June 15, 2017
15 Jun 2017

Political Update – December 19, 2017

Secret recordings show Laxalt's integrity

 

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
December 12, 2017

 

You would think that breathless media reports about an elected official’s secretly recorded conversations would produce shocking evidence of wrongdoing. For Attorney General Adam Laxalt, however, they keep revealing his integrity.

Over the weekend, the Reno Gazette-Journal acted like it had a bombshell. Laxalt “sought to enlist state staffers in a politically-charged press spat over a pardoned prisoner, an audio recording obtained by the Reno Gazette Journal reveals.”

Translation: Laxalt directed his communications director to return a reporter’s phone call about an item in the news. It reveals a lot that the RGJ thinks it’s a big deal to find out that communications staffers return reporter phone calls.

“The conversation raises questions about Laxalt using official state resources for political purposes, which is prohibited under state law,” says the video accompanying the story.

Did they even listen to the tape?



READ MORE HERE

 

 

Quote of the week

Quote of the week


 

Quote:
"You would think that breathless media reports about an elected official’s secretly recorded conversations would produce shocking evidence of wrongdoing. For Attorney General Adam Laxalt, however, they keep revealing his integrity."
  - Victor Joecks,
Las Vegas Review-Journal,
December 12, 2017

 

When we talk about Nevada education funding, let's talk about accountability

Las Vegas Review-Journal December 11, 2017

The Clark County School District’s budget woes have intensified the perpetual debate about state education funding. What too often gets short shrift, however, is the concurrent discussion on accountability.

READ MORE HERE

 
 

Keystone's Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.
 

Keystone's Mission:

To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor's office.
    • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
    • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth

 

 

 

June 13, 2017
13 Jun 2017

Political Update – June 6, 2017

CCSD’s systemic problem and its expensive consequences

Steven Miller
Nevada Journal
June 1, 2017

Part 8: District’s internal financial controls revealed as effectively nonexistent 

In October 2013, the executive director of the administrators union for the Clark County School District was highly agitated over draft policy guidelines being offered for the school board’s review.
Although the guidelines seemed normal for government officials — requiring them to publicly disclose conflicts of interest — Stephen Augspurger nevertheless was saying he took great offense at the draft rules.
Augspurger, chief of the Clark County Association of School Administrators & Professional-Technical Employees, thought he saw within one draft insulting “insinuations” that one or more district administrators might be doing something improper…
Multiple years of hidden CCSD administrator corruption

As would soon become public information, however, corruption of significant scope had been ongoing for a minimum of seven years in at least one corner of the district’s central office.
At the very time Augspurger was addressing trustees, a long-running theft ring was plundering the district under the orchestration of a trusted and effectively unsupervised CCSD administrator, Priscilla Rocha.
As news stories throughout 2014 and 2015 would detail, Rocha, while pulling down a significant district salary, was also operating the theft ring from behind her directorship of CCSD’s Adult English Language Acquisition Services (AELAS) program.
The gang, organized and led by Rocha:
  • Stole tax dollars from the district through bogus purchase orders;
  • Stole district computers and other equipment, then snuck them across the border into Mexico;
  • Stole fees from students who were told their money would purchase dictionaries;
  • Funneled that money into a hidden Rocha bank account;
  • Used the student fees to purchase a hair salon, as well as pay her mortgage and car payments;
  • Billed CCSD for district “ghost” employees who actually worked for Rocha, personally, cutting hair in the salon;
  • Paid members of the ring in other states as CCSD “language tutors” for work they did not do.
When Rocha was finally suspended from her director job in March 2014, she was annually pulling down, according to Transparent Nevada, some $141,000 in salary and benefits. Although some of that income ended with her criminal conviction, she will still receive a taxpayer-funded Nevada PERS pension for life — approximately $71,000 annually.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: Governor Sandoval has refused to entertain a special session — essentially waving the white flag on what would have been the single most impressive educational choice program in the nation. Michael Schaus, NPRI
June 5, 2017

Political games kill nation’s most promising educational choice program

Michael Schaus
Nevada Research Policy Institute
June 5, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV — The Nevada Policy Research Institute sends its deepest regrets to the thousands of families that will be left without educational options, now that Education Savings Accounts are officially dead in the state legislature.
“It disheartening to see that, for many lawmakers, politics are more important than the needs of individual children,” said NPRI Communication Director Michael Schaus.
According to Schaus, political games and backroom deals ultimately killed the Governor’s proposed ESA fix, SB506.
“It was disheartening to see so many political special interests cheering the fact that 10,000 families won’t have educational options that better suit their children,” Schaus said.
“It’s equally as disheartening to see that Governor Sandoval has refused to entertain a special session — essentially waving the white flag on what would have been the single most impressive educational choice program in the nation.”
While ESAs were killed in a back-room agreement among senators of both parties, a one-time increase was given to the current tax-scholarship program for low-income families, The Opportunity Scholarship Program, of $20 million over the next two years.
“It’s being portrayed as a silver lining to an otherwise outright surrender by Sandoval and a handful of pro-ESA Republicans. But, for more than half the students who were counting on ESAs for their educational future, it is no such thing.” said Schaus.
“At the end of the day, political expediency got in the way of lawmakers standing up for all Nevada students in need of choice.”
The loss will have a long-lasting impact on Nevada’s future generations, according to Schaus.
“We were on the verge of seeing a gold rush of innovation flood the state with universal ESAs. Now, we’ve taken a giant step back toward the tried-and-failed status quo,” Schaus said. “It’s a sad narrative for a state that has repeatedly failed to provide quality education for our younger generations.”

Read More Here

June 5, 2017
05 Jun 2017

Political Update – May 30, 2017

Increase the minimum wage to $120 an hour

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 23, 2017

In Democrats’ world, you can have your cake, eat it and not gain an ounce from the extra calories.

That’s the level of nuance Democrats brought to a discussion Monday on Senate Bill 106, which would increase Nevada’s minimum wage by 75 cents an hour up to $12 an hour for employers not offering health insurance.

Bill presenters Sens. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, and Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, claim Nevada could raise the minimum wage without hurting the economy or killing jobs.
“Gradually increasing the minimum wage will put hundreds of millions into the pockets of Nevadans who then will spend money on basic necessities,” Cancela said. “That’s hundreds of millions of dollars going back into the economy in the form of goods and services consumed.”
Ford, the Senate Majority Leader, then cited an article on Arizona raising its minimum wage to $10 an hour on Jan. 1.
“It states that since the onset of the minimum wage increase and the paid sick-leave policy, they have seen increases in activities at restaurants,” said Ford. “There has not been the decrease and laying off and things of that sort that were projected by the naysayers.”
If we can raise the minimum wage without trade-offs, let’s blow past the living wage and get to a living-in-luxury wage.
But the problems with Democrats’ assertions are clearly seen when followed to their logical conclusions. It’s why liberals are left with the absurdity of saying, “We must raise the minimum wage — but not too much.”
A look at Nevada’s economy shows why SB106 is unnecessary. Cancela said Nevada has 1.2 million workers, and 20,000 make the minimum wage or less. That’s 1 in 600 workers.
So why are 599 out of 600 workers making more than the government-mandated minimum? Because as a worker’s skills increase, so does his or her pay. Most minimum-wage workers earn a raise within their first year of employment, and entry-level jobs are key to moving up the economic ladder.
“Astonishingly, 90 percent of the managers and the upper-level management in the restaurant industry started out as servers in the industry,” said Warren Hardy, a lobbyist for the Nevada Restaurant Association. “The advancement there is absolutely incredible. Our concern is the impact it will have the entry-level job.”
The best path to a job paying $12-an-hour is an $11-an-hour job. The best way to get that is a $10-an-hour job and so on.
Raising the minimum wage takes away those opportunities from the ones who need them most.

READ MORE HERE

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: In Democrats’ world, you can have your cake, eat it and not gain an ounce from the extra calories. That’s the level of nuance Democrats brought to a discussion Monday on Senate Bill 106, which would increase Nevada’s minimum wage by 75 cents an hour up to $12 an hour for employers not offering health insurance. Victor Joecks, Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 23, 2017

Bill to keep Nevada public employee retirement records secret was always a bad idea

Steve Sebelius
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 27, 2017
Senate Bill 384 has been many things in its short life, but it has never been a good idea.
Written in reaction to multiple court rulings which held — reasonably — that public employees’ pay and retirement benefits should be open to inspection by the public, SB 384 sought to do by legislation what the Public Employees Retirement System couldn’t do by litigation: drop a veil of secrecy over at least some records.
The initial version of the bill, introduced by Sparks Democratic state Sen. Julia Ratti in March, would have provided that the name, employer, position and annual salary of a public employee were public, but everything else in that employee’s file was confidential. It would also have said that the name, last public employer and amount of annual pension benefit of a retired public employee, retired judge or state lawmaker would be public, but everything else confidential.
But that version of the bill lasted only a month, before a pernicious amendment in the Senate’s Government Affairs Committee in April. The amended version said names of retired public employees would be confidential, but that an identifying number, the last public employer, the number of years in public service, the retirement date and amount of annual pension benefit would be public.
The reason? Advocates said the bill would fight identity theft targeting older, retirees. And anyway, there’s no reason to reveal a person’s name because the identifying number is good enough. (Full disclosure: My wife is a public employee and participates in PERS.)

Read More Here

June 5, 2017
05 Jun 2017

Political Update – May 23, 2017

Bill to raise Nevada’s minimum wage moves to Senate

Sean Whaley
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 15, 2017

CARSON CITY — A bill that would raise Nevada’s minimum wage moved forward on a 4-3 party-line vote Monday.
The Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee passed Senate Bill 106 to the full Senate. If it wins approval there, it must still be heard in the Assembly.
Nevada’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour for employees who are offered qualified health benefits from their employers. The minimum wage for employees who are not offered health benefits is $8.25 per hour.
The bill would increase the minimum by 75 cents each year until it reaches $12 if employers do not offer health insurance and $11 if insurance is provided.
Supporters of raising the wage testified at a committee hearing in February that paying low-wage earners more would help lift them out of poverty and benefit the overall economy by giving them more buying power.
But opponents countered it would mean increased burdens for small businesses and lead to higher prices, job losses and fewer opportunities for young workers to gain work experience.
Nevada’s existing wage, if insurance is provided, is on par with Idaho and Utah, but lags behind California, Arizona and Oregon.
Another measure being considered seeks to amend the constitution to raise the minimum wage.
Senate Joint Resolution 6 would require the minimum wage to be increased by 75 cents an hour each year beginning on Jan. 1, 2022 until it reaches $12. It would also require the state minimum wage to be set at the federal rate if that rate is higher than what is proposed in the resolution.
The measure would have to be approved by the Legislature twice, this session and again in 2019, and then be approved by voters in 2020, before it could take effect.
Current minimum wage:
6 states have a wage of $10 or more, including California and Arizona.
12 states have a wage of $8.75 to $9.99
11 states have a wage of $7.50 to $8.74
19 states have a wage of $7.25 or they defer to the rate set by the federal government
2 states are below the federal minimum wage.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: One of the reasons the framers of Nevada’s Constitution included a separation-of-powers clause was to avoid the creation of a super-class of elite rulers, passing laws that applied to the masses but not to them.. Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 6, 2017

Lots of reasons to kill Nevada legislation that keeps retired public employee names secret

Steve Sebelius
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 6, 2017
One of the reasons the framers of Nevada’s Constitution included a separation-of-powers clause was to avoid the creation of a super-class of elite rulers, passing laws that applied to the masses but not to them.
Thank God we don’t have elites who shield their retirement pay, their home addresses and their private deliberations over public laws from the people, right?
Oh, wait.
The Assembly’s Government Affairs Committee last week heard state Sen. Julia Ratti’s Senate Bill 384, which would shield the names of pension-drawing retired public employees from those who pay the taxes to support those pensions.
Ratti says her bill — which would replace names with unique identifying numbers — is a step against identity theft and fraud against the elderly. But it’s also a clear attempt to get around court rulings that held government employee pay and pensions are a matter of public record.
For that reason, Ratti’s bill should be killed, whether by lawmakers or by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto. (It passed the state Senate April 21 on a nearly party-line vote, with Democrats in support.)

Read More Here

May 16, 2017
16 May 2017

Political Update – May 16, 2017

EDITORIAL: Clark County lavish compensation packages driving the push for a property tax hike

Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 10, 2017

Clark County officials have been banging the tin cup for months, urging lawmakers to let them raise property taxes. “We’re seeing an increased level of services needed from our taxpayers, but the revenue that is used to provide those services to the taxpayers isn’t keeping up,” County Manager Yolanda King said in January while unveiling her legislative priorities.
 

No doubt, the appetite for more government “services” grows exponentially in some quarters. But what Ms. King neglects to reveal is that the county is drowning in personnel costs thanks to generous wages and benefits.

 

In fact, the high price of satisfying those ever-increasing commitments — not the property tax formula — represents the biggest threat to the county’s ability to deliver “services.”
 
The Review-Journal’s Michael Scott Davidson reported Wednesday that nearly one in five full-time county employees — 1,193 workers — pulled in more than $100,000 last year. County salaries and benefits cost taxpayers nearly $765 million in 2016, up 12 percent from 2011. Meanwhile, Mr. Davidson noted, tax revenue has grown 16.7 percent since fiscal year 2011-12.
The median income for a full-time county worker — the figure at which half the workers earn above and half below — was $62,400 last year. That’s 67 percent higher than in Southern Nevada’s private sector.
While attorneys who toil as county prosecutors and public defenders account for about 16 percent of the high earners, the six-figure club also includes employees in a dozen different county departments. But firefighters are the big winners. More than 70 percent of the department — 537 men and women — took home at least $100,000 last year.
County officials blame overtime costs for the firefighter salaries. A more accurate culprit is the department’s outsized political clout.
Over the past four decades the number of career firefighters in the United States has increased 40 percent while the number of fires they’re sent to douse has dropped by almost the same amount, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In response, firefighters in many jurisdictions now pad their call numbers by responding to routine traffic accidents and medical incidents.
The situation in Clark County reflects these national trends. Yet timid politicians — worried about alienating a powerful and popular special interest — prefer to ignore this inconvenient reality when it comes to firefighter staffing and salary demands.
Senate Bill 425, which would tinker with the state property tax cap to the benefit of local governments, remains alive in Carson City. It should be quickly euthanized. It’s long past time that Clark County and other jurisdictions get a handle on their personnel costs instead of constantly bloodletting the beleaguered private-sector taxpayer.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: Senate Bill 425, which would tinker with the state property tax cap to the benefit of local governments, remains alive in Carson City. It should be quickly euthanized. It’s long past time that Clark County and other jurisdictions get a handle on their personnel costs instead of constantly bloodletting the beleaguered private-sector taxpayer. Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 10, 2017

National Report: Nevada ‘trailing’ on tax credit oversight

Riley Snyder
The Nevada Independent
May 4, 2017
When it comes to keeping tabs on which tax abatements or incentives are getting Nevada the most bang for taxpayer buck, one national report says the state is falling behind.
That’s according to a new study published Wednesday by The Pew Charitable Trust, ranking every state on its evaluation and oversight of tax abatement programs and lumping Nevada in with 22 other states as “trailing” by failing to establish effective oversight programs for state-based tax incentives. Ten states were dubbed “leading” and another 18 as “making progress.”
“Despite the state’s growing incentive commitment, Nevada lacks a process to regularly evaluate them,” the report states.
Use of tax incentives as a method to spur economic development in Nevada has mushroomed since the Governor’s Office of Economic Development was created in 2011 to oversee and administer the abatements, and have become a point of political pride for several lawmakers since the state approved a blockbuster $1.3 billion dollar tax abatement deal with electric car manufacturer Tesla in 2014.
May 16, 2017
16 May 2017

Political Update – May 9, 2017

Nevada Senators vote to keep their pensions hidden from taxpayer scrutiny

Sean Whaley
Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 2, 2017

CARSON CITY — The day after lawmakers were told they have about $140 million more in tax revenue to spend, bills that will consume some of that windfall were introduced in the Nevada Legislature.
On the Assembly side, five bills seeking funding to cover shortfalls in the current budget were introduced Tuesday.
Assembly Bill 493 seeks $1.3 million for unbudgeted outside medical care for prison inmates. Assembly Bill 494 seeks $16.4 million to cover additional expenses due to a larger than expected Medicaid caseload in the current budget.
Other measures seek smaller amounts, but it is expected many more such bills will consume some of the new revenue projected Monday by the Economic Forum.
One big-ticket item will be additional funding to support a higher-than-expected student enrollment in the current budget, particularly in Clark County.
The forum projected $44 million more in tax revenue this year due to the strong economy, the last year of the current budget, and $96 million more in the new proposed two-year budget that will start July 1.
Gov. Brian Sandoval has recommended that most of the new revenue be used to further support public education.
Lawmakers may have some spending ideas of their own as the session moves toward adjournment June 5.

READ MORE HERE

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: “The day after lawmakers were told they have about $140 million more in tax revenue to spend, bills that will consume some of that windfall were introduced in the Nevada Legislature. Sean Whaley, Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 2, 2017

UPDATED: NPRI’s Taxpayer Guide to Nevada’s 79th Legislative Session

READ MORE HERE

May 16, 2017
16 May 2017

Political Update – May 2, 2017

Nevada Senators vote to keep their pensions hidden from taxpayer scrutiny

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy Research Institute
April 21, 2017

Today, 11 state senators — most of whom are PERS members themselves — just passed a completely unenforceable law aimed at making private their taxpayer-funded pensions.
 
Such a singular focus on keeping the public in the dark, and perhaps a lack of proper understanding of the subject matter, resulted in language that plainly states the names of all public employees in Nevada would be confidential under the just-passed SB384.
 
Passing laws that place every Nevada government in a continual state of lawbreaking and, thus, subject to legal action, is bad policy.
 
“In their zeal to place the public pension system — not to mention their very own pensions — under a shroud of secrecy, Nevada senators have just passed a bill that would place an unenforceable requirement on every government agency,” explained Nevada Policy Research Institute Transparency Director Robert Fellner.
 
10 senators — all 9 Republicans and Democratic state Senator Nicole Cannizzaro — stood up for transparent government and sound policymaking by voting against SB384 today.
 
“NPRI applauds the Republican caucus and Senator Cannizzaro for supporting the principles of a transparent and accountable government,” commented Fellner. “But, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep this blatant affront to transparency from moving forward.”
 
If SB384 passes the Assembly and is not vetoed by the Governor, Nevada will have undone the will of multiple legislative bodies who fought for a transparent and accountable government.
 
“Unfortunately, the law was so poorly written, it goes even further,” explained Fellner. “This vote shows just how blindly focused on reducing transparency many of our elected representatives seem to be.
 
“Does this Legislature really want to reverse Nevada’s history of bipartisan agreement on the importance of a transparent and accountable government, particularly for a bill that was rammed through the Senate on the narrowest of margins, and is based entirely on a claim that is demonstrably false? Especially given the blatant conflict of interest illustrated by the fact that almost all of the 11 senators who voted in favor of SB384 are PERS members themselves.”

READ MORE HERE

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: If SB384 passes the Assembly and is not vetoed by the Governor, Nevada will have undone the will of multiple legislative bodies who fought for a transparent and accountable government. Robert Fellner, NPRI
April 21, 2017

PERS board supports disclosing retiree names

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
April 20, 2017
CARSON CITY — The board of Nevada’s Public Employees Retirement System voted Thursday to give its support to a bill that required the disclosure of retiree names. PERS chair Mark Vincent even said he sees “value” to the public in releasing the names, if directed to do so by the Legislature.
The state Senate, however, has a proposal up for vote Friday that would go in the opposite direction. I’ve told you before about Senate Bill 384, sponsored by Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks. It would declare retiree names confidential, while allowing the public to view payout information like yearly pension amount, years of service and last employer. Instead of a name, SB384 would mandate that PERS create and release a unique identifier for each retiree.
On Thursday, at its monthly board meeting, Tina Leiss, PERS executive officer, described the original bill, which would have mandated the release of retiree names, and the amended bill, which would exempt retiree names, and asked for the board to take an official position supporting both versions of the bill.

Read More Here

May 16, 2017
16 May 2017

Political Update – April 18, 2017

Democrats move to plans B and C for Nevada property tax increase

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
April 13, 2017

While making definitive predictions with 52 days left in the Legislative session is a good way to end up with rhetorical egg on your face, I’m calling it now: There will be no property tax increase this session.
I told you previously about Assembly Bill 43, the property tax increase local government officials and Democrats claim they need to “stabilize” property taxes. That bill will not officially die until June 5, but there are two ways you can tell it’s toast.
First, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, and his caucus remain opposed to a property tax increase. Because tax increases need two-thirds approval, Democrats have no path to passage.
Second, Democrats have all-but abandoned the bill. But they have plans B and C to raise your property taxes.
Plan B is a study of Nevada’s property tax system, which both Assembly Concurrent Resolution 7 and Senate Bill 489 call for. While a study sounds innocent, the intentions behind it are not. Most legislative studies are simply show trials. The conclusion — raise your property taxes — is a given, and the meetings are carefully choreographed performances to show that the state’s powerful special interest groups have figured out what’s best for everyone.
Plan C is Senate Joint Resolution 14, which proposes to put a property tax increase into Nevada’s constitution. Constitutional amendments do not need two-thirds approval, but they must be passed by both houses in two consecutive sessions and be approved by voters in the following general election.
SJR14 would increase property taxes on buyers of used homes. Currently, Nevada depreciates a property’s structure, which lowers taxes based on property age, not ownership. SJR14 would reset depreciation upon sale.
In her Tuesday presentation on SJR14, Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, estimated this could increase property taxes by over 150 percent — from $794 to $2,014 for the purchaser of a $250,000 house built in 1963.
In her presentation, Ratti bemoaned that “Our property taxes in Nevada are already significantly lower than most every other state in the nation.”
Silly me. I thought that was a good thing. Ratti concluded that low property taxes revenues mean “we can’t afford services.”
What we can’t afford are the thousands of government employees and retirees making $150,000, $200,000 or even $250,000 a year in total compensation. Boosting property tax collections will only further inflate those sky-high salaries.
Property tax increases are dead in 2017, but Democrats’ desire to take more of your money is alive and well.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: What we can’t afford are the thousands of government employees and retirees making $150,000, $200,000 or even $250,000 a year in total compensation. Boosting property tax collections will only further inflate those sky-high salaries. Property tax increases are dead in 2017, but Democrats’ desire to take more of your money is alive and well. Victor Joecks, Las Vegas Review-Journal
April 13, 2017

PERS benefits would be confidential under bill in Nevada Legislature

Geoff Dornan
Nevada Appeal
April 5, 2017

Legislation to make the names of retired public employees and the amount of their benefits confidential was approved by the Senate Government Affairs Committee .

Legislation to make the names of retired public employees and the amount of their benefits confidential was approved by the Senate Government Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

SB384 was introduced by Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, to clarify exactly what information about retired public workers is public and what’s confidential. It sprang from a November 2013 ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court that ordered the Public Employees Retirement System to make public a monthly report that lists the benefits of each retiree by name.

The original version of the bill specified the name, dollar amount of benefits received by each retiree, their last public employer are the only pieces of public information in a retiree’s file. But PERS officials convinced the committee to make the individual’s name confidential, instead allowing them to assign a unique identification number to the public information in the event the identity had to be tracked within the system.

PERS Executive Director Tina Leiss said the version approved by the committee will provide that file number, whether the benefit is retirement or disability, the retiree’s last employer, position, hire and retirement dates along with the dollar amount of their benefit. She said the name won’t be on the report.

SB384 applies not only to retired state workers but retired justices and judges, university system employees and legislators.

It says all other information in the public retiree’s file is confidential regardless of its location, form or storage and employees who have access to that information can’t be required to disclose any of it.

SB384 was unanimously recommended for passage and now goes to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

PERS provides retirement benefits for all Nevada public employees including state and local government workers, school district and university workers, police and firefighters — more than 100,000 Nevada workers.

Read More Here

May 16, 2017
16 May 2017

Political Update – April 11, 2017

EDITORIAL: Bill would make secret the names of former Nevada public employees receiving taxpayer-funded pensions

Las Vegas Review-Journal
April 6, 2017

Julia Ratti, a Democrat, represents District 13 in the Nevada Senate. She formerly served on the Sparks City Council. Ms. Ratti is in her first term, having won a special election to fill the seat after the death last year of incumbent Debbie Smith. District 13 is heavily Democratic.

The latter point is significant. Ms. Ratti is safely ensconced in a bulletproof district, which likely explains why she was willing to put her name on Senate Bill 384 without apparent embarrassment. The measure is a destructive, anti-taxpayer scheme that would make confidential the names of public employees drawing pension payments.

Make no mistake: This is a frontal assault on open government. It’s an arrogant attempt to keep taxpayers in the dark about the state’s pension system — a system that provides numerous benefits for retired public employees that are unavailable to the private-sector workers who must pay for them.

Nevada courts have ruled time and again that government pension information — including the names of retirees and how much they receive — is public under state law. Yet the Public Employee Retirement System has for years resisted and obfuscated and now seeks to go around the judiciary.

One might think that such an obvious affront to transparency and accountability wouldn’t stand much chance of survival. To the contrary, SB 384 generated unanimous support on Wednesday during a hearing before the Senate Government Affairs Committee. That’s right: No opposition. Incredible.

Committee members giving the one-finger salute to the taxpayers merit special recognition. They are chairman David Parks, a Las Vegas Democrat with — surprise! — a quarter century of public employment on his resume; vice chairman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas; Ms. Ratti; Pete Goicoechea, a Eureka Republican; and Joe Hardy, a Republican from Boulder City.

Every one of these five lawmakers participates in PERS. Exactly who are they representing with this vote? It certainly isn’t the average Nevadan.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
Quote: Make no mistake: This is a frontal assault on open government. It’s an arrogant attempt to keep taxpayers in the dark about the state’s pension system — a system that provides numerous benefits for retired public employees that are unavailable to the private-sector workers who must pay for them. Las Vegas Review-Journal
April 6, 2017

Nevada Senate Committee has week to consider property tax cap bill

Michael Scott Davidson
Las Vegas-Review Journal
April 10, 2017

The Nevada Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee has until Friday to consider passing a bill to modify the state’s property tax cap law.

Senate Bill 425 would freeze the annual caps for property tax increases at 3 percent for residential properties and 8 percent for commercial properties. It would do away with secondary cap formulas that led to a 0.2 percent cap in the 2017 fiscal year for six counties.

Friday is the final day for committees to pass bills in their house of origin.

Clark County Manager Yolanda King said the county will support SB425 like it has Assembly Bill 43.

The Assembly version of the bill is expected to eventually lock in the annual cap for residential properties at 3 percent and set a floor for the commercial rate at 3 percent. The cap for commercial rate could fluctuate between 3 and 8 percent, however.

The Nevada Association of Counties, which sponsored AB43, has not decided on a position regarding the Senate bill, executive director Jeff Fontaine said.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson said in a statement he and every other Senate Republican will oppose SB425.

Read More Here

May 16, 2017
16 May 2017

Political Update – March 16, 2017

Nevada’s transparency law needs teeth

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
March 16, 2017

CARSON CITY — Transparency has many supporters in the legislative building, yet few champions. It’s easy to tell voters that you support the public’s right to know. It’s harder to take on local-government lobbyists who will testify in opposition and work behind the scenes to knife your bill to death.

That’s why Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, deserves praise for working with the ACLU in trying to clarify and update Nevada’s public records law in SB170. It’s especially appropriate that Wednesday’s hearing on SB170 occurred during Sunshine Week, a national week to celebrate open government.
SB170 would clarify deadlines for providing open records and, in an ACLU-proposed amendment, would waive fees for records for some requesters, including news organizations like the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Some government agencies will charge prohibitively high fees when a member of the public requests information they’d rather not make public.
Unsurprisingly, some local governments testified in opposition, with many citing the cost of providing records.
Local governments have a point. Finding and compiling public records does cost money. But letting your boss — the public — know what you’re working on isn’t a low priority that you should get to only when there’s money left over. It’s a top-line priority, much more so than paying hundreds of government employees over $200,000 a year.
Most government agencies in Nevada are great at fulfilling public records requests, but not all. The biggest problem comes when a government agency knows a record is public but decides to stonewall. The only recourse is a lawsuit. Even if the requester wins, the court can only award the requester their attorney fees.
Some agencies, like the Clark County School District and Nevada PERS, in two cases filed by my old employer, the Nevada Policy Research Institute, have decided that preventing transparency is worth the cost. After all, government agencies are risking your money, not their own.
There are ways to change these incentives. NPRI’s Robert Fellner proposed an amendment that would allow a judge to award multiples of attorney fees. Or a court could fine the offending agency $500 a day for every day after the deadline that it chooses not to release the requested records. Washington state allows courts to impose a smaller fine on agencies violating its public records law. Or you could make the decision maker personally liable, perhaps docking 10 percent of their yearly pay or future pension, if the court finds they acted maliciously.
That’s how to give Nevada’s transparency law some much needed teeth.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

  • To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
  • To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
  • Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.
 
 
Quote: Local governments have a point. Finding and compiling public records does cost money. But letting your boss — the public — know what you’re working on isn’t a low priority that you should get to only when there’s money left over. It’s a top-line priority, much more so than paying hundreds of government employees over $200,000 a year.”- Victor Joecks, Las Vegas Review-Journal, March 16, 2017

NFL owners approve Raiders move to Las Vegas 

The Nevada Independent
March 27, 2017Las Vegas Raiders jerseys will soon be on sale.

The NFL owners approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in a 31-1 vote on Monday, culminating more than a year of efforts to lure the team to Sin City.
The announcement followed a presentation from the Raiders at the league owners’ meeting in Phoenix. The Raiders needed the support of 24 of the 32 owners to authorize their move…
…Sandoval called Nevada lawmakers into special session in October to consider increasing hotel room taxes to raise the $750 million for the stadium and expansions and renovations at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Senate approved the deal 16-5 and the Assembly 28-13 after a week of emotional testimony and lobbying from more than a dozen Adelson-affiliated lobbyists and labor unions.
But the deal was seemingly thrown in jeopardy earlier this year after Adelson backed out of the stadium project, announcing in January that he and the team were unable to come to an agreement on the construction and management of the proposed stadium. After a couple months of uncertainty, the Raiders informed the NFL in March that Bank of America would step in to cover the remaining capital for stadium project, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
“As the earliest advocates for the construction of a world-class stadium, which would attract many of the major sporting events and entertainment performances not currently held in Las Vegas, we remain optimistic about the significant economic and tourism benefits the stadium development would provide Southern Nevada,” a Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesperson said in a statement.
The Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority still have yet to finalize a lease agreement. During a Stadium Authority meeting earlier this month, Chairman Steve Hill said the board will see a new draft of the lease agreement at its April 20 meeting. It’s unclear how soon a lease agreement would be approved.