Editorial: No need for murky water law changes

 

Two bills proposing to alter water use policy are pending in the Nevada Legislature. They are at best problematic.

Assembly Bill 30 appears to give the state engineer greater leeway in the use of monitoring, management and mitigations — known in the jargon as 3M — to resolve conflicts in water rights. The language is rather vague and subject to interpretation.

Assembly Bill 51 appears to give the state engineer more flexibility in what is called conjunctive management of water. While current law treats surface water and groundwater as interchangeable in a basin in the scheme of allocations, AB51 tells the state engineer to adopt regulations that mitigate conflicts between the two water sources.

Nevada water law is based on the concept of prior authorization, in other words the first one to use a water resource has priority or senior water rights. Those who come later, if there is enough water available, have junior rights that must yield to the senior rights if supply becomes inadequate for any reason.

The Great Basin Water Network, an organization that has been fighting attempts for years by the Las Vegas Valley water provider to tap groundwater in eastern Nevada basins, suspects these two bills are intended to give the state engineer the flexibility needed to allow the project to reach fruition.

GBWN says the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s $15 billion groundwater importation plan would pump 58 billion gallons of groundwater annually in a 300-mile pipeline to Las Vegas. They say the Bureau of Land Management has estimated the project would irreparably harm 305 springs, 112 miles of streams, 8,000 acres of wetlands, and 191,000 acres of shrub land habitat.

A federal judge has so far blocked the water grab from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys, saying the state engineer failed to establish any objective criteria for when mitigation — such as halting pumping — would have to be initiated. The engineer plans to appeal that ruling, but a change in state law could moot that.

GBWN questions the effectiveness of the two bills’ calls for monetary compensation and water replacement to make whole senior water rights owners.

Abby Johnson, GBWN’s president, says in an op-ed she has penned for area newspapers, “From ranchers to environmentalists, there is a consensus that we don’t need to fix what isn’t broken. Nevada water law has served Nevadans well for more than 100 years and continues to serve the public interest. That success, however, has stymied a select few.”

The select few, Johnson says, include real estate developers and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which has “not had much luck in recent years getting what they want under the current legal and regulatory framework. Why? Because what they want is to facilitate unsustainable over-pumping of the state’s fragile, limited groundwater resources.”

She adds, “ The problem –– for all of us –– is that they want water that either doesn’t exist or already belongs to someone else.”

Johnson further charges that the change in law would grant the state engineer “czar-like powers to unilaterally choose winners and losers without regard to senior water rights holders’ existing property rights … which would mire Nevada water rights owners and the state government in complex and unpredictable litigation for years.”

Assemblyman John Ellison of Elko released a statement saying the bills would constitute an unconstitutional “taking” of water rights and said a recent hearing saw a consensus of opposition from industry, ranchers and farmers and not one person testifying in support of either bill.

“We cannot allow an unelected bureaucrat to wield this much power over one of our state’s most precious resources. I’m reminded of the famous Mark Twain quote, ‘Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.’” Ellison said. “I will never stop fighting for the rights of senior property rights owners in my district and throughout Nevada.”

Though Twain probably never said that, it sounds like something he would say and is apropos to the current situation. AB 30 and AB51 need to be sent down the drain.

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: No need for murky water law changes


Nye County Sheriff says she won’t enforce background checks law on most private gun sales

NYE COUNTY, Nev. – The controversy continues weeks after Governor Steve Sisolak, D-Nev. signed a bill requiring background checks on most private party gun sales.  However, Nye County’s sheriff said Thursday that she will not enforce the Senate Bill 143 when it takes effect in about 10 years.

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly sent a letter to Governor Sisolak saying in part:

“As sheriff of Nye County, I agree with Sheriff Watts: I will not participate in the enforcement of this new law…”

One of the supporters who helped with the efforts to pass the measure reacted to the sheriff’s letter during a taping of Politics Now.

Patrick Walker, Politics NOW host: “What do you think?”
Annette Magnus, Executive Director of Battle Born Progress: “I think that’s hilarious, and they’re going to enforce it eventually. We’ll take it to the courts, that’s fine, but at the end of the day, it’s going to get enforced, whether they like it or not.”

Wherley’s decision is much like the sheriffs of Pershing, White Pine, and Eureka counties. They say the new law creates a burden on law enforcement officers.  Plus, they feel the citizens don’t want it.

“And vote no on question 1,” said a 2016 NRA political ad featuring Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen.

He like many other rural sheriffs were not on board with Senate Bill 143 also known as Question 1, so it failed in the rural counties. However, the massive amount of support Question 1 received in Clark County allowed the measure to pass by less than a percentage point.

Former Attorney General Adam Laxalt put the bill on hold due to a requirement that the FBI perform the background checks.

Last month, lawmakers re-wrote and passed a revised version of the bill.

“It’s time to get serious about gun violence,” said Anne Germain, 1 October survivor.  “It’s time to enact the measure that Nevadans voted for.”

“Prohibited persons do not subject themselves to background checks,” said Steve Johnston, a licensed firearms dealer. “This law will not change that.”

Both Governor Sisolak and Attorney General Aaron Ford, D-NV responded to Sheriff Wehrly’s letter, saying they look forward to working with the sheriffs to review ways to enforce the law.

“My office and that of the attorney general are aware of the letters from multiple rural Nevada sheriffs regarding SB143,” Gov. Sisolak said. “While the law will not take effect until January 2020, I look forward to working with Attorney General Ford and local law enforcement over the next several months to review ways to enforce this law, as is the case with all other Nevada laws that elected officers are sworn to uphold.”

“As Nevada’s top law enforcement officer, I have a constitutional obligation to uphold the laws of the state,” Ford said. “That includes a law passed in 2015 by then-Senate Majority Leader, Republican Michael Roberson, to prevent counties from passing their own ordinances that conflicted with state gun laws. Republican Governor Sandoval signed this bill into law. In 2016, voters approved a ballot question requiring background checks on most firearm transfers. Just last month, the Nevada Legislature passed a similar law that closed the background check loophole. That law is set to go into effect in January, 2020. Between now and the effective date, I look forward to sitting down with sheriffs and other local law enforcement officials to discuss the best way implement the laws we have sworn to uphold.”

8 News NOW reached out to the Nye County Sheriff’s office for a follow-up interview with Sheriff Wehrly or to ask further questions, but our calls went unreturned.

Source: Nye County Sheriff says she won’t enforce background checks law on most private gun sales

Why a Republic and How do we Keep it?

By Doug Knowles ~ February 28th 2019

Why did our forefathers, give us a republic?

It was not easy for them to agree on the best form of government for the newly liberated nation.  They did much research, analysis, and debate to come to the final definition of our Constitutional Republic.

A large portion of the consideration was to the understanding of the failures of other efforts both currently and in history, and how those failures would be prevented.

The types of governments they had to consider at that time, were vulnerable to and ended in rebellion and chaos.  They looked at the failures of the ability of the ruled to rule themselves.  Their ultimate goal became the concept of Governoring by those that are being Governed.

Chaos, being the absolute enemy of any government, how could they keep chaos in check. Balance the powers of the governing and the governed.

From this, the concept of a Constitutional Republic was born.  A form of government for the people and by the people. Throughout history, the attempts at pure democracy also ultimately failed in chaos — the inability to control the leadership by the governed.

The separation of powers with checks and balances allowing for organized intervention when the balance of power or control becomes detrimental to the republic was what would be attempted.

The branches of Government were organized to define not only responsibility but also accountability.

The legislature would be the body by which laws and fine tuning of the government would take place as well as the control of the spending.

To control chaos, they created a House of Representatives and a Senate. Each state would have two senators elected by the people. Each state would have an equal number of representatives to the population divided into equal districts of the population.

This was done to balance the legislative branch of government, between the two types of representation — equality of the states and the separate equality of the population as a whole. Last but not least, the decisions approved by both bodies have the President as a check and balance to veto.

The executive branch was created to operate the functions of governing based on the rules put in place by the legislature. It includes a President and Vice President elected by the states through a process called the electoral college. The today electoral college consists of 538 electors each having a vote. An absolute majority of 270 electoral votes is required to determine the President and Vice President, team.

Electors are chosen by a method provided in each state’s constitution, and a number of electors equal to the representatives and senators combined representing the state in the legislature.

A national election for the President and Vice President team is held in each state. However, the members representing the state may be chosen by other methods.  It is presumed, that the votes of the electoral college members will represent the results of the state’s election but is not required; it is based upon each state’s constitution.

A third, branch of the government, the Judicial, was created to be an arbiter between not only the Executive and Legislative branches, but between the government and the people as well as between the people.

Power and Control

In our Constitutional Republic, anything not covered in the constitution is left to the states. However, the states must yield to the constitution of the republic in the constitution of the state.

As the States, Counties and Cities were formed; they were encouraged to follow a similar approach for the same reasons that a republic was chosen.

The Model from the republic was separately elected branches and something similar to a legislature or commission or council.  Most states have an Executive Branch; A Governor and a successor, a Judicial Branch; an Attorney General and a Legislature; Assembly and Senate.

At the county levels things change, the legislature is replaced by a council or commission, but in most cases, the judicial, and law enforcement are still elected by the people making them a separate branch elected by the people.

The county, being the closest government to the people, has the ultimate jurisdiction and constitutional protection for the people.

The sheriff has the authority to stand between the people and any of the governments any issue of natural rights protected or not by the constitution of the republic.

Why and How are we the people losing the Power and Control

The only way we as individuals lose Power and Control is either delegating it or allowing to be taken. The constitution protects your ability to vote in or out the folks that you are delegating the power and control to.

Simple process until we allow it to be changed.

So far we have described what is referred to as the Layer Cake Republic. Each layer of government has controls that define them, and each layer has power and controls that are defined by the layers above or below.

Then comes what we call the Marble Cake Republic. This concept describes what we are seeing happen in the structure of government today.

Examples that turn the Layer Cake Republics to Marble Cake Republics

Starting in the legislatures, we find that they are delegating the power and controls we have given them to executive branch bureaucracies. When this happens, we as voters lose our power and control as our elected officials have delegated those powers to non-elected bureaucrats.

Anytime one of our Powers and Controls gets delegated to a non-elected official we lose our power and control of our vote.

Now comes the regional Boards and Commissions.  An example would be a regional water board. The member cities agree to create a board/commission for the purpose of making decisions and rules about water issues. This transfers the power and control of an agency. They appoint representatives to the board from each member city/county.

There go the powers and control of electing those that represent your interests on those matters.

Bad court decisions applied globally are another culprit.

A court decision, Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), forced western states like here in Nevada to change how senators are elected and allocated to the counties.  The legislature in Nevada was originally set up like the federal government, with a senator allocated for each county and the assembly members elected by district based on population. Now the senators are determined by districts created based on population.

This change had the effect of giving a majority of senators and assemblymen to the largest populated county in the state.  My county here in NYE shares both an assemblyman and senator with five other counties districts.  The Rural counties are no longer represented fairly.

Pahrump Valley Electric Association loses Publics Confidence

Members of the Pahrump Valley Electric Association Co-op, have rallied to collect signatures to replace the current board of directors.

A page on Facebook has been created calling themselves  VEA Members for change. Several events to collect signatures from verified members of the Co-op have been scheduled. More information is available on the Facebook page

The effort, triggered by an announcement, that electric rates would be increasing 10%, and other services such as internet, television, and phone services are getting increases as well. In spite of the Co-op promising stable rates.

Early last year VEA completed a campaign to get enough votes from members to allow the sale of high voltage transmission line.  Along with those efforts, a promise to keep rates at the same level for the next ten years was offered in exchange for member votes.

Late last week Nye County Sheriffs Office served a search warrant on the headquarters of VEA. The Facebook video below was shared to explain the search and some of the circumstances behind it.  With a promise of a more detailed announcement later sometime in March.

The second video below from the Las Vegas Review-Journal was published as a rebuttal to the video from the NCSO.

Yesterday, NCSO responded with the third video, containing body camera footage of the event, as a response to VEA staff's accusations about the actual search.

Public Release-VEA Search Warrant Executed

Public Release-Nye County Sheriff's Office Personell executed a search warrant at ValleyElectric Association for administrative and financial records.

Posted by Nye County Sheriff's Office on Friday, February 22, 2019

LVRJ Report on Statement released by VEA Staff

NCSO RESPONDS TO VEA ALLEGATIONS

The Nye County Sheriff is responding to untruths published by Valley Electric Association which includes body camera footage of the warrant execution.

Posted by Nye County Sheriff's Office on Monday, February 25, 2019