Updates

SENATOR DEBBIE SMITH DISCHARGED FROM MD ANDERSON IN HOUSTON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2015

SENATOR DEBBIE SMITH DISCHARGED FROM MD ANDERSON IN HOUSTON

CARSON CITY - Sen. Debbie Smith provided the following update on her medical condition. She is happy to announce that she will be discharged from MD Anderson Cancer Center today. She will remain in Houston for follow up treatment for the time being, but she is feeling good and is paying close attention to Senate business. Her family reports that they cannot keep her cell phone out of her hands. 

Sen. Smith and her family would like to again thank the many people who have reached out and showered them with support over the past few weeks. 

They continue to ask that members of the media respect their privacy at this time. 

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[RELEASE] SENATE DEMOCRATS: WE SHOULD BUILD SCHOOLS WITHOUT SLASHING NEVADA FAMILIES’ PAYCHECKS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 16, 2015

 

SENATE DEMOCRATS: WE SHOULD BUILD SCHOOLS WITHOUT SLASHING NEVADA FAMILIES’ PAYCHECKS

CARSON CITY - Today, Senate Democrats voted unanimously against Senate Bill 119, a bill that would remove fair wage laws that protect construction workers on publicly funded school construction projects. Senate Democrats previously offered a bipartisan alternative, SB 106, that would allow for school construction without changing fair wage laws. Democrats also offered an amendment on the floor that would keep protections for construction workers in place. Senate Republicans unanimously voted against that amendment.

Senator Aaron D. Ford, Democratic Leader, made the following statement after the passage of the bill:

“This bill hijacks a bipartisan idea and forces a politically inspired pay cut for the middle class families that are the backbone of Nevada’s construction industry. It will drive skilled workers out of state and put Nevada contractors and small businesses out of business. We can put schools first without putting Nevada’s construction workers and their families last.”

When SB 119 was heard in the Senate Government Affairs Committee, there was overwhelming testimony against it. Contractors, construction workers, and small business owners testified that SB 119 would drive workers out of state, allow out-of-state contractors to underbid Nevada businesses, and lead to lower quality schools.

Studies have shown that suspending prevailing wage laws does not lead to any cost savings for taxpayers, and may risk actually raising costs due to lower worker productivity and later repairs for lower quality workmanship.

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2015 Session: Week 2 Update

Week 2 Update
Feb 15, 2015

At the end of Week 2 of the 2015 Session, Democrats continue to work for the best interests of everyday Nevadans.

This week, Senators Atkinson, Spearman, and Manendo lead the fight against Senate Bill 123 (SB123) in the Commerce, Labor, and Energy Committee. SB 123 would weaken consumer protections in payday lending by giving lenders new ways to go after people who are already caught in the payday loan debt spiral. SB 123 is particularly threatening to Nevada veterans. One in five Nevada veterans have taken a payday loan and many continue to struggle to pay them off. 

Our senators are also keeping up the fight to protect homeowners. Working with our Democratic colleagues in the Assembly, we spoke out against Assembly Bill 125, a bill that would make it more difficult for homeowners to recover if their houses are not built properly. Democrats believe we shouldn’t punish homeowners when builders make mistakes. 

Senate Democrats are also working proactively to pass legislation that will make it easier to middle class families to get a fair shot at success in this state. As Democrats, we know that our agenda must put middle and working class people first. Our senators will be rolling out new legislation and ideas over the next few weeks that will help us grow our middle class and make a better future for Nevada’s children. 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: WEEK 3

Senate Bill 119 is expected to be taken up on the Senate floor on Monday for a full vote. SB 119 is a Republican bill that removes prevailing wage requirements from school construction projects. The Nevada Senate Democrats believe we can put school first without putting middle class workers last and we stand in opposition to this harmful measure. 

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SENATE DEMOCRATS: CONSUMER PROTECTIONS FOR PAYDAY LENDING MUST REMAIN INTACT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2015

SENATE DEMOCRATS: CONSUMER PROTECTIONS FOR PAYDAY LENDING MUST REMAIN INTACT

CARSON CITY - Today, Democratic Senators on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor, & Energy responded to SB 123, a bill that would weaken consumer protections in the payday lending industry. Specifically, the bill would remove a prohibition on lawsuits by lenders of certain types of payday loans against borrowers. At today’s hearing, a variety of groups, including representatives of some payday lenders, spoke out against the proposed changes. 

“One in five Nevada veterans have used a payday loan, and many continue to struggle to pay them back,” said Senator Pat Spearman, a U.S. Army veteran. “We owe our constituents the best protection the law can provide, not weaker laws that will hurt veterans and all Nevadans.” 

“Today’s testimony showed that SB 123 is fundamentally flawed,” said Senator Mark Manendo. “We’re still recovering the Great Recession, and this is the wrong time to put working families at risk when they’re just getting back on their feet.” 

“This bill raises serious consumer protection concerns,” said Senator Kelvin Atkinson. “If Nevada is going to offer a fair shot for everyone, then we can’t be a state where the laws favor payday lenders over everyday Nevadans.” 

In Nevada, a typical payday loan carries an interest rate of more than 400%. According to a study conducted by UNLV, 1 in 5 (20%) Nevada veterans have used a payday loan, far exceeding the national rate. The Department of Defense considers payday loans to be predatory and a threat to military readiness. According to studies, 75% of payday lending fees are generated by borrowers taking out over 10 loans a year – proving they are not a one-time fix.

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Woodhouse pitches bill urging feds to OK Internet sales tax

Las Vegas Review-Journal
By Sean Whaley
Feb. 11, 2015

CARSON CITY — Sen. Joyce Woodhouse is again pushing a resolution this session that would urge Congress to pass legislation allowing states to tax all Internet sales to level the playing field with Nevada-based “brick and mortar” businesses.

Senate Joint Resolution 4 was heard in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee on Wednesday. A similar resolution passed the Nevada Legislature in 2013, but Congress adjourned in 2014 without passing the Marketplace Fairness Act.

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Build schools without gutting fair wages

Las Vegas Sun: Guest Column
By Sens. David Parks & Kelvin Atkinson
Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015

It’s no secret that we desperately need new schools in districts across the state. The Clark County School District, for example, has added 10,000 students without building a single new school. CCSD students could fill 24 new elementary schools if they were opened tomorrow. In Washoe County, more than 200 portable trailers are used for classroom space and a third of school buildings are more than 30 years old.

That’s why Senate Democrats pushed hard for a school construction bill to be one of the first issues we considered this session. But we shouldn’t be forced to make an unnecessary choice between forcing parents to take a pay cut just so we can build new schools for their kids. It was shocking in the opening week of the Legislature to see Senate Republicans hijack an important school construction bill in an attempt to give middle-class construction workers and their families a pay cut.

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UPDATE ON SENATOR SMITH’S SURGERY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2015

UPDATE ON SENATOR SMITH’S SURGERY

CARSON CITY - Today, Sen. Debbie Smith’s family made the following announcement regarding Sen. Smith’s operation to remove a tumor on her brain. 

Sen. Smith’s doctors report the surgery was successful. She is awake, talking, and will continue to rest today. 

The Smith family would like to thank Dr. Weinberg, Dr. Zavarella, and the staff at MD Anderson in Houston as well as Dr. Walsh at the Ruvo Center in Las Vegas. They would also like to thank friends and supporters for their overwhelming support throughout this process. 

We ask that press continue to respect Sen. Smith’s privacy at this time. Further details will be released as they become available. 

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Sen. Smith 'worried' as she awaits brain surgery Friday

Reno Gazette-Journal
By Ray Hagar
Feb. 4, 2015

State Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said she is not feeling pain as she awaits surgery for a brain tumor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

She hopes to return to the Nevada Legislature this session but first must get through Friday's surgery.

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GOP PUTS HYPER-PARTISANSHIP ABOVE COOPERATION ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2015

GOP PUTS HYPER-PARTISANSHIP ABOVE COOPERATION ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION 

CARSON CITY - Today, Senate Democrats condemned Republicans for hijacking bipartisan school construction bond rollover legislation to push measures that will hurt middle class families. A Republican version of the construction bill, SB 119, removes prevailing wage requirements from school construction projects. SB 119 was heard before the Senate Government Affairs Committee today. 

Sen. Debbie Smith has introduced SB 106, which allows school districts to rollover bonds without gutting existing fair wage requirements. The bill has bipartisan support and was named a Southern Nevada Priority at the Southern Nevada Forum in January. 

“We should be able to put schools first without putting some middle-class families last,” said Democratic Leader Sen. Aaron D. Ford. “Unfortunately, for Republicans this has never been about building safe, quality schools for our kids. Instead it’s about pushing their narrow, partisan agenda at the expense of Nevada’s middle class families. All Nevadans deserve a fair shot at success.” 

Numerous studies reviewing prevailing wage laws across the country have found no evidence that the requirements increase construction costs. In fact, prevailing wage laws generally help ensure that highly-skilled, local laborers work on construction projects. In some cases, overall costs are actually lowered due to increased worker productivity. Removing the requirements leads to a less experienced and less skilled workforce, lower workplace productivity, and lower quality end results. 

“Schools should be built by experienced, highly skilled construction workers, and those workers deserve a fair wage that can support their families,” said Sen. Kelvin Atkinson. “Gutting these laws will leave the safety and quality of our kids’ schools in the hands of the lowest bidder. That’s wrong.”

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UPDATE ON SEN. DEBBIE SMITH’S MEDICAL CONDITION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2015

UPDATE ON SEN. DEBBIE SMITH’S MEDICAL CONDITION

CARSON CITY - Today, Senator Debbie Smith announced that she has been diagnosed with an operable brain tumor. She is currently being treated at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas where she is scheduled to have surgery this Friday. 

Senator Smith would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support she and her family have received in the past few days. As soon as her doctors give her permission, she will be back at work in the Nevada State Senate. 

We ask that you continue to respect the privacy of Senator Smith and her family at this time.

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SENATE DEMOCRATS VOTE AGAINST LOCKING PUBLIC OUT OF REDISTRICTING PROCESS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2015

SENATE DEMOCRATS VOTE AGAINST LOCKING PUBLIC OUT OF REDISTRICTING PROCESS 

CARSON CITY – Today, Senate Democrats voted unanimously against the Joint Standing Rules of the Senate and Assembly. Democratic senators voted against rules changes that would have made it more difficult for members of the public to exercise their right to participate in any redistricting process. Senate Democrats were not given proposed rules to review until a few minutes before the Senate was gaveled to order.

“It’s unfortunate that our Republican colleagues felt the need to exclude the public from participating in the redistricting process,” said Democratic Leader Sen. Aaron D. Ford. “Any redistricting effort in Nevada should be an open, public process, and not a product of backroom deals by Carson City insiders.”

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How the Legislature could affect your kids

Reno Gazette-Journal
By Trevon Milliard
Jan. 29, 2015

Lawmakers have their eyes on changing public schools this year.

The attention began with Governor Brian Sandoval's State of the State address. He advocated for sweeping changes: Take away voters' right to choose local school boards, create a state-run district of the lowest-performing public schools and put millions of dollars into improving what's commonly rated as one of the nation's worst school systems.

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How the Legislature could affect your wallet

Reno Gazette-Journal
By Ray Hagar
Jan. 30, 2015

Among the most contentious issues state lawmakers will face this year will include matters that could affect your wallet — including the taxes you pay.

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SEN. DEBBIE SMITH: Legislature Must Protect Women from Gun-Related Domestic Violence, Murders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 29, 2015

SEN. DEBBIE SMITH: LEGISLATURE MUST PROTECT WOMEN FROM GUN-RELATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, MURDERS

CARSON CITY - Today, Sen. Debbie Smith (D-Sparks) announced that she will introduce legislation this session to help prevent gun-related intimate partner violence. Recent studies have found that women in Nevada are murdered with guns at a significantly higher rate than the national average.

The legislation would prohibit persons convicted of domestic violence and stalking crimes or subject to an extended protection order for domestic violence from possessing a firearm. Persons prohibited from owning or possessing guns would be required to turn them over to law enforcement or a licensed gun dealer. Under the proposed legislation, failure to comply would constitute a category B felony. 

“The sad fact is that we have not done nearly enough to protect Nevada women from intimate partner violence,” Sen. Smith said. “By toughening penalties and taking guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, we can protect women, particularly those who have faced abuse. I hope my colleagues will join me in acting to prevent more tragic deaths.”

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Workers to begin resurfacing U.S. 95 near Indian Springs

Las Vegas Sun
By Katie Visconti
Jan. 28, 2015

A $22 million resurfacing project on U.S. 95 from Indian Springs to Mercury will begin next week.

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