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.


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.


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

March 9, 2015


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

March 5, 2015


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

March 4, 2015


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

March 4, 2015


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

March 3, 2015


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

March 2, 2015


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.”


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

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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[Release] FLORES: IGUALDAD SALARIAL crea familias estables y fuertes


23 de febrero de 2015


FLORES: IGUALDAD SALARIAL crea familias estables y fuertes  

CARSON CITY - Hoy en día, la ex Asambleísta Lucy Flores facilitó la siguiente declaración respaldando el proyecto de ley de la Senadora Pat Spearman para requerir que las mujeres Nevadenses ganen igual salario por trabajo igual. Flores se unió a la Senadora Spearman, Líder Demócrata de la Asamblea Marilyn Kirkpatrick, los legisladores Demócratas y activistas de todo Nevada en el edificio legislativo para el anuncio del proyecto de ley.

"La igualdad salarial es algo más que tratar a las mujeres de Nevada justamente en el lugar de trabajo. Se trata de crear familias fuertes y estables que puedan ahorrar lo suficiente como para mandar a sus hijos a la universidad, comprar una casa, y ahorrar para la jubilación", dijo Flores. "Estoy orgullosa de estar junta a la Senadora Spearman hoy para ayudar a que la igualdad de remuneración se realice para las familias trabajadores de Nevada."

En Nevada, las mujeres ganan aproximadamente $ 0,85 por cada dólar que recibe un hombre. Las mujeres minorías se enfrentan a una mayor disparidad salarial. Según las estadísticas, las latinas en Nevada hacen sólo $ 0,52 por cada dólar que recibe un hombre y las mujeres afrodescendientes ganan $ 0,64 por cada dólar que recibe un hombre.




[RELEASE] Legislative Democrats to Introduce Equal Pay Bill

February 23, 2015


CARSON CITY - At a press conference today, Sen. Pat Spearman announced that she will introduce a bill to require equal pay for equal work in Nevada. She was joined at the announcement by Assembly Democratic Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick, other Legislative Democrats, and hundreds of Nevadans participating in Grassroots Lobby Day at the Legislature.

Sen. Spearman’s bill will incorporate the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act into Nevada law. The bill will prevent employer retaliation against employees who share information about their pay with coworkers. It will allow victims of pay discrimination to recover a range of damages including up to two years of back pay and benefits. The bill also creates a tiered civil penalty structure that will result in increasing fines for repeat offenders. 

“Equal pay for equal work will help level the playing field for Nevada women and their families. Passing a strong equal pay bill will send a message that we’re committed to fairness for all Nevadans,” said Sen. Pat Spearman. “I have invited every one of my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, to sign on as a co-sponsor to this bill.”

“I thank Senator Spearman for introducing this bill and allowing me to sign on as a sponsor. As a mother and grandmother, I’m proud to be a sponsor of this bill,” said Assembly Democratic Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “If this bill passes, it means middle class families will have more money to put aside for their kids’ college or to buy their first house. Passing this equal pay bill will put Nevada’s middle class families one step closer to the American Dream.”

Equal pay is particularly important to the economic security of middle and working class families. In Nevada, women make approximately $.85 per dollar that a man makes. Women of color face an even greater pay disparity. According to statistics, African-American women in Nevada make $.64 per dollar a man makes, and Latinas make only $.52 per dollar a man makes. 

So far, the bill has eight co-sponsors in the Senate and seventeen in the Assembly, including all women in the Democratic caucuses. Sen. Spearman has announced that she welcomes any member of the Legislature, regardless of party, to sign on as a co-sponsor.


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[RELEASE] Update from Senator Debbie Smith on Legislative Priorities

February 23, 2015


CARSON CITY - Today, Sen. Debbie Smith made the following statement on the priorities of the 2015 Legislative Session:

“I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support over the past few weeks. I’ve been lucky to hear from so many friends, both in Nevada and across the country. Those kind words have meant so much to my family and me, and they’ve helped keep my spirits up.

“Although I’m not in Carson City, those who know me well will know I’ve been closely watching legislative business. Frankly, I’m extremely concerned. As I’ve said, I had two major priorities for the 2015 Session: a bond rollover bill to fund school construction and a bill that helps keep guns away from domestic abusers and stalkers. I want to make something very clear: although I am unable to physically be in the Legislative Building right now, these bills remain my top priorities for this session, and I will not stop fighting for them. That’s why I’m proud that today my colleagues will introduce a bill on my behalf to keep guns away from domestic abusers.

“Protecting survivors of domestic violence is too important to be watered down and wrapped up in irresponsible and extremist legislation. Unfortunately, there is a risk of that happening in Carson City right now. Some good ideas to keep guns out of the hands of survivors have been loaded up with extremely bad ideas that will ultimately turn abuse survivors into political tools. I firmly stand against any attempt to put partisan politics before survivors of abuse. 

“Thankfully, I know that my caucus will continue to fight to pass a domestic violence gun bill that will actually protect survivors. I will be a part of that fight, and I want my constituents and all Nevadans to know that despite my current circumstances, I will continue fighting for you every day.”


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2015 Session: Week 3 Update

Week 3 Update
Feb. 22, 2015

We’ve now finished Week 3 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:

Senate Democrats stand up for voting rights: This week, Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Aaron D. Ford, introduced a resolution supporting voting rights. Specifically, the resolution calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to continue to use the tools provided under the Voting Rights Act to fight against discriminatory voting laws and practices. Sen. Ford’s resolution has a bipartisan group of cosponsors because voting rights should not be a partisan issue. 

Construction-Defect Bill passed: Republicans rammed through Assembly Bill 125, a bill that will restrict the rights of homeowners to recover when their homes are defective. Sen. Ruben Kihuen attempted to amend the bill to make it more homeowner friendly, but Republicans unanimously rejected the proposed amendment. 

Rather than craft moderate reforms, AB 125 is an extreme piece of legislation filled with special interest giveaways. Unfortunately, homeowners will now be left with fewer options when shoddy construction causes problems in their homes. Accordingly, the Nevada Senate Democrats have named the Bill the “Homeowners Rejection Act.”


Standing up against domestic violence: This week, Democrats will be fighting hard for Sen. Debbie Smith’s bill to get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Sen. Smith has worked with domestic-violence advocates to come up with a strong bill that will protect survivors of abuse from further harm. Survivors deserve the strongest possible protection under the law, and that’s what Democrats are working to achieve. 

Voter’s Bill of Rights: Senator Patricia Spearman will introduce her Voter’s Bill of Rights tomorrow, which seeks to add voting protections direction into the Nevada Constitution. Senate Democrats are dedicated to protecting all constitutional rights, including the right to vote!

Have you seen our Senator Spotlight? This past week the spotlight was on Senator Mo Denis from District 2! Click here to learn a little more about him!

This next week Senator Mark Manendo will be in the Senator Spotlight! Click here for a preview

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February 19, 2015


CARSON CITY - Today, Democratic Leader Sen. Aaron D. Ford, introduced Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 9. The resolution calls for continued enforcement of the Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Department of Justice. SJR 9 has a bipartisan group of cosponsors, including Assembly Speaker John Hambrick and Assembly Democratic Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick. 

“Defending our constitutional right to vote has historically been a bipartisan priority. When the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was originally passed, it was a coalition of Democrats and Republicans who came together to support it,” said Sen. Aaron D. Ford. “This resolution is an opportunity for Nevadans, Democrat and Republican, to speak with one voice and tell Washington, D.C. that our right to vote deserves the strongest possible protections.”

SJR 9 encourages the United States Department of Justice to continue to use the tools available under the Voting Rights Act to take action against state or local practices that may have a discriminatory effect on Americans’ right to vote, particularly members of minority communities. 


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