Pipeline protesters show their respect for the environment

Protesters trying to block the Dakota Access pipeline from being placed under a river because it might, maybe, somehow, someday pollute the water already were leaving behind tons of trash, debris and human waste in the river watershed prior to the spring thaw, but, just to add insanity to pollution, they set 20 fires in their camp today, their deadline for evacuation.

Twenty protesters were arrested and two children were treated for burns due to the fires.

The Army Corps of Engineers is cleaning up the site.

Fires set at protest site. (Getty Image via USA Today)

Fires set at protest site. (Getty Image via USA Today)

 

 

 

 

Bill is an expensive sop to public employee unions

A bill introduced in Carson City by a Las Vegas assemblyman would wipe out much of the progress made in 2015 in public employee collective bargaining reforms.

Assembly Bill 121, sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Yeager, who also happens to be a Clark County public employee, would wipe out a provision in law that prohibits paying union officials from public coffers for time spent doing union business. It also negates a provision blocking pay increases after a union contract has expired and before a new one is inked. It further makes provisions of any new contract retroactive the time of expiration of the previous one — lessening incentives for union members to accept a lesser offer.

The bill is pure redistributionism. Taking from the taxpayers to line the pockets of public employee unions.

Assemblyman Yeager

Assemblyman Yeager

Yeager is employed by the Clark County Public Defenders Office, whose union contract expires in June.

As Las Vegas newspaper columnist Victor Joecks pointed out in a recent column, Yeager’s wearing of two hats — lawmaker and public employee — is not just a conflict of interest, but a blatant violation of the state Constitution.

Article 3 of that Constitution states: “The powers of the Government of the State of Nevada shall be divided into three separate departments, — the Legislative, — the Executive and the Judicial; and no persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions, appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases expressly directed or permitted in this constitution.”

Since local governments exist at the behest of the state government, Yeager could be considered an employee of the executive branch, and since he works in the court system he might also by seen as an employee of the judicial branch — a triple play!

The reforms this bill attempts to undo actually don’t go nearly far enough.

Even liberal icon and labor supporter Franklin D. Roosevelt said:

“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.”

 

For lack of a copyeditor a bear was killed

This AP story is all over the internet today:

“LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada man is expected to return to court in Las Vegas next week in a grizzly 2011 murder case after the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that his earlier guilty plea was illegal.”

A murder can be grisly or horrifying, but a grizzly is a type of brown bear.

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone. (NatGeo pix)

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone. (NatGeo pix)

 

Democrats fail to block Puitt for head of EPA

Senate confirms Pruitt to head EPA. (AP pix)

Senate confirms Pruitt to head EPA. (AP pix)

The Senate this morning confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on a near-party-line vote of 52-46 to head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Democrats argued Pruitt should not head the agency while his state is suing the agency for rules created during the Obama administration and he is too close to the oil and natural gas industry, which is strong in his state.

 

Pruitt has locked horns with the EPA and other federal agencies several times in recent years, including challenging the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) overreach, Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions and even Obama’s failed effort to impose stricter overtime rules and costs on businesses and state and local governments.

Nevada’s own attorney general, Adam Laxalt, upon learning of the pending appointment immediately issued a statement praising the selection of Pruitt, who has joined with Nevada and other states in fighting a number of administration power grabs.

An example of Pruitt’s views on the role of the federal government and the rights of the citizens and local governance came when he filed suit over the EPA’s WOTUS rules.

“Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry, and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound, and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA,” Pruitt told the press at the time. “I, and many other local, state and national leaders across the country, made clear to the EPA our concerns and opposition to redefining the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ However, the EPA’s brazen effort to stifle private property rights has left Oklahoma with few options to deter the harm that its rule will do.”

When Oklahoma joined the 29 states, including Nevada, suing the federal government over Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was an attempt to shut down virtually all electricity generation with fossil fuels and replace it with more expensive renewables, Pruitt commented, “This administration continues to treat states as mere vessels of federal will, abusing and disrespecting the vertical separation of powers defined by our Constitution.”

 

The greens positively fulminated over statements like the ones made by Pruitt and the Alabama attorney general in an op-ed in National Review in May: “Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller voted to confirm, while Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto voted against confirmation.

Legislature’s lawyers play sleight of opinion … now you see it, now you don’t

At a Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor meeting this afternoon on Assembly Bill 175, which proposes to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $14 for employers who provide health insurance or from $8.25 to $15 for employers who don’t, the question came up as whether the lawmakers have the authority change that law since the current law was establishes by constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 2004 and 2006.

The lawyer for the committee, Will Keane of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, responded: “I spoke with the Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes. She told me that our office thoroughly researched this during the 2015 legislative session and then updated and confirmed that research during the drafting of AB175 this session. She said that as result of their research it is the opinion of LCB legal, based on the rules of statutory and constitutional construction, that the provisions of the minimum wage amendment to the Nevada Constitution do not limit the inherent power of the Legislature to establish by statute a new minimum wage that is higher than the minimum wage that is currently required by law.”

But this morning there was an LCB fact sheet from August 2015 posted on the Legislature’s website that read:

“Because provisions governing the minimum wage rate are included in the Constitution, any changes to the minimum wage provisions require a constitutional amendment. There are two ways to amend the Constitution. One way is through the citizen initiative process. Citizen initiatives for constitutional amendments must be approved in identical form in two consecutive general elections. This is the process that enacted the current minimum wage requirements in the Constitution. The second way to amend the Constitution is through the legislative process. The Senate or Assembly may propose a constitutional amendment, which must pass in identical form with a majority of members of both houses in two consecutive biennial sessions. After that, the proposal must pass a popular vote during the next general election.”

Now it has disappeared. Coincidence? The link now returns a 404 Error. But if you put the first sentence of the above fact sheet language into an Internet browser it will return to you a PDF titled: ”

Fact Sheet – 2015 Minimum Wage in Nevada

A cached version of the list of LCB fact sheets online has a link to Minimum Wage in Nevada (August 2015), but that link also returns a 404 Error.

A little sleight of opinion? A little selective editing?

Most web archive and cache services also came up empty, but something called Old Home Page came up with this link. In case that too disappears here is a PDF: minimumwage

lcb-fact-sheet

August 2015 LCB Fact Sheet excerpt

But a 2014 Nevada Supreme Court opinion in a case specifically about the minimum wage law is still online. That opinion states: “If the Legislature could change the Constitution by ordinary enactment, ‘no longer would the Constitution be “superior paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means.” It would be ‘on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other acts … alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.’ In this case, the principle of constitutional supremacy prevents the Nevada Legislature from creating exceptions to the rights and privileges protected by Nevada’s Constitution.”

The opinion also flatly stated: “It is fundamental to our federal, constitutional system of government that a state legislature “has not the power to enact any law conflicting with the federal constitution, the laws of congress, or the constitution of its particular State.”

 

 

Bill creates bureaucratic nightmare for employers seeking government contracts

If you ever want to land a government contract in Nevada — paving roads, scrubbing floors, selling typing paper — under a proposed law you would be guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

Assembly Bill 106, being sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel of Henderson, would prohibit government agencies in the state from contracting with any firm until it has received a “certificate of pay equity compliance” issued by the state Labor Commissioner declaring the company provides equal pay for equal work performed by men and women employees.

Never mind the fact the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 already proscribes pay discrimination based on gender.

The bill would create a mountain of paperwork because it requires submitting to the Labor Commissioner an annual workforce analysis that includes: the total number of persons employed in each job category by gender, the total number of hours worked for each employee and the total compensation for each.

The bill does allow differences in pay for men and women if:

An employer is not disqualified from receiving a certificate of pay equity compliance pursuant to this section to the extent of any difference in wages between male and female employees that is the result of:

(a) A seniority system;
(b) A merit system;
(c) A compensation system under which wages are determined by the quality or quantity of production; or
(d) A wage differential that is based on factors other than sex.

Of course, all these exemptions are entirely subjective and subject to the whim of the bureaucrat looking at the data. One person’s meritorious job performance is another’s discrimination.

Also, the bill states, “The denial or cancellation (of a certificate of compliance) is not subject to judicial review.”

Satisfy the inspector or no government contract.

Further, the bill adds to the list of those who must obtain a certificate of compliance all governmental agencies and political subdivisions of government, thus driving up the cost to all taxpayers to comply.

Of course, the way to comply is to employ a workforce that consists of only men or women — instant compliance. Or is that discriminatory?

Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel

Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel