Posts Tagged ‘John Oceguera’

Congressional Candidates in District 3, 4, Discuss Issues In Statewide Televised Debates

By Sean Whaley | 12:04 am October 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Candidates in two of Nevada’s hotly contested Congressional races debated the issues Thursday in separate 30-minute discussions on public television.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., faced off against state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, in the 3rd Congressional race, while Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian debated state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in the race for the newly created 4th Congressional District.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

Heck has a slight lead in the District 3 race in Las Vegas, while Tarkanian has a modest edge in District 4 despite the strong Democratic registration advantage in the district that covers northern Clark County and much of rural Nevada.

Oceguera called the federal Affordable Care Act “a good start” that needs to be expanded, while noting that Heck has voted repeatedly to oppose the measure.

Good elements of the bill include no caps on medical costs and prohibitions on excluding people for preexisting conditions, he said.

Heck, a physician, agreed there are good elements in the bill, but that Congress needs to repeal the law and replace it with a better measure making health insurance affordable for everyone.

On the issue of Social Security, Heck was asked about a comment he made in 2011 but later backed off from when he called the program a “pyramid scheme.” Congress needs to look at a variety of options increase the solvency of Social Security, including looking at raising the retirement age, he said.

“Part of the problem right now is the high unemployment rates under this administration, and we have fewer people paying into the system because they are not working,” he said. “So the first thing to help shore up Social Security is get the economy started, get people back to work, so more people are paying into the system.”

3rd Congressional District candidate John Oceguera.

Oceguera said Heck has repeated the pyramid scheme statement on several occasions, making it clear he wants to privatize it. Oceguera said he would work to preserve and protect the program, not privatize it.

Oceguera was asked about his goal of protecting small business while at the same time supporting the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year. He said the expiration of the tax cuts has to be part of a balanced approach that includes elements such as ending tax cuts for big oil companies and those companies shipping jobs overseas.

Heck said Oceguera voted in the Assembly to raise taxes on business, and the National Republican Congressional Committee has made his legislative record the focus of a campaign spot.

But Oceguera said that vote actually lowered payroll taxes for a majority of Nevada businesses.

The biggest controversy in the 30-minute discussion was an ad being run by Oceguera criticizing Heck, a former state Senator, for votes on a rape crisis center and abortion.

The ad cites Heck’s 2007 vote on a bill funding a crisis center, and also says the Republican tried to restrict access to abortion for victims of rape.

Oceguera said he stands by the ad.

“Congressman Heck’s record on women, women’s health and safety, is clear,” he said. “He voted to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, he voted twice to defund Planned Parenthood. He voted to make it so that the IRS could go in and audit a rape victim to ask them to have them prove that they had been raped.”

Heck said Oceguera’s statements are blatantly false and have been rejected by the media.

“The votes that he references in the Senate were the end of session pork bills that had 30 to 40 different little pet projects, some of which were very reasonable and very worthwhile, but which never received a public hearing,” he said. “I’m into transparency and accountability. If my opponent wants to pass bills and pet projects and pork in the middle of the night, what will he do in Congress?”

In the second debate, Tarkanian spent much of his time criticizing Horsford for what he said were mischaracterizations of his positions.

Horsford said his references to Tarkanian’s positions on Medicare privatization, immigration and other issues are accurate and point out his extreme positions.

Tarkanian said he supported Arizona’s anti-immigration law because the state had a right to do what it thought necessary to protect the health and safety of its residents. Nevada’s elected officials have to review for themselves if such a law is needed here, he said.

Horsford says Congress needs to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Tarkanian criticized Horsford for consistently voting in the Legislature to raise taxes on business.

“He does have a record and it’s a failing record,” he said.

Horsford said he is proud of his record in the Legislature, working across party lines to create jobs and reduce payroll taxes on small business.

“He’s not accurate,” Horsford said. “I have a strong record, he does not.”

He said Tarkanian has run for office four times and been rejected by voters because of his extreme positions.

Tarkanian said Horsford has spent years in the Legislature but has failed to come up with plans to create jobs.

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Audio clips:

Rep. Joe Heck says Congress needs to consider changes to preserve the Social Security system:

101112Heck :13 into the system.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says he stands by an ad criticizing Heck’s positions on women’s health and safety:

101112Oceguera :20 had been raped.”

 

Gov. Sandoval Says Effect Unclear On Nevada Medicaid, Delegation, Candidates Weigh In On Affordable Care Ruling

By Sean Whaley | 11:04 am June 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding much of the Affordable Care Act on the state’s Medicaid program remain unclear.

“The implications for Medicaid costs are still unclear, but Nevada will prepare to meet the serious financial implications of this decision,” he said in a statement shortly after the court ruled.

The court said in the ruling today that states could not be penalized if they did not go along with the Medicaid provisions in the law.

In an interview today on the Nevada NewsMakers program as the decision was announced, Sandoval said his intention would be not to opt in to the Medicaid expansion because of the costs to the state.

“And as I have said all along, that if that component had been found constitutional, it would cost us $60 million in this budget and $100 million in future budgets,” he said in the interview. “We can’t afford that. And to make that decision and to opt into that program, would mean that I would have to look at cutting education, at other what I think are untenable outcomes. So as I sit here today, it wouldn’t be my intention for this state to opt in.”

A statement from Sandoval’s office issued later in the day said the decision indicates states will have an option to expand Medicaid, but, “additional guidance is needed in order to understand the penalties for not expanding the Medicaid program and we must determine if there are savings to the general fund by shifting existing costs to the federal government. We will continue to examine today’s opinion to fully understand its implications.

“Therefore, given what we know today, the governor does not intend to automatically accept the Medicaid expansion,” the statement said. “These serious budgetary implications, including the impact on education spending, require further analysis – not just of the next biennial budget but of the long-term costs. Further information will be provided as the budgeting process unfolds over the next few months.”

In his initial statement on the ruling, Sandoval also said: “I believe the Congress should act to reform this law and ease the serious burdens it places on the states and the nation’s businesses. The American people remain deeply divided on the wisdom of this law and they are still entitled to see it changed.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he too wants to see the law changed.

U.S. Supreme Court.

“This law has now been affirmed as a colossal tax increase on the middle class, and its excessive regulations are stripping businesses of the certainty they need to hire at a time when Nevadans and the rest of the country are desperate for jobs,” he said. “The president should work with Congress to find real solutions to healthcare reform so the excessive mandates and taxes in this law do not further add to our national debt or continue to stifle economic growth.

“This onerous law needs to be repealed and replaced with market-based reforms that will provide greater access, affordability, and economic certainty to our nation,” Heller said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the matter is now settled.

“It’s time for Republicans to stop refighting yesterday’s battles,” he said.

“I’m pleased to see the Supreme Court put the rule of law ahead of partisanship, and ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional,” Reid said. “Passing the Affordable Care Act was the greatest single step in generations toward ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for every American – regardless of where they live or how much money they make.

“No one thinks this law is perfect,” Reid said. “But Democrats have proven we’re willing to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said the ruling doesn’t make the health care act a good law.

“This is still the same flawed bill that was forced through Congress on a party line vote in the dead of night with special interest provisions like the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ and the ‘Louisiana Purchase’,” he said. “And today we have learned that the law amounts to a huge tax increase on the American people in a struggling economy. We know that a majority of Americans think the law should be repealed and that it will increase health care costs, reduce access to care and add to our deficit.

“Instead of injecting more government into our health care system, our focus should be on patients, especially our seniors who rely on access to quality health care,” Heck said. “Our system is working for most Americans and it can work for all Americans through common sense reforms like moving insurance coverage towards an individual-based model, increasing competition by allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, incentivizing the purchase of insurance through tax credits, and letting people, not the government, decide what services they need and want.

“The Supreme Court had their word on June 28, but the American people will have the final word on November 6,” Heck said.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera said it is time to refocus on jobs.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who is challenging Heck in the 3rd Congressional District, said: “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it’s time that those in Washington moved on from trying to score political points instead of finding solutions. This decision doesn’t change the reality that too many Nevada families and small businesses are struggling to pay for the rising costs of health care.

“One thing we know for sure, if Washington politicians don’t stop the bickering and finger pointing and focus on what matters – creating jobs and getting our economy back on track – nothing will get done,” he said. “This shouldn’t be about politics – it should be about getting something done.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said it is time to repeal the law.

“Advocates for Washington-based management of health care and unprecedented tax increases on the middle class won today,” he said. “However, I will continue to work for patient-centered solutions, reductions in health care costs, and improving health care access for all Nevadans.

“I look forward to the opportunity to vote the week of July 9 for full repeal of this harmful government intrusion into health care,” Amodei said. “Congress created this mess and it’s our responsibility to clean it up. We owe it to the middle class to give them specific, well-thought out options focusing on portability of insurance across state lines and affordability, while not interfering with the patient-doctor relationship.

“This 2,700-page monster offends seniors, veterans, middle class families and employers,” he said. “I will continue to take every opportunity to repeal and address this mess for Nevadans in a practical way without picking political winners and losers.”

State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he was pleased with the ruling.

In a campaign email, the 4th Congressional Democratic candidate said: “Today’s decision is a victory for those with pre-existing conditions, for women who now don’t have to pay more than men for care, and for Nevada seniors who will save on prescription drugs.

“Now Republicans in the House are scheduling a vote to repeal the health care law, instead of working on a jobs bill,” Horsford said. “The Republican Congress needs to stop playing political games and start working on getting our economy moving and creating jobs for Nevadans.”

GOP Congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian said the law needs to be repealed.

The candidate for the 4th Congressional seat said: “I have consistently stood against Obamacare and remain committed to its full repeal. Rather, we need to press forward with legislation that will extend the same tax incentives that businesses receive for providing health insurance to individuals who purchase their own plans. We need to get serious about tort reform and stabilize Medicare reimbursement rates. We need to make insurance portable and purchasable across state lines.

“When they should be focusing on promoting economic growth and creating jobs, Democrats insist instead on ramming through job-killing policies that increase taxes on Americans, like Obamacare,” Tarkanian said.

There was no immediate response from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

A big issue for Nevada is what the ruling means to the state’s Medicaid program.

The head of Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services said in May that as many as 150,000 more residents will be eligible for Medicaid coverage if the state has to comply with the Medicaid provisions. Bringing new residents onto the rolls was estimated to cost the state an estimated $574 million between now and 2020, said HHS Director Mike Willden.

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Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says it would not be his decision to opt into the Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act:

062812Sandoval :24 to opt in.”

 

 

CD3 Candidate John Oceguera Side Steps Question Of Support For Federal Health Care Law, Offers No Plan on Key Issues

By Sean Whaley | 9:10 pm May 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker and 3rd Congressional District candidate John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, declined today to say whether he supports the federal health care law now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oceguera, who is termed out of office in the Assembly, said it is premature to comment on the law given the fact that it is awaiting a decision on its constitutionality by the nation’s high court.

CD3 candidate John Oceguera.

“What I say is, if we can make health care more transparent, make insurance companies more transparent, and get the cost of health care down, then I’m for that.”

Oceguera, interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program, repeatedly declined to state a position on the law. Oceguera is challenging Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in a race that has attracted several other candidates as well.

Heck won the seat in 2010 after defeating then-Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who voted for the health care law. Titus was one of many Democrats in Congress who was defeated after voting for the controversial health care legislation. Titus is now a candidate for congress in the 1st Congressional District.

Heck, a physician, opposes the health care law.

Asked about comments by Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, that Nevada will have to add 150,000 people to the Medicaid program and spend $574 million between now and 2020 if the health care law is upheld, Oceguera offered qualified support for increased access to health care.

Willden made the comments in an interview televised today on Nevada NewsMakers and reported by the Nevada News Bureau.

“I think that if we can make health care more accessible, that is a laudable goal and we ought to do that,” Oceguera said.

A now retired North Las Vegas firefighter, Oceguera said he knows firsthand that for many people, it was dialing 911 that was their option to gain access to medical care.

“I don’t think that is the way it should work,” he said.

Oceguera pushed for a bill in the 2011 legislative session that would have imposed more transparency on rate increases sought by health insurance companies. Assembly Bill 309 passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In his veto message Sandoval said the goals of the measure were laudable, but that the bill “does more harm than good and seems to impose duplicative regulatory requirements.”

Oceguera took the opportunity during the interview to criticize Heck for what he said were comments that minimized Nevada’s foreclosure crisis in 2008 by calling it a blip on the radar and for not being proactive in dealing with the problem.

A House committee held a hearing on the crisis in Las Vegas in March at Heck’s request.

Oceguera said job creation is the key to the foreclosure crisis.

“You fix this economy, you get it back on track, you balance the budget the right way,” he said. “That helps put people back to work. If they’ve got a job they can make their house payment.”

But Oceguera offered few specifics on how to end the foreclosure crisis or protect Medicare. He also declined to take a position on the federal stimulus bill.

Oceguera also responded to questions about a column written by Las Vegas Review-Journal Glenn Cook last month calling him a “world class hypocrite” for championing the middle class after retiring at age 43 to collect a lifetime public pension.

Oceguera said he was fortunate to be a firefighter and that he “did it by the book.”

The election is about priorities and getting the economy back on track, he said.

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Audio clips:

Congressional candidate John Oceguera says he is for more transparency to get the cost of health care down:

050712Oceguera1 :08 I’m for that.”

Oceguera says getting people back to work is key to solving the foreclosure crisis:

050712Oceguera3 :14 their house payment.”

GOP Assembly Candidate Criticizes Democrat Incumbent For Napa Valley Fundraiser

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:29 pm April 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Republican Assembly District 37 candidate Wes Duncan today called on his Democratic opponent, Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, to cancel a pharmaceutical fundraiser in Napa, California set for Wednesday.

“With Nevada businesses struggling, I cannot believe that Assemblyman Conklin would hold a fundraiser in Napa, California,” Duncan said. “Assemblyman Conklin talks about promoting business in Nevada, but when it comes to his own campaign, he is happy to send his money out of state when most Nevadans are facing difficult times.”

Napa Valley. / By Aaron Logan, from http://www.lightmatter.net/gallery/albums.php {{cc-by}} via Wikimedia Commons.

Duncan said the state’s elected representatives should be focused on bringing business back to Nevada, including large political fundraisers that would give business to Nevada restaurants and resorts, purchase Nevada products and employ Nevada workers.

“This campaign definitely won’t be holding fundraisers in California that don’t help Nevada businesses,” he said.

The Conklin campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment on Duncan’s criticisms.

Duncan and Conklin are the only two candidates in the race for District 37, located in Clark County.

Conklin is not the first Nevada Assembly Democrat to be criticized for an out-of-state fundraiser.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, a candidate for the 3rd Congressional District in Las Vegas now held by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., also came in for some criticism for holding lavish fundraisers, including a wine tasting event in Napa, in his 2009-10 Assembly re-election bid.

Oceguera defended the events, saying campaigns are more competitive and require more innovation.

Nevada 2012 Political Races Crystallize As Candidate Filing Period Ends

By Sean Whaley | 5:42 pm March 16th, 2012

(Updated to reflect that one of the Senate races in play is District 18, not District 19.)

CARSON CITY – After months of prognostications and political maneuvering, Nevada’s 2012 election season crystallized today as the state’s two-week filing period for public office came to a close.

Next up: A June 12 primary followed by the Nov. 6 general election, which will see a lengthy ballot topped by the presidential race, a competitive U.S. Senate race and four congressional contests.

Also at stake is control of the state Legislature, particularly the state Senate, where Democrats have a razor thin 11-10 majority.

Nevada is a battleground state in the presidential contest, a state President Obama won in 2008. Turnout for the presidential race is expected to have a major impact on “down ballot” races.

As evidence of Nevada’s importance, President Obama is making another trip to Southern Nevada on Wednesday to tour a Boulder City solar facility.

A number of minor party and independent candidates are vying for a number of elective offices as well.

The U.S. Senate race will see primaries for both parties, with incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., facing a handful of challengers. Heller was appointed to the Senate in May by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of John Ensign.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is challenging Heller for the seat, also faces several Democrat challengers.

In the 1st Congressional District in urban Las Vegas, where former Democrat Rep. Dina Titus is viewed as the favorite to succeed Berkley, there are no other filed Democrats. Several Republicans have filed for the seat as well.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who won the seat in a special election in September 2011, is also the favorite to win a full term. He has no GOP opponents. Several Democrats have also filed for the seat.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., faces a challenge from Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas. Heck is seeking a second term. Other candidates representing both parties have also filed.

In the 4th Congressional District, created by Nevada’s population increase based on the 2010 census, Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, is the only Democrat, while a crowded field of Republicans, including state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, and Danny Tarkanian, have filed.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Twelve state Senate seats are in play in the 2012 elections, and Democrats and Republicans expect a fierce battle to win control of the 21-member body.

There are several Senate races that could affect the balance of power, and the two major parties have already picked their candidates in most of the contests:

- Senate District 5, where former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk, a Republican, faces Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse. Republican Annette Teijeiro is also a candidate in the race.

- Senate District 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison is facing businessman and Democrat Benny Yerushalmi. Thomas Welsh is also a Democrat in the race.

- Senate District 9, where Republican Mari Nakashima St. Martin faces Democrat Justin Jones. Brent Jones is also a GOP candidate, and Frederick Conquest has filed as a Democrat.

- Senate District 15, where incumbent Greg Brower, R-Reno, faces former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who resigned her Senate 13 seat to challenge the attorney who was appointed to fill out the term of the late Sen. Bill Raggio.

- Senate District 18, where Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, faces Democrats Kelli Ross and Donna Schlemmer. The Democrat Senate caucus has not yet endorsed in this race. Assemblyman Richard McArthur, R-Las Vegas, and Republican Conrad Vergara, have also filed.

Early today, a number of state senate candidates were unopposed. By 5 p.m., however, showing how competitive the two parties are, every race had at least two candidates.

The Assembly is less likely to see a switch away from Democrat control.

While Assembly Republicans see an opportunity to make gains on Democrats in the 2012 general election, they have an uphill battle with only 16 of 42 seats currently.

A few Assembly incumbents ended up running unopposed, including Republicans Ira Hansen in District 32, Pat Hickey in District 25, Tom Grady in District 38 and John Ellison in District 33, all of which are in northern Nevada.

In Clark County, Democrats Marilyn Kirkpatrick in District 1, Harvey Munford in District 6, Oliva Diaz in District 11, Richard Carillo in District 18, and Republican  John Hambrick in District 2, also face no opponents.

More than 230 candidates filed for various offices in Clark County.

Dozens more filed with the Secretary of State, Washoe County and with election officials in the other counties around the state.

One potential candidate who opted not to run is Republican Sharron Angle, a former member of the state Assembly who ran against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2010.

Instead Angle announced on her website that she is going to produce a documentary on voter fraud, a statement that prompted a response from Secretary of State Ross Miller, who oversaw the 2010 Nevada general election where Reid handily beat Angle.

“Our multi-jurisdictional Election Integrity Task Force has always aggressively investigated any leads and successfully prosecuted election law violations,” Miller said in response to media requests for comment. “However, we can’t send out our investigators until we have basic information about what crime may have been committed, when it happened and who may have been involved. The unsupported fraud claims on Ms. Angle’s campaign website don’t give us enough information to even open up a case file.

Outpouring Of Appreciation And Respect From Nevadans For Legacy Of Late Sen. Bill Raggio

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:12 pm February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Here is a selection of comments made by Nevada public officials today following the announcement of the death of former state Sen. Bill Raggio:

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Bill Raggio. There are no words to describe his dedication to the state of Nevada and I wish to express my deepest condolences and prayers for his wife Dale, and his family. Bill was a true statesman who dedicated his life to making Nevada a better place to live. His legacy will be remembered for generations to come.”

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid: “He always fought for Nevada and his invaluable contributions and service to our state will live on.”

Former Sen. Bill Raggio. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera: “No one has ever loved this state more or had a more passionate desire to make things better for the people who live here. His ability to bring people together to get things done was legendary. At times, he may have been an adversary on a particular issue, but he was always a true leader, a teacher and a friend.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki: “He was a remarkable man, and I am honored to have been able to call him a mentor, a colleague and a friend. Bill was a true public servant and his sole agenda was simply to make Nevada a better place. He has left an unmatched political footprint upon our state, and the citizens will reap the rewards of this gifted and decent gentleman for many years to come.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley: “I was deeply saddened to learn of Bill Raggio’s passing. He was nothing short of a giant in Nevada politics and a fierce advocate for the state he loved, especially the north. His dedicated public service has improved the lives of thousands of Nevada families and his tireless work on higher education has left a permanent mark on this state.”

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto: “Bill was a great statesman whose political career began when he was elected as the Washoe County district attorney. He was a stellar prosecutor who valiantly protected the citizens of Northern Nevada. Bill will always be remembered for his impassioned service and dedication to the law enforcement community.”

Nevada Republican Party Chairman James Smack: “Today Nevada Republicans across the state mourn the loss of a great leader and the loss of an even greater friend. While it is a sad day for all Nevadans, it is only appropriate to remember the legacy and leadership he left behind for us to follow.”

The Nevada System of Higher Education: “Much will be said in the coming days and weeks about the lifetime of accomplishments of this giant of a man. However, for those of us in higher education, indeed the whole education community, we pause to thank this man who came from humble immigrant roots and rose to great power, in part by public education.”

Andy Matthews, president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute: “Those who have followed NPRI’s work over the years know that we have both agreed and disagreed with Mr. Raggio’s views on various policy issues. But there was never any doubt as to his love for Nevada and his commitment to making it a better place to live. For that, he will always have our respect and our admiration.”

The Nevada Senate Republican Caucus: “Sen. Raggio epitomized the term ‘public servant.’ As a district attorney and legislator, Sen. Raggio was committed to doing the right thing for the people of Nevada. He was a tireless advocate for higher education, believing that it was the gateway to a better life for any Nevadan. He will be missed greatly.”

Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Saitta: “Sen. Raggio was always a friend to the judiciary and often our champion. He clearly understood that a strong Nevada requires a strong and independent judicial branch of government. Sen. Raggio was an icon, a consummate statesman and one of the most knowledgeable and pragmatic legislators ever to serve the people of Nevada.”

Senate Secretary David Byerman:  “Today, the Nevada Senate has lost a paragon of eloquence. We will miss Sen. Raggio, but the Nevada Senate – an institution that Sen. Raggio loved – has been molded by his wit and wisdom forevermore.”

State Job Creation Efforts Move Forward With Funding Of New Economic Development Office

By Sean Whaley | 6:00 pm December 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Efforts by Gov. Brian Sandoval and state lawmakers to encourage new business creation, relocation and expansion in Nevada took a major step forward today when the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee approved nearly $3.5 million to fund a new economic development office.

The funding will enable Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, to develop a state economic development plan and hire the staff needed to move forward on private sector job creation efforts.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The state plan, relying in part on research performed by the Brookings Institution and SRI International, is expected to be released in early February. The report identified seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging, such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

Lawmakers peppered Hill with questions ranging from the measures that will be used to determine the success of his agency’s efforts at job creation to the proposed salaries of the eight positions that will be filled with a portion of the funding.

Positions approved for his office include three industry specialists at a maximum salary of $110,000 each, an industry analyst with a maximum salary of $90,000, a communications manager with a maximum salary of $80,000, and a technology commercialization director with a maximum salary of $110,000. There are also two support positions with maximum salaries of $40,000.

The new approach to economic development is the result of Assembly Bill 449, a measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, and supported by Gov. Brian Sandoval and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers. The bill also established a $10 million Catalyst Fund to help firms relocated or expand in Nevada. The money will be used to provide grants to local governments for economic development projects.

“I am in the process of finishing my 10th week on the job,” Hill told lawmakers. “And I think I can provide very solid reasons for the request that we’re making today. But we’re also learning as we’re going along. We understand that resources are tight, not only throughout Nevada but through the country, and we want to spend this money in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

In response to lawmaker questions, Hill said the state plan will include ways to measure the success of the new effort.

“There will be a detailed description of how we will measure progress in economic development and in the development of our economy in the state,” he said.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, chairwoman of the IFC, asked Hill if the funding request is premature since the state plan has not yet been published.

“So I think the question is, without the state plan, where is the confidence level in moving forward with all of these positions and this work without the state plan being done, kind of relying solely on the Brookings report?” she asked.

Hill said the budget request will be in alignment with the state plan.

“And finally I think we all sense, the governor and the Legislature, everybody involved in economic development throughout the state, and the citizens of Nevada, an urgency to get started on this,” he said.

Nevada’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation.

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Audio clips:

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development says he wants to spend the money as efficiently as possible:

121511Hill1 :27 efficient way possible.”

Hill says the state plan will provide clear ways to measure progress:

121511Hill2 :11 in the state.”

Hill says there is an urgency to get started on the agency’s efforts:

121511Hill3 :16 started on this.”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith questions the timing of the funding request without a state plan in place:

121511Smith :23 the Brookings report.”

 

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.

 

Nevada Legislative Representatives Are No Shows At Homeland Security Commission Meetings

By Sean Whaley | 4:20 pm August 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Legislature’s representatives at the state Homeland Security Commission meetings have been no shows this year, and the lack of participation is being cited as a concern by members of the panel, including Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The commission met Wednesday and Bob Fisher, president and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association and a member of the commission, said the failure of legislative leaders to either attend or send alternates to the meeting is a concern.

His concern was echoed by Sandoval, who is now serving as the chairman of the commission.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, is listed as a nonvoting member of the panel but he did not attend the meeting.

Fisher said the Senate majority leadership has not yet selected a representative to serve on the commission.

Nevada state law says the Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker are to appoint one non-voting member each.

Sandoval appoints the 14 voting members of the commission.

The previous representative from the Senate was former Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, who attended many of the commission meetings during his tenure.

According to minutes of the commission meetings and workshops, Oceguera attended one of 14 meetings since Jan. 2009, in June of 2009. No member of the Senate has attended a meeting this year.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, could not be reached for comment.

In response to the concerns, Oceguera said that as a non-voting member, his presence is not required at every meeting of the commission.

“That being said, I am in constant contact with members of the committee and I’m fully briefed on the committee’s important work,” he said. “Further, as an assistant fire chief, my job entails dealing with homeland security issues on a daily basis.”

Oceguera said that with his time in the Legislature coming to an end, he is in the process of appointing a new Assembly representative to the commission.

Fisher said that if legislative leaders cannot attend, then maybe they could designate alternates to represent the Legislature at the meetings.

Bob Fisher, president and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association and member of the Nevada Homeland Security Commission.

Fisher said the failure of lawmakers to attend the meetings has been raised as a concern at previous meetings as well.

“I think it is a concern because look at the meeting today,” he said. “There is so much that has been covered.”

Earlier in the meeting on a separate agenda item, Fisher said a majority of the Legislature does not know what the Nevada Homeland Security Commission does. The comment came during a discussion about the need to get increased federal funding for Nevada’s anti-terrorism efforts.

Fisher said the commission will approach the Legislature in 2013 on various issues, and having members who attend the meetings and who are up to speed on those issues would be beneficial.

Sandoval agreed that legislative participation is important.

If legislative leaders cannot attend, possibly they could designate alternates, he said.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Sandoval said.

In an interview today, Fisher put the blame for the failure to educate the Legislature on the activities of the commission on the panel itself, not lawmakers.

“I think over the years we’ve done a very, very poor job, or we haven’t done a good enough job, in helping to educate the public, let alone the legislators, on: This is the Homeland Security Commission, this is what we do, this is what we’re trying to achieve, this is what we’re working (on) to make all of Nevada safer,” he said.

This is why it is important to have legislators attend the meetings, Fisher said.

The effort to get changes to state law on behalf of the commission in the 2011 session was a challenge, but it was the fault of the commission, not the Legislature, he said.

“It is a failure of the commission to communicate adequately,” Fisher said.

This will likely change with Sandoval deciding to serve personally as chairman of the commission, he said.

“Having Gov. Sandoval as the chairman of the Homeland Security Commission is the best thing to happen to homeland security in the state of Nevada,” Fisher said.

Past governors have designated others to serve on the panel on their behalf.

The meeting was the last for the panel before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Kevin Favreau, special agent in charge, FBI Las Vegas, and a non-voting member of the panel, said that as the somber anniversary approaches, the commission has over the years created a system to keep Nevada safe.

He acknowledged the country is going into a period of heightened concern with the approach of the anniversary, but gave an optimistic assessment of Nevada’s readiness.

“Our director and others in our national security structure are very concerned about it because of the tape that was taken from when Osama bin Laden was killed, as it being a significant date, and also because of the potential for copycats or lone offenders, as we heard from Mr. Fisher; Mumbai-style attacks,” he said.

“But should anything happen, I’m confident that Metro and others in the northern part of the state are very ready to be able to respond, and of course we hope that doesn’t happen,” Favreau said. “But from a preventative aspect this commission has helped this state to be as ready as we can be to try to prevent it.”

Audio clips:

Commission member Bob Fisher says most members of the Legislature doesn’t know what the commission does:

081811Fisher1 :28 is responsible for.”

Fisher says the Wednesday meeting covered a range of important topics:

081811Fisher2 :05 has been covered.”

Fisher says the commission bears the responsibility for failing to educate lawmakers on what the panel does:

081811Fisher3 :28 of Nevada safer.”

Kevin Favreau, special agent in charge, FBI Las Vegas, says the upcoming anniversary of 9-11 is cause for concern:

081811Favreau1 :24 Mumbai-style attacks.”

Favreau says the work of the commission has ensured Nevada is ready to respond if need be:

081811Favreau2 :18 to prevent it.”

 

Legislature Votes To Cut Pay To State And University Workers

By Andrew Doughman | 3:54 pm May 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Legislators on money committees today approved on a party-line vote a 4.8 percent salary cut to state and higher education employees.

The proposal would include a 2.3 percent cut through furloughs – about six days per year – and a 2.5 percent salary reduction.

Gov. Brian Sandoval had proposed in his budget a 5 percent salary cut to state and higher education workers.

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, advanced the 4.8 percent “compromise” cut. Legislative staff said it would create a shortfall between $7.5 and $10 million in the governor’s budget.

The vote passed with all Democrats voting for the idea and all Republicans voting against it. In an earlier vote, Republicans voted to follow the governor’s recommendation while Democrats voted against it.

Republicans characterized the salary reductions and cuts to benefits as similar to reductions in the private sector.

“What we are seeing here is a continuation of that downsizing,” said Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno.

Democrats contended that government does not operate like private businesses; rather than seeing less business during a recession, more people depend on state services in a recession.

“If we are going to apply true business principles to government, we should be hiring right now … our demand is way up,” said Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas.

Union representatives and higher education faculty testified against the cuts, saying that they much preferred furloughs to salary cuts.

Danny Thompson of the AFL-CIO also said that reductions in the governor’s budget have provoked a grassroots movement that could punish Republicans during next year’s elections.

“I would caution you that if you don’t solve this problem, that organic uprising that has already happened is going to spread and the people are going to solve this problem,” Thompson said.

Legislators also voted to continue suspending merit and longevity pay as well as eliminating holiday premium pay for higher education and state workers. Legislative staff said that these decisions should save the state $71.5 million.

Yesterday, legislators voted to curtail health care benefits for public sector employees.

Public sector employee union representatives said they have already endured these reductions in pay and benefits for several years as Nevada has struggled through the recession.

“It is so totally unfair what we are doing to our state government,” said Jan Gilbert of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

The governor has earlier argued that furlough days resulted in less productivity from employees, causing longer lines at places such as the DMV.

None of the votes are binding, and the Legislature may decide to alter the proposals as they finalize the budget.

Legislative committees last week voted not to reduce pay for school district employees nor did they choose to suspend merit pay for school district employees.

Those decisions could cost the state $402 million during the next two years.

Democrats last week proposed a revenue package totaling about $1.2 billion comprising a continuation of taxes approved by the 2009 Legislature and scheduled to end this year as well as a tax on businesses’ gross revenue and a sales tax on some services.

If passed, these tax increases could pay for that $402 million cost.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, also noted a potential budget consequence in cutting salaries. He said that the sustained compensation cuts could lead some state workers to favor retirement over working for less.

Dana Bilyeu of the Public Employees’ Retirement System estimated that 2,000 current state employees are eligible to collect full retirement benefits.

Should they choose to retire, the state would have an unfunded obligation to cash out those retiring employees for accrued sick leave, she said.

Bilyeu and others in the committee room could not estimate a cost, but she said about 1,000 more teachers than usual retired due to changes in benefits following the 2007 legislative session, causing the state to lose millions of dollars.

 

 

 

Legislature To See Democratic Proposals For New Senate And Assembly Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 2:16 am April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State legislative Democrats will reveal their proposed maps for the political boundaries of Nevada’s Assembly and Senate districts at 5 p.m. today.

The unveiling of the maps represents the first public look at what promises to be a contentious debate about the state’s political districts, which the Legislature is required to alter every 10 years following the release of U.S. Census data.

Sen.David Parks, D-Las Vegas, has earlier said that the first maps will most likely show districts that reflect the Legislature’s current size of 21 Senators and 42 Assembly members.

Senate and Assembly Republicans have not yet said whether they will join Democratic leadership in presenting proposed redistricting maps on Thursday.

The Legislature has a number of challenges in drawing political boundaries of Assembly and Senate districts:

  • Growth in the southern part of the state means current districts are imbalanced and one northern Senate seat and one or two northern Assembly seats will become southern seats. This means some northern incumbents will no longer have a district to represent.
  •  

  • The Legislature must decide what to do with state’s two dual-districts, which Parks and others have earlier said will likely go extinct with this round of redistricting.
  •  

  • The Legislature must consider protecting “communities of interest” when drawing districts. This could prevent rural Nevadans from suddenly being thrown in the same district as urban Nevadans, or keeping a distinct downtown community separate from a suburban community.
  •  

  • The state’s Assembly and Senate seats also have wide disparities in population, which Assembly Republicans have said resulted from unfair maps the Legislature approved in 2001.

These challenges are compounded by the split between a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a Republican governor. Both will likely have to agree on the proposal to pass the redistricting bill.

Members of both political parties want the maps to be fair, but there may be little agreement on actual proposals. Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he will veto any plan that is not “fair.”

So a showdown between a Republican executive and a Democratic-controlled Legislature could throw the matter into the courts. Some legislators think this is an inevitability.

“The court will be the ultimate decider,” Settelmeyer said.

Others contend that they can work out a compromise.

“You go out there, there’s fights, there’s fireworks … but at the end of the day why would politicians put their fate in seven justices [of Nevada's Supreme Court],” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

The Legislature will also have to draw new Congressional districts.

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said he expects the Legislature to unveil and debate proposed Congressional maps sometime next week. Those maps will reflect the addition of a fourth Congressional district added to Nevada due to population growth during the past decade.

At today’s presentation, legislators do not expect to debate the proposals. Legislative staff plan to present and explain the maps, after which Senate and Assembly committees will debate the merits and faults of each plan.

Lawmakers Set To Release First Maps In Redistricting Process

By Andrew Doughman | 12:15 pm April 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State legislative Democrats plan to be the first to reveal their proposals for redrawing political boundaries of Nevada’s Assembly and Senate this Thursday.

Democrats will introduce maps of the proposed boundaries and then debate their suggestions together with Republicans in the Assembly chambers during the evening, said Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas.

The unveiling of the maps represents the first public look at what promises to be a contentious debate about the state’s political districts.

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said that the first maps will most likely show districts that reflect the Legislature’s current size of 21 Senators and 42 Assembly members.

As such, the maps should reflect a shift of one Senate seat and one or two Assembly seats to Clark County, reflecting the growth in population in that county. The Senate map may also show changes to the state’s two dual-districts, which Parks and others have earlier said will likely go extinct with this round of redistricting.

Senate and Assembly Republicans have not yet said whether they will join Democratic leadership in presenting proposed redistricting maps on Thursday.

“At this point we don’t have any maps to bring,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Fallon.

Oceguera said he expects the Legislature to unveil and debate proposed Congressional maps sometime next week. Those maps will show the addition of a fourth Congressional district added to Nevada due to population growth during the past decade.

The proposed districts could affect many Nevadans. People currently living in predominantly Democratic districts could find themselves drawn into predominantly Republican districts. Rural Nevadans could find their voices drowned out by being in a largely urban district.

Nevada’s Legislature must redraw the boundaries of its political districts every 10 years with the release of U.S. Census Data.

Governor Sandoval Rebuffs Democrats’ Request For Public Hearings On Ensign Replacement

By Andrew Doughman | 3:57 pm April 25th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The answer from Gov. Brian Sandoval is no.

Today the governor’s senior adviser, Dale Erquiaga, rebuffed a proposal from state Democratic legislators to hold public hearings and a public review process in selecting a replacement for resigning U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

“I think the law and tradition are clear, this is an executive decision,” Erquiaga said at a press briefing this afternoon. “We appreciate the Assembly’s and Senate’s advice, but it’s not relevant to the current decision.”

Erquiaga said the governor has just two criteria for an appointment: the appointee should have a political ideology similar to Ensign’s and be qualified enough to “start work right away.”

The governor should select an appointee to the U.S. Senate by the end of this week, Erquiaga said. That decision would come ahead of May 3, the day Ensign officially resigns.

Assembly Democrats today argued for a one week period to allow candidates to declare their intention to be considered to replace Ensign. Under their proposal there would be an additional one week period when the governor would hold public hearings equivalent to public job interviews for the candidates.

“A question of public importance requires, I think, an open and transparent debate,” said Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas.

A similar vote in the Senate today provoked a party-line vote with Republicans arguing that both state law and the state’s constitution are clear that the governor should make an executive appointment.

Even one Senate Democrat seemed upset with the measure, which he said has “nothing to do with the work of this body.”

“We have so much to do,” said Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas. “Really that [measure] has nothing to do with what we should be doing here. … It sounds like the constitution is pretty clear the governor gets to make an appointment.”

Oceguera’s statement echoes the reasoning Democrats have used to debate the governor’s proposed general fund budget in large, public hearings. Erquiaga praised the Legislature for efforts to “obtain additional information and have an open discussion.” But he said not all decisions are matters of public debate.

“You can’t even compare them. The budget process is always done in committee … that’s the budgetary process, that’s not an executive appointment,” Erquiaga said.

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Las Vegas, echoed Erquiaga in his call for the governor to follow precedent set in law and in Nevada tradition.

“I think we ought to keep the system that’s effective for both parties, Democrats and Republicans, since 1864,” Stewart said.

The Democrats proposal, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 8, seems to preempt a likely Sandoval appointment of current U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev. If Sandoval appoints Heller to the Senate, that would mean Heller’s seat would become vacant and a special election would have to be called to fill it.

“Any appointment that creates a vacancy in another office which necessitates a subsequent special election will cost Nevadans hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money at a time when severe cuts to education and essential services are under consideration,” the resolution states.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said this past weekend there are a number of costs associated with an election: printing up ballots, sending out ballots, securing locations for voting, programming voting machines and staffing the polling locations. He said, though, there is no “generic price tag” for an election.

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said that the public should have a chance to ask questions of potential appointees, suggesting a question seemingly designed for Heller.

“Should we spend tax money on a special election at a time when the governor has asked us for shared sacrifice? We’ll only know the answer to critical questions like this if they are asked,” he said.

Senate Republicans, however, reiterated Assembly Republicans’ comments that past governors have had no controversy in appointing replacements for resigning member of Congress.

 

Legislators “Offended” and “Insulted” As They Make Symbolic Party-Line Vote Over Education Budget

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 am April 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – It was not until 30 minutes before midnight that a six-hour debate in the Assembly ended with a promise to talk more later.

After listening to presentations outlining more than $1 billion in “major reductions” to the K-12 budget, legislators debated their willingness to compromise or negotiate about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed general fund budget.

“My caucus will be voting gov rec,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, using an abbreviation for the governor’s recommended budget. “So you’re not going to get the wiggle room you’re looking for.”

In the end, all 16 Assembly Republicans voted in a symbolic motion to support a motion last night to pass Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended budget. All 26 Assembly Democrats opposed the motion.

The Senate will debate the same budget in the same process today.

Republicans repeatedly said they want to see specific tax proposals as well as a reassurance that reforms they want will pass out of the Assembly as a trade for tax increases.

“Until we have the discussions about the reforms and the revenue package, we will continue to have a discussion about gov rec,” Goicoechea said.

Democrats stressed the need to debate specifics of the governor’s proposed education budget. Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the Assembly needed to find common ground for an acceptable level of cuts before they could discuss additional revenues.

“We rarely change a lot … 10, 15, 20 percent of the budget,” he said.

He called the six-hour marathon hearing in the Assembly chambers a success.

“We got the temperature of where people are at,” he said. “It felt to me that we saw a few people who said we can look at a few things.”

Sprinkled throughout the hearing in Assembly chambers were instances of legislators calling each other “disingenuous” and saying they were “offended” and “insulted” with each other.

The verbal sniping came only hours after the Senate inducted former Sen. Bill Raggio into the Senate’s Hall of Fame. Raggio, a legislator who retired earlier this year, was a constant critic of the partisan hardening and lack of respect characteristic of 21st century political debate.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D- North Las Vegas, said Nevada’s Assembly was starting to look like D.C.

“If we want to have D.C. politics, here it is,” she said.

Both Democrats and Republicans did, however, say that the new process of having budget discussions involving all 42 Assembly members appealed to them more than having a few key legislators meet and make decisions in private.

But that does not make anybody more likely to agree.

“It looks like we’re going to be here for a very long haul,” said Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas.

Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, called the whole hearing a “farce,” to which Kirkpatrick, retorted: “if you don’t respect the institution, don’t come back.”

As Wednesday morning drew close, Goicoechea said there’s “no doubt” everybody wants to find a solution.

“This is the beginning, this isn’t the end,” Smith said. “This was the first tough discussion we had … We can’t call each other disingenuous because we disagree. It’s not a farce. It’s not a train wreck.”

But by 11:30 p.m., the only unanimous motion was for the Assembly to retire for the night.

 

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.”