Category Archives: Nevada politics

Bankers Bank On Economic Amnesia

Occupy Wall Street bankers Zillow reports that the current median home value in Nevada is $189,700, up some 16.4% over the past year, and another increase of 6.2% is predicted. The median listed price of a home in Nevada is now $215,000, and the median selling price is now $198,475.  [Zillow] This is good news for Nevadans in Clark County because the median list price as of July 2011 was $118,500. [Movoto]  Bankrate posts mortgage interest rates ranging from 4.1% to $.4% in the Reno area, and a range of 4.05% to 4.4% in the Las Vegas metropolitan region.  [Bankrate]  There’s another factor to consider, especially in southern Nevada, home resale inventories have stabilized, and there’s been no major increases in distress sales (foreclosures and short sales) as a percentage of the total housing market in September. [Movoto]

Mortgage interest rate trends are also interesting because there’s been a decline since January 2005.  The interest rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage was about 5.71% in January 2005, 6.15% in January 2006, and 6.22% in January 2007 as the Housing Bubble was about to burst all over everyone.  As the Bubble started to splatter in January 2008 the interest rate was 5.76%, dropping to 5.05% in January 2009. Fast forward to January 2012 and the interest rate had dropped to 3.92%, going down to 3.41% in 2013, and then increasing again in January 2014 back up to 4.43%. [FredMac]

Why are these numbers of any interest?

(1) When homebuyers can get credit they are able to pay prices closer to the original asking price. (2) It’s no longer a buyers’ market when sellers are getting better prices. (3) Someone must be doing a bit better because there seems to be more competition for mortgage money, given that in a free market commodities (in this instance mortgage money) are slightly more costly the higher the demand.  (4) These numbers also highlight the Big Lie that the Wall Street casino operators are trying to sell across the country.

David Dayen, writing for Salon caught the Big Fib and described it as follows:

This is part of a larger myth, blaming government’s efforts to clean up the mortgage market for the slow housing recovery and sluggish economy. This idea that banks are so petrified about burdensome regulations that they’ve decided to scale back their business model of lending to people seems far-fetched.

That’s because it is far fetched.  We can see the whole picture simply by sitting here in one of the states most hard hit by the collapse of Wall Street’s Housing Bubble, and looking at our own numbers.

First, if bankers were so insecure about lending then why have interest rates rebounded since the Bubble burst?  When no one is buying homes rates go down because there simply aren’t enough customers clamoring for loans.  However, in this ‘sand state’ the interest rates have gone up by about 1%.

Secondly, it’s obvious someone is buying something because  the Las Vegas housing market, almost obliterated when the Bubble Burst, has seen an increase in the median price of homes, up by an impressive 16.4%.

It’s a bit difficult to make the case that bankers aren’t lending (because of the icky government financial regulation reform) when median list prices and median selling prices have both increased.  If banks weren’t lending then we’d expect housing prices to flatten out because there weren’t enough bidders for the homes.  Again, Dayen sums up the bankers’ game: “The real motivation here is to roll back regulations and return to the go-go era where anyone who can fog a mirror can get a loan. We know how that turned out the last time.”

Just in case anyone catches the overt fibbing, spinning, and general mendacity of the bankers’ latest pronouncements, they’ve left themselves a bit of wiggle room.  The economic revival is “sluggish.” Translation: If you’d just let us get back to deregulated free for all casino operations we’d be richer. And, “the housing recovery has been slow.”  Translation: Want to get more, and more, and more, mortgages from ‘anyone who can fog a mirror’ to slice, dice, and tranche, into mortgage based securities – upon which we will get richer.

There’s a better reason to explain a sluggish economy and a slowly reviving housing market.  Ordinary people have to have incomes which support major purchases – like homes – and what has happened to the median income in Nevada since the Bubble Burst in 2007-2008 isn’t pretty.

The median HI for Nevadans in 2013 was $51,230, down 9.1% since the Housing Bubble burst in 2008.  The Mean HHI for the top 5% of Nevada income earners was $294,939, which dropped by 2% after the washout of 2007-2008. [Pew]

Given the precipitous drop in median earnings, the question might not be about how “sluggish” the recovery has been, but how we’d experienced any recovery at all.  We might dare to ask the same question about home sales.  Again, given the decrease in median household income it’s a wonder home sales have rebounded – especially if we consider that home values are now up 16.4% with more increases projected.

Once more, Wall Street has demonstrated very clearly it’s profound dependence on debt and volatility, while Main Street remains dependent on consumer spending and stability.   In this instance, as in so many others, it’s important not to conflate what’s good for Wall Street with what’s good for business in general.

It’s great for Wall Street to have bundles and bundles of unregulated mortgages, car loans, and lines of consumer credit to shovel into its deregulated  casino operations and Bubble Factories – it’s not so great for Main Street to have abandoned homes, foreclosures on every street, and too many unemployed construction workers in the community.

Caveat Emptor – the latest Big Lie would have us believe the investment bankers want the very best for all of us – after their last debacle the only way they’ll sell this notion is if the American public gets a bad case of economic amnesia.

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Filed under consumers, Economy, financial regulation, Nevada economy, Nevada politics

Violence Leaves Home: Active Shooting Incidents and Domestic Violence

The report (pdf) from a joint FBI/Texas State University doesn’t have much good news for the absolutists of the National Rifle Association.  The study analyzed shooting incidents in the United States over the past 13 years and reported the following resolutions to the incidents.

The Violence

In 37 (23.1%) of the 160 active shooting incidents the shooter committed suicide at the scene before police arrived.  In 21 (13.1%) of the incidents an unarmed citizen successfully restrained the shooter.  In 2 of the incidents (1.3%) armed off-duty law enforcement personnel ended the threat.  In 5 of the incidents armed non-law enforcement citizens ended the shootings in which 3 shooters were killed, 1 committed suicide, and 1 was wounded.  For all the noise about arming everyone to the gunwales, only 5 of the 160 incidents ended because of armed citizen intervention.  No doubt the NRA ammosexuals would argue that if More Citizens were Armed, then More Incidents would have been resolved at the scene by a Citizen Shooter.  This conclusion is actually counter-intuitive.

More people firing more rounds in an active shooter situation doesn’t make anyone safer.  The NRA logic requires that we ignore a crucial part of the equation – the bystanders.  The fantasy that our Citizen Shooter will “take out the bad guy” requires that the scene be something out of the OK Corral mythology during which bystanders fled to safety, or possibly that the Citizen Shooter is so marvelously competent that no bystander or witness will be in peril of flying rounds of ammo.  Nor does the Citizen Shooter image crack through the actual numbers – in 13.1% of the incidents an unarmed citizen was successful and in only 3.1% was an armed citizen successful.

The Domestic Violence

However, there’s more to this analysis than the augmentation of what we already know – more guns doesn’t solve the problems – there’s a link between active shooting incidents and domestic violence. From the report:

“Of note, male shooters also acted violently against women with whom they had or once had a romantic relationship. In 16 (10.0%) of the 160 incidents, the shooters targeted current, estranged, or former wives as well as current or former girlfriends. In 12 incidents, the women were killed; in 3 incidents, the women sustained significant injuries but survived; and in 1 incident, the shooter could not find the woman.  While perpetrating this violence, an additional 42 people were killed and another 28 were wounded.”

Not to put too fine a point to it, but 42 people died and 28 suffered gunshot wounds because the ‘domestic violence’ got out of the house.

Here’s the point at which NRS 33 (Injunctions) kicks in.  Nevada statutes allow for an emergency restraining order or a  temporary restraining order, with courts available 24/7 to issue emergency orders barring the ‘adverse party’ from threatening the victim or victims, being in the victim’s residence, and doing any harm to pets.  [NRS 33.020]  But, the TRO doesn’t get the guns out of the house. The TRO doesn’t take the guns away from the ‘adverse party,’ and if the aforementioned ‘adverse party’ is of a mind to participate in something like the 16 incidents in the FBI report, then there is nothing in the law to stop him.

It is only when an extended order of protection is sought that anyone starts paying attention to the firearms.  NRS 33.031-033 offers the ‘adverse party’ potential shooter some protection for his firearms.  Here’s the catch:

“ A temporary order can last up to 30 days.  However, if you file for an extended order at the same time that you file for the temporary order (or at any time while the temporary order is in effect), the temporary order will last until the date of your hearing for an extended order (which could be up to 45 days from the date you file for the extended order).*1 [WLOrg]

That’s up to 45 days for our hypothetical ‘adverse party’ to retain the firearms, and perhaps decide to use them.  This gives the ‘adverse party’ his day in court to protect his ‘gun rights,’ but on the other hand it gives him possession of lethal weapons for up to 45 days.  In a much safer world the firearms would leave his hands during the imposition of the emergency restraining period.  The ammosexuals would no doubt start sputtering.

But, but, but “I have a Constitutional Right to my Gun?”  “You can’t take it away from me before I have my day in court!”  The Day In Court Argument is logically fragile.  I have a Constitutional Right to my own religious practices, however if I decide to become a practicing Aztec and select victims for sacrifice to the Sun – there’s little doubt the state would make every effort to stop me well before my court date.

In a safer world the guns would be gone during the period  specified by the temporary restraining order.   There’s no requirement that the ‘adverse party’ show up at the TRO hearing, but there’s nothing to prevent it either?  In our not-quite-so-safe world those guns can be in ‘adverse party’ hands for up to 45 days.  There are at least 70 casualties mentioned in the FBI report which might have been prevented by tougher injunctions, and more vigorous enforcement of those orders?

There is a compromise position which the Legislature might consider.  How might domestic violence in Nevada be mitigated if we agreed that if the domestic violence incident included shooting or threats of shooting, then the emergency protection order could include the dispossession of firearms? Or, if the ‘adverse party’ was the perpetrator of previous acts of violence then the firearms would be handed over to law enforcement for storage pending further actions by the court?   It would seem logical to take the escalation factor into account when dealing with those who tend toward assault and battery.

Nevada’s laws aren’t the worst in the nation, but they could be better, and more focused on preventing active shooter violence – something for the next session of the Legislature to consider?

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Filed under domestic abuse, Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Cresent Hardy Retrospective

Hardy 2 Stumbling candidate for Nevada’s 4th District in Congress, Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) is the subject of a very interesting retrospective compliments of Steve Sebelius.  Mr. Hardy’s adopted as his very own the 47% argument first inartfully set forth by Mitt Romney.  Then things got worse as Hardy attempted to conflate the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and whatever right wing rants to which he’s been listening, when speaking of the Cliven Bundy Ranch standoff between Bundy’s Brigade of radicals and cop killers and Federal officials attempting to get Bundy to pay up like every other rancher.   Undaunted, Hardy tumbled down the rabbit hole of “segregation laws” during an attempt to explain his position on discrimination in hiring.

As if his position weren’t crystal clear he added a reference to a “welfare district” which doesn’t leave much room for re-interpretation.    There’s a lesson in all this somewhere.  That lesson is probably not to plead illiteracy and a paucity of vocabulary: “I’ve never been slick or polished. I grew up on a ranch and learned to stand up for what I believe and to speak my mind respectfully even when others may disagree.”  [Hardy]  

Growing up on a ranch doesn’t explain away being inarticulate, nor does it offer any justification for being a practitioner of slip-shod logic and rhetoric. The reference is simply an appeal to the Common Folk brand of political propaganda.  The Plain Folks technique is as old as propaganda itself, and it demands that the listener ask: What are the speaker’s ideas worth when they are divorced from the personality of the speaker himself?

In Hardy’s case, not much.

The 47% Myth is a pure Republican creation, and about as self serving a concept as can be imagined.  If a person is not paying Federal Income taxes that’s because the person isn’t earning enough to have a tax liability – as contrasted with, say, Mr. Romney who managed to pay about 13.9% in taxes because most of his income is derived from interest and capital gains.  However, that doesn’t mean the individual isn’t paying any taxes.  Of the current 43.3% who are not liable for Federal Income taxes about 28.9% pay Social Security/payroll taxes.  That leaves 14.4% who don’t pay either Federal Income or Payroll taxes.  Who are these people? 

About 9.7% of these people are ELDERLY with incomes less than $20,000 annually.  3.4% of them are people who are not elderly, but whose income is less than $20,000, and there are 1.3% in the “others” category.  [Tax Policy Center] That “others” category often includes the disabled. Surely, Mr. Hardy is NOT trying to bemoan the lack of federal tax liability for the elderly poor? Or, the disabled? Or, both?

History Lesson – the Federalist Papers were written as newspaper opinion pieces on behalf of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  They are NOT part of it, any more so than the anti-Federalist papers written by “Brutus” between October 1787 and April 1788 in New York. [mmisi pdf]  The Federalist Papers have become a cause for the conservatives, some of whom read them (or don’t) as a guideline for original intent; and, as with any documents the interpretation of them is often found in the eye of the beholder.  However, the ideological underpinnings for modern conservative thought are quite often more in line with the arguments offered by “Brutus” in the Anti-Federalist collection than in the contentions and ideas set forth by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay.   Consider this example from “Brutus” (Robert Yates)

“This government is to possess absolute and uncontroulable power, legislative, executive and judicial, with respect to every object to which it extends, for by the last clause of section 8th, article 1st, it is declared “that the Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution, in the government of the United States; or in any department or office thereof.” And by the 6th article, it is declared “that this constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and the treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution, or law of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” It appears from these articles that there is no need of any intervention of the state governments, between the Congress and the people, to execute any one power vested in the general government, and that the constitution and laws of every state are nullified and declared void, so far as they are or shall be inconsistent with this constitution, or the laws made in pursuance of it, or with treaties made under the authority of the United States.” [Const.org]

And, after this and several more paragraphs, Yates declares his opposition to the adoption of the new Constitution.  This excerpt from Yate’s publication is far closer to the modern States’ Rights/Limited Government than anything one might find in the Federalist Papers.   It must be very trying to purport to be a Constitutionalist while sounding ever so much like the Anti-Federalists who argued against the original ratification.

About those “segregation laws?”  No, it’s not inarticulacy which ties a politician up in knots when trying to explain that opposition to employment discrimination is tantamount to creating “segregation.”  It’s the sheer unalloyed nonsensical illogical construct itself.  What Hardy, and altogether too many others, are trying to say is that they opposed adding members of the LBGT community to those having standing to file a lawsuit for employment discrimination as a protected class. To “segregate” these individuals would be to continue along the current course – to separate them from those who have the opportunity to resort to litigation in the face of employment discrimination.   The essence of Hardy’s argument, such as it is, is that employers should have the right to separate themselves from those people they don’t wish to hire predicated on gender discrimination.  It’s discrimination which begets segregation, not the other way around, and that explains Hardy’s inability to express an acceptable position – not his “ranch bred inarticulateness.”  [See also NVProg]

About that “Welfare District?”  This isn’t so much a dog whistle as a fog horn.   He might as well have quoted one of the more infamous residents of southern Nevada:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. “And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.” [Cliven Bundy, WaPo]

Would the North Las Vegas public housing project be that “Welfare District?”  Mr. Bundy and Mr. Hardy apparently have bought into the Welfare Queen Myth lock, stock, barrel, and ramrod.   There is probably no convincing them that the 2011 consumer expenditure survey (BLS) thoroughly debunks the myth.   Equally unproductive would be any attempt to convince them that only about 20% of welfare recipients are categorized as “long term,” some 80% get out of the system and stay out for at least five years.   No, for Mr. Bundy and Mr. Hardy, the face of welfare is Black, the cars are always Cadillacs, and they’d not listen even if CNBC told them the whole system has changed.

No, they’ve clutched the Heritage Foundation’s deeply flawed analysis which says that if you have a air-conditioner in your apartment you aren’t really poor.  Let’s think about this for a minute. 9.1% of Americans over the age of 65 are classified as living in poverty. [Pew]  Further, let’s exclude the fact that many apartments in hot climates come with air-conditioning included in the rental agreement.  Let’s simply focus on those 9.1% of Americans over 65 whose incomes are below the poverty line – do we want them living without air conditioning in hot locations?  Here’s a cautionary tale from the CDC:

“During June 30–July 13, 2012, a total of 32 deaths (0.11 deaths per 100,000 population) from excessive heat exposure were reported, including 12 in Maryland, 12 in Virginia, seven in Ohio, and one in West Virginia. In comparison, a median of four and average of eight (range: 1–29) heat-related deaths occurred in the four states during the same 2-week summer period each year of 1999–2009. The median age of the 32 decedents was 65 years (range: 28–89 years); 72% were male. Most decedents (75%) were unmarried or living alone.”  (emphasis added)

Is the death of a person from “excessive heat exposure” acceptable?  These people weren’t driving an Escalade, most were men living alone, without adequate ventilation or cooling in their quarters, and with a median age of 65.  Are those the Undeserving Poor who are “Takers” and thus are the  disposable parts of our social contract?   Mr. Hardy might want to hone his arguments against government assistance in light of these considerations?

It might be that for most people the tragic death of one elderly man in an un-air-conditioned apartment is one too many—but for Mr. Hardy is it better that the man succumbed to excessive heat exposure than for a single other person to game the system?

What we can gather from Mr. Hardy’s comments is a picture of a man, who isn’t really inarticulate, but whose arguments are so far from the reality of our social and political lives that they can’t be expressed without resorting to an unacceptable glossary of ideological and racial/ethnic ideas.  This has nothing to do with being “slick and polished.”  It has more to do with being humane and realistic.

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Filed under conservatism, Constitution, House of Representatives, Nevada, Nevada politics

Nevada’s Mental Health Care Gift Basket?

Catch of the Day Catch of the Day: To Nevada Progressive for digging up the 2013 Arizona (ABC Phoenix) story about more patient dumping by Nevada mental health services, into both California and Arizona.   And, what services did Nevada mental health professionals offer?

“They had been provided a bus ticket, a small amount of cash, a print out of a Mapquest that showed them how to get to CASS. And written on it was, ‘ask for Howie,'” he said. Holleran says these cases often end in chronic homelessness. He says that stretches resources in other states, like Arizona. And it passes along the problem, instead of fixing it.” [ABC15]

Now, Nevada’s mental health services added a chaperone to the  list? So, in 2014 the mentally ill will get a bus ticket, a small amount of cash, a map, a note to find “Howie,” and a chaperone.  A regular Gift Basket?

So, by April 1014, after a year of really embarrassing news,  the Rawson-Neal facility could announce it had passed muster with the Federal authorities:

“After a year, federal officials’ ongoing probes of Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital may have come to an end as the state facility was found to be largely compliant with regulations and will continue to be reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The clearance and certification won’t do anything to alleviate the crisis Clark County emergency rooms face in dealing with large numbers of the mentally ill, but the accomplishment pleases at least one local hospital official.

“It makes a huge difference,” Dr. Dale Carrison, chief of staff and head of emergency services at University Medical Center said Thursday. “It’s a certified facility now. It’s good for everybody associated.” [LVRJ]

First, what on Earth does “largely compliant” mean? Does it mean there are still problems with screenings and transfers? Does it mean that the closure of the walk in clinic meant more log jams and more problems for emergency facilities?

Secondly, the administrator may have been happy back in April with a resolution which allows reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, but what’s happening in Clark County emergency rooms?  Yes, it’s good for everyone there’s a certified facility – it’s just not good that we don’t have enough such facilities to address the problems.

Have we solved the bed space and treatment problem described by the Las Vegas Review Journal back in February, 2014?

“At least six mental health patients have been held in the Clark County jail — some for as long as three months — when they should have been placed in mental health group homes.

Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services has blocked their release at least since December because it could no longer afford to pay for inpatient beds and treatment for new patients.

But state mental health officials never informed District Judge Linda Bell or the defendants’ lawyers, which left the patients lingering in jail for months where they receive little, if any, mental health treatment.”

There were two issues raised in the February report. First, was the obvious funding problem.  Could it be that the reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid was sufficient to resolve the problem of warehousing the mentally ill in correctional facilities?  However, the second issue is almost more alarming – Why didn’t the Adult Mental Health Services inform the District Judge or the defendant’s lawyers about the problem? 

Even the funding solutions offered  in June 2014 were temporary and patchwork.  On June 19, 2014 Governor Sandoval presented a plan to the Interim Finance Committee to take $3.5 million from the tobacco settlement money to fund Mobile Outreach Safety Teams, and Mental Health Court facilities in southern Nevada. [Sandoval] {Minutes of the 6/19/14 IFC mtg are not yet available online}

Here’s a challenge for the next session of our Assembled Wisdom.  First, allocate sufficient funding for mental health care facilities and services in Nevada so that we don’t have to have another dismal year like 2013, during which we read about dumping patients off on neighboring – and other – states.  Secondly, allocate funding for implementing the current  recommendations for health care facilities for both adults and children.  We have a Governor’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Council, and it provided a report (pdf) in May 2014, and its recommendations are relatively specific.  This is as good a place to start as any.

The third leg of the stool requires some action on the part of the U.S. Congress.  The licensing issues surrounding facilities with more than 16 beds needs to be addressed.  Without diving too far down into the weeds, suffice it to say that Congress needs to review the definition of an “Institution for Mental Disease.”   Granted there were reasons back in the day to crack down on the institutionalization of too many people for periods of time which were altogether too long.  However, there are individuals suffering from conditions which periodically require intensive care.  Sixteen  bed hospitals, as the Council pointed out, aren’t logistically or financially feasible – but they can provide the kind of intensive treatment some patients need on a temporary basis.  Should the U.S. Congress be able to get beyond “Benghazi” long enough to take a serious look at the redefinition of IMD’s then we might make more progress in the treatment of mentally ill individuals in local settings.  Small facilities, staffed and equipped to meet short but intensive individual treatment, could offer care intermediate between long term hospitalization and group home treatment.

In the mean time, Nevada could do a better job of addressing the issues of mental health care – such as implementing the recommendations of the Behavioral Health and Wellness Council, and it should do so during the next Legislative session. 

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Filed under Mental Health, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Gavel Unravel: Appellate Court Proposal in Nevada

What do Delaware, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming have in common?  Ans: None of these states have an intermediate appellate court.

Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty is now among those advocating for the latest proposal to incorporate an intermediate court into the Nevada judicial system. [LVRJ]  What’s different this time,  different from the last time Nevada voters rejected an intermediate court plan in 2010?   The 2014 proposal is a “push down” system, in which all cases on appeal go to the Nevada Supreme Court but cases such as appeals of driver’s licenses revocation and inmate writs of habeas corpus could be sent (pushed down) to the appeals court.

The problem is essentially a numbers game. There are approximately 2,200 cases coming to the Nevada Supreme Court each year, and some 733 of these fall into categories that would be under the jurisdiction of the appeals court.  Each Nevada Supreme Court judge is now handling an average of 333 cases (2013 figures) which is about 100 more than is recommended by the American Bar Association. [LVRJ] Under the latest proposal the Supreme Court would be taking on 1467 cases per year, or 209 cases per judge per year.

When Question 2 came to the voters in 2010 the results were closer than might have been expected, 313,769 voted “yes,” while 53.8% or 356,356 voted “no” on the appeals court creation. [Bllped]  Opponents argued there might be a need for an appeals court, but “There may be a need for an appellate court, but now is not the time fiscally. There is no way to create an entire separate level of courts without creating funding to support it on the taxpayers’ dime down the line.” [RGJ]

The funding question appears to be answered for the moment, with the appellate court needing about $800,000 in start up funds, and about $1.3 million per year for operations. [LVS] And, the support is bipartisan with both Republican Governor Sandoval and Democratic Attorney General Masto both advocating the new system.

Before anyone jumps on that rather tired “Taxpayer Dime” argument once more, consider the costs for Nevada citizens and businesses if nothing is done.

Under the current system it is taking about two years from the time an appeal is filed until the Nevada Supreme Court issues a response. [LVRJ]  That’s two years worth of an attorney on retainer, two years worth of waiting for a decision, two years worth of unnecessary delay – and the old saw is true: Justice delayed is justice denied.

There are some important cases coming before the Supreme Court this term, one is a 2013 Lincoln County case of child sexual abuse one of the central questions of which is does the defense have the right to demand an independent psychological examination of the victim(s)? [63563] In Hallenback v. Hallenback the Nevada Supreme Court is asked to decide if in a community property state one person is entitled to a full pension earned while separated from the other spouse.  In Slade v. Caesars Entertainment the court is asked to decide if an eviction from one casino property (in this case Mississippi) means a person is prohibited from attending any event in any other property owned by the casino corporation. The corporation has been involved in this litigation since March 2013.   These and other decisions pertain to civil liberties for both individuals and businesses, [NVSC] and should not have to compete with the justices’ time amid disputes over the revocation of driver’s licenses and inmate habeas corpus filings.

On the other hand it can be argued that a person who feels his or her driver’s license has been unfairly revoked, or an inmate who sincerely believes his habeas corpus rights have been violated, shouldn’t have to wait for a decision while cases involving community property, multi-state casino operations, and defense rights in important prosecutions, etc.  take up more of the court’s time.

Neither the aggrieved driver’s license litigant nor the multi-state casino corporation is well served by having a prolonged wait for the adjudication of their complaints, and there are costs associated with both kinds of cases, certainly beyond the cost of judicial operations and administration.  To argue that the state “can’t afford” to expand its judiciary because it might “ride on the Taxpayers’ dime” is also to contend that citizens and businesses in this state will have to spend more of their income and resources on delayed litigation and adjudication in a truncated system.

Or to put it more simply – it makes fiscal and judicial sense to adopt the appeals court proposal.

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Filed under Nevada judiciary, Nevada news, Nevada politics

Bits and Pieces: Tesla, Titus, Heller, and Amodei

Jig Saw Puzzle ** It’s a done deal. TESLA’s coming to Nevada, brought to us by $1.2 billion worth of ‘incentives.’ [RGJ]  Meanwhile, watch that multiplier! The state is assuming a 2.5 multiplier for revenue generation, i.e. for every one direct job with TESLA there will be 2.5 ancillary jobs created – that’s a big multiplier. [RGJ] See also [LVRJ]

**  Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1) asked the VA to move its regional office from Reno to Las Vegas. [LVRJ]  Much as it might pain a northern Nevadan to say so, but the Las Vegas metropolitan area does have more of the 246,000 Nevada veterans than those living in the north, [VA] and the northern office hasn’t covered itself in glory. [LVRJ]  I’d not want to hang by my hair waiting for a definitive answer from the new VA leadership.

** From the Department of No Surprises:  Senator Dean Heller (R-American Bankers Association) voted against the cloture motion to consider S.J. Res. 19, a bill to propose a Constitutional amendment to allow the Congress to enact meaningful campaign finance reform.  Senator Heller was one of 42 (all Republican) votes to continue to filibuster any attempt to overturn the decision in Citizens United.  [roll call 261]

Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) voted in favor of H.R. 3522, a bill which would allow insurance corporations to offer small businesses group  insurance plans which DO NOT meet the standards for comprehensive health insurance coverage for their employees under the terms of the ACA.  [RC 495]  One organization summed up the problem with the bill:

“This legislation would allow health insurers to continue offering coverage outside of the insurance marketplaces established by the health law even if those plans do not comply with its coverage requirements. In addition, the inferior plans that would be allowed to continue under Representative Cassidy’s bill discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, force women to pay more than men for the same coverage and impose annual caps on the amount of care received by enrollees.” [NCPSSM]  (emphasis added)

Those three issues, pre-existing condition discrimination, gender discrimination, and junk policies with capped coverage are some of the main reasons the ACA was necessary in the first place.

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Filed under Amodei, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Nevada economy, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, nevada taxation, Titus

The Tesla Tango

Tesla Here’s the paragraph from PLAN’s letter to the Nevada state legislature which should capture attention:

If we are to use our state’s threadbare tax coffers to subsidize this multi-billion dollar corporation, we urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to hold Tesla accountable for creating family-wage jobs with Nevadans first in line, and other benefits for our state. Specifically, you should attach job quality standards regarding wages and benefits, indexed to inflation over the 20-year deal, to the Tesla tax breaks. You should also mandate customized training and first-source hiring procedures to maximize hiring opportunities for Nevadans. And to deter outsourcing or the use of temp agencies, all of Tesla’s tax breaks (not just the refundable credits) should require direct employment and be pegged to employment levels (so that property and sales tax exemptions would be scaled back if Tesla does not reach and maintain 6,500 employees). (emphasis added)

If Nevada is to experience the benefits from tax incentives offered to TESLA, then it needs to have the wage levels secured to a level which would allow for increased demand for goods and services.  In a state without an income tax, the state revenues have to filter through the sales and business taxes.  For that to happen there has to be an increased level of consumer spending.

‘Minimum wage jobs, temporary employment, outsourced temp employment will simply shave potential demand from the equation.  The current “half the loaf” proposal is problematic:

“The bill requires half of the construction workers and half of the permanent factory workers be from Nevada. Tesla will be required to keep such things as driver’s licenses and car registrations of its employees on file to prove the quota has been met. However, if Tesla can demonstrate it can’t find enough qualified employees in Nevada, it can ask the economic development director for a waiver.” [RGJ]

Why 50%? Why not 67%.  Or are we to be pleased that we’re getting the 50%?  The type of jobs included is another issue for stakeholders.  TESLA will no doubt import its own upper level management team for its plant, this is standard practice and will bring in incomes which could drive local demand for goods and services.  It’s the intermediate positions about which Nevadans might want to be concerned.   And, there’s this:

“Tesla will get a $12,500 transferable tax credit for up to 6,000 qualified employees, who work at least 30 hours a week and make an average of $22 an hour.”  [RGJ]

30 hours?  The last time we looked, 30 hours is a part time job, and which average are we talking about?  Is that the median wage? (half the paychecks above and half below the $22 mark) Or, is it an arithmetical mean, in which the salaries of the top employees are averaged in with the lowest paid workers?  In other words, if we use the arithmetical mean to get the average between a person paid $10 per hour with the income of the Sultan of Brunei wouldn’t that yield an artificially higher average wage?  Or, are we using the mode, the most common wage paid by the company? If there are more people earning $22 per hour than any other group – except there are profound disparities between the top and bottom – then would this be a clear picture of the salary and wage distribution of the firm?

No doubt there will be more questions as the Nevada legislature continues to debate the bill to offer TESLA tax incentives to locate its plant in the state. Stay tuned.

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