucking Association and its members are sickened by the evils of human trafficking,” said Chief Executive Officer Paul Enos. “Truckers are the eyes and ears of our highways and truck stops, so we are asking truckers to notify the authorities when they see signs of these activities.”

Peter Krueger association executive with the Petroleum Marketers, said: “The Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association is committed to make this effort our top priority for 2012. Our members can make a difference by spotting and reporting underage trafficking at truck stops across Nevada.”

Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking, said: “Having the support of Nevada truckers and truck stops will prove vital to the work of Truckers Against Trafficking. This means that thousands more will become educated and equipped about the realities of domestic sex trafficking and how they can help end it. When the trucking and truck stop associations take the lead in their state it causes their membership to understand the importance of this issue and get behind it themselves.”

The Nevada Trucking Association will distribute informational DVDs to its member companies to use during training, orientation and safety seminars. Wallet-size cards will also be provided to members with information about how to recognize trafficking and what to do when it is suspected.

The Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association will use its weekly email bulletins, quarterly magazine and website to promote awareness.  It will also make the materials available from Truckers Against Trafficking to its members.

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

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, who has pursued legislation aimed at strengthening Nevada’s laws against human trafficking, said: “I am very pleased that the Nevada trucking industry and the truck stop owners have entered the war against human trafficking. This scourge must be stopped. All of us have seen the media reports on children as young as eleven being prostituted by men who are making thousands upon thousands of dollars selling the bodies of our children. We now have two allies that can have a direct effective on fighting this war.”

In a telephone interview, Hambrick said there was anecdotal evidence presented at a press conference in Southern Nevada announcing the new campaign that it has been successful in combating the problem.

“I think there will be a new dynamic on fighting this problem,” he said. “Primarily now we’ll have people on the interstates. Many times society always thinks this is downtown, in an urban area, whether it is on the Strip or in Reno. But we always forget that these truckers are going all over the country.

“It’s a team effort,” Hambrick said. “We all have to pull together. Society has to pull together to solve this problem.”

The Department of Justice estimates that currently 100,000 to 300,000 of America’s children are at risk for entering the sex for sale industry each year. Human trafficking is estimated to be the second most lucrative crime in world with annual revenue of $32 billion.

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Audio clips:

Assemblyman John Hambrick says the campaign brings a new dynamic to fighting the problem:

022212Hambrick1 :20 over the country.”

Hambrick says everyone has to help fight human trafficking:

022212Hambrick2 :05 solve this problem.”

 

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.”

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Audio clips:

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

110311Gustavson :09 received the award.”

 

Face to Face: Assemblymen John Hambrick, Mo Denis Weigh In on Immigration

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:47 pm April 26th, 2010

Tonight on Ralston’s Face to Face, Assemblyman Mo Denis and John Hambrick talked about the new immigration law in Arizona.

SB 1070 states:  “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official, where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the Unites States, a reasonable attempt shall be made when praticable to determine the immigration status of the person.”

Mo Denis questioned the definition and after-determination of the word “reasonable,” saying, “It’s going to be different to different people,” and asking about those who might be profiled, “What do they look like? Are we talking Canadian? Are we talking Asian-American? Are we talking Hispanic?”

Denis expressed concerns with the high ratio of Hispanics residing in Arizona, saying, “I think that is problematic because I think you’re then singling out one specific race.”

Hambrick disagreed. “When you have 460,000 and the vast majority happens to be a particular ethnic group, you cannot racial profile, the pool is so large,” he said.

Hambrick defended the Arizona bill based on relatively high in-state support.  “When 70% of a state, according to media reports, agree with it, that is not 70% that are Anglo.  70% of the state, that is a good mixture, whether it is Latino or Anglo. They agree it is needed,” he said.

“Unfortunately a rancher died a few weeks ago, and there was a catalyst,” he said.

Hambrick said many voters feel the federal government has let them down on the issue of immigration.

“This administration made promises prior to coming in that certain benchmarks would be met in the first year. That has not happened,” he said. “Hopefully what happens now in Arizona will be a catalyst to force Washington to get off their bottoms.”

Hambrick acknowledged there are issues with enforcement and racial profiling but said training of enforcement officers is the answer.

“The government has said that there will be training,” said Hambrick.

“What is reasonable?” he asked. “Yes, it is in the eye or the mind of the person that is behind the badge that has made that stop.”

“Their life experinces, and the different communities they come from, if the police officer happens to be Hispanic and is dealing with a Hispanic, there is a different reasonable expectation of what will be happening there,” Hambrick said.  “If it’s an Anglo and a Hispanic, again, the community will have to judge whether that police offer has done his job adequately, fairly and objectively. And that will be determined by a court.”

Answering a question about fears that the law will become oppressive and that every ethnic person will have to walk around with proof of citizenship in their pocket, Denis said it is a valid concern.

“We are familiar with 287-G, that’s been going on even here, we have been dealing with that, trying to get people to step forward on crimes, and now they are afraid,” Denis said.

(Denis said 287-G permits Nevada authorities to ask about a person’s immigration status when they are in county jail.)

“And, but, you know, people do not trust that,” said Denis. “They think that maybe some of the police officers—  You know, we have had meetings with some of the individuals here, and there are some concerns that really need to dealt with, and even with that issue, so I can see where, you know, if you’re looking for somebody reasonable, what is it that somebody looks like… And do we really have to all walk around with papers, so we can prove our citizenship?”

Both Hambrick and Denis agreed immigration reform could be an issue in the campaigns, and that Nevada voters are generally concerned with immigration policy.