Posts Tagged ‘Sen. John Lee’

Legislative Commission OKs Laughlin Incorporation Vote But Lawmakers Could Reject Cityhood In 2013

By Sean Whaley | 3:42 pm March 29th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Legislative Commission voted today to let the residents of Laughlin decide in June on whether they will become Nevada’s next incorporated city.

The 10-2 vote by the panel imposed several conditions, however, including a review by the 2013 Legislature that could delay any incorporation from the July 1, 2013 target date or overrule a favorable vote entirely if it determines it is not financially feasible. Two studies have presented conflicting data on whether it would be financially feasible for the town of about 7,500 on the Colorado River to become a city.

Laughlin. / Photo by Stan Shebs via Wikimedia Commons.

Laughlin is much larger in population than Mesquite, the last city to incorporate in Southern Nevada, in 1984. Mesquite had about 1,200 residents when it incorporated.

The last city to incorporate in Nevada was Fernley, east of Reno, in 2001.

The vote for moving the process forward was 10-2, with Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, voting no.

The additional conditions were included to ensure there would be enough votes on the 12-member commission, comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats, to support moving the incorporation process forward.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said during a discussion of the issue that it was the only way she would support a vote in Laughlin on incorporation.

“I don’t know why for once we can’t do something in a bipartisan manner to help the process move along but yet have a fallback so that we can put that horse back in the gate,” she said.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who heard the Laughlin incorporation bill in his Government Affairs Committee in the 2011 session and supports giving residents the chance to vote on the issue, said the additional protections would allow the vote to go forward. He presented them to the commission as a way to gain support for a vote by Laughlin residents.

“I think it’s going to be one of the more remarkable pieces of legislation for the whole state of Nevada,” he said in testifying before the panel. “But if it doesn’t work this will fall under its own weight, and it’s just the way it’s going to be. And you and I will decertify this community.”

The commission also wants voters to know that there is the potential for their taxes to rise if incorporation moves forward, and so sought to have the pro and con arguments that will be published with the ballot language include that information. The ballot information would also be published in the newspaper to ensure transparency.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said Laughlin residents are likely already aware of the potential tax implications of incorporation.

“I get the idea, although I don’t necessarily agree with it; I understand the concerns that we need to publish so that the folks in Laughlin understand this may require a tax increase,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who also serves as chairman of the commission, said the panel has a fiduciary duty to ensure incorporation is feasible because if a city fails, the financial consequences could be borne by the state as a whole.

The conditions will tighten the process and provide greater guarantees to the public and the state, he said.

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Audio clips:

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said the additional requirements would ensure transparency and gain lawmaker support for a Laughlin vote:

032912Kirkpatrick :12 in the gate.”

Sen. John Lee said the 2013 Legislature will decertify a Laughlin incorporation if necessary:

032912Lee :15 decertify this community.”

Sen. Michael Roberson said Laughlin residents already know their taxes could go up under incorporation:

032912Roberson :15 aware of that.”

Sen. Steven Horsford said lawmakers have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure Laughlin can succeed as a city:

032912Horsford :21 those local governments.”

 

 

Legislative Commission Sets Thursday Vote For Laughlin Incorporation Question

By Sean Whaley | 11:53 am March 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Legislative Commission has scheduled a meeting Thursday to consider the question of whether Laughlin residents should get the chance to vote on incorporating their community.

A number of Laughlin residents have asked the commission to support allowing a vote to go forward on the question in June.

Laughlin. / Photo by Stan Shebs via Wikimedia Commons.

Several state lawmakers, including the three Republican state senators who are members of the commission, asked Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, to take up the incorporation matter after it was tabled at a commission meeting last month.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, also asked the commission to take up the issue.

In an interview earlier this month, Lee said Laughlin is much larger in population than Mesquite, the last city to incorporate in Nevada in 1984. Mesquite had about 1,200 residents when it incorporated, while Laughlin’s population is about 7,500.

“I feel they have every right to pick up their flag and charge forward,” he said. “They’ve jumped through all the hurdles, and even if they get a vote to incorporate, if they financially cannot do it they just won’t be able to. But at least this moves it forward to give these patriots down there a chance to build their own community.”

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, who sponsored the legislation allowing for consideration of incorporation, said earlier this month he supports giving Laughlin residents a chance to decide 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.”

Dave Floodman, president of the nonprofit Laughlin Economic Development Corporation, said 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.

There was some suggestion by Hardy that the Laughlin question was tied to a completely separate issue involving a regulation sought by Secretary of State Ross Miller to allow him to assess a $200 annual fee on many home-based businesses that was also in front of the Legislative Commission on Feb. 15.

An official close to Senate Democrats denied there was any link.

But the issue became moot with approval of the Miller regulation by the Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee to Review Regulations earlier this month. The panel voted 4-2 on party lines with Democrats in support, to approve the regulation, which has now taken effect.

The Clark County Commission previously voted to reject a vote on the Laughlin city hood question.

Study Of Nevada Higher Education Funding Formula Gets Under Way

By Sean Whaley | 4:05 pm November 29th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers, educators and state officials charged with analyzing the funding formula used to support Nevada’s higher education system met for the first time today and finalized a request for proposals for a consultant to help in the review.

The 12 voting members of the Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education have $150,000 to spend on a consultant to assist it in reviewing how the state allocates tax revenue to the eight institutions in the system, including the state’s two universities and four community colleges. The interim study was approved by the 2011 Legislature.

UNLV students. / Courtesy UNLV Photo Services.

Six lawmakers, three appointees by Gov. Brian Sandoval and three appointees by the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education make up the voting members of the study committee. Another four governor appointees are non-voting members.

“I think when you look at the committee sometimes you think that this is a process that is about the system,” said Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “But in truth this is a process that is about providing access and opportunity to the students who want to pursue a higher education in the state of Nevada.”

There are those who believe there are inequities in the higher education funding formula, he said. The panel needs to protect the state’s existing institutions while at the same time, “allowing for the growth, expansion and entrepreneurial nature that we want to see out of our institutions on behalf of our students,” Horsford said.

The funding review also needs to keep in mind the new economic development strategy discussions under way in the state with the recent release of a report from the Brookings Institution and SRI International, he said. Higher education figures prominently in the diversification efforts, Horsford said.

UNLV student government representative Ricardo Cornejo told the panel the need to review higher education funding was the reason he and others from campuses around the state lobbied lawmakers this past session.

“We’re just very excited this process is getting started,” he said. “For us at UNLV, we want to make sure that our students are being adequately supported.”

The higher education funding study was authorized by Senate Bill 374 by Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who during the 2011 legislative session expressed concern about the funding formulas and whether the College of Southern Nevada was being shortchanged.

The bill as originally introduced re-directed some property taxes to the college.

At a hearing on the original bill in March, then student body President John Creedon said the college was being shortchanged by the formula. The universities get more private funding and grants, while CSN has to be low cost and accessible to those who can’t go to another institution, he said.

Lee said at the March hearing that the funding discrepancy was such that a discrimination lawsuit was a possibility.

The measure morphed into the study instead, however. Lee is not serving on the interim study committee but is expected to testify before the panel.

Today’s meeting saw a lengthy discussion on what should be included in the request for proposals to hire a consultant to provide the needed technical information to consider how the formulas might be changed. The RFP will now be advertised so the panel can select a consultant at its next meeting in mid-January.

Consultant proposals are due to the Legislature by Dec. 30.

The panel is required to forward its recommendations to the Legislative Commission prior to the start of the 2013 legislative session.

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Audio clips:

Sen. Steven Horsford says the review is about student access:

112911Horsford :17 state of Nevada.”

UNLV student government representative Ricardo Cornejo says he wants to be sure the college campuses are properly funded:

112911Cornejo :22 here in Nevada.”