Posts Tagged ‘Pat Hickey’

GOP Assembly Leader Predicts Gains On Tuesday

By Sean Whaley | 3:37 pm October 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Assembly Republican caucus leader Pat Hickey said he expects to pick up seats for the GOP in the upcoming election, but declined to predict today exactly how big a dent his candidates will make in the 26-member Democratic majority on Nov. 6.

Hickey, R-Reno, said he does expect to see an increase from the 16 seats Republicans have now in the 42-member Assembly. The party has opportunities because of the new political boundaries drawn by a panel of special masters as a result of the 2010 census, he said.

Assembly GOP caucus Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno.

Hickey, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said he is optimistic about the chances of victory for David Espinosa, the GOP candidate challenging Democrat Skip Daly in Assembly District 31 in Sparks, and for Wes Duncan, who is challenging Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin in District 37 in Las Vegas, among others.

“Conklin’s race is certainly one where it went from a district that was 17 percent Democrat to now roughly even in registration, and having a very attractive candidate like Wes Duncan, Marcus is in for the race of his life,” Hickey said. “But we’re close in quite a number of our races.”

Hickey said he won’t make any firm predictions however, given the unpredictability of the individual races.

“So I’m not going to give you a number of how many we might win but we think we’re going to increase our numbers and we might be very happy on election night depending on how well (Mitt) Romney and the upper ticket folks do in Nevada,” he said.

While party officials and observers are closely watching the state Senate races to see which party will have a majority in the 2013 legislative session, the Assembly contests have received less media attention because Democrats are expected to maintain control.

But some of the races have generated controversy.

The Conklin campaign team was criticized by Hickey and Assembly Republicans last week after one of Conklin’s campaign workers was photographed removing Duncan campaign materials left at district homes.

“It’s one thing to be competitive; it’s another thing to, if you will, steal another opponent’s literature,” Hickey said.

There was no claim made that the theft of the literature came at the direction of Conklin, Hickey said.

The Conklin campaign did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

Not all of the 42 Assembly races are in contention, however. Nine Assembly incumbents, five Republicans and four Democrats, have no opponents at all and will win automatically on Tuesday.

Hickey said he remains optimistic about the chances for Republican candidates to win their races despite the strong Democratic voter registration edge statewide, especially in Clark County. Party candidates are using the hands-on approach by walking the districts and talking to voters face-to-face, he said.

“You walk, you win; you don’t, you may not,” Hickey said.

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Audio clips:

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey says redistricting has given Republicans a chance to win seats in the Assembly:

103112Hickey1 :22 do in Nevada.”

Hickey says redistricting has made Majority Leader Marcus Conklin’s seat competitive:

103112Hickey2 :14 of our races.”

Hickey says Republican candidates are relying on face-to-face contact with voters to win:

103112Hickey3 :16 you may not.”

 

 

Residency Challenge In Assembly 9 Race Set For Monday Hearing

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:48 pm October 10th, 2012

A Clark County District judge will hold a hearing Monday on a residency challenge filed against Assembly 9 Democratic candidate Andrew Martin.

The court challenge was filed last week by Republican candidate Kelly Hurst, who submitted information allegedly showing that Martin actually resides outside the district in violation of state law.

Assembly District 9 GOP candidate Kelly Hurst.

District Court Judge Jerry Wiese will hear the matter at 9 a.m. in Department 30.

Hurst today also called on Martin to suspend his campaign based on the information gathered by private investigator Tom Dillard allegedly showing that Martin resides at 3317 Daylight Moss St. in Assembly District 2 and not at 7159 S. Durango Drive, Unit 307, in District 9, as he claims.

Martin responded last week by saying Hurst committed an extreme invasion of his privacy in a “desperate attempt to distract voters with false accusations” of his standing in the community.

Martin said the facts are that he lives in his home at 7159 S. Durango Drive, Unit 307, in District 9, and that his previous residence cited in the complaint as his residence is used only as an office.

“We have a very important election coming up,” Hurst said in a statement released today. “I’ve spent the past year going door-to-door talking with friends and neighbors in Assembly District 9. One overriding theme I hear daily is that people want their elected officials to approach the tough decisions facing our state with integrity. They want their elected officials to be honest with them; someone to tell them the facts while looking them in the eyes.

“It is because of these conversations I have had over and over again that I respectfully ask Mr. Martin to suspend his campaign,” Hurst said.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, has also weighed in on the lawsuit.

“Nothing goes to the heart of the democratic process more than the integrity of elections,” he said. “Our very system of government hinges upon the fragile foundation of public trust. It is disappointing that Mr. Martin would violate that trust.”

Nevada Secretary Of State Seeks More Campaign Disclosure, Restrictions In Proposed ‘Aurora Act’

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:47 pm October 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Increased financial disclosure, greater restrictions on contributions and gifts, and tougher penalties for campaign violations are the goals of new legislation for the 2013 Legislature detailed today by Secretary of State Ross Miller.

The “Aurora Act,” named for the new campaign contribution and expense search function now available at the Secretary of State’s website, includes language that would mandate near real time reporting of large dollar campaign contributions and expenses, further define the prohibition on personal use of campaign funds and significantly restrict the ability of candidates and public officials to receive “gifts” from donors who may pose a conflict of interest.

Secretary of State Ross Miller.

The proposed legislation also includes provisions to allow the Secretary of State’s office to seek injunctive relief to order individuals or groups to file campaign finance reports, and substantially increased penalties for violations.

Miller said the campaign reform measures passed in the 2011 legislative session were the most comprehensive in Nevada history.

“We’ve made progress in increasing transparency and accountability in recent sessions, but we can clearly do more and do better,” he said. “I believe that we will have an initial coalition of lawmakers that can make this happen. If we want meaningful reform to occur, we need to call on all candidates and elected officials to support the ‘Aurora Act.’ We’ve all heard the lip service to this issue, but I believe that with the public’s help, we can get enough support from both sides of the aisle to bring much needed sunshine to this state.”

Initial support for Miller’s “Aurora Act” has been expressed by Assemblymen Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, and Pat Hickey, R-Reno, and by former state Sen. Sheila Leslie who is the Democratic candidate for Senate District 15 in Reno.

Hickey earlier this year called for his own set of reforms.

Hickey said: “ While there may be more or less added to Secretary Miller’s proposals, there should be widespread bi-partisan support for cleaning up campaigns and the conduct of candidates at all levels.”

Leslie said: “This is an opportunity for lawmakers to step up and give our constituents the information they need to make informed decisions, and to develop a greater level of trust between the people and their public servants.”

Leslie in 2011 proposed legislation that would have required lobbyists to report spending on lawmakers year round, and not just during legislative sessions. The bill died in an Assembly Committee. She requested the same bill for the 2013 session.

Conklin said the proposal could set an important tone for the legislature.

“We want to come away with an increased transparency, and in doing so demonstrate to Nevadans that their lawmakers can work in a bipartisan manner to effect meaningful change,” he said.

Miller’s legislation would require:

- Increased disclosure and transparency into the money being spent in Nevada’s elections by defining “electioneering communication” and “independent expenditure” to clarify who is required to disclose and when they are required to disclose money spent on Nevada candidates by third-party groups.

- Clarifying the term “personal use” to prevent campaign contributions from being used by a candidate for personal use.

- Clarifying that any expenditures made from a candidate or public official’s campaign account must always be reported.

- Requiring public officials and candidates to report their contributions on hand at the beginning of each year so the public will know how much money public officials and candidates are carrying over from year to year. Currently, only the contribution totals received within a calendar year are reported.

- Reporting within 72 hours contributions received or expenses paid in excess of $1,000 to provide the public with more “real time” reporting through an election cycle.

- Clarifying that the Secretary of State may seek injunctive relief for campaign finance violations to ensure that individuals and groups must not only pay a financial penalty but also actually disclose their activity.

- Allowing the Secretary of State to seek in penalties up to three times the amount of money at issue in a reporting violation. This change will give the office more flexibility in seeking penalties that are more in line with the amount of money involved reporting violations.

- Restricting and clarifying laws related to the acceptance of gifts by public officials by better defining “gift” and “restricted donor.” Changes will set forth from whom it is legal to accept gifts, and provide a clear list of examples of gifts that may or may not be accepted and must be disclosed on public reports.

Lawmakers Long On Ideas, But Public Education Funding Options Remain Elusive

By Sean Whaley | 5:31 am September 18th, 2012

RENO – Northern Nevada state lawmakers and candidates in the November general election identified a number of public education priorities at a forum here Monday, from ending social promotion to paying the best performing teachers more to making much-needed capital improvements to older Washoe County schools.

But those participating in the event held at Reno High School at the invitation of the nonpartisan group Parent Leaders for Education had few specifics about where funding to implement the ideas will come from when the Legislature convenes next February.

Sen. Greg Brower, left, Assemblyman Pat Hickey, and former Sen. Sheila Leslie, far right, participated in a candidate forum in Reno on Monday. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Those participating included Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and former Sen. Sheila Leslie, a Democrat challenging Brower for the new District 15 seat. Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, who is not up for reelection, also participated, as did Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, who is running unopposed for another term in District 25.

The panel was rounded out with two Assembly Democrats running for new terms and their Republican opponents. David Bobzien faces Heidi Waterman in District 24 and Teresa Benitez-Thompson faces Tom Taber in District 27.

Several of the participants identified the need to find revenue to repair and renovate the Washoe County School District’s older schools as the top priority for the delegation next year.

Kieckhefer said those studying the issue are seeking about $15 million to $20 million annually in revenue that could be used to make repairs to more than half of the district’s schools that are more than 30 years old and are in need of major repairs.

Brower said Washoe County lawmakers are working toward a solution to repair the county’s schools and sell the proposal to Southern Nevada lawmakers who will ultimately have to support any funding option.

“It will be the best investment I think we can make in our schools in Washoe County for decades to come,” he said.

Leslie issued a note of caution to those attending the forum, saying past experience has shown that even bipartisan priorities, such as finding revenue to repair older schools, can be derailed in a legislative session.

“And I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but I’ve been through it several times,” Leslie said. “And so I think meetings like this where you put people on the spot, and I’m willing to be put on the spot and tell you that I will vote for just about any revenue source I can think of right now, to improve our schools. But you need to put the pressure on all of us to make sure that we find a solution and we don’t get to the end of the session and say oops, sorry, can’t do that.”

Brower said he agrees with Gov. Brian Sandoval, who announced earlier this year that he will propose to extend a package of taxes now set to sunset on June 30, 2013, into the next two-year budget to ensure that there are no further budget reductions for public schools or higher education.

But Leslie said the Legislature needs to do more than maintain the status quo and instead find a way to restore the $123 million cut from Washoe County schools over the past five years. Nevada ranks poorly in many national rankings, including ranking 50th in the number of children who attend preschool, she said.

“So obviously we can’t cut any more but what we really need to do is find a way to put that money back,” she said.

Hickey said he does not believe that raising taxes to find more revenue for education is likely to see any serious consideration at the next session. An option he favors is to look at shifting money that now goes to corrections and health and human services to public education.

Spending more on public education now so that money doesn’t have to be spent later on prisons is a better investment in the long term, Hickey said. Even so, several neighboring states, including Utah and Arizona, spend less per pupil but perform better than Nevada, he said.

“It’s wiser to educate than incarcerate,” Hickey said. “So we do need to spend more, we do need to spend wisely, but money is not the entire answer.”

Bobzien, who served as chairman of the Assembly Education Committee in 2011, said a number of major reforms were passed in a bipartisan show of support. But those reforms won’t turn Nevada’s schools around over the long term without adequate financial support, he said.

Waterman said the findings of the Sage Commission, established by former Gov. Jim Gibbons to find ways to make state government more efficient, need to be considered by lawmakers. Eliminating duplicative programs could help find money for public education, she said.

Benitez-Thompson said specific policy proposals are fine, but lawmakers need to look at the overall funding challenges facing public education. Ending social promotion from the third to the fourth grade is fine, but there are costs involved when children are held back, she said. Those children will need additional assistance so they can succeed, Benitez-Thompson said.

Taber said teachers need to be given more control over their classrooms to help their students achieve. Funding also needs to be allocated with a business-oriented approach to ensure it is spent wisely, he said.

“Business sense is important,” Taber said.

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Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says finding a revenue source to repair older Washoe schools will be a worthwhile investment:

091712Brower :24 decades to come.”

Former Sen. Sheila Leslie says the Legislature needs to restore funding cut over the past several years, not just avoid further reductions:

091712Leslie1 :18 that money back.”

 

 

Lawmakers Approve $11.7 Million Plan From Attorney General To Help Homeowners In Foreclosure Crisis

By Sean Whaley | 2:55 pm August 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Several lawmakers raised questions today about a proposal put forth by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to spend $33 million over three years on outreach, counseling and legal assistance to homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

The program outlined for the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee (IFC) by Masto is proposed to be the first phase of a plan to use $57 million Nevada received from the country’s five largest banks as part of a national settlement over the mortgage crisis. Nevada received another $30 million in a separate settlement with Bank of America.

Despite the concerns expressed during a lengthy discussion, the vote to approve the program was unanimous.

Photo posted by Gruntzooki via Wikimedia Commons.

The program is expected to provide a one-stop shop for homeowners to get free access to certified counselors and legal assistance if needed so they can access the many programs available to those who qualify.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, expressed concerns that the IFC, made up of the members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees, was being asked to approve a program before it could be evaluated by the full Legislature in 2013.

He also questioned whether the $33 million in expenditures for the services outlined by Masto was the best use for the money rather than getting it directly into the hands of homeowners in need.

Concerns were also expressed by a number of other Republican members of the IFC about aspects of the proposal.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, questioned if the IFC even had the legal authority to implement such a major policy decision.

“I mean, if this was a proposal that came to the Legislature, we would have days of hearings on it in multiple chambers,” he said. “This is a, I think, major policy decision about how we’re addressing one of the most significant problems facing the people of this state and it’s being made by a small subset of the legislative body and there are voters in this state who are disenfranchised from making this decision.”

But the Legislative Counsel said it was appropriate and similar actions have been taken in the past by the committee.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the program outlined by Masto will help distressed Nevada homeowners access $25 billion available nationwide that will be doled out on a first-come, first-served, basis. Failing to get the program started now could mean that Nevada homeowners, among those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, will not get their share of those funds, he said.

The debate over the $33 million is missing the big picture, Horsford said.

The approval today was only for the first year’s worth of funding of $11.7 million. The $10.8 million in years two and three will be part of the Attorney General’s proposed budget for the 2013-15 biennium that will be reviewed by lawmakers in 2013.

The first year budget includes $9.4 million for public outreach and access to HUD-certified counselors. Another nearly $1.2 million will go to Nevada Legal Services and the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to provide assistance to homeowners. Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley is executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Nearly $570,000 will be spent on expanding an existing call center operated by the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation (NAHAC), a non-profit arm of the Nevada Housing Division. Just under $500,000 will go to the Attorney General’s office for staff and expenses to investigate mortgage fraud and administer the entire program.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, expressed concerns about the funding for the legal aid, questioning if the money would be used to commence new legal actions against the banks on behalf of specific distressed homeowners. Her concerns were echoed by Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka.

Masto assured lawmakers the spending on legal aid will be used to assist homeowners, not initiate lawsuits.

“This is not about giving legal aid so they can go out and start suing,” she said. “This is actually about providing relief to the homeowners who are distressed. There’s a lot of legal issues they may deal with beyond just suing the banks. And that’s what legal aid provides.”

Despite the concerns lawmakers agreed the urgency of the situation required their action.

“We do need to get the ball rolling,” Goicoechea said. “It isn’t doing us any good in this state to have people living in homes, not making any type of mortgage payment on it, destroying that home, and the bank doesn’t have the ability to foreclose it, can’t get the certification in place, and it isn’t doing our state or our economy any good.”

The funds to be used for the program were paid by the banks to settle state and federal investigations into robo-signing allegations.

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Audio clips:

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer says the major policy decision should be made by the entire Legislature:

082312Kieckhefer :26 making this decision.”

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea says that while he has concerns, the state needs to take action:

082312Goicoechea :17 economy any good.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says the legal aid funds won’t be used to sue the banks:

082312Masto :13 legal aid provides.”

 

Former Assembly Speaker Maintains Big Campaign Fund Despite Not Running For Office

By Sean Whaley | 4:14 pm June 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley may not be a candidate for public office this year, but this apparent lack of political ambition has not stopped her from maintaining a campaign fund worth nearly half a million dollars.

Buckley, a Democrat who left office following the 2010 general election, has used the broad definition of a candidate in state law to maintain her election fund. In her annual Campaign Contributions and Expenses Report for the calendar year 2010 filed in January 2011, Buckley reported that her campaign fund totaled just under $575,000.

On the same date the fund total was reported, Jan 7, 2011, her report also shows a $200 contribution from colleague Sheila Leslie, a former member of the Assembly and current candidate for the state Senate in Washoe County.

Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley.

By receiving the $200 contribution, Buckley is defined in Nevada state law as being a candidate for public office, even though she did not seek office in 2010 and is not seeking office this year. She was termed out of the Assembly in 2010 after serving since 1995.

Buckley considered a run for governor in 2010 but ultimately decided against it. The finance reports identify her as a candidate, but they do not specify an office.

Buckley said today she has continued to maintain the fund in the event she does decide to run for public office in 2014 or 2016, and that she relied on advice from the Legislative Counsel Bureau and the Secretary of State’s office before doing so.

But Buckley said she has no definite political plans currently.

“I have no idea,” she said. “To be honest with you, the longer I’m out, the more I wonder if I will ever run for anything ever again. And so if I choose not to run for anything in the near future I will dispose of all of the money by giving it to either other candidates, parties, nonprofit organizations as outlined in the statute.”

Buckley said she has been fully transparent with all money received and spent from her campaign fund in her filings with the Secretary of State’s office.

Scott Gilles, deputy secretary for elections with the Secretary of State’s office, said via an email response that Nevada law allows a candidate to use donations in the candidate’s next election, which does not have to be in the next election cycle.

Nevada state law also defines a candidate as an individual who has received a contribution in excess of $100, “regardless of whether the person has filed a declaration of candidacy” and regardless of whether the person’s name appears on a ballot.

News of Buckley’s active and financially healthy campaign fund comes as members of the Assembly Republican Caucus have called for more transparency and reforms to the state’s campaign finance laws. One of the reforms outlined by caucus leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, would require ending fund balance reports showing how much money incumbents have on hand after an election.

Buckley’s campaign fund of over $575,000, for example, is reported on her 2011 annual filing for calendar year 2010, but is not found anywhere in the 2011 or 2012 reports. Nor is the information required to be included on the more recent reports under current rules.

Buckley said she would be in favor of better organizing such information on the Secretary of State’s website to make it more easily accessible by the public.

But Hickey said Buckley’s decision to maintain a campaign fund even while not seeking public office shows why greater transparency and accountability is needed in Nevada’s campaign finance laws.

“This example by the former speaker of the Assembly, still having that much money on hand and continuing to give out that money, I assume to Democratic candidates, really underscores the need for us to re-examine how we report on campaign money and how we conduct ourselves after we leave the Legislature,” he said.

“We should be asking ourselves whether or not it is appropriate for former lawmakers to keep large amounts of money and be able to disburse those funds into the political process,” Hickey said.

Buckley also worked as a paid lobbyist for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada in the 2011 legislative session. Buckley, an attorney, is executive director of the center. Serving as a lobbyist and donating to candidates is not a conflict, she said.

People who appear before the Legislature give campaign contributions all the time, Buckley said.

Buckley has continued to file her finance reports with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office, which show she had expenses of just over $35,000 in 2011, mostly consisting of contributions to nonprofit organizations. She continues to identify herself in the reports as a candidate.

In her first report for 2012 filed in May, she reports another nearly $40,000 in contributions, including many donations to candidates. Leslie, who is facing Republican Greg Brower in the Senate 15 race this year, received $8,700 in cash from Buckley. She also received a nearly $1,300 in-kind contribution from Buckley.

Deducting these expenses totaling about $75,000 from her political fund still leaves Buckley with about $500,000 in cash on hand.

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Audio clips:

Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley says she has maintained her campaign fund in the event she decides to run for public office in the next two to four years:

061112Buckley1 :12 anything ever again.”

Buckley says that if she decides not to run for elective office, she will dispose of the funds as outlined in state law:

061112Buckley2 :18 in the statute.”

 

Survey Of State Lawmakers, Candidates Shows Support For Continued Government Transparency Efforts

By Sean Whaley | 2:00 am May 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Sixty state lawmakers and legislative candidates who responded to a survey on government transparency largely favor new laws requiring the Legislature to follow the Open Meeting Law and mandating expanded reporting of spending on legislators by lobbyists.

The survey, sponsored by the Nevada Policy Research Institute and the Nevada Press Association, also saw broad support for imposing a 72-hour time frame so the public can read bills before they go to a floor vote, subjecting local government negotiations with public employee unions to the state Open Meeting Law and assessing penalties for government officials who violate Nevada’s public records laws.

Illustration by David Vignoni, Ysangkok via Wikimedia Commons.

The survey was sent to 153 candidates and eight state Senators who are not up for re-election this year. Forty-one Republicans, 14 Democrats and five minor party candidates responded.

This survey is intended to give the voters a chance to find out where candidates stand on transparency issues including public records, open meetings and campaign finance reforms.

“I think it ought to be a very important issue for voters,” said Barry Smith, executive director of the press association. “That’s why we do this; so that they know who has it on their priority list.”

Advocates of increased transparency in government say the responses suggest that further progress can be made on the issues in the 2013 session of the Nevada Legislature.

“We’ve been able to move forward with Open Meeting Law, Open Records Law; the campaign finance does show some improvement,” Smith said. “That’s another thing these surveys showed – there is quite a bit of work to do and there is quite a bit of work the Legislature can do.”

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at NPRI, said at least 50 of the 60 responses were either in favor of or leaning in favor of the proposals, suggesting there is a good chance for further progress for increased government transparency in the upcoming session.

The new requirements for campaign contribution and expense reports adopted in the 2011 session were part of the 2010 survey, suggesting the effort is having some influence, he said.

“A lot of these other ideas were embodied into bills; they just never passed the Legislature,” Lawrence said. “So hopefully that will happen this time.”

The survey comes just as Republican Assembly caucus leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, announced several transparency reforms he will seek in the 2013 session. Hickey responded to the survey, indicating support for the various proposals with a “lean yes” on applying the Open Meeting Law to the Legislature. He indicated some flexibility may be required for the proposal, given the 120-day time limit the Legislature has to finish its business.

While most survey responses were supportive without qualification, there were also a few “maybes” and some opposition to the proposals.

Former state Senator Sheila Leslie, a Democrat who resigned her seat in mid-term to run for the Senate 15 seat now held by Republican Greg Brower, did not favor subjecting collective bargaining negotiations to public scrutiny.

“I don’t think inviting TV cameras into negotiations with public employee unions is in the best interest of government,” she said. “There needs to be more transparency and communication but making everything subject to the Open Meeting Law is not necessarily good government. This is one of those instances.”

Leslie was not alone in expressing concerns about the proposal.

Reno Republican Assembly 31 candidate David Espinosa said: “Negotiations, by their nature, are sensitive matters that an open meeting inclusion would transform into an entrenchment of sides, and an opportunity for grandstanding and demagoguery. I would instead support all efforts to openly disclose the starting positions of both sides of the negotiation, and the final position of each of the representatives of the local government.”

Lawrence said the issue is more problematic for some candidates and elected officials because of the support they get from public sector labor unions, which generally oppose such proposals.

Others are more bipartisan in nature, such as the proposal to require reporting of spending by lobbyists on lawmakers all year round and not just during each legislative session.

Leslie sponsored the bill in 2011 that would have required lobbyists to report all spending on lawmakers, not just spending during a legislative session. Senate Bill 206 passed the Senate unanimously but died in an Assembly committee without a vote.

Smith said the goal is to keep moving forward with incremental successes.

“To me it should be obvious that open government is a bipartisan kind of thing that people can agree on that that’s what we want,” he said. “There’s not always agreement on exactly how you get there. But as long as people think it’s important and are willing to work on it, then we will move forward with some of these things.”

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Audio clips:

Barry Smith of the Nevada Press Association says the survey results should be very important to voters:

052312Smith1 :12 their priority list.”

Smith says the surveys show a lot more work needs to be done in the areas of government transparency:

052312Smith2 :26 Legislature can do.”

Smith says open government is a bipartisan issue:

052312Smith3 :21 of these things.”

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at the NPRI, says the survey has some influence with lawmakers:

052312Lawrence1 :24 happen this time.”

Lawrence says opening public employee labor negotiations to public scrutiny is one of the more problematic transparency issues:

052312Lawrence2 :29 that position, probably.”

 

 

Reno Assemblyman Named GOP Caucus Leader In Unanimous Vote

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:08 pm January 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Reno Republican Assemblyman Pat Hickey was unanimously elected today to be the new GOP Assembly Caucus Leader.

The former minority Leader, Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, stepped down because of his intention to run for the Nevada State Senate in District 19.

Assembly Republicans currently hold 16 seats in the 42-member Assembly, while Democrats control 26 seats. Hickey said he is optimistic the caucus can improve on those numbers in November.

Hickey, who represents District 25 in Reno, returned to the Assembly in 2010 after an absence of several years.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey during the 2011 legislative session. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“As a caucus, we sincerely thank Pete Goicoechea for his leadership over the years,” Hickey said. “I am humbled and honored to be selected to follow in his footsteps. As the new leader, I will direct my energy and focus on supporting a strong conservative agenda and electing a dynamic slate of candidates this election cycle.”

Hickey was first elected to the Assembly in 1996 in the Democratic majority District 27. He then took time to focus on his family and business before running for Assembly in District 25 in 2010.

“The 2012 election cycle presents opportunities for our caucus to strengthen and grow,” Hickey said. “I am confident that our conservative message of limited government and fiscal responsibility will resonate with the people of this great state.”

In a telephone interview, Hickey said he believes Assembly Republicans have a chance to capitalize on GOP momentum in the state Senate and pick up several seats. Senate Republicans are optimistic they can retake the majority from Democrats, who now have an 11-10 edge.

“The level of enthusiasm at this moment in Republican state circles has extended from the Senate where they of course are sharing a realistic optimism they that are going to be in the majority,” he said. “And given the quantity and quality of candidates that we have attracted in Assembly races following redistricting, frankly, is giving us a great deal of optimism with respect to the prospects of significantly growing the caucus.”

In a perfect set of circumstances, Republicans could come close to taking the majority, but realistically the caucus could see its numbers increase to the high teens or low 20s, Hickey said.

The caucus is ahead of where it was in the last election cycle with fundraising, he said.

Hickey said he is in a position where he can devote all of his time to getting Assembly Republicans elected in November.

“I mean there are so many ingredients that go into a successful election cycle,” he said. “In the end it’s the quality of candidates and we’re especially hopeful this time because we think we’ve got some very good candidates who will no doubt be extremely competitive and in many cases successful.”

Democrats had a two-thirds, 28-vote veto proof majority in the 2009 legislative session. Assembly Republicans picked up two seats in the 2010 general election to take away the two-thirds advantage in the 2011 session.

Hickey, a small business owner, is a 4th generation Nevadan. He was born in Carson City and grew up in Lake Tahoe. He received his master of arts in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Hickey and his wife, Shin, have been married for 34 years and have four children.

Hickey’s election comes just days after Assembly Democrats voted to make Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, the leader of their caucus after a contested election.

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Audio clips:

GOP Assembly Caucus leader Pat Hickey says Republicans are optimistic of regaining the majority in the Senate:

011912Hickey1 :23 in the majority.”

Hickey says that optimism is now extending to the Assembly as well:

011912Hickey2 :24 growing the caucus.”

Hickey says the caucus will have competitive and successful candidates:

011912Hickey3 :26 many cases, successful.”

Democratic Redistricting Plans Pass Out of Senate And Assembly, Head To Governor

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

CARSON CITY — The political power game of drawing political boundaries escalated today as Nevada’s Democratic legislators passed their plans for new political districts.

Legislators will deliver the proposal for new Congressional and state Assembly and Senate districts to Gov. Brian Sandoval. The Republican governor has said before that he will veto any redistricting plan that he does not deem “fair.”

Republicans today contended that the Democratic plan was not fair.

“While the [population] numbers are equal [between districts], the numbers slanted toward the Democrats are somewhat unfair for the Republicans in the minority,” said Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, on the Assembly floor.

The governor has until Monday to veto the bill. If the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor cannot reach a compromise, the drawing of political districts could end up in the hands of Nevada’s judges.

Although the budget overshadows the legislative session, redistricting offers politicians an opportunity to blend combinations of voters to their favor. Although ostensibly governed by equal populations between districts, redistricting is an inherently political process.

“Every 10 years we get to select the voters that will be voting for us and we have a special responsibility to be fair in this process,” said Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, on the floor of the Assembly.

The Senate vote for the Democratic proposal broke along party lines with an 11-10 vote. In the Assembly, all Republicans voted against the proposal, joined by Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford, who said he was unhappy with how his party redrew his Las Vegas district.

Both Democrats and Republicans have focused much of the debate about political districts on Nevada’s growing Hispanic community. Hispanics now comprise 26 percent of Nevada’s population and are a voter bloc that both parties cannot ignore.

One in seven eligible voters in Nevada are Latinos, the sixth-largest Hispanic eligible voter population share nationally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

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.

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said the Democrat plan ignores the intent of the federal Voting Rights Act for congressional districts by failing to ensure fairness in representation for the Southern Nevada Hispanic community

The Republican plan created one of four congressional districts with 50.7 percent total Hispanic population. The Democrat plan creates no such district, which is in violation of the act, Hardy said.

“This plan actually creates four districts in which whites make up a significant majority,” he said. “Any plan that does not begin with an attempt to create a majority Hispanic district in Clark County fails to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the Voting Rights Act. It is something I personally cannot ignore in good conscience.”

On the Assembly floor, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, asked whether this logic implied that only a Hispanic majority could elect a Hispanic candidate.

“Nevada has proven that Hispanic and other minority candidates can and have been elected in minority influence districts,” she said.

Sandoval, Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, was elected with a majority of the white vote while losing the Hispanic vote.

The Republicans are calling for eight Hispanic-majority seats in the Assembly, four in the Senate and one in Congress.

Democrats spread Hispanic voters throughout more districts, creating two Senate districts and three Assembly districts with a majority Hispanic population.

The Legislature is required to redraw the boundaries of political districts every 10 years based on changes in population released through the U.S. Census.

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.

 

//Bureau Chief Sean Whaley contributed to this report.

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.

 

 

 

In Late Night Hearing, Assembly Caught Up In Education Funding Numbers Game

By Andrew Doughman | 10:37 pm April 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Assembly was awash with numbers tonight.

As part of the Democratic strategy to close the budget, the Assembly as a whole discussed for four and a half hours the education budget so that all legislators could learn about the cuts.

Legislative staff presented to the Assembly more than $1 billion proposed “major reductions” to school districts. These numbers come from a variety of sources:

  • $600 million from freezing teachers’ pay increases, reducing salaries by 5 percent and making teachers contribute more to their retirement plans.
  • $238 million from the governor’s direct reductions to state support for public schools.
  • $221 million of room tax money continues to shift from supporting schools to the state general fund, as it does in the current budget.

The governor has also proposed to use $301 million in districts’ bond debt reserves for day-to-day expenses. School district representatives argue that this equates to an additional cut.

For legislators who do not sit on fiscal committees, the hearing in the Assembly chambers allowed them to ask questions about the education budget and education policy.

What ensured was a semantics game.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget director, Andrew Clinger, said that a $141 million pay freeze does not equate to a reduction and the $221 million room tax is already diverted to the state budget this year.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, contended the pay freeze was a reduction.

Clinger said shifting $301 million from debt reserves to day-to-day expenses was not a cut.

Smith said it was.

The confusion, however, did not end there.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero-Loop, D-Las Vegas, asked how much money the state would cut per student. That ever elusive “per pupil spending” number was no easier to find this evening.

“It really depends on who you ask,” Clinger said. “Depending on what your source is, you’re going to get a different answer.”

Depending how one cooks the numbers, those estimates can vary by thousands of dollars. But boiled down, the proposed budget would allot $315 less per student than it currently does.

Smith asked Washoe County Superintendent Heath Morrison whether he thought sweeping districts’ bond reserves should be called a “cut.”

“The semantics of ‘is it a cut?’ Here’s what I know: It hurts the Washoe County School District,” he said.

Republicans, however, contended that school districts could make the cuts hurt less through changes to state government.

Assemblymen Pat Hickey, R-Reno, and Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, suggested that school districts suspend prevailing wage – a requirement to pay a certain wage for public works projects – in an attempt to help districts save money.

Assemblyman Mark Hammond, R-Las Vegas, who is a teacher at a Las Vegas school, said he would like to see principals have more control over funds that come to their schools.

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, R-Mesquite, said the Legislature should change collective bargaining rules so districts can drive a harder bargain for contracts with teachers and administrators.

Morrison contended this would not help. He said teachers and administrators have agreed to cuts in the past.

“I did not see collective bargaining as a problem,” he said. “I did not see anything but cooperation and support.”

Smith also said that reform is not the issue.

“We do need reform and we are working on reform,” she said. “But we also need to adequately fund our education system.”

Through the semantics squabbles and policy debates, a partisan bent seemed to triumph.

Democrats said there was too little in the governor’s $5.8 billion budget to help Nevada out of the recession.

“The elephant in the room is that we have a revenue problem rather than a spending problem,” said Assemblyman Joseph Hogan, D-Las Vegas.

Republicans said Sandoval’s budget is just right.

“The governor is trying to restore the economy,” said Assemblyman Pete Livermore, R-Carson City. “If you’re going to tax people out of their businesses and out of their homes, how can you restore the economy?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debate Over State Budget ‘End Game’ Suggests Compromise Far Off

By Andrew Doughman | 7:38 pm April 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, wanted honesty about the Legislature’s budget “end game,” and he got it.

At a legislative town hall featuring 21 lobbyists, lawmakers and business leaders, the candid comments from panelists seemed to suggest a looming budget compromise is a fool’s hope.

“You’re not going to get a tax increase through this Senate,” said Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, one of the panelists. “You’re simply not going to get it.”

He clashed again with AFL-CIO lobbyist and co-panelist Danny Thompson. Now both men have said they are “offended” by what the other has said about collective bargaining. Roberson’s bill to change collective bargaining law died in committee last week.

Hickey gave each panelist about five minutes to speak, which was enough time for each panelist to repeat a few key talking points.

“It seemed business as usual,” said Jim Cooley, lobbyist for the Nevada Libertarian Party. “It was basically, ‘this is my pitch.’”

Each speaker brought his or her own expertise to the discussion. But the debate was framed by the needs and wants of each participant.

Washoe County Superintendent Heath Morrison called for education reforms paired with more funding than Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed in his general fund budget.

“We must improve education,” Morrison said. “Only by providing an educated workforce are businesses going to want to come to Nevada and stay in Nevada.”

Chuck Muth, conservative activist for Citizen Outreach, maintained his firm stance against new taxes.

“It is no longer sufficient to say that the government needs to do more with less,” Muth said. “It is time for us to start saying that the government needs to do less with less.”

Heidi Gansert, Sandoval’s chief of staff, did her best to put a new spin on the talking points representatives from the governor’s office have used to defend the budget since its January release.

“We recognize that there are some very difficult cuts,” Gansert said. “It’s time that we have to do that.”

Hickey organized the town hall meeting to bring a diverse crowd to one place to debate, as the title of the forum suggested, “the recession, revenues and Nevada’s recovery.” He said earlier that he wanted Nevada’s political players to put their “cards on the table.”

At least one lobbyist in the audience said he was discouraged that the cards the players revealed today were the same hands they were holding two months ago.

“I think it shows how firm both sides are in their positions, which means we probably are not playing for an end game in that first week of June,” said Paul Enos, a lobbyist for the Nevada Motor Transport Association.

Former Republican Sen. Randolph Townsend spoke at the event and channeled his colleague, former Republican Sen. Bill Raggio, in calling for more respect in the legislative debate.

“Deal only with the issue in front of you,” he said. “Don’t tie the issue to the person … the day you make it personal you lose … It’s a lot harder to become vitriolic when it’s somebody you know.”

Members of the public also joined by watching online or attending the town hall at the Legislature. Robert Stransbury, 64, is a retired teacher and Carson City resident who listened to the debate from the Legislature.

“I took away that there’s some very strong opinions on opposing sides,” he said. “I hope that they can agree and come together and get a budget.”

To that end, Townsend had some advice for the current legislators struggling to do more than cobble together a budget at the last minute.

“Once in awhile you have to walk out of the [legislative] building, breathe the clean air and try to get a different perspective, and right now that is what the building needs,” he said.

The 120-day legislative session is scheduled to end during the first week of June.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Heidi Gansert, the governor’s chief of staff

Speaker Pro Tempore Debbie Smith, D-Sparks

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas

Tray Abney, Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce

Carole Vilardo – Nevada Taxpayers Association

Dr. Elliott Parker – UNR economist

Clara Andriola – Associated Builders and Contractors

Geoffrey Lawrence – Nevada Policy Research Institute economist

Dr. Heath Morrison – Washoe County School District superintendent

Mary Lau – Retail Association of Nevada

Dr. Tyrus Cobb – former assistant to President Ronald Reagan

Neil Medina – Northern Nevada Contractor

Jim Pfrommer – Education Alliance of Washoe County

Former Sen. Randolph Townsend

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, R-Mesquite

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks

Bob Fulkerson, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

Chuck Muth – Citizen Outreach

Dave Humke – Washoe County Commissioner

Danny Thompson – AFL-CIO union representative

Norm Dianda – Q&D Construction

Immigration Bills Fall Short As Deadline Passes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immigration Bills Spark Heated Debate In Legislature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said the bill is mainly about jobs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others suggested that the bills would polarize the Hispanic electorate.

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

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