Posts Tagged ‘reform’

Transparency Bills Hit Governor’s Desk

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:52 pm June 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada may finally see greater transparency and accountability in election campaigns due to three landmark bills that arrived on Gov. Sandoval’s desk this week.

Secretary of State Ross Miller unsuccessfully championed the reforms in the two previous legislative sessions. Miller said in testimony before the Legislature in recent months that lawmakers could no longer ignore glaring gaps in the law that were revealed by questionable practices in recent election cycles.

“I’m finally satisfied that Nevada voters will have a clearer picture of who is funding political campaigns in Nevada and, as a result, will be able to make more informed decisions at the ballot box,” Miller said when the bills received final legislative approval.

Miller said that for too long, information about who is spending what to influence campaigns in Nevada has been hidden from the voters by archaic and ambiguous laws.

“At a time when record amounts of money are being spent to elect decision-makers at all levels of government, we owed it to the voters to shed more light on campaign financing practices,” said Miller.

Assembly Bills 81, 82, and 452 address aspects of campaign contribution and expense reporting as well as other sections of election law. If passed, more information to be made available to voters sooner than in the past.

Campaign Finance and Expense Reporting

Candidates for public office would be required to electronically file contribution and expense reports with the Secretary of State’s office. This would enable the creation of database that can be searched by candidate name, contributor name, dollar amounts, and other data.

Campaign contribution and expense reports would also have to be filed at least four days before the start of early voting in primary and general elections.

All Political Action Committees, other committees, and individuals who spend more than $100 on a public communication such as a radio or TV ad, billboard, or mass mailing would have to identify in the communication who paid for it.

In addition, any person or group who spends more than $100 in an attempt to influence the outcome of a Nevada election would have to register with the Secretary of State and file annual contribution and expense reports.

Individuals would now be prohibited from contributing to a PAC with the knowledge and intent that the PAC would contribute that money to a specific candidate if the contribution puts the individual over the authorized limits on contributions to a single candidate.

A foreign national would not be able make contributions to Nevada campaigns, and soliciting, accepting, or receiving any campaign contributions from foreign nationals would be illegal under state law, just as it is under federal law.

Voter Registration

Online voter registration would be be expanded from Clark and Washoe Counties to all counties across the state.

A voter registration agency, county clerk or registrar would not be able to knowingly employ a person to register voters if the person had been convicted of a felony involving theft or fraud.

Threatening a person or using intimidation in connection with the registration of voters could constitute a category E felony crime.

Miscellaneous provisions

Individual minor party candidates could be placed on the ballot only if the party obtains ballot access as already required by law.

Acts of tampering or interfering with or attempting to tamper or interfere with a mechanical voting system or computer program used to count ballots would be punishable as a category B felony.

Requirements to register as a Ballot Advocacy Group (BAG) to support or oppose a ballot question would be deleted from statute. Individuals and organizations would have to register as a Political Action Committee to engage in political activity to support or oppose a ballot question, and the reporting threshold for such groups would be lowered from $10,000 in contributions and/or expenditures to $1,000 during any reporting period.

State holidays would no longer be excluded from the early voting period.

An October, 2009 regulation prohibiting county clerks and registrars from releasing results of statewide and multi-county races until the Secretary of State determines that all polling places are closed and all votes have been cast would be codified.

 

 

 

Nevada Campaign Finance Reform Bills Get Senate Committee Hearing

By Sean Whaley | 6:36 pm May 5th, 2011

CARSON CITY – An ambitious effort to make major reforms to Nevada’s campaign finance laws moved to the state Senate today after three measures sought by Secretary of State Ross Miller passed the Assembly by a deadline last month.

The Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections took testimony on Assembly Bills 81, 82 and 452 but delayed action on the measures, which would make a number of reforms to Nevada campaign finance law.

A number of concerns were raised about elements of the measures by members of the public who testified. But witnesses also praised sections of the measures, which were amended extensively in the Assembly.

Opposition testimony did not for the most part take aim at what Secretary of State Ross Miller considers the most important elements of the measures, contained in AB452, requiring on-line filing of campaign contribution and expense reports by most candidates and earlier reporting of the information so voters could review the data before casting their ballots.

“A big part of the transparency we want to provide is letting voters know who is funding the campaigns,” Miller said. “The reasons of course are obvious, and the need is equally obvious, even to those outside of Nevada.”

Miller said Nevada received an “F” grade from the Campaign Disclosure Project by the UCLA School of Law in 2008 for the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws, the same grade received in the project’s four previous reports.

“In the real world there is a term for that, it’s called flunking out,” he said. “I’m not going to flunk out, I don’t think any of you here want to, and there is absolutely no reason Nevadans should tolerate any kind of excuses that lead to that type of performance.”

The measures cover other issues as well.

Assembly Bill 81 contains a provision restricting the creation of political action committees to circumvent limits on how much money can be contributed to a campaign as is now being reviewed in Rory Reid’s failed gubernatorial bid.

Miller’s office is investigating Reid’s use of 90 shell political action committees his campaign established to funnel $750,000 into his race for Nevada governor. Reid has said the use of the multiple PACs was legal.

Assembly Bill 82 contains a provision allowing for on-line voter registration, a proposal endorsed by Jan Gilbert, representing the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, who said it would increase the number of voters and lead to improved voter turnout.

AB452 also contains a controversial provision requiring a two-year cooling off period before a former lawmaker could be paid to work as a lobbyist in the Legislature, a section not sought by Miller and which was a concern for some members of the Assembly.

Some of those testifying on the bills expressed concerns about a section of AB81 that imposes reporting requirements on groups or individuals spending more than $100 for or against a candidate.

Janine Hansen, representing the Independent American Party, said the provision is an unwarranted effort to regulate free speech, including anonymous free speech.

“Anonymous free speech is part of American history and it is an important thing to protect,” she said.

Those seeking more transparency in the campaign and election process should be seeking more, not less, free speech, Hansen said.

Miller said the provision is intended to fix the most comment election complaint received by his office, that of the anonymous political mailer or television attack ad. The proposed language is not a First Amendment battle because it is taken from requirements used by other jurisdictions, he said.

It is a reasonable response to address the clear abuse of anonymous mailers sent out during campaign season, Miller said.

Audio clips:

Secretary of State Ross Miller says most important provisions are in AB452:

050511Miller1 :22 maintaining these filings.”

Miller says the measures would let voters know who is funding the campaigns:

050511Miller2 :09 outside of Nevada.”

Miller says Nevada’s current campaign finance disclosure laws are failing:

050511Miller3 :08 type of performance.”

 

 

Public Pension Reform Debate To Proceed, But Without Bill From Sandoval Administration

By Sean Whaley | 10:31 am March 29th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Despite citing the need to reform Nevada’s public employee pension plan, Gov. Brian Sandoval did not introduce a bill seeking changes to the retirement system by a deadline Monday.

Even so, Heidi Gansert, Sandoval’s chief of staff, said the administration will “be a part of the conversation” as other measures addressing potential reforms to the Public Employees’ Retirement System are considered in the 2011 legislative session.

“There are other bills that open up that chapter and so we want to be part of that conversation,” she said. “We just could not get agreement on the terms of the bill, and the process was so delayed at getting these bills out, that we ended up deciding we would look for another bill and be part of the discussion.”

Five measures relating to the retirement system for public employees have been introduced this session. One, Assembly Bill 405 by Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, proposes to eliminate call-back pay as compensation for retirement purposes for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2012.

Gansert said Sandoval’s original proposal, the details of which were described at a briefing with the press last month, does not have to be the solution to the issue of the retirement system, which faces a $10 billion long-term unfunded liability.

“That proposal was something that we put together looking at what was done in other states,” she said. “But we know there are other ideas out there, so we are willing to talk to everybody about it recognizing that we do have a large unfunded liability and we want to work on that.”

Sandoval said during his campaign he wanted to change PERS for future government hires to make it a defined contribution plan, where employers and employees contribute to retirement but the employees are responsible for managing their funds. This is in contrast to the current “defined benefit” plan where contributions are managed by PERS and the employee is guaranteed a set pension on retirement based on salary and years worked.

In the briefing in February, the proposal being considered by Sandoval would have maintained the current defined benefit system but at about half the contribution rate in effect now, in effect halving the pension payments as well as the future liability to taxpayers. It would have been complemented with a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan that employees could contribute to for a bigger pension on retirement.

The defined benefit plans offered by states and government entities around the country have sparked concern over the potential future liability to taxpayers if there isn’t enough money to pay the benefits. Some plans are much healthier financially than others.

Supporters of Nevada’s current system, which covers virtually all state and local employees, say it is well managed and will be fully funded over time. They argue no changes are necessary.

A recent study by the Pew Center on the States identified Nevada’s public pension plan as one of 19 where “serious concerns” about the long-term health of the plan have been identified.

Nevada’s plan was 70.5 percent fully funded as of June 30, 2010.

Gansert said there are numerous interest groups, including the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, which will be involved in the PERS reform discussions as well.

Sandoval has said the public retirement system needs to more closely mirror what is offered by the private sector.

Audio clips:

Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert says the administration will pursue pension reform despite not having its own bill:

032911Gansert1 :16 of the discussion.”

Gansert says the administration will work with the Las Vegas chamber and others on reforms:

032911Gansert2 :14 work on that.”

 

Secretary Of State Presents Campaign Finance And Election Reform Package To Legislature

By Sean Whaley | 6:53 pm March 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Secretary of State Ross Miller made his pitch for campaign finance reform before an Assembly committee today, saying that while his two bills are extensive and complex at 155 pages combined, the many provisions are necessary because, “we are behind the curve.”

Miller, in testimony before the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, said Nevada should provide increased transparency to voters about the campaign contributions and expenses of the candidates for public office.

The committee took no immediate action on the measures.

“This legislation has a lot in it – I get it – 155 pages of legislation, but it has a lot in it because we are behind the curve,” Miller said.

Secretary of State Ross Miller
Photo: Cathleen Allison/ NevadaPhotoSource.com

Of all the provisions in the two bills, the requirement of electronic filing of  campaign contribution and expense reports, the change in deadlines to make the filings more useful to the public, and having the secretary of state’s office be the single entity to maintain the information, are the most important, he said.

“If you remember only one thing from this package, it’s that those three things alone would send voters a message that transparency is a priority in our campaign and election processes, and the three go hand-in-hand toward increasing accessibility,” Miller said.

Nevada has consistently received poor grades for its transparency on election reform efforts, including an “F” in 2008 from the Campaign Disclosure Project.

Assembly Bills 81 and 82 would require online reporting of campaign contribution and expense reports so the data could be searched by voters. Filing deadlines would also be moved up so the reports would be filed before early voting begins.

The two measures would also provide for online voter registration, a process Miller said is more secure than the current use of voter registration cards. The bills would also increase fines for violation of voter registration laws.

Filing fees for candidates would also be increased for the first time in 20 years, to $3,000 from the current $500 for U.S. Senate candidates, and to $300 from $100 for legislative candidates. Other filing fees would increase as well.

Members of the Assembly panel asked questions and voiced some concerns, particularly about the increased penalties proposed for voter registration violations because of the many volunteers who perform such work, but there was no clear opposition expressed to the measures by lawmakers.

Several members of the audience testified in support of the proposal to require on-line filing of campaign reports by candidates, including Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said he supported the electronic filing of campaign reports, both to save employee costs and because of the improved transparency for the voting public.

But not everybody was in favor of the bills.

Lynn Chapman, Washoe County chairwoman of the Independent American Party, said the increased fees proposed in AB81 would be a hardship on some candidates, including herself. She ran unsuccessfully for Washoe County Public Administrator in 2010. The new fees would require $300 to file, up from $100 now, for a county office.

Janine Hansen, state president of the Nevada Eagle Forum and a candidate for the Assembly in the 2010 election, said the bills favor the rich and powerful.

“The secretary of state’s election bills, AB81 and AB82, secure the advantages for the rich, powerful incumbents and candidates anointed by the ‘powers that be,’ ” she said. “These twin bills are dangerous to the democratic election process.”

Hansen also objected to the increase in filing fees, saying they would be a disadvantage to challengers and minor party candidates.

“Has the secretary of state become a revenuer instead of an elections official?” she said.

Miller said the filing fees have not been raised in 20 years and do not cover costs. He said the filing fees would not keep candidates from seeking public office, and that candidates could gather signatures to qualify for the ballot instead.

A number of other speakers, both in Carson City and Las Vegas, voiced opposition to the bills on many different grounds, including the increase in filing fees. Some critics characterized the measures as a “power grab” by Miller’s office.

Audio clips:

Secretary of State Ross Miller says his election bills are lengthy because Nevada is behind the curve:

030111Miller1 :10 behind the curve.”

Miller says electronic filing of campaign reports, earlier filing of reports and having his office in charge of the information, are the most important elements of the reform package:

030111Miller2 :14 toward increasing accessibility.”

Las Vegas Chamber President Says Business Community Will Demand Reform Before New Taxes

By Sean Whaley | 6:24 am August 13th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President Matt Crosson said Thursday the Nevada business community will not accept tax increases in the upcoming 2011 legislative session without “meaningful” reforms in a number of areas including taxes, education and public employee benefits.

“It is fair to say the business community, led by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, is going to be demanding serious and significant reform before any kinds of taxes are imposed on the business community again,” he said.

In an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, Crosson said it is premature to detail the specifics of what those reforms might entail.

“They are rather detailed reforms with respect to taxes and tax policy,” he said. “With respect to education and public employment I think we are looking at some very basic reforms. Things related to accountability, to responsibility, to work rules, to pension contributions, to a variety of different things.

“We have to take advantage of the crisis that we are in right now to set the state on the right course into the future,” Crosson said. “And in part that requires reform.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, told the Las Vegas Sun last week that as much as $1.5 billion in tax increases may be needed in the 2011 session to help balance the state’s budget. The budget is expected to be about $3 billion short of the $6.5 billion considered necessary to fund state government operations.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, also said this week that taxes, while a last resort, cannot be rejected out of hand. Tax increases approved by the 2009 Legislature that are set to expire next year may have to be extended, he said.

The Legislature raised the sales tax by 0.35 percent and nearly doubled the tax on Nevada’s largest businesses to help balance the current budget.

The comments by Horsford and Raggio are in stark contrast to the positions of both major candidates for governor, who have rejected any call for tax increases to get the state out of its budget crisis.

Crosson said he has been involved in private discussions with Democratic leaders – who are expected to again control both houses of the Nevada Legislature – regarding the need for reforms and the need to minimize the impact of any tax increase on the business community should a consensus emerge that such an increase is necessary.

In those conversations, Crosson said he has found “a strong sense of responsibility so far.”

Imposing taxes on small business may extend the recession and make it more difficult for Nevada to recover, he said.

And before any talk of taxes can occur, lawmakers have to look at making “responsible cuts” in state programs, Crosson said.

Involving local governments in any budget review process is also worth a look, he said. There are reports of excess spending at the local government level in Clark County, Crosson said.

“Pension contribution levels are extraordinarily high,” he said. “In circumstances like that, given the difficulties facing the state, I think you really have to look at those kinds of things to see whether some changes can be made and need to be made.”

Crosson said Nevada’s position as a low tax state does put it in a good position to recover from the recession compared to other states such as California.

“If we need to raise more revenue we have to be very clever about how we do it and we’ve got to be sure the impact is as minimal as possible, particularly on the small business community,” he said.

___

Audio clips:

Las Vegas Chamber President Matt Crosson says reforms must be part of solution to state budget crisis:

081210Crosson1 :16 reforms in education.”

Crosson says reforms must be implemented before tax increases:

081210Crosson2 :15 business community again.”

Crosson says budget crisis is ripe opportunity for reform:

081210Crosson3 :22 that requires reform.”

Crosson says imposing taxes on small business could extend recession:

081210Crosson4 :11 to come back.”

Crosson says tax policy a balance:

081210Crosson5 :19 that that matters.”

Crosson says involving local governments in state budget fix is worth a look:

081210Crosson6 :19 worth a look.”

Rory Reid Calls for Reform and Consolidation to Balance State Budget

By Sean Whaley | 6:40 am August 11th, 2010

(Updated at 6:50 a.m. on Aug. 11, 2010)

CARSON CITY – Democrat gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid told the Nevada News Bureau yesterday there are other options for moving the state out of its current budget crisis besides increasing taxes and cutting programs.

In an interview at a local coffee shop, Reid pulled out two pieces of paper. One showed an organization chart for the state’s public education system from 1989. The other shows how it looks now.

The newer chart showed many more layers of government, including advisory panels, legislative committees and other bureaucratic creations that have evolved over the past 20 years.

Reid said the two charts demonstrate one way Nevada can save several hundred million dollars: by streamlining government services to eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies in state government.

Reid, who is trailing GOP candidate Brian Sandoval in the polls, said he has experience balancing budgets as chairman of the Clark County Commission, budgets that are as big as the Nevada general fund budget.

“I know how to do this,” he said. “I’ve balanced it in good times and in bad for seven years running without new taxes. There are more than two options. The third option nobody talks about is to remake our government.”

Clark County had multiple housing authorities at one time, but Reid said he worked to consolidate them into one agency. There used to be multiple public health agencies, now there is one.

Reid did not back off his no new taxes stance, saying the state unemployment rate, the foreclosure crisis, and the overall economic situation in Nevada makes the idea of expanding such levies a nonstarter.

“We need a leader in Carson City that knows how to reform government structures,” he said. “If we do what needs to be done, we will save hundreds of millions of dollars and still maintain services by reforming our government.”

Reid said he will be putting out a proposal in the next several days addressing this issue in more detail.

Reid said Sandoval is offering no realistic solutions, instead saying he will avoid layoffs, protect vulnerable citizens and government services and still balance the budget.

“That is impossible,” Reid said.

The Sandoval campaign offered this response: “As a two-term legislator, an attorney general who returned money to the general fund and as a private law practitioner, Brian is proud of his budget experience. It’s curious that just a few months ago Rory Reid refused to say how he might balance the state’s budget.  Now he’s attacking Brian – the only candidate to lay out how he would have approached balancing our state’s short term budget deficit without mass layoffs or new taxes.”

Reid weighed in on the state’s budget problems as state Budget Director Andrew Clinger has spoken in recent days of the severity of the impacts facing Nevada when the Legislature convenes in February.

Clinger said the state is facing an estimated $3 billion shortfall in the revenues needed to sustain state government for the next two years, or nearly 50 percent of what would be a $6.5 billion general fund budget.

On Monday Clinger said new taxes might be avoided if the state and counties worked together to more efficiently divvy up the delivery of government services and the revenues used to pay for them.

Even so, both Sandoval and Reid have steadfastly rejected any notion of raising taxes as a partial solution to the state’s budget problems.

In an interview today on the KRNV Channel 4 noon news, Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he would not reject out-of-hand the idea of new or increased taxes as one option to solving the state’s budget crisis.

“There is no question that we are facing a very severe problem, the largest shortfall in our history,” he said. “We did take money from counties last time, cities and counties, and there is a bottom to that well also.

“No one wants to advocate raising taxes, or new taxes,” Raggio said. “We will probably have to look at restoring the taxes that are going to sunset. But I don’t think anybody should take a blood oath that we’re not going to look at that.”

Raising taxes is a last resort, he said.

“But I wouldn’t take it off the table,” Raggio said.

The 2009 Legislature raised the sales tax and the modified business tax on the state’s largest employers as part of a solution to balancing the current budget. Those taxes will expire on June 30, 2011 unless they are extended by the Legislature.

Reid said there is one other way that Nevada can get out of its budget crisis, and that is “growing” out of it through economic development. There are $5 billion worth of energy projects getting close to construction that will generate construction jobs and tax revenues to the state, he said.

___

Audio clips:

Rory Reid says the state can save millions by remaking an outdated state government:

081010RoryReid1 :17 21st century economy.”

Reid says he has experience in reforming government structures:

081010RoryReid2 :15 reforming our government.”

Reid says Sandoval promising more than he can deliver:

081010RoryReid3 :23 that is impossible.”

Nevada Should Look at San Franciso Pension Reform Initiative

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:13 pm August 2nd, 2010

CapitolBeatOK reports that a San Francisco pension reform initiative has qualified for the November ballot. If approved, the proposal will be responsible for saving California taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the next decade and could serve as a model for other states.

The state of California has an estimated $500 billion in pension debt, CalWatchdog has reported.

The Cali proposal is of such wide national interest that the man who started it, Jeff Adachi, a public defender in San Francisco, was added as a speaker at the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy being held at the University of California, Hastings School of Law this week.

In remarks made on Sunday, Adachi described the frustration he and other California taxpayers felt after learning that one out of every five dollars collected in local taxes were paying benefits for government employees. Adachi said he was motivated to act as he witnessed budget cuts in the public defender’s office, the closure of public parks and other program cuts driven by cost accelerations in the pension plan.

In past comments about the proposal, Adachi has insisted, “This isn’t an attack on labor. It’s a math problem.”

Michael Moritz, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur best known as an early investor in Google, YouTube and Yahoo, has supported and helped publicize the measure which no doubt helped Adachi in his efforts to gather enough signatures.

If approved by voters in November, the proposal will save San Francisco taxpayers some $170 million by requiring most public employees to contribute 9% into their own pensions. Police and fire employees, with comparatively more generous benefits, will begin to contribute 10%.

As reported earlier this year by our own Sean Whaley here at the Bureau, Nevada has pension problems of its own that the state’s Public Employee Retirement Board has since agreed needs examination.

Governor’s Special Counsel to Travel to Florida for Oral Arguments in Health Care Reform Lawsuit

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 7:32 am May 14th, 2010

Las Vegas attorney Mark Hutchison says he will soon be going to Florida for oral arguments in the federal motion to dismiss the health care lawsuit being brought by 20 states including Nevada.

Reagan-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson will hear arguments challenging the states’ right to bring the suit on September 14, 2010 in the Northern District of Florida.

“Because there are 20 states named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit now, we will likely assign one lawyer to present oral argument to the judge during oral argument on behalf of all of the states,” said Hutchison.

“The decision identifying who that lawyer will be has not yet been made,” he said.

The amended complaint adding Nevada and a number of other states to the lawsuit will be filed today.  Hutchison said a decision is expected in October or November.

Hutchison said he also plans to attend a hearing, for which the date has not been set, on the states’ motion for summary judgment.  The motion will ask the judge to declare the health care legislation unconstitutional and bar its implementation in the states.

Despite criticism that the lawsuit is a futile attempt to thwart the health care reform bill,  Hutchison said he is confident in the strength of the suit’s legal positions.

“There are many legal experts, scholars, judges and lawyers who believe that that the health care legislation will be declared unconstitutional by the courts,” he said.

“The principles at issue in this lawsuit are broader than the specific legislation in question and rise above the political maneuvering associated with its passage,” said Hutchison.

“This case is about preserving and respecting the system of constitutional government established at the founding of this country,” he said.

Hutchison contends that the health care legislation represents an unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states and on the rights of citizens by mandating, for the first time in U.S. history, that residents purchase something or be punished by the government through the imposition of a fine.

“Such a mandate exceeds the powers of the federal government under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, particularly the commerce clause, and violates the Ninth and Tenth Amendments as well as the Constitution’s principles of federalism and dual sovereignty,” said Hutchison.

Hutchison said he believes it is likely the case will end up in the nation’s highest court.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has stated publicly that he expects the case to reach the court within the next two years.

Hutchison says his office has had no communications with the Nevada Attorney General since the governor appointed him as lead special counsel for Nevada in the lawsuit challenging the health care legislation.

“Although we recognize that the Attorney General has a different view, we continue to believe that the governor has the authority under state law and by virtue of his office to appoint special counsel to represent the state given the Attorney General’s decision,” said Hutchison.

Average Joes and Janes to Explain How Harry Reid and Health Care Reform Have Helped Even Though Few Benefits Have Actually Kicked In Yet

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:30 pm April 28th, 2010

That’s the gist of Harry Reid’s new ad campaign, from what RalstonFlashed a couple of hours ago:

Reid to go up with huge ad buy defending health care reform law

Best defense is a good offense campaign begins Friday with a series of spots featuring individuals talking about how various aspects of the new law have helped them, sources confirm. I understand the buy will be larger than any of those currently purchased by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s GOP foes.

Game on.

Yep. Here comes the money!

Reid’s health care narrative between now and November:

“I’m Harry Reid, and I single-handedly saved all of Nevada’s sick and dying. And quite possibly some of their household pets as well. A vote for me is a vote for your poor, ailing auntie AND her cute little dog.”

Etc.

Governor Formally Announces Blue Ribbon Education Panel

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:42 pm March 15th, 2010

Via press release, more details from the governor’s office re: the new blue ribbon education panel:

GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES BLUE RIBBON EDUCATION REFORM TASK FORCE

(Carson City, Nevada) – Governor Jim Gibbons signed an Executive Order today forming the Blue Ribbon Education Reform Task Force to guide and oversee Nevada’s Race to the Top application and to facilitate public and private discussion and consensus for overall reform of public education for Nevada’s children.

“This Task Force will merge new ideas with proven methods to propel Nevada’s education delivery system to new heights,” Gibbons said, “The group will create a path to prepare Nevada’s students to be the intellectual infrastructure for our future.”

Gibbons plans to enlist the help of the public and private sector for this important project. Nevada’s state, private industry and nonprofit leaders  will work together to ensure a successful state application for the Race to the Top competition and to effect long-term K-12 and higher education reform. Experts and stakeholders in K-12 and higher education, government, technology, and business must work together as a team to ensure our education system succeeds both in educating our children and in providing the background and skills necessary for the current and future job markets in Nevada.

Well-known supporter of education and entrepreneur Elaine Wynn and Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich have been named co-chairs of the Task Force.

Other members include:  Senator Barbara Cegavske; Assemblywoman Debbie Smith; State Board of Education Chairman Chris Wallace; Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault; Nye County School District Superintendent William “Rob” Roberts; Washoe County School District Superintendent Heath Morrison; Acting Douglas County School District Superintendent John Soderman; former Regent Jill Derby; Joyce Haldeman, Assistant Superintendent, Clark County School District; DJ Allen, Imagine Marketing; Ray Bacon, President, Nevada Manufacturing Association; Pam Hicks, Regional Professional Development Program; Dr. Sonya Horsford, UNLV; Dana Lee, President, Nevada Women’s Philanthropy; Cherri Luna, classroom teacher in Clark County; Punam Mathur, Vice President Human Resources, NV Energy; Ronald Montoya, Principal, Clark County School District; Maureen Peckman, Cleveland Clinic; Karen Pedersen, classroom teacher in Lyon County; Gina Polovina, Vice President Community Relations and Government Affairs, Boyd Gaming; Michele Robinson, President, Nevada Charter School Association; Allison Serafin, Executive Director, Teach for America; Nancy Smith, Datanamics; Diane Sumner, classroom teacher in Washoe County; Alison Turner, President, Nevada Parent Teacher Association; Gintas Vildzius, Vice President Global Energy, GE Energy; and Lynn Warne, President, Nevada State Education Association.

The responsibilities of the Task Force include:

* Providing state leadership and coordination of the Race to the Top application and ensure its timely submission by June 1, 2010;

* Facilitating discussion and consensus among public and private stakeholders in building a knowledge base of “lessons learned” to facilitate the Race to the Top application;

* Encouraging public and private involvement in a review of Nevada’s education infrastructure and recommendation of measures designed to ensure that we are providing a fair and appropriate education that will support the future of our state and diversification of our economy;

* Facilitating a statewide dialogue on reform of our public education delivery system;

* Consulting with relevant stakeholders to develop a plan to improve the results of our state’s public education system, from K-12 through higher education; and

Developing legislative and regulatory recommendations supporting the mission that may address, among other matters, governance, academic standards, teacher performance and resource allocation.

The Task Force will submit two items to Governor Gibbons: the completed Nevada Race to the Top application no later than May 21, 2010, and, no later than November 19, 2010, its recommendations regarding revisions to state laws and regulations relating to education reform and related funding for inclusion in the Governor’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

“The Task Force members have the innovation and determination to modernize Nevada’s education system and provide the workforce for our future,” Gibbons said, “I look forward to receiving the ideas and input from this talented group of individuals.”

The Task Force will have its first meeting on Friday, March 19, 2010.