Tag Archives: Nevada Assembly

Kirner’s Folly

Kirner 2

Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-NV26) is about to secure his position as the poster boy for ALEC in this session of the Assembled Wisdom.  From the ever informative LTN:

“As we discussed yesterday, the Nevada Legislature has devolved into chaos and treachery… Yet again. This time, Assembly Member Randy Kirner (R-Reno) is threatening to kill SB 353, the sexual orientation conversion therapy ban, and possibly additional bills that have nothing to do with union issues, because he’s upset his ALEC bills to blow up unions and hand public servants’ retirement savings (PERS) to Wall Street aren’t moving. Oh, yes. That’s right. He’s going there!

But wait, there’s more. Now that Kirner is hinting that he’s a possible swing vote for the Nevada Revenue Plan, Governor Brian Sandoval’s (R) preferred revenue raising tax reform package, there’s real fear that Kirner is trying to abuse this tense situation to extract some sort of PERS deform (in addition to the bipartisan deal already reached on SB 406).”

Follow The Money

And, why not?  A quick look at the funding behind Assemblyman Kirner’s campaign shows the predominance of right wing money flowing into Kirner’s campaign coffers.  That “Students First” item on the donor list should be a big clue.   “Students First” is Michelle Ree’s anti-union outfit, which was caught working with ALEC in Connecticut to promote the ALEC agenda in 2012.  [BProg]  This year the organization was caught in New Mexico trying to coordinate an anti-union and anti public school campaign using social media and bloggers to promote “educational reform.” [Ravitch]

Kirner’s positions on “reforming” Nevada PERS are straight out of the ALEC playbook. (pdf)  If we’d like a preview of what ALEC and the Koch financed State Policy Network have in mind – handing over public employee retirement funds to the players in the Wall Street Casino – look at Kansas. [Politicususa]

Kirner was also the beneficiary of the Retail Association of Nevada, $5,500 in donations.  Interestingly enough, RAN is a first cousin of the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs; RAN’s CEO is Mary Lau, who is also listed as the treasurer of CPNJ for 2013.  In August 2013 RAN was pleased to insert a tip of the hat to the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs for its opposition to the “teacher tax” initiative. (pdf)

The District

Assembly 26 Assemblyman Kirner’s notion that he can blow up this session of the Legislature in search of satisfaction on right wing issues may reflect the district – the 26th is almost exclusively white (86%) and 46% Republican. Most residents live in owner occupied housing, and most are between the ages of 18 and 59. [LegNV pdf] [More: Statistical Atlas]   Kirner ran unopposed in the last election, getting 50.03% of the total vote. [SSE]


Given the last election results, even considering his close primary, is Assemblyman Kirner functioning as if he were in a safe seat?  Or, given the close primary is he sliding to the radical end of the right wing spectrum because of opposition which emphasized “no new taxes,” “school choice,” and “it’s not government’s job to create jobs?” [Krasner] Little wonder the primary was close given the ideological proximity of the two Republican candidates.

Can Democrats in Assembly District 26 move the needle?  There are 12,077 registered active voting Democrats in AD 25 out of 41,198 total. There are 18,763 registered active Republican voters in the district. There are 1,881 registered members of the Independent American Party, and another 445 registered Libertarians. 7,421 are non-partisan registered voters.  [NVSoS] There are 64,703 residents of the District.  Approximately 63.7% of the residents of the District are active, registered, voters.  First, it’s hard to move the needle without a race, and there is an obvious need for candidate recruitment in AD 26. Secondly, given the 81% turnout in 2012 compared to the 45.55% turnout in Washoe County in 2014, could Democrats “move the needle” if there were a candidate for the Assembly seat in a presidential election year campaign?

In the meantime, we’re treated to what can happen with a “safe seat” ideologically driven incumbent with funding and support from corporate interests and conservative allies – pro gun, anti-union, and anti-gay issues become the basis for retail politics in the District.  Waving these banners shouldn’t be allowed to obscure real issues facing real people in the Silver State.

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Filed under 2012 election, Nevada Democrats, Nevada politics, Politics

The Something For Nothing Crowd in the Nevada Assembly

Nevada Legislature And Nevada’s Assembled Wisdom totters on:

“Remember what happened yesterday. Just after the Senate’s grandiose SB 252 floor vote, the Assembly devolved into pure “TEA” powered madness with constant recesses, shouting matches over those recesses, a floor fight over blatantly unconstitutional bill language, mind-numbing flip-flopping over outrageously discriminatory legislation, and an epic freakout over online sales tax. Are you scared yet? Ralston and others clearly are.” [LTN]

Why are we not surprised?  The bill now goes to the Assembly, in which the ideologically pure (sort of) and constitutionally correct (rarely) will have a whack at the funding for Governor Sandoval’s budget.

“The scariest prospect is that with a third of the session left, the biggest issue before the state has been left in the hands of a body populated by some GOP members who don’t understand policy, who don’t live on the same planet the rest of us do and who are the most embarrassing legislators the state has ever seen.” [Ralston/RGJ]

For those keeping score, Steve Sebelius provided a handy list of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the almost comprehensible measures before said Assembled Wisdom this season. It’s a handy reference.  … Which gets us to the Something For Nothing Crowd.

Consider this release from the Assembly Policy Committee, and its spokesperson Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-Bundyville):

“With all due respect, much of the governor’s proposal is based on the mistaken idea that the way to fix public education in Nevada is to pump more taxpayer dollars into the existing failed system rather than dramatically reforming that system and providing far more school choice to Nevada parents, including the financial assistance necessary to exercise that choice for low-to-moderate income families.

“That said, the unemployment rate in Nevada remains, as Bill Anderson of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation put it last week, ‘stubbornly high’ at 7.1 percent.  As such, the last thing the Legislature should be doing is taking money out of the private sector, where it’s needed to create jobs, and transferring it to the public sector so that government can continue to spend beyond its means.

“Conservatives in the Nevada State Assembly cannot and will not support  SB252 as passed out of the Senate today.”

Let us Parse. First, nothing good ever happens after someone begins with “with all due respect.”  Thence to the heart of the matter – the old privatization refrain, which goes back to the 1874 Kalamazoo Case.

“Kalamazoo Union High School, which many believed to be a necessity for bridging the gap from common school to university, operated with some minor opposition, until 1873. In January of that year, three prominent Kalamazoo property owners filed a suit intended to prevent the school board from funding the high school with tax money. They argued that the 1859 state law had been violated when the high school was established without a vote of the taxpayers. Charles E. Stuart, a former United States Senator from Michigan, along with Theodore P. Sheldon and Henry Brees, initiated the suit. At the time, it was believed to be a “friendly” suit intended to settle the issue legally in favor of the school. However, Stuart’s comments to the Kalamazoo Board of Education years after the suit had been settled, suggest that he and his companions sincerely resented the tax burden that the public high school placed on them. Stuart, like many others of his time, believed that a common school education was sufficient for anyone, and anything beyond that should be paid for privately.” [KPL]

The School Board prevailed in the 1874 litigation, and thus we have public funding for education k-12. [MLive]  The fact that if a school board is charged with administering a k-12 system then it must have the funding to do so raises the second portion of the argument – the part concerning the level of that financial support.

Enter the Something For Nothing Crowd.  What else explains the phrase: “fix public education in Nevada is to pump more taxpayer dollars into the existing failed system rather than dramatically reforming…?” This statement assumes (1) the current level of funding is adequate, or perhaps less is necessary; (2) the schools are failing with the present level of funding and therefore no additional funding is desireable; and, (3) the system needs to be “fixed.”

None of these assumptions can be asserted without challenge.  The first problem is the general issue of the Disappearing Dollars often cited by conservatives. The notion of “pumping in” dollars infers that the dollars are a measure of educational support in themselves.  The concept is a great leap to a highly ideologically framed conclusion.  No. money doesn’t solve educational issues but it does purchase: The services of highly qualified personnel, specialists, aides and assistants, and administrators; school physical facilities, books, libraries, equipment, supplies, etc. 

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Something For Nothing Crowd is channeling the spirit of Charles E. Stuart from the 19th century – if a family wants a better education for their children they should pay for it themselves.  Witness: “dramatically reforming that system and providing far more school choice to Nevada parents, including the financial assistance necessary to exercise that choice for low-to-moderate income families.”   The translation is fairly simple.  School choice equates to a voucher system for attendance at private schools. and “far more schools” usually equates to the establishment of private charter operations.

We’ve touched on the rationales for this thinking before:

“The K-12 schools are “failing” and therefore we should augment the resources for privatization in the form of charter or private schools.  This contention is most often wrapped in “parental choice” camouflage covering.  That the proposed choice doesn’t exist in many rural communities, or that the proposed choice is extremely limited in urban ones, doesn’t enter into the discussion often enough.  Nor is it observed often enough that school voucher programs are a way to siphon off public funds for public schools and channel the money to private ones. [DB 2012]

In addition to the questionable rational for the conservative philosophy as it pertains to public education, there’s the problem of educational standards. What’s “failing?”

The most common measurement of “educational attainment” and the one most often cited by conservatives is standardized test scores.  Standardized testing has its uses.  However, placing them at the center of the argument is to risk overemphasizing their usefulness:

“We can stipulate that most tests manufactured for use in public schools by major publishing houses are statistically reliable and generally statistically valid. What we cannot say with any statistical certainty is whether or not we are measuring what we value in public education.” [DB 2011]

We appear “not to test well” and there may be some valid reasons for that, such as the generally low salaries for teachers, “Teacher salaries have a huge impact when it comes to attracting good instructors. The innovative, smart, highly skilled people you want teaching your kids aren’t exactly in love with the idea of making $38,000 per year (the average for first-year high school teachers) when they could go somewhere else and earn more while doing less.” [ABC]

Or perhaps we should place greater emphasis on early childhood education: “

The OECD found in a separate study that 15-year-olds who had attended at least a year of preschool performed better on reading tests than kids who had not, even when socioeconomic factors were taken into account.  The U.S. spends more on preschool than other countries but money doesn’t do any good unless kids are enrolled, and the U.S. lags on that measure.” [ABC]

The ASCD offers an enlightening summation:

“For several important reasons, standardized achievement tests should not be used to judge the quality of education. The overarching reason that students’ scores on these tests do not provide an accurate index of educational effectiveness is that any inference about educational quality made on the basis of students’ standardized achievement test performances is apt to be invalid.

Employing standardized achievement tests to ascertain educational quality is like measuring temperature with a tablespoon. Tablespoons have a different measurement mission than indicating how hot or cold something is. Standardized achievement tests have a different measurement mission than indicating how good or bad a school is. Standardized achievement tests should be used to make the comparative interpretations that they were intended to provide. They should not be used to judge educational quality.”

Even if we do apply standardized test score to measure “temperature with a tablespoon” there’s no guarantee that the privatized or charter schools will achieve better results.

Researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes looked at test data from charter schools in 26 states and the District and found that 25 percent of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading while 29 percent of charters delivered stronger results in math. That marked an improvement over a similar 2009 study by the same research team.

But 56 percent of the charters produced no significant difference in reading and 19 percent had worse results than traditional public schools. In math, 40 percent produced no significant difference and 31 percent were significantly worse than regular public schools. [WaPo]

So, we have the Something For Nothing Crowd in the Nevada Assembly decrying the essence of the Governor’s budget for education with all the old clichés from time gone by, and the tautological statement that if an underfunded school is failing the way to make it better is to further cut its funding.

We can only hope that after the tempers, the tantrums, the protestations, the gnashing of teeth, and the rending of cloth the membership of the Nevada Assembly will manage some form of civility and citizenship, and recognize another time honored statement – You Get What You Pay For.

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Filed under education, nevada education, nevada taxation, Sandoval

Shady Lender Protection Act heard in Nevada Legislature Committee

AB 282

Perhaps this was a good week to revisit “Margin Call?”  Why? Because Fiore and Friends are promoting AB 282 in the Nevada state Legislature.

“AB 282: AN ACT relating to real property; revising provisions governing mediation of a judicial foreclosure action; revising provisions requiring certain actions related to the foreclosure of owner-occupied property securing a residential mortgage loan to be rescinded after a certain period; revising provisions governing civil actions brought by a borrower for certain violations of law governing the foreclosure of owner-occupied property securing a residential mortgage loan…”

This bill is on today’s agenda in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.  Might it be suggested that the informal title of the bill be “The Shady Lender Protection Act of 2015?”  Here’s why:

“Existing law provides that in a judicial foreclosure action concerning owner- occupied property, the mortgagor may elect to participate in the program of foreclosure mediation. (NRS 40.437) Section 1 of this bill removes provisions governing the process of such mediation and the documents required to be brought to the mediation. Section 1 instead requires the Nevada Supreme Court to adopt rules governing the mediation.” (emphasis added)

Let’s start with the part wherein the Nevada foreclosure mediation process has been successful.  It’s been especially beneficial for borrowers in owner occupied homes who want to avoid foreclosure. [nolo] Perhaps this is why Fiore and Friends and so dead set against it?  So, what are those documents required in the process?

“Nevada’s mediation program requires that borrowers and the lender provide the mediator and each other with certain documents prior to the mediation. The borrower must provide appropriate documentation, such as financial information, so that the lender can make a determination about whether the borrower is eligible for a loan workout. The lender must provide documents such as the original note, deed of trust, and assignments (or certified copies).” [nolo]

Remember those bad old days, the ones in the wake of the housing bubble debacle?  Those were the days during which lenders were seeking to foreclose properties on which they didn’t have the paperwork necessary to prove who held the mortgage.  And at this point we return to the messy problem of MERS.

MERS was an ‘electronic’ recording of mortgages which was supposed to facilitate the assignment of mortgages etc. at high speed – speed high enough to sate the demand from Wall Street for more and more and more mortgages to slice, dice, tranche, and otherwise divide into financial products for marketing.  The idea was that county recorders weren’t fast enough to keep pace with the Wall Street demand for mortgages in the secondary market.  The fall out from the MERS mess is still being felt in parts of the country. [Harpers]

Thus, what AB 282 does is to (1) eliminate a mediation process which has been successful in Nevada, and (2) eliminates the documentation requirements now on the books according to which the borrowers must provide their financial information and the lenders must prove they own the paperwork on the property.  We can guess who’s having problems with the paperwork, but an article in the Reno Gazette Journal in 2012 provides some interesting details:

“Data from the same report (on program effectiveness) , however, have some questioning what the program’s definition of good faith is. Out of the 3,183 total cases from the same time period, banks did not bring all the required documents in 1,149 cases — a rate of 36 percent.

JPMorgan Chase topped the list, failing to bring all necessary documents in 52 percent of its cases. Ally/GMAC was second at 50 percent, followed by Bank of America at 41 percent, US Bank at 32 percent and Wells Fargo at 31 percent. Citigroup posted the lowest rate of the six banks mentioned at 12 percent.”

And, why did the banks have problems with the paperwork?  They didn’t have it. The Great Wall Street Mortgage Mill had shredded the mortgages into sliced and diced financial products in which nobody knew who really owned what – much less what the paper was really worth.

“They want the original paperwork and not a certified copy, which becomes an issue for mortgages that have been securitized (into investments),” Uffelman said. “Once a mortgage gets securitized, the paperwork ends up in a different place and can be tough for a servicer to track down and pull back together. The more you securitize stuff, the easier it is to screw things up.” [RGJ 2012]

And screw things up they did. Since Wall Street was in such a glorious rush to manufacture asset based securities on offer in the Casino, the recording and other record keeping practices were lost in the great paper shuffle.  Only in the imagination of Wall Street sycophants does this create a problem to be borne solely by the homeowner.

If we look at the latest report (pdf) from the program we see the nature of the continuing documentation problem:

“Of the 1,894 mediations held during FY 2014, 73 percent resulted in the homeowner and the lender not coming to an agreement to retain or relinquish the property. In 28 percent of these cases, no resolution was reached because the lender failed to prove it had the authority to foreclose, or the lender failed to prove ownership of the deed of trust or the mortgage note.”  

“For example, in 319 cases, the beneficiary failed to bring the required certifications for each endorsement of the mortgage note. By statute, the lender must provide a certified deed of trust, a certification of each assignment of the deed of trust, a certified mortgage note, and a certification of each endorsement and/or assignment of the mortgage note.”

And just so borrowers aren’t inclined to take on the banks in a questionable foreclosure, AB 282 limits the time line for the mediation process, drops awards from $50,000 to $5,000, and eliminates the recovery of attorney fees by a prevailing borrower.

The Legislature already has AB 360 The Annuities Saleman’s Friend Bill in the hopper, and now the financialists must be rubbing their palms at the prospect of the Ultra-Big-Bank-Friendly AB 282!

AB 282 is a bill for the Banks, for the Wall Street Casino Players, for the Speculators, for the Financialists – and it is NOT a bill which does anything for average Nevada families.   As the session progresses it’s becoming ever more clear who the Nevada Republicans are supporting – and it’s definitely not Nevada homeowners.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Foreclosures, Nevada economy, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

It Can Happen Here: Nevada considers anti-gay SB 272

Rainbow Flag

It can happen here. Two bills have been introduced so far in the Nevada Legislature which are similar to the now infamous Indiana discrimination act.  We need to exercise some caution with these bills, because not all “religious freedom” bills are equally ominous.  Unfortunately, SB 272, sponsored by Senator Hardy, falls into the “Indiana Category.”

“AN ACT relating to religious freedom; enacting the Nevada Protection of Religious Freedom Act; prohibiting state action from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion under certain circumstances; requiring strict scrutiny to be applied in all cases where state action substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion; providing a claim or defense in judicial and administrative proceedings to protect a person’s exercise of religion; providing certain exceptions;…”  [SB272]

The general summary sounds innocuous enough, and similar to federal statutes preventing state actions which constitute an undue burden, but the bill goes one step further.

“Section 16 of this bill allows a person whose exercise of religion is substantially burdened by state action to bring or assert a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding to protect the person’s exercise of religion from the burden and to seek redress for any harm or injuries to the person, whether or not a governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. Because some state laws protecting religious freedom are applicable only when a governmental entity is a party, those religious freedom laws do not apply to a proceeding between private parties. (Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, 309 P.3d 53, 76-77 (N.M. 2013)) By contrast, because this bill does not require a governmental entity to be a party, this bill applies to a proceeding between private parties in which one of the parties is seeking to enforce a state or local law, regulation or rule that substantially burdens another party’s exercise of religion.”  (emphasis added) [SB272]

Other religious freedom acts around the country limit the “burden” to areas in which the state or other unit of government are parties to the case; SB 272 opens this up to situations between private parties.  In short, it is a license to discriminate.  This is evident in the definitions segment of the bill:

“Sec. 6. 1. “Burden” means any state action that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails or denies the exercise of religion by a person or compels a person to act contrary to the person’s exercise of religion.” [SB272]

In short, if an individual can argue that any state statute or regulation compels him or her to do something which impinges on a religious belief then the burden is presumed intrusive, and if a dispute arises between two private parties concerning the ‘right to discriminate’ based on religious beliefs then the discrimination would be lawful.

Not too put too fine a point to it, but SB 272 could be labeled the Religious Fanatic Discrimination Protection Act.  Christianity has been used in the U.S. as a pretext for previous acts of outright discrimination.  While the Bible was cited by the Abolitionists, it was also used to support the Peculiar Institution – of slavery – in the old south.  It has also been cited to support segregation and anti-miscegenation laws. [BFR] [TP.org]

AB 277, introduced by Assemblymen Nelson and Ellison, is from the same boiler plate rendition as SB 272.

“… because this bill does not require a governmental entity to be a party, bill applies to a proceeding between private parties in which one of the parties seeking to enforce a state or local law, regulation or rule that substantially burdens another party’s exercise of religion.”

Little wonder Senator Hardy is listed as a co-sponsor of this legislation.  Given the controversy, it would seem that the sponsors of these bills would have taken more care to sponsor drafts which are not outliers in terms of the genre. By broadening the language and inserting the “rights’” of private parties to discriminate, the sponsors fell into the Indiana Trap, wherein not all RFRA acts are created equally:

The problem with this statement is that, well, it’s false. That becomes clear when you read and compare those tedious state statutes.  If you do that, you will find that the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs. [Atlantic]

The second problem in Indiana’s statute is the insertion of private rights to discriminate.  Merely because a statute is titled RFRA doesn’t mean it’s like all the others.  [Atlantic] [TP.org] [InAdvance]

As there was a backlash in regard to anti-miscegenation laws, to desegregation efforts, and to racial integration, we may now be seeing the backlash to gay marriage play out in the guise of ‘religious freedom,’ much as though we were being treated to a replay of Theodore Bilbo and Lester Maddox speeches of generations ago.   The Nevada Legislature could make far better use of its time than in the consideration of these two bills.

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Filed under gay issues, Nevada legislature, 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

It’s Official: Democrats Control Nevada Legislature

Well, sort of…but the Nevada Legislature posts a roster of newly elected members of the state Senate and Assembly.   Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson (D-LV) moves from the Assembly to Senate District 4; Aaron Ford (D-LV) represents Senate District 11; Justin Jones (D-LV) represents Senate District 9; Tick Segerbloom (D-LV) moves from the Assembly to represent Senate District 3; Debbie Smith (D-Washoe) former Assemblywoman now represents Senate District 13.  Patricia Spearman (D-LV) now represents Senate District 1; and, former State Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-LV) regains a seat in the Senate representing District 5.

Republicans needed to win five seats in the state Senate to control that legislative body, but could only secure three of them.  The election had similar results for the Nevada state Assembly, which will also remain in Democratic hands.

“The results ensure that both the 21-member Senate and the 42-member Assembly will remain in control of Democrats in the 2013 session, requiring GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval to work with the opposing party in both houses to push through his education reform agenda in the 2013 legislative session.” [NNB]

… and every other agenda he might have had in mind as well.

State Senate District 15 will be represented by Greg Brower who eked out a narrow victory over Democrat Sheila Leslie.  [NVSoS] Brower has been closely associated with the ultra-right wing ALEC, one of the key organizations associated with vote suppression legislation and other radical right model legislation.

Democrat Dina Titus took Congressional District 1 in a 63.53% to 31.58% shellacking of Republican Chris Edwards.  Unsurprisingly, Republican Mark Amodei won the 2nd District race; and, Joe Heck retained his seat in the 3rd District in a closer race, 50.40% to 47.84%.  Nevada sends Stephen Horsford (D) as its representative from the new 4th District.  [NVSoS]  DB will be watching the antics of incumbent Senator Dean Heller, and Rep. Joe Heck as the 113th session of the US Congress begins.


Filed under 2012 election, Nevada politics