Posts Tagged ‘John Lee’

State Sen. Barbara Cegavske Announces Run For Congress In New District 4

By Sean Whaley | 4:59 pm November 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, made it official today, announcing she will run for congress in the new District 4 in northern Clark and much of rural Nevada.

“I am running for Congress because I believe we can fix the serious problems facing Nevada and our country,” Cegavske said. “Our state leads the nation in unemployment and foreclosures and for far too long Washington politicians have been out of touch. Nevada voters have my word that I will work every day to get government out of the business of punishing our job creators and in the business of protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for our seniors.”

Cegavske said her campaign will focus on solutions.

“We can improve our economy and get people back to work if we send people to Congress who are committed to sound fiscal policy, sensible tax policy and regulatory reform,” she said. “I am committed to protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for our senior citizens and for future generations.”

Cegavske, representing Clark District 8 in the senate, is in the middle of her last four-year term in the upper house. She will be termed out of office in 2014.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Cegavske is the second Republican to announce for the new district, created because of Nevada’s population increase reported in the 2010 census.

Las Vegas businessman Dan Schwartz also plans to run for the seat.

Two Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, and Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, have announced they are seeking the seat as well and will face off in a primary.

The district has a healthy Democrat voter registration edge, 45.9 percent to 33.2 percent Republican. Nonpartisan voters make up 15.5 percent of the district with the remaining 5.4 percent minor party registrations.

Cegavske said she will formally announce her campaign for congress in January with a trip to all counties in the district. The district includes parts of Clark and Lyon Counties and all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties.

Cegavske began her legislative career in the Assembly in 1997, serving through 2001. She was elected to the Senate in 2002.

Gov. Sandoval Calls For Reassessment Of Homeland Security Funding Priorities

By Sean Whaley | 5:23 pm November 2nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today called for a reassessment of Nevada’s homeland security priorities given the news that federal funding for the ongoing fight against terrorism could be as much as 47 percent less in the 2012 federal fiscal year compared to last year.

Sandoval, who serves as the chairman of the Homeland Security Commission, noted that the panel’s priorities were last established in October 2010, before he was elected governor, and before many members of the current panel had been appointed to serve.

“It would helpful to me for us to go through that exercise again with the permission of the other members of the commission,” Sandoval said. “And also to have somewhat, of what I guess for lack of a better term is, a ‘state of homeland security’ both within Nevada and federally and where we may be, where we need to be, where we’re deficient.

A review of priorities would give the commission and Chris Smith, the new chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, an opportunity to have, “a reset for all of us to ensure that we’re all on the same page,” he said.

The commission agreed and set a special meeting for Jan. 7 in Las Vegas that will include a tour of the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, also known as a fusion center.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said the federal funding cuts being contemplated to states and local governments for homeland security would be on top of cuts this past 2011 fiscal year from 2010. The 2012 federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

“If you take all of the state homeland security money that comes to the local programs to include UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative) dollars, at the federal level right now at the Senate you are looking at close to a 47 percent reduction coming to state and local than that which you saw in 2011,” he said.

“So it’s even more important that we’re very specific and judicious with this money that is coming forth to the states because that funding stream is becoming significantly smaller than that which we’ve been used to in the past,” Gillespie said.

The commission also has to be flexible when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues guidelines on where the spending priorities should be, he said. Submitting grants that don’t focus on those priorities won’t get funded, Gillespie said.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Nevada was eligible for $21 million in grants in 2010, but only $14.5 million in 2011.

Funding could have been even lower but members of the House of Representatives, including Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Joe Heck, R-Nev., rejected a proposal to make UASI funding available only to the nation’s 10 largest cities, which would have excluded Las Vegas.

Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley said the reassessment should also evaluate which projects are achievable given current funding levels, and how close Nevada is to accomplishing those objectives.

The Homeland Security Commission has seen major changes since Sandoval took over as chairman of the panel. Several long-time members have left and new members are learning about the operation of the commission.

There are 14 voting members of the commission, all appointed by Sandoval. There are also non-voting members, including two representatives of the Legislature. There was some concern expressed at the August meeting that lawmaker representatives were not attending the meetings.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, the new Senate representative and a candidate for the new Congressional 4 seat, attended his first meeting. But Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, the new representative replacing Speaker John Oceguera, did not attend the meeting.

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Audio clips

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the state’s homeland security priorities need to be revisited:

110211Sandoval1 :21 where we’re deficient.”

Sandoval says the members of the Homeland Security Commission need to make sure they are in agreement on those priorities:

110211Sandoval2 :10 the same page.”

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie says federal homeland security funding could face major cutbacks in 2012:

110211Gillespie1 :21 saw in 2011.”

Gillespie says Nevada has to be even more judicious in how it spends its limited federal homeland security funding:

110211Gillespie2 :18 in the past.”

 

Wednesday Political Round-Up

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:21 pm October 26th, 2011

Some snippets and blurbs from the week so far for your enjoyment, Dear Readers:

Presidential Race

Magellan Strategies this week released an autodial poll of 673 likely Nevada GOP caucus goers. Results:

Mitt Romney – 38%

Herman Cain – 26%

Newt Gingrich – 16%

Ron Paul – 7%

Rick Perry – 5%

Michele Bachman – 2%

Rick Santorum & Jon Huntsman – 1%

Other – 1%

Also interesting, the Favorable/Unfavorable ratios from the poll:

Cain	  69%	 19%
Romney	  67%	 23%
Gingrich  63%	 26%
Bachmann  41%	 45%
Santorum  28%	 43%
Paul	  32%	 51%
Perry	  25%	 58%
Huntsman  13%	 57%
NV GOP Caucuses

The Union Leader in New Hampshire couldn’t resist one more jab at Nevada (via OpEd), but they got one thing wrong. According to NV Republican Party chair Amy Tarkanian, when the executive board voted to set the caucus date for Feb. 14, they were not aware of NH’s statute requiring that no other contests be held for seven days after their first-in-the-nation primary. Tarkanian quipped in a phone conversation this week, “That would have been nice to know.”

And just in case you were in a coma over the weekend, the NV GOP caucus date was moved to Feb. 4.

Senate Seats

Public Policy Polling says Rep. Shelley Berkley has moved into a tie with Sen. Dean Heller in the Nevada Senate race at 45%. In PPP’s last poll, in late July, Heller led 46-43.

Three dozen political action committees must believe it’s going to be close, because they have hedged their bets and given money to both Berkley and Heller in 2011, reports Ralston.

Politico writes a story on Sen. Harry Reid’s loyalty to the President.

YouTube Campaigns

Expect anti-Obama/Berkley/Reid videos like this one from the National Republican Senatorial Committee from (and the rest of Team GOP) for the next 12 months. (Black helicopters = nice touch.)

And expect lots of anti-Heller videos like this one from the Nevada Democratic Party and Team D.

And ads like this one from American Crossroads (aka Karl Rove, Inc.), who is apparently making a play for the Hispanic vote in Nevada (and I am sure elsewhere).

Congressional Races

Dina Titus talks to the Sun about her possible primary race against…someone.

Titus may well end up facing off with Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, in the 1st Congressional District, where she lives. It is is a heavily Democratic district with 43 percent Latino population, which would seem to favor Kihuen, but Titus is well-known and will be (as she confidently asserts) a formidable candidate.

State Sens. John Lee and Steven Horsford, both D-North Las Vegas, live in the brand spanking new 4th Congressional District. Horsford, the Democratic majority leader for the past four years, has the clear advantage in the match-up with Lee, who is a conservative Democrat.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, will be campaigning against Rep. Joe Heck, R-Las Vegas, in the 3rd Congressional District. Titus lost to Heck by less than 2,000 votes in 2010, but after the redistricting maps are finalized the lines and demographics will be different.

As for the 2nd District, newly elected Rep. Mark Amodei has yet to hear about a challenge, although Sharron Angle’s name keeps (inevitably) popping up as a possible primary opponent.

Ray Hagar has the run-down on Amodei’s staff hires.

Miscellaneous

Gov. Sandoval and staff sing “Home Means Nevada” in honor of Nevada Day.

Just what we need: a political reality show.

Halloween decorations are up in the Secretary of State’s Scare’s office. Ross Miller reports that this one is scaring the kids.

Also, the Governor’s mansion looks ready to go.

 

In Case You Missed It: This Week in Nevada Politics

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:07 am September 15th, 2011

Here is my latest ICYMI installment with a nice round-up of snippets, blurbs and links, Dear Readers.

Presidential Race

This week, Gov. Sandoval endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for governor.

On the eve of the CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference presidential debate in Las Vegas next month, a national Democratic-aligned group will convene a summit here.

A CNN poll says the Republican Party is split right down the middle between tea party supporters and those who do not support the movement.

RNC chief Reince Priebus this week said there still time for other candidates to get in the GOP race.

2nd Congressional District

After an easy win on Tuesday, Mark Amodei took office this morning as the newest U.S. House member representing Nevada. The oath was administered by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Amodei was sworn in along with Bob Turner, a Republican from New York who won his own special election.

The Nevada House delegation seniority, per @RollCall now goes as follows: Rep. Amodei is No. 433, Rep. JoeHeck is No. 382, and Rep. Berkley is No. 147.

A spokesman for Sharron Angle says she will be watching Nevada’s newest congressman closely.

Is a special election in Washoe County in September 2011 a national bellwether? Former Nevadan and Politico reporter Molly Ball says yes, but on the morning of the election Steve Sebelius disagreed and yesterday @RalstonFlash Tweeted the following:

Hey, Harbinger 2012 Caucus, some #s for you: NV voters NOT eligible for #nv02 special represent 65% of NV electorate. Breakdown: 46%D-32%R.

Translation:  The 2nd congressional district does not represent or reflect state voter registration statistics, nor is a special election comparable to a regular/presidential year general election, so people shouldn’t read too much into Amodei’s 20-point win in the district and/or 10-point win in Washoe County.

Congressional Candidates Without Borders

State Sen. John Lee headed to D.C. this week to talk about his congressional candidacy with Sen. Harry Reid and other Democratic Party leaders.

U.S. Senate Race

The conversation continues re: Rep. Shelley Berkley’s advocacy for legislation that benefitted her husband’s medical practice (the original New York Times story is here). Jon Ralston penned a good column saying there are (at least) two ways to look at the situation.

And Berkley tells the LVRJ she now thinks she should have disclosed.

Miscellaneous

Gov. Sandoval wants to talk to Washoe and Clark Counties about their refund requests.

UNLV might go ahead with an arena project, sans taxpayer dollars.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being asked for clarification on its recent ruling on Yucca Mountain.

Jane Ann Morrison wrote an interesting piece this week about the constitutional reasons for the “leap frogging” of Nevada’s high court judges as they take turns being Supreme Court chief.

Reid had a 20-minute Twitter town hall this week.

Lawmakers Respond to Poor Marks on Teachers’ Union Report Card

By Anne Knowles | 5:45 am August 30th, 2011

School just started and every Republican state lawmaker has already received a failing grade from Nevada’s teachers’ union.

The Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) has released its 2011 legislative session report card and the 16 Assembly and 11 Senate Republicans all earned an F, according to the statewide association.

“Taking away educators’ rights is not education reform, it’s union-busting,” said the report. “You cannot have proper reform unless the proper funding is in accompaniment. In this regard, the 2011 Legislature came up woefully short.”

But the report didn’t spare either political party.

“NSEA believes this unfortunate outcome lies at the feet of the leadership in both parties, along with Governor Sandoval,” the report says.

Only one Democrat, Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, received a failing mark, while the rest of the members of the Senate Democratic caucus got A or B grades. But more than half the Assembly Democrats fared little better than their Republican colleagues, receiving eight C and seven D grades in total.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, for example, the speaker pro tempore, who is known for her interest in education issues, received a D.

Smith was chairwoman of Assembly Ways and Means, where two major education bills, Assembly Bill 225 and AB 579 originated. AB 225 changed teacher probationary rules and supersedes collective bargaining, while AB 579 funded K-12 education. Smith was also a primary sponsor on two other key bills: AB 222, which created a leadership council to evaluate teacher performance, and AB 229, a broad reform bill.

“I’m disappointed, of course,” said Smith in reaction to her grade. “My whole adult life I’ve worked as an advocate for K-12. I understand the teachers’ union has a job to do, to represent their members on jobs and benefits.  But I’m comfortable with the packages we put forth.”

Republicans lawmakers were less concerned with the report.

“I’m not really as bothered by the failing grade for all the Republicans as I am by the failing grades in our schools,” said Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden.

Settelmeyer said the Republicans were right to work to reform collective bargaining and get rid of the so-called “last in, first out” way of laying-off teachers that protected seniority regardless of performance.

“I think the report shows how out of touch with reality the association is with both the economic situation and the desires of both parents and students,” said Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno.

Kieckhefer said NSEA’s stand on legislation showed it cared more about protecting its adult members than students.

The NSEA disagrees.

“Kids right now are going to school with fewer services and more kids in the classroom,” said Craig Stevens, director of government relations at NSEA. “If they were truly putting kids first, they wouldn’t have done what they did.”

The NSEA says the legislature gutted the budget, cutting $300 million from the previous budget and forcing a 9 percent pay cut on school employees.

In addition, says Stevens, the legislature did nothing to address the state’s budget deficit.

“To truly fix the funding problem we must fix the deficit. They’re going to walk into the next session with a billion dollar hole,” said Stevens. “At least the Democrats came out with a plan to try to fund the budget responsibly. The Republicans made no effort and sat there saying ‘no, no, no.’”

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D-North Las Vegas) said she thought lawmakers did the best they could on education measures in light of the challenges of balancing the state budget.

“In my mind, we are sent up to Carson City to make hard choices,” said Kirkpatrick. “And it could have been so much worse. If the taxes that were set to sunset had not been extended, I don’t know that I would have supported deeper cuts — but they were, so we found a way. And I think the reforms were fair.”

The Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI), a conservative think tank based in Las Vegas, characterized the report as misleading, especially on funding issues.

Victor Joecks, communications director for NPRI, said the education budget was cut in a 2010 special session by several hundred million dollars so the budget passed in 2011 actually increased funding slightly.

“It’s a false narrative that flies in the face of reform,” said Joecks of the report.

Joecks said per pupil spending will increase from $5,192 last year to $5,263 this fall and $5,374 in 2012-2013.

He also said that the nine percent cut in teacher pay cited in the report includes contributions teachers will now be making to their Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) accounts. Previously, teachers did not contribute to their retirement accounts.

 

Politicking Legislators Threatened To Delay, Kill Bills On Deadline Day

By Andrew Doughman | 8:34 pm May 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – In the end, it was Sen. Joe Hardy who saved the day. He also saved one of his pet bills in the process.

The Republican doctor from Boulder City patched up a broken legislative process that threatened to kill bills after ideological disagreements between two Democratic committee leaders had resulted in an impasse.

Today is a deadline day for bills to pass, so if the two Democrats did not reach an agreement, the bills would die.

A dispute between the chairs of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Government Affairs endangered a number of bills dear to the hearts of lawmakers in both houses.

Caught up in the standoff were Hardy’s bill establishing toll roads in Boulder City, a bill revising state contracting in an attempt to mitigate abuse and a bill revising the open meeting law, among others.

“This committee made the boycott,” said Sen. John Lee, D-North Vegas, chairman of the Senate Government Affairs Committee. “I’m determined to see that the rights of the Senate are not abused by the Assembly … We’re not enemies, but it’s not just about me and her now.”

Lee was referring to his Democratic counterpart in the Assembly, Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas.

At this point in the legislative session, bills have swapped houses so Lee’s committee was considering Assembly bills and the fate of Senate bills were in the hands of the Assembly.

This morning, Lee said he was concerned Kirkpatrick would not vote Senate bills out of her Assembly committee.

Kirkpatrick said her committee would vote on bills that are likely to pass.

“I don’t play the hostage game,” she said. “We hear them [the bills] and the committee decides.”

The standoff resulted in a day-long delay before Hardy convened the two lawmakers and struck a deal behind closed doors.

In the meantime, lobbyists from local governments – government affairs committees usually address bills affecting cities and counties – waited to hear the fate of bills they were tracking.

“It’s hectic but with so many people playing politics, I don’t remember it being this bad,” said Carole Vilardo of the Nevada Taxpayer Association.

In the end, Lee heard the Assembly bills and Kirkpatrick passed Hardy’s toll roads bill out of her committee. Before the deal was struck, Hardy had declared that bill dead.

“Joe Hardy put both teams back together,” Lee said. “Joe Hardy saved the day.”

With so much action on a deadline day, legislators are under pressure to ensure their bills pass. Sometimes that means they have personal disagreements with the legislators in whose hands the fate of their bills rests.

It happens every legislative session, said one lobbyist.

“The Legislature is like labor pains,” said Susan Fisher, a lobbyist representing several clients. “We forget and then we come back and do it all over again.”

At the end of the day, several Senate bills did not meet the deadline and the Senate voted down the open meeting law bill.

But the proposal to revise state contracting rules passed.

Hardy praised Lee and Kirkpatrick for negotiating with “grace and aplomb.”

“They are both to be commended for being able to get together after having had feelings that were so tender come to the surface,” he said. “People were depending and counting on us.”

 

Tow Truck Bill Focus Of “Huge Lobbying Effort”

By Andrew Doughman | 7:56 am May 5th, 2011

CARSON CITY – It has been called the most lobbied bill during the legislative session, and it is has nothing to do with taxes.

All the fuss is about changes to the tow truck and auto salvage industry.

In one corner are a wealthy business owner who often contributes to political campaigns, the auto insurance industry, the AFL-CIO and a former Speaker of the Assembly whose clients include  a now-indicted poker company.

In the other corner are tow truck companies, salvage yards, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and a group called the Nevada Tow Car Council.

Somewhere in the middle are two groups: citizen members of the Nevada Assembly, some of whom professed to know little of about the auto industry during a hearing yesterday, and average Nevadans who pay auto insurance and may someday have a vehicle towed.

At stake are potentially lucrative, monopolistic deals for business groups.

Senate Bill 407 would change how tow companies treat vehicles that end up in accidents in Clark County. Tow companies currently take those vehicles to their lots, where people can find their vehicles later.

A proposed amendment to the bill would allow insurance companies to contract with an independent storage lot. If you got in a wreck, your vehicle would go to the insurance company’s lot, where you could retrieve it later.

“I don’t know where all the money is coming from on that bill, but there is a huge lobbying effort on that,” said Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who heard the bill in a Senate Transportation Committee last month. “There were so many good people on both sides of it that both made good points.”

Dueling Lobbyists Argue Bill Could Create Or Destroy Monopoly

The main proponent of the bill is Bobby Ellis, a businessman who often contributes to political campaigns and owns SNAP towing.

Richard Perkins, a former Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, is lobbying the bill on behalf of Ellis.

Former Speaker Richard Perkins (center), meets with lobbyists and Bobby Ellis, a Henderson businessman, after a legislative hearing. Perkins says Senate Bill 407 does not favor Ellis. "It just gives a level playing field so everyone can compete," he said. /PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

He said that just two tow companies get all the business for vehicles involved in accidents. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police authorize Ewing Brothers and Quality Towing to tow cars from accident scenes.

“A monopoly is what they have now,” he said, noting complaints of price gouging and abuse.

Those two companies can charge fees ratified by the Nevada Transportation Authority.

The bill would allow insurance companies to contract with companies offering lower fees, Perkins said.

“This really opens it up for people instead of protecting the current monopoly,” he said. “You shouldn’t be a victim of an accident and of a tow company. … If they weren’t raping the public we wouldn’t be here in the first place.”

Opponents to the bill note that Ellis is a consultant for Insurance Auto Auctions, which bought his salvage yard several years ago. They say this gives him an in with insurance companies and a reason to contract with Ellis.

Towing company representatives like Paul Enos say that the bill will create a monopoly for Ellis.

Ellis contended that this is not true.

“A lot of people say this is a special interest bill, but I may not even get a contract out of it,” he said.

Opponents to the bill said it has little to do with auto insurance consumers and people who get in accidents. They say that the bill ultimately benefits Ellis and the insurance industry.

“They will absorb the savings, it will never get to the consumer,” said Jason Kent of Quality Towing. “This bill would make us give up the most profitable part of our business.”

Most tow truck companies earn a hefty chunk of their revenue from storing vehicles, said Dennis Milk of Tow Guys towing company.

Some vehicles then move along to salvage yards or auto auction companies, two of which testified against the bill.

Sam McMullen, a lobbyist representing Copart Auto Auctions told a legislative committee “that kind of relationship” between Ellis and Insurance Auto Auctions gave his client concern about the bill.

Sam McMullen, lobbyist for Copart Auto Auctions meets with lobbyists for tow truck companies and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department prior to a legislative hearing. McMullen said Ellis' business relationships "cause concern" for this client. /PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Michael Geeser, lobbyist for AAA, said that cost savings may not necessarily pass along to consumers.

“At least it gives us one more choice and a chance to perhaps bring prices down,” he told a legislative committee.

AFL-CIO representative Danny Thompson said the bill would help average Nevadans.

Representatives from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said they did not want to become “agents” for insurance companies in directing vehicles to the storage lots insurance companies designate.

Both proponents and opponents agreed on a portion of the bill that mandates the Nevada Transportation Authority to develop a standard set of fees for the tow truck and storage lot industry, which should help Nevadans.

Choice Of Committee Stirs Controversy

Further complicating the matter is the committee to which the bill was sent.

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D- North Las Vegas, is the chairman of the Commerce and Labor committee that heard the bill yesteraday.

Opponents of the bill noted Atkinson is also the recipient of a trip to London paid for by Perkins on behalf of his client, Pokerstars, a company which is now under federal investigation.

Perkins called those implications a “cheap shot” and a “smear campaign.”

Henderson businessman Bobby Ellis was at the Nevada Legislature to support Senate Bill 407. He said the bill is about consumers. "All their (towing industry) gravy and all these charges will go away and it'll help the consumer,

Opponents of the bill pointed at the thousands of dollars Ellis contributed to members of the Commerce and Labor committee.

But groups such as the Nevada Motor Transport Association, which represents tow truck companies and others, also made donations to members of that committee.

If anything, the allegations proved there is money in the fight, and there are a gaggle of lobbyists on both sides who will hope to turn the ear of a member of Nevada’s Assembly before the bill returns for a vote.

The committee has yet to take action on the bill.

 

 

 

 

In Surprise Vote, Motorcycle Helmet Choice Bill Passes Committee

By Andrew Doughman | 7:37 pm April 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, had written off his bill as dead when he learned this afternoon that Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Las Vegas, was giving it a vote.

The senator was even more tickled when he realized his bill had the votes to pass out of committee.

The bill would let people ride motorcycles without helmets if they are 21 years of age or older, have had a motorcycle license for more than one year and have completed a safety course.

Gustavson has introduced the bill for the past five legislative sessions.

The bill passed out of committee on a 4 to 3 vote with three Democrats voting against, three Republicans voting for and Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, casting the tie-breaking “yes” vote.

Despite being against the bill, Breeden said she wanted to give the bill a chance.

“I believe we vetted all the bills and I thought it should have an opportunity for folks to vote on it,” she said. “…I know how it’s going to come out, but I still thought it was the right thing to do.”

The chair of the committee decides whether to bring up a bill for a vote. In Nevada’s case where the majority of legislators in the Senate and Assembly are Democrats, all committees have a Democratic chairperson.

Often, the bills brought forward to a vote reflect the political hue – red or blue – of the chairperson.

Republicans voiced their support for Gustavson’s bill.

Sen Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, called the bill a “great liberty bill.” She also said the bill could be a way to bring jobs to Nevada, echoing Gustavson’s earlier arguments that motorcycle events and interest in riding will grow if the law is repealed.

Sen. Michael Schneider, D-Las Vegas, disagreed.

“This is a great jobs bill for the medical community,” he quipped. “There’s a huge, huge expense in this. I would dispute what Sen. Halseth is saying.”

He said that helmets provide protection from more serious injuries when motorcycle riders are involved in accidents. Removing a requirement to wear one could lead to gruesome injuries and more fatal crashes, he said.

Lee said wearing a helmet or not wearing a helmet was a “personal right.”

Schneider said that society ends up paying for that personal right.

“It costs society so much money that, you know, the cheap way out is that people die,” he said. “They hit their head on the curb and die. That’s cheap.”

Otherwise society pays the medical bills for people in assisted living homes, he said.

In the end, Nevada Sens. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, and Dean Rhoads, R-Elko, joined Halseth and Lee to pass the bill out of committee.

The bill is now headed for the Senate floor.

 

 

Senate Hears Bill That Would Allow Guns On College Campuses

By Andrew Doughman | 12:13 pm March 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – When the Amanda Collins testified before a Senate committee, she recounted an emotional story of her brutal assault at University of Nevada, Reno campus.

Collins said she was defenseless when serial rapist and convicted murderer James Biela attacked her in a UNR parking garage.

She was testifying in support of a bill from Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, that would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring their firearms onto Nevada’s college and university campuses.

Collins had a permit to carry a concealed firearm, but had left it at home knowing that it was illegal to carry her weapon onto campus.

“The unanswered question of my life is and will remain to be, ‘what would have changed if I was carrying my weapon that night?’” she said.

Earlier this summer it took a Nevada jury just six hours to convict Biela of the rape and murder of Brianna Denison. Biela was also found guilty of three other felony charges, including the rape of a Collins in October 2007 and the rape and kidnapping of another woman a few months later.

In her testimony this morning, Collins raised a question that guided the several hours of testimony that followed: “what if?”

Gun advocates, firearms safety businesses and students said people must pass rigorous requirements to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon; they know the law and would not misuse their firearms. If firearms are allowed on campus, people on campus would be more safe, they said.

“It’s important to know that law-abiding citizens are just that: law abiding,” Lee said.

Furthermore, the senator said, the current ban creates an “arbitrary line” between on-campus and off-campus that oftentimes is no more different than one side of the street from the other.

Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, teaches night classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He said that his students sometimes do not feel safe leaving his class.

“They are very cognizant of the fact that there are places around the campus that are not the safest,” he said.

Hammond said would feel safer if trained permit carriers were in his classes.

Hours of testimony from individuals provided the committee with a series of situations. If “bad guys” were to attempt violent acts on campuses, the ability to carry a firearm on campuses would allow people to protect themselves.

“To single out college students and staff and leave them more vulnerable than the rest of the population just seems unfair,” said Scott Durward, a firearms trainer for Blackbird Tactical Training in Reno.

Adam Garcia, police chief at UNR, said that campuses are safer than the surrounding community. But in regards to Collins, who was still in the room when Garcia testified, he said “we failed miserably.”

Garcia and other representatives from police departments throughout Nevada opposed the bill, saying it would make campuses less safe if guns were to be allowed. He said raucous sporting events involving alcohol and firearms could pose a security threat.

“These events could become killing fields,” Garcia said.

Frank Adams, representing the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association, said that the bill poses “grave concerns.” If guns were to be allowed on campuses, he asked the committee what procedures police would follow in terms of storing guns in dormitories and managing guns at sports events.

He also said that Nevada’s Board of Regents generally govern their own affairs. This bill would be unusual because it instructed the board to act a certain way.

“Many private businesses elect to restrict any weapons, concealed or not,” Adams said.

Jim Richardson of the Nevada Faculty Alliance said that the bill would mandate that universities allow people with permits to carry their guns on campus while not changing laws governing allowing firearms in the Legislature, airports and the other government buildings.

After three hours of testimony, Lee held the bill for further discussion.