Tag Archives: gun issues

Mountains and Mole Hills

Mountain MolehillOne of the more unpleasant aspects of today’s media offerings is the tendency to confuse mountains and molehills.  No disrespect to all those diligent moles out there assiduously plying their turf disrupting trade, but when Everything Is A Crisis! perspective is the first casualty.

Mountain:  We have an immigration policy in place which doesn’t work for us.  There are two bills addressing this issue, S. 744 which passed the Senate and H.R. 15 which languishes in the House while the TeaParty/GOP leadership decides which they’d prefer to tick off — their corporate backers or the xenophobic right wing.    Representative Amodei (R-NV2) thinks he could support Rep. Eric Cantor’s “Kids Act” and he provides a summary of the issue on his webpage, but his statements on comprehensive immigration policy reform remain fuzzy.  Where Representative Heck (R-NV3)  stands is a bit more clear, given his statement on October 25th:

“I have spent countless hours meeting with community members and addressing town hall meetings on the topic of immigration reform. There is no doubt in my mind that reforming our immigration system is right and necessary and I remain committed to enacting real solutions that will fix our current broken system. I will continue to urge the House leadership to move forward on immigration reform with all possible haste.”

While he’s “urging leadership to move forward,” the question remains — toward what?  A piecemeal enactment of immigration policies which serve only to protract the issues, and may never arrive at a complete picture — or — legislation like S. 744 or H.R. 15?

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV1) drilled down to one of the major issues in the piecemeal approach to immigration policy reform:  What of women who work in the service sector?

“Comprehensive immigration reform must take into account the fact that many immigrant women work at home or in the informal economy.  If, for example, eligibility for the path to citizenship requires proof of employment, providing paystubs cannot be the only acceptable proof or we risk leaving millions of women behind.  Approximately 74 percent of undocumented domestic workers do not receive documentation of their pay from an employer.  Thankfully, H.R. 15, the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill recently introduced in the House, addresses this issue by allowing flexible forms of proof of employment. It is critical that we incorporate this thoughtful approach into any immigration reform bill considered by the House.”

Meanwhile, the mountain remains, impervious to rational debate and reasonable action.

Mole Hill:   Those who have purchased individual health insurance plans constitute about 5% of the population. [UI]  This translates to a maximum of 16,500,000 individuals out of a total 330,000,000; if we count every single person large or small, young or old.  The actual percentage is probably closer to 14.3 million individuals. [UI pdf]  Some of these people bought JUNK.  In a search for low premiums they purchased policies that didn’t cover much, if anything, or bought policies the coverage terms of which were so confusing that the insurance corporation was able to deny compensation for even basic treatment options.   The infamous Barrette Case is a classic example of a JUNK policy.   Forbes magazine estimates that about  4 million Americans were sold some 1,200 of these junk policies.

Thus, it should be fairly easy for the press to find some individual examples for popular consumption of these Outraged Individuals who want to keep the cheap junk they purchased, out of a category of 4 million.   Therefore, the media cry “there are millions of Americans affected by this ‘mistake’” is technically accurate but ultimately misleading.   Some broadcasters have jumped on the “Crisis” bandwagon, only to have their stellar examples debunked within hours.  You can tell when the mole hill is being magnified into a mountain IF (1) the report doesn’t compare the junk policy to the coverage available in the health insurance exchanges, (2) if the report doesn’t take into consideration the subsidies available to assist the policy holder pay for the premiums, and (3) if the report relies on individual examples to generate conclusions for which there is no other substantiation.

Mountain:  Speaking of health issues — 32,163 Americans died as a result of gun fire in 2011.  6,220 died as a result of a homicide. 19,766 individuals used a gun to commit suicide.  [GP]  73,883 Americans were injured by gun fire.  432 Americans died in gun related accidents. [GP]  By contrast, in 2011 there were 9,878 fatal automobile accidents in which there was a driver with a BAC level above 0.08 or even higher.  [NRD pdf]  We are coming perilously close to the point at which the number of gun deaths equals or surpasses the number of automobile deaths.  According to figures released by the CDC 33,687 Americans died in auto accidents, 31,672 died as a result of gun violence.  We do something about drunk drivers.  We restrict the licenses of some drivers. We have yet to address the issues related to the easy access to firearms in this country.

When Gallup polled Americans about controlling gun sales in the U.S. during the week of October 3-6, 2013 some 49% favored more stringent controls, 13% thought restrictions should be eased, and 37% called for controls to be kept the same.  A September poll by Quinnipiac University found 89% of Americans supportive of legislation to require universal background checks.  These numbers aside, on September 17th Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced he didn’t have enough support to reintroduce the background check bill in the Senate. [TheHill]

Mole Hill: I’m really pleased that there are at least seven retailers who will give their employees a break for celebrating Thanksgiving with their families.  [TP]   That said — when wages for American workers have stagnated for the past decade [EPI], when there are about 10% of our young veterans  still looking for work while the programs to help them are shrinking [CNN], and when the unemployment rate for Whites 6.3% while the unemployment rate for Blacks stands at 13.1% we have a problem far larger than whether or not people go home for Thanksgiving.

Mountain:  Did anyone read the IPCC climate report?   Did anyone delve into Chapter 12, wherein the commission discussed climate change implications for pattern scaling, temperatures and energy budgets, atmospheric circulation, the water cycle, the cryosphere, our oceans, and carbon cycle feedback?  [IPCC pdf] One newspaper noted that the report made the climate change deniers overheat.  Too many media outlets were engaged in sowing seeds of doubt about the report’s content and all but ignoring the conclusions and commentary contained therein.

Mole Hill:  There were 48 bills in the 113th Congress related to the abortion issue. [GovTrack]  There’s Sen. Rand Paul’s S.583 Personhood Bill, H.R. 2300 from Rep. Tom Price to “empower patients” (not), Rep. Trent Frank’s H.R. 1797 “pain” bill, and his H.R. 447 PRENDA, Rep. Jim Jordan introduced H.R. 1091, life begins at conception act, and the list goes on.

Meanwhile back in the world of reality — the rate of abortions per 1,000 women of child bearing age has declined from a high of 29.3 in 1981 to 19.6 in 2008. [Guttmacher]

A Suggestion

Could we start talking about the mountains, and minimize our time spent in elaborate and protracted debates about mole hills?

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Filed under abortion, Amodei, anti-immigration, ecology, Gun Issues, Health Care, health insurance, Heck, media

Roundup: Guns and Games Edition

Cattle RoundupAgain, it’s been too long since the last aggregation of interesting articles and excellent posts concerning Nevada and its politics. Let’s begin with some local items.

**  Remember when Governor Sandoval vetoed SB 221, the bill which would have expanded background checks to private gun sales to insure that individuals who were felons, fugitives, undocumented aliens, juveniles without parental supervision, those restrained by a court from possessing firearms because of spousal abuse and domestic violence, and seriously mentally ill individuals could not obtain guns?  The Governor claimed the bill was “too broad,” but now we have a very specific example of precisely the kind of activity the proposed law was designed to prevent — a seriously mentally ill individual purchased a gun from a Reno police officer, and Nevada Progressive has a good summation of the situation.

For background information see:  “RGJ Exclusive: Mentally ill man who bought gun from Reno cop was prohibited from having a gunReno Gazette Journal, July 16, 2013.  “Gun issue smolders in Nevada political landscape,” Ray Hagar, Reno Gazette Journal, July 17, 2013.

** The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus would like to remind Senator Dean Heller (R-Big and Bigger Banks) that it is often a good thing to read laws one is complaining about, and to refresh one’s memory about how the Congress of the United States of America functions prior to launching aggrieved letters to the Executive Branch.   See: “Heller Has No Clue How Congress Works and He Apparently Can’t Read Either,” at the NRDC site.   Senator Heller’s latest nod to the Tea Party in regard to the Affordable Care Act substantiates the NRDC’s headline.

** Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) got tired of the GOP obstructionism in the Senate and played the anti-filibuster card.  Why?  As Sebelius explains:

“Not a single cabinet secretary nominee was filibustered in President [Jimmy] Carter’s administration. Not a single cabinet secretary nominee was filibustered in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Only one cabinet secretary was filibustered in President [Ronald] Reagan’s administration. And only one cabinet secretary was filibustered in President George W. Bush‘s administration. But already in President Obama’s administration, 4 cabinet secretaries have been filibustered, and more filibusters are likely. Yet the Republican Leader says there is no problem here. The status quo is fine.”

And then came The Deal, as explained by the Washington Post:

“The clear winner from the ugly debate was the president, who will have a full slate of his nominees confirmed and will settle the messy staffing issue at the CFPB and the NLRB. Those agencies are the subject of a legal battle that will reach the Supreme Court over Obama’s method of making an end run around Senate confirmation to install interim appointees, threatening to undermine more than 1,000 rulings issued by the labor board in the past 18 months.”

In this instance it appears as though Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t quite as “necessary” as he thought he might have been?   E.J. Dionne, Jr. offers more analysis in his column.   And, Bingo!, we have Thomas Perez confirmed as the new Secretary of Labor.

** Speaking of undermining the system.   The Republican controlled House of Representatives, which just can’t seem to help itself from repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, has voted to delay the individual mandate section of the law — an action which will die in the Senate, and would meet a veto from the White House — The latest exercise in futility passed 264 to 121, with Nevada Representatives Heck (R-NV3) and Amodei (R-NV2) voting in favor of the bill; Representative Titus (D-NV1) voted no.

Perhaps those voting in the affirmative, such as Reps. Heck and Amodei, didn’t take the time to read the latest reports concerning the implementation of the ACA and Patients Bill of Rights — especially the one which reports that health care insurance premiums are projected to drop by 50% in New York, or the release this morning from HHS:

“The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is set to release a report on Thursday morning that analyzes the 2014 premiums in the Obamacare insurance marketplaces in 11 different states, including Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, and Oregon. Officials said that the data will show that the weighted average of the least expensive mid-level health plans in those states’ marketplaces are 18 percent lower than what the CBO thought they would be when the law first passed.”  [TP] (emphasis added)

In essence, since insurance companies are factoring in the increased demand for their products under the individual mandate — what Representatives Heck and Amodei just voted to do is Increase the Cost of Health Insurance Premiums?

** You can’t make this stuff up.

ALEC’s Back — this time with bills crafted for state consumption which would privatize the nation’s educational systems, state by state.  There are 139 bills awaiting passage in 43 states and D.C., but before we jump on the ALEC “reform” bandwagon, it’s advisable to read “Cashing In On Kids.”  There were three bills in the last session of the Nevada legislature related to the ALEC campaign to cash in on kids:  AB 254 was the ALEC sponsored “Parent Trigger Bill,” and SB 314, the ALEC supported “Parental Rights Amendment.”  SB 407 was the “Great Teachers and Leaders Act.”   AB 254 was sponsored by: Hansen, Hickey, Hambrick, Fiore, Hardy, Kirner, Livermore, Wheeler, Gustavson — no surprises there?

Beautiful Downtown Deer Trail, CO is pondering whether to offer a bounty to those who shoot down drones.   For $25 dollars, the ordinance proposes, you can get a hunting license for a drone, and take target practice on your very own Spy Ship.  This is interesting because Congress has directed the FAA to make airspace more readily available for surveillance drones, and most serious legislation on the subject calls for a probable cause warrant before police utilize a drone.  [ACLU] So, if the Colorado State Patrol gets a probable cause warrant to send a drone over a suspected meth lab or marijuana farm — the residents of Deer Trail could shoot it down?  And, please tell me the people advocating the Drone Shoot aren’t some of the same individuals who are all for using drones to spot undocumented workers trying to cross the deserts?

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Filed under education, Filibusters, Gun Issues, Nevada politics

Gun Sights on the Nevada Legislature: AB 196

GunsThe Nevada Assembly Government Affairs Committee will be considering AB 196 on Friday, March 15th.  The bill is sponsored by: Wheeler, Ellison, Paul Anderson, Fiore, Oscarson, Duncan, Grady, Hansen, Hardy, Hickey, Kirner, Livermore, Stewart, Woodbury, Gustavson, Cegavske, Settelmeyer, and it states:

“Chapter 228 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new section to read as follows: If directed by the Governor or if, in the opinion of the Attorney General, the rights of residents of this State under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution have been infringed by an executive order issued by the President of the United States and it is necessary that a suit be commenced in any federal or state court to protect and secure such rights, the Attorney General shall commence the action. Sec. 2. This act becomes effective upon passage and approval. ” [AB 196 pdf]

Now what might have the gun-nut knickers in a twist in the Nevada Legislature?  The bill proposes to have the State of Nevada challenge any Executive Order the President has or may issue deemed to “infringe” on the 2nd Amendment.   Now which of the Presidential actions taken since January 26th might the conspiracy theory driven anti-government adherents of the NRA caliginous vision of America could be “an infringment?”  Let’s look at the list. (pdf)

#1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.  Unless one is convinced that NO background checks are necessary, and any background investigation is a threat to the right protected in the 2nd Amendment, then there seems little for the gun manufacturing advocates to find objectionable.

#2.  Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.  Again, this is about federal agencies facilitating the background check system already in place, and hence it’s hard to see why the Nevada Attorney General should go charging into court.

#3.  Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.  Once more, we’re talking about a background information investigation system already in place, the President is simply offering federal assistance to states to improve the efficacy of the system.

#4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.    The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 provided the following categories of persons who are not to purchase firearms in this country: (a) a minor; (b) a person who has been convicted of, or is under indictment for, a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; (felony) (c) a person who is a fugitive from justice; (d) is an unlawful user or is addicted to contraband drugs; (e) is an undocumented alien; (f) a person who has renounced his or her citizenship (g) is a person  subject to a court order restraining him or her from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner, his or her child or a child of a partner or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; (h) or, is a person who has been convicted of violating a domestic violence statute.

Now, should the U.S. Attorney General decide that the categories listed above do not take in consideration the possible sale of firearms to individuals who have been recently and involuntarily hospitalized for a mental illness which causes his or her physician, and perhaps even family members, to have very rational concerns that the firearm could be used to commit a suicide, or even a homicide, — would the Nevada State Attorney General be required to launch a suit seeking to block this executive order directing a review?

#5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.   Give a moment’s thought to the gun seized from an individual convicted of stalking and domestic violence.  When should the gun be returned?  Under what circumstances?  Notice that the Executive Order doesn’t prohibit the gun from being returned, but it does give local law enforcement permission to run a full background check before the gun is restored to its owner.  There could be questions raised legitimately — Has the individual violated any restraining orders?  Has the person committed the same egregious behavior with persons other than the original victim?  Has the person been convicted of a felony during the period his or her firearm was retained by authorities?  Surely, we’d not want to ignore the best efforts  our local law enforcement personnel to prevent a violent offender from perpetrating further violence?

#6.  Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks  for private sellers.  A letter from the ATF giving guidance to gun dealers, most of whom are honest brokers, is possible grounds for an expensive state law suit?

#7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.   Is the Nevada Attorney General to file suit against a public education effort to promote gun safety and responsible ownership?  In what possible environment do we infer that calls for safety and responsibility are a threat?

#8.  Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).   As in the case of a public education campaign, a person would have to be well off the rails before thinking that having the CPSC review its safety standards for locks and safes.   A suit from the State of Nevada on this point would surely fit the definition of Frivolous.

#9.  Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.  Once more, we’re not speaking of any NEW imposition of restrictions on the right to bear arms.  This order directs Federal law enforcement to trace guns already recovered in criminal investigations.

#10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.   This isn’t much of anything new either.  Information on lost and stolen firearms should be shared with local law enforcement.  A better question might be why haven’t we been sharing this kind of analysis with local law enforcement before this point?

Now we’re are into some territory into which the NRA has intruded to object to gun inventory regulations. Thanks to the NRA sponsored Tiahrt Amendment:

“The ATF can’t require gun dealers to conduct an inventory to account for lost or stolen guns; records of customer background checks must be destroyed within 24 hours if they are clean enough to allow the sale; and trace data can’t be used in state civil lawsuits or in an effort to suspend or revoke a gun dealer’s license.”  [ProPublica]

Now, we have to be careful about precisely whom we are protecting.  Under the terms of the Tiahrt Amendment the gun database is not public, and it’s voluntary.  Those legitimate retail gun dealers are certainly going to keep track of their inventory — any retailer who doesn’t is begging for bankruptcy.  Thus, if the regulation of inventories isn’t going to have an impact on the business practices of legitimate and responsible retailers, then who might be annoyed?  Perhaps it would be the irresponsible ones?  The ones who created the following problem:

“A 2008 analysis by the Brady Campaign found that in the previous 12 months, about 30,000 guns had gone missing from federally licensed firearm dealers. Gun control advocates say the ATF could issue regulations calling for gun dealers to better secure their inventory without having to pass brand new laws.”

Again, would the sponsors of AB 196 demand that the Attorney General of the State of Nevada file suit because gun dealers who can’t, or won’t, track their own inventories want “freedom” to lose firearms, and have those guns end up in all the wrong hands?

#11. Nominate an ATF director.  Considering the lack of Senatorial cooperation with this simple item it’s hard to see how this could be fodder for a state to litigate.  On December 23, 2010 the Senate “returned” the nomination of Andrew Traver to head the ATF.  [MainJustice] The NRA objected to the agency veteran’s nomination, which didn’t make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The President nominated Todd Jones, who has been serving as the interim director since 2011, in 2013.   Is there hope this nominee might make it past Republican filibusters?

“The largest obstacle to Jones’s confirmation, however, has nothing to do with his biography; he has, after all, proven that he can lead the bureau. Rather, it’s the manner in which A.T.F. directors are confirmed: since 2006, the position of A.T.F. has required Senate approval, but given the perpetual political strife inherent to A.T.F.’s domain — gun violence in particular — not a single nominee has been confirmed in almost seven years.”  [NatlJournal 1/2013]

Want to hog tie an agency?  Require its leadership to endure Senatorial advice and consent, and then filibuster every nominee to hold the position for nearly seven years.

#12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.   Do the sponsors of AB 196 find this sharing of information and expertise an objectionable activity, and a threat to 2nd Amendment provisions?

#13.  Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.  Somewhere I recall hearing gun enthusiasts proclaiming that Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People — and if this is true then its corollary “enforce the laws already on the books…” must also be acceptable.  Exactly what the President proposes to encourage the law enforcement agencies under his direction to do.

#14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.  Now we’re back into tricky territory again, and the attempts by the NRA to prevent research like the Kellermann Study.   Here’s some background on this subject:

In 1996, some members of Congress tried to completely defund the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which was doing gun research, Live Science explains. Instead, lawmakers stripped $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget — the exact amount it had spent on gun injury research the year before. Congress forbade research that might “advocate or promote gun control.” In 2003, Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt forbid the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from giving researchers data about guns used in crime. Last year, the National Institutes of Health was blocked from funding gun research. The efforts have had impressive results. According to a letter to Biden signed by 100 researchers, the NIH has funded just three studies on gun injuries in the last 40 years. Hey, that’s three whole studies, right? Hardly censorship! Well, the researchers point out that guns have injured 4 million people since 1973, while four infectious diseases have affected just 2,000 — and the NIH has funded almost 500 studies on them. The letter protests that “legislative language has the effect of discouraging the funding of well-crafted scientific studies.”  [Atlantic]

And what did we learn from the Kellermann Study?

“Former Emory University researcher Art Kellermann told NPR that while at Emory, he found that a gun kept at home was 43 times more likely to be used in the death of a member of the household than it was to be used to defend the household from a bad guy. The National Rifle Association pressured Emory to stop Kellermann’s research, but it didn’t. Kellermann told NPR, “[T]hey turned to a softer target, which was the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], the organization that was funding much of this work. And although gun injury prevention research was never more than a tiny percentage of the CDC’s research budget, it was enough to bring them under the fire of the NRA.” [Atlantic] (emphasis added)

The NRA, whose goal it is to convince us that we NEED firearms to protect our property, our loved ones and ourselves, from the Apocalyptic Chaos of Modern American Society, doesn’t want us to find out that we’re 43 times more likely to face a family tragedy than to face down The Intruders.

Are the sponsors of AB 196 taking the Anti-Science Stance, a troglyditic position demanding that any research on any subject the results of which might be uncomfortable or inconvenient for gun manufacturers be immediately and thoroughly eradicated?  Would government sponsored research on public health issues (like the number of people killed or injured by gun violence, and the economic costs thereof) be enough to initiate a law suit from the Nevada Attorney General’s office?

#15.  Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.  It might seem obvious why the NRA would oppose this report, but equally obvious why some technology development companies might see this as a way to improve their profitability.  The spectacle of a Nevada AG suing to restrain a company from developing a new gun safety technology is a capitalist’s worst nightmare.

#16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.  Given the results of the Kellermann Study, it would stand to reason that the family doctor might want to ask if firearms were located in the home.   We also understand that the NRA doesn’t want us to know about the 43:1 odds against us.   However, there are other reasons the physician might want to ask about gun and their storage in the home, a 2005 study reported:

“Rates of unintentional firearm death were found to be 4% higher in states where an additional 1% of gun owning households kept a gun that was loaded. This death rate rose to 6% higher in states where an additional 1% of people kept a gun both loaded and unlocked in their home.

The study notes that its findings support the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association’s recommendations that guns should be stored unloaded and locked in order to reduce the chance of injury or death. The study concludes that: “promoting safer storage practices could save many lives.”

Are the advocates of AB 196 contending that a family physician has no legitimate interest in figures which demonstrate that having a gun in the house, especially if it is kept loaded and unlocked, present a health hazard?  The NRA certainly has an interest in keeping us from finding out that the gun in the bedstand doesn’t really make us safer.  Is the Nevada Attorney General supposed to ask a court to prevent the family doctor from imparting some familial advice?

#17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.  How on God’s Little Blue Planet is THIS an affront to 2nd Amendment rights?

#18.  Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.  This is essentially aligned with the NRA’s demand for more armed officers in schools, it’s difficult to image why the sponsors of AB 196 would object, much less require the Attorney General’s office to stop the wheels.

#19.  Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?  Again, this seems to be a common sense response to the uncommonly devastating problem of school shootings.

What’s the Problem?

The sponsors of AB 196 appear to be marching to the NRA tune.  It is not in the interest of gun manufacturers to (1) have people find out just how dangerous a firearm in the home can be, especially if it is in untrained or irresponsible hands; (2) have sales restricted in any way — including sales that are “off record” and “off the radar” of local law enforcement officers.   While the firearms industry has every right to make a profit, it does not have the license to squash any and all efforts to promote gun safety, gun sales restrictions to individuals who have no business owning much less bearing a firearm, or to impinge on the ability of technology based firms from promoting their gun safety products.

In short, the sponsors of AB 196 give every appearance of adopting the anti-government, almost hysterical, and thoroughly irresponsible position of the bitter-enders in the gun enthusiastic community.  Nevada is bigger and better than that.

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Filed under Gun Issues

Open Season: Nevada Legislature Considers Meetings, Taxes, and Guns

Nevada LegislatureThe Nevada Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections will take up AB 118 on Thursday, February 28th. [NELIS]  The bill sponsored by Assemblymen Brower and Hickey, is titled the Legislative Open Meeting Law, and would open any and all committee meetings to the public with two notable exemptions: social events and sessions in which a committee receives advice or guidance from legal counsel regarding litigation on an issue over which the committee has jurisdiction.  [AB 118 pdf] Not to disparage the intent to make all legislative sessions as transparent as possible, but AB 118 makes de jure what is already pretty much de facto.   Committee agendas, and minutes are already available on-line, for anyone with enough time and interest to locate and read them.  A quick click to “Committees” yields enough information to dispense with the tedium of any day. Or, to add to it?

On the Senate side, the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections will take up SJR 5 and SJR 7.  SJR 5, sponsored by Senator Joyce Woodhouse, “Urges Congress to reintroduce and pass the Marketplace Fairness Act.

“The Marketplace Fairness Act grants states the authority to compel online and catalog retailers (“remote sellers”), no matter where they are located, to collect sales tax at the time of a transaction – exactly like local retailers are already required to do. However, there is a caveat: States are only granted this authority after they have simplified their sales tax laws.” [MFA]

Twenty four states have already enacted legislation to collect sales taxes from remote sellers.   Opposition to the federal bill (sponsored by Senators Durbin & Enzi and Womack (R-AZ) H.R. 684)  is based on two notions.  First, that the law would expand state taxing powers, and secondly that the enactment would require businesses to be out-of-state tax collectors.  This is augmented by the perennial complaint that consumers will be the ultimate “victims.”  [Heartland]

Proponents of the measure, such as one Illinois Chamber of Commerce feel differently:

“As business leaders in our community we cannot continue to support an environment where legally required taxes are collected, tracked and remitted by some, while other businesses get a pass. Retailers fight for market share everyday, but they shouldn’t be forced to compete on the collection of sales tax.”  [ChicagoTrib]

The legislation has been sloshing around the halls of Congress for years, and for years states have been losing money:

“The legislation has been pushed in Congress for more than a decade and has been a priority for national groups representing state governors and lawmakers in Washington. The proposal follows a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision which allows states to collect sales tax from residents who purchase online or catalog merchandise, if the residents provide the information to state tax collectors. State officials have long said residents don’t provide the information and taxes, costing states an estimated $23.3 billion in 2012 sales tax revenue alone.”  [HuffPo]

For all intents and purposes, the bill would require major online retailers like Amazon to collect and remit sales taxes which are collected by local brick/mortar retailers within states.   Way back when Amazon was a bookseller some bifurcation might have been allowable, but as the major online sellers moved into electronics, household appliances, and other retail goods the delineation lacks justification.

The modernity of SJR 5 contrasts sharply with the anachronistic qualities of SJR 7 (pdf),  a bill which:

“…proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to preserve the right to hunt, fish and trap for the residents of this State. The proposed amendment provides that hunting, fishing and trapping by members of the public are the preferred means of managing wildlife in this State.”

Really? First of all, the measure sounds remarkably like a similar provision in the Idaho legislature.  The ballot question in the Gem State was not without controversy:

Ned Horner, from Coeur d’Alene, is a retired Idaho Department of Fish and Game fisheries manager for northern Idaho. He worries the amendment’s language elevates harvest above habitat protection for fish and wildlife management. If the cover and food that sustains game and fish aren’t there, the right means little.  [IdahoStatesman]

It should come as no surprise to anyone that these bills come directly from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the second most powerful gun lobby in the United States. [HuffPo]  That said, the following information should also not raise too many eyebrows:

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has kept a lower profile over the years, but is likely the second-most-powerful force for firearms use in the country.

“While the gun lobby in general has spent less in 2012 than it has in recent years, the NSSF’s spending has exploded, spiking from about $100,000 in 2008 to $500,000 so far this year (in comparison to the NRA’s $2.2 million). The lion’s share of that went to Patrick Rothwell, the group’s director of government relations, who served for three years as chief of staff to the House Republican Policy Committee. He spent a lot of time this year working on legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating chemicals in gun ammunition and fishing equipment, and the organization has backed a slew of concealed-carry bills.”  [New Republic]

Mr. Horner’s comment is well taken; and the emphasis shifting from habitat to harvest should not go unnoticed by the Nevada Legislature.  Nor should the NSSF’s emphasis on opposing environmental regulations and gun violence measures be lost in the high flying rhetoric of “rights,” and “heritage,” and whatever other vague buzz words abound in this debate.   The irony of it all is that the headquarters of the NSSF, Inc. are in Newtown, CT.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada economy, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, nevada taxation

Late Night Recommended Reading Roundup

Newspapers glassesThe Nevada Progressive connects the dots in “The Secretive Climate Denial Campaign in Our Backyard.”  The AFP connected to the NPRI, the NPRI connected to the Tea Party, the Tea Party connected to the Republicans, now hear the Words of the Koch Brothers!  Highly recommended reading.

Stay tuned to the Sin City Siren for information about the upcoming Las Vegas, NV hate crime event.  Calendar marking information for those in the area here.

Talk about a business tax is waning in the Nevada Legislature; In case you missed it,  The Nevada View has a good summary, complete with a must see chart on taxation in the Silver State.  Buzzlzarownd discusses tax topics in the current session of the Assembled Wisdom.

L’Affaire Brooks  is covered in the Nevada State Employee Focus blog, and there’s more from Steve Sebelius at Slash/Politics.

Yes, there’s a big difference between deficit and indebtedness, and the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus blog makes this clear while providing some ammunition with which to push back against the Republican’s Tocsin in regard to the Great Big Horrible Debt Which Will Consume Us Faster Than An A Speeding Meteor… or something.

Speaking of Things Financial:  Begin with the post on Crooks and Liars  about the depredations of HSBC; then proceed to “Call the Waaambulance!” for C&L’s observations on the bankers’ pearl clutching fainting couch landing after being assaulted, I say Assaulted, by Massachusetts Senior Senator Warren.  The Huffington Post describes the whining from Wall Street. Now, read the New York Times article concerning the $35 million settlement agreed to by a mortgage firm that was involved in a six year scheme to prepare and file perhaps a million (or more?) fraudulently signed documents.   Unsettling huh?  If you aren’t sufficiently annoyed by the corporate cavorting over the U.S. tax system — read “The Loophole Lobby.”

What is it that scares Republicans even more than the thought of increasing the minimum wage?  Politicususa has the answer.   And, then there’s the Tennessee Congressional Representative, who during a nostalgic tale of How I Grew Up Self Sufficient Making The Minimum Wage inadvertently made the President’s point for him.  Oh, and by the way, back in the days of the Bush Administration there were 65 Republicans pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. Who’da thunk it.

Then they went on vacation — The Congress is on vacation — again — meanwhile the Violence Against Women Act re-authorization sits awaiting action in the House.  Meanwhile, a prosecutor in Detroit is spearheading efforts to tackle the huge backlog of untested rape kits in police storage.

No, radical gun enthusiasts — Chicago is NOT proof that reasonable controls on guns don’t work.  Look at the Chart.

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Filed under Politics

Reading Roundup

Round UpGood news, bad news — there is only a seven month inventory of bank owned residential properties in the Las Vegas, NV area.  The housing market appears to be leveling out in this region.  Good news for homeowners who’ve been waiting for their investment to appreciate, bad news for buyers.  [LV Sun] [RGJ]

Pure Fiction — the radical right rant in the RGJ on the 2nd Amendment which manages in a couple of short paragraphs to be almost fact free.  Best line? “The Second Amendment states the right to bear arms, not shotgun or long rifles. That means what it says, arms, tanks, machine guns and all other forms of arms so that the people would be on a parity with the government.”   May we ask, where in the city of Sparks do you intend to park your aircraft carrier?

Nevada Progressive discusses the Senate Judiciary committee hearings yesterday, complete with video of former Representative Gabby Giffords’ brief but poignant testimony.  ICYMI, Vegas Jessie looked at the NRA’s newly discovered interest in mental illness, as a distraction from the real issues.  TPM traces the new nullification efforts by radical conservatives.

Lady’s Day — Good reading at The Sin City Siren about the Feminist Files: If you aren’t outraged you aren’t paying attentionArkansas joins the ranks of Republican legislatures determined to keep women pregnant and in the kitchen.   And, then there’s Lawrence O’Donnell’s take down of the conservative lady who ardently believes that we should be defending our children with assault rifles.

Energy — Green tech firms, especially those seeking to increase our use of wind and solar power are seeking tax relief benefits from Congress, similar to those granted to the fossil fuel giants. [DealBook]  While the Chinese are gasping, the U.S. is learning that metal mining is responsible for 46% of “toxic releases” in our environment. [Earthworks] 15% is from power generation.

Unhealthy Ideas — a GOP legislator in our neighbor to the north (as in Idaho) compares the Affordable Care Act to the Holocaust — thus demonstrating she doesn’t understand either.   Meanwhile there’s the problem of the Unlucky Ducks and Medicaid.

Chart of the Day:

Public Sector employment chartOnce more we repeat with fervor: Austerity Doesn’t Create Prosperity.

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Filed under Economy, energy, energy policy, Gun Issues, Health Care, housing, Nevada economy, Women's Issues