Posts Tagged ‘Rep. Shelley Berkley’

Heller Says Online Gaming Bill Should Not Be Political Football In Run-up To General Election

By Sean Whaley | 3:33 pm September 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Sen. Dean Heller today said online gaming legislation critical to the future of Nevada’s economy should be removed from the world of politics so partisan fights don’t “poison the water” for the bill’s future in Congress.

Heller, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said the legislation is too important to be subjected to political fights between himself and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid between now and the Nov. 6 general election.

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

Reid earlier this month blamed Heller for failing to line up Republican support in the Senate for the measure.

Heller, R-Nev., is locked in a fierce battle with Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., to retain his Senate seat.

“So I believe at the end of the day, we’ll have the 10-15 (GOP) votes that we’re going to need in order to get a bill like this passed,” Heller said. “But we don’t need the politics playing in it today. And we don’t need to poison the water on this also.

“Let’s get the politics out of this,” he said. “Let’s put an important issue like Internet poker to the sidelines during this campaign because it isn’t helping the process. And unfortunately in this case, the process is just as important as the bill itself.”

Heller predicted that after the election, he and Reid will again work together on the Internet poker bill.

“The Internet poker bill was never going to pass before the election,” he said. “It’s going to happen. And I’m still committed, as is Sen. Reid, to get a bill passed.

“When this is all said and done, both sides are going to come together and say, ‘OK, let’s do what’s best for Nevada,’ ” Heller said.

Berkley also criticized Heller on the online gaming issue in a statement released earlier this month: “Once again, Senator Dean Heller has failed to deliver for Nevada’s hardworking families who were counting on online poker legislation to boost the state’s struggling economy and to create thousands of good paying jobs.

“Perhaps Senator Heller shouldn’t have spent so much time cozying up to Wall Street special interests by protecting tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas and more time doing what Nevada families expect of their elected leaders: putting people back to work,” she said.

During the interview, Heller also criticized Berkley for not spending more time in Northern Nevada in her Senate race, including failing to make any recent appearances on the NewsMakers program. Her last appearance was on Feb. 1, 2011.

“Well, as much time as I spend in Southern Nevada I think she should be spending some time up here in Northern Nevada,” he said.

Berkley has made several campaign appearances in Northern and rural Nevada, including stops in Churchill County over the Labor Day weekend. She also attended an event in Reno on Saturday.

When asked about Berkley’s ongoing ethics problems regarding the preservation of a kidney transplant program in Southern Nevada and whether her actions inappropriately benefited her physician husband, Heller did not hesitate to weigh in.

“She was ethically challenged before,” he said. “She was counsel, she was a lawyer, and she told her boss at this point that you’ve got to buy off county commissioners, you’ve got to buy off judges, you’ve got to hire their children into your business in order to get favorable treatment from those judges and from those county commissioners.

“Now she’s in the United States Congress and her activity hasn’t changed,” Heller said.

Heller was referencing a memo written by Berkley to her then Las Vegas Sands Inc. boss Sheldon Adelson that first surfaced in 1998 during her first bid for Congress. The memo has been the subject of a political ad critical of Berkley in her Senate race.

In response to the Crossroads GPS ad, the Berkley campaign told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in August that the episode was old news and has been overshadowed by Berkley winning re-election six times.

“Leave it to George W. Bush’s political director, Karl Rove, to dredge up something from two decades ago that voters made a judgment on during Shelley’s very first campaign for Congress,” campaign spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, told the newspaper.

In the NewsMakers interview, Heller described her activities when working for Adelson as “trying to bribe judges and county commissioners” and the current controversy as “lining her own pockets as a member of the United States Congress.”

Heller was asked why he accepted $10,000 from Republican Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who is on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s annual list of the “most corrupt members” of Congress as is Berkley with a “dishonorable mention” for a second year in a row.

Heller sidestepped the question, responding by saying, “how hard do you have to work to be on the most corrupt list two years in a row?”


Audio clips:

Sen. Dean Heller says the Internet poker legislation is too important to be a political football in the November election:

092512Heller1 :24 the bill itself.”

Heller says Berkley’s ethics problems go back many years:

092512Heller2 :22 activity hasn’t changed.”



Sen. Heller Gets National, Local Chamber Endorsement As Rep. Berkley Touts Her Own Business Support

By Sean Whaley | 2:57 pm August 9th, 2012

SPARKS – U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., showed up at a Sparks floral shop today to receive the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his reelection bid against Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

The national endorsement was made by former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who said the choice was clear for the organization.

“This is a time, as you all know, of great contrast in politics,” said Spellings, president of the U.S. Chamber’s Forum for Policy Innovation. “These are not close calls; these are not tough calls, these endorsements. People who support business do so proudly and we are proud and honored to support them. While a lot of people talk a good game, it’s pretty easy to decide who is pro-business around here.”

Sen. Dean Heller speaks in Sparks after being endorsed by the U.S. and Reno-area Chambers of Commerce with Tray Abney and Margaret Spellings looking on. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Spellings, who served as U.S. Secretary of Education from 2005 to 2009, said Heller’s leadership on pro-growth policies, including American energy production, removing regulatory barriers for small business growth and reining in government spending, is what will get the nation’s economy back on track.

The Berkley campaign at the same time announced support from business leaders for her Senate campaign, including Republican businesswoman Maggie Arias Petrel of Las Vegas.

“Shelley has consistently supported small businesses in our community by voting for legislation like the Small Business Jobs Act, which provided incentives to get small businesses to start hiring again,” Petrel said in a release from the campaign. “We need Shelley to keep fighting for Nevada businesses in the years to come as a U.S. Senator.”

The Chamber of Reno, Sparks and Northern Nevada announced its endorsement of Heller at the same time at the Sparks Florist, despite not having interviewed Berkley first.

Tray Abney, director of government affairs for the regional chamber, representing 2,500 member businesses, said the group decided to endorse Heller because of his past support for pro-business policies. The chamber had expected Berkley to speak to the group during the August recess, but had not heard from her through today, he said.

Abney criticized Berkley, saying she is a “reliable vote for higher taxes, she’s a reliable vote for big government, she’s a reliable vote for making your energy costs more expensive.”

Berkley’s vote for the Affordable Care Act, for example, will lead to increased health insurance costs for small business, he said.

Tony Fiannaca, owner of Sparks Florist, also spoke in support of Heller, noting his family-run business that employs 40 people was built without government support.

Heller took the opportunity to criticize Berkley for voting for “cap and trade,” which he said would cost 50,000 jobs in Nevada.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act would allow the government to set a cap on the total amount of greenhouse gases that could be emitted nationally. Companies would then buy or sell permits to emit the gases, primarily carbon dioxide.

“In this Congressional District here, I knew we would lose 15,000 jobs and for that reason I voted against it,” Heller said. “Who in their right mind in Washington, DC, believes, that when presented an option of actually voting against your own constituents; losing jobs in this economy; would actually vote for it.”

He also criticized Berkley for her support of President Obama’s proposal to end the Bush tax cuts for individuals making $200,000 or more and couples making $250,000 or more.

Pam duPré, executive director of the Washoe County Democratic Party, offered a different perspective, saying Berkley has been a friend to business throughout her political career.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

“One good example is the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010,” she said. “It created $30 billion in capital for community banks to lend to small businesses to help them grow and create jobs. Republican Governor Brian Sandoval applauded the bill saying it would help create jobs in Nevada.”

Four Nevada banks used the funds in 32 locations, duPré said.

Heller voted against the measure, calling it “another bank bailout.”

But so did then-Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who lost to Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the 2010 general election. Titus told the Nevada NewsMakers television show in April 2012 that she too was concerned it was a bank bailout. Titus is now running for the 1st Congressional seat in Las Vegas.

The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2011 that critics of the fund said some banks were applying for money to refinance outstanding government debt rather than to boost their small-business lending.

DuPré said the chamber “perhaps” could have done more research before making the endorsement.

“Shelley Berkley has always been a strong supporter of small businesses,” she said. “The choice really is very clear. Shelley supports giving small businesses the tools they need to grow and prosper and create jobs here in the United States. Dean Heller continues to support tax breaks for corporations so they can ship their jobs over seas and he continues to support tax breaks for big oil companies.”


Audio clips:

U.S. Chamber spokeswoman Margaret Spellings says the choice is clear in the Nevada Senate race:

080912Spellings1 :24 pro-business around here.”

Spellings says Heller favors policies that will get the nation’s economy back on track:

080912Spellings2 :15 back on track.”

Tray Abney of the Reno area chamber says Berkley is not a friend to small business:

080912Abney :10 costs more expensive.”

Sen. Dean Heller says Berkley voted for cap and trade, which would cost 50,000 jobs in Nevada:

080912Heller :17 vote for it.”

Washoe County Democratic Party Executive Director Pam duPré says Berkley voted for the Small Business Jobs Act, which Heller opposed:

080912Drum1 :27 against that bill.”

DuPré says Heller supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas:

080912Drum2 :24 big oil companies.”



Southern Nevada Veterans Medical Center Dedicated As Candidates Vie For Support From Important Constituency

By Sean Whaley | 4:57 pm August 6th, 2012

Nevada political leaders, veterans and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki gathered in North Las Vegas today to dedicate the new Southern Nevada VA Medical Center.

The state-of-the-art complex includes a full-service VA hospital, outpatient clinic and long-term care facility and will serve the needs of Nevada veterans and their families.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., locked in a tough Senate race, both attended the ceremonies, as did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Berkley helped secure authorization for the $600 million in funding needed to complete the trio of new facilities. She also wrote and helped pass the legislation that provided the land for the new medical center at no cost to the VA.

Rep. Shelley Berkley - D-Nev.

“Our veterans earned their benefits through their military service to our nation and this new VA medical center will provide these brave men and women the high-quality care they deserve – including vital mental health services,” Berkley said in a statement. “After working for years to turn this dream into a reality for our Nevada veterans, I’m so proud of what’s been accomplished in the construction of this new complex and what it means for our community and the vets who will receive medical care and other services at our new state-of-the-art VA medical center.”

Heller said in remarks at the dedication: “I’ve personally toured this hospital as it has been built and I’m proud to tell you that Nevada is now home to the finest VA hospital in the nation.”

“This hospital will improve the quality of healthcare for thousands of veterans from the region,” he said. “This facility includes a surgical center, nursing home and extended care unit, and space to care for veterans who suffer with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and with other mental health issues. These state-of-the-art facilities are designed to meet the needs of virtually every health and wellness issue our veterans could face.”

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

Heller said the facility will let Nevada veterans get care at home rather than have to travel out of state.

Shinseki said the hospital keeps a promise made by the VA with the 164,000 veterans who live in Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties, all 234,000 veterans who live in Nevada as well as those from surrounding states who will be able to get care at the facility.

“The Las Vegas VAMC underscores VA’s commitment to provide the best care anywhere to America’s veterans, particularly in the critical area of mental health,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s Under Secretary for Health. “The opening of this world-class facility is another milestone, and ensures VA provides the care and services our veterans have earned through their service.”

The facility will have 90 inpatient beds, a 120-bed community living center (skilled nursing home care facility), and an ambulatory care center. The 90 inpatient beds include a state-of-the-art 22-bed mental health unit, 48 medical/surgical beds, and 20 intensive care unit beds.

Candidates at both the national and state levels are reaching out to veterans as the November general election approaches.

Both President Obama and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno last month. Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at the Disabled American Veterans’ national convention in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Heller said he has a long record of support for veterans, and his campaign recently announced his Veterans for Heller Coalition, made up of more than 140 veterans, including Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, a Democrat; Major General Drennan “Tony” Clark, a former adjutant general for Nevada and a former Republican for Reid in his 2010 Senate race; Kirk Lippold, commander of the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen in 2000; and Major General L.D. Johnston, a former commander at Nellis Air Force Base.

“I’m humbled by the support of so many of our nation’s heroes,” Heller said. “We can never repay these individuals for their service, but it is Congress’ responsibility to make sure those who have served in the Armed Forces receive the benefits they earned and deserve.”

Heller recently introduced the Veterans Small Business Protection Act, which ensures that surviving spouses and children are eligible for small business benefits.

Heller also introduced the Women’s Homeless Veterans Act, requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to set aside 15 percent of funds provided to VA’s Grant and Per Diem Program for homeless veterans with special needs. It also directs assistance to homeless female veterans as well as children.

Berkley said she has worked for veterans throughout her career.

The Berkley campaign also criticized Heller in June when the Women’s Homeless Veterans Act had a hearing, saying that Heller “tried to fool Nevada’s veterans into believing he is a champion for their issues even though last year he voted to gut $75 million from a homeless veterans program, which would have eliminated housing vouchers for some 11,000 veterans across the country.”

“Given Senator Heller’s track record of  putting Wall Street first and gutting assistance for homeless veterans, Nevadans are not going to be fooled by this election year attempt to mask his wrong priorities,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, Shelley Berkley for U.S. Senate Communications Director. “Nevada’s veterans are counting on someone like Shelley Berkley who wakes up every morning itching to stand up and fight to protect the benefits they earned after risking their lives for this nation.”

Rep. Berkley Launches Two Ads In Ongoing Fight With Sen. Heller On Medicare, Ethics Issues

By Sean Whaley | 6:12 pm July 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Shelley Berkley for Senate campaign today launched two new ads, one criticizing Sen. Dean Heller for voting to “essentially end Medicare” and a second telling viewers that her work to preserve a kidney transplant program was only aimed at helping Nevadans.

One ad focuses on Heller’s two votes in support of a plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that would have kept Medicare in place for people 55 or older but changed it for others by privatizing it and relying on government subsidies.

The other is a response to a decision by the House Ethics Committee announced last week to establish an investigative subcommittee to determine whether she inappropriately furthered the business interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner by working to preserve a kidney transplant program at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas in 2008.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

In the ad, Berkley notes that the complaint about her activities was filed by the Nevada State Republican Party.

The ad says in part: “The Las Vegas Sun says Berkley’s advocacy wasn’t driven for personal gain. It was aimed at helping Nevadans.” It also mentions Heller’s two votes to “end Medicare as we know it.”

Heller launched an ad focusing on the ethics allegations against Berkley earlier this week.

The new Berkley ad campaign was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

Heller, a Republican appointed to the Senate in April 2011, and Berkley, a longtime Democratic Congresswoman representing Las Vegas, are locked in a tough battle for the Senate seat.

An announcement today from the Berkley campaign  commented on the new ads.

“While Dean Heller continues to look out for his special interest friends on Wall Street by voting to essentially end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance company bureaucrats, Shelley Berkley is a champion for Nevada seniors and patients  – working tirelessly to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, Berkley for Senate communications director. “This fall, Nevadans will understand the clear choice they have in this election between a fighter for the middle-class like Shelley Berkley and someone like Dean Heller, who would throw seniors under the bus to protect taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil companies and corporations that ship jobs overseas.”

In response to the ads, Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman, said: “How about the truth, Congresswoman? For the first time since 2009, a bipartisan committee of five Democrats and five Republicans unanimously decided Congresswoman Berkley’s actions required a formal investigation on the basis of a non-partisan report. In the very same ad she asks for the ‘truth,’ Shelley Berkley desperately tries to shift blame and repeats PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year over and over again. No matter how much she may want to distract from her own problems, Congresswoman Berkley’s ethics troubles do not give her a free pass to lie to Nevadans.”

In a media event today to highlight the fact that early voting for the November general election is 100 days away, U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said Berkley worked to help Nevadan’s in need of care. He mentioned his own experiences with his wife Landra who has undergone treatment for breast cancer.

“I think this is going to be fine for Shelley,” he said. “She’s a terrific candidate. She is a person who has always fought for Nevadans. And certainly she should fight for these people who are sick and in danger of dying.”

He also responded to a question about whether Berkley adequately disclosed that her husband was affiliated with the kidney transplant program. Questions about her work to preserve the program were first raised by the New York Times in a report published in September 2011.

Berkley and other members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation were able to preserve the program. But the New York Times said her efforts, “also benefited her husband, a physician whose nephrology practice directs medical services at the hospital’s kidney care department — an arrangement that expanded after her intervention and is now reflected in a $738,000-a-year contract with the hospital.”

Reid said anyone who lived in Southern Nevada knew that Berkley’s husband was a nephrologist.

“Well I think you will find she didn’t violate any rules whatsoever,” Reid said. “They can look into this more and I’m sure they will, but I don’t think there is a problem with that.”



Sen. Harry Reid says Berkley was right to fight for the kidney transplant program:

071212Reid1 :15 danger of dying.”

Reid says any ethics review will find no rules violations:

071212Reid2 :11 problem with that.”


House Ethics Committee Appoints Investigative Subcommittee To Review Rep. Berkley Ethics Questions

By Sean Whaley | 3:24 pm July 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The House Ethics Committee announced today that it has established an investigative subcommittee to review ethics questions raised about Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and whether she inappropriately furthered the business interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner.

The committee voted unanimously on June 29 to establish the subcommittee.

“Pursuant to the committee’s action, the investigative subcommittee shall have jurisdiction to determine whether Representative Shelley Berkley violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standard of conduct in the performance of her duties or the discharge of her responsibilities, with respect to alleged communications and activities with or on behalf of entities in which Representative Berkley’s husband had a financial interest,” committee Chairman Jo Bonner and Ranking Member Linda Sánchez said in a statement.

Rep. Shelley Berkley - D-Nev.

“The committee notes that the mere fact of establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred,” the statement said.

The decision means the ethics questions surrounding Berkley will continue to ferment as her bid for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., heats up ahead of the November general election.

The race is considered to be critical for both Republicans and Democrats seeking control of the Senate in the 2012 election.

The House Ethics Committee announced that Rep. Michael Conaway will serve as the chairman of the investigative subcommittee, and Rep. Donna Edwards will serve as the Ranking Member. The other two members of the subcommittee are Reps. Robert Latta and Adam Schiff.

“No other public comment will be made on this matter except in accordance with committee rules,” the release said.

The ethics questions were first raised in a New York Times report published in September 2011. The Nevada State Republican Party then filed a complaint based on the reports, which involved her efforts to preserve a Nevada kidney transplant program at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Berkley and other members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation were able to preserve the program. But the New York Times said her efforts, “also benefited her husband, a physician whose nephrology practice directs medical services at the hospital’s kidney care department — an arrangement that expanded after her intervention and is now reflected in a $738,000-a-year contract with the hospital.”

The report said that Lehrner helped build a political action committee that relied on Berkley to push its causes.

“She has co-sponsored at least five House bills that would expand federal reimbursements or other assistance for kidney care, written letters to regulators to block enforcing rules or ease the flow of money to kidney care centers and appeared regularly at fund-raising events sponsored by a professional organization her husband has helped run,” the newspaper reported.

Berkley has defended her efforts to preserve the transplant program and said her only concerns were for the patients waiting for transplants.

“The reality is I’ve never done anything, or never advocated for anything that wasn’t in the best interest of patients and patient care,” she said in a recent interview on the Face To Face television program.

Jessica Mackler, campaign manager for Berkley’s Senate campaign, released a statement on the committee’s action:  “We are pleased with the committee’s decision to conduct a full and fair investigation, which will ensure all the facts are reviewed. We are confident that ultimately it will be clear that Congresswoman Berkley’s one and only concern was for the health and well being of Nevada’s patients.

“That’s why she joined then Republican Congressman Dean Heller to prevent Nevada’s only kidney transplant program from being shut down by Washington bureaucrats,” the statement said. “With more than 200 Nevada patients desperately waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant, it would have been irresponsible of her not to work with the state’s entire Congressional delegation to protect the program.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Executive Director Rob Jesmer also commented on the House Ethics Committee decision: “It speaks volumes that even Shelley Berkley’s Democrat colleagues unanimously voted to move forward investigating Berkley’s use of her office to enrich her and her husband. Since Berkley entered the political arena we’ve seen a long pattern of ethical questions surrounding her conduct.”

Berkley Defends Actions In Preserving Kidney Program, Calls For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

By Sean Whaley | 8:06 pm June 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Shelley Berkley defended her efforts to preserve a kidney transplant program in Nevada in 2008, saying she never advocated for anything that was not in the best interests of patients and patient care.

Berkley, D-Nev., defended her role in preserving the program in response to questions in an interview on the Face To Face television program.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Berkley, who is facing U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., in a battle for the seat that could tip the balance of power in the Senate, also expressed disappointment that the U.S. Supreme Court today did not completely reject Arizona’s immigration law.

In a lengthy discussion of her ethics review, Berkley defended her actions.

“The reality is I’ve never done anything, or never advocated for anything that wasn’t in the best interest of patients and patient care,” she said.

Berkley said she has sponsored or co-sponsored over 100 pieces of health-related legislation, from breast cancer to osteoporosis, because of her commitment to patient care in Nevada.

“Would I have really stood back and done nothing when I knew that there was a possibility that the only kidney transplant program in the entire state of Nevada was going to be closed,” she said. “At the time it was going to be closed there were 200 Nevada patients waiting for a kidney transplant. This is a life-saving operation.”

The House of Representative’s Ethics Committee is expected to announce its course of action in the Berkley ethics issue by July 9. A complaint filed by the Nevada Republican Party,, prompted by a New York Times report, involves allegations that Berkley used her position to help her husband’s medical practice.

On the U.S. Supreme Court decision today repealing three of four major sections of the Arizona immigration law, Berkley said she was disappointed that the law was not rejected in its entirety.

She echoed the comments of many other elected officials today by saying the ruling makes it clear Congress and the president must address comprehensive immigration reform. The alternative is 50 different laws on immigration in the 50 states, Berkley said.

Berkley also offered qualified support both for the federal stimulus package approved early on in the Obama presidency, as well as the federal health care law that will see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday.

Berkley said she voted for the health care law because in balance, it was best for Nevadans, particularly the 600,000 residents who don’t have health insurance. The vote was not the result of pressure from then-house majority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi or anyone else, she said.

Berkley said she supported the stimulus bill even though it was not a “silver bullet” because it was a good first step and necessary to move the economy forward.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says her votes on a kidney transplant program were to ensure patient care:

062512Berkley1 :08 and patient care.”

Berkley says she had to act to save the program:

062512Berkley2 :20 life-saving operation.”


Yerington Public Lands Bill To Get DC Hearing Next Week

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:24 pm April 13th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., is praising the decision by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands to hold a legislative hearing for H.R. 4039, the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, on Tuesday.

The hearing is an important first step before the bill can be marked up by the committee and brought to the House floor for consideration.

“For more than four years, the city of Yerington and Lyon County have worked on this sustainable development plan to enable all community stakeholders to benefit from an increase in adjacent private lands,” Amodei said in a prepared statement. “The conveyance of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land would enable the city and county to grow while providing needed tax revenue and the potential for hundreds of long-term, high-paying jobs.”

The bill would convey approximately 10,000 acres of BLM land to the local governments for industrial, recreational and cultural development. The transfer would allow the governments to leverage the substantial infrastructure investments being made by Nevada Copper at its nearby Pumpkin Hollow project.

It is being sponsored by Amodei, along with Nevada Reps. Joe Heck, R-Nev., and Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The Pumpkin Hollow project is a new copper mine being developed by Nevada Copper. A ground-breaking ceremony for construction of the mine was held in February.

“Nevada’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation and Lyon County’s is the highest in Nevada,” Amodei said. “According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, in February roughly 6,500 Nevadans gave up looking for a job and left the labor force all together. If we’re serious about the economy, then this community-driven plan, with no cost to taxpayers, is exactly the sort of thing the federal government needs to fast-track.”

Amodei, elected to the 2nd Congressional District seat in a special election in September, is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Nevada Copper 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.

Sen. Heller Downplays Any Rift With Gov. Sandoval On Job Creation Efforts

By Sean Whaley | 3:22 pm April 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., today downplayed the notion of any disagreement with GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval arising from their opposing views on the Small Business Jobs Act passed by Congress in 2010.

Heller voted against the measure, calling it a bank bailout bill, while Sandoval praised the measure last fall as a way to help create jobs in the state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate.

Heller, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said: “It was a bailout. It was another bank bailout. Two things I vote against when I’m in Washington, DC: tax increases, more stimulus, more bailout. I guess that’s three. I put stimulus and bailout in the same picture. But that’s what I vote against.”

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

Sandoval, in announcing the receipt of $13.8 million from the act in September 2011 to lend to small businesses to spur job growth, said: “This funding will go a long ways towards helping new small businesses get off the ground and creating jobs for Nevadans.”

In the NewsMakers interview, Heller said the way to get Nevadans back to work is lower taxes, smaller government, reasonable regulations, free markets and capitalism.

“That is what is going to long term sustain growth in this state moving forward,” he said.

“The governor and I are not at odds,” Heller said. “Certainly both of us want to bring jobs into Nevada and both of us want to see the economy turn around. How do you do that is the question. And he’s doing it for all the right reasons. I don’t see us at a difference here. All I’m saying is there may be more than one route.”

Heller is running for a full term in the Senate, and is being challenged by Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. Heller was appointed to the Senate seat in May, 2011 by Sandoval.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Berkley voted for the measure.

Nevada received the $13.8 million through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Nevada expects to generate a minimum of $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding.

Heller’s comments came as the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Monday released a report showing that the Meadows Bank of Las Vegas has increased its small business lending by $45.9 million since receiving capital through the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF).

The SBLF is a separate program authorized by the same act.

Nationwide, institutions participating in the SBLF significantly increased small business lending in the last quarter of 2011 by $1.3 billion over the prior quarter – for a total of $4.8 billion over their baseline, the report showed.

“This report shows that the Small Business Lending Fund is having a powerful impact,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin in a news release issued today. “The program is helping spark new lending to local entrepreneurs looking to invest in their businesses and create new jobs.”

The SBLF helps small businesses by providing capital to community banks that hold under $10 billion in assets. The dividend rate a community bank pays on SBLF funding is reduced as that bank increases its small business lending, providing a strong incentive for new lending to small businesses so they can expand and create jobs.


Audio clips:

Sen. Dean Heller says the Small Business Jobs Act was a bank bailout:

041012Heller1 :14 I vote against.”

Heller says he and Gov. Sandoval are not at odds:

041012Heller2 :16 than one route.”

Rep. Berkley Proposes Ban On 3rd Party TV, Radio Ads In Nevada U.S. Senate Race

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:47 pm March 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., today proposed the “Free Nevada Pact,” an agreement seeking to ban 3rd party spending on television and radio advertising for the duration of the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Nevada.

Berkley said she has made the proposal to U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., “in an attempt to free Nevada’s election from the influence of millionaires, billionaires, corporations and special interest groups on both sides of the aisle trying to buy Nevada’s Senate seat.”

Since third party groups are free to spend money on behalf of or against candidates as they see fit, Berkley has come up with a unique way to discourage them from operating in Nevada.

The agreement would require Berkley and Heller to pay a penalty equal to 60 percent of any third-party ad buy supporting their candidacies or attacking their opponents. The penalty would go to a charity of the other candidate’s choice.

It would cover any cable, satellite or over-the-air broadcast of a TV or radio advertisement funded by a third-party.

The proposal was quickly dismissed by the Heller campaign.

“Yet another sideshow in the Shelley Berkley campaign circus,” said Mike Slanker, general consultant to the campaign. “ ‘Free Nevada?’ Three quarters of her contributions come from outside Nevada. If the congresswoman is willing to send her out of state money back, we are willing to discuss her pact.”

In a letter sent to Heller, Berkley said:

“These so-called Super PACs – funded by self-interested millionaires and billionaires, massive corporations and special interest groups – are overpowering the voices of Nevada voters and damaging the democratic process that has defined the United States of America since its founding.

“I’ve enclosed a common-sense, straight forward proposed agreement that provides a powerful incentive for third party groups to stay out of Nevada’s 2012 Senate race,” Berkley said. “I’ve already signed it, and I hope you will as well.”

Berkley, who filed today for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Heller, noted that third party groups on both sides spent more than $14 million in negative ads attacking both candidates in the 2010 Nevada U.S. Senate race.



Rep. Amodei Not Optimistic On Budget Or Deficit Deal, But Sees Chance For Lands Bills In Congress This Year

By Sean Whaley | 2:56 pm February 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said today he is not optimistic that Congress will make any substantive progress on a balanced budget or deficit reduction this year given the focus on the presidential election.

But Amodei, in town on a brief recess, said he is hopeful that progress can be made on Nevada-related public lands bills he is sponsoring as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

The U.S. Senate has gone over 1,000 days without a budget, he said in a brief interview after speaking to the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

“So you ask yourself what will change in the next six months on that side?” he asked. “If history is any indicator probably nothing. Will the House vote on a budget? Yup. So, I don’t know. Being optimistic is probably not something you should be, for the budget.”

Amodei said he is very optimistic about moving his lands bills within the next several months, however.

“We’ve got some good stuff in the hopper that should move, so that’s the way I’m going to approach it,” he said.

One of the measures is the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, which is jointly being sponsored by Amodei, Rep. Shelley Berkeley, D-Nev., and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

The bill would convey approximately 10,000 acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the City of Yerington for commercial, industrial, recreational and cultural development. The city and Lyon County are seeking to leverage the substantial infrastructure investments being made by Nevada Copper at its nearby Pumpkin Hollow project.

The Pumpkin Hollow project is a new copper mine being developed by Nevada Copper. A ground-breaking ceremony for construction of the mine was held this past weekend.

Amodei is also pursuing a measure along with the rest of the Nevada delegation to create the Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area north of Winnemucca. The proposal has been endorsed by Humboldt County officials and other stakeholders.

He also plans to introduce legislation making it easier to dispose of small pieces of federal land that are adjacent to urban areas to help in economic development.

Amodei said he is grateful for Republican leadership and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., for making room for his appointment to the Natural Resources Committee. Fleischmann stepped down from the committee so Amodei could serve.

Members of the chamber asked about local issues, including the completion of the V&T Railroad and the Carson City bypass, which remains unfinished.

Amodei said there are no more earmarks for such projects, but that a Transportation Bill is being prepared that could potentially provide assistance for the bypass. Supporters of such projects need to identify the opportunities in the federal budget process to pursue funding, he said.

Amodei has been in Congress for just over five months, having been elected to the 2nd Congressional District in a special election in September 2011. Amodei replaced Dean Heller, R-Nev., who was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the vacancy in the Senate created with the resignation of John Ensign.


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says he is not optimistic about efforts to balance the federal budget this year because of the election:

022212Amodei1 :25 for the budget.”

Amodei says he is hopeful for progress on his lands bills, however:

022212Amodei2 :18 to approach it.”