Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

Nearly 9,500 New Voters Registered In April, Democrats Add 1,638 More Than GOP

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:07 am May 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Secretary of State Ross Miller today released voter registration numbers that show nearly 9,500 Nevadans registered to vote in April, with Democrats adding 1,638 more voters than Republicans.

The Secretary of State’s Elections Division reports that Republicans increased their number of active voters by 2,277 while Democrats increased active voters by 3,915. At the end of April, 392,050 active Republican voters and 428,774 active Democratic voters are registered in Nevada.

Photo by Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons.

Registered nonpartisans increased their number of active voters by 2,485 in April, bringing the statewide total to 168,225. In all, active Nevada voters total 1,049,004, an increase of 9,464 from the previous month.

The registration gains come as the June primary nears.

May 22 is the last day to register to vote in person in Nevada in advance of the June 12 primary day. Early voting for the primary will run from May 26 to June 8.

The new voter registration numbers show breakdowns by county, party, age and district.

The major party voter breakdowns in five state Senate districts where both Democrats and Republicans are seeking wins in order to control the 21-member house in the 2013 legislative session have not changed significantly from prior reports.

State Senate Races In Play In 2012

Senate District Party Control Democrat Voters GOP Voters Total Voters
5 (Clark) Democrat 21,724 (40.6%) 20,058 (37.5%) 53,761
6 (Clark) Democrat 23,353 (41.4%) 21,538 (38.2) 56,419
9 (Clark) Republican 16,892 (39.6%) 15,053 (35.3%) 42,666
15 (Washoe) Republican 26,709 (38%) 28,092 (40%) 70,296
18 (Clark) Republican 20,437 (37.6%) 22,082 (40.7%) 54,296

Democrats maintain a lead in three Clark County races: Senate 5 by 40.6 percent to 37.5 percent for Republicans; in Senate 6 by 41.4 percent to 38.2 percent; and in Senate 9 by 39.6 percent to 35.3 percent.

Republicans maintain a lead in Senate 15 in Washoe County, 40 percent to 38 percent, and in Senate District 18 in Clark County, 40.7 percent to 37.6 percent.

Democrats have an 11-10 majority in the Senate currently.

Republicans need to hold on to three Republican seats, Senate 9, 15, and 18, and pick up one of two held by Democrats, Senate 5 or 6, to take control of the Senate.



Trio Of GOP Lawmakers Ask Democrat Sen. Steven Horsford To Allow Vote On Laughlin Incorporation

By Sean Whaley | 6:14 pm March 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Three Republican state senators, all members of the Legislative Commission, have asked Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, to call a meeting of the panel as soon as possible to vote on the feasibility of the incorporation of Laughlin.

In a letter dated Feb. 28, Sens. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, and James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, asked Horsford to allow a vote of the commission on whether the residents of Laughlin should be able to vote in June on whether to become Nevada’s newest city.

Consideration of the determination of feasibility of incorporation for Laughlin had been scheduled for a Feb. 15 meeting of the commission, but Horsford, who is also serving as chairman of the 12-member panel, tabled the issue. The commission is comprised of six state senators, three of each party, and six members of the Assembly, again divided equally between Republicans and Democrats.

A favorable vote from the commission would pave the way for a vote by Laughlin residents on their future.

Laughlin. / Photo by Stan Shebs via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Senate Republicans on the Legislative Commission request a meeting of the Legislative Commission be scheduled, to vote on the City of Laughlin issue,” the letter said. “Recently the Clark County commissioners voted to not put the city of Laughlin incorporation on the ballot.

“Since the Legislative Commission failed to take action on this matter at the last meeting this would mean that the citizens of the city of Laughlin will not be able to weigh in on this matter in the upcoming election. A meeting should be scheduled as soon as possible so the citizens are not denied that right.

“Furthermore section 4 of Senate Bill 262 (Chapter 481, Statutes of Nevada 2011) states that the Legislative Commission shall review the report and make a determination. The commission has failed in that respect and is in violation of the Statutes of Nevada,” the brief letter said in conclusion.

The vote needs to come within about two weeks or Laughlin residents will not have the chance to vote on the incorporation question this year.

The Legislative Commission is scheduled to meet March 15 but an agenda has not yet been finalized for the meeting.

Concerns have been raised by at least one Republican lawmaker that the Laughlin incorporation issue has been held up by Democrats as part of a deal to get a separate regulation sought by Secretary of State Ross Miller approved. Miller, a Democrat, has been thwarted in his efforts to get a regulation approved that would allow his office to collect a $200 business license fee from companies that claim they are exempt from the assessment.

Republicans have opposed the regulation, arguing the issue should  be considered by the full Legislature in 2013.

The Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee to Review Regulations is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider the business license fee collection regulation. The subcommittee is comprised of four Democrats and only two Republicans. If the regulation is approved at the subcommittee meeting, it will take effect without needing a vote from the full commission.

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, who sought the bill in the 2011 legislative session allowing for Laughlin to vote on incorporation, suggested a link between the two distinct issues in a story published Feb. 26 in the Mohave Daily News. Hardy was quoted as saying Democrats wanted GOP support for Miller’s regulation in exchange for a vote on the Laughlin incorporation issue.

Hardy said today there is a perception by some lawmakers that the two issues are linked.

“I think they were emotionally linked, if nothing else,” he said. “And the legislative process is certainly not a bland process.”

An individual close to the Senate Democrat Caucus rejected the notion that the two issues are linked, saying Hardy’s comments are conjecture only. The individual, who spoke on background, said the claim is “absolutely false.”

When the Legislative Commission did not vote on the incorporation issue, it went to the Clark County Commission, comprised of all Democrats, who voted unanimously Feb. 21 that incorporation was not feasible for the community 100 miles south of Las Vegas.

Dave Floodman, president of the nonprofit Laughlin Economic Development Corporation, said today that there was bipartisan support in the Nevada Legislature in 2011 to allow consideration of the incorporation question. SB262 passed unanimously in the Assembly and by a 16-5 vote in the Senate.

While a feasibility study of the incorporation prepared by the Nevada Department of Taxation found incorporation was not feasible, a separate study by a reputable California company and commissioned by his group found that it would be feasible, he said.

The two reviews differed on the cost of providing police and fire protection, Floodman said.

“Our position is that the two different scenarios should be decided by the people in Laughlin,” he said.

Hardy said he believes incorporation is viable and that Laughlin residents should have the chance to vote on their future.

“Myself, I think it is fiscally feasible and I think that the citizens of Laughlin deserve to have the right to have that presented to them in such a way that they say, ‘we want to have this level of service and pay this much money in taxes’ and present it that way and say, OK, we want it or we don’t,” he said. “And that is what this is about.”


Audio clips:

Sen. Joe Hardy says the proposed Ross Miller regulation and the Laughlin incorporation issue are emotionally linked at a minimum:

030712Hardy3 :16 a bland process.”

Hardy says he believes incorporation is viable and that Laughlin residents should have the right to vote on the issue:

030712Hardy2 :34 this is about.”


Las Vegas Physician, Small Business Owner Announces GOP Candidacy For Senate 9

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:01 am February 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A Las Vegas physician and small business owner today announced his GOP candidacy for Senate District 9, a seat formerly held by Republican Elizabeth Halseth, who resigned in mid-term last week for personal reasons.

Vick Gill is a managing partner of CVR Management, a privately held company that owns an ob/gyn practice and a farming operation. At CVR Management Gill employs over 65 workers.

Gill will try to hold on to the seat for state Senate Republicans, who are trying to regain the majority in the 21-member body for the 2013 legislative session. Democrats currently hold an 11-10 advantage.

Gill said he believes that with the current state budget deficit, Nevada needs lawmakers who have lived in the real world and can balance budgets and create jobs the way many small businesses do. One of his first priorities will be to put Nevadans back to work, he said.

“As a small business owner, I know how to create jobs and balance a budget,” Gill said. “We need transparency and accountability. We cannot spend money we do not have on programs that do not work. I will focus on reining in spending and eliminating waste.

“Nevada is hurting; we have the highest unemployment rate in the country, the highest foreclosure rate of any state, and the highest high school drop-out rate in the nation,” he said. “These may be sobering statistics to some, but this is reality for many here in Nevada. I am running for state Senate to bring common sense solutions to these everyday issues.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Gill earned his medical degree from Xavier University School of Medicine.



State Sen. Barbara Cegavske Announces Run For Congress In New District 4

By Sean Whaley | 4:59 pm November 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, made it official today, announcing she will run for congress in the new District 4 in northern Clark and much of rural Nevada.

“I am running for Congress because I believe we can fix the serious problems facing Nevada and our country,” Cegavske said. “Our state leads the nation in unemployment and foreclosures and for far too long Washington politicians have been out of touch. Nevada voters have my word that I will work every day to get government out of the business of punishing our job creators and in the business of protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for our seniors.”

Cegavske said her campaign will focus on solutions.

“We can improve our economy and get people back to work if we send people to Congress who are committed to sound fiscal policy, sensible tax policy and regulatory reform,” she said. “I am committed to protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for our senior citizens and for future generations.”

Cegavske, representing Clark District 8 in the senate, is in the middle of her last four-year term in the upper house. She will be termed out of office in 2014.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Cegavske is the second Republican to announce for the new district, created because of Nevada’s population increase reported in the 2010 census.

Las Vegas businessman Dan Schwartz also plans to run for the seat.

Two Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, and Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, have announced they are seeking the seat as well and will face off in a primary.

The district has a healthy Democrat voter registration edge, 45.9 percent to 33.2 percent Republican. Nonpartisan voters make up 15.5 percent of the district with the remaining 5.4 percent minor party registrations.

Cegavske said she will formally announce her campaign for congress in January with a trip to all counties in the district. The district includes parts of Clark and Lyon Counties and all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties.

Cegavske began her legislative career in the Assembly in 1997, serving through 2001. She was elected to the Senate in 2002.

Gov. Sandoval Says He Is Pleased With New Political Maps, Does Not Anticipate An Appeal

By Sean Whaley | 3:12 pm November 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he is pleased with the political boundaries created by a court-appointed panel of special masters, and does not anticipate a legal challenge to the new lines drawn for the 63 legislative and four congressional districts for the 2012 general election.

“I want to compliment the masters and Judge (James Todd) Russell, I think they did a great job,” he said. “My understanding is none of the parties are going to appeal the decision. And I know there is a certain amount of time that will have to pass before that appellate deadline comes, but no, me personally, I am very happy and satisfied with the result.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau.

Russell, a Carson City District judge who handled the redistricting process when Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature could not reach agreement, signed off on the new boundaries on Oct. 27 after making a few minor adjustments to the maps submitted by the special masters he appointed to draw the new political lines.

Attorneys for both the Democrat and Republican parties have thus far indicated they do not plan to challenge the maps, which had to be redrawn to reflect population shifts identified in the 2010 census.

There is a 30-day window for an appeal to be filed with the Nevada Supreme Court to challenge the maps.

The Supreme Court, in an order issued late Friday, also cancelled an oral argument to consider concerns raised by Secretary of State Ross Miller about Russell’s decisions regarding the redistricting process, saying any issues can be raised in an appeal.

The congressional maps, which include a new fourth seat due to Nevada’s population growth over the past decade compared to other states, has a central urban Las Vegas District 1 that is 42.8 percent Hispanic.

Previously announced candidates for the new congressional districts wasted no time in declaring their intentions to run, and in which districts as approved by Russell.

Sandoval vetoed two Democrat-sponsored redistricting plans passed in the 2011 legislative session. He had previously rejected any call for a special legislative session to handle the redistricting dispute, saying he had confidence in the courts to resolve the impasse.


Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is happy with the new redistricting maps:

110811Sandoval :20 with the result.”

Republicans Have 30,000 Voter Registration Edge In CD2 As Special Election Nears

By Sean Whaley | 1:35 pm August 4th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller today released statewide active voter registration numbers through the end of July.

Statewide, Republican active voters increased to 407,866, a gain of 557 over the previous month; Democrat active voters totaled 472,987, an increase of 698; and non-partisans grew by 922 voters to a total of 179,112.

Secretary of State Ross Miller

Registration in the 2nd Congressional District, where a special election will be held Sept. 13 to pick a replacement for former Rep. Dean Heller, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate, showed Democrats with 141,330 active voters, up 119 from June; Republicans, 172,281 an increase of 152 voters; and, non-partisans with 60,519 active voters, an increase of 287 over June.

The latest voter registration by county, party, age, and district can be found in the election center tab at

Important deadlines for the upcoming Special Election in CD 2 are:

-          August 13: Last day to register to vote by mail; registrations must be postmarked prior to midnight on this date.

-          August 23: Last day to register to vote in-person at the office of your county clerk or registrar of voters.

-          August 27: Early voting begins.

-          Sept. 9: Last day of early voting.

-          Sept. 13: Election Day.

Nevada Democrats Call On GOP Presidential Candidates To Disclose Major Fundraisers

By Sean Whaley | 6:15 pm July 29th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Democrats today called on Republican presidential candidates to disclose the names of their campaigns’ major fundraisers – known as bundlers – in the name of transparency.

President Barack Obama on July 15 released his list of major fundraisers, which he also did in 2008. The disclosure is not required by the Federal Elections Commission.

State Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, held a brief telephone conference with the media to ask Republican candidates to follow suit. Democrats around the country have made similar requests.

Nevada state Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

Denis noted that both President Bush and Senator John McCain disclosed major fundraisers during their campaigns for the presidency, but that none of the major Republican candidates seeking the presidency in 2012 have yet done so.

Current GOP candidate Mitt Romney also disclosed the information during the 2008 presidential primary.

An ABC News report dated July 20 said the major GOP candidates are declining to release the information.

Denis said Obama released the information because he “has always believed that sharing the name of major fundraisers is a critical step in making campaigns more transparent and accountable.”

“If the Republican candidates for president aren’t forthcoming about who exactly is helping them to get elected, how can we know for sure that those same people won’t be calling in favors if the candidate wins election (to) the White House,” he said.

Asked for a response, Ryan Mahoney, regional press secretary for the Republican National Committee, said: “If the Democrats insist on distracting Americans from their failure to have a plan to fix the debt crisis, they should look in the mirror and ask themselves why they continue to move the goal posts when it comes to fundraising transparency. This is the same party that gives special access to bundlers at the White House, takes money from state lobbyists, films political videos in the White House and whose president flip-flopped on public financing.”

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: “Barack Obama is just trying to distract people from his disastrous record of failure on jobs and the economy. We disclose all of the information about our donors as required by law and anyone who is interested can review it publicly.”

ABC News described the process: “Bundlers are wealthy and well-connected individuals who give the maximum legal contribution to a campaign – $2,500 for the primary – and then get their friends and associates to do the same.  The donations are ‘bundled’ together, often totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Republicans will be holding an early caucus in Nevada in February as the GOP candidates vie for the nomination and the opportunity to challenge President Obama in the November 2012 general election.

Audio clips:

State Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, says Republican candidates for president should release information about their fundraisers as President Obama has done:

072911Denis1 :19 transparent and accountable.”

Denis says voters deserve the information:

072911Denis2 :17 the White House.”

Denis says GOP candidates should release the information so voters can make their own judgments:

072911Denis3 :13 Republican candidates accordingly.”

Nevada Redistricting Efforts Remain In Flux After Court Hearing This Week

By Sean Whaley | 1:34 pm July 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Efforts to resolve Nevada’s redistricting impasse remain a work in progress after a proposal floated Tuesday by a Carson City judge to use county election officials to draw new legislative and congressional lines ran into some opposition.

The job of redrawing Nevada’s political lines has fallen to District Judge James Todd Russell after two Democrat-approved redistricting plans were vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sandoval vetoed the measures after concluding the proposals did not follow the federal Voting Rights Act.

A close-up of one of the many redistricting maps proposed at the Nevada Legislature / Photo by Elizabeth Crum via iPhone

Russell took the attorneys representing the two major political parties by surprise when, rather than opting to hear the evidence and make a decision, he proposed using the Washoe, Clark and Carson City voter registrars as “special masters” to draw the new political boundaries for his consideration.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax rejected the idea after consulting with County Manager Don Burnette.

Redistricting must be accomplished in time for the 2012 election season, which begins early next year. Redistricting happens every 10 years following the census.

Russell gave the parties until July 20 to come up with their suggestions for special masters to help with the process.

Appearing on the Nevada NewsMakers television program on Wednesday, Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison said the suggestion caught a lot of people attending the court hearing by surprise.

“We were, I think, a little surprised by the suggestion but I think once you understood why the judge did it, it made all the sense in the world,” he said. “He’s looking for, and he said this, a nonpartisan approach. He wants to do the right thing, follow the law, and he doesn’t want a bunch of politically motivated people there involved in the process.

“Judge Russell has presented a very unique process,” Hutchison said. “He wants to have the parties involved in the process, but he wants to have people who are going to be nonpartisan and have the information so that he can do his job. It’s a very unique process that I don’t know exists anywhere else in the country.”

Hutchison said he does not believe the redistricting process will be resolved in a special session of the Legislature. More likely Russell will present a plan that will ultimately be acted on by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Marc Elias, representing the Democratic Party in the case, was quoted in the Nevada Appeal as suggesting that before special masters propose a new set of political boundaries, that there should first be a decision on whether the Democrat plans violate the Voting Rights Act.

“Maybe if we resolve the voting rights issue, there would at least be a basis for the masters to start,” he said.

Because of Nevada’s population growth, the state is getting a fourth congressional district, requiring a major redrawing of the existing three districts. The 21 state Senate and 42 Assembly districts must also be redrawn to make populations approximately equal.

There is also a mandate to ensure equitable representation of minorities in the process, with Republicans supporting the creation of a majority Hispanic congressional district in Southern Nevada.

Audio clips:

Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison says the attorneys were surprised by Russell’s plan to resolve the redistricting impasse:

071511Hutchison1 :15 in the process.”

Hutchison says Russell’s plan is unique:

071511Hutchison2 :12 the country, Sam.”



Bills Sought By GOP Senators ‘Returned’ To Assembly As Tax Discussions Continue

By Sean Whaley | 12:00 pm May 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Republican state senators who are refusing to go along with a call by Democrats to increase funding for the state budget say bills they have sponsored are being held hostage as a result.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said Assembly Democrats, who have a 26-16 majority, “called back” seven Senate bills that had already been voted on and sent to the Senate for final action.

Senate Bills 89, 96, 111, 134, 225, 322 and 337 were requested to be returned to the Assembly, said David Byerman, secretary of the Senate. He said such requests are routine and are accommodated without requesting an explanation. Various reasons can prompt such a request, such as a reconsideration of a measure, he said.

All seven bills passed the Assembly unanimously on Monday. On Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, including Cegavske, Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, and Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, refused to support a proposed budget relying on the extension of sun-setting taxes to add more than $700 million in funding.

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee today passed out a bill extending the sun-setting taxes on a party-line vote. But a two-thirds vote will be required in the full Assembly and then in the Senate to approve the measure.

Democrats in the Legislature need three GOP members of the Senate of 10 to vote to extend the sun-setting taxes. So far the Senate GOP caucus has remained firm in its opposition, holding with Gov. Brian Sandoval against any tax extensions or increases to fund areas of the budget.

On Wednesday, the seven GOP Senate bills were recalled by the Assembly leadership.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who said he is working to win support from Senate Republicans for additional revenue for the state budget, acknowledged the bills were called back by the Assembly.

“I think the issue is the budget is the most important thing we have going right now,” he said. “Any policy bill is not that important right now. So we’re absolutely looking at holding all the policy bills until we have a budget.

“Call it what you will, I think what we’re doing is, there is nothing more important than getting this budget done so no policy bills are moving right now,” Oceguera said.

If the bills remain in the possession of the Assembly, they won’t see final approval or be signed into law by the governor, he said.

Oceguera said a lot of reform bills are caught up in the discussion over new tax revenue.

“Obviously if there is not reform on the tax side of things there’s not going to be reform on anything else either,” he said.

Cegavske said Republican senators are being punished for their opposition to tax increases but the bills are good legislation that don’t deserve such action.

Cegavske said failing to act on her Senate Bill 225 won’t hurt her personally, but it will harm the efforts of the American Heart Association.

“Yes my name is on it and if you want to punish me, punish me, don’t punish the American Heart Association,” she said. “Because it is truly a bill that will help them and there is nothing wrong with sending policy bills through while you are still debating budgets. There is nothing wrong with that.

“It saddens me that you would act in a manner that is unprofessional,” Cegavske said.

“It’s an angry attempt to say we didn’t like the fact that you voted against the sunset bills so we’re going to do something that affects you,” she said. “Well, it doesn’t affect me personally but it does affect the American Heart Association and what they’re trying to accomplish for the good of the citizens of Nevada.”

“One would hope we don’t need to go down such a partisan road,” said Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville.

SB89 imposing reforms on homeowners’ associations is sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. SB96 making changes to the Guinn Millennium Scholarship is sponsored by Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City.

SB111, sponsored by Settelmeyer, would make changes to help children who are kept in protective custody. SB134 is sponsored by Rhoads and would make changes to the Elko City municipal elections.

SB225 sought by Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, would designate certain hospitals as stroke centers. SB322, relating to weight limits on vehicles, is being sought by Settelmeyer, Hardy and Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas. SB337 is being sought by Kieckhefer and Sen. Allison Copening, D-Las Vegas, and would make changes to the donation of anatomical gifts.

None of the measures have anything to do with policy reforms sought by some Republicans in exchange for consideration of taxes, such as collective bargaining.

Audio clips:

Sen. Barbara Cegavske said Senate GOP bills are being held up as punishment for opposition to tax increases:

052611Cegavske1 :17 wrong with that.”

Cegavske said there is no reason the bills should not be passed while the budget is being debated:

052611Cegavske2 :24 all that way.”

Sen. James Settelmeyer said the Legislature should not have to go down such a partisan road:

052611Settelmeyer :04 a partisan road.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says the budget is the most pressing issue right now:

052611Oceguera1 :05 going right now.”

Oceguera says policy bills are not that important right now:

052611Oceguera2 :09 have a budget.”

Oceguera says the budget is the top priority:

052611Oceguera3 :09 moving right now.”

Oceguera says if there is not reform on taxes, there won’t be reform on anything else:

052611Oceguera4 :14 anything else either.”





Republicans Release Redistricting Data, Lay Out Terms For Two-Party Negotiations

By Andrew Doughman | 12:45 pm May 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Republicans today announced they have released to the public a set of complicated data about their redistricting proposal.

Democrats had said earlier the release of the data is a requirement before the two parties can begin to work toward a compromise.

The release of the data brightens an otherwise gloomy portrait of partisanship. Republicans and Democrats have so far elected not to negotiate terms in the redistricting battle.

When Democrats learned of the release, they issued a statement saying they will freeze their bill, now before the Senate, so that Republicans and Democrats can compare their plans and look for “common ground.”

“We welcome this opportunity to finally compare these two proposals and look forward to quickly investigating the potential for compromise with our friends on the other side of the aisle,” Democrats said in a statement.

Republicans seemed to have answered the call of Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who asked Republicans to release their data.

“We had constituents calling us, so we thought we’d be open and transparent,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. “The product wasn’t really ours. It was produced by folks who are working on redistricting for us and they wanted to make sure everything was correct [before releasing data].”

The data question had stalled any talk of compromise between Republicans and Democrats, who every 10 years must create revised boundaries for seats for Congress and the state Assembly and Senate according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

Republicans responded to the Democratic call for compromise, saying they are “willing to negotiate.” They did, however, lay out terms for negotiation.

Senate Republicans released a statement this afternoon in which they said they “insist” on pre-conditions for negotiation.

They want a fixed number of majority-minority Hispanics: one in  Congress, four in the state Senate and eight in the state Assembly. That quota is identical to what Republicans originally called for in their proposal.

They also called for eight competitive state Senate and eight competitive state Assembly districts.

“We believe the Voting Rights Act requires fair representation of Hispanics in the U.S. Congress, Nevada State Senate and Nevada Assembly,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. “We also believe that no political party should have a monopoly on power.”

Democrats later rejected the premise for establishing terms of negotiation prior to meeting with Republicans.

“We stand ready, without preconditions, to meet and discuss a way forward,” legislative Democrats said in a statement released this afternoon.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has already vetoed the previous Democratic redistricting plan, saying it treated Nevada’s Hispanic population unfairly and did not comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

The new plan is a second attempt for Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor to reach a compromise over appropriate political boundaries. If they cannot agree, the political tug-o-war could be resolved by a judge.

The gridlock continued yesterday as Democrats elected to hear their second redistricting proposal but declined to hear the Republican proposal since the Republican data had yet to be released. Instead, Democrats voted on their own proposal.

Republicans had said they objected to the way Democrats were moving Democratic bills without hearing a Republican proposal.

But Democrats had said they wanted an “open and transparent” process from Republicans.

The data would allow Democrats and members of the public to examine the exact boundaries of districts proposed in the Republican bill.

Although Republicans provided a bill, the 194-page document contains arcane references to Census block tracts, which are nearly impossible for people to visualize.

The Legislature’s information-technology staff has had the complex data, but Republicans had not authorized them to release it until today.


Higher Education Budget Could Be Cut Further Under Legislative Proposal

By Andrew Doughman | 3:40 pm May 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The budget situation for Nevada’s universities and colleges may have worsened today as legislators voted to both cut and restore funding for higher education.

Democratic legislators first voted to restore $100 million to the higher education budget, but Democrats also continued to oppose a shift of Washoe and Clark County property tax money from county governments to the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

That property tax shift represents $120 million that the universities were counting on in the governor’s recommended general fund budget.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said legislators fully intend to replace that money with general fund dollars.

But Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, was not so sure.

“That decision has not been finalized,” he said.

Horsford said backfilling that $120 million hole is “one of the options” the Legislature may consider.

If the Legislature does nothing, Nevada’s higher education world may be worse off than it was under Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended general fund budget.

“If they don’t replace the property tax money they took out, we’re in very bad shape,” said Jim Richardson, a lobbyist for the Nevada Faculty Alliance.

Richardson said he had thought the Legislature would either apply the property tax shift to all 17 counties or use general fund dollars instead.

Legislature Votes To Reduce Tuition Increase By 13 Percent

Students, however, might feel a little better after legislators on two money committees voted today to support a 13 percent tuition increase spread over the next two years rather than a 26 percent increase, as was proposed earlier.

That would mean the universities would have to find more money because many colleges and universities assumed a 26 percent increase.

“That money has to be cut from somewhere and it would appear that means program cuts and layoffs,” said professor Gregory Brown of the UNLV Faculty Alliance.

The 13 percent tuition increase would bring Nevada’s colleges and universities about $42.4 million during the next two years.

The problem is, higher education administrators were counting on the $120 million worth of property tax diversions in addition to revenues collected through tuition.

The votes, however, all hinge on the Legislature passing new taxes or extending current ones, which are scheduled to sunset June 30. If that does not happen, legislators would have to re-examine these actions.

“We closed the budget, but the funding has not been identified so you can’t get too excited yet,” Smith said. “All you can count on is what we did today, and that’s contingent on us finding the revenue …It’s a budget in motion.”

Sandoval has recommended a two-year, higher-education budget that was $254 million less than the amount of money the Legislature approved during the 2010 special session.

That would be reduced to a $112 million cut if the Board of Regents approves the tuition increases and the Legislature finds $100 million to give to colleges and universities. The Legislature would also have to find $120 million to replace the funding that would have gone to higher education through the local property tax diversion.

Before today, legislators had anticipated following Klaich’s four-point plan, which would have called for $80 million in new revenue and a 26 percent tuition increase.

Students had testified before a legislative committee about keeping tuition low before legislators voted to recommend a 13 percent increase to the Board of Regents, which makes the final call on student fees.

Republicans largely objected to the $100 million in new revenue.

“I don’t know where we’re going to get the money to pay for this,” said Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno. “I just think we don’t have the money. At this point in the game, this is kind of where I have to stand.”

At this point in the legislative game, legislators are debating taxes.  Sandoval included spending $6.1 billion in his 2011-2013 general fund budget. Democrats want to spend about $7 billion, with $626 million coming from extending taxes set to expire June 30 and the rest from new taxes on business and services like haircuts, attorneys and brothels.

“Bottom line is: there are taxes being paid that if continued would cover this [$100 million],” said Horsford.

Legislative committees also earlier supported a 4.8 percent salary cut to university employees, adding between $7.5 and $10 million in extra spending because the governor recommended a 5 percent cut.

“The reality is, the work is not done because we still need to get folks to pay for it,” Horsford said.

Senators Sit On Floor In Impromptu Debate With Camping Activists

By Andrew Doughman | 5:18 pm May 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Senate Republicans gave new meaning to the legislative jargon “floor debate” today.

Several lawmakers sat on the floor outside their offices today as they talked to activists who have been camping on the Capitol lawn since yesterday night in support of new revenue.

The impromptu, hour-long debate featured a variety of popular budget topics including teacher pay, textbooks in schools, higher education tuition and taxes.

It all started when about two dozen campers requested an audience with Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, who did not have room for them in her office. So she stepped outside, and they sat on the floor together.

Several other Republican senators joined her soon after, and Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, offered shortbread Girl Scout cookies all around.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Warren Hardy, a former legislator and current lobbyist who watched the debate. “It’s a great dialog. If I were still a senator, I would be right in the middle of it because I think that’s the respect these people deserve.”

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, speaks with Michael Flores, a ProgressNOW organizer, outside her office in the halls of the Legislature. //PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Republicans fielded a variety of questions from tough critics, some of whom are from organizations like Progress NOW Nevada and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Those groups have supported Democratic plans for new taxes and have opposed Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

One girl asked about a shortage of textbooks in her Clark County School District high school.

Responding, Roberson said that many Clark County School District employees earn six-figure salaries and he wants more money going into the classroom.

Bob Fulkerson of PLAN called the response a “good sound byte,” but not a solution for poor rural school districts.

Roberson, in a familiar line, said that collective bargaining is “bankrupting the state,” after which several people shouted: “no.”

“If every teacher makes concessions, you will not have one teacher laid off,” Roberson said.

Republicans touted reforms to collective bargaining and advocated for the governor’s recommendation to cut teacher and state employee salaries by 5 percent, saying that it is the same suffering that private sector employees have had to bear during this recession.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, listens to a young girl ask him a question about the K-12 system as he sits outside legislative offices with a group camping outside the Legislature to show support for taxes. //PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau.

The conversation was mostly an exercise in disagreement: over taxes, over the influence of public sector unions, over teacher pay, over tuition.

“If you want taxes to happen immediately, why can’t reforms happen immediately?” asked Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, as Roberson, Cegavske, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, looked on.

McGinness had met with the group of campers earlier.

“They talked to me about taxes and I talked to them about the governor’s budget,” he said. “We agreed to disagree.”

Similar disagreements are happening behind closed doors as McGinness and other legislative leaders from both parties are talking about taxes and the governor’s budget. McGinness said he thinks it is likely legislators will meet almost every night to reach a budget compromise.

Seated on the floor, no Republican had a sudden revelation that taxes will save Nevada and none of the campers disavowed taxes, but both groups seemed pleased with the debate.

“I’m so proud of you for sitting on the floor with us,” Cegavske said. “This is awesome.”

Michael Flores, a Progress NOW organizer, said it was “amazing” to talk to legislators for that long in an open-forum debate.

“This is what Democracy looks like,” he said.

Democrats Introduce Revised Congressional Maps

By Andrew Doughman | 3:23 pm May 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Since the governor did not like their last redistricting plan, Democrats are trying again with revisions to their redistricting maps.

Gov. Brian Sandoval earlier vetoed the Democratic plan for the boundaries of political districts, which must be redrawn every 10 years according to U.S. Census demographic data.

The new plan is a second attempt for Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor to reach a compromise over appropriate political boundaries. If they cannot agree, the political tug-o-war could be resolved before a judge.

In a short afternoon hearing today, Democrats introduced and voted their second proposal, Assembly Bill 566, out of committee with Republicans again voting against it. Lawmakers could vote on the bill in the Assembly as early as tomorrow.

“One of the reasons we’re trying to move this stuff is because we want as much time as possible to consider them,” said Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who noted that the legislative session is scheduled to end soon.

Segerblom said that they did make changes based on what the governor had asked for.

The plan, however, provoked backlash from Republicans, who said their plan has never received a hearing, much less a vote.

Republicans also contended that the Democratic plans still are not fair.

“It doesn’t create enough competitive districts,” said Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson. “We want more competitive districts.”

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, noted that Republicans have not even put their data into the Legislature’s computer system.

“I’m not trying to start a fight here, but the Republican maps are not on the public GIS system,” he said. “I’m just perplexed whey we can’t get this information. I’d love to have this discussion.”

Democrats voted to have the Republican plan hosted on the Legislature’s information system.

The new Democratic proposal includes two solid Democratic-leaning districts, one solid Republican district and one district with a 7 percent Democratic edge.

In a statement released this past Saturday, Sandoval said he did not believe Democrats complied with the federal Voting Rights Act, which guides how states should treat ethnic minorities when drawing political boundaries.

So Democrats created a congressional district three with a 36.72 percent Hispanic population.

This district is represented by Republican Representative Joe Heck, who won by a slim margin over Democratic incumbent Dina Titus during 2010.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who saw the new proposals this morning, said that Heck’s winning margin was “inch deep” in the 2010 election, therefore making it difficult to keep his district Republican.

Compared to their vetoed plan, the Democratic proposal also moves Heck’s district solidly into Clark County, whereas before it had spread north into rural Nevada.

Heck is the only incumbent that Democrats and Republicans are considering as they draw new districts. Former Rep. Dean Heller became Sen. Heller after Sandoval appointed him to replace Sen. John Ensign, who resigned last month. Rep. Shelley Berkley has said she will face Heller in an 2012 election for that Senate seat.

Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned also Nevada one more Congressional District, giving Nevada four Congressional Districts.

In a Republican plan released earlier, Republicans had drawn one congressional district with a majority Hispanic population. They had also created two districts favoring Democratic candidates and two favoring Republican candidates.

New Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD01 675,138 0 31.12 47.33 22.29 13.03 26.28
CD02 675138 0 42.81 35.27 16.6 2.19 20.43
CD03 675137 -1 30.28 47.33 31.33 9.91 36.72
CD04 675138 0 35.27 42.28 19.3 8.99 22.7

Vetoed Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%
*former CD04 in last proposal **CD03 in last proposal

Democrats also offered minor amendments to their vetoed proposals for state Assembly and Senate districts. The governor had said in his veto statement that he thought the Democratic proposals were too skewed toward Democrats.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” Sandoval said in his statement.

Segerblom said he still believes there is time to compromise.

“It’s still early … lots of time to talk and negotiate,” he said.

If Sandoval vetoes this plan, Democrats may still have time to introduce a third proposal. So far, that plan is not yet in the works.

“There is no plan C,” Segerblom said.


Democrats Unveil Tax Plan, Republicans Remain Opposed To Revenue Hikes To Restore Cuts To Sandoval Budget

By Sean Whaley | 4:36 pm May 5th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Legislative Democrats unveiled the elements of their highly anticipated tax plan today, saying they will work every day until the end of the session to craft a proposal that restores many of the cuts in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget without choking off a nascent economic recovery.

“What we do this legislative session will decide the course of our state, not for the next two years, but for a generation,” Assembly Speaker John Oceguera said in his introductory remarks at a town hall event at Western Nevada College. “Everyone here I think agrees that there has to be cuts to our budget, and major reforms, but there has to be a careful balance.”

Democrats still do not have Republican support for their tax proposal, however. GOP lawmaker support is critical to raising any tax or overriding a veto by Sandoval of a tax or fee increase.

Democrats said they briefed Sandoval and Republican lawmakers on their plan today, but received no commitment for support. Sandoval has been unwavering in his opposition to any tax increases to fund the budget, saying the state economy could stagnate with such an added financial burden.

Oceguera and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, both D-Las Vegas, held a town hall on their tax plan, saying the state needs to restore $920 million in cuts to education and health and human services to keep important programs and services funded in the coming two years.

They said another $615 million in new revenue is needed to address “structural” problems with Sandoval’s two-year, $6.1 billion general fund budget, bringing the total new revenue required to $1.5 billion. The structural problems identified by Democrats are the use of one-time funds to balance the current budget, such as the proposal to use $247 million in school district bond reserve funds for school operating costs, which will not be available in the next budget cycle in 2013.

The plan is to extend the sunset on several tax increases approved by the 2009 Legislature to fund the current budget to generate $626 million of the total. This would include an extension of the higher modified business tax on payroll in excess of $250,000.

It also calls for a tax on services of 1 percent to 4 percent. The new tax would exclude some areas such as non-elective medical care, and would allow for the reduction of the sales tax rate by at least 1 percent over four years. It would generate an estimated $300 million.

Finally, Democrats are calling for a “margin tax” on business revenue not to exceed 1 percent and exempting the first $1 million in revenue. As part of this proposal, the current modified business tax on payroll would be phased out over a three-year period. The new tax would generate an estimated $315 million.

The balance of the $1.5 billion would come primarily from the increased revenues projected by the Economic Forum on Monday of about $303 million.

Oceguera said as part of the tax discussion, Democrats are also pushing reforms to public education to generate improved student performance, to the public employees’ retirement system, to collective bargaining and on other issues. If Republicans want to go further on these issues they need to offer specifics, and not call for complete elimination of such long-standing policies as public employee collective bargaining, he said.

Democrats are standing alone with their ambitious tax proposal so far, however.

Describing the meetings with Republican lawmakers, Oceguera said: “There was a lot of questions, it was very civil, there wasn’t any commitments made, but I thought we had a good open dialogue.”

In a formal response to the plan, Republican members of the state Senate said today: “Republican members remain gravely concerned that the proposed taxes, including a brand new tax specifically targeting business, will have a chilling effect on Nevada’s ability to emerge from the ongoing economic recession.”

Sandoval also provide a response to the plan: “We had a frank discussion about our differences of opinion concerning the impact of raising taxes, and I restated my belief that raising taxes in this economy would be a mistake. Nevada is just beginning to demonstrate signs of economic recovery and this proposal would bring job growth to a halt, at a time when we have proven that growing our way out of this crisis can address our budgetary needs. In the last three months, we have been able to restore nearly half a billion dollars to the state budget, including millions for public education.”

Horsford said the Democrat tax plan would help most small businesses by eliminating the payroll tax, which he said is a disincentive on employment and job creation.

“It may have been a good tax when we had an unemployment rate of 4 percent . . . but it is not a viable tax when we have unemployment at the rates that we have today,” he said. “The margin tax is fair, it is equitable, it is broad, it is stable, it is less volatile.”

The tax discussion has ramped up with only four weeks remaining in the 2011 session.

Audio clips:

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says the state budget must be cut, and reforms are needed, but there has to be a balance:

050511Oceguera1 :22 a careful balance.”

Oceguera says GOP was briefed on plan but no commitments were offered:

050511IOceguera2 :16 information up front.”

Oceguera says Republicans need to offer specific policy reforms:

050511Oceguera3 :17 but no substance.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford says eliminating payroll tax would help most small businesses:

050511Horsford1 :21 jobs on line.”

Horsford says the margin tax is superior to payroll tax:

050511Horsford2 :22 is less volatile.”


Democrats Unveil Proposed Congressional District Maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republican Proposed Congressional Districts

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

Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

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

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

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

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

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