Posts Tagged ‘William Horne’

Nevada Voters To Weigh In On One Controversial State Ballot Measure In November

By Sean Whaley | 7:43 am September 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada voters will determine the fate of only one statewide measure in the Nov. 6 general election, but the proposal put on the ballot by the Legislature is somewhat controversial.

Question 1 on the ballot asks Nevada voters if the state constitution should be amended to allow the Legislature, on extraordinary occasions and only with two-thirds support of lawmakers in each house, to call itself into special session. Sessions would be limited to 20 days, but could be convened on a continuous basis if the extraordinary occasion requirement was met and with two-thirds support from lawmakers.

The term “extraordinary occasions” is not defined in the proposed constitutional amendment.

The Nevada state Senate in session, 2011. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The constitution now says that only the governor can call a special session of the Legislature.

Currently, legislatures in 34 states are authorized to call a special session.

Nevada voters have rejected this concept once before, in 2006, by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

The measure is on the ballot after Assembly Joint Resolution 5 was approved by the Legislature in both 2009 and 2011. In 2011, the proposal passed both houses only by a party line vote with all Republicans opposed.

Opponents of the proposal are concerned the change could move the Legislature away from its tradition of meeting on a part-time basis.

In a discussion of the ballot language for the question by the Legislative Commission in June, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the ability of lawmakers to continue special sessions indefinitely was a concern.

Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said at the commission meeting that giving lawmakers the authority to call themselves into special session could be important if a situation like that in Illinois arose with impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It is unlikely that a governor facing impeachment would call a special session to allow for his removal from office, he said.

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said in an interview this week that with the state getting bigger and issues sometimes requiring immediate attention, there are times the Legislature may need to convene itself into special session.

“I think it is closer to the people if the Legislature has the ability to do that,” he said.

But Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said this week he likes the way the system works now.

“I like the fact that we have a strong chief executive state,” he said. “That the Legislature can’t call itself into session for whatever purpose it chooses. I think the system that we have is functional for our state.

“And the idea that the Legislature can start calling itself into session whenever it wants just doesn’t really fly with me,” Kieckhefer said.

Special sessions of the Nevada Legislature have become more frequent in recent years, in part because of the state’s ongoing budget problems. But they have all been called by the sitting governor at the time. Gov. Brian Sandoval has not yet called for a special session in his 21 months in office.

The last special session was called in February 2010 by then Gov. Jim Gibbons to deal with a shortfall in the state budget. It lasted seven days.

There have been 10 special sessions of the Legislature since 2001. They were called for a variety of reasons, including tort reform for the medical industry and the impeachment of the late state Controller Kathy Augustine. Many were called because the Legislature could not finish its work by the constitutionally-mandated 120 days, a limit approved by voters in 1998 and taking effect for the first time in 1999.

Previously there had not been a special session since 1989.


Audio clips:

Sen. Mo Denis says there are times when the Legislature may need to call itself into special session:

091812Denis :22 into special session.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer says he likes the system as it works now:

091812Kieckhefer :28 fly with me.”



Proposed Legislative Discussion On Assault Weapons Derailed By Committee Vote

By Sean Whaley | 10:52 am August 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – If there was any question about whether the gun debate is a controversial topic in Nevada as well as nationally, a clear answer was provided today at a meeting of the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice.

A proposed discussion on assault weapons was removed from the agenda by a vote of the panel before it could even begin.

Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the 17-member panel, which includes judicial representatives, police and others in the law enforcement and legal communities as well as lawmakers, had placed an item on the agenda titled “Presentation on Assault Weapons Laws.”

Assemblyman William Horne, center. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Horne said he did so after a number of violent incidents occurred around the country involving the use of assault weapons. The item was informational only and was not intended to be an avenue to propose a ban on assault weapons, he said.

The presentation was to be made by Robert Roshak, executive director of the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association; Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; and Steve Helsley, a consultant with the National Rifle Association.

“The commission does not enact, nor does it have statutory authority, to request bill drafts,” Horne said in preliminary comments. “Rather the purpose of the commission is to look at pertinent issues of the criminal justice system. In light of several recent high profile assaults on the public, including one less than a mile from this very building, the commission thought it was important to at least have an informational discussion on the issue of assault weapons.”

But the agenda item was pulled before the discussion could begin, with Clark County District Judge David Barker, a member of the commission, questioning whether the panel had the authority to hold such a discussion.

“It is not a criminal offense to possess an assault weapon,” he said. “And I think it is outside the four corners of this commission’s responsibility to have this on our agenda. So frankly, I would move to strike it from the agenda.”

The motion was seconded by Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn, who said a discussion on assault weapons, a Constitutional issue involving the 2nd Amendment, was too complex for a brief overview by the panel. The Legislature is the place for such a discussion, he said.

Horne said Legislative Counsel advised him that the discussion was within the purview of the panel, but Barker made a motion to remove the item from the agenda. The vote was 8 to 5 to remove the item.

Some of the dozens of members of the public attending in Elko, Carson City and Las Vegas clapped after the vote and then left the meeting.

The discussion got off to a tense start when Horne called Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, “extremely unprofessional” for suggesting in a newspaper opinion piece that Horne intended to seek a ban on assault weapons.

Ellison said later in public testimony that he meant no disrespect to Horne or his position as chairman.

Horne said he was also upset with the misinformation presented on the agenda item, and that the members of the commission would not be bullied.

Horne is chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which in 2011 took no vote on the controversial “campus carry bill” that would have allowed those with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on the campuses of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The bill had passed the Senate.


Audio Clips:

Assemblyman William Horne says the purpose of the assault weapons discussion was informational only:

082812Horne1 :24 of assault weapons.”

Horne says colleague John Ellison was unprofessional:

082812Horne2 :17 at the least.”

Clark County District Judge David Barker says the issue is outside the jurisdiction of the panel:

082812Barker :13 from the agenda.”

Gaming Policy Committee Appointments Made, First Meeting Set For Mid-February

By Sean Whaley | 1:42 pm January 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A panel of key gaming figures and state officials will begin meeting next month to consider the impact of Internet gaming and other technological advances on Nevada’s major industry.

Gov. Brian Sandoval announced his five appointments to the Gaming Policy Committee yesterday. The full 11-member committee has not met since 1984. Sandoval will serve as chairman.

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

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, said the panel is expected to meet for the first time in mid-February to begin considering any regulatory changes that should be recommended to the state gaming agency and governor.

Nevada gaming regulators recently adopted regulations concerning Internet poker. The Legislature in 2011 also legalized other devices related to gaming technology.

“So the governor wants to understand, from a policy perspective, where is technology headed in terms of its impact on the gaming environment,” Erquiaga said. “But also he will ask the committee to look at what impact does technology have in the long run on Nevada and its entire statutory scheme related to gaming.

“It impacts taxation, it impacts the infrastructure investment on the Las Vegas Strip, it impacts our workforce needs,” he said. “The growth of a technological sector related to gaming impacts the manufacturing side of the industry, which is an economic development issue for the state.

“So the governor envisions the Gaming Policy Committee as the statewide body to look at all that impact of technology both on gaming policy but also on how gaming fits in the larger policy framework of the state,” Erquiaga said.

The review will of necessity require a review of the federal actions related to Internet poker, he said.

Sandoval’s two major gaming company appointees are Keith Smith, chief executive officer and president of the Boyd Gaming Group and president of the Nevada Resort Association, and Jim Murren, chief executive officer of MGM Resorts.

Representing the smaller gaming operators will be Sallie Becker, owner of Bomas Grill in Las Vegas. The two public member appointees are attorney Mark Bruce of Reno and Paul Mathews Jr. with incuBET, a Las Vegas on-line computer game firm.

Also serving will be Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard and Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli.

Legislative leaders appointed Sen. Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas, who is leaving office in November, and Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas. The final appointee comes from Nevada’s Native American Tribes, who have selected Arlan Melendez, chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

Sandoval, in a speech in November in Las Vegas, cited the potential growth of Internet gaming as a compelling reason to convene the policy committee.

“I hope to help sketch a road map for the journey ahead,” he said. “We must preserve Nevada’s leadership role in gaming – even in this brave new digital world. If we are, as I believe, entering a new era in gaming history, I intend as governor to ensure it is as successful and secure as the last 80 years have been.”


Audio clips:

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga says Sandoval wants to understand from a policy perspective where technology is headed:

011212Erquiaga1 :25 related to gaming.”

Erquiaga says gaming technology affects everything from workforce needs to economic development:

011212Erquiaga2 :19 for the state.”

Erquiaga says the policy committee’s role is to review all of these issues:

011212Erquiaga3 :14 of the state.”

Gov. Sandoval Calls For Reassessment Of Homeland Security Funding Priorities

By Sean Whaley | 5:23 pm November 2nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today called for a reassessment of Nevada’s homeland security priorities given the news that federal funding for the ongoing fight against terrorism could be as much as 47 percent less in the 2012 federal fiscal year compared to last year.

Sandoval, who serves as the chairman of the Homeland Security Commission, noted that the panel’s priorities were last established in October 2010, before he was elected governor, and before many members of the current panel had been appointed to serve.

“It would helpful to me for us to go through that exercise again with the permission of the other members of the commission,” Sandoval said. “And also to have somewhat, of what I guess for lack of a better term is, a ‘state of homeland security’ both within Nevada and federally and where we may be, where we need to be, where we’re deficient.

A review of priorities would give the commission and Chris Smith, the new chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, an opportunity to have, “a reset for all of us to ensure that we’re all on the same page,” he said.

The commission agreed and set a special meeting for Jan. 7 in Las Vegas that will include a tour of the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, also known as a fusion center.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said the federal funding cuts being contemplated to states and local governments for homeland security would be on top of cuts this past 2011 fiscal year from 2010. The 2012 federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

“If you take all of the state homeland security money that comes to the local programs to include UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative) dollars, at the federal level right now at the Senate you are looking at close to a 47 percent reduction coming to state and local than that which you saw in 2011,” he said.

“So it’s even more important that we’re very specific and judicious with this money that is coming forth to the states because that funding stream is becoming significantly smaller than that which we’ve been used to in the past,” Gillespie said.

The commission also has to be flexible when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues guidelines on where the spending priorities should be, he said. Submitting grants that don’t focus on those priorities won’t get funded, Gillespie said.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Nevada was eligible for $21 million in grants in 2010, but only $14.5 million in 2011.

Funding could have been even lower but members of the House of Representatives, including Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Joe Heck, R-Nev., rejected a proposal to make UASI funding available only to the nation’s 10 largest cities, which would have excluded Las Vegas.

Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley said the reassessment should also evaluate which projects are achievable given current funding levels, and how close Nevada is to accomplishing those objectives.

The Homeland Security Commission has seen major changes since Sandoval took over as chairman of the panel. Several long-time members have left and new members are learning about the operation of the commission.

There are 14 voting members of the commission, all appointed by Sandoval. There are also non-voting members, including two representatives of the Legislature. There was some concern expressed at the August meeting that lawmaker representatives were not attending the meetings.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, the new Senate representative and a candidate for the new Congressional 4 seat, attended his first meeting. But Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, the new representative replacing Speaker John Oceguera, did not attend the meeting.


Audio clips

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the state’s homeland security priorities need to be revisited:

110211Sandoval1 :21 where we’re deficient.”

Sandoval says the members of the Homeland Security Commission need to make sure they are in agreement on those priorities:

110211Sandoval2 :10 the same page.”

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie says federal homeland security funding could face major cutbacks in 2012:

110211Gillespie1 :21 saw in 2011.”

Gillespie says Nevada has to be even more judicious in how it spends its limited federal homeland security funding:

110211Gillespie2 :18 in the past.”


Rural Lawmakers Could Pay High Price For Backing Governor On Budget

By Andrew Doughman | 4:15 pm April 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s rural Republican legislators are struggling to defend the cuts to their communities in the governor’s budget.

Democrats have been showcasing cuts to the rural counties in order to convince rural Republican legislators that a vote for tax increases is a vote to mitigate the harm to their districts.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said that rural counties are already “cut to the bone,” and in many cases could lose all that they have left.

“Are they willing to be so loyal that they hurt the very constituents that elected them?” Horsford asked.

Many of the governor’s budget cuts would affect rural counties. The budget reduces the money going to rural health clinics or shifts that responsibility to county governments. Many clinics and college campuses that have branched out into the countryside are slated to consolidate to more populated areas.

So far, these cuts have not pushed any rural Republicans to voice anything but support for Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed general fund budget.

“There’s nobody blinking, so to speak, from the rural areas about increasing taxes,” said Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora.

Rural legislators say they understand they must share in the cuts, but that the cuts should be fair. For some Democrats, though, that means rural counties need to shoulder more of the burden.


Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, here speaking before the Senate, has highlighted impacts of Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed budget. "I'm particularly concerned about the impact to the rural and underserved communities," he said today./PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

This Monday, Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said that Washoe and Clark counties have to subsidize the rural counties.

“A lot of you come from areas of the state that are taking from the largest counties of the state,” he said to his fellow legislators in the Assembly chambers.

Horsford has argued that it is unfair for the state to divert property tax revenue from Clark and Washoe counties to the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas when counties like Elko and Eureka, beneficiaries of Great Basin College, do not.

The governor’s staff has said that Washoe and Clark counties benefit economically from the state’s two universities and should therefore pay more to support them.

“If you close Great Basin College, which does mining and other training to the mining industry, if you close that campus, that’s going to have a tremendous economic impact to that region,” said Horsford, who earlier urged the Board of Regents to consider closing campuses to save money. “So to suggest that there’s no economic benefit to those rural communities either by underfunding or funding their programs, I’m not understanding their logic.”

The governor’s chief of staff, Heidi Gansert, said that Washoe and Clark counties have more money. The governor is asking all counties to pay for a greater share of health services, but she said the two largest counties can shoulder that burden and rural counties cannot.

Despite this defense, budget cuts in rural counties worried Sandoval enough that he traveled to Elko this past Saturday to listen to concerns from county officials and state legislators.

Rhoads said he had personal chats with the governor during the flights to and from Elko. They discussed cuts to the Wells Honor Camp and the rural bookmobile program. Rhoads said the governor told him he would “add back” funding for these services if the state receives more revenue as the economic recovery inches forward.

“He’s looking at amending this stuff back in now,” said Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, who also met with the governor in Elko this past Saturday. “I think at the end of the day … I’m hoping it’ll be fair.”

From left to right, Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, Senator Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, and Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, watch Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., address the Legislature earlier this week. Gov. Brian Sandoval visited Rhoads and Ellison earlier this week to discuss budget cuts to rural districts. /PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Budget Battle Could Pit Urban Against Rural

Sandoval has said before that the Legislature is free to move money around within his budget. As long as the $5.8 billion arrives at his desk without taxes and fee increases, he will sign it.

“If you don’t want to spend more in this account and move it to that account, that’s the Legislature’s prerogative,” said Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s senior adviser, at a press briefing earlier this week.

But Erquiaga later suggested that policy decisions “pitting urban against rural” would be bad for the state.

“I don’t think he [Sandoval] has given a carte blanche,” said Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, suggesting the governor would not sign a budget that overtly hammers rural Republican districts.

Given the magnitude of the governor’s proposed cuts, it is unlikely that any one legislator would be spared cuts to his or her district.

“As long as we’re not taking more than their [urban legislators'] share, everyone is willing to do their part,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon.

But what is “fair” is a matter of debate. Just like in Congress, legislators will try to do what they can for their districts. This time, though, that is less a matter of bringing home the bacon than it is of saving the farmhouse.

State entities, however, may have an monetary incentive to favor urban districts. Centralizing services in cities could save money while reaching the majority of Nevadans.

“We’ll offer fewer classes at fewer locations,” said Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich. “In particular, this could impact rural locations that could suffer as our colleges focus on serving the greatest number of students.”

That pressure, however, does not mean rural legislators are pushing to be first in line to vote for a tax increase.

“Most of my constituents have indicated that in these tough times we have to make some cuts,” Settelmeyer said. “Most of them have told me they would prefer to make tough choices [over raising taxes].”

The cuts, though, still could become a bargaining chip. The governor has said he wants “shared sacrifice,” but the Legislature could end up with an Animal Farm scenario in which all cuts are equal, but some cuts are more equal than others.

***UPDATED April 23, 2011 to reflect  that no NSHE entities are fully closing, although some satellite campuses may close.***

Legislators “Offended” and “Insulted” As They Make Symbolic Party-Line Vote Over Education Budget

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 am April 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – It was not until 30 minutes before midnight that a six-hour debate in the Assembly ended with a promise to talk more later.

After listening to presentations outlining more than $1 billion in “major reductions” to the K-12 budget, legislators debated their willingness to compromise or negotiate about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed general fund budget.

“My caucus will be voting gov rec,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, using an abbreviation for the governor’s recommended budget. “So you’re not going to get the wiggle room you’re looking for.”

In the end, all 16 Assembly Republicans voted in a symbolic motion to support a motion last night to pass Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended budget. All 26 Assembly Democrats opposed the motion.

The Senate will debate the same budget in the same process today.

Republicans repeatedly said they want to see specific tax proposals as well as a reassurance that reforms they want will pass out of the Assembly as a trade for tax increases.

“Until we have the discussions about the reforms and the revenue package, we will continue to have a discussion about gov rec,” Goicoechea said.

Democrats stressed the need to debate specifics of the governor’s proposed education budget. Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the Assembly needed to find common ground for an acceptable level of cuts before they could discuss additional revenues.

“We rarely change a lot … 10, 15, 20 percent of the budget,” he said.

He called the six-hour marathon hearing in the Assembly chambers a success.

“We got the temperature of where people are at,” he said. “It felt to me that we saw a few people who said we can look at a few things.”

Sprinkled throughout the hearing in Assembly chambers were instances of legislators calling each other “disingenuous” and saying they were “offended” and “insulted” with each other.

The verbal sniping came only hours after the Senate inducted former Sen. Bill Raggio into the Senate’s Hall of Fame. Raggio, a legislator who retired earlier this year, was a constant critic of the partisan hardening and lack of respect characteristic of 21st century political debate.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D- North Las Vegas, said Nevada’s Assembly was starting to look like D.C.

“If we want to have D.C. politics, here it is,” she said.

Both Democrats and Republicans did, however, say that the new process of having budget discussions involving all 42 Assembly members appealed to them more than having a few key legislators meet and make decisions in private.

But that does not make anybody more likely to agree.

“It looks like we’re going to be here for a very long haul,” said Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas.

Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, called the whole hearing a “farce,” to which Kirkpatrick, retorted: “if you don’t respect the institution, don’t come back.”

As Wednesday morning drew close, Goicoechea said there’s “no doubt” everybody wants to find a solution.

“This is the beginning, this isn’t the end,” Smith said. “This was the first tough discussion we had … We can’t call each other disingenuous because we disagree. It’s not a farce. It’s not a train wreck.”

But by 11:30 p.m., the only unanimous motion was for the Assembly to retire for the night.


Smoking Bill Would Establish Smoking Zones On College Campuses

By Andrew Doughman | 11:56 am April 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY — A bill that would partially ban smoking on college campuses passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.

Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, amended Assembly Bill 128 to require colleges and universities to establish campus smoking zones outside of which a person would not be able to smoke.

Under the amendment, the smoking zones would have to be a reasonable distance away from walking paths and doorways.

In an earlier hearing, legislators had criticized his bill for banning smoking on campuses outright.

The chairman of the committee, Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, had said he was afraid it would drive smokers across the street from campuses and disrupt local businesses. He wondered where smokers would end up.

“So, the parking lot in front of Chipotle?” Horne said. “So I can eat my burrito bowl and pass through a cloud of smoke?”

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 already outlaws smoking inside of buildings, but this has not rid campuses of tobacco smoke, said Aizley, a former professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The amendment seemed to quell opposition to the bill.

“I think here it is a good compromise,” Horne said. “The campuses can identify places on campus away from entries into buildings where persons can have a smoke.”

Three legislators still voted against the bill.

“There’s a personal freedom factor that we’re kind of starting to get into a point where we’re infringing on people,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks.

He said it was wrong to mandate the establishment of smoking zones at Nevada’s college campuses when no such zones are required on the Capitol grounds outside the Legislature.

Hansen’s comments were, however, in the minority. He joined Assemblymen Kelly Kite, R-Minden, and Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, in voting against the bill.


Bill That Could Bring State Millions From Casinos Survives Bill Deadline

By Andrew Doughman | 2:55 pm April 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY –Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, nudged his bill out of committee today, meaning the state could secure anywhere from $20 to $50 million from the casino industry.

Under Assembly Bill 219, 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.

The casino industry won one concession already, and Horne said he is still working with representatives to ease the bill’s passage on the Assembly floor. Under Horne’s amendment, the casino industry would keep 25 percent of unclaimed winnings while 75 percent of those winnings would transfer to the state.

Casinos would still pay taxes on the 25 percent they keep.

“We’re still negotiationg parts of this bill,” Horne said. “I’ve agreed to, while moving it out today, it won’t move out of our house until we make some other final amendments to the bill.”

Pete Ernaut, lobbyist for the Nevada Resort Association, said that he would like to see Nevada copy a similar law in New Jersey.

In New Jersey, 75 percent of unredeemed winnings revert to the casinos and 25 percent go to the state.

“I said I don’t like that, you have to flip it,” Horne said.

Given their opposing positions, Ernaut hinted that he would like a 50-50 split.

Horne, however, said he is “doubtful” that he would agree to that.

Ernaut intends to press the point.

“I imagine it’ll end up somewhere between those two points,” he said.

During today’s hearing, Horne also said that Nevada’s Gaming Commission may handle the transfer of money to the state. This would break the precedent that all unclaimed property reverts to the Treasurer’s office.

Horne’s argument at the bill’s first hearing in March was 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.

Ernaut had argued that the state would have to try to match a voucher to a person.

“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.”

Progressive groups have voiced support for the plan since any new revenue the Legislature finds can help negate cuts in the governor’s proposed general fund budget.

Horne is chairman of the Assembly Judiciary committee, which heard the bill and passed it. It now moves to the Assembly floor for a vote.

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.


Proposal Would Ban Smoking On All Nevada College And University Campuses

By Andrew Doughman | 9:47 am February 25th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Students who smoke may soon find it more difficult to do so. A proposal heard today would ban smoking on all Nevada’s university and college campuses.

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 already outlaws smoking inside of buildings, but this has not rid campuses of tobacco smoke, said Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s sponsor and a former professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“My goal in introducing this bill is to make it possible for students to walk on campus and not be exposed to secondhand smoke,” he said. “There are entrances to buildings where smokers cluster because they’re outside, and you have to walk through the smoke to get inside.”

The bill received support from various medical associations whose representatives testified that exposure to secondhand smoke is both harmful and easily preventible. Christopher Roller of the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition said 466 campuses in the United States already have a complete tobacco ban.

The Nevada Faculty Alliance also supported Aizley’s bill.

At the hearing, Aizley also submitted an amendment to his bill that would establish smoking on campus as a misdemeanor for which someone could receive a citation.

Although no one testified against the bill at the Assembly’s judiciary committee meeting, the chairman, William Horne, D-Las Vegas, had several concerns.

Horne, a UNLV graduate himself, imagined smokers fleeing the campus for a cigarette break.

“Where in that immediate vicinity would they be able to do that?” he asked.

Showing his familiarity with the local geography, he rattled off a list of businesses adjacent to the UNLV campus, many of which also don’t allow smoking on their premises.

“So, the parking lot in front of Chipotle?” Horne said. “So I can eat my burrito bowl and pass through a cloud of smoke?”

He seemed to be saying that an enforced ban would create a smoke-free environment for students and faculty, but would likely expose those in the immediate vicinity to more secondhand smoke.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, D-Las Vegas, asked whether or not smoking would be allowed in parking lots.

The bill language states that smoking would be banned “on any property or campus owned or occupied by any component of the Nevada System of Higher Education and used for any purpose related to the System,” which would seem to include university parking lots.

The committee did not vote on the bill.

“I’d like to see if we can come to some kind of compromise,” Horne said to Aizley at the conclusion of the hearing. “They [Smokers] should have at least some place that they could go that’s convenient to do it.”

“My intention is to have the ability to walk through the campus smoke free,” Aizley responded.

Aizley said he would examine possibilities for creating smoking zones that would still allow people to walk through campus without breathing secondhand smoke.