Nevada may switch from caucus to primary

The days of herding relative strangers into Nevada high school gyms for an all-day democracy exercise peppered with puzzling math equations that somehow make or break political futures may soon be at an end.

At least, they will be if the state’s power brokers get their way. And they often do.

“My No. 1 priority is getting rid of the caucuses,” said Harry Reid, former U.S. Senate majority leader and still very much the face of Nevada Democrats. “They don’t work. It was proven in Iowa. We did OK here, but the system is so unfair.”

Technical difficulties derailed Iowa’s Democratic caucuses last year, leading to Nevada’s move away from similar technology that would help hundreds of sites feed numbers used in “caucus math” — a system joyously explained by political organizers and understood by sheer dozens of Nevadans as the way the state awards delegates for state and national party conventions.

Though Nevada’s party avoided similar pitfalls, Reid and a growing coalition believe a presidential primary would allow far more voters to participate and seems to be the anecdotal will of the people.

Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson will soon carry a bill to kill the caucuses. The legislation wouldn’t need bipartisan support with Democrats in the firm majority, but it may get some anyway, as Republicans contacted by the Review-Journal were open to the idea.

But Frierson also plans to join Reid and other state Democrats in advancing a far more politically challenging notion: That Nevada should be the first state in the nation to weigh in on presidential candidates.

“We’re one of the most diverse states in the country, and it would behoove a candidate to come and make their pitch to voters here,” Frierson said. “The political influence is moving west, and Nevada is seen as a very good gauge of where the country is at.”

The end of the caucuses

The move away from caucuses is not a surprise, as elected officials including Gov. Steve Sisolak called for its demise in the days that followed the Feb. 22 statewide contests.

Nevada State Democratic Party Executive Director Alana Mounce said she was proud of the work her staff and organizers did to run a successful caucus in trying times last year, but it’s ready to move on.

“We know moving forward it’s time to move to a primary process, and time to have Nevada be the first early state in 2024,” Mounce said.

Although the state party has built up considerable organizing muscle in part due to the hands-on nature of caucuses, Mounce said the end of caucuses will shed a considerable financial and time-consuming weight that will allow for more focus on registering new voters and recruiting volunteers.

Democrats preparing campaign

With a new Democratic National Committee led by Jaime Harrison, a former Senate candidate and South Carolina Democratic Party chair, and Iowa’s pitfalls just a year in the rearview, Nevada is preparing to make a play.

“There are a lot of changing names and faces at DNC, and what you’re seeing, possibly, is the development of a campaign to make the argument for Nevada to be No. 1, which I’m ecstatic for,” said Alex Goff, one of two DNC members elected by the state party.

“I grew up in Mississippi,” Goff continued. “I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served across the country and in other countries before moving here. There are so many people here with those stories. Their jobs brought them here, and they became Nevadans. You get a nice cross-section of the country.”

Nevada’s growing, diverse population and bellwether status in the West — a region where Democrats have grown in strength as the Midwest has grown more unpredictable — will be two major platforms for the campaign to stand on. The state also boasts a large union population and a mix of college and non-college educated voters.

But Goff also noted Nevada’s logistical strength for campaigns: Two urban centers holding about 85 percent of the population, situated in large media markets with easy travel between them.

Mounce believes the strength and organization of her party will appeal to a Harrison-led DNC due to his time leading South Carolina’s party.

Allison Stephens, the state’s other DNC member, said she too will “do everything I possibly can” for Nevada to be first on the calendar, but she cautioned against pushing the national party too hard.

“We don’t want to compromise our position as No. 3 in the nation,” Stephens said. “We can not fall below third. If changing to a primary would jeopardize our early state status, I would be concerned. We do have to work within the parameters of the party.”

National implications

The DNC will continue to review the previous cycle for at least another two months before discussing any possible changes to the nominating calendar.

“Every four years, the DNC looks back at what worked and what didn’t work, and the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will continue to evaluate all areas of our nominating process and make recommendations for any changes,” spokesman David Bergstein said.

This review is expected to complete on March 31, at which point the DNC as a whole will take up the conversation.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it was “too soon” to discuss the nominating calendar when asked during her daily briefing.

“We are certainly not focused on the next political campaign here quite yet, and we don’t have any point of view to share on the order of the presidential nominating contests, though Nevada’s a little warmer,” she said. “But you know, all great states.”

Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that nominate before Nevada, are mounting their own campaigns to stay put, and other states are likely to make their own pushes to move up.

Frierson is sensitive to this.

“We will have to work through (the bill’s) language and work with the national parties — both Democrats and Republicans — and convince them of Nevada’s importance in the West,” he said.

Frierson noted the Legislature has no control over other states, which could simply move their own nomination dates further ahead absent a national calendar agreement. New Hampshire, for example, already has a state law declaring it must hold the first presidential primary election.

He said he is also working with local election officials on a cost estimate for the state, which would assume the cost burden currently borne by the state parties in the caucus system.

The typical Nevada primary, held in June for local and statewide offices, would remain, Frierson said. The new primary would only be used for selecting presidential candidates.

Republicans will wait and see

Eric Roberts, executive director of the Assembly Republican Caucus, said the demise of the caucuses could garner mixed support from his party.

“My gut feeling without talking to anyone about it is that the more conservative Republicans may want to keep (the caucuses), and the more moderates may want to go to a primary,” he said.

Roberts noted the Republican-controlled 2015 Legislature attempted a similar change, but the bill died.

Unlike 2020, Republicans will have a competitive presidential nominating process in 2024, and some state leaders have adapted a wait and see approach as the empowered Democrats look to change state law.

State Sen. James Settelmeyer, the Republican minority leader, said he supports the change from caucuses to a primary, but he’d like to see the presidential nomination combined with Nevada’s traditional June primary, which would also keep costs the same.

“I don’t think states should vote early,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of only a small percentage of the nation or a few states determining the leader of the free world.”

Settelmeyer said he carried a bill to switch to a primary in the past. Bipartisan support is possible, as long as Democrats are willing to discuss the changes and work through committees.

“I think the concept of trying to do something to increase voter participation is very appealing, and I believe we need to do that,” Settelmeyer said.

The senator also said he believes that bipartisan support from the Legislature would help the state make a case to the national parties.

“I would hope (the parties) would respect legislators in this state,” he said. “If all of our Republicans voter in favor of this, that would carry weight. But if all of us rejected it, that would also mean something.”

Nevada Republican Party Chair Michael McDonald said he personally likes the caucus system, as it spurs engagement within the party, but he is willing to adapt if Nevadans prefer a primary.

McDonald said his party’s caucus went so poorly in 2012 that it nearly lost its First in the West status on the Republican nominating calendar, but the system saw success in 2016.

“If they’re run right, they’re great,” McDonald said. “But they can also be a disaster.”

McDonald, also one of the state’s Republican National Committee members and a lifelong Nevadan, said he supports Nevada being moved up in the calendar, but it must be done with cooperation from the national parties and other states.

“I think anyone from here would want us to be first,” he said, “but you have to have respect for the party and your fellow states in order to get respect back.”

Source: Nevada may switch from caucus to primary

All-mail balloting rife with problems

by Thomas Mitchell

What could possibly go wrong?

Just put more than 1.6 million ballots — and that was the number of active registered Nevada voters back in January, before the push to register voters prior to the November General Election — in largely unsecured mailboxes. No one would ever think to follow the mail carrier around and pluck said ballots from said boxes. Why that would be a crime.

But with the passage of Assembly Bill 4 on a party-line vote in a special session of the Nevada Legislature, already signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak, the governor can use the excuse of the coronavirus pandemic to order November ballots be mailed to all active registered voters. It’s not as if they are being dropped out of airplanes. And hopefully no county will do like Clark County did in the primary and demand that ballots be mailed to inactive voters who have mostly already moved from the addresses on file with the registrar of voters. That resulted in many blank ballots piling up in trash cans.

Surely there’ll be no problem with the part of AB4 that says that the validity of a ballot signature may only be challenged if “at least two employees in the office of the clerk believe there is a reasonable question of fact as to whether the signature used for the mail ballot matches the signature of the voter …” What is reasonable? “There is a reasonable question of fact as to whether the signature used for the mail ballot matches the signature of the voter if the signature used for the mail ballot differs in multiple, significant and obvious respects from the signatures of the voter available in the records of the clerk,” AB4 spells out.

Under previous law, it was illegal to “harvest” ballots. Only a family member or certain other persons were allowed to return a mailed ballot for a voter. AB4 allows the voter to designate anyone, though the law prohibits that person from failing to return the ballot or altering, changing, defacing, damaging or destroying the mail ballot. Who would ever do such a thing.

No one would ever be intimidated by their union shop boss, for example, into just turning over their blank but signed mail ballot. Nor would anyone, say at a nursing home, dare to collect such ballots. Turn in your ballot in exchange for a free beer at the neighborhood bar?

The law firm of Campbell & Williams has already filed suit on behalf of the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party. The suit notes the new law authorizes ballot harvesting and that, along with other provisions, dilutes “Nevadans’ honest votes. Dilution of honest votes, to any degree, by the casting of fraudulent or illegitimate votes violates the right to vote.”

What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong? Just put more than 1.6 million ballots — and that was the number of active registered Nevada voters back in January, before the push to register voters prior to the No…

Source: All-mail balloting rife with problems

Diverse “transparency” coalition in Nevada holds government accountable

By Robert Fellner, Nevada Policy Research Institute and Tod Story, ACLU of Nevada

Sunshine Week is dedicated to celebrating the principles of a transparent and accountable government, which makes it the perfect time to announce the launch of the Nevada Open Government Coalition.

The ideologically diverse Coalition was created to continue the success of our efforts to update the Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA) in 2019, and ensure that governments are transparent with the public as we seek information in the pursuit of accountability. The law aims to “foster democratic principles” by requiring that “all public books and public records of a government entity” are open to the public.

The latest example of a government agency trying to avoid their statutory obligations was highlighted in a state Supreme Court ruling from last month.

The case centered around efforts to obtain the results of an investigation by the Clark County School District into reports of inappropriate behavior by an elected school trustee.

While it’s hard to imagine an example of a document that more clearly falls within the realm of public records — the report about the conduct of an elected official seeking re-election was created by a public agency with public money — the school district nonetheless refused to disclose the report in response to a public records request submitted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The newspaper was forced to sue and thankfully obtained the report just two weeks before the election, but only because it had the resources necessary to file a lawsuit.

One reason the newspaper was willing to take on the significant cost of litigation, however, was because of a provision within the Public Records Act that requires the government to reimburse the legal costs incurred by the requesting party, if a court finds that the government did, in fact, violate the law by withholding public records.

Absent this provision, the NPRA would be far less effective because government agencies could unlawfully withhold documents knowing that few organizations would be willing to pay the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to force the government to comply.

This was precisely what CCSD argued for in its appeal.

Not content with wasting tax dollars to keep the investigation itself secret, the school district engaged in a lengthy appeal asking the Court to require the newspaper to pay its own legal fees.

The Nevada Supreme Court ultimately rejected the school district’s frivolous and self-serving argument. However, the whole ordeal will still end up consuming more than $125,000 of public money that should have gone instead towards education.

More must be done to ensure compliance with the Public Records Act. The importance of this law and government transparency cannot be overstated.

Using the public records law, the Reno Gazette-Journal recently discovered that Tesla defied a court order and search warrant by refusing to allow federal investigators access to their property. Given the enormous subsidies the state has provided to Tesla, the report is of significant public importance, but would never have seen the light of day if not for the public records law.

The Review-Journal used the law to help uncover numerous scandals and examples of corruption that officials would have preferred remained hidden, including failed oversight by the state Dental Board, improper use of government funds at the Las Vegas Convention Visitors Authority that would ultimately lead to criminal charges, and highly questionable activities at the Nevada DMV, where employees are alleged to have sabotaged a botched $75 million computer upgrade in an attempt to obtain bribes.

Thankfully, many public agencies comply with the law without a court order. But as this latest ruling reminds us, some agencies have no problem squandering significant amounts of tax dollars on frivolous legal efforts in an attempt to keep the public in the dark.

By educating, training, and providing resources on government transparency, the Nevada Open Government Coalition hopes to empower citizens with the knowledge and tools they need to hold public officials accountable.

The Coalition will also advocate for legislative changes designed to discourage the type of noncompliance exemplified in the recent CCSD case, which is sadly far too common.

To that end, the Coalition believes that public officials who violate the NPRA should face a penalty for doing so. This would ensure all Nevadans, taxpayers and public officials alike, are treated fairly under the law, while also providing the accountability needed to ensure Nevadans receive the fully transparent government to which they are entitled.

Robert Fellner is Vice President & Director of Policy of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, an independent organization that promotes free markets and individual freedom in the Silver State. Tod Story is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada, which works to defend and advance the civil liberties and rights of all Nevadans. They are founding board members of the Nevada Open Government Coalition.

Source: Diverse “transparency” coalition in Nevada holds government accountable

Editorial: Courts should overturn ‘Red Flag’ law

A number of Nevada counties have passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions in response to state lawmakers passing a “Red Flag” law in 2019 that would allow persons accused of being a potential danger to themselves or others to have their firearms confiscated by order of a judge.

But rather than threatening to flout the law, the better route is the one taken by Elko County commissioners recently and that is to challenge the law in the courts. The commissioners voted to join a lawsuit filed in December by attorneys for NevadansCAN (Citizens Action Network) that argues the “Red Flag” section of Assembly Bill 291, which was passed on a near party-line vote with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, is unconstitutional because it violates the right to due process and the right to keep and bear arms — as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Nevada Constitution, which states, “Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense …”

According to the Elko Daily Free Press, at the start of the meeting Elko County Sheriff Aitor Narvaiza declared, “On Jan. 7, 2019, I was elected sheriff of Elko County. I took an oath to protect the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Nevada. I’m here to tell the lawmakers to keep your hands off our guns.”

He was quoted as saying, “Let’s enforce the laws that we have which are reasonable instead of enacting more laws which are unconstitutional. … A great president once said this country cannot be defeated in combat, but it can be defeated within. Right now this country is crumbling, slowly, due to weak-minded politicians and lawmakers who push unconstitutional laws for personal gains and to fill their pockets.”

He received several rounds of applause the newspaper reported.

The litigation appears to have sound legal footing due to a recent unanimous Nevada Supreme Court ruling. The court found that gun ownership is such a fundamental right that it cannot be taken away merely by a judge’s ruling, opining that a person charged with misdemeanor domestic battery is entitled to a trial by jury, because the state Legislature in 2017 enacted a law saying someone convicted of such a crime could have their right to keep and bear arms denied.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that only those persons charged with a “serious” crime are entitled to a jury trial. The unanimous Nevada opinion written by Justice Lidia Stiglich states the change in state law to prohibit firearms possession by someone convicted of domestic violence effectively increases the “penalty” and makes the crime “serious” rather than “petty.”

“In our opinion, this new penalty — a prohibition on the right to bear arms as guaranteed by both the United States and Nevada Constitutions — ‘clearly reflect[s] a legislative determination that the offense [of misdemeanor domestic battery] is a serious one,’” Stiglich wrote in a case out of Las Vegas.

The NevadansCAN lawsuit declares, “This (“Red Flag”) law makes mincemeat of the due process of law, will endanger law enforcement and the public, and is a tool for stalkers and abusers to disarm innocent victims. Empirical data is available that nearly a third of such orders are improperly issued against innocent people, in states with experience of the operation of such a law.”

Proponents of such laws often cite the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting that left 58 country music concert goers dead in Law Vegas as justification, but neither this “Red Flag” law nor the recently enacted tougher background check law would have prevented that tragedy.

AB291 defies the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, the Fifth Amendment right to not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law and the 14th Amendment prohibition against states abridging the privileges and immunities of U.S. citizens.

It must be overturned and litigation is the proper route to do so.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Source: Editorial: Courts should overturn ‘Red Flag’ law

McDonald wins fifth term as Nevada GOP chairman

Donald Trump hats and other items on offer at the Nevada Republican state central committee meeting in WInnemucca on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mesquite City Councilwoman Annie Black, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent state GOP chairman Michael McDonald for the post, speaks to a party delegate at the state party central committee meeting in Winnemucca on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada state GOP chairman Michael McDonald speaks to party delegates standing on line to vote f ...
Nevada state GOP chairman Michael McDonald speaks to party delegates standing on line to vote for party posts at the Republican state party central committee meeting in Winnemucca on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

WINNEMUCCA – Nevada Republican Party officials, seeking to put 2018 state losses behind them and set a glide path for nominating President Donald Trump for a second term in 2020, re-elected their incumbent chairman and other party leaders Saturday and formally took the party out of holding a presidential caucus to choose its candidate in February.

The Silver State’s GOP thus becomes the latest state party to all but formally endorse the sitting president more than a year before the election, though central committee members stopped short of nominating him outright. That vote, per Republican national committee rules, won’t happen until February, state leaders said Saturday.

But by opting against a caucus, a move favored by the Trump campaign in Nevada and elsewhere, state Republicans do avoid a contest that could sow division and would cost the party money, but whose outcome would not be much in doubt.

Republicans in South Carolina and Kansas voted to forgo their states’ primaries earlier Saturday, and Arizona Republicans were expected to follow suit as well.

“We have an incredible incumbent who’s very strong,” Douglas County’s Amy Tarkanian told fellow delegates as party faithful debated the move. “And I think it would be a slap in his face if we did not pass this.”

The measure was approved on a show of raised hands. Those who spoke against it said skipping the presidential caucus would sharply curtail participation and enthusiasm for other caucus contests, which will continue as normal.

“It is not only about money. It’s also about the individual’s right to go to the (caucus) and cast a vote,” said Clark County delegate Mary Beganyi. “You want to elect Republicans? Engage Republicans.”

Meeting Saturday in Winnemucca, the county seat of strongly-Republican Humboldt County in Northern Nevada, far from Democratic strongholds in the south, party officials also backed the full slate of incumbent leaders, all Trump stalwarts who enjoy the similar backing of the president.

Chairman Michael McDonald, who has served since 2012, easily won a three-way race with 57 percent of the vote, or 205 out of 362 votes cast, beating back opponents who sought to blame him for the party’s losses in 2016 and 2018.

Trump lost the state in 2016, and Republicans suffered steep losses in 2018 up and down the ballot, including races for U.S. Senate, three of four U.S. House races, and the governor and attorney general races. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske remains the only Republican statewide elected official.

McDonald defeated Mesquite Councilwoman Annie Black, who received 102 votes, and former Clark County GOP chairman Dave McKeon who won 54.

The caucus opt-out had the backing of the chairman and leadership.

“Caucuses are expensive,” McDonald said during a break in the meeting. He noted that county party organizations had their eyes on reversing 2018’s losses in state legislative races and wanted to “focus on and put the resources where they’re needed.”

In Nevada, Democrats hold a 73,000 active registered voter advantage over Republicans on the strength of their 165,000-voter lead in Clark County, where 71 percent of Nevada’s voters reside. Republicans have a registration advantage in the state’s other 16 counties. State active-voter registration is 38 percent Democratic, 33 percent Republican, and 22 percent nonpartisan according to August figures from the secretary of state’s office.

Source: McDonald wins fifth term as Nevada GOP chairman

Costly Nevada Legal Fight Over Taxes Was Unnecessary

It was a senseless and futile gesture, but our Democratic lawmakers and governor were just the ones to do it.

Despite the fact Nevada voters in 1994 and 1996 amended the state Constitution to declare “an affirmative vote of not fewer than two-thirds of the members elected to each House is necessary to pass a bill or joint resolution which creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form,” the 21-member state Senate approved the extension of taxes and fees that were supposed to be curbed with a 13-8 vote, one vote short of the constitutionally mandated two-thirds. Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the tax extensions into law.

The eight Republican senators who voted against the tax extensions and three companies that would have to pay the higher taxes have sued in district court in Carson City, asking the court for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against enactment of the laws.

The Democrats charged ahead with tax and fee extensions after their compliant Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), the lawmakers’ lawyers, issued an opinion that a two-thirds vote was not necessary since the taxes were not being “raised” but merely allowed to continue at a rate that was scheduled to be reduced, paying no heed to the fact the bills in question “generate” public revenue. Asked nearly the same question in 2011, 2013 and 2015, the LCB said a two-thirds vote was necessary.

When Republicans first threatened to sue, Sisolak confidently stated, “We’ve got legal opinion from LCB that, you know, a simple majority is what’s needed. I’ve been in government for 20 some-odd years, and if you don’t trust your attorneys, you’ve got a problem. So I’m confident that the attorneys gave us a good opinion. We’ll move forward from there.”

After the suit was actually filed, a somewhat less assured Sisolak was quoted by the pressas demurring, “I remain absolutely committed to taking action if necessary following the court’s decision to ensure our schools continue to receive the total amount of funding approved by the Legislature for the … biennium.”

According to the governor’s executive budget at the end of that biennium there is expected to be a rainy day fund balance of $415.2 million, more than enough to cover the $98 million that the extension of the modified business tax rate and the $7 million that the $1 Department of Motor Vehicles technology fee extension are expected to generate.

The modified business tax extension is scheduled to begin being collected on Oct. 1 and the technology fee was set to end on July 1, 2020.

So, what was the point in pushing the constitution-ignoring legislation?

Senate Republican Leader James Settelmeyer said in a statement released to the media after the suit was filed, “We have checks and balances for a reason and eroding the two-thirds requirement is an unprecedented disregard for the constitution and creates a dangerous precedent. While there was ample money to fund education and other vital programs, Sisolak and (Senate Democratic Leader Nicole) Cannizzaro acted recklessly and their behavior created an unnecessary constitutional crisis at the expense of over 23,000 small business in Nevada.”

The lawsuit itself makes abundantly clear the stakes involved here: “This action involves an issue of of significant public and statewide importance as it seeks to uphold and protect the constitutional amendment proposed by citizen ballot initiative adopted and overwhelmingly approved by Nevada voters in 1994 and 1996. As provided in Article 1, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution, political power is inherent in the people. Government only has power from the consent of the governed, and the residents and citizens of the State of Nevada twice voted strongly in favor of amending the Nevada Constitution to add the two-thirds requirement, and the two-thirds requirement has, at least prior to 2019, been applied consistently to legislative bills extending sunsets by the Nevada Legislature.”

The Republican senators and three companies, of course, are asking for recovery of reasonable attorney fees and costs. So, the taxpayers are likely to get stuck with all the costs from both sides.

The suit further noted that lawmakers “had enough money to fund the State’s budget without the public revenues created, generated or increased as a result of the changes to the payroll tax …”

So the passage with less than two-thirds votes was senseless, and, once the courts correctly rule that a two-thirds vote was constitutionally necessary, it will have been futile.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Nevada Legislature

Source: Costly legal fight over taxes was unnecessary


See you in court, governor

by Thomas Mitchell

So, the governor is confident that the extension of the modified business tax rate will withstand a legal challenge, according to both the Las Vegas newspaper and the online Nevada Independent.

“We’ve got legal opinion from LCB (Legislative Counsel Bureau) that, you know, a simple majority is what’s needed,” Gov. State Sisolak was quoted as saying Tuesday. “I’ve been in government for 20 some-odd years, and if you don’t trust your attorneys, you’ve got a problem. So I’m confident that the attorneys gave us a good opinion. We’ll move forward from there.”

Be prepared to move back, governor, by nearly $100 million in your budget for the next two years — the budget that promises 5 percent raises for teachers.

Republicans have promised a legal challenge if the business tax was extended without a two-thirds majority of both houses as prescribed by the Constitution. The tax extension passed the Senate on a party line vote of 13-8, one vote shy of two-thirds.

Voters in 1994 and 1996 amended the Nevada Constitution to state “an affirmative vote of not fewer than two-thirds of the members elected to each House is necessary to pass a bill or joint resolution which creates, generates, or increases any public revenue in any form, including but not limited to taxes, fees, assessments and rates, or changes in the computation bases for taxes, fees, assessments and rates.”

The modified business tax passed in 2015 by a two-thirds vote of lawmakers contained specific language saying the rates would be reduced in 2019 if tax revenues exceeded a certain level, which they have.

But the compliant LCB told the majority Democratic lawmakers and the Democratic governor, “It is the opinion of this office that Nevada’s two-thirds majority requirement does not apply to a bill which extends until a later date or revises or eliminates a future decrease in or future expiration of existing state taxes when that future decrease or expiration is not legally operative and binding yet, because such a bill does not change but maintains the existing computation bases currently in effect for the existing state taxes.”

The bill clearly “generates” revenue that two-thirds of the lawmakers in 2015 said would decrease as of July 1, 2019.

The state Constitution is not something to tamper with. Republicans should take it to court and make the Democrats abide by the rules, even if it means a special session would have to called. In fact, the GOP lawmakers should go directly to the state Supreme Court for an opinion that would binding, unlike the LCB opinion “that future decrease or expiration is not legally operative and binding yet …”

Asked nearly the same question in 2011, 2013 and 2015, the LCB said a two-thirds vote was necessary. So, governor, when do you trust your attorneys?

Gov. Steve Sisolak, right, talks to reporters about legislative session. (R-J pix)

Source: See you in court, governor

Group signals recall effort of Gov. Sisolak over gun legislation

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak delivers his first State of the State address from the Assembly Chambers of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, Nev., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes)

June 3, 2019 – 3:55 pm

A conservative group has formed a recall committee to attempt to kick Gov. Steve Sisolak out of office, a nascent effort largely motivated by fear of losing rights under recent gun control legislation.

Fight for Nevada, based in Elko County, registered with the secretary of state’s office on May 6. The group’s president, Angela Blass, said Monday that the “state will become dangerous” under policies championed by Sisolak, the new governor.

It was “sort of this deep gut feeling that something has to be done,” said Blass, 41, who works as an assistant administrator for a fuel company. “We can’t allow this. And also, it scared the hell out of me.”

On Saturday, a gun control bill that would ban bump stocks and enact stricter gun storage provisions and a “red flag” provision enabling authorities to seize guns from those deemed a threat to themselves or others was sent to Sisolak’s office. The next day, Fight for Nevada held its first major rally in Carson City.

The group is opposed not only to gun control legislation, but to wasteful spending and attempts to make Nevada a sanctuary state, according to its website.

“In the final hours of the legislative session, Governor Sisolak remains focused on his priorities for Nevada families — funding our schools, expanding access to health care, and fighting for a safer Nevada,” Sisolak spokeswoman Helen Kalla said Monday when asked to respond to the group’s effort.

Blass moved from California about two years ago; she said she was not politically involved until now and insisted that her group tries to be bipartisan. But she also said she witnessed the consequences of Democratic leadership in California and lamented that Nevada appears to be heading down a similarly liberal path.

She claimed there are about 8,000 members in the group and said they expect to begin signature-gathering efforts by November. Organizers say they will need 242,950 signatures of registered voters who cast a ballot in the gubernatorial race last fall to launch a recall election.

Source: Group signals recall effort of Gov. Sisolak over gun legislation

https://www.facebook.com/groups/386055352220090/

https://www.facebook.com/recallsisolak/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ConcernedVotersNorthernNV/


Upcoming Rallies
6/16/2019 Elko Rally

The Elko Rally has been moved to the 16th. There is going be speakers, a raffle and a lot of supporters! Come down and make your voice heard! Sheriff Aitor, Merecedes Mendive and Thelma Homer will be there.

1pm14810 Hwy 227 Spring Creek, NV

Estuary Park

06/22/2019 Winnemucca Rally

 Location: Winnemucca boulevard between McDonald’s and the pig BBQ restaurant on the sidewalk. Parking is available in the lot beside AutoZone. We can gather in the AutoZone parking lot to consolidate before starting the March.   Regroup at pioneer Park at the gazebos near the restrooms at 2:00pm-? for public speakers.   Speakers are: Angela blass: Fight for Nevada Aitor Narvaiza: Elko sheriff Joshua Schmitt: 3% Legion Militia 

12pm1:30pm

Winnemucca boulevard between McDonald’s and the pig BBQ restaurant on the sidewalk.

Nevada AB291 – Rules Suspended, Bill Completely Changed and Passed by The Senate.

AB291 was sent to the Governor late Friday, May 31st, 2019.  The bills final Senate version looks very little like what was passed out of the assembly earlier this month. After suspending the rules, the Senate amended the bill and added the verbiage from two other bills that never made it out of committee, giving them a life they were not supposed to have.  Red Flag and Gun Storage Laws were added to replace all of the Preemptive State Gun Law that was removed.

May 20, 2019 by associated press  CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety says it supported a proposal at the Nevada Legislature that would have allowed counties to pre-empt state gun laws and pass stricter firearm regulations but it became clear that the measure could not pass this year in the face of opposition.

The proposal was part of a broader gun bill moving through the statehouse but the bill's sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, released a statement Friday saying she was removing the provision at the request of Everytown and other groups. The provision is expected to be replaced with language creating a so-called "red flag" law allowing police or family members to seek an order to seize guns from people who appear violent or may post a danger. 

Everytown deputy press secretary Zoe Sheppard says "there is a real path" to pass a red flag law in Nevada "that can save lives right away. She says Everytown will try again in the future to pass legislation allowing counties to set their own gun control regulations.

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Saturday, June 1st, Second Amendment supporters rallied with members of the Nevada Republican Assembly Caucus in Carson City as well as Las Vegas.


Briefing in Pahrump water order appeal filings complete

The briefing in the appeal case regarding Nevada State Engineer Order #1293(A) has reached its conclusion.

The documents for all parties involved are now undergoing the process of screening by the Nevada Supreme Court, which will decide whether or not to move the case forward and hold a hearing to allow for oral arguments.

In addition to the Nevada State Engineer’s Office, which is the appellant, and Pahrump Fair Water, the respondent, a third party has joined the battle as well. The Nevada Groundwater Association requested leave to file an amicus brief, taking the side of Pahrump Fair Water in the argument, and the Nevada Supreme Court has granted that request.

The water order has been the source of much contention since it was originally issued in December 2017.

The order restricts the drilling of new domestic wells in the Pahrump Valley unless two acre-feet of water rights have been relinquished in support of the well. For some Pahrump property owners, water rights were already relinquished when their parcels were initially created. However, for many others, this is not the case and the order requires these property owners to first purchase water rights and relinquish them back to the state before they can drill a domestic well on their land.

Pahrump Fair Water, an organization composed of local property owners, well drillers and real estate agents, filed suit to put a stop to the water order. After several months of legal maneuvering, a judge with the Fifth Judicial District Court rendered a ruling in November 2018 in favor of Pahrump Fair Water and overturned the water order.

That was far from the end of the matter, however, as the Nevada State Engineer’s Office took its opportunity to file an appeal, which is the case now before the Nevada Supreme Court. While the case is being considered, the Supreme Court has issued a stay on the ruling that overturned the water order, meaning at the moment, the order is still in effect.

The basic argument between the engineer’s office and Pahrump Fair Water stems from the question of just how far the state engineer’s authority extends when it comes to domestic wells.

Pahrump Fair Water asserts that the engineer does not have the power to regulate domestic wells except in very specific circumstances, which the organization argues do not exist in the given situation. The state engineer, conversely, proclaims that the engineer’s office can, in fact, restrict domestic wells and withdrawals from such if the engineer finds that it would be in the best interest of the health of the overall water basin to do so.

There are several other points argued by both sides in the briefs filed in the case, including those regarding due process requirements and whether potential new domestic wells constitute a vested property right or protectable interest.

Now the case has reached a “wait and see” point, as there is no definite schedule for when the Nevada Supreme Court might decide to hold a hearing in the matter.

“There is really no way to tell,” David Rigdon of Taggart and Taggart, LTD, the law firm representing Pahrump Fair Water, stated when asked about a possible time line for the case. “I’ve seen the screening process take as few as 45 days and as long as seven to eight months. It all depends on their workload. In the order approving the stay, the court stated that they wanted expedited briefing… However it’s not clear whether the court will expedite its screening and review.”

The appeal is filed under Case No. 77722. All associated documents can be reviewed online at www.nvcourts.gov

 

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

Call to action on AB 95

The Nevada Legislative Session is has just three weeks remaining until it comes to a close and the fate of hundreds of bills depends upon the decisions made in these final days.

In a email sent out May 14 to area residents with a deep interest in local water resources, Nevada Assemblyman Greg Hafen II urged the community to reach out to Nevada Senators and ask them to vote “no” on one particular bill, Assembly Bill 95.

The bill calls for changes to Nevada water law that many have been pushing back against. It would require the Nevada State Engineer, “…to continue to allow withdrawals of groundwater from domestic wells under certain circumstances in groundwater basins where withdrawals have been restricted to conform to priority rights,” according to the bill language.

The bill dictates that domestic wells would be allowed to continue pumping half an acre foot of water it times of curtailment but only if the owner installs a water meter. The idea of water meters is something Pahrump residents have been extremely resistant to for years. Many have also argued that the state engineer does not have the authority to curtail domestic wells at all, a belief that is current under debate in a lawsuit between the engineer’s office and Pahrump Fair Water.

A bill very similar to Assembly Bill 95 was before the Nevada Legislature in 2017 and after the public outcry, it ultimately failed to pass.

“I rise today in opposition to Assembly Bill 95. Assembly Bill 95 tramples over 100 years of Nevada water laws to the detriment of all water users,” Hafen stated from the Assembly Floor on May 14. “We heard from many Nevadans during the bill’s hearing about the negative effects of the bill. There was not one person or organization in support.”

“Currently, domestic wells in my district are already only using an average of half an acre foot per year,” Hafen continued. “Conservation is the key to solving Nevada’s water issues and this bill does nothing to promote conservation, but does have a financial burden to well owners by requiring them install a meter. I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on Assembly Bill 95.”

Details on the bill and a list of all Nevada Legislators along with their contact information can be found online at www.leg.state.nv.us

— Robin Hebrock, Pahrump Valley Times

Source: Briefing in Pahrump water order appeal complete