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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February 16, 2015


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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February 16, 2015



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.



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. 


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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February 13, 2015


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.


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.



February 6, 2015


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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