Editorial chastises Laxalt for ignoring the will of the voters by not ignoring the will of the voters

The insert in the morning newspaper never misses a chance to promote its progressive/liberal/gun-grabbing agenda and to lash out at a Republican. Today’s editorial is exhibit A.

This past week District Court Judge Joe Hardy ruled that the 2016 Question 1 initiative, which intended to require background checks for the sales of guns between private individuals, was unenforceable, just as Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office had ruled shortly after passage.

The editorial accused Laxalt of gloating and ignoring the will of the people, saying he and Gov. Brian Sandoval “barely lifted a finger in trying to implement it.”

You see, the backers of the initiative had outsmarted themselves. In trying to get a fiscal note on the ballot measure that said it would cost no Nevada tax dollars, their draft said the background checks would be conducted by the FBI through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and not the customary method of using the Nevada Department of Public Safety. The FBI refused to conduct the checks.

As for ignoring the will of the people, the measure passed with only 50.45 percent of the vote, failing in every county except Clark. Would it have passed at all if the voters were told how much it would cost them?

“When the feds responded to the state’s cursory inquires (sic) about the law by saying they were not obligated to perform the checks, Laxalt and Sandoval were all too happy to drop the matter and move on,” the screed falsely claims. “Instead of demanding, haranguing, maybe even suing, they quickly demurred.”

As for barely lifting a finger and quickly demurring, the editorial ignores the section of Judge Hardy’s ruling that detailed the numerous communications between the state and the FBI. (See pages 6 through 10.)

“But when voters go to the polls this November, they should remember how Laxalt reacted before, during and especially after the ruling,” the putrid polemic pouts. “This is a man who clearly views himself above the will of the people and imagines an imperial governorship in which he can ignore the voters at his discretion.”

Apparently, the insert editorialists believe that members of the executive branch should ignore the voters and rewrite a law that the voters approved, albeit by a slim majority in one urban county. As Judge Hardy noted, the FBI requirement “was not inadvertent drafting on a peripheral point. It was a conscious choice relating to a central provision …”

So Laxalt and Sandoval should have just ignored the will of the stupid voters who had no idea what they were really voting for anyway.

 

 

Poll shows tight races for senator and governor

A poll for the Reno Gazette-Journal by Suffolk University of Boston shows both the race for Nevada’s governor and U.S. senator to be almost dead even. The paper concluded undecided voters could play a major role come November.

The poll of 500 likely voters has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

This is how the race for governor stands:

This how the race for senator stands:

It looks like the campaign to defeat the Energy Choice Initiative, Question 3, is being effective. The measure passed with 72 percent of the vote two years ago:

Notice who has the highest unfavorable rating in the state:

Then there is the question of turnout by county. Those polled were:

The current active voters, according the Secretary of State, breaks down as Clark 69.3 percent, Washoe 17.7 percent and others 13 percent. But in the last mid-term election in 2014, the actual turnout was Clark 61.8 percent, Washoe 21.1 and others 17.1 percent. So, if the rural turnout is greater than the turnout in heavily Democratic urban centers that might make a difference. But as June the number of active voters in the rurals had dropped to 13 percent, down from 15 percent in 2014.

 

Newspaper column: Free speech issues ‘on the ballot’ in Nevada

The right to free speech includes the right to not be compelled to speak.

That includes not being required to pay dues to a union whose political views might be different from yours, not being required to advertise abortion availability at your faith-based pregnancy counseling service, not being required to use your cake baking talent to create a special cake or your flower arranging expertise for a gay wedding.

All of these have come down from a closely divided U.S. Supreme Court in the closing days of this year’s court calendar.

This past week, the court ruled that public employees could not to be forced to pay dues to unions with which they might not agree.

“The First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, forbids abridgment of the freedom of speech,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the 5-4 opinion. “We have held time and again that freedom of speech ‘includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.’”

Public employee unions that advocate higher wages that require higher taxes are intrinsically political.

Just the day before the court ruled, again 5-4, that a California law that required pro-life, religious-oriented unlicensed pregnancy centers to place extensive disclaimers in their ads and on billboards telling people about abortion services was an unconstitutional impingement on free speech.

“Here, for example, licensed clinics must provide a government-drafted script about the availability of state-sponsored services, as well as contact information for how to obtain them” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in the majority opinion. “One of those services is abortion — the very practice that petitioners are devoted to opposing. By requiring petitioners to inform women how they can obtain state-subsidized abortions — at the same time petitioners try to dissuade women from choosing that option — the licensed notice plainly ‘alters the content’ of petitioners’ speech.”

A little more than a week earlier in a 7-2 ruling the court held Colorado could not force cake shop owner to make a special cake for a gay wedding.

Shortly thereafter. the court remanded a Washington case involving a florist who declined to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, citing the Colorado ruling.

The state of Nevada, under the direction of Attorney General Adam Laxalt, had joined in both the public employee union case and the California abortion law case on the winning side.

Laxalt’s office put out a press release about the California law ruling stating: “The ruling, which rests exclusively on free speech grounds, does not affect abortion providers; it neither requires them to change their practices nor infringes on their ability to provide abortions. The Supreme Court correctly held that compelling private organizations to promote the government’s preferred message under those circumstances is inconsistent with the First Amendment. This is an important holding ensuring that the government cannot simply force private speakers with whom it disagrees to also promote the government’s preferred message, especially when there are other ways for the government to promote its own message without interfering with private speech.”

Republican Laxalt’s Democratic opponent for governor in November, Steve Sisolak, put out a statement reported by The Nevada Independent saying, “I believe that women deserve access to all of their options when it comes to their reproductive health care. I still have concerns over the lack of information given by these crisis pregnancy centers and the harm it can cause.”

Sisolak continued, “As governor, I will fight to protect a woman’s constitutional reproductive rights and her consistent access to comprehensive care. Adam Laxalt has shown repeatedly that he will pursue an anti-choice agenda that will roll back the clock on women’s rights and bring Nevada down a dangerous path.”

This has nothing to do with abortion rights and only to do with speech rights.

This point was lost on Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen who is running for Republican Dean Heller’s Senate seat. She sent out an email saying, “Deceiving women about their health care options is an attack on women’s fundamental reproductive freedom, and I will continue to stand against this Administration’s attacks on women’s rights and access to health care. Nevadans support a woman’s right to make these personal decisions.”

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Supreme Court hears free speech case

Free speech includes the right to be silent

The right to free speech includes the right to not be compelled to speak.

That includes not being required to pay dues to a union whose political view might be different from yours, not being required to advertise abortion availability at your faith-based pregnancy counseling service, not being required to use your cake baking talent to create a special cake or your flowing arranging expertise for a gay wedding.

All of these have come down from a closely divided U.S. Supreme Court in a matter of days.

Today the court ruled that public employees could not to be forced to pay dues to unions with which they might not agree. Justice Samuel Alito writes in the 5-4 opinion:

The First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, forbids abridgment of the freedom of speech. We have held time and again that freedom of speech “includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.” … The right to eschew association for expressive purposes is likewise protected. … (“Freedom of association … plainly presupposes a free­dom not to associate”) … (“[F]orced associations that burden protected speech are impermissible”). As Justice Jackson memorably put it: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constella­tion, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Just the day before the court ruled, again 5-4, that a California law that required pro-life, religious-oriented unlicensed pregnancy centers to place extensive disclaimers in large fonts and in as many as 13 languages in their ads and on billboards telling people about abortion services was an unconstitutional impingement on free speech. The ruling overturned a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion:

Here, for example, licensed clinics must provide a government-drafted script about the availability of state-sponsored services, as well as contact information for how to obtain them. One of those services is abortion — the very practice that petitioners are devoted to opposing. By requiring petitioners to inform women how they can obtain state-subsidized abortions — at the same time petitioners try to dissuade women from choosing that option — the licensed notice plainly “alters the content” of petitioners’ speech.

A little more than a week ago in a 7-2 ruling the court held the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was inconsistent in its rulings relating to issues of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion and free speech.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that on at least three occasions the state Civil Rights Commission held that bakers who refused to create cakes with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage did so lawfully.

“The treatment of the conscience-based objections at issue in these three cases contrasts with the Commission’s treatment of Phillips’ objection,” Kennedy wrote. “The Commission ruled against (Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack) Phillips in part on the theory that any message the requested wedding cake would carry would be attributed to the customer, not to the baker. Yet the Division did not address this point in any of the other cases with respect to the cakes depicting anti-gay marriage symbolism.”
Shortly thereafter the court remanded a Washington case involving a florist who declined to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, citing the Colorado ruling.
The state of Nevada, under the direction of Attorney Adam Laxalt, had joined in both the public employee union case and the California abortion law case on the winning side.
Laxalt’s office put out a press release about the California law ruling stating: “The ruling, which rests exclusively on free speech grounds, does not affect abortion providers; it neither requires them to change their practices nor infringes on their ability to provide abortions. The Supreme Court correctly held that compelling private organizations to promote the government’s preferred message under those circumstances is inconsistent with the First Amendment. This is an important holding ensuring that the government cannot simply force private speakers with whom it disagrees to also promote the government’s preferred message, especially when there are other ways for the government to promote its own message without interfering with private speech.”

Republican Laxalt’s Democratic opponent for governor in November, Steve Sisolak, put out a statement reported by The Nevada Independent saying, “I believe that women deserve access to all of their options when it comes to their reproductive health care. I still have concerns over the lack of information given by these crisis pregnancy centers and the harm it can cause.”Sisolak continued, “As governor, I will fight to protect a woman’s constitutional reproductive rights and her consistent access to comprehensive care. Adam Laxalt has shown repeatedly that he will pursue an anti-choice agenda that will roll back the clock on women’s rights and bring Nevada down a dangerous path.”

This has nothing to do with abortion rights and only to do with speech rights.

This point was lost on Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen who is running for Republican Dean Heller’s Senate seat. She sent out an email saying, “Deceiving women about their health care options is an attack on women’s fundamental reproductive freedom, and I will continue to stand against this Administration’s attacks on women’s rights and access to health care. Nevadans support a woman’s right to make these personal decisions.”

Lame-duck Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen sent an email saying, “It is disappointing that today’s Supreme Court decision will allow unlicensed facilities to continue misleading women about the health care services they provide. No woman seeking accurate information about her health care options should be lied to, shamed, or denied access to basic medical care. This ruling is a huge setback in our nation’s fight to protect and advance women’s rights and will make it harder for women to access the health care services they need. We must continue fighting to ensure that every woman has the right to make her own health choices and has access to the full range of options.”

Laxalt’s political campaign sent out an email crowing about the two most recent court ruling and rubbing Sisolak’s nose in it:

The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the government cannot force Nevadans to advocate political positions against their beliefs. We know Steve Sisolak disagrees. Steve said it was “shameful” when Adam visited a Nevada pregnancy care center, and he favors zero restrictions on abortion — a position to the left of most Nevada Democrats. He is benefiting from the government union in this case, AFSCME, that is running over a million dollars in attack ads against Adam right now — attack ads that PolitiFact has called “false.”

These were great victories for free speech. Adam protected pregnancy care centers from a radical California law that would have forced these pro-life centers that offer care for pregnant women to advocate for policies they disagree with. Adam protected workers from being forced to give up their wages to a government union that pays for political lobbying and advertising that they may disagree with.

Steve Sisolak’s fringe agenda is being exposed. This is a great week for freedom of speech in Nevada, and a terrible week for Steve Sisolak’s radical political machine.

Anti-abortion activists celebrated outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Reuters pix via NYTimes)

 

Newspaper column: Why education spending should be cut

Teachers are walking out of classrooms in Colorado and Arizona, demanding higher salaries and more education funding. Lawmakers are rushing to meet their demands.

Here in Nevada all the candidates for governor are kowtowing to the demand for more education funding.

Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt has declared, “We must continue to move forward, not backward, in the areas where we’ve made great strides. In particular, Nevada policymakers have implemented a series of programs designed to address a critical area — improving early literacy. I’ll continue to champion these promising new programs. I pledge that under my leadership, these programs and our entire public education system will be properly funded — we will never go backwards from our current levels of education spending. I repeat: I will not scale back public education funding.”

His Republican opponent Treasurer Dan Schwartz has said he wants to find a way to wrest the $750 million in tax money earmarked for a Raiders football stadium and redirect it to fund education.

Democratic candidates and currently Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have both called for more education spending.

“Every child in Nevada deserves the opportunity to succeed and that starts with strong public schools,” Sisolak states on his campaign website. “Steve supports investing in Nevada schools so they have the resources to provide a safe and effective learning environment for all of our kids. He believes that in order to strengthen our schools we need to raise teacher salaries and lower classroom sizes.”

On her website Giunchigliani declares, “Every Nevada child deserves an opportunity to get a quality public education, regardless of their zip code, parents’ salary or ethnicity. As a public school special education teacher for 30 years, I know the difference a quality public education can make in a child’s life. But too many of our kids are in underperforming schools and we’ve failed to bring urgency to this issue. One of my top priorities as governor will be to fix the school funding formula. We need to increase educators’ salaries and reduce class sizes.”

Recently Clark County School Board members held a press conference calling on the governor to call a special session of the Legislature in order to raise taxes to increase education spending. Board member Carolyn Edwards was quoted by the press as saying, “We need to be able to pay our teachers and our employees the raises they deserve.”

Juxtapose that quote against the fact that in January Education Week magazine’s annual “Quality Counts” survey of state-by-state K-12 education ranked Nevada 51st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Only 31 percent of Nevada fourth graders are proficient in math and reading. The raises they deserve?

Pardon us for allowing a heretic to sound a sour note in the choir, but George Mason University economics professor Bryan Caplan has just published a book that — gasp! — says education funding should be cut, because the vast majority of it is wasted. The book is called “The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.”

Caplan estimates that our government agencies alone spend $1.1 trillion in tax money a year on education. That is $3,600 for every person in the country, not every student, every person. He estimates that half of the money doesn’t buy our students any enhanced skills, but merely something he calls “signaling.”

Caplan contends that a high school or college diploma does not mean someone has learned much of anything worthwhile — other than rudimentary literacy and numeracy — but instead signals to potential employers that one is capable of spending long hours doing stultifying menial tasks and conforming to expectations.

To buoy his claims about the inadequacy of the American education system, Caplan cites the General Social Survey of adults that asked 12 elementary true-false science questions. Only 60 percent could answer correctly, when 50 percent should be possible by merely guessing.

“Accounting for guessing, the public’s scientific illiteracy is astonishing,” Caplan writes. “Barely half of American adults known the Earth goes around the sun. Only 32% know atoms are bigger than electrons. Just 14% know that antibiotics don’t kill viruses. Knowledge of evolution barely exceeds zero; respondents would have done better flipping a coin.”

Perhaps there are better things on which we could spend a half a trillion dollars a year.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

 

Newspaper column: States cry foul over California egg law

California law requires cage sizes for chickens, eve for imported eggs.

Californians want chickens to be able to stretch their wings, no matter how much it stretches the cost of eggs.

Back in 2008 those animal-loving folks to the west of Nevada approved a ballot initiative that required the size of cages for egg-laying hens in that state to be increased by about 75 percent by January 2015. Failure to comply with the law was punishable by a $1,000 fine and 180 days in the county lockup.

But as January 2015 approached, the egg farmers in California started to squawk, saying complying with the law would cause their eggs to cost at least 20 percent more to produce than eggs imported from other states, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

So, California lawmakers passed a law saying that any eggs sold in that state had to comply with the state cage size requirements.

From January 2015 to January 2016 the price of eggs in the U.S. shot up more than 10 percent, according to the Consumer Price Index, though the prices have dropped since.

But now Nevada and a dozen other states are crying foul and asking the U.S. Supreme Court to wring the neck of the California egg law because it violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and a federal law requiring uniform standards for eggs sold in interstate commerce.

According to the 109-page lawsuit, the California regulations are costing egg consumers nationwide more than $350 million a year.

In announcing several weeks ago that Nevada was joining the legal challenge, Attorney General Adam Laxalt declared, “This is yet another example of California’s unreasonable and over burdensome regulations affecting everyday Nevadans. By forcing out-of-state egg producers to modify their production facilities to comply with one state’s eccentric preferences, California has inflated egg prices for every consumer in the nation, including in Nevada. We are asking the Supreme Court to limit California’s ability to set unreasonable and unique agricultural standards that affect other states like Nevada, while doing little to help further any tangible concerns in California.”

The other states involved are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. All have Republican attorneys general except Iowa.

According to the suit, California produces about 5 billion eggs a year and imports another 4 billion from other states, greatly affecting the interstate egg market.

The lawsuit quotes a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case on the significance of the Commerce Clause to the nation’s founders. That opinion stated: “The few simple words of the Commerce Clause — ‘The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce … among the several States …’ — reflected a central concern of the Framers that was an immediate reason for calling the Constitutional Convention: the conviction that in order to succeed, the new Union would have to avoid the tendencies toward economic Balkanization that had plagued relations among the Colonies and later among the States under the Articles of Confederation. … The Commerce Clause has accordingly been interpreted by this Court not only as an authorization for congressional action, but also, even in the absence of a conflicting federal statute, as a restriction on permissible state regulation.”

The suit further quotes the federal law that states for “eggs which have moved or are moving in interstate or foreign commerce, no State or local jurisdiction may require the use of standards of quality, condition, weight, quantity, or grade which are in addition to or different from the official Federal standards …”

As the suit clearly argues, that law “preempts any contrary state or local laws under the Supremacy Clause, both expressly and impliedly.”

The California law is blatantly protectionist in its design. In urging the governor to sign the law the California Department of Food and Agriculture stated: “This will ensure a level playing field for California’s shell egg producers by requiring out of state producers to comply with the state’s animal care standards … Without a level playing field with out-of-state producers, companies in California will no longer be able to operate in this state and will either go out of business or be forced to relocate to another state.”

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in California’s favor, so it is up to the Supreme Court to unscramble this mess.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Editorial: Nevada challenges California’s sanctuary cities

This past summer Nevada joined with other states in challenging a California federal judge’s decision to block President Trump’s executive order that would deny some federal funding for sanctuary cities, saying that such cities near Nevada pose a threat to public safety.

The judge sided with Santa Clara County, the city of San Francisco and other jurisdictions who argued that taking away federal funds from cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement could be unconstitutional.

With the case now going to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has again joined with other attorneys general to file a friend-of-the-court brief.

“It is common sense that dangerous felons should not be released into neighborhoods, and that law enforcement must work together for public safety,” Laxalt was quoted as saying in a press release announcing the filing. “Sanctuary cities in California pose a danger to neighboring states like Nevada by making it easier for those not lawfully in this country and with violent criminal histories to evade law enforcement and travel out of state. What’s more, these cities undermine the rule of law and prevent cooperation between federal and local officials.”

The filing points out that one of the states seeking to overturn the judge’s ruling, West Virginia, is near Baltimore, which has adopted sanctuary city policies and is the source of illegal drugs that spill into West Virginia. “Sanctuary policies deprive jurisdictions of important tools that could assist with preventing such out-of-state drug trafficking,” the brief argues.

Days after taking office President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to deny certain federal funding to cities and jurisdictions that “willfully refuse” to comply with federal immigration laws, but a federal judge blocked the order.

The current brief states, “Sanctuary jurisdictions can cause harm to neighboring States by making it easier for people who are not lawfully in this country and have committed civil or criminal offenses to evade law enforcement and travel out-of-state.”

The brief also counters the argument that denying federal funds for failing to voluntarily cooperate in immigration law enforcement is unconstitutional by pointing out the case of South Dakota v. Dole. In that case the Supreme Court held that it is constitutional for Congress to withhold federal funds from states that failed to raise the legal drinking age to 21.

The brief also notes this issue is not just an executive order by the president but is merely an instruction to enforce the law as passed by Congress.

“The Tenth Amendment prohibits the federal government from commandeering States by forcing them to administer a federal regulatory regime or conscripting state officers to do the same,” the brief explains. “But that is not what Congress did. Rather, the Order provides States with voluntary inducements to comply with federal law. And for its part, the Act simply displaces or preempts state laws that prohibit localities or local law enforcement officials from voluntarily communicating with federal officials, with a goal to further the comprehensive federal immigration regime. Congress thus acted within its enumerated powers and under the Supremacy Clause to preempt state laws that stand as obstacles to the creation of this uniform policy.”

Laxalt notes that all 17 currently elected county sheriffs have consistently opposed sanctuary-city policies. “Today, in the vast majority of cases, an individual must be arrested for committing a crime and booked into a jail or detention facility before Nevada law enforcement agencies check whether the individual is sought by federal immigration authorities and, if so, alert those federal authorities. Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community,” his press release states.

We appreciate the attorney general sticking up for the rule of law and the safety of Nevadans.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Lisa Benson cartoon