Posts Tagged ‘Steven Horsford’

Congressional Candidates in District 3, 4, Discuss Issues In Statewide Televised Debates

By Sean Whaley | 12:04 am October 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Candidates in two of Nevada’s hotly contested Congressional races debated the issues Thursday in separate 30-minute discussions on public television.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., faced off against state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, in the 3rd Congressional race, while Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian debated state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in the race for the newly created 4th Congressional District.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

Heck has a slight lead in the District 3 race in Las Vegas, while Tarkanian has a modest edge in District 4 despite the strong Democratic registration advantage in the district that covers northern Clark County and much of rural Nevada.

Oceguera called the federal Affordable Care Act “a good start” that needs to be expanded, while noting that Heck has voted repeatedly to oppose the measure.

Good elements of the bill include no caps on medical costs and prohibitions on excluding people for preexisting conditions, he said.

Heck, a physician, agreed there are good elements in the bill, but that Congress needs to repeal the law and replace it with a better measure making health insurance affordable for everyone.

On the issue of Social Security, Heck was asked about a comment he made in 2011 but later backed off from when he called the program a “pyramid scheme.” Congress needs to look at a variety of options increase the solvency of Social Security, including looking at raising the retirement age, he said.

“Part of the problem right now is the high unemployment rates under this administration, and we have fewer people paying into the system because they are not working,” he said. “So the first thing to help shore up Social Security is get the economy started, get people back to work, so more people are paying into the system.”

3rd Congressional District candidate John Oceguera.

Oceguera said Heck has repeated the pyramid scheme statement on several occasions, making it clear he wants to privatize it. Oceguera said he would work to preserve and protect the program, not privatize it.

Oceguera was asked about his goal of protecting small business while at the same time supporting the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year. He said the expiration of the tax cuts has to be part of a balanced approach that includes elements such as ending tax cuts for big oil companies and those companies shipping jobs overseas.

Heck said Oceguera voted in the Assembly to raise taxes on business, and the National Republican Congressional Committee has made his legislative record the focus of a campaign spot.

But Oceguera said that vote actually lowered payroll taxes for a majority of Nevada businesses.

The biggest controversy in the 30-minute discussion was an ad being run by Oceguera criticizing Heck, a former state Senator, for votes on a rape crisis center and abortion.

The ad cites Heck’s 2007 vote on a bill funding a crisis center, and also says the Republican tried to restrict access to abortion for victims of rape.

Oceguera said he stands by the ad.

“Congressman Heck’s record on women, women’s health and safety, is clear,” he said. “He voted to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, he voted twice to defund Planned Parenthood. He voted to make it so that the IRS could go in and audit a rape victim to ask them to have them prove that they had been raped.”

Heck said Oceguera’s statements are blatantly false and have been rejected by the media.

“The votes that he references in the Senate were the end of session pork bills that had 30 to 40 different little pet projects, some of which were very reasonable and very worthwhile, but which never received a public hearing,” he said. “I’m into transparency and accountability. If my opponent wants to pass bills and pet projects and pork in the middle of the night, what will he do in Congress?”

In the second debate, Tarkanian spent much of his time criticizing Horsford for what he said were mischaracterizations of his positions.

Horsford said his references to Tarkanian’s positions on Medicare privatization, immigration and other issues are accurate and point out his extreme positions.

Tarkanian said he supported Arizona’s anti-immigration law because the state had a right to do what it thought necessary to protect the health and safety of its residents. Nevada’s elected officials have to review for themselves if such a law is needed here, he said.

Horsford says Congress needs to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Tarkanian criticized Horsford for consistently voting in the Legislature to raise taxes on business.

“He does have a record and it’s a failing record,” he said.

Horsford said he is proud of his record in the Legislature, working across party lines to create jobs and reduce payroll taxes on small business.

“He’s not accurate,” Horsford said. “I have a strong record, he does not.”

He said Tarkanian has run for office four times and been rejected by voters because of his extreme positions.

Tarkanian said Horsford has spent years in the Legislature but has failed to come up with plans to create jobs.


Audio clips:

Rep. Joe Heck says Congress needs to consider changes to preserve the Social Security system:

101112Heck :13 into the system.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says he stands by an ad criticizing Heck’s positions on women’s health and safety:

101112Oceguera :20 had been raped.”


Tarkanian And Horsford Mix It Up In Feisty 4th Congressional District Debate

By Sean Whaley | 9:26 pm October 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Forget the tame, staid, policy driven debates seen in most races in Nevada so far this year.

The debate between Republican Danny Tarkanian and Democrat Steven Horsford for the new 4th Congressional District in northern Clark and several rural Nevada counties was confrontational from the get go tonight on the Ralston Reports television program.

State Senate Majority Leader and CD4 candidate Steven Horsford

Horsford, currently the state Senate majority leader from Las Vegas, and Tarkanian, son of UNV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, mixed it up in the first debate between the two candidates on issues ranging from state tax increases to who will best support the middle class in the House of Representatives.

The 30-minute debate tonight saw a lot of time spent by the candidates in denying characterizations made by their opponents, including an ad from Horsford using Tarkanian’s description of himself as a crazy radical.

Tarkanian said the description of himself was made sarcastically, while Horsford said criticisms of his support for taxes in his service in the Legislature failed to mention that Republicans, including GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, supported the levies as part of a bipartisan compromise.

Horsford said he has a track record as the head of the Culinary Training Academy, which trains people for jobs in the gaming and hospital industry in Las Vegas, in helping reduce Nevada’s highest in the nation unemployment rate.

“It’s what you’ve already done, not just what you talk about doing,” he said. “And that’s the difference between me and my opponent. I’ve actually spent more than 11 years, working in partnership with the private sector, with labor, with the community, helping people get the training that they need.”

In Congress, Horsford said he will push for infrastructure projects that will get the depressed construction industry back to work.

Tarkanian agreed that job creation is the top priority for Congress, but said Horsford’s track record in the state Legislature is one of passing job stifling tax increases instead.

4th Congressional District candidate Danny Tarkanian.

“As a majority up leader, all he did was impose additional taxes on the middle class, for one, let’s say the car registration tax,” he said. “While people can’t afford to pay for their homes, put food on the table for their families, he’s going to double the cost of car registrations for the average Americans.

“He passed a tax bill that doubled the license fee, the business license fees, for business,” Tarkanian said.

In Congress, Tarkanian said he will work to ensure the federal government does not continue to impose costly and burdensome regulations that impede job growth.

Horsford said the tax increases approved in the 2011 Legislature came with GOP support as a way to avoid Draconian cuts to public education.

He cited 25 months of continued growth in Nevada taxable sales as evidence that the tax hikes were not harmful to business.

Horsford defended using the term crazy radical, saying Tarkanian supported the anti-immigration law passed in Arizona even though it would have caused severe economic harm to the Las Vegas convention industry. He said Tarkanian wants to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

Tarkanian said he supported the right of Arizona citizens to deal with illegal immigration, but added that it might not be appropriate for Nevada. Tarkanian also said he has not endorsed the budget plan proposed by GOP Vice Presidential candidate and Rep. Paul Ryan to change Medicare to a voucher plan for younger Americans. He called it a “great start” to an important dialogue on the federal budget.

Tarkanian said Horsford has constantly misrepresented his positions in the race.

“The difference between him and myself was telling in the last statement that he said,” Tarkanian said. “He believes you can pay down the debt by raising taxes on individuals here in our country. Every economist will tell you, if you raise taxes on people in a recession you’re going to lose revenue. It happened when he did it in the state Legislature; it will happen if you do it in Washington, DC.”

Horsford said Tarkanian has never held elective office and so does not know how efforts at compromise work.

“He has never been elected to anything so he doesn’t understand that you have to work together to get things done,” he said.

“My opponent is not being very clear on his position on this, because what he is saying is that it is OK to end, change, modify Medicare, and then to give a tax break to those at the top,” Horsford said. “That is the proposal, and that is what will happen if he is elected to Congress.”

The level of vitriol in the campaign can be seen in ads running in the contest.

Horsford’s ad using Tarkanian’s own words calling himself “one of those crazy radicals” attempts to associate Tarkanian with the conservative Tea Party, including support for such concepts as privatizing social security and eliminating the federal Department of Education.

An ad run on behalf of Tarkanian, funded by the National Republican Congressional Committee, calls Horsford one of the 10 most corrupt candidates running for Congress. The ad cites in part a story the Nevada News Bureau first reported in August 2010 about Horsford seeking contributions from lobbyists and special interest groups for face time with Senate Democrats. Horsford abandoned the concept after it was disclosed by the NNB.

The 4th Congressional District, newly created as a result of redistricting based on the 2010 census, encompasses the northern part of Clark County and parts or all of six rural counties.

The district has a strong Democratic advantage, 131,173 active voters compared to 96,716 Republicans as of the end of September, but a recent poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal gives Tarkanian a slight edge of 45 percent to 42 percent, in part due to his name recognition. There are also 47,000 nonpartisan voters in the district.


Audio clips:

Sen. Steven Horsford says he has a track record of job creation:

100412Horsford1 :14 that they need.”

Horsford says Tarkanian does not support the middle class:

100412Horsford2 :22 elected to Congress.”

Danny Tarkanian says Horsford supported taxes that hurt the middle class:

100412Tarkanian1 :23 fees, for businesses.”

Tarkanian says higher taxes in a recession won’t generate more revenue:

100412Tarkanian2 :14 in Washington, DC.”


Legislative Panel OKs Budget Changes So $3 Million Tourism Contract Can Be Finalized

By Sean Whaley | 4:04 pm August 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A legislative panel today quickly approved budget changes sought by a state agency so it can finalize a $3 million contract with an out-of-state firm to spearhead tourism efforts in Nevada.

Burson-Marsteller, with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, was the unanimous selection of an evaluation committee made up of Nevada tourism professionals. The company will be working with Red Rock Strategies of Las Vegas.

The vote by the Interim Finance Committee came after the changes sought by the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs were delayed by the panel in a first go-round in June. The panel delayed action on the request after Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, questioned if the firm had any knowledge of Nevada.

Tourism agency Director Claudia Vecchio said in previous testimony the firm will work with Nevada officials to market Nevada’s many attractions and is bringing national and international contacts that will benefit the state.

The budget changes were delayed in June at the request of Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas.

Today Carlton said her questions have been answered and her concerns resolved.

The state Board of Examiners, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, approved the $3 million contract with the firm in July after hearing that the selection process was thorough and followed all state rules.

Nineteen firms, eight from in-state and 11 from outside Nevada, submitted proposals to secure the contract. None of the four finalists were from Nevada, a fact which generated some critical comment from at least one Nevada public relations firm.


Audio clip:

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton says her questions about the firm have been resolved:

082312Carlton :28 what’s going on.”



Lawmakers Approve $11.7 Million Plan From Attorney General To Help Homeowners In Foreclosure Crisis

By Sean Whaley | 2:55 pm August 23rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Several lawmakers raised questions today about a proposal put forth by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to spend $33 million over three years on outreach, counseling and legal assistance to homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

The program outlined for the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee (IFC) by Masto is proposed to be the first phase of a plan to use $57 million Nevada received from the country’s five largest banks as part of a national settlement over the mortgage crisis. Nevada received another $30 million in a separate settlement with Bank of America.

Despite the concerns expressed during a lengthy discussion, the vote to approve the program was unanimous.

Photo posted by Gruntzooki via Wikimedia Commons.

The program is expected to provide a one-stop shop for homeowners to get free access to certified counselors and legal assistance if needed so they can access the many programs available to those who qualify.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, expressed concerns that the IFC, made up of the members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees, was being asked to approve a program before it could be evaluated by the full Legislature in 2013.

He also questioned whether the $33 million in expenditures for the services outlined by Masto was the best use for the money rather than getting it directly into the hands of homeowners in need.

Concerns were also expressed by a number of other Republican members of the IFC about aspects of the proposal.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, questioned if the IFC even had the legal authority to implement such a major policy decision.

“I mean, if this was a proposal that came to the Legislature, we would have days of hearings on it in multiple chambers,” he said. “This is a, I think, major policy decision about how we’re addressing one of the most significant problems facing the people of this state and it’s being made by a small subset of the legislative body and there are voters in this state who are disenfranchised from making this decision.”

But the Legislative Counsel said it was appropriate and similar actions have been taken in the past by the committee.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the program outlined by Masto will help distressed Nevada homeowners access $25 billion available nationwide that will be doled out on a first-come, first-served, basis. Failing to get the program started now could mean that Nevada homeowners, among those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, will not get their share of those funds, he said.

The debate over the $33 million is missing the big picture, Horsford said.

The approval today was only for the first year’s worth of funding of $11.7 million. The $10.8 million in years two and three will be part of the Attorney General’s proposed budget for the 2013-15 biennium that will be reviewed by lawmakers in 2013.

The first year budget includes $9.4 million for public outreach and access to HUD-certified counselors. Another nearly $1.2 million will go to Nevada Legal Services and the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to provide assistance to homeowners. Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley is executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Nearly $570,000 will be spent on expanding an existing call center operated by the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation (NAHAC), a non-profit arm of the Nevada Housing Division. Just under $500,000 will go to the Attorney General’s office for staff and expenses to investigate mortgage fraud and administer the entire program.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, expressed concerns about the funding for the legal aid, questioning if the money would be used to commence new legal actions against the banks on behalf of specific distressed homeowners. Her concerns were echoed by Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka.

Masto assured lawmakers the spending on legal aid will be used to assist homeowners, not initiate lawsuits.

“This is not about giving legal aid so they can go out and start suing,” she said. “This is actually about providing relief to the homeowners who are distressed. There’s a lot of legal issues they may deal with beyond just suing the banks. And that’s what legal aid provides.”

Despite the concerns lawmakers agreed the urgency of the situation required their action.

“We do need to get the ball rolling,” Goicoechea said. “It isn’t doing us any good in this state to have people living in homes, not making any type of mortgage payment on it, destroying that home, and the bank doesn’t have the ability to foreclose it, can’t get the certification in place, and it isn’t doing our state or our economy any good.”

The funds to be used for the program were paid by the banks to settle state and federal investigations into robo-signing allegations.


Audio clips:

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer says the major policy decision should be made by the entire Legislature:

082312Kieckhefer :26 making this decision.”

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea says that while he has concerns, the state needs to take action:

082312Goicoechea :17 economy any good.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says the legal aid funds won’t be used to sue the banks:

082312Masto :13 legal aid provides.”


Deferred Action Program To Begin Accepting Applications Wednesday, 23,300 Potentially Eligible In Nevada

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:30 pm August 13th, 2012

CARSON CITYThe U.S. Department of Homeland Security will officially begin accepting applications Wednesday for “deferred action” from young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who meet other specific requirements.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

There are an estimated 23,300 potential beneficiaries of the program in Nevada, with a large majority, 18,570, from Mexico, according to estimates from the Immigration Policy Center (IPC).

The IPC estimates there are approximately 1.4 million immigrants currently in the United States who might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative, either now or when they are older.

The IPC is releasing an updated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: A Q&A Guide outlining the basic facts about the initiative, including eligibility requirements and important information on process and timing.

The IPC also recently released estimates on who is eligible and where they live in its fact sheet, “Who and Where the DREAMers Are: A Demographic Profile of Immigrants Who Might Benefit from the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action Initiative.” This analysis breaks down the population potentially eligible for deferred action by nationality and age at the national and state level, as well as the Congressional District level.

The report shows there are 11,630 potential beneficiaries in the 1st Congressional District in Nevada currently represented by Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. An estimated 7,300 beneficiaries aged 15- to 30-years-old are immediately eligible, with another 4,330 future beneficiaries now aged 5- to 14-years old.

There are 5,130 estimated beneficiaries in the 2nd Congressional District represented by Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., with 3,390 eligible now and 1,740 eligible in the future.

There are 6,540 estimated beneficiaries in the 3rd Congressional District represented by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., with 4,360 immediately eligible and 2,180 eligible in the future.

The action by the Obama Administration has become a campaign issue in the new 4th Congressional District in Nevada, with Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian calling it a ploy for Hispanic votes and state Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, supporting the action.

The Legal Action Center (LAC) has released a practice advisory analyzing DHS guidance regarding the eligibility criteria and application process for the initiative. It also offers strategic advice for attorneys representing individuals who may qualify for deferred action under this initiative. The LAC issued this advisory jointly with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on June 15 announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria, will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.

Napolitano said the deferred action program will offer the young immigrants two-year work permits and not deport them as a temporary measure until the country’s immigration policies could be changed with the adoption of the DREAM Act.

The IPC, established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council. The IPC says its mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration.

$3 Million Tourism Contract Approved By State Board, Funding Still In Limbo

By Sean Whaley | 2:14 pm July 13th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The state Board of Examiners today approved a $3 million contract with an out-of-state firm to spearhead tourism efforts in Nevada after being told the selection process was thorough and fair.

The board, with members Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto voting, approved the two-year contract with the California-based offices of Burson-Marsteller.

Approval came despite the fact that the contract remains in limbo. The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee in June delayed approval of budgetary changes sought by the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs needed to pay the contract.

The budget changes were deferred after state Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, a candidate for the 4th Congressional District seat, questioned if the firm had any knowledge of Nevada. The Interim Finance Committee won’t meet again until Aug. 23.

Sandoval said he was satisfied that the selection process was proper. He also noted that Nevada has some preferences for Nevada firms competing for contracts, but that the provisions did not come into play to the selection process.

If there was a tie, for example, then a Nevada firm would get the nod, but there was no tie in this case.

“I’m confident in the process,” Sandoval said after the vote. “I think that it was a well-vetted process that was consistent with what the state has always done. It was consistent with the law. There was a committee that was comprised of both private sector experts in the area as well as experts within the state of Nevada that fairly graded each of the applicants.”

Nineteen firms, eight from in-state and 11 from outside Nevada, submitted proposals to secure the contract.

“I think that the entity that was selected will do well for the state of Nevada,” Sandoval said.

Claudia Vecchio, director of the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, along with Greg Smith, state administrator and chief procurement officer of the Nevada State Purchasing Division, reviewed the selection process for the board.

The request for proposals was handled like any other such contract, with no special treatment provided to any firm, Smith said.

Vecchio defended the contract and selection process at the Interim Finance Committee meeting, noting that none of the four finalists were from Nevada, a fact which generated comment from at least one Nevada public relations firm.

Burson-Marsteller, with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, was the unanimous selection of an evaluation committee made up of Nevada tourism professionals, Vecchio said. The company will be working with Red Rock Strategies out of Las Vegas, she said.

The contract has been drawn up and signed by both parties, but it remains contingent upon approval of state officials.

Vecchio said the firm will provide national and international contacts that will benefit the state.


Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the selection process was fair and followed the law:

071312Sandoval :19 of the applicants.”



Gov. Sandoval Says Effect Unclear On Nevada Medicaid, Delegation, Candidates Weigh In On Affordable Care Ruling

By Sean Whaley | 11:04 am June 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding much of the Affordable Care Act on the state’s Medicaid program remain unclear.

“The implications for Medicaid costs are still unclear, but Nevada will prepare to meet the serious financial implications of this decision,” he said in a statement shortly after the court ruled.

The court said in the ruling today that states could not be penalized if they did not go along with the Medicaid provisions in the law.

In an interview today on the Nevada NewsMakers program as the decision was announced, Sandoval said his intention would be not to opt in to the Medicaid expansion because of the costs to the state.

“And as I have said all along, that if that component had been found constitutional, it would cost us $60 million in this budget and $100 million in future budgets,” he said in the interview. “We can’t afford that. And to make that decision and to opt into that program, would mean that I would have to look at cutting education, at other what I think are untenable outcomes. So as I sit here today, it wouldn’t be my intention for this state to opt in.”

A statement from Sandoval’s office issued later in the day said the decision indicates states will have an option to expand Medicaid, but, “additional guidance is needed in order to understand the penalties for not expanding the Medicaid program and we must determine if there are savings to the general fund by shifting existing costs to the federal government. We will continue to examine today’s opinion to fully understand its implications.

“Therefore, given what we know today, the governor does not intend to automatically accept the Medicaid expansion,” the statement said. “These serious budgetary implications, including the impact on education spending, require further analysis – not just of the next biennial budget but of the long-term costs. Further information will be provided as the budgeting process unfolds over the next few months.”

In his initial statement on the ruling, Sandoval also said: “I believe the Congress should act to reform this law and ease the serious burdens it places on the states and the nation’s businesses. The American people remain deeply divided on the wisdom of this law and they are still entitled to see it changed.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he too wants to see the law changed.

U.S. Supreme Court.

“This law has now been affirmed as a colossal tax increase on the middle class, and its excessive regulations are stripping businesses of the certainty they need to hire at a time when Nevadans and the rest of the country are desperate for jobs,” he said. “The president should work with Congress to find real solutions to healthcare reform so the excessive mandates and taxes in this law do not further add to our national debt or continue to stifle economic growth.

“This onerous law needs to be repealed and replaced with market-based reforms that will provide greater access, affordability, and economic certainty to our nation,” Heller said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the matter is now settled.

“It’s time for Republicans to stop refighting yesterday’s battles,” he said.

“I’m pleased to see the Supreme Court put the rule of law ahead of partisanship, and ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional,” Reid said. “Passing the Affordable Care Act was the greatest single step in generations toward ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for every American – regardless of where they live or how much money they make.

“No one thinks this law is perfect,” Reid said. “But Democrats have proven we’re willing to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said the ruling doesn’t make the health care act a good law.

“This is still the same flawed bill that was forced through Congress on a party line vote in the dead of night with special interest provisions like the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ and the ‘Louisiana Purchase’,” he said. “And today we have learned that the law amounts to a huge tax increase on the American people in a struggling economy. We know that a majority of Americans think the law should be repealed and that it will increase health care costs, reduce access to care and add to our deficit.

“Instead of injecting more government into our health care system, our focus should be on patients, especially our seniors who rely on access to quality health care,” Heck said. “Our system is working for most Americans and it can work for all Americans through common sense reforms like moving insurance coverage towards an individual-based model, increasing competition by allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, incentivizing the purchase of insurance through tax credits, and letting people, not the government, decide what services they need and want.

“The Supreme Court had their word on June 28, but the American people will have the final word on November 6,” Heck said.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera said it is time to refocus on jobs.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who is challenging Heck in the 3rd Congressional District, said: “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it’s time that those in Washington moved on from trying to score political points instead of finding solutions. This decision doesn’t change the reality that too many Nevada families and small businesses are struggling to pay for the rising costs of health care.

“One thing we know for sure, if Washington politicians don’t stop the bickering and finger pointing and focus on what matters – creating jobs and getting our economy back on track – nothing will get done,” he said. “This shouldn’t be about politics – it should be about getting something done.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said it is time to repeal the law.

“Advocates for Washington-based management of health care and unprecedented tax increases on the middle class won today,” he said. “However, I will continue to work for patient-centered solutions, reductions in health care costs, and improving health care access for all Nevadans.

“I look forward to the opportunity to vote the week of July 9 for full repeal of this harmful government intrusion into health care,” Amodei said. “Congress created this mess and it’s our responsibility to clean it up. We owe it to the middle class to give them specific, well-thought out options focusing on portability of insurance across state lines and affordability, while not interfering with the patient-doctor relationship.

“This 2,700-page monster offends seniors, veterans, middle class families and employers,” he said. “I will continue to take every opportunity to repeal and address this mess for Nevadans in a practical way without picking political winners and losers.”

State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he was pleased with the ruling.

In a campaign email, the 4th Congressional Democratic candidate said: “Today’s decision is a victory for those with pre-existing conditions, for women who now don’t have to pay more than men for care, and for Nevada seniors who will save on prescription drugs.

“Now Republicans in the House are scheduling a vote to repeal the health care law, instead of working on a jobs bill,” Horsford said. “The Republican Congress needs to stop playing political games and start working on getting our economy moving and creating jobs for Nevadans.”

GOP Congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian said the law needs to be repealed.

The candidate for the 4th Congressional seat said: “I have consistently stood against Obamacare and remain committed to its full repeal. Rather, we need to press forward with legislation that will extend the same tax incentives that businesses receive for providing health insurance to individuals who purchase their own plans. We need to get serious about tort reform and stabilize Medicare reimbursement rates. We need to make insurance portable and purchasable across state lines.

“When they should be focusing on promoting economic growth and creating jobs, Democrats insist instead on ramming through job-killing policies that increase taxes on Americans, like Obamacare,” Tarkanian said.

There was no immediate response from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

A big issue for Nevada is what the ruling means to the state’s Medicaid program.

The head of Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services said in May that as many as 150,000 more residents will be eligible for Medicaid coverage if the state has to comply with the Medicaid provisions. Bringing new residents onto the rolls was estimated to cost the state an estimated $574 million between now and 2020, said HHS Director Mike Willden.


Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says it would not be his decision to opt into the Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act:

062812Sandoval :24 to opt in.”



Tarkanian Campaign Says FEC Complaint Filed By Democrats An Attempt To Distract Voters

By Sean Whaley | 7:32 am June 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Danny Tarkanian for Congress campaign says a complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission by the Nevada State Democratic Party is inaccurate and an effort to distract voters from their own failures.

“At a time when Nevadans are suffering under the weight of 11.6 percent unemployment and the nation as a whole awaits any sign of improvement in our struggling economy, Nevada Democrats and their liberal candidate, Steven Horsford, are trying to distract voters from their own failures on the economy and jobs by lobbing patently false attacks against the surging Republican candidate for Nevada’s Congressional District 4, Danny Tarkanian,” a statement from the campaign said.

Danny Tarkanian, candidate for Congress.

“For example, on the eve of the historic Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, Steven Horsford and Nevada Democrats are not trying to defend the merits of this overreaching and failed government program,” the statement said.

The campaign said one of the claims by the Democratic Party in the complaint, that he accepted an illegal $2,500 contribution above the legal limit from DeWayne Zinkin, is in error.

“In fact, had the Democrats paid attention to the details here, they would have seen that the contribution in question was in fact two separate donations from a father and his son,” the statement said. “It is this level of inattention from Washington Democrats that has led our economy to spiral out of control and jobs in Nevada to become harder to find – it is no wonder Steven Horsford is trying to shift attention from those facts.

“This repetitive and inaccurate line of attack is not only a symptom of Steven Horsford’s desperation and lack of faith in his own ideas, but a perfect example of why Nevada voters need, want, and prefer Danny Tarkanian to be their next Congressman,” the statement said.

Tarkanian won the June 12 Republican primary and now faces state Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in the November general election in the new congressional district created as the result of the U.S. Census.

The Democratic Party filed its complaint on Wednesday.

Lawmakers Criticize State Agencies For Seeking To Move Funds From Positions To Equipment

By Sean Whaley | 1:02 pm June 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford said today he is disappointed that a number of state agencies are seeking to divert funds intended to fill vacant jobs to other purposes, including the purchase of vehicles, computers and furniture.

He accused them of “gaming the system” by seeking to shift their budget priorities one year after the Legislature adjourned and as the 2012 fiscal year comes to a close June 30.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“Now, a year later from us adjourning, we have agencies here requesting to move money from the personnel category, because you have been unable to fill the vacancies, for whatever reason, and now you want to spend it on furniture, on computers, on vehicles that you did not request or that you did not justify during the budget process,” Horsford said. “And I have to say, I take offense to that.”

Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he would be voting against all of the requests. He made the statement as the meeting of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee began. The committee meets in-between legislative sessions to approve changes in state agency budgets.

Horsford was joined in his concerns by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, a lawmaker who has typically been on the other side of issues with the Democrat during their years together in the state Senate. Horsford is running for the 4th Congressional seat that Cegavske had also sought as a Republican. She lost in the June 12 primary to Danny Tarkanian.

“And I am in whole-hearted agreement with you; will be voting against anything that is reverting those funds from what was positions that were asked for and they are saying they can’t fill,” Cegavske said. “One of the areas I’m really concerned about is whether or not they really tried to fill them.”

Horsford said if agency administrators knew they could not or chose not to fill positions reviewed by the Legislature in the 2011 session, the money could have been put to other critical needs.

“Because had we known that you didn’t need some of these positions, we could have made the decision to eliminate them at that time and then use that money in other priority areas of state government,” he said. “We have teachers being laid off, we have children not being served in developmental programs like early intervention services, we have people being turned away from our mental health hospitals, and we could have used this money.”

The first agency up for a request was the Taxicab Authority, which sought nearly $319,000 to relocate its Las Vegas office and purchase new furnishings and equipment.

Lawmakers asked why, if the agency knew its lease was expiring last fall, the idea of a move was not brought to the 2011 Legislature.

The Taxicab Authority staff testifying at the meeting have only recently joined the agency and had no information on why it was not addressed in the session. Charles Harvey took over as administrator of the agency in May, 2011. The session ended in early June, 2011.

The request was deferred to the next IFC meeting.

Horsford said he hopes that the new performance-based budgeting process being used to develop the next two-year budget for consideration in the 2013 session will address these issues.

“Because you should not automatically get funding for positions that you didn’t even fill in the last biennium as agencies,” he said.


Audio clips:

Sen. Steven Horsford says he is offended at the attempt by agencies to move funds from personnel to equipment purchases:

062112Horsford11 :30 offense to that.”

Horsford says if the positions were not needed the money could have been put to critical state needs:

062112Horsford2 :26 used this money.”

Sen. Barbara Cegavske says she questions if agencies even tried to fill the positions:

062112Cegavske :17 to fill them.”



Legislative Panel Takes First Step Toward Repealing Antiquated State Laws

By Sean Whaley | 1:32 pm May 30th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Two years ago it was the metric system. Now it’s communists.

The Legislative Commission today took the first step towards repealing several antiquated statutes, including a provision of state law dating to the “Red Scare” days of the 1950s directed at the Communist Party.

The statute, NRS 613.360, is titled “Actions permitted against member of Communist Party or related organization.” It says that an unlawful employment practice “does not include any action or measure taken by an employer, labor organization, joint labor-management committee or employment agency with respect to an individual who is a member of the Communist Party of the United States or of any other organization required to register as a Communist-action or Communist-front organization by final order of the Subversive Activities Control Board pursuant to the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950.”

Original work by Eureka287, vector work by Lasse Havelund via Wikimedia Commons.

Scott Young, a research analyst for the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the section was dependent in part upon the federal statute, the Subversive Activities Control Act, the provisions of which have either been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court or repealed by Congress. As a result, the state law no longer has any force or effect, he said.

It is also known as the McCarran Act for then-Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran, D-Nev.

“This is essentially a relic from the Cold War when there was concern about activities of the Communist Party and undermining freedoms in the West,” Young said.

The statute was one of five provisions recommended for repeal by the 2013 Legislature based on a state law requiring a biennial review of state statutes to look for outdated and antiquated laws. The recommendations were based on the requirements of the law, NRS 220.085, and do not reflect any advocacy by legislative staff.

Another statute recommended for repeal created the Columbia Basin Interstate Compact Commission in 1951. The compact was never adopted by the states of Washington and Oregon, Young said. There is no likelihood the statute will ever become useful, he said. Nevada was originally included because the Owyhee River is a tributary of the Snake River, which in turn is a tributary of the Columbia, Young said.

The Legislative Commission voted to move forward with the bills needed to repeal the obsolete provisions of state law.

“It’s good to get rid of some obsolete statutes,” said commission Chairman Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas.

Two years ago the Legislative Commission agreed to introduce a bill to repeal the statute creating the state’s Advisory Council on the Metric System. The bill was passed in the 2011 legislative session.

The seven-member council was created in 1981 when the federal government was moving forward with a program of getting the states to convert to the metric system. Congress in 1975 passed the Metric Conversion Act to plan for the conversion. That effort was derailed in 1982 when President Ronald Reagan eliminated funding for the conversion effort.


Audio clips:

Legislative analyst Scott Young says the Communist Party law dates to 1950:

053012Young1 :23 Act of 1950.”

Young says the law no longer has any force and effect:

053012Young2 :14 force and effect.”


Republican Candidates For New 4th Congressional District Focus Mostly On Issues In Debate

By Sean Whaley | 8:39 pm May 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Three of the Republicans seeking the right to challenge state Democratic Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford for Nevada’s new 4th Congressional District seat sought to establish their conservative credentials in a televised debate today.

Barbara Cegavske, in the middle of her final four-year term in the state Senate, Danny Tarkanian, who has run for elective office on several occasions including a campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010, and Dan Schwartz, a businessman and attorney fresh to the political arena, are seeking a victory in the June 12 primary to advance to the November general election.

In a televised debate on the Face To Face television program, the candidates took the opportunity to sell themselves  voters.

The debate was fairly subdued, without any real fireworks among the three candidates.

The sharpest attack came when Schwartz’s television ad was aired, which criticized Tarkanian for running repeatedly for a “taxpayer funded” job. Schwartz called himself a job creating businessman and a constitutional conservative in the spot.

Dan Schwartz.

“The question is, he’s run three times and Nevadans have said they’ve considered it, they just haven’t pulled the lever,” Schwartz said in commenting on his ad.

Cegavske said she would examine the federal budget line-by-line to find savings in an effort to achieve her campaign goal of cutting $1 trillion in federal spending in her first year in office. The U.S. Department of Education would be the place to start with the Commerce Department second, she said.

“You can go through all the agencies, and if you start looking through each one, you bring that money back to the states, give block granting, and you can cut administration,” she said.

Tarkanian offered some specifics on what he would do if elected, pointing to flaws in the Endangered Species Act and potential protections for the Sage Grouse that are stifling job growth in Nevada.

“Everywhere I go in rural Nevada, everywhere I go in the Mesquite area, they complain that if you are on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and you want to get a mine started, if you want to do anything on BLM land, it takes seven to 10 years to get it processed through the federal government,” he said.

Danny Tarkanian.

The same process takes three to five years at the state level, Tarkanian said.

“Why does it take almost twice as long in the federal government when Nevada needs jobs. We should make it easier for people to get permitted,” he said.

Tarkanian also said his proposal for tax fairness means eliminating tax loopholes and tax breaks and lowering the income tax rate for average Americans.

The three candidates agreed with Gov. Brian Sandoval that Internet purchases should be subjected to the state sales tax. Sandoval recently reached an agreement with Amazon to collect the tax on Nevada purchases. Their positions conflict, however, with U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck, both R-Nev., who oppose the so-called Main Street Protection Act.

The three candidates agreed for the need to repeal the federal health care law, but they also argued that worthwhile elements, such as providing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, should be continued independently.

Tarkanian said his biggest concern with the law is the cost to the state’s Medicaid program, which cannot be afforded. The health care system can be strengthened by allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines and by providing for the portability of health insurance plans, he said.

Cegavske said the law has to be repealed in its entirety as the first step.

Barbara Cegavske.

“And anything that is salvageable or people think is good then you can bring those issues back,” she said. “We don’t have the money to pay for Obamacare.”

Schwartz said repeal is necessary although there are some elements worth preserving such as letting children stay on their parents insurance through age 26.

Then the real problems have to be addressed such as how hospitals are paid, he said.

“Another real problem is that we as Americans all feel entitled to health care,” Schwartz said. “And we just can’t continue with a system that just says you can get whatever you want.”

Tarkanian is leading in the fundraising race for the primary, while long-time state lawmaker Cegavske has been endorsed by Nevada’s two GOP Congressional representatives: Mark Amodei and Joe Heck. Cegavske served with both men in the state Senate.

The Republican candidate faces a challenge in the district, however, newly created as a result of the 2010 census. The district, which includes parts of urban Clark County and much of central rural Nevada, has a Democratic voter edge.

Through April, there were 111,978 active Democrats registered in the district, compared to 89,182 Republicans, for a 44 percent to 35.1 percent for Republicans. There are also 39,273 nonpartisan voters.


Audio clips:

Sen. Barbara Cegavske says federal spending can be slashed using block grants:

052112Cegavske1 :18 cut his budget.”

Cegavske says Nevada cannot afford the federal health care law:

052112Cegavske2 :12 pay for Obamacare.”

Candidate Dan Schwartz says Danny Tarkanian has failed to win the support of Nevada voters in past campaigns:

052112Schwartz1 :05 pulled the lever.”

Schwartz says federal health care costs must be curtailed:

052112Schwartz2 :27 whatever you want.”

Candidate Danny Tarkanian says federal permitting rules need to be streamlined:

052112Tarkanian1 :24 to get permitted.”

Tarkanian says the federal health care law will bankrupt the state:

052112Tarkanian2 :16 health care system.”


Nevada 2012 Political Races Crystallize As Candidate Filing Period Ends

By Sean Whaley | 5:42 pm March 16th, 2012

(Updated to reflect that one of the Senate races in play is District 18, not District 19.)

CARSON CITY – After months of prognostications and political maneuvering, Nevada’s 2012 election season crystallized today as the state’s two-week filing period for public office came to a close.

Next up: A June 12 primary followed by the Nov. 6 general election, which will see a lengthy ballot topped by the presidential race, a competitive U.S. Senate race and four congressional contests.

Also at stake is control of the state Legislature, particularly the state Senate, where Democrats have a razor thin 11-10 majority.

Nevada is a battleground state in the presidential contest, a state President Obama won in 2008. Turnout for the presidential race is expected to have a major impact on “down ballot” races.

As evidence of Nevada’s importance, President Obama is making another trip to Southern Nevada on Wednesday to tour a Boulder City solar facility.

A number of minor party and independent candidates are vying for a number of elective offices as well.

The U.S. Senate race will see primaries for both parties, with incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., facing a handful of challengers. Heller was appointed to the Senate in May by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of John Ensign.

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

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is challenging Heller for the seat, also faces several Democrat challengers.

In the 1st Congressional District in urban Las Vegas, where former Democrat Rep. Dina Titus is viewed as the favorite to succeed Berkley, there are no other filed Democrats. Several Republicans have filed for the seat as well.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who won the seat in a special election in September 2011, is also the favorite to win a full term. He has no GOP opponents. Several Democrats have also filed for the seat.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., faces a challenge from Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas. Heck is seeking a second term. Other candidates representing both parties have also filed.

In the 4th Congressional District, created by Nevada’s population increase based on the 2010 census, Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, is the only Democrat, while a crowded field of Republicans, including state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, and Danny Tarkanian, have filed.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Twelve state Senate seats are in play in the 2012 elections, and Democrats and Republicans expect a fierce battle to win control of the 21-member body.

There are several Senate races that could affect the balance of power, and the two major parties have already picked their candidates in most of the contests:

- Senate District 5, where former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk, a Republican, faces Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse. Republican Annette Teijeiro is also a candidate in the race.

- Senate District 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison is facing businessman and Democrat Benny Yerushalmi. Thomas Welsh is also a Democrat in the race.

- Senate District 9, where Republican Mari Nakashima St. Martin faces Democrat Justin Jones. Brent Jones is also a GOP candidate, and Frederick Conquest has filed as a Democrat.

- Senate District 15, where incumbent Greg Brower, R-Reno, faces former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who resigned her Senate 13 seat to challenge the attorney who was appointed to fill out the term of the late Sen. Bill Raggio.

- Senate District 18, where Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, faces Democrats Kelli Ross and Donna Schlemmer. The Democrat Senate caucus has not yet endorsed in this race. Assemblyman Richard McArthur, R-Las Vegas, and Republican Conrad Vergara, have also filed.

Early today, a number of state senate candidates were unopposed. By 5 p.m., however, showing how competitive the two parties are, every race had at least two candidates.

The Assembly is less likely to see a switch away from Democrat control.

While Assembly Republicans see an opportunity to make gains on Democrats in the 2012 general election, they have an uphill battle with only 16 of 42 seats currently.

A few Assembly incumbents ended up running unopposed, including Republicans Ira Hansen in District 32, Pat Hickey in District 25, Tom Grady in District 38 and John Ellison in District 33, all of which are in northern Nevada.

In Clark County, Democrats Marilyn Kirkpatrick in District 1, Harvey Munford in District 6, Oliva Diaz in District 11, Richard Carillo in District 18, and Republican  John Hambrick in District 2, also face no opponents.

More than 230 candidates filed for various offices in Clark County.

Dozens more filed with the Secretary of State, Washoe County and with election officials in the other counties around the state.

One potential candidate who opted not to run is Republican Sharron Angle, a former member of the state Assembly who ran against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2010.

Instead Angle announced on her website that she is going to produce a documentary on voter fraud, a statement that prompted a response from Secretary of State Ross Miller, who oversaw the 2010 Nevada general election where Reid handily beat Angle.

“Our multi-jurisdictional Election Integrity Task Force has always aggressively investigated any leads and successfully prosecuted election law violations,” Miller said in response to media requests for comment. “However, we can’t send out our investigators until we have basic information about what crime may have been committed, when it happened and who may have been involved. The unsupported fraud claims on Ms. Angle’s campaign website don’t give us enough information to even open up a case file.

Nevada Political Season Gets Under Way Today With Dozens Of Candidates Filing For Office

By Sean Whaley | 6:21 pm March 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – There was a flurry of candidates filing for office and some political maneuvering today as Nevada’s 2012 election season officially got under way.

Over 90 candidates filed for a variety of offices in Clark County.

Another 17 filed with the Secretary of State’s office and others filed in their respective counties around the state.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces a strong challenge from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., filed in Carson City for election to a full term in the Senate. He was appointed to the position in May by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Berkley is expected to file next week.

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

Dozens of other candidates filed on the first day of the two-week filing period, including Danny Tarkanian, a Republican who is seeking the newly created 4th Congressional District seat in portions of Clark County and rural Nevada.

And state Senate Republicans, looking to win back a majority in the 21-seat Senate for the 2013 legislative session, backed a new candidate for Senate District 9 in Clark County to replace Elizabeth Halseth, a Republican who resigned in mid-term.

Las Vegas physician Vick Gill, who had earlier this month announced as the GOP candidate for the seat, withdrew from the race, paving the way for third-generation Nevadan Mari Nakashima St. Martin to run for the seat instead.

Republicans need to hold on to the Senate 9 seat if they are to win the majority. Democrats have an 11-10 edge and are fielding a slate of candidates with the goal of maintaining control of the Senate for a third consecutive legislative session.

“I am running for the state Senate not just as a concerned citizen but as a new mom,” St. Martin said in announcing her candidacy. “I know our city, our state and many of the residents of the 9th district have seen some hard times in the last few years but I want my daughter to experience the opportunity and growth of the Nevada I knew growing up.”

St. Martin graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and currently works for a local small business as a sales and community outreach representative. Her past experience includes working as communication director for Congressman Joe Heck’s campaign, communication director for the Nevada Republican Party and as an aide in Washington, DC to Heller when he represented Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.

Justin Jones, a Democrat, also filed for the Senate 9 seat today.

In a statement released on his filing, Tarkanian said a December poll shows him as the clear front-runner in a Republican primary for the seat and one who can beat expected Democrat candidate Steven Horsford, currently the state Senate majority leader. Several other Republicans, including state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, are expected to file as well. Cegavske has a major fund-raiser set for this Friday in Las Vegas and another tomorrow in Washington, DC.

“Nevada needs to refuel its economy through job creation, innovation and deregulation,” Tarkanian said. “By utilizing the resources Nevada has at her very fingertips, we can infuse new business into our economy and revitalize dormant industries; all while saving taxpayer dollars.”

The U.S. Senate race saw other candidates file as well today, including former university regent Nancy Price, a Democrat.

The primary election will be on June 12 to select one candidate from each party to appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. If only one candidate files from a party, that candidate automatically appears on the general election ballot.

The general election will see races from U.S. President on down to local Nevada races.

Former State Sen. Bill Raggio, Lion Of Nevada Politics, Dead At 85

By Sean Whaley | 9:46 am February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Bill Raggio, a lion of Nevada politics and the state’s longest-serving state senator, passed away during a trip to Australia on Thursday. He was 85.

Officials from around the state expressed sorrow and sympathy for Raggio’s family when news of the loss of the highly-regarded lawmaker was first reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston early today.

Longtime family friend Greg Ferraro told Ralston: “Officially, Bill Raggio passed away last night at 10pm PST of respiratory illness in Sydney Australia. Funeral arrangements are pending.”

Raggio was traveling with his wife, Dale.

Raggio was first elected to the state Senate in November 1972, serving in 19 regular and 13 special sessions. He resigned in mid-term in January of 2011 citing health issues.

But Raggio had lost his leadership position in the Senate Republican Caucus after the November, 2010 general election. He had rankled some of his fellow Republicans by supporting U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s re-election bid over GOP rival Sharron Angle.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said he will order flags to half-staff on the day of his funeral.

“Sen. Raggio’s career exemplified the very best of public service,” Sandoval said. “His dedication to law and order, higher education, and the fiscal health of this great state spanned literally decades of Nevada history and touched the lives of tens of thousands of Nevadans. I have said before that if there was a Mount Rushmore of Nevada politics, Bill Raggio’s image would forever be carved there.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who served with Raggio in the state Senate, said: “This is the end of an era in Nevada. Bill was an icon of legislative public service and it was a privilege to serve with him in the state Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who helped induct Raggio into the state Senate Hall of Fame in the 2011 legislative session, said: “From his service as a District Attorney to becoming one of the longest serving legislators in Nevada history, Sen. Raggio always put the people of Nevada first. Nevada has truly lost one of its finest statesmen.”

At his hall of fame induction ceremony, Raggio said he never imagined that he would serve 10 terms in the state Senate, but that in retrospect, he realized he spent nearly half of his life in the Legislature.

“As I said we’ve had tough times, and we’ve had some serious issues that we’ve had to deal with,” he said. “And obviously we’ve often disagreed. But in the end I always felt that the final result was in the best interest of the state of Nevada and I was privileged to be a part of that process.”

Raggio said his highest honor was earning his Eagle badge as a Boy Scout, but that his induction in the Senate Hall of Fame, “ranks right up there.”

He was known to work across the aisle with Democrats to resolve contentious issues and bring legislative sessions to an end.

Raggio was highly regarded by lawmakers in both parties. He was also greatly appreciated by the Nevada Capital press corps for his sharp wit and outspoken nature on issues from education reform to tax policy.

His thorough knowledge of the legislative process was also legendary, and he used it to his advantage at every opportunity.

Raggio also had a great sense of humor and enjoyed kidding members of the press corps on a regular basis.

Raggio was known for “borrowing” $20 from colleagues and anyone else he could convince to hand over the cash, particularly lobbyists. Needless to say, the $20 was never returned.

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.