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Keeping Dr. King's Legacy Alive

Dear Friends,

 

Since his tragic and untimely death, we have worked as society to keep alive the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the memories of other heroes who sacrificed everything they had to advance the cause of civil rights. 

Dr. King was our country’s preeminent advocate for economic and social justice. We educate our kids about the importance of the movement he helped build, and we commemorate important anniversaries of major events from the Civil Rights era. 

However, as we enter 2017, it is clear that we have more work to do. This week we will celebrate a holiday in Dr. King’s honor, and we will swear in a president who has lashed out at one of Dr. King’s most important living followers, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. With each passing year, there are fewer original heroes of the movement left and, as my colleague Senator Kelvin Atkinson recently stated, "they should be cherished and honored, not subject to racially-charged insinuations and attacks."

Unfortunately, our new president sets a bad example in this regard. In light of that fact, it will be more important than ever for the rest of us to do our part to keep these critical discussions going about the Civil Rights movement and the people who lead it.

It’s up to average citizens to speak up and let the world know that his shameful behavior doesn’t represent our America. Today, the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus commemorates Dr. King and rededicates itself to to doing just that. 

Sincerely,

Aaron D. Ford

Majority Leader, NV State Senate District 11

 

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Senator Ford: Congratulations primary winners! On to the General Election!

Now that the primary is over, I wanted to say congratulations to Senator Joyce Woodhouse, Senator Kelvin Atkinson, and Senator David Parks for their overwhelming victories in this week's primary elections. They all had resounding victories that demonstrate their long records as successful legislators and good Democrats. Our Democratic incumbents are all working hard to earn reelection this fall. 

The primaries set the table for Democrats to take control of the State Senate this year. While Republicans have nominated extremist candidates who are more interested in pursuing right-wing politics than in growing our middle class, Democrats will be talking about the issues that matter to Nevadans. We’ll be fighting for good jobs with fair wages, quality schools and affordable higher education, and for treating Nevadans of all backgrounds with the respect they deserve.

We have great candidates like Nicole Cannizzaro (Senate District 6), Devon Reese (Senate District 15), and Alexander Marks (Senate District 18) who are ready to help us turn the State Senate blue. Starting right now, we'll be working hard to ensure they're all victorious in November!

- Senator Aaron D. Ford, Senate Democratic Leader

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Remembering Dr. King’s Call for Economic Justice

From Senate Democratic Leader Aaron D. Ford:

 

When we think of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, we naturally think of his heroic stands for civil rights. Dr. King is universally considered to be our nation’s preeminent advocate for equality and social justice. What we often forget is that Dr. King wasn’t only a champion of social justice, he was a champion for economic justice as well.

When Dr. King was killed, he was in Memphis to support sanitation workers who were fighting for fair treatment in the workplace. He was a fierce advocate for good wages, safer working conditions, and for treating working men and women with dignity regardless of their socioeconomic status.

That call still resonates today, and we still have more work to do to realize that dream. Whether it is our fight to raise wages, provide access to quality health care, or guarantee average people the benefit of paid sick leave, we are still fighting to ensure that working people across Nevada and this country are treated with the respect they deserve.

To Dr. King and the brave men and women who stood with him, economic rights were civil rights. Let’s be sure that it is something that we never forget.

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Senator Spotlight: Tick Segerblom, Dist. 3

Every week the Senate Democratic Caucus will highlight one member on our blog. We want you to get the chance to know our senators a little better, to learn about the issues they’re passionate about, and to see what they’ll be working on during the 2015 Session. 

Senator: Tick Segerblom
District: 3
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada.  Tick grew up in Boulder City, Nevada.
Senate Committees: Senate Judiciary, Education, and Legislative Operations and Elections.

When did you first run for office? What year did you first join the Nevada Senate? What inspired you to get into politics?

senator tick-sml

I first joined the Nevada Assembly and was elected to represent Assembly District 9 in 2006 I was then elected to the Nevada State Senate in 2012 to represent Senate District 3.  I am a fourth generation Nevada representative.

Tell us one fun or interesting fact about your district: 

Senate District 3 encompasses a portion of urban Clark County including portions of the City of Las Vegas, the historic Alta Drive, Spanish Oaks, Scotch 80's, and the Charleston Heights neighborhoods, and portions of Chinatown. Areas of interest include, Lorenzi Park, the Meadows Mall, the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, the College of Southern Nevada, the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, and the World Market Center Las Vegas, Symphony Park including Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the Clark County Government Center, the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters, and the Las Vegas Medical District.

What is something you hope to accomplish during the 2015 Legislative Session?

The legalization of Marijuana in the state of Nevada!  

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2015 Session: Week 13 Update

We’ve now finished the first 13 weeks of the 2015 Legislative Session! We are fast approaching another bill deadline, and we are getting ready to start closing out the state budget. Here’s an update on where some important bills stand:

Programs for Victims of Military Sexual Trauma: On Tuesday, Sen. Joyce Woodhouse and Sen. Pat Spearman presented Senate Bill 268 to the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee. They were joined at the hearing by the Director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services as well as a victim of military sexual trauma who courageously spoke about her experiences. The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate on April 14th, and we hope it will pass out of the Assembly soon. 

Carson City Democratic Jefferson-Jackson Dinner: On Thursday, Sen. Aaron Ford spoke at annual Carson City Democrats’ Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. He updated the Carson City Dems on the Nevada Blueprint, the state of the Legislative Session so far, and called on them to stay engaged for the 2016 elections. 

During that dinner, Sen. Debbie Smith was honored with the Democrat of the Year award. Sen. Smith is only the second person to receive that award from the Carson City Democrats. 

Senator Spotlight: This week’s Senator Spotlight was on Sen. Debbie Smith, who is back in action in Carson City! Next week, we’ll be putting the spotlight on Sen. Tick Segerblom! 

As always, we want to thank all of you for paying attention and lending your voice to the process. Your input is valuable because government works best when we all work together. 

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Senator Spotlight: Debbie Smith, District 13

Every week the Senate Democratic Caucus will highlight one member on our blog. We want you to get the chance to know our senators a little better, to learn about the issues they’re passionate about, and to see what they’ll be working on during the 2015 Session. 

Senator: Debbie Smith
District: 13
Hometown: Sparks, NV
Senate Committees: Senate Finance, Health and Human Services, and Natural Resources

When did you first run for office? What year did you first join the Nevada Senate? What inspired you to get into politics?

debbie smithI was first elected in the Assembly in 2000 and in the Senate in 2012. I was a Mom and I was strongly passionate about the educational issues being discussed in the Legislative Building for not only my own kids, but for Nevada’s kids and their future. Through PTA I found that I could have a broader voice than just at my kid's school, however, being in the Senate, I am glad I am able to have a stronger role when it comes to improving Nevada’s education system.

Tell us one fun or interesting fact about your district: 

Senate District 13 is the only district in Northern Nevada with a Democratic Senator representing their district!  A special shout out and huge thanks to my constituents for electing me to serve another term in the State Senate!

What is something you hope to accomplish during the 2015 Legislative Session?

I hope to have a great deal of input on the state budget and I look forward to working with my colleagues on how we can turn Nevada into a 21st Century State.

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2015 Session: Week 12 Update

2015 Session: Week 12 Update

We’ve now finished the first 12 weeks of the 2015 Legislative Session! On Tuesday, we had an important deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin. Here’s an update on where some important bills stand:

Looking Out for Military Families & Veterans. Senator Pat Spearman, a 29 year veteran of the United States Army, introduced Senate Bill 359 (SB359), which would have required child care facilities to give a preference for admission to children who have a parent or guardian that is 1. currently serving on active duty, 2. was killed or died as a direct result of injuries received while serving honorably on active duty, or 3. is a prisoner of war or reported missing in action while on active duty. This bill passed unanimously out of the Health & Human Services Committee, but unfortunately, Republicans decided to put politics before our military families and killed the bill before deadline. Despite this major setback, Senator Spearman is determined to bring new life to this concept and we will keep you updated on any progress she makes. 

In addition to Senator Spearman fighting to provide child care to kids who’ve lost their parents on the front lines, she also spent quality times with Nevada's paralyzed veterans this weekend.  

Debbie’s Back. Senator Debbie Smith made a resilient return to the Nevada State Senate recently and the NV Senate Democrats couldn’t be more thrilled to have her at #nvleg. If you know Debbie, you know she is the expert on Nevada’s budget -- and she’s proven that once again by playing a vital role on the Finance Committee. Currently, the Committee on Finance is in the process of closing budgets on multiple items -- including our K-12 and higher-ed systems. Nevadans should be grateful Senator Smith is back in action to provide some oversight and accountability to how our taxpayer dollars get spent. 

Surviving the Deadline. Since we’re in the minority, we never expected some of our bills aimed at helping the middle class to be passed through the Senate by Republicans. However, a few of our top-priority Blueprint bills managed to make it through this milestone. For instance, Senator Kihuen’s Child Care Tax Credits bill is still alive, along with Senator Ford’s bill that will help minority and women owned businesses get off the ground. Additionally, Senator Woodhouse’s Financial Literacy bill, along with Senator Parks’s bill to ban sexual conversion therapy for minors are still alive. These are just a few of the bills that we will continue pushing for until day 120. 

At this important halfway mark, we want to thank all of you for paying attention and lending your voice to the process. Government works best when we all work together -- that’s why your input is critical to our success. 

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2015 Session: Week 10 Update

We’ve now finished the first ten weeks of the 2015 Legislative Session! On Friday, we had an important deadline for bills to pass out of committee before being voted on by the full Senate. Here’s an update on where some important bills stand:

Promoting minority and women owned businesses - On Friday, the Senate Revenue Committee passed a bill sponsored by the Senate Democrats to help minority and women owned businesses get off the ground. The bill requires the Office of Economic Development to create a program that will provide loans to these businesses so that they more easily get started, expand, and help put more Nevadans to work.

Creating new job opportunities - Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, also passed SB 371 out of the Commerce, Labor, and Energy Committee. This bill requires projects funded by taxpayer dollars to include a certain amount of labor done by apprentices. Apprenticeship programs are particularly important means for training construction workers, and this program will help expand the base of skilled laborers in Nevada.

Voting rights under attack: Senate Republicans did pass Senate Bill 433, which cuts back on your access to the polls by cutting early voting hours. Although Democrats were able to get some amendments to the bill to restore early voting hours on Sundays, Republicans insisted on cutting back early vote hours on week nights. The bill now goes to the floor, and Democrats will keep fighting to restore those hours and to ensure that everyone across the state has plenty of opportunity to vote.

The bills and issues above are just a few that Senate Democrats will continue fighting for throughout the 2015 Legislative Session. At this important halfway mark, we want to thank all of you for paying attention and lending your voice to the process. Government works best when we all work together -- that’s why your input is critical to our success.

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Senator Spotlight: Aaron D. Ford, Dist. 11

Every week the Senate Democratic Caucus will highlight one member on our blog. We want you to get the chance to know our senators a little better, to learn about the issues they’re passionate about, and to see what they’ll be working on during the 2015 Session. 

Senator: Aaron D. Ford
District: 11
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada.  Aaron grew up in Dallas, Texas.
Senate Committees: Senate Finance, Judiciary, and Revenue and Economic Development. 

When did you first run for office? What year did you first join the Nevada Senate? What inspired you to get into politics?

aaron fordI first ran for office in 2010.  I was then elected in 2012 to the Nevada Senate where I am serving my first 4-year term representing Senate District 11.   In my many previous years of teaching, I have always been inclined to lead by example for my students and to show them that they can do anything they set their minds to.  I also know the work that I do today will affect Nevada’s present and future generations, and I wanted to be a part of Nevada’s Legislature to help better our State.  Being able to represent and give a voice to my constituents in Senate District 11 has been a rewarding experience.


Tell us one fun or interesting fact about your district: 

Senate District #11 is located west of the Las Vegas Strip, and it covers the south side of China Town.  I enjoy the fact that my district is so diverse and that I am seeing small businesses develop in my area.  Also, another fun fact is that the Democratic Party Headquarters are located in my District!

What is something you hope to accomplish during the 2015 Legislative Session?

My colleagues and I have been working really hard to pass legislation that will protect and help expand Nevada’s middle-class, starting with our education system from K-12 to Higher Education, to working on diversifying our economy and professional development opportunities, and lastly, making sure our Nevadans are being taken care of when it comes to retirement options.  I hope that we are able to work together to pass common sense legislation that will ultimately help our constituents and our State as a whole. 

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Senator Spotlight: Kelvin Atkinson, Dist. 4

Every week the Senate Democratic Caucus will highlight one member on our blog. We want you to get the chance to know our senators a little better, to learn about the issues they’re passionate about, and to see what they’ll be working on during the 2015 Session. 

Senator: Kelvin Atkinson
District: 4
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada.  Kelvin grew up in Los Angeles, California.
Senate Committees: Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy, Government Affairs, and Legislative Operations and Elections.

When did you first run for office? What year did you first join the Nevada Senate? What inspired you to get into politics?

kelvin atkinsonI first ran for office in 2002 and was elected to the Nevada State Assembly. I represented Assembly District 17 for a decade. I ran for Senate District 4 in 2012, and was elected by the voters by almost 80% of the vote. I was inspired to get into politics to make a difference. My daughter was 5 1/2 at the time, and I wanted to help influence the direction of the State for her and our future generations to come.

Tell us one fun or interesting fact about your district: 

I enjoy the district I represent. It is the most diverse State Senate District in the State. Senate District 4 is a true melting pot with the population breakdown being 40% Hispanic, 31% Caucasian, 27% African American, and the remainder of that percentage consisting of those with other diverse, ethnic backgrounds. Having the opportunity to represent the "Historic Westside" is a blessing and an honor.

What is something you hope to accomplish during the 2015 Legislative Session?

I hope to accomplish fairness and equality. I think that our citizens are still struggling from a down turn in the economy and we need to be introducing and passing legislation that make living in our state easier and less complicated for the folks that we represent. I hope that at the end of this Legislative Session our citizens are left with a sense of pride in their legislative body. If at the end of the day, my constituents feel that I have stood strong and fought for them, under extreme adversity, then I will know that I have done my job as State Senator for Senate District 4; that will be a reward on its own. I also hope to finally stabilize the tax base in a more fair and equitable fashion!

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NV Blueprint: Student Financial Literacy

NV Blueprint: Student Financial Literacy
By Joyce Woodhouse
March 18, 2015


senator joyce-smlYesterday, the Senate Education Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 220, my bill to require financial literacy education as part of the middle school math curriculum in Nevada. Improving education, particularly students’ long-term ability to succeed financially, is a priority in the Nevada Blueprint that Democrats announced last week. 

The genesis of this bill was in the Nevada Youth Legislature.  With me yesterday were the bill’s primary authors, Evan Gong and Kyle Walker; both are Youth Legislators.

There is bipartisan agreement that we are not doing enough to prepare for the ever-increasing financial complexity our students face as they move into adult life. 

The principles of personal finance—and the global economy in which they function—are mysteries to an alarming number of Americans.  Recent changes in the financial landscape have further complicated the decisions they make as workers, consumers, savers, borrowers, and investors.  

What’s more, the pace of change is quickening at a time when individuals of all ages are being called upon to assume more responsibility for their financial lives.

For example, college tuition is now so costly that postsecondary education has become a serious personal finance decision.  Health insurance coverage is now mandated and offerings have grown more nuanced, forcing citizens to select among a confusing mix of prices and fees. 

In short, consumers today are faced with a dizzying array of financial options, requirements, and decisions.  We owe it to our students to better prepare them for these challenges. 

Senate Bill 220 addresses this issue by extending our existing financial literacy course of study from high school into middle school, and expands the topics covered to include the most relevant information for today’s world.

In yesterday’s hearing, we heard from teachers, parents, school officials, and members of the banking and financial services industries who all testified that we need to do a better job preparing our kids for the choices they’ll have to make as they grow into adulthood. 

If we pass this bill, we can help put our kids on stronger financial footing for the future. 

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Senator Spotlight: David Parks, District 7

Every week the Senate Democratic Caucus will highlight one member on our blog. We want you to get the chance to know our senators a little better, to learn about the issues they’re passionate about, and to see what they’ll be working on during the 2015 Session. 

Senator: David Parks
District: 7
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV.  David grew up in Boston, MA.
Senate Committees: Senate Finance, Government Affairs, and Natural Resources

When did you first run for office? What year did you first join the Nevada Senate? What inspired you to get into politics?

senator parks-smlI was first elected to the Nevada Assembly in 1996 where I served for 12 years. After I completed my term in the Assembly, I was then first elected to the Nevada Senate in 2008 where I am in my second 4-year term. My involvement in public service for 30 years inspired me to run for office.  I wanted to be able to serve the constituents of my district and give them a voice.

Tell us one fun or interesting fact about your district: 

Senate District #7 is located in the southeast Las Vegas valley. It's home to the Las Vegas Wash and the Clark County Wetlands Park - the largest park in the Clark County park system.

What is something you hope to accomplish during the 2015 Legislative Session?

Since the 2001 Legislative Session, I have introduced and passed legislation that addresses the problem of bullying and cyber-bullying in our education system. This session, I will be bringing forward another anti-bullying bill.

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Joyce Woodhouse: Speech on Women's History Month

Women's History Month Speech
By Senator Joyce Woodhouse
March 10, 2015

March is Women’s History Month, and March 8th was International Women’s Day, where people around the world celebrated the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. The 2015 theme for International Women’s Day was “Make It Happen” – encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women globally. 

With that theme in mind, I’d like to go through some statistics. Many of you probably saw the report released over the weekend from WalletHub, where Nevada was ranked 8th worst state in the country for women.

  • Nevada has the highest unemployment rate for women in the country.
  • We also ranked 50th in both female uninsured rate and women’s preventative health care.
  • We are 34th in high school dropout rates for women, and 28th in the percentage living in poverty.

Now let’s go beyond Nevada’s boundaries.

  • The US is 1 of 9 countries worldwide that does not provide for paid maternity leave.
  • Women now earn the majority of college degrees in America BUT, they only make up 5% of Fortune 500 CEO’s.
  • American women only make 78 cents to every dollar a man makes for the same job.
  • 1 in 3 women in the world will suffer physical or sexual violence
  • In state legislatures around the county, women only represent 24% of over 7,300 seats.
  • Overall, America ranks 95th in the world for percentage of women in its national legislature.

After reading these statistics, one thing comes to mind: we can do better. We have to do better. And to continue with the theme of yesterday’s International Women’s Day, let’s Make It Happen.

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Senator Spotlight: Ruben Kihuen, Dist. 10

Every week the Senate Democratic Caucus will highlight one member on our blog. We want you to get the chance to know our senators a little better, to learn about the issues they’re passionate about, and to see what they’ll be working on during the 2015 Session. 

Senator: Ruben Kihuen
District: 10
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Senate Committees: Senate Judiciary and Senate Revenue & Economic Development

When did you first run for office? What year did you first join the Nevada Senate? What inspired you to get into politics?

senator kihuen-smlI was first elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2006. After serving two full terms in the Assembly, I ran successfully for the Nevada Senate in 2010. I decided to run for office to keep the American Dream alive and create the same opportunities for success that were afforded to me for everyone else. 

Tell us one fun or interesting fact about your district: 

I represent the fabulous Las Vegas Strip. #LVStripDistrict


What is something you hope to accomplish during the 2015 Legislative Session?

I look forward to properly funding our education system, creating a fair and equitable tax structure and diversifying our economy to get all Nevadans back to work. 

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Senator Spotlight: Joyce Woodhouse, Dist. 5

Every week the Senate Democratic Caucus will highlight one member on our blog. We want you to get the chance to know our senators a little better, to learn about the issues they’re passionate about, and to see what they’ll be working on during the 2015 Session. 

Senator: Joyce Woodhouse
District: 5
Hometown: Henderson, NV. Joyce grew up in Big Timber, MT.
Senate Committees: Senate Education, Finance, and Health and Human Services

When did you first run for office? What year did you first join the Nevada Senate? What inspired you to get into politics?

senator joyce-smlI ran for the Nevada Senate and won in 2006 and 2012. I lost my re-election in 2010. I was inspired by the political process while in high school, when John F. Kennedy was elected to the U.S. Presidency in 1960. I volunteered for campaigns through high school, college, and while serving as a classroom teacher. I always wanted to be involved in the decision making process on the important issues impacting our state, particularly those related to improving our education system. 

Tell us one fun or interesting fact about your district: 

When I first ran for office in Senate District 5, it was a dual district, thus it had two senators and was a HUGE district! After redistricting in 2011, it essentially was cut in half. As many districts are, Senate District 5 is very diverse from the neighborhoods in downtown Henderson to the neighborhoods in Green Valley. It is an honor to serve the residents of my district.

What is something you hope to accomplish during the 2015 Legislative Session?

I am committed to accomplishing our goals of providing for full day kindergarten for students throughout the state, to increasing the number of students who can attend pre-K, to addressing the needs of our at-risk student population so that they can become productive citizens. Also, I am working on several pieces of legislation to provide for the safety of our children, our veterans, and our seniors.

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Here are a few ways you can help make a difference.