Nevada lawmakers pushing bill to make youth sexual orientation immutable

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.

Lawmakers have a tendency to want to play God. They know best, and, by damn, you’ll behave the way they demand you behave or pay the consequences.

That’s why the Nevada state Senate has already passed a bill by a vote of 15-5 that would prohibit so-called “conversion therapy” for minors, even with their consent and the consent of their parents. Such therapy is intended to alter the minor’s sexual orientation — generally, we presume, from homosexual to heterosexual.

On Wednesday the Assembly Health and Human Services heard arguments on Senate Bill 201 in which some argued the broad language barring anyone who provides counseling services from providing “any conversion therapy,” which could be construed as banning any conversation with a youth confused about sexual orientation.

The proponents of the bill, and even some Republicans who say the language is too broad, according to the Las Vegas newspaper account, call conversion therapy reprehensible and say it can result in anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

Somehow the conclusion that sexual orientation is immutable seems analogous to passing laws saying one may not undergo conversion from one religion to another. Aren’t there some countries with just such laws?

But apparently when it comes to gender all is mutable. You see, in their infinite wisdom, our august lawmakers have already passed Assembly Bill 99, which demands all children in institutions such as “juvenile detention facilities, foster homes, child care facilities and mental health facilities” be treated according to the child’s gender identity despite the child’s actual biological gender. Juvenile detention facilities? It also requires all those adults working with such children to be indoctrinated into handling “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning children.”

AB99 passed the Assembly 26-15 and the Senate 18-2 and was signed by the governor.

So, SB201 would appear to be on a clear path to passage.

But now, God knows,
Anything goes.

Proposed law would call for keeping the vast majority of land in Nevada under communal ownership

Some people have a really strange concept of “democracy,” and that says a lot about some of the people elected to the Nevada Legislature.

Also, if you thought changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day as a silly waste of time and paper, wait till you take a gander at Senate Bill 413.

SB413 proposes to designate the last Saturday in September each year as Public Lands Day in Nevada and require the governor to issue a proclamation encouraging the observance of said Public Lands Day.

The resolution accompanying the change in law is a paean to Nevada’s wide open spaces largely controlled by federal bureaucracies headquartered in the Kremlin on the Potomac:

WHEREAS, More than 80 percent of the public lands in this State are owned by the people of the United States and are managed and controlled by various federal agencies for the benefit of all persons living in the United States; and

WHEREAS, The federal public lands in this State include national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, wilderness areas and public lands managed and controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service and other federal agencies; and

WHEREAS, All public lands located in this State feature a diverse range of landscapes, deserted mining towns where riches were made and lost, lush oases which stand in sharp contrast to surrounding barren lands, isolated ranches that are sometimes the size of small countries and trees which are thousands of years old; and

WHEREAS, The public lands in this State reflect many noble democratic ideals because they are open and accessible to all persons, regardless of whether those persons are rich or poor; and …

Noble democratic ideals? Communal ownership of vast swaths of land lying fallow and largely unproductive is democratic? And it is actually closer to 85 or even 87 percent of Nevada that is federally controlled.

The resolution then goes on to oppose any effort to release even a single square foot of that communally owned land to the state or private ownership:

WHEREAS, Efforts to transfer the federal public lands in this State from the people of the United States into state or private control are contrary to the democratic values of the United States and jeopardize activities such as hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and off-road pursuits; and …

So, there would be no more recreational opportunities if the feds only controlled, say, 70 percent of the state?

Pay no heed to the fact that a report from the Nevada Public Land Management Task Force, which was created by the Nevada Legislature, found that the BLM loses 91 cents an acre on the land it controls, but in the four states that have public trust land revenues amounted to $28.59 per acre. The report estimated that Nevada could net $114 million by taking over just 4 million acres of the BLM’s 48 million acres. Taking over all 48 million acres could net the state more than $1.5 billion — nearly half the annual general fund budget.

It is striking that the sponsors of this praise for and observance of communal ownership are all urban Democrats, save one turncoat independent. Where would these lawmakers be living right now if the federal government had not sold off a few thousand acres of that federal public land over the past decades so those urban areas could grow, adding homes, schools, businesses, parks, roads? Now they want to close the door on those rural communities that would like to annex a few acres for homes and businesses, providing opportunities for their next generations.

When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and it gets neglected.

Gold Butte is part of the 1 million acres of Nevada that Obama designated as national monuments in his final year in office.

State senator pushing bill to erase immunity for civil suits for self defense

Mark Twain may or may not have said of the Nevada Legislature, which he covered as a reporter in the mid-1800s, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

But the statement is true nonetheless.

Aaron Ford

Take Senate Bill 254 introduced by state Senate Democratic Majority Leader Aaron Ford. This bill would make any person who forcibly defends his or her property and family against a robber or attacker subject to being sued by the attacker in civil court for damages. Current law prohibits such a farce.

Ford’s bill specifically strikes this language from the law: “Force which is intended or likely to cause death or bodily  injury is immune from civil liability in an action to recover damages for personal injuries to or the wrongful death of a person against whom such force was used if the use of such force was justified under the applicable provisions of chapter 200 of NRS relating to the use of such force.”

This is a sop to trial lawyers and a blatant threat to law abiding citizens who use self defense.

And Ford, an attorney, is said to be contemplating a run for attorney general? Any future opponent for any office he seeks should pound him about the head and shoulders with this atrocity.

 

 

 

Turning Nevada into a ‘sanctuary state’ could have severe consequences

ICE agents at work in Las Vegas. (R-J pix)

ICE agents at work in Las Vegas. (R-J pix)

Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it — good and hard.

Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela of Las Vegas, along with a number of fellow Democrats, has introduced a bill that would turn Nevada into a “sanctuary state” by forbidding law enforcement cooperating with federal immigration authorities in identifying persons who are in this country illegally.

Senate Bill 223 states:

No state or local law enforcement agency, school police unit or campus police department shall:
(a) Use money, facilities, property, equipment or personnel of the agency, unit or department to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest a person for the purposes of immigration enforcement, including, without limitation:
(1) Inquiring into or collecting information about the immigration status of a person.
(2) Detaining a person on the basis of a hold request, except where there is an independent finding of probable cause.
(3) Responding to a notification request or transfer request.
(4) Providing or responding to a request for nonpublic personal information about a person, including, without limitation, information about the person’s home address, work address or date of release from custody.
(5) Making an arrest on the basis of a civil immigration warrant, except where there is an independent finding of probable cause.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Under a program called 287(g) local cooperating police departments, which includes Clark County, that take a suspected illegal immigrant into custody notify U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents and they have 48 hours to pick up that person.

According to an account in the Las Vegas newspaper, in the past that rarely happened, but in recent weeks ICE officers are at the jail almost every day, apparently stepping up enforcement of immigration laws under the Trump administration.

Under SB223 this would come to a screeching halt.

But Tump has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. He signed an executive order directing government officials to identify federal money that can be withheld to punish “sanctuary cities.”

So what could this mean for the “sanctuary state” of Nevada?

The state’s total budget for the past two years was $26 billion. Fully $9 billion of that came from federal funds, according to the state budget.

Passing SB223 could have serious consequences to the taxpayers of Nevada, but that has never stopped the self-righteous Democrats, has it?

 

New Nevada law dictates unisex facilities in public schools

The Nevada Legislature nixed a bill that would have prohibited the use of public school restrooms, locker rooms and showers by any biological gender other than the one specified, but appears to have passed a bill that mandates unisex facilities.

 

Assembly Bill 375 was the target of considerable derision. It would have put into law a requirement that “any school facility in a public school, including a restroom, locker room or shower which is designated for use by persons of one biological sex must only be used by persons of that biological sex, as determined at birth.” 

But Senate Bill 504, labeled an anti-bullying bill, specifically protects people who might be discriminated against because of: “Actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability of a person, sex or any other distinguishing characteristic or background of a person …”

It high-mindedly dictates: “Every classroom, hallway, locker room, cafeteria, restroom, gymnasium, playground, athletic field, school bus, parking lot and other areas on the premises of a public school in this State must be maintained as a safe and respectful learning environment, and no form of bullying or cyber-bullying will be tolerated within the system of public education in this State …”

Among the prohibitions in SB504 is: “Blocking access to any property or facility of a school …”

There you have it. By Nevada law, you can’t bar boys from the girls’ showers.

 

Newspaper column: And you thought your vote counted?

“Elections have consequences …” President Obama likes to tell Republicans, especially after he just won one.

But not in Nevada. Not any more.

The voters of Nevada swept into office a majority of Republicans in both the Assembly and state Senate, as well as all constitutional statewide offices — many of whom pledged to not raise taxes. Instead, the Republican governor has proposed the biggest tax hike in history — $1.3 billion — for the $7.3 billion general fund. It appears a majority of those Senate and Assembly Republicans will meekly go along with him.

Raising taxes will require a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature, but there does not appear to be enough votes to stop it.

To add literal insult to injury, several Republicans are ridiculing anyone who dares suggest anything even slightly less draconian than the governor’s plan.

Brian Sandoval (R-J photo)

When Republican Treasurer Dan Schwartz suggested the state could get by with raising the general fund budget only 4.6 percent instead of the 12.3 percent proposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson barked at Schwartz, “I’m in shock and dismay that you would be here today proposing this. I’m embarrassed for you, sir.”

Sandoval’s Chief of Staff Mike Willden, who has had his snout in the public trough for 40 years, including several as head of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said to Schwartz that he was “insulted” by his criticism of the budget.

The governor himself sniffed to a Las Vegas television reporter, “As I said, I’d invite anybody to make their presentation, but again, it’s gotta be thoughtful.”

Actually, total state spending under Sandoval’s budget — which includes transportation expenditures and other special budgets — increases 16.5 percent, from $20.17 billion to $23.5 billion. Willden’s former HHS division grows by 28.5 percent under the governor’s budget to $9.6 billion, probably due mostly to expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare. Education spending increases by 15.8 percent under the governor’s budget.

Meanwhile, Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported that weekly wages in Nevada increased half a percent in a year, while inflation for all of 2014 was 1.6 percent, meaning taxpayers lost ground — before taxes.

Two of Gov. Sandoval’s proposals were specifically rejected by the voters in November — a tax on gross receipts and increasing the tax on mining.

Despite this, Sandoval proposes a business license fee based on, you guessed it, gross receipts. He also proposes increasing the modified business tax on mining from 1.17 percent of payroll to 2 percent. Voters rejected the gross receipts tax by four to one, and one the loudest opponents was Brian Edward Sandoval.

The governor also advocates making permanent a package of temporary taxes that were supposed to sunset in 2011. Despite promises to the voters by the governor to allow those taxes to sunset, he extended them in 2011 and 2013 and now says they should be permanent, sucking nearly $600 million out of the taxpayers over the next two years.

Lawmakers now have passed and the governor has signed a bill that rolls over school bonds for 10 years beyond what the voters approved, meaning property taxes will not decrease as they would otherwise.

According to Nevada Policy Research Institute, this will cost taxpayers as much as an additional $4 billion in higher property taxes, especially in Clark and Washoe counties, where voters have in recent years rejected school bond issues at the ballot box.

A compromise proposal to extend the school bonding for only two years and put the matter on the ballot in 2016 never got any traction.

To further add insult to voter injury, Sandoval has even proposed that local school boards be appointed and not elected.

“Based on recent events, I have concluded that local school boards should be appointed, not elected,” the duly elected governor said in his State of the State speech. “Although well intended, some of these boards have become disconnected from their communities. I will therefore support legislation to provide for the appointment of members of local school boards.”

As a poke in the eye of the duly elected Washoe County school trustees, Sandoval then announced that he was naming the superintendent they had just fired to be Superintendent in Residence with the Nevada Department of Education.

And you thought your vote counted. Democracy in Nevada was a nice experiment while it lasted.

A version of this column appears this week in 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: Lawmakers must reform public employee retirement system

Most of the blather coming out of Carson City this legislative session has been about the various means that can be employed to tap more tax revenue from the citizens. But finally someone has introduced a bill that would curb the state’s profligate spending.

This past week Republican Assemblyman Randy Kirner of Reno introduced Assembly Bill 190, which calls for reforming the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), which under government voodoo accounting methods has an unfunded liability of $12.5 billion, but under the accounting methods the rest of us must use the liability is actually more than $40 billion — nearly $15,000 per capita and growing.

The changes Kirner proposes would apply to state and local government workers hired after July 1, 2016, leaving unchanged the benefits promised to current employees and retirees. “The bill protects people that are in PERS today,” Kirner told reporters. “A promise made is a promise kept.”

Currently the system is a 100 percent defined benefit program, in which the retirement benefit is calculated based on years of service and level of pay of the employee at retirement, regardless of the state of the economy.

Randy Kirner

AB190 would introduce a hybrid — part defined benefit, part defined contribution. A defined contribution plan is similar to the 401(k) programs used primarily by the private sector. Under this system typically a certain percent of the employee’s salary is invested in something like a mutual fund and the retiree benefit depends on the amount contributed and how well the investments perform. The taxpayer has no obligation to make up any difference on that part of a hybrid retirement plan. Defined contribution plans are also are more easily portable to another job or retirement system.

Kirner’s bill also would end the practice of allowing government workers to purchase up to five years of retirement credit and retire at 70 percent of highest pay after only 25 years on the job.

The bill also ties the minimum retirement age for receiving full benefits to that allowed under the Social Security Act, meaning retirees would collect full benefits for far fewer years, in many cases decades fewer. Police officers and firefighters would be able to retire with full benefits 10 years earlier.

Further, the bill requires a certain level of contributions toward retirement to come from both the employer and the employee. It bars public employee unions from using collective bargaining to increase the amount of contribution from the employer, a practice that over years has allowed some government workers to contribute nothing in lieu of higher raises.

Currently, according to research conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, Nevada full-career PERS retirees fetch the most generous retirement checks of any state in the union — $64,000 a year or more than $1.3 million in lifetime benefits. That doesn’t include public-safety workers, such as firefighters and police, who can retire earlier and generally have higher salaries.

In comparison, the average Social Security recipient gets $15,500 a year after being on the job decades longer.

In the 2013 legislative session Kirner introduced a very similar bill. It garnered no discussion and no vote was taken in the Democrat-controlled session. Assembly Bill 342 died without a whimper in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Whether it will fare any better under a Republican-controlled Legislature remains to be seen.

We call on Nevada’s lawmakers to give AB190 a fair hearing and give taxpayers a break, while treating public employees in a manner similar to those in the private sector. In fact, we would suggest that future public employees could simply be enrolled in Social Security.

A version of this editorial appears this week in 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.