Posts Tagged ‘Reid’

Nevada Senators Introduce Yerington Lands Bill

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:51 pm December 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Legislation that would provide for the transfer of federal land to the City of Yerington to expand a copper mining operation and create jobs was introduced today by Nevada U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller.

The Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act of 2012 would also create a new 48,000-acre wilderness area.

Wovoka.

Separate legislation that addressed only the land transfer proposal has already passed the House primarily through the efforts of Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

Reid wanted a wilderness component in the legislation as well, and last week the Lyon County Commission signed off on the proposed Wovoka Wilderness. Wovoka is the name of a Native American spiritual leader and father of the Ghost dance who was born and raised in the area.

“I am very happy to be part of this legislation which will create lots of jobs in Lyon County, which are so desperately needed,” Reid, D-Ne., said in a statement. “This bill also designates the Wovoka wilderness area, a place with special cultural and natural resources that are worthy of a high level of protection so future generations can continue enjoying them. It’s a bill that’s going to meet the needs of modern day Nevada.”

Heller, R-Nev., said: “Lyon County has the highest unemployment rate in the state and this legislation will bring more than 800 jobs to the area. Mining is a critical component of Nevada’s economy and we are fortunate to have resources in our own backyard for economic development.”

The City of Yerington and Lyon County are seeking the transfer to leverage the substantial infrastructure investments being made by Nevada Copper at its nearby Pumpkin Hollow project.

Nevada Copper, which broke ground on the Pumpkin Hollow project in February, invested nearly $50 million in exploration to justify the $1 billion investment necessary to fully develop the mine. The mine will produce 250 to 300 million pounds of copper per year.

The initial shaft sinking is already producing economic benefits with the creation of 30 to 40 jobs. An additional 250 to 500 construction jobs could start in 2013 if the land transfer is successful. At full operation in 2015-2016, Pumpkin Hollow is projected to employ 750 to 800 people directly.

The legislation will allow the city of Yerington to partner with Nevada Copper to develop roughly 12,500 acres of land surrounding the Pumpkin Hollow project site, which is already creating jobs in Nevada. The lands conveyed by this bill will also be used for industrial, recreation, and infrastructure purposes that will create sorely needed jobs and economic development for Yerington.

The House version of the bill passed in June.

Sandoval Announces Intent To Expand Medicaid

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 6:19 pm December 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today announced he will include 78,000 additional people in Nevada’s Medicaid program as provided for under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Though I have never liked the Affordable Care Act because of the individual mandate it places on citizens, the increased burden on businesses and concerns about access to health care, the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement. “As such, I am forced to accept it as today’s reality and I have decided to expand Nevada’s Medicaid coverage.

Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“My fiscal year 2014-2015 budget will provide 78,000 additional Nevadans with health insurance coverage through Medicaid, which is estimated to save the state general fund approximately $17 million dollars in mental health savings,” Sandoval said. “My executive budget will also help Nevada businesses cope with the burden placed on them by decreasing the modified business tax. My decision to opt-in assists the neediest Nevadans and helps some avoid paying a health-care tax penalty. As part of my proposal, I will also call upon the Legislature to pass Medicaid patient responsibility cost-sharing measures.

“I will commit to working with the Legislature if anything changes at the federal level,” he said. “At any point during the Legislative session, if there is any sign of change at the state or federal level, it may alter my support for expansion.”

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid today praised Sandoval for his decision.

“This is wonderful for the people of Nevada and for the thousands of Nevadans who now will have health care,” he said. “I commend Gov. Sandoval for taking this bipartisan step. This is a win-win, it will save the state money, is good for the economy, good for employers and most importantly will help people. I worked hard to pass this legislation and I couldn’t be happier that the governor has made this decision.”

Nevada Jobless Rate Ticks Up To 12.1 Percent In August

By Sean Whaley | 10:57 am September 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point to 12.1 percent in August from July, the second month of increases in the jobless rate after hitting a three-year low in May, a state agency reported today.

The increase in the seasonally adjusted rate, coming after a jump of four-tenths of a percentage point in July, continues to make Nevada the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

The rate is still well below the 13.8 percent jobless rate reported in August of 2011, the report from the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) shows.

The Las Vegas area had an unadjusted jobless rate of 12.3 percent in August, while Reno-Sparks saw a 11.5 percent rate and Carson City stood at 11.6 percent.

Nevada’s economy is front and central in the presidential race, and will be a topic of comments in Mitt Romney’s visit to Las Vegas today. Both Romney and President Obama have made several trips to Nevada over the past few months. The frequent visits highlight Nevada’s importance as a battleground state in the race.

DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson, in commenting on today’s August report, said that Nevada is mirroring the nation with its labor market having softened in recent months.

“Job growth has eased, and the unemployment rate has ticked up,” he said. “Still, year-over-year improvement is evident. Taken as a whole, labor market barometers point to the tenuous nature of the current economic environment, both nationally and here in Nevada.”

Based, at least in part, upon the results of a monthly survey of Nevada businesses, total nonfarm payrolls fell by 1,000 jobs in August, Anderson said. In every month this summer, employment fell on a month-over-month basis, resulting in a summer decline of 3,600 jobs. (The June to July change in non-farm payroll jobs was revised from a gain of 2,100 to a loss of 1,100.)

“As a result of falling job levels throughout the summer, Nevada’s over-the-year employment comparison appears less impressive,” he said. “Nonetheless, Nevada still has 5,200 more jobs than in August of last year, with a gain of 6,500 in the private sector partially offset by public sector losses.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has made economic development and job creation a centerpiece of his administration and who is currently on a trade mission to the People’s Republic of China and South Korea, said: “While I am disappointed that Nevada experienced another slight uptick in the unemployment rate, I am encouraged by the fact that we continue to see signs of modest economic improvement, measured on a year-over-year basis, in these numbers.”

Sandoval acknowledged, however, that the slight improvement is not enough to sustain Nevada’s economy, “which is why we must continue to work to diversify our state’s economy and bring jobs to Nevada.”

As has been the case, throughout the 2012 election season, the candidates have weighed in on the latest jobless numbers.

Mason Harrison, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, said: “Today, we received more bad news from the Obama economy – more and more Nevadans are finding themselves unemployed. Nevada has seen unemployment continue to rise, despite President Obama’s promises to stop the bleeding of jobs.

“Mitt Romney will succeed where President Obama has failed by implementing a 5-point plan that will strengthen the middle class and create 12 million jobs across our country in his first term alone,” he said.

But U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a statement, said: “Today’s numbers highlight the critical importance of creating jobs. The best way to do that is to strengthen Nevada’s middle class and our small business community.

“I have been working with my Democratic colleagues to provide tax relief to middle class families, and to help small business owners expand and create jobs for hard working Nevadans. However, these commonsense measures have been met with unconditional obstruction by Senate and House Republicans, regardless of their potential to spur economic growth.”

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Audio clips:

DETR Chief Economist Bill Anderson says the national softening of the jobs market is affecting Nevada:

092112Anderson1 :16 the Nevada numbers.”

Anderson says Nevada’s rate of improvement is diminishing:

092112Anderson2 :30 of improvement diminish.”

Heller Asks Senate Leadership To Schedule Vote On No Budget, No Pay Act

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:10 pm May 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asking them to schedule a vote on the No Budget, No Pay Act (S. 1981).

Saying he is frustrated with Congress’ “consistent failure” to pass a budget, Heller introduced the No Budget, No Pay Act. This bill requires Congress to pass a concurrent budget resolution and related appropriations bills in order to receive pay. Pay is not awarded retroactively if Congress passes a budget after the deadline has passed.

In his letter, Heller said in part: “More than three years have passed since Congress adopted a binding budget resolution. The Senate Budget Committee failed to mark up a budget once again this year, demonstrating that the budget process in this body is fundamentally broken. Each of the budgets slated for a vote this week faces substantial opposition from members of whatever party did not introduce that particular budget. These budgets are being brought up in order to fail.

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

“That’s why I’ve been advocating my No Budget, No Pay Act (S. 1981) for nearly a year,” he said. “My legislation calls on the House and Senate to pass a concurrent budget resolution and all regular appropriations bills before the beginning of each fiscal year. Failure to do so would result in the loss of pay until we take our jobs seriously and make these bills our legislative priority.”

The proposal and a companion measure in the House have some bipartisan support.

Heller testified in support of the bill in a Senate hearing held in March of this year.

“Members of Congress are willfully refusing to put our nation on a path to long-term fiscal responsibility,” Heller said at the hearing. “In crafting the No Budget, No Pay Act, to force Congress to face reality and take responsibility for running this country, this legislation requires that the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives pass a budget and all appropriations bills by the beginning of each fiscal year. Failure to do so would result in the loss of pay until Congress takes its job seriously.”

The nonpartisan group No Labels gave its support to Heller’s measure after it was introduced. The NNB had earlier erroneously reported the idea had come from the No Labels group.

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Audio clips from March hearing:

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller says members of Congress are failing to put the country on a path to fiscal responsibility:

051412Heller1 :26 rating in history.”

Heller says the bill would require Congress to approve a budget by the beginning of each fiscal year or go without pay:

051412Heller2 :26 its job seriously.”

 

 

Rep. Amodei Rejects Congressional Earmarks, Says Projects Should Go Through Regular Budget Process

By Sean Whaley | 3:51 pm January 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said today he opposes the earmark process used to fund various projects around the country, advocating instead that state priorities for federal support go through a regular budget review.

“The problem with earmarks, when you look at them, it’s symbolic largely, because it’s not that it’s a huge part of the federal budget,” he said. “But a lot of them appear at the end with absolutely no hearings and they are in bills.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

“It’s not that you shouldn’t spend federal money for specific things like that, whether it’s capital improvements or something else, but there should be some level of hearing on them,” Amodei said in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television show. “And the problem with earmarks is it has become synonymous with little or no hearing whatsoever. So you find out about them after the fact with absolutely no record in support.”

The appropriateness of earmarks generated some controversy in Northern Nevada last week when U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., toured the new air traffic control tower at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Heller in November 2010 said he would not seek earmarks for Nevada projects.

The $27 million in funding for the tower was provided with earmarks supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Heller acknowledged helping with the funding for the project as well, and the Nevada State Democrat Party criticized the freshman senator for what it said was his flip-flopping on the issue.

“It’s hypocrisy,” said Democratic Party Communications Director Zack Hudson. “It’s another example of how he’ll say anything and do anything just to get elected again.”

Heller, appointed to the Senate in May by Gov. Brian Sandoval, is facing a challenge from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. in the 2012 general election.

Amodei was elected Sept. 13 in a special election to take Heller’s seat in the 2nd Congressional District, which covers all of Northern and rural Nevada.

In the interview, Amodei said he believes the tower would have been built without the earmark process because it was desperately needed for safety reasons.

“Because I’ve been in that tower during my first 115 days, and you look across at the old one, where you couldn’t even the ramps down there . . .,” he said. “I am certain that you could have made a very strong public case for this should rise to the top for tower improvements for FAA facilities throughout the nation. I mean, it speaks for itself, if you will.”

Amodei said he has priorities for federal spending in Nevada, but that the projects should go through the budget process and compete for funding.

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Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says projects should go through the regular budget process:

010912Amodei1 :13 are in bills.”

Amodei says state funding requests need to go through a hearing process:

010912Amodei2 :16 record in support.”

Amodei says the Reno-Tahoe Airport tower was a project that stood on its own merits:

010912Amodei3 :20 if you will.”

 

Nevada’s GOP House Reps Disappointed At Short-Term Deal On Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefit Extension

By Sean Whaley | 7:55 pm December 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s two Republican House representatives today said politics won out over policy on the newly announced deal for a 60-day extension on a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said: “I will apologize in advance for what people are going to be going through 60 days from now because we have resolved nothing. And I predict the discussion 60 days from now will not only mirror this one, but you will also have a large revenue package which will be a condition to approving any sort of extensions for a year or two years.

“Nothing has changed, and it’s sad,” Amodei said. “We have done nobody any favors. As many commentators have said, you’re right on the policy but you’re wrong on the politics. Hopefully there will be a day when the policy rules the roost and not the politics but that’s probably a naive thing too.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said he was prepared to remain in Washington to reach a long-term solution to the extensions.

Courtesy of Kmccoy via Wikimedia Commons.

“The whole time my primary concern was making sure that we had a one-year extension for the folks back home,” he said. “That was the No. 1 priority. And it seems that in typical Washington fashion that politics trumped out over doing the right thing.

“I don’t think folks back home should suffer because Washington wants to get home for the holidays,” Heck said. “I made no secret about my desire to stay and get the job done. I’ve been away from my family; I’ve been deployed over the holidays; it’s not fun. But doing the right thing isn’t always fun or easy.”

Despite his disappointment at the short-term fix, Heck said Congress worked collaboratively in approving the Defense Authorization Act, and he has confidence in the House conferees appointed to work on a more permanent solution to the tax cut and unemployment benefit extension by a Feb. 29, 2012 deadline.

Heck said that if the Senate sends over members who are willing to look at the policy reforms approved by the House in its Dec. 13 bill, “that we will be able to come to a conclusion hopefully by the end of January.”

Both Amodei and Heck are now back in Nevada for a recess that will run through mid-January.

Amodei said he is still in the process of assessing the deal announced earlier today that will lead to the House endorsement of the Senate measure to extend the tax cut and unemployment benefits. Amodei said he plans to issue a formal statement tomorrow after he is confident about the details of the deal.

The House may be able to approve the Senate legislation by a process called unanimous consent, which will not require House members to return to Washington, DC, for a formal vote.

The deal means the continuation of both a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and a 99-week unemployment benefit for two million jobless Americans.

Other comments on the deal came from President Obama and other members of Nevada’s representatives in Congress.

President Obama issued a statement that said in part: “This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who supported the 60-day extension, said: “I am pleased the House is moving forward with the Senate’s bipartisan compromise. Extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance will benefit Nevadans greatly. Now that Congress has moved beyond this impasse, we can work on a year-long extension.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: “I am grateful that the voices of reason have prevailed and Speaker (John) Boehner has agreed to pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise.

“Year-long extensions of the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and Medicare payments for physicians has always been our goal, and Democrats will not rest until we have passed them,” he said. “But there remain important differences between the parties on how to implement these policies, and it is critical that we protect middle-class families from a tax increase while we work them out.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. said: “While its good news this massive middle class tax hike has been averted, this is one more example of why Washington doesn’t work. This should have been a no-brainer, but instead Tea Party Republicans held Nevada’s middle class families hostage to their extreme Wall Street agenda. The middle class should not be a bargaining chip for DC political games.”

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Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., says the deal resolves nothing:

122211Amodei1 :32 or two years.”

Amodei says he believes a large revenue package will be part of the next round of discussions:

122211Amodei2 :27 naive thing too.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., says his goal all along was a one-year deal:

122211Heck1 :15 the right thing.”

Heck says Congress should have got the job done:

122211Heck2 :14 fun or easy.”

Heck says he is hopeful the conference committee will reach a deal by the end of January:

122211Heck3 :32 month of March.”

 

Rep. Mark Amodei Says House Republicans Will Reject Short-Term Senate Payroll Tax, Jobless Benefit Fix

By Sean Whaley | 9:09 pm December 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said today that Republicans in the House do not believe a 60-day stopgap response to expiring tax breaks and unemployment benefits as approved by the Senate is a workable solution.

Amodei, in a telephone interview this evening with the Nevada News Bureau, said the temporary fix is unworkable for the business community and creates too much uncertainty that could threaten job creation efforts. Congress needs to approve legislation resolving these issues for a full year, he said.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

As a result of the concerns, Republicans in the House are going to reject the Senate version of a compromise bill approved Saturday to extend jobless benefits and ensure a payroll tax break continues for 160 million working Americans, Amodei said.

The House passed a bill addressing the issues earlier this month that would resolve the issues for a full year.

“Why would you put people through this again 60 days later?” he asked.

The result will be to send the two different versions of the payroll tax and unemployment benefit fix to a conference committee to resolve differences, Amodei said. Whether the Senate returns to the Capitol to work on a compromise bill remains to be seen, he said.

If a compromise is not reached by the end of the year, working Americans will see a payroll tax hike, and five million unemployed workers will face a loss of jobless benefits starting Jan. 1.

Amodei, elected in September to fill out the term of now-U.S. Sen. Dean Heller in Congressional District 2, arrived home Saturday only to turn around and fly back to Washington, DC, on Sunday, to take up the issues. Amodei has not yet served 100 days in office.

The Senate, after voting to amend the House bill to deal with the issues for two months, has adjourned.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said the Senate won’t negotiate further until the House passes the 60-day extension.

In a statement, Reid said: “Speaker (John) Boehner should allow an up-or-down vote on the compromise that Senator McConnell and I negotiated at Speaker Boehner’s request, and which was supported by 89 Republican and Democratic senators.

“With millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet, it would be unconscionable for Speaker Boehner to block a bipartisan agreement that would protect middle-class families from the thousand-dollar tax increase looming on January first,” he said. “It is time for Speaker Boehner to follow through.”

But Amodei said House Republicans want to follow the proper procedure to iron out differences in the conflicting versions of the legislation. That means a conference committee, he said.

“By the way, yes, it does happen to be December, but . . . the issues are important enough, you need to work on them until you get it worked out,” Amodei said. “And by the way, you haven’t got a heck of a lot of time, and yes, there is Christmas and New Years in there, but so be it.”

Amodei said the House is expected to vote to take the Senate version of the bill to the rules committee for its review. The full House will then vote Tuesday to appoint its representatives to a conference committee.

“This is going to be an interesting thing to see whether or not policy prevails or politics prevails,” he said.

There are other concerns with the Senate version of the bill as well, including the proposal to charge a fee on Federal Housing Authority loans to help pay for the expense of the extended benefits and tax cuts, which would be a particularly hard hit on Nevada’s real estate industry, Amodei said.

The House bill also set the number of weeks of federal unemployment to 57, and allowed for means testing for unemployment and food stamps for the wealthy as a state option, he said. It also put in a pay freeze on federal employees and members of Congress to help pay for it, another provision that did not survive in the Senate version.

“Another two-month extension is another exercise in, can you hold your breath for another two months if you are a senior, if you are a veteran, if you’re an employer, if you work for wages or if you are on unemployment,” Amodei said. “I mean, I just think it is absolutely tone deaf to the reality of people looking for work, people who are working, seniors, veterans, home buyers. I mean, it’s like how can you talk about this with a straight face.

“The Senate’s amendment was amending the bill in whole, and basically kept everything the same except made it 60 days, and you’re like, what is the magic in 60 days?”

Nevada’s Republican representatives in Congress are not in complete agreement on how to proceed. Heller, R-Nev., voted for the two-month extension in the Senate.

“There is no question we need to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the entire year,” he said. “The American people deserve long-term, forward-thinking policies. However, there is no reason to hold up the short-term extension while a more comprehensive deal is being worked out.

“What is playing out in Washington, DC, this week is about political leverage, not about what’s good for the American people,” Heller said.

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Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says the Senate needs to work with the House to resolve the issues:

121911Amodei1 :15 so be it.”

Amodei says another two-month extension does not deal with the realities being faced by Americans:

121911Amodei2 :26 a straight face.”

Amodei asks what is the magic in 60 days:

121911Amodei3 :11 in 60 days.”

 

 

Las Vegas Attorney Readies Nevada For U.S. Supreme Court Review Of Federal Health Care Law

By Sean Whaley | 2:43 pm November 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Las Vegas attorney representing Nevada in the 26-state challenge to the new federal health care law says the case is critically important because of the mandate for people to purchase health insurance.

“Never before in our nation’s history has the federal government required its citizens to purchase a product or service as a condition of citizenship in this country,” said Mark Hutchison, who is representing Nevada without charge in the case. “This case is of high importance to all Nevadans, because if the federal government can require us to purchase health insurance, then they can require us to purchase anything they choose.”

Hutchison, in a statement issued Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, said the initial written briefs are due Dec. 29. Oral arguments are expected to be in March. The court will issue a decision in the case before its term expires at the end of June 2012.

U.S. Supreme Court.

First appointed by Gov. Jim Gibbons, and then re-affirmed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, Hutchison was named to serve as lead special counsel for the state when Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto declined to represent the state in the federal litigation.

In addition to the 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a party to the challenge.

Randi Thompson, Nevada state director for the NFIB, said in a statement Monday: “This act is already increasing the cost of health care on Nevadans, increasing costs to Nevada taxpayers for Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and causing business owners to even drop coverage for their employees. Health care needs to be more accessible and affordable, but this act is not the way to reach that goal.”

Others also weighed in on the decision.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer issued this statement: “Earlier this year, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to consider legal challenges to the health reform law and we are pleased the court has agreed to hear this case.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one million more young Americans have health insurance, women are getting mammograms and preventive services without paying an extra penny out of their own pocket and insurance companies have to spend more of your premiums on health care instead of advertising and bonuses. We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said in a statement: “Nevada families and businesses are already struggling in this current economic environment, and the president’s job killing health care law is making a difficult situation worse. The law’s excessive taxes, expensive regulations and questionable constitutionality are stripping businesses of the certainty they need to hire at a time when Nevadans and the rest of the country are desperate for jobs.

“While the Supreme Court considers this case, the president should work with Congress to find real solutions to health care reform so the excessive mandates in this law do not add to our national debt or hurt our struggling economy,” he said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement: “Families, seniors and small businesses in Nevada and across the country are reaping the benefits of health insurance reform. Prescription drug costs for seniors are falling as the Medicare ‘donut hole’ closes, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and business owners are taking advantage of tax breaks.

“Just last week, a conservative judge appointed by President Reagan ruled that this legislation is constitutional, and I am confident the high court will do the same,” he said.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said in a statement: “I believe that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and it is my hope that the Supreme Court will overturn it. Already, during my short time in Congress, I voted to repeal a provision of the president’s health care law that raised eligibility for Medicaid far beyond the intended poverty level. This correction is estimated to save taxpayers at least $13 billion over 10 years.

“I eagerly await the court’s decision and from there we’ll be able to assess the path for repealing what amounts to government control of 16 percent of our economy,” he said.

A number of federal courts have weighed in on the law with sometimes contradictory rulings on the constitutionality of the law and the individual mandate. President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided to use the case filed by the states, including Nevada, and the NFIB, to determine the constitutionality of the law.

Nevada and the other states challenged the law in federal court in the Northern District of Florida. U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled in the states’ favor and declared the individual mandate in the federal health care law unconstitutional. He declared the entire law unconstitutional without the mandate.

The 11th U.S. District Court Appeals then upheld Vinson’s ruling on the individual mandate but said the rest of the law could stand.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now take up the issues of whether the individual mandate is constitutional and whether the entire law is unconstitutional if the individual mandate is unlawful.

The individual mandate requires all U.S. citizens and residents to purchase health insurance from a private company or face government-imposed penalties enforced by the Internal Revenue Service.

“We are pleased that the highest court in the country will make a final decision about the constitutional fate of the healthcare legislation,” Hutchison said. “The states are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will determine that the law is unconstitutional.”

In Case You Missed It: The Week in Nevada Politics

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:36 pm October 8th, 2011

And what a week it was! You’re sure to have missed at least one or two of the following items. And if I forgot something, feel free to post it below in Comments, along with your…comments.

Redistricting

I’m working on a blog post including links to the latest that I’ll get up by Monday, Dear Readers. Documents are flying and quite a bit has happened since Sept. 21 when a Carson City judge ordered public hearings on the matter.

If you want to attend the public hearing still scheduled for Las Vegas, it’s Monday, Oct. 10, at 9:30 a.m. in the Grant Sawyer building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Room 4401.

In Carson City, the public hearing will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, in room 4100 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson Street.

Or you can find links to live broadcasts here.

Caucuses/Primaries

After Florida jumped ahead to Jan. 31, South Carolina scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 21, and Nevada settled on Saturday, Jan. 14. Then, Iowa yesterday set their caucus date for Tuesday, Jan. 3. This creates a problem for New Hampshire which has a statute saying their primary has to be at least seven days before the next primary/caucus. If New Hampshire schedules on Tuesday, Jan. 10, Nevada’s caucus will fall just four days later.

Presidential Race and Related Matters

George and Jeb were in town. The former gave a speech and then went to see his old pal Sheldon Adelson at the Venetian; the latter mostly hung out with Gov. Sandoval including headlining a big ($600,000) fundraiser, also at the Venetian. (Ralston wrote up some of Jeb’s remarks after his tour of Agassi Prep.)

Team Ron Paul is up with their first TV ad. No word (yet) on the size of the buy in Nevada.

Herman Cain is on the rise.

Immigration matters. Romney v. Perry.

Stuart Rothenberg says he thinks the electoral vote advantage goes to Romney in a match-up against Obama.

A Tea Party Express spin-off group (numerous TPX staffers migrated) called Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama put out a YouTube ad called “Liberal Mitt’s Greatest Hits.” Safe to say, they aren’t Romney fans.

SuperPACs galore.

U.S. Senate

“Senate in chaos” says Politico. Procedurally speaking, that is. By a 51-48 vote, the Senate voted (along party lines) to change the precedent and limit how amendments can be considered once a filibuster is defeated. This after the GOP tried to tie up the Chinese currency bill by tacking on unrelated amendments. (Both parties have done plenty of this kind of thing at various times over the years.)

CSM wrote about it, too.

Is prayer the Senate’s only hope?

China’s currency meddling and related legislation was a topic in the Berkley-Heller Senate race this week.

Berkley out-raised Heller by nearly double in Q3. She now has $3.2 million cash on hand. Heller has $2.8 million. And let’s not forget all the money that will be spent here by the NRSC, DCSC, and various IEs and SuperPACs.

House

Amodei: Got Committees?

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, on which Rep. Joe Heck sits, this week held a hearing to explore ways to modernize the nation’s job-training system. Here’s video of Heck questioning witnesses.

Miscellaneous

Clark County is moving forward, making NBC and ABC (no, not the TV networks) happy in their PLA/union fight. Interesting stuff.

Our thanks to the LVRJ for running Sean Whaley’s story on Medicare fraud.

 

Democrat Candidate For Nevada U.S. Senate Seat In 2012 Says He Is In The Race To Stay

By Sean Whaley | 3:18 pm August 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Byron Georgiou said he is in the race to win it in 2012 despite facing opposition from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Georgiou, who has put in more than $1 million of his own money into what is expected to be a tough primary race against Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said that he will carry on regardless of how much money Reid puts in against his candidacy.

“Sen. Reid, and I have tremendous respect for him, I supported him, I’m glad that he beat Sharron Angle, I think it would have been a mistake for Nevada to have done otherwise,” Georgiou said. “He’s entitled to his opinion, he is one person and we respectfully disagree.

“If I didn’t believe, Sam, that I was the strongest candidate in this race of the three candidates, that is Dean Heller, Shelley Berkley and myself, I wouldn’t be in it.”

Byron Georgiou, Nevada Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate.

Georgiou made his comments in an interview that aired today on the Nevada NewsMakers television show hosted by Sam Shad.

“I believe that I have a better chance, the best chance, to beat Dean Heller in the general election in November, and I will abide by the judgment of the people of Nevada who will make that choice,” he said.

Georgiou declined to specify how much of his own money he will put into the race.

Berkley announced her intention to seek the seat in April.

Georgiou’s entry into the race means there will be a potentially competitive Democrat primary that could drain both candidates of campaign funds needed to beat Heller in November next year.

Heller was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to the Senate seat made vacant with the resignation of John Ensign.

Georgiou said that as a candidate he will focus on the issues of greatest concern to Nevadans, from the highest rate of home foreclosures and unemployment to bankruptcy filings, among other grim statistics.

Nevada is at “ground zero” of the financial crisis, he said.

Georgiou was appointed in 2009 as one of 10 members nationwide to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission with Reid’s support. The commission spent more than 18 months examining the causes of the financial crisis.

Georgiou said he is calling for a reduction in the principal balance of all underwater mortgages in Nevada down to the actual current market price of the home.

“This is just recognizing a reality that is already true,” he said.

Georgiou lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two daughters. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Georgiou said as an outsider, he can bring a fresh perspective to the challenges facing the country.

“I think that the voters of Nevada recognize that the problems in Washington have been created largely by the people who are there and they’re the ones least likely to solve them,” he said.

Audio clips:

Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Byron Georgiou says he is the strongest candidate in the race:

080111Georgiou1 :25 be in it.”

Georgiou says he will abide by the choice of Nevada voters:

080111Georgiou2 :11 make that choice.”

Georgiou says he will focus on the issues of most concern to Nevadans, including unemployment and home foreclosures:

080111Georgiou3 :24 to focus on.”

 

U.S. Chamber Study Highlights National, Nevada Economic Losses Due To Stalled Energy Projects

By Sean Whaley | 12:29 pm March 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a first-of-its-kind economic study today identifying stalled energy projects – including 10 in Nevada – that are costing billions of dollars in lost gross domestic product.

The study says the delays are costing the state’s economy $66.9 billion in GDP and that 86,700 jobs a year could be created in Nevada during the construction phase of the projects.

The study estimates the potential loss of investment and jobs in the 351 proposed solar, renewable, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and transmission projects in 49 states. The dollar value is $577 billion.

“This study should serve as a wake-up call for legislative action to improve the permitting process,” said William Kovacs, U.S. Chamber senior vice president of Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs during today’s unveiling of Project Denied: The Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects.

The study by TeleNomic Research was conducted by Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute, and Joseph Fuhr, professor of economics at Widener University and senior fellow at the American Consumer Institute.

It was based on an initial chamber review as of March 2010 of all the energy projects being sought by developers that could not get permits, called “Project No Project.”

“These are projects that would create jobs in Nevada and give a much-needed boost to the state’s economy, but with every day that passes, the more expensive the projects become,” Kovacs said. “In most cases, if the projects are substantially delayed they won’t be built.”

The 10 projects identified in Nevada include the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which has been abandoned by the Obama Administration, although several states are challenging that decision in federal court.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the project.

Four of the stalled projects identified in Nevada are alternative energy projects, including the Duke Energy Wind Project at Searchlight, the New Comstock Wind Energy Project, the Crescent Dunes Solar Project, and the Virginia Peak Wind Project.

Four others are coal projects and one is a transmission line.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has in the past stated his opposition to the development of coal-fired energy plants in Nevada.

Pociask said not all of the 351 projects evaluated in his study are probably worthy of being built, nor would anyone expect them all to be constructed.

But even if just the top project in each state was allowed to go forward, the economic value would be significant, he said.

The permitting process used to approve these energy projects needs to be streamlined, Pociask said.

“What we need to have is a fair review process,” he said.

The report comes out at the same time Nevada officials are seeking help from federal officials to clear the way for permits to be approved so mining companies can expand and hire more workers. Gov. Brian Sandoval, who met with officials on a recent trip to Washington, DC, said there are several permits awaiting action that mining officials have told him could lead to the creation of 1,000 high-paying jobs in rural Nevada.

“The concern for me was that there are several permits that are pending before the BLM that have been there for years,” he said.

On Wednesday, state Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, introduced a resolution urging the federal government and other governmental entities to expedite and streamline the requirements for conducting mining operations in Nevada.

Among the Nevada projects highlighted in the chamber study is NV Energy’s proposal to upgrade an existing line to a 20-wire, 230-kilovolt line to help meet projected energy needs for the Las Vegas Valley.

The project drew opposition from Henderson residents, who said that their lifestyle was threatened by the proposed transmission line. After several hearings, the Henderson Planning Commission voted in June 2009 unanimously to deny NV Energy’s proposal.

The route preferred by the commission would have added $19.5 million to the total project cost, which NV Energy had rejected. NV Energy litigated the matter, and in May 2010 the Clark County District Court upheld the Henderson Planning Commission’s rejection of the project.

“In going through the study, the results were simply startling,” said Peter Morici, former chief economist at the International Trade Commission, and the study’s peer reviewer. “We anticipated the impact all the projects collectively would have on jobs and the economy. But the real surprise was how positively Nevada could be affected if it moved forward on just two projects.”

Kovacs said in the report that these energy projects, “are being stalled, stopped, or outright killed nationwide due to ‘Not In My Back Yard’ (NIMBY) activism, a broken permitting process and a system that allows limitless challenges by opponents of development.”

Audio clips:

U.S. Chamber official William Kovacs says the study reviews projects sought by developers that could not get permits:

031011Kovacs1 :20 get a permit.”

Kovacs says the longer the projects are delayed, the more likely they won’t go forward:

031011Kovacs2 :16 ever moving forward.”

Chamber study author Steve Pociask says not all of the 351 projects are viable:

031011Pociask1 :19 terms of jobs.”

Pociask says the initial investment value of the projects was $577 billion:

031011Pociask2 :16 up these projects.”

Gov. Sandoval Says Washington, DC Meetings Productive, Could Help On Jobs Front

By Sean Whaley | 1:19 pm March 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he had productive meetings in Washington, DC, including talks with federal officials about clearing the way for permits to be approved so mining companies can expand and hire more workers.

Sandoval said there are several permits awaiting action that mining officials have told him could lead to the creation of 1,000 high-paying jobs in rural Nevada.

Gov. Brian Sandoval/Photo: Cathleen Allison/NevadaPhotoSource.com

Creating jobs in Nevada is Sandoval’s top priority as governor. Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and ranks first in home foreclosures as well.

Sandoval met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, to talk about ways to get the permits approved so the mining industry could expand. He also met with an official with the Environmental Protection Agency, which is also involved in the permitting process.

“The concern for me was that there are several permits that are pending before the BLM that have been there for years,” he said. “And so my message was to see if we could expedite the consideration or what was the (cause of the) delay in doing that.”

Sandoval said Salazar has committed to talking with the mining industry about the permits.

There has been significant investment in those mines, he said.

“So I had a very productive meeting with the secretary,” Sandoval said. “It means a lot of jobs to our state, it is very important to our rural economy and I was very, very pleased at how receptive he was to that meeting.

“So I think it is an exciting development,” Sandoval said. “The secretary has made it a priority for him and I’m looking forward to a continued dialogue.”

Sandoval said the jobs that would come with the mining expansion pay on average $70,000 annually. There would also be a benefit to Nevada from taxable sales purchases of equipment by the mining companies, and eventually an increase in the net proceeds tax, he said.

Sandoval said the meeting with Salazar involved other issues important to Nevada, including wild horses.

The meeting regarding the mining industry permits was just one of many for Sandoval. He met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, among others. The conversation with LaHood touched on the concept of a new interstate 11 connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix and on the potential for high speed rail between Las Vegas and Southern California.

Sandoval also met with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and had a discussion about the state’s potential interest payments on the money it has borrowed from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits.

“My understanding now is that the interest would be deferred and that the clock wouldn’t be running which would be beneficial to the state of Nevada,” he said.

If the proposal survives the federal budget process, it could mean $66 million to the Nevada general fund.

Sandoval and his 14-year-old daughter Maddy also visited the White House, where she met President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“It was an incredible four days,” he said.

Sandoval also attended the National Governors Association meeting during the visit.

Now back in Nevada, Sandoval will continue his focus on jobs with an announcement Thursday in Las Vegas with Microsoft Corp. executives about a new technology center.

“It is exactly what I talked about in my State of the State,” he said. “That we’re going to identify these business clusters that we can capitalize on and technology is one of those.”

The center will produce a “few hundred” new high technology jobs and expand Microsoft’s presence in the state, Sandoval said.

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he meet with Interior Secretary Salazar to see if mining permits can be processed:

030111Sandoval1 :13 in doing that.”

Sandoval says mining jobs are important to Nevada’s economy:

030111Sandoval2 :09 to that meeting.”

Sandoval says Interior Secretary Salazar was receptive to his concerns:

030111Sandoval3 :20 to continued dialogue.”

GOP Political Operative Sig Rogich Says Palin Not Electable As President

By Sean Whaley | 3:24 pm December 13th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Long-time Republican political operative Sig Rogich said today that Sarah Palin is not a viable candidate for president in 2012.

Rogich, who was involved in the campaigns of Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents, said Palin, a Tea Party favorite and former Republican Alaska governor, is unelectable.

“I’m not overly enamored with (Palin),” he said.

“As a candidate nationwide I don’t think she is electable for a presidency, and I think that over time you will see reasons why,” Rogich said.

Rogich made his comments in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

Rogich said he does not believe a clear front-runner for the GOP in the 2012 presidential election has emerged yet.

Asked about possible choices within the GOP to face President Obama, Rogich mentioned former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as potential candidates.

Rogich also headed up Republicans for Reid in the Nevada Senate race. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid easily won another term on Nov. 2, and Rogich said early on he did not believe the outcome of the contest against GOP challenger Sharron Angle was ever in doubt.

A lot of Nevadans, including moderate Republicans, thought Angle was eccentric and took positions that were not good for the state despite flawed polling that showed a much closer race, he said.

“So I felt pretty good about winning this election,” Rogich said.

Audio clips:

Nevada political operative Sig Rogich says Sarah Palin is not electable as president:

121310Rogich1 :08 see reasons why.”

National Conservative Think Tank Launches Spanish Language Website

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:34 pm December 2nd, 2010

CARSON CITY – A national conservative think tank today launched a new website to give Spanish-speaking Americans access to its analyses and policy recommendations on the nation’s most pressing problems.

The Heritage Foundation launched Libertad.org, where the organization’s work on issues ranging from education reform to the new national health care law will be available in Spanish.

“The new website, Libertad.org, will give Spanish-speaking Americans access to the top-flight research and informed, conservative commentary that has helped Heritage build a center-right majority in the nation as a whole,” said Heritage Vice President for Communications Mike Gonzalez.

The new site will be in Spanish only.

“Surveys show that vast majorities of Hispanic Americans already embrace conservative attitudes, such as the desire for smaller government and less regulation,” he said. “They also cherish personal freedom and free enterprise – the promise of which drew them and their forebears to this country in the first place. Heritage Libertad will provide the hard facts and conservative analysis too often ignored by the liberal-dominated media currently serving the Hispanic community.”

 The new site, which is aimed both at the influential Spanish language media and Spanish speaking residents of the U.S., will include information, statistics and analysis of special interest to Hispanics, as well as blogs, audio and visual content in Spanish.

“Heritage Libertad will include a robust social media platform for sharing and discussion with an intention to give conservative, free market-oriented Hispanics the opportunity to meet, exchange views and form online communities of their own,” Gonzalez said.

In a teleconference announcing the launch of the new site, Gonzalez said the time is right to reach out to the nation’s Spanish-speaking communities.

He said the progressive agenda suggests incorrectly that the U.S. is an unfair country where Hispanics are victims who need big government assistance to become successful.

“We need to reach out to them and tell them the opposite,” Gonzalez said.

Israel Ortega, Spanish media associate for the Heritage Foundation who will serve as editor of the site, said issues from rising deficits and unrestrained government borrowing to education challenges are important to all citizens. Libertad will be a conservative voice on these policy issues for Spanish speakers, he said.

While Hispanic Americans may hold conservative views on many policy issues, turnout at election time suggests many vote for Democratic candidates.

In the Nov. 2 contest between Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. and GOP challenger Sharron Angle, exit polls showed that Hispanic voters played a key role in the majority leader’s election victory.

The Heritage Foundation, established in 1973, works to develop effective policy solutions based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.

Reno Mayor Cashell Defends Reid, Criticizes Extreme Right Element In GOP

By Sean Whaley | 9:00 am November 26th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said this week he expects to see Harry Reid continue to help northern Nevada in a variety of ways now that he has won re-election in a bitterly contested Senate race.

Cashell, interviewed Wednesday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, is a Republican who supported Reid, D-Nev., in his bid for another term over GOP rival Sharron Angle.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” Cashell said. “Do I like everything going on in Washington, DC, no I don’t. But I didn’t like the alternative.”

Reid helped with Reno’s efforts to build a trench for the railroad to improve downtown and helped craft a water-sharing agreement with California over the use of Truckee River water, he said.

Cashell, elected as mayor for a final term, said Reid can help Nevada in a number of ways, including finding potential new uses for Yucca Mountain rather than the proposed nuclear waste dump. One alternative being discussed is a research center, including ways to reprocess nuclear waste, that could bring much-needed jobs to the state, he said.

Cashell said he switched to the Republican Party after a conversation with President Ronald Reagan who said the GOP can accommodate multiple points of view. He called the extreme right element of the current GOP party the RINOs, not himself or Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, who also endorsed Reid over Angle.

RINO is a term meaning “Republican In Name Only.”

The extreme element of the GOP is excluding moderates and as a result is hurting the party, he said.

Cashell also defended Raggio, who lost his job as state Senate minority leader after lending his support to Reid’s re-election bid. Cashell said Raggio’s leadership will be missed in the upcoming 2011 session where redistricting, the budget and taxes will all be critical issues for the state.

Cashell called Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, who took over the minority leadership position in the state Senate from Raggio, a “good guy.” But he said Raggio’s replacement was “petty and vindictive.”

“To call Bill Raggio a RINO is probably the most ridiculous thing that I’ve ever heard with what he’s done for the party and how he’s helped,” Cashell said. “He’s been a great Republican.”

Raggio was blamed for supporting a tax increase in the 2009 session of the Legislature, but without him the increase would not have come with a sunset clause, he said. The tax increase will expire next June 30 without an extension by lawmakers.

“I think they are going to miss his leadership,” Cashell said.

Audio clips:

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell says Sen. Reid has done a good job for Nevada:

112410Cashell1 :10 like the alternative.”

Cashell says extreme right in GOP are RINOs:

112410Cashell2 :12 they’re the RINOs.”

Cashell says calling Sen. Raggio a RINO is ridiculous:

112410Cashell3 :19 miss his leadership.”