Posts Tagged ‘Tick Segerblom’

Interim Lawmaker Panel OKs Drafting Resolution To Provide For Study Of Legislature, Including Pay, Annual Sessions

By Sean Whaley | 4:18 pm August 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A legislative panel today voted to seek a resolution in the 2013 session to authorize the creation of a public commission to study the operation of the Legislature and make recommendations on issues ranging from lawmaker pay to moving to annual sessions.

The Legislative Commission’s Committee To Study the Structure and Operations of the Nevada Legislature voted to pursue such a review, which has not occurred in Nevada since 1988. The study would be performed by a public commission which could make recommendations for consideration by the 2015 Legislature.

Details of who would serve on the public commission, along with other aspects of such a review, will be worked out in committee hearings in the 2013 session that will start next February.

Currently the Nevada constitution requires the Legislature meet every other year for 120 days. The constitution also limits legislative pay to the first 60 days of a session and imposes term limits for state lawmakers. Voters would have to approve any changes to these requirements before they could take effect.

While the legislative panel approved the drafting of a resolution providing for a public commission to review these and potentially other legislative rules and mandates, one lawmaker said he will reserve judgment until he sees the final working of the proposal.

“I’m all for studying virtually anything and this is certainly a topic worthy of study,” said Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, a member of the panel. “But I don’t want to mislead the chair of the committee. I’m not convinced that creating a commission is necessary, especially in light of the fact that this committee has been meeting throughout the interim to do largely what the commission would do.

“But I will keep an open mind on that, and I will look at the resolution once it is created as a result of this committee’s work, and I will study it carefully during the next session,” he said.

Before the discussion on the resolution, the committee heard from former state Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, who now serves as a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission. Townsend was termed out of office in 2010. He had served in the Senate since 1983.

Former state Sen. Randolph Townsend. / Photo courtesy of Project Vote Smart.

Townsend suggested a number of ideas for the Legislature to consider, including changing the length of terms for state Senators from four years to six, and for Assembly members from two years to four, to reduce the frequency of campaigns that he said interfere in the legislative process.

“Whether you change term limits or not, I think you take a lot of the money and vitriol out of these things,” he said. “Because it’s gotten to the point where campaigns overcome policy making, and that is not fair to any of you no matter what party you are in or what section of the state you live in.”

Townsend also suggested that legislative sessions be changed to even-numbered years if there is no move to have annual sessions. Those elected to the Legislature in each general election every November in even numbered years would then have more than a full year to learn the legislative process before a session would begin. Now lawmakers are elected in November and must start a session early the following year, he said.

“Move it off a year,” Townsend said. “Leadership can appoint those folks to their interim committees, and they can start learning the process, and the issues, and their colleagues and the people that they affect. That one single change will make every legislator better, whether you’ve been there a long time or whether you are new.”

The change would also mean a shorter campaign season for lawmakers if sessions continued to end in early June in even-numbered years, Townsend said.

Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the interim study committee, questioned how lawmakers would raise campaign funds in such a scenario but said such issues can be discussed at a later date.


Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says he is not convinced such a study is needed but will consider the issue in the 2013 session:

082012Brower :32 the next session.”

Former state Sen. Randolph Townsend says Assembly terns should be four years and Senate terms six years:

082012Townsend1 :11 you live in.”

Townsend says legislative sessions should be moved to even-numbered years:

082012Townsend2 :24 you are new.”

Legislature To See Democratic Proposals For New Senate And Assembly Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 2:16 am April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State legislative Democrats will reveal their proposed maps for the political boundaries of Nevada’s Assembly and Senate districts at 5 p.m. today.

The unveiling of the maps represents the first public look at what promises to be a contentious debate about the state’s political districts, which the Legislature is required to alter every 10 years following the release of U.S. Census data.

Sen.David Parks, D-Las Vegas, has earlier said that the first maps will most likely show districts that reflect the Legislature’s current size of 21 Senators and 42 Assembly members.

Senate and Assembly Republicans have not yet said whether they will join Democratic leadership in presenting proposed redistricting maps on Thursday.

The Legislature has a number of challenges in drawing political boundaries of Assembly and Senate districts:

  • Growth in the southern part of the state means current districts are imbalanced and one northern Senate seat and one or two northern Assembly seats will become southern seats. This means some northern incumbents will no longer have a district to represent.

  • The Legislature must decide what to do with state’s two dual-districts, which Parks and others have earlier said will likely go extinct with this round of redistricting.

  • The Legislature must consider protecting “communities of interest” when drawing districts. This could prevent rural Nevadans from suddenly being thrown in the same district as urban Nevadans, or keeping a distinct downtown community separate from a suburban community.

  • The state’s Assembly and Senate seats also have wide disparities in population, which Assembly Republicans have said resulted from unfair maps the Legislature approved in 2001.

These challenges are compounded by the split between a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a Republican governor. Both will likely have to agree on the proposal to pass the redistricting bill.

Members of both political parties want the maps to be fair, but there may be little agreement on actual proposals. Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he will veto any plan that is not “fair.”

So a showdown between a Republican executive and a Democratic-controlled Legislature could throw the matter into the courts. Some legislators think this is an inevitability.

“The court will be the ultimate decider,” Settelmeyer said.

Others contend that they can work out a compromise.

“You go out there, there’s fights, there’s fireworks … but at the end of the day why would politicians put their fate in seven justices [of Nevada's Supreme Court],” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

The Legislature will also have to draw new Congressional districts.

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said he expects the Legislature to unveil and debate proposed Congressional maps sometime next week. Those maps will reflect the addition of a fourth Congressional district added to Nevada due to population growth during the past decade.

At today’s presentation, legislators do not expect to debate the proposals. Legislative staff plan to present and explain the maps, after which Senate and Assembly committees will debate the merits and faults of each plan.

As Deadline Looms, Some Legislators Chose To Sponsor No Bills

By Andrew Doughman | 11:44 am April 13th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The days are lengthening, but lawmakers are still finding good reason to be inside the Legislature from dawn till dusk.

This Friday is a deadline for bills to pass out of committee, leaving many legislators scurrying from committee room to committee room to keep their bills alive.

A few, though, can avoid that stress. The Legislature has more than 1,000 bills to consider this session, but several legislators did not sponsor any bills.

Assemblyman Joseph Hogan, D-Las Vegas, requested one bill last year, but it was never drafted.

He has signed on to one bill from Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, that relates to landlords and tenants in manufactured home parks.

Senator Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, requested legal staff to draft eight bills before the legislative session, but none were ever drafted.

Instead, he said, he wanted to work with colleagues to incorporate his ideas into their bills.

“I think the number of bills introduced, it’s too much,” he said. “…Our sole focus should be on job creation, diversifying the economy, education, broadening the tax base and redistricting.”

Both Hogan and Kihuen said they want to hone in on their committee work. Hogan, who has been a legislator since 2004, said this might be his “last shot” to throw his weight into staving off budget cuts he opposes.

“I’m happy with what I’m doing, and I think it’s going to do my constituents quite a bit of good,” he said.

On the other hand, Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has introduced more bills than any other legislator.

He has 31 bills to his name.

That exceeds the statutory limit of bills he is allowed to introduce, but Segerblom has also picked up legislation first proposed by outgoing Democratic legislators: Sen. Terry Care, Assemblyman Harry Mortenson and Assemblyman Jerry Claborn.

He disagrees that a Legislature should restrict itself to the subjects it tackles.

“You can only talk taxes for so long,” Segerblom said. “At the end of the day, the other state’s issues have not gone away.”

Members of Nevada’s Assembly are allowed in statute to request up to 13 measures – bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, memorials and acts – and Senators are allowed up to 26 measures.

Legislative committees, constitutional officers and legislative leadership, among others, can request more measures.

The bill count for this 120-day legislative sessions is above 1,060, about on par with the past several legislative sessions.

Since the Legislature does not work most weekend days, the 120-day session is more like 90 days. Even given a grueling schedule of 14-hour workdays, that would leave little more than an hour to hear each bill equally.

Knowing that discussions of the governor’s proposed budget and the drawing of political districts will consume whole days, legislators will have to slough off some bills.

Legislators may even have to watch their pet bills die.

But at least some legislators won’t have to worry about that.



Bill Would Reduce Fees For Public Records

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm April 4th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A bill from Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, would put a cap on fees that state or local governments can charge for public documents.

Assembly Bill 159 would reduce the fee for public records from $1 per page to 10 cents per page.

In a hearing today, Colleen McCarty from the investigative team at KLAS-TV Channel 8 in Las Vegas said that some agencies can charge “exorbitant” amounts for records.

“More and more this is the way that public agencies work to delay us or discourage us to get the records that we believe an open society should have access to,” she said.

Representatives from some of Nevada’s various city and county governments, school districts and court systems, testified in opposition to the bill.

“Many times people are looking for a needle in a haystack and while the needle is not expensive, they want us to pay for the haystack,” said Joyce Haldeman, who represents the Clark County School District.

She joined others in citing concerns about labor costs in complying with records requests.

While advances in technology have made more records available online and at less cost to the taxpayer, not all records are created equal.

For example, the minutes and agendas of meetings can be posted online for free at relatively no cost to the government.

Other requests can take hours to fill. Only charging 10 cents per page for these more complicated requests would mean government agencies would lose money, said many of those who testified against the bill.

Karen Gray at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free-market think tank, testified that she has encountered discrepancies regarding the cost of public records.

NPRI often makes large requests of government agencies. It hosts the oft-cited database of public employee salaries on one of its websites.

Other lawmakers noted that even if the 10 cent fee was too low, Segerblom’s bill would at least provide consistency.

“To the public, so any of these policies on public records look capricious when we have different costs and different fees,” said Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno. “ …I think it’s worth a conversation so how we get a more consistent policy in place.”

The Assembly Government Affairs committee that heard the bill has not yet taken a vote on it.


Nevadans Outline Stakes As Legislature Plans New Political Districts

By Andrew Doughman | 4:00 am April 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – The budget is not the only thing legislators are cutting this session.

Far from the budget tug-o-war that snags newspaper headlines, legislators this session must kingmaker carve the boundaries of congressional, senate and assembly districts that will remain for the next ten years, or the next five budget cycles.

Along the way, legislators have culled public opinion through several hours of hearings throughout the state. The overarching message from the people of Fallon, Reno, Carson City and Las Vegas is this: align communities with political districts.

In Las Vegas, representatives from several community groups stressed the need to keep the city’s various minority groups together.

The mayor of Mesquite submitted a letter asking legislators to unite Mesquite in one district. The city is currently split into different districts.

Several residents of Fallon asked legislators to preserve the rural flavor of their current districts. They asked legislators not to draw districts that would leave rural counties subsumed beneath larger voter majorities in Clark and Washoe counties.

“Where do we end up as far as the rural counties are concerned? Is most of our representation going to Washoe County?” asked Bob Johnston of Fallon.

One Person, One Vote

Johnston’s concerns arise from a shrinking rural population.

Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the nation during the past 10 years. The population hit 2.7 million, enough to give Nevada another Congressional seat.

Since much of the growth occurred in Clark County – almost three of every four Nevadans now live in Clark County – Northern Nevada stands to lose one state Senate seat to the south, as well as one or two Assembly seats.

Clark County already boasts 14 of the 21 total Senate seats and 29 of 42 total Assembly seats.

These calculations set the size for a district.

Rules For Redistricting

After that, a variety of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and federal laws also govern how the Legislature must draw its districts.

For instance, legislators must make districts as contiguous and compact as possible while also preserving “communities of interest.

These are communities that would benefit from having a reasonable chance to elect a representative who understands their issues.

This could be a rural community whose legislator may know about water rights and ranching.

Or a community of interest could be a Hispanic neighborhood in Las Vegas that would benefit from having a legislator who understands challenges specific to Hispanics.

Generally, legislators want to avoid “cracking” these communities in two, or “packing” them into one small district.

There are, of course, also political factors like protecting incumbents and drawing districts with certain candidates in mind. Testifying in Las Vegas, Ellen Spiegel, a former legislator, asked for the preservation of districts that have elected female legislators. Andrew Murphy, representing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, noted that no district currently elects an Asian.

This combination of mathematics, geography, law and politics is enough to make anybody’s head spin.

“We hear words like ‘cracking, stacking and packing’ and understand that redistricting is a complicated process,” said Teresa Navarro, chairwoman of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, at a redistricting hearing in Reno.

Legislators have finished gathering public opinion about the districts. Now they will retreat to the Legislature, where they will draw maps at least partially based on the opinions they gathered in the field.

That is the idea, anyway.

Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said that the Legislature will hold some type of hearing after they release their maps.

In the cynic’s corner, others are unsure.

“Does it really matter?” asked Charlene Bybee at the Reno hearing. “Or is it something that you do because you have to and it is more of a show that you’re not going to consider sincerely when you’re making your decision?”









Assemblyman’s Bill Could Extract Millions In Revenue From Casinos

By Andrew Doughman | 1:23 pm March 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, may have just found the state $20 to $35 millions in new revenue.

Under his proposal, if you lose or do not redeem a paper voucher printed from a slot machine, the state would sweep that money into its coffers as unclaimed property. Right now, casinos pay taxes on that money and count the remainder as revenue.

Horne argued that the person owns the voucher rather than the casino. Additionally, he said it would be impossible to track down the owner of the voucher. So that money should revert to the state as unclaimed property.

The bill comes as lawmakers are desperately searching for money to fund state services.

The Assembly  Judiciary Committee debated Horne’s bill this morning.

Representatives from the gaming industry  testified against the bill. Conversely, progressive groups testified in support of the bill because any new revenue would help fund programs they want to save from elimination.

Pete Ernaut, lobbyist for the Nevada Resort Association, said that the underlying mission of the state’s unclaimed property is to match the property with its owner.

Ernaut said that the state Treasurer, who handles unclaimed property, would have to try to match every voucher with its owner. This could mean that the state would have to spend money to try to find the owner of a $1 voucher.

Ernaut gave the committee the $20 to $35 million estimate of the value of all tickets that currently go unclaimed.

Horne disagreed with Ernaut, saying that there is no identifiable information on the voucher.

“We also would contend that this does not become the property of the player until it is redeemed,” Ernaut said.

This would negate Horne’s argument that the voucher becomes a player’s property – not the casino’s – when the slot machine spits out a ticket.

But Horne dismissed Ernaut’s arguments.

“The opposition, they would like this to be a very complicated issue,” Horne said. “In the end, this is a simple case on unclaimed property and who should get it. All the other stuff just muddies the waters and tries to make it more complicated than it actually is.”

The committee took no action on the bill.


Allegations Of Gerrymandering Fly As Legislators Address Redistricting

By Andrew Doughman | 10:50 am March 16th, 2011
CARSON CITY – When it comes to redistricting this year, the line from the Assembly Republicans goes like this: the “fair” process is unfair.

They say the process resulted in gerrymandering in 2001, when the boundaries of political districts were last redrawn.

“It was gerrymandered to death,” said Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Henderson.

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea started a sentence like this: “Clearly, the way it was gerrymandered in 2001…”

The Assembly Republicans have data from the most recent election that they say shows that the current districts are unfair.

More Nevadans voted for Republicans than Democrats in the state’s 42 Assembly races last year.

But Democrats won 26 races to the Republicans’ 16.

Furthermore, Republican candidates earned more total votes than Democratic candidates during the past decade’s Assembly races.

But Republicans won fewer seats.

When electing representatives to the Assembly for the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 sessions, Democrats won 130 elections while Republicans won 80. Click to enlarge. (Legislative Counsel Bureau)

The past decade has produced a 3-2 Democratic advantage in the Assembly.

After the 2010 election, Victor Joecks of the Nevada Policy Research Institute wrote that the current Assembly districts are unfair.

Among other things, he noted that the largest Republican-controlled district has more voters than the eight smallest Democratic-controlled districts combined.

But Democratic Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who is leading the Assembly’s redistricting committee, shrugged off the claims.

“If you don’t have anything else to argue, argue it,” he said. “Districts have to be equal population. You’re not going to have equal votes.”

“Common sense is wrong.”

Legislators drew all 42 Assembly districts with almost equal populations in 2001.

Every 10 years, legislators redraw the political districts based on the most recent Census data. They put equal numbers of people in each district.

It is people, not voters that define “fair.”

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, employs experts to help legislators edit the boundaries of districts.

He said legislators are mandated to draw districts of equal population. The voter population in each district may differ, sometimes markedly.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has already said he wants the Legislature to draft a plan based on equal district populations or he will veto the plan.

“What is counted and what is important is the number of people, not the number of votes cast,” said professor William Eubank of the UNR political science department.

Two districts might have equal populations, but several factors affect voters numbers in each district. Some people cannot vote: children, teens under the age of 18, prisoners and some immigrants. Other demographic factors also predict whether an eligible voter actually will vote.

So what about that 3-2 split in the Assembly when Republican candidates got more votes?

“It’s one of those things that common sense tells you is wrong,” Eubank said. “But common sense is wrong.”

The Growth Problem

Even so, populations grow or shrink, leaving once-equal districts warped.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden,  is part of the bi-partisan group “Fair Vote.”

He said the current system is not “fair.”

“I don’t believe the last reapportionment was fair to both parties,” he said. “We did not take into account, which I think we’re obligated to do, growth.”

Take Assembly Districts 13 and 22 for example. Republicans dominate both districts. When they were drawn in 2001, they comprised the outlying areas of Las Vegas.

Assembly Districts 13 and 22, at left and along the bottom of this image, are among the largest in the state because they absorbed population growth in Clark County between 2000 and 2010. (Nevada Legislature)

Now there are more than 220,000 people in each. Another Clark County district, Assembly District 11, contains 42,000 people. Based on the 2010 Census, a district should have 65,000 people.

So it’s a Goldilocks problem. After 10 years of population change, no district is “just right.” Most are either too big or too small.

Republican legislators point to these districts as proof of gerrymandering, suggesting that in 2001, Democrats schemed to lock urban growth in a few Republican-leaning districts. This would restrain Republicans from gaining more seats.

Making the districts equal by population could still help Republicans in urban districts because it would spread out Republican voters currently in those two massive districts.

“If we get districts balanced with people, then the votes will follow,” Goicoechea said. “We’re going to get 65,000 people in each Assembly district and call it good.”

If only it were so simple.