Updates

2015 Session: Week 6 Update

We’ve now finished Week 6 of the 2015 Session! Here’s an update on what’s been happening and what to expect in the week to come in the Legislative Building:

unnamedNevada Blueprint: Assembly and Senate Democrats came together last Monday to unveil our Nevada Blueprint. The Blueprint outlines Democratic legislative principles and priorities that will help expand and protect the middle class in Nevada. You can read the full document by going to www.nevadablueprint.com. You can check out some of the TV coverage of our roll-out by clicking here!

Cutting Down the Cost of Higher Ed: As part of our Blueprint, Democrats have pledged to find ways to ease the costs of higher education, and this week Sen. Ford & Sen. Kihuen presented bills to do it.  On Thursday, Sen. Ford presented his bill to create a student loan refinancing program that would help Nevada residents save thousands of dollars by getting a better interest rate on their student loans.

On Friday, Sen. Kihuen also presented a bipartisan bill to create the Silver State Opportunity Grant Program. Nevada is one of the only states in the country without its own need-based college grant program. This bill will create such a program for the state. 

Sen. Woodhouse in District 5! Sen. Joyce Woodhouse went to two local libraries in Henderson over the weekend to celebrate the birth of Dr. Seuss by reading his stories to local children. Both events were well attended, and Sen. Woodhouse encouraged parents to read to their young children. 

What to Expect in Week 7? Monday, March 16th is the deadline for senators to introduce their bills for the 2015 Session. By Monday night, we’ll know exactly what bills remain to be considered during this Session. 

On Wednesday, the Senate and Assembly will meet together to hear a presentation and ask questions about the Governor’s proposed tax plan. The Governor’s plan is one of several tax plans that are likely to be considered as we look for new ways to fund education in our state. 

Have you seen our Senator Spotlight? Week Six’s Senator Spotlight was on Ruben Kihuen.

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[RELEASE] Sen. Woodhouse Introduces Bill to Strengthen Background Checks, Training for Child Care Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2015

SENATOR WOODHOUSE INTRODUCES BILL TO STRENGTHEN BACKGROUND CHECKS, TRAINING FOR CHILD CARE WORKERS

CARSON CITY - Today, Sen. Joyce Woodhouse introduced Senate Bill 257, a bill that changes training requirements and increases the frequency of background checks for child care workers. 

Existing law requires 15 hours of annual training for employees at a facility with 12 or fewer children or 24 hours of training for employees at a facility with more than 12 children. SB 257 requires at least 12 training hours be in state approved programs specific to the age group served by the facility. The bill further requires an additional three hours of annual training in recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect. 

SB 257 also increases the frequency of required background checks for child care workers from every five to every two years. 

“For many families with working parents, child care isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity,” said Sen. Woodhouse. “As a 40 year educator, I believe we should take every step we can to give parents extra peace of mind that their children are in safe hands.” 

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There’s plenty of difference between Republicans and Democrats

Las Vegas Review-Journal
By Steve Sebelius
March 11, 2015

It was segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace who declared during the 1968 presidential campaign that “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.”

But that’s certainly not true of the 2015 Nevada Legislature, where Republicans and Democrats are presenting quite a contrast.

On Monday, Democrats released their “Nevada Blueprint,” a policy document that outlined their priorities, everything from universal all-day kindergarten to raising the minimum wage to equal pay for women to same-day voter registration. Most of the ideas are long shots in a Legislature that Republicans control for the first time in decades.

So, if those are the Democratic priorities, what’s the Republican agenda? The GOP didn’t take the time to put together a PowerPoint presentation or hold a news conference on the steps of the Legislative Building in Carson City, but in the first month or so of the session, they’ve been pretty clear about their ideas.

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Democrats unveil legislative blueprint for Nevada

Las Vegas Review-Journal
By Sandra Chereb
March 9, 2015

CARSON CITY — Democratic leaders in the Nevada Legislature announced their plans and priorities for the 2015 session Monday, claiming Republicans are pushing an agenda for special interests over the middle class.

Members of the Senate and Assembly Democratic caucuses held a midday news conference to unveil their “Nevada Blueprint,” a six-page booklet that emphasizes their goals for education, the economy, seniors and the working class.

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Bill would exempt independent contractors from minimum wage

Las Vegas Sun
By Michelle Rindels, Associated Press
March 9, 2015

CARSON CITY — A Nevada bill that would exempt businesses from paying minimum wage to independent contractors earned praise Monday from business owners who say they want the flexibility to hire people on contract.

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Minimum wages, maximum hassles

Las Vegas Review-Journal
By Steve Sebelius

So, what was that all about?

There was more than a little confusion in the Senate’s Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee this morning, as lawmakers tried to figure out why the wording of a just-introduced bill didn’t quite match up with the testimony from its backers. In the end, they may have saved Nevada’s low-wage workers from some seriously bad news.

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Nevada senators propose need-based college scholarship

Las Vegas Sun
Associated Press
March 9, 2015

CARSON CITY — Nevada could soon have a need-based grant program in addition to the Millennium Scholarship to help its graduates pay for college.

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[RELEASE] Legislative Democrats Announce "Nevada Blueprint" for Middle Class Growth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2015

LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATS ANNOUNCE “NEVADA BLUEPRINT” FOR MIDDLE CLASS GROWTH

unnamedCARSON CITY - At a press conference today in front of the Nevada Legislative Building, Senate Democratic Leader Aaron D. Ford and Assembly Democratic Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick announced the Nevada Blueprint, an agenda to expand and protect Nevada’s middle class. They were joined by the members of the Assembly and Senate Democratic Caucuses at the announcement. 

The Blueprint reflects Democratic principles and priorities for the Legislative Session. Recognizing that success and stability at every stage of life is connected, the Blueprint includes proposals to strengthen Nevadans from the early years of pre-K to 12th grade education all the way through a secure retirement.  

“We knew before coming to Carson City that the Legislative Democrats would have to be the ones to make strengthening and growing our middle class the priority. Our Blueprint does just that,” said Sen. Aaron D. Ford. “Growing the middle class means creating opportunities for educational success, attracting new jobs in 21st century industries, and providing for the long-term economic stability of Nevada families.” 

“In order to make this Blueprint a reality, Democrats are introducing dozens of bills ranging from expanding affordable childcare to protecting seniors’ retirement savings,” said Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “Every bill we introduce will be an opportunity for legislators to say that they stand with Nevada’s middle class families, and not special interests.” 

To see the entire document, click here: www.NevadaBluePrint.com

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[RELEASE] Republicans Pass Bill to Slash Middle Class Salaries, Drive Workers Out of State

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2015

REPUBLICANS PASS BILL TO SLASH MIDDLE CLASS SALARIES, DRIVE WORKERS OUT OF STATE

CARSON CITY - Today, Senate Democratic Leader Aaron D. Ford released the following statement in response to the Assembly passing Senate Bill 119. The bill slashes fair pay requirements for school-construction projects and allows out-of-state contractors to take jobs that would otherwise go to Nevada businesses. 

“Senate and Assembly Republicans have sent a disturbing message by passing Senate Bill 119: If you’re in the middle class, you don’t matter this Session. This bill is an unnecessary assault on our construction industry that will slash pay and drive skilled construction workers and their families out of Nevada. Further, SB 119 will result in a massive giveaway of taxpayer dollars to cut-rate, out-of-state contractors who can’t do the work as well as Nevada-owned businesses.”

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[RELEASE] Senate Democratic Statement on Passage of Clean School Construction Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2015

SENATE DEMOCRATIC STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF CLEAN SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BILL

CARSON CITY - Today, the Nevada Assembly passed Senate Bill 207, a bill to fund school construction in Nevada. The Senate previously passed the bill. 

Democratic Senate Leader Aaron D. Ford made the following statement:

“We’re happy that the Legislature has finally passed a clean school construction measure. As we’ve stated multiple times, we can put schools first without putting middle class families last. SB 207 is a good bill that doesn’t unnecessarily pit students against their parents by cutting the salaries of Nevada’s construction workers. After five weeks of Republican dysfunction, we’re pleased to see their leadership finally move a piece of education legislation that benefits our kids.” 

Senator Debbie Smith, Assistant Democratic Leader, made the following statement:

“I introduced and fought for a school construction bill in the first place because our students deserve to learn in safe buildings, not outdated portable trailers. I am happy to see a clean school construction bill passed out of the Legislature today. I am hopeful that Republican leadership will now turn their full attention to our schools and not on attacking the middle class.”

Democrats in the Senate and the Assembly unanimously supported SB 207. Eighteen Republicans voted against the measure. 

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[RELEASE] Update from Senator Debbie Smith on Return to the Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2015

UPDATE FROM SENATOR DEBBIE SMITH ON RETURN TO THE LEGISLATURE

CARSON CITY - Today, Sen. Debbie Smith announced that she would return to the Senate during the first full week of April following the Easter holiday. 

“Every day I’m feeling better, and I’m excited to return to Carson City in April,” said Sen. Smith. “We have so much important work left to do to truly make this the ‘Education Session,’ and I can’t wait to get back to work next month to help create new educational and economic opportunities for all Nevadans.” 

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[RELEASE] Statement from Democratic Leaders on School Construction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2015

STATEMENT FROM DEMOCRATIC LEADERS ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

CARSON CITY - In light of yesterday's Senate Republican Caucus statement on a school construction emergency measure and the result of today's Assembly Government Affairs work session, Senate Democratic Leader Aaron D. Ford and Assembly Democratic Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick made the following statement:

"The Nevada Senate Democrats and Assembly Democratic Caucus support any clean measure that will build new schools without cutting middle class paychecks in half. We urge our colleagues to join us in supporting a measure this week so we can start new school construction as soon as possible."

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[RELEASE] Sen. Debbie Smith: Domestic Violence Survivors Deserve a Real Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2015

SEN. DEBBIE SMITH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS DESERVE A REAL HEARING

CARSON CITY - Today, Sen. Debbie Smith released the following statement demanding a hearing on Senate Bill 187, a stand-alone bill to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence: 

“Throughout last week’s hearing on Senate Bill 175, we heard emotional, highly persuasive testimony that made the dangers of expanding Nevada’s “Stand Your Ground” laws clear. What was completely lost was any real discussion about domestic violence, which sponsors had claimed was the actual purpose of the bill. 

“Enough is enough. Let’s put an end to this embarrassing pattern of tying up critically important legislation with sweeteners for special interests and instead show Nevada that we’re serious about domestic violence. I call on my colleagues in Republican leadership to immediately schedule a hearing for Senate Bill 187. Survivors of domestic violence show courage every day by rising above fear to rebuild their lives. The least we can do in the Senate is have enough courage to give those survivors a fair hearing on a law to protect them from more violence.”

BACKGROUND:

A recent report by the Center for American Progress found that women in Nevada are murdered with guns at a significantly higher rate than the nation as a whole. Specifically, the report found:

  • While Nevada law does bar convicted felons from possessing firearms, the law is relatively weak and does not prevent domestic abusers from possessing a gun. 

  • Between 2003 and 2012, Nevada ranked 8th amongst the states for highest rates of murders of women committed with a firearm. The rate of gun murders of Nevada women is nearly 40% higher than the national average. 

  • Between 2003 and 2012, 40% of murders of women in Nevada were committed by an intimate partner, which is higher than the national average. 
  • Between 2003 and 2012, 185 Nevada women were killed by an intimate partner. 50% of intimate-partner-related murders of women in Nevada were committed with a gun.

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2015 Session: Week 4 Update

Week 4 Update
March 1, 2015

We’ve now finished Week 4 of the 2015 Session! Here’s an update on what’s been happening and what to expect in the week to come in the Legislative Building:

Sen. Spearman’s Equal Pay for Equal Work bill introduced: On Monday, Sen. Pat Spearman, joined by Assembly Democratic Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick, announced Senate Bill 190. This bill would incorporate components of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act into Nevada law. It would also allow women to recover up to two years of back pay, benefits, and other damages if they are the victim of pay discrimination. 

Fighting Back Against Expanded Stand Your Ground: On Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on SB 175. This bill expands Stand Your Ground type laws to cover defense of a motor vehicle. Senators Ford, Kihuen, and Segerblom asked hard questions about whether Nevada truly needs to expand laws that are likely to lead to more unnecessary killings of innocent people.

What to look for: Week 5

This week, our senators will continue to fight for legislation to protect survivors of domestic violence from more gun violence. Sen. Debbie Smith has introduced a bill that will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.

We will also be talking about higher education. We believe that college should lead to a mountain of opportunity, not a mountain of debt. Senators Ford, Kihuen and  Woodhouse are exploring innovative ways to help students reduce the burden of loans. 

Have you seen our Senator Spotlight? Click here to read Week Four’s Senator Spotlight on Mark Manendo. 

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SEN. DEBBIE SMITH: Statement on Senate Bill 175

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2015

SEN. DEBBIE SMITH: Statement on Senate Bill 175

CARSON CITY - Today, Sen. Debbie Smith made the following statement opposing Senate Bill 175. S.B. 175 changes numerous gun provisions in existing Nevada law, including expanding Stand Your Ground provisions to cover defense of a vehicle. 

“While I appreciate that this bill attempts to address some domestic violence issues, I cannot support it in its current form. Expanding ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws will make this state a more dangerous place for all Nevadans, particularly women who are so often the victims of violent crimes.  I urge the Judiciary Committee to instead hear Senate Bill 187, which will give domestic violence survivors the protection they deserve.” 

Sen. Smith introduced Senate Bill 187, which bars people convicted of domestic abuse or stalking, or people under extended order of protection for domestic violence from owning or possessing a firearm. 

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