Posts Tagged ‘minority’

Democrats Unveil Proposed Congressional District Maps

By Andrew Doughman | 1:39 pm May 5th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Democrats today unveiled proposed boundaries for Nevada’s four congressional districts, the political consequences of which they will debate this afternoon at the Legislature.

In the game of shifting political power, the Democrats say their congressional redistricting proposal creates three competitive districts with one northern and rural Nevada district leaning Republican.

Their plan could make Congressional District 3 less safe for Republican Representative Joe Heck, the current incumbent who won by a slim margin over Democratic candidate Dina Titus during 2010.

Democrats also say that their proposal is more fair to Nevada’s Hispanic population. The Democratic proposal offers Hispanics no majority-minority district in Clark County as was the case with a Republican congressional district proposal released last week. Rather, the Democratic maps show a Latino population dispersed throughout several Clark County districts.

Democrats released their congressional maps today, showing districts balanced by population, but with markedly different boundaries than earlier Republican proposals.

The question of the Latino vote has become a major fight between Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats would like to establish “minority influence” districts where ethnic minority populations comprise an influential voting bloc in several districts.

Republicans argue that Nevada should have a majority-minority “opportunity” district because 26 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic and therefore one of the state’s four congressional districts should be majority Hispanic.

Under the Republican proposal, Congressional District 4 would have a total 50.7 percent Hispanic population. In the Democratic plan, Congressional District 4 is 22.88 percent.

In Congressional District 3, Heck’s district, Republicans drew a 15 percent Hispanic district whereas Democrats created a district with a 30 percent Hispanic population.

Notable differences between the two proposals include the differences in Hispanic population and a 9.7 percent Democratic advantage in Heck’s district under the Democratic proposal.

Republicans drew Heck a district with a 3.3 percent Republican advantage for Heck.

In the new Congressional District 4, Republicans created a majority-minority Hispanic district with an overwhelming 37 percent Democratic voter registration advantage. Democrats would create a Congressional District 4 with a 22.9 percent Hispanic population with a Democratic voter registration margin of 8.1 percent.

Democrats also drew districts with a mind toward potential Democratic candidates in future elections. Current Assembly Speaker John Oceguera lives in the proposed Congressional District 3. Current Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford lives in the proposed Congressional District 1 and former Rep. Dina Titus is in the proposed Congressional District 4.

The Democratic plan represents the last piece of Republican and Democratic legislative district proposals. Democrats and Republicans released last week their proposals for state Assembly and Senate districts.

Republicans say their congressional district proposals offer two districts likely to elect Democrats and two districts likely to elect Republican candidates.

Republican Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 32.0% 45.5% 17.7% 9.9% 20.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 35.7% 16.6% 1.9% 20.4%
CD 03 675,138 0 40.8% 37.5% 12.2% 5.5% 14.4%
CD 04 675,137 -1 20.8% 57.8% 44.3% 14.2% 50.7%

Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%


The Republican and Democratic plans represent two different takes in what could be a lengthy process to hammer out a compromise between a Republican governor and a Democratic-controlled Legislature. If the two parties cannot reach a compromise, the drawing of political districts could end up in the hands of Nevada’s judges.

State legislative Republicans released this plan for Nevada's Congressional Districts.

Nevada’s state legislators must redraw political district boundaries every 10 years after the U.S. Census Bureau releases updated population and demographic statistics. Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned Nevada one more Congressional District, giving Nevada four Congressional Districts.

All districts must be nearly the same size. Map drawers use the U.S. Census total population figures for Nevada and divide those by the number of districts so that each district has an ideal size. The ideal size for a Congressional district is 675,000 people.

CLARK COUNTY DETAIL (DEMOCRATIC PROPOSAL): HERE

CLARK COUNTY DETAIL (REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL): HERE

Minorities And Women Could Gain Bidder Preference In Assembly Bill

By Andrew Doughman | 5:48 pm March 25th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A proposal in the state Assembly would give minority-owned or women-owned businesses a five percent bidder preference for state public works projects under $100,000

Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, advanced the bill in a Assembly Government Affairs hearing today.

Her bill, with amendments, would allow businesses that qualify under federal standards as a “small, disadvantaged business enterprise” would get the bidder preference.

Like the preference currently available for disabled veterans who own businesses, a 5 percent bidder preference would artificially make a bid lower by 5 percent, thus making the bid more competitive.

Neal cited 2002 ownerships statistics from Nevada that show few minority or women business owners in the construction industry.

Minorities and women comprise large numbers of the population, but their numbers are not reflected in the number of business owners in Nevada.

“We at least want to provide the opportunity for groups that may be able to bond collaboratively together to start to become part of public works in a real way,” Neal said. “…There may be a need at this point to level the playing field so they may equally participate.”

Nevada Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, talks with lobbyist Jack Mallory during a hearing at the Legislature. Photo by Cathleen Allison/NevadaPhotoSource.com

Others, however, took issue with changing the bidding procedure to favor disadvantaged businesses, many of which are owned by women and minorities.

“I always thought you did a job based on the ability of the individual,” said Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko. “Nobody should take a precedent over anybody else.”

Ellison said that this bill would put others at a disadvantage.

“Maybe it’s a little simplistic, but we’d just like to be in an environment where it is a meritocracy,” said Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley.

Neal, however, disagreed. She said that a meritocracy is theoretically ideal, but it is not what Nevada has now. She said her bill would level the playing field for small, disadvantaged businesses.

“There’s nothing in this bill that compromises the quality of the contractor here,” said Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno.

The committee did not vote on the bill today.

***UPDATE 3/26/11: A mention of the  $100,000 cap for the bidder preference was left out of the original version and has been added.

 

Conservative Caucus, GOP Minority Fight to Get Their Views Heard in Special Session

By Sean Whaley | 4:51 pm February 24th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Republicans, who haven’t had a majority presence in the Legislature in 25 years, are working with their Senate colleagues in the special session in an effort to get their views heard on how to solve a $900 million budget shortfall.

Senate Republicans, who are in the minority themselves in the upper house for the first time since 1991, nevertheless have some leverage in the budget debate.

The GOP caucus in the Assembly stands at 14 members, one shy of the number needed to block a two-thirds vote on fee or tax increases. Fee increases are very much a part of the discussion of how to balance the budget.

Senate Democrats, however, have only 12 of the 14 votes they need to approve such measures. So Republican support is essential if a tax or fee increase is to be part of the budget solution.

A two-thirds vote is also required to override a veto. Gov. Jim Gibbons has threatened to use his veto authority if a measure comes to him that does not fit in with his views on such revenue enhancements. Gibbons had indicated he will only support such increases if the affected industries agree to the levy.

A new wrinkle for the 23 GOP lawmakers in the two houses, however, as the special session moves through its second day, is a subset of Republicans who want to bring their own plan forward on how to balance the budget, a plan that would not rely on fees or taxes but cuts.

The effort is a work in progress.

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said her caucus recognizes the number disadvantage and the need to work with Senate Republicans to gain leverage.

“Pete Goichoechea, (R-Eureka) and I attend quite a few leadership meetings to make sure our voices are heard,” she said. “We’re very focused on cuts right now. There are a lot of pieces that seem to be coming together. We’re really trying to figure out what the whole package is.

“We have not come to any consensus, particularly on the new fee and revenue items in the budget,” Gansert said.

Gansert said the caucus is interested in taking a look at Nevada’s collective bargaining law to see if it can at least be altered to require public employee contract negotiations to be subjected to the state Open Meeting Law. The process involves taxpayer money and the public should be involved in the process, she said.

Gibbons, who saw a couple of his budget-balancing proposals fall by the wayside today, amended the proclamation calling the Legislature into special session to consider Nevada’s collective bargaining law, among several other items.

Gibbons’ proposal to raise $50 million by revising the mining tax deduction, and a plan to use traffic cameras to catch uninsured motorists that reportedly would have raised $30 million, were both rejected by lawmakers.

Both these issues were problematic for some in the GOP caucus, so seeing them taken off the table simplifies the ideological concerns, at least for the time being. Their elimination also creates an $80 million gap in the budget plan, however.

Gansert said she retains strong support in the caucus for her service as minority leader, despite a comment by Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, that Gansert is too willing to compromise with Democrats. Hambrick’s comment was reported in the Reno Gazette-Journal on Tuesday.

Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said his caucus is benefiting from a national shift to the right in the political climate.

“So the pendulum swings, and just because you are low today doesn’t mean you won’t be high tomorrow,” he said.

The last time Republicans had a strong presence in the lower house was in 1995, when there was a 21-21 split requiring a power-sharing arrangement. Lynn Hettrick, now a deputy chief of staff to Gibbons, was GOP co-speaker in that session.

In a twist of political irony, Hettrick’s present-day successor, Gansert, has contributed to a rift in GOP leadership by joining Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio in endorsing Brian Sandoval over Governor Gibbons in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

A source on the Gibbons’ campaign team acknowledged that Gansert and Raggio’s support of the governor’s opponent along with Raggio’s recent support of Sandoval’s proposal to sell and lease back state buildings in order to generate revenue – a plan the Governor strongly opposes – has infuriated Gibbons and contributed to the recent war of words between the governor’s office and Raggio as budget talks have progressed.

Despite the contentious tone between the governor’s office and Republican legislative leadership and the numbers disadvantage, Assembly Republicans are trying to remain involved, Hardy said. “We still get to ask questions. We still have a voice.”

Hardy said the Senate GOP caucus has been willing to listen to Assembly Republicans, but he acknowledges there are no easy answers to the current fiscal crisis.

“It’s not so much good ideas right now (but) which is the least of the worst ideas,” he said.

Hardy praised Gansert’s leadership, calling her performance “excellent.”

While there is a view by many Republicans that the current budget problems should not be solved through the imposition of new fees and taxes, Hardy said his own position is to accept such solutions if they are acceptable to the affected industries or interest groups.

Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said the Assembly caucus has been encouraged to participate in the leadership discussions on how to solve the budget gap.

Senate Republicans, because of the two-thirds vote requirement for tax and fee measures, retains some level of power in the discussion, he said. The Assembly has not had that luxury.

“I told them just because you don’t have the numbers doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the solution,” Townsend said. “But just saying “no” is not being part of the solution. Saying “yes” to everything is not being part of the process either. Jump in and explain the things that are important to you. You may win a few.”

Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, a fiscal conservative who would like to see Nevada adhere to a state spending cap, said balancing the budget with new taxes and fees is not the answer.

The state should use 2001 as the base year and then allow for growth based only on inflation and population growth, he said.

“We’re not going to do that in the special session, but that is what my goal will be,” Gustavson said.

“We are working with Senate Republicans on the budget,” he said. “We met with them last night and had a long discussion. They have a little more pull than we do, obviously.”

Every agency, including public education, will have to take a cut to get the state out of the current crisis, Gustavson said.