A bill before the Nevada Legislature aims to make the names of public employees in the state retirement system exempt from public-records requirements. The move to make PERS information secret and inaccessible by the public has been nearly universally denounced by transparency organizations and Nevada press outlets — primarily because it is “based upon unfounded fears,” and “weakens scrutiny of government fraud, abuse and waste,” according to the Reno Gazette-Journal’s most recent editorial. Notably, the entire RGJ editorial board agreed the bill was a bad idea — except for one member who, himself, is a public-employee retiree. (Read more)
Taxes and fiscal:
One bill working its way through the legislature has really fallen under most people’s radar. Senate Bill 149 would, ostensibly, open the way for a light rail line between McCarran International Airport and the Strip. But, in reality, it would allow local transportation agencies the ability to suggest commerce-tax increases for expensive new transportation-related projects. In other words: it would allow yet another government-funded agency to lobby for higher taxes on the local level. (Read more)
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak is confident that the new partially taxpayer-funded Raiders Stadium will be built by the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. In order to do that, however, Sisolak expects local spending on infrastructure projects to be accelerated. Moreover, everything related to the Raiders’ deal — including NFL schedules, team plans and other infrastructure-related projects — will have to be completed without any delays or distractions. (Read more)
What does it mean to be “progressive” in politics? It’s a word that is often thrown around by politicians — and for good reason. After all, it sounds forward-thinking and compassionate, right? Well, judging by policy ideas and the effects of “progressive” initiatives, it might not be nearly as forward-thinking as people on the left believe it is. (Watch the video)
It’s hardly a surprise that there would be waste, fraud and abuse in the Clark County School District. But the extent to which this waste and abuse has cost taxpayers is positively astounding. In 2008, a private consultant who was being paid handsomely to help CCSD streamline their bureaucracy walked away from the project because the district refused to accept any of his important suggestions. Moreover, the higher-up responsible for deep-sixing his suggestions later found herself in hot water after taking over $20,000 in “sick leave” pay, while actually working fulltime for a county in another state. (Read more)
Nevada’s 79th Legislative Session:
Property taxes, minimum wage hikes, labor union handouts, renewable energy mandates, attacks on transparency and plenty of other bad ideas are making their way through Nevada’s legislature. The worst-of-the-worst are listed on NPRI’s Taxpayer Guide, and it’s easy to see a pattern: Politicians are anxious to find new ways to spend your money. Unfortunately, until lawmakers adjourn in early June, this relentless grab for taxpayer wallets is unlikely to stop. (Read more)
As Nevada legislators mull the possibility of raising the minimum wage, they should first look to our west and witness the real-world impacts of such increases. After raising the minimum wage in San Diego, local restaurant workers — a workforce especially sensitive to fluctuations in minimum wage — are finding it ever more difficult to find and keep a job. Restaurateurs have been raising menu prices and laying off workers across the board, just to keep already-thin profit margins in the black. For low-wage San Diego residents, it’s becoming increasingly clear that rather than getting a pay raise, they’re getting stuck with a higher cost of living and even fewer job opportunities. (Read more)
Nevada lawmakers are looking at ways to reduce, if not eliminate, the role of standardized tests in teacher evaluations. Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said he’s always been “troubled” that the performance of teachers is gauged by how well the students they teach perform, when tested on what they’ve learned. If Frierson and his allies are successful, it would mark a sharp reversal from 2011 reforms that began including students performance in teacher evaluations. Governor Sandoval has said he’s open to potential changes. (Read more)
The video of a man being violently pulled off an overbooked United Airlines flight went viral this week. Kevin Williams, in the National Review, points out that the unpleasant episode has further fueled the general public’s disdain for the air-travel industry in general. And it’s easy to see why: Like banks, health-insurance companies and cable providers, airlines have steadily grown less and less responsive to the needs of its customers. As Williams puts it, “The managers act as though the business were organized for their benefit rather than for the customers, and that attitude seeps down to front-line workers.” So what, exactly, is causing this? (Read more)
This week Tesla Motors saw its stock price climb to more than that of General Motors. It was an impressive milestone for the electric car manufacturer, which sold just under 80,000 cars last year. (By comparison, GM sold 80,000 Chevy Silverados in a mere eight weeks.) Clearly, plenty of investors believe in the future profitability and success of Tesla. Of course, this raises an important public policy question: If Tesla’s future looks so bright, why must it depend so heavily on taxpayer-funded subsidies for its very survival? (Read more)
Nevada’s 79th legislative session:
Senate Bill 384 aims to make the names of public employee retirees completely secret — exempting them from public record laws. As a recent Review Journal op-ed put it, “SB384 will gut accountability protections and breed further cynicism about our public institutions.” But, it’s actually worse than that. As written, the bill would make every single public employee’s name confidential. (Read more)
On Friday, the United States Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. The Senate voted 54-45 to seat Gorsuch on the high court after a 14-month vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Gorsuch’s appointment to the court means an end to the deadlock the court has seen recently on pivotal constitutional issues, including forced unionization and issues regarding regulatory overreach. (Read more)
Late Thursday evening, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a law expanding his state’s Educational Savings Account program to every public school child. The change, making the state’s ESA program “universal,” means that almost any public school student in Arizona will be eligible to apply. The new rules cap the number of new entrants into the program to roughly 5,500 new students each year — but effectively eliminates most other enrollment restrictions. With Nevada’s neighbor expanding their successful ESA program, it is now up to Silver State lawmakers to decide if they will follow suit, or continue clinging to a failed status quo. (Read more)
When governments fear dissent, they often try to censor those who speak out. When censorship doesn’t work, or isn’t an option, government often just settles for simple harassment and surveillance. As the National Review points out, “This was true in the civil-rights era, when the state of Alabama tried to force the NAACP to divulge its membership lists.” More recently, the State of New York decided to channel the bully-tactics of segregation-era Alabama, and has taken aim at organizations bold enough to speak out about gun rights, tax reform, climate change and a number of other public policy issues. A new challenge to New York’s complex web of regulations, however, hopes to put an end to this state-sponsored attempt at regulating public-policy debates. (Read more)
The GOP’s first attempt to supposedly “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act went down in flames. But why? Well, for starters, the Republican plan failed to attract enough Republicans to survive any substantial debate in the legislature. More importantly, however, is the fact that it didn’t actually repeal or replace the core tenants of Obamacare — in fact, it preserved them. (Read more)
Assemblyman Justin Watkins, D-Las Vegas, has introduced Assembly Bill 270, legislation designed to reinstate net-metering subsidies for rooftop solar costumers. The proposed law would set a minimum credit of 11 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity fed back into a utility’s grid from a rooftop solar installation. The actual market price of power at the time — whether or not the utility company could purchase excess power from a cheaper source — is simply ignored. As NPRI has explained before, government coercion and price fixing — not necessarily the per-kilowatt price — is the real problem with net-metering mandates. (Read more)
When public sector employees get paid leave-time to conduct union business, it costs taxpayers big time. According to a new report by the Office of Personnel Management, government employees spent nearly 3.5 million hours doing union business rather than government business — costing taxpayers $162.5 million in 2014 alone. (Read more)
Fiscal and taxes:
Tax season is officially here — and it’s costing the American economy billions of dollars. Taxpayers spend an estimated 6.1 billion hours and $234 billion every year complying with the tax code. And things are only expected to get worse. According to Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, “The paperwork burden inventory at the Office of Management and Budget related to Treasury is expected to rise by another two billion hours in the next few years.” That alone could push tax compliance costs above $400 billion per year. (Read more)
Nevada lawmakers this session are again taking aim at ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. One bill would give the Nevada Taxicab Authority — which has been exceptionally hostile to the concept of ridesharing — authority over the industry. Another unfriendly proposal put forward by Taxicab Authority allies was to require ridesharing consumers to wait fifteen minutes for their ride. It was killed earlier this week. (Read more)
Large school districts, such as Clark County, have historically been plagued by inefficiencies, fraud and corruption. As it turns out, the primary root of the problem likely lies in the particular way in which schools have tried to lessen corruption: through ever-tighter layers of centralization, bureaucratic oversight, detailed standard operating procedures and a growing administrative state. Just like any other overly bureaucratic entity, the larger school districts become, the less responsive they are to the actual needs of those they serve. (Read more)
Update: A proposed amendment makes Section 2 much worse by making PERS names private as well, leaving only payout amounts to unknown recipients!
As written, section 1 of SB384 makes all information about public employees, with the exception of their name, job title and salary, confidential under state law. Existing law already provides robust protections that make sensitive information about public employees — such as social security numbers and home addresses — confidential. By declaring that, absent their name, job title and salary, “all other information” about public employees is confidential, SB384 would represent a dramatic reversal of existing law by enshrouding the activities of government in a veil of secrecy.
Section 2 addresses retirees who are currently receiving a benefit from the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (PERS). By declaring that the name, benefit amount and last employer of those receiving a benefit from PERS is public and making everything else confidential, SB384 would significantly narrow existing law. Furthermore, it would make confidential the very information necessary to provide context to benefit amounts — such as years of service, year of retirement and retirement type.
Without those contextual fields of data, the public value in disclosing name and benefit amount is greatly reduced. Just as salary information is intertwined with the number of hours worked — the value of a $25,000 salary changes drastically if it comes with a 1-hour workweek instead of the standard 40 hours — a similar relationship exists between years of service and pension benefit amount.
This is why this information is currently public in Nevada and 35 other states nationwide. The State of New Jersey even publishes these supplemental fields, and several more, on the official state government website: https://data.nj.gov/dataset/YourMoney-Retired-Pension-Members/nma7-ti96/data.
As written, SB384 would overturn existing Nevada law and make these fields of data — which are necessary to lend perspective to the payout amounts and identify cases of disability fraud — confidential. Moreover, it is not clear what benefit, if any, this would provide. In fact, making the contextual data private would only undermine the public interest that SB384 seeks to provide in making retirees’ name and benefit amount public.
Or, to put it another way, why would years of service be considered more sensitive than a retiree’s name and benefit amount?
Existing law already makes truly sensitive information — such as social security number, home address, etc. — private. If SB384 seeks to reaffirm this, it can do so by specifying that the entirety of the necessary contextual elements of a retiree’s benefit are public, while then reaffirming the unrelated, sensitive pieces of information remain exempt from disclosure.
SB384 will be heard March 31, 2017 at 1:00PM by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs. Click here to share your opinion with your legislator on SB384 or any other bill currently before the Legislature.
The taxicab union is lobbying lawmakers in hopes that the state will begin to crack down on ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Among other things, the union is pushing for regulations and restrictions that would essentially kill many of the features that make ride-sharing companies so attractive to consumers. For example, the union wants to impose a minimum “wait time” for pickups — meaning companies would be required to wait at least 10 minutes before picking up customers who have requested a ride. The union also wants lawmakers to prohibit “excessively low” pricing. (Read more)
Traditionally, Nevada lawmakers have been extremely reluctant to expand educational choice within the Silver State. Compared to Colorado or Arizona, for example, Nevada’s charter school program is positively anemic. And yet, strangely, the National Association of Charter School Authorities ranks Nevada highly. According to Matthew Ladner with Education News, the reason for this disparity is likely because NACSA’s rating seems “overly concerned with bureaucratic compliance rather than performance.” (Read more)
In 2009, the local police department in Tewksbury, Massachusetts used a federal rule to seize the property of a privately owned inn without even having to file criminal charges against its owners. Ostensibly, the seizure was part of the department’s crackdown on illegal drug operations. But that explanation didn’t make much sense to the owners of the Caswell Inn, given that a nearby motel was notorious for drug dealing and prostitution — and yet had remained untouched by authorities. When the owner asked a police official why they had targeted the inn instead of the seedy motel, the answer was brutally honest: the Caswell Inn was worth more money. (Read more)
“Democratic socialism” is a concept that has been increasing in popularity in America — particularly among younger voters. These voters describe socialism as some sort of utopian system, where poverty, hunger and even sickness are practically a thing of the past. Meanwhile, in countries that are actually afflicted by these policies, the public has a very different opinion. Ami Horowitz recently filmed a documentary in Venezuela to expose the horrors brought on by such policies. When asked what she thought about America’s admiration for socialism, one woman — waiting in line for several hours just to receive paltry rations — warned, “don’t commit to that madness.” (Read more)
The problem with modern politics isn’t necessarily that different factions have competing concepts of governance — it’s that we’ve lost sight of the classical liberalism that gave rise to such astounding prosperity and progress. And it’s no wonder we’ve lost sight of it. Nearly every political faction has corrupted and manipulated classical liberalism to suit its own hunger for power and control. (Read more)
I am so grateful.
Grateful because I just walked into the Nevada Policy Research Institute from a gorgeous 70-degree Nevada day. Grateful to work with the most motivated, intelligent, passionate-about-freedom, doing-what-is-right, people I have ever met.
Why should you be grateful?
You live in this beautiful state and have NPRI’s brilliant staff working long hours fighting to preserve your rights and freedoms. You still do not have to pay state income taxes and have more freedoms than most states.
I have moved with my wife over 2000 miles to be a part of something bigger than myself. To help this exceptional band of believers in the good for all of limited constitutional government, accomplish even more.
NPRI’s policy shop, media centers, and the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation work tirelessly to:
- Protect Educational Savings Accounts from defunding, so parents have hope for their children to choose a better education options.
- Make Nevada government more transparent, so you the taxpayer can see where your money is being spent — and unfortunately wasted.
- Fight cronyism by keeping those in power from rewarding their politically-connected friends with your hard-earned money.
- Enforce the separation of powers within government so those who represent us are not also on the state payroll.
- Protect the taxpayers with constant diligence against the implementation of a state income tax.
- Use the courts to right the wrongs of unjust takings of your land or property by government.
- Solve and save the government pension system (PERS) from mismanagement and abuse.
- Give teachers the right to choose their representation.
- And so much more.
As NPRI’s new President, I will stay grateful, using my past experiences to give my all to guide NPRI to further accomplishments on your behalf.
So stay grateful, and don’t take the beautiful weather, amazing vistas, or your freedoms for granted.
John A. Tsarpalas
Nevada Policy Research Institute
Nevada’s 79th Legislative Session:
This week, the Nevada Policy Research Institute unveiled its “Taxpayer’s Guide to the Legislative Session.” The guide will feature important bills, along with a short description of the impact of each and whether or not it promotes the interests of taxpayers. The guide’s bill evaluations will be an important factor in the creation of the Institute’s upcoming 2017 Legislative Report Card. As Mark Twain said, “no man’s life, liberty or property is safe when the legislature is in session!” Now taxpayers can see why Twain was so very correct. (Read more)
Nevada lawmakers have had more than four hours of testimony and presentations over ways to clamp down on “payday lenders” in the state. The two bills being discussed would limit the interest rate applied to these short term loans, and create a statewide database to prohibit consumers from taking out multiple loans at one time. Both bills represent a large government intrusion into the private financial affairs of Nevada citizens. (Read more)
Fiscal and taxes:
Nevada State Senate President Pro Tempore Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, has introduced a bill that would increase spending on public education by more than $1 billion. The proposal would increase per-pupil funding for special needs students, low income students and non-English speakers. Advocates claim the additional spending is needed in order to improve Nevada’s failing schools. Maybe, rather than throwing even more money into a system that has failed Nevada families for decades, lawmakers should consider empowering parents and students directly — by funding and implementing the state’s Education Savings Accounts. (Read more)
How does “Harry Reid International Airport” sound to you? If state Sen. Tick Segerblom has his way, that’s what McCarran International Airport would be called from now on. Senate Bill 174, which would authorize the name change, was slated for discussion Friday. An amendment has already been added to ensure that any name change be funded by private donations, and not taxpayer dollars. (Read more)
Republicans have unveiled their plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act — and yet, according to free-market critics, it looks far more like an effort to repackage rather than repeal. While the law institutes some important reforms to Obamacare, many of the regulatory burdens of the ACA will remain untouched. Judging by how reluctant lawmakers are to substantively take on Obamacare, it seems appropriate to paraphrase Ronald Reagan: “A government [entitlement program] is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” [Read more]
Today, I'm writing to share with you an extremely difficult decision I have recently made. After returning to NPRI almost two years ago to serve once again as the president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, I have recently decided to retire.
Leading this great organization has been the highlight of my career. I cannot think of a better cause to serve than defending the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise — the ideals that have defined the mission of NPRI since its founding.
Although I will no longer be serving as the Institute’s president, I can assure you that I remain as committed to and passionate about these ideals as ever before.
However, I have come to the decision that it is now time for me to once again step aside.
While I’m proud of what all of us have accomplished during my time as president of NPRI, I have even higher hopes for the new president and my talented colleagues in the future. It has been a true blessing to have been able to work with a group of individuals who are so supportive, caring and dedicated to our shared ideals.
I have no doubt they will continue their great work to create a stronger and freer Nevada.
I am pleased to share with you that the Institute's board of directors has made the decision to welcome John Tsarpalas to serve as the new president, effective March 13, 2017. For more than 30 years John has been leading the fight for free markets and limited government. Previously, John was the President of the Sam Adams Alliance and Team Sam where he did issue-education and advocacy work in over 10 states. Now, he looks forward to leading NPRI in the Institute’s commitment to the cause of freedom in the Silver State and the west.
I cannot thank you enough for your support, your kindness and your generosity, nor can I adequately express what an honor it has been to serve as president of this great organization. The sadness I feel in leaving NPRI is surpassed only by the optimism I have for the future of the Institute and our great state.
Sharon J. Rossie
In case you missed it…
Congressional Republicans have put forward a plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. There’s only one problem: It doesn’t actually repeal or replace much of anything. While it rolls back many existing taxes and regulations associated with the healthcare law, it keeps many of the ACA’s fundamental characteristics intact. As Reason Magazine puts it, “it's a muddled version of the [original] House GOP plan, which was itself a muddled vision of what a political compromise might look like, in some hypothetical world where Republicans actually agreed about health policy.” [Read more]
Unsurprisingly, the Nevada legislature didn’t wait long before it started toying with the idea of raising the minimum wage. Study after study has shown that such increases have a direct, and adverse, impact on unemployment rates — specifically among minority groups, who tend to suffer the most from job-losses associated with minimum wage hikes. This correlation isn’t some sort of accidental, or unforeseeable, consequence of artificially inflating wages. In fact, at one time, it was actually the purpose of minimum wage mandates. (Read more)
A House committee has voted to continue a school voucher program that serves more than 1,200 low-income children in the District of Columbia. The measure to preserve and even expand the program passed despite strong opposition from Democrats. The majority of D.C.’s city council also opposed the measure, saying there is “no proof” that school choice has succeeded in helping disadvantaged students. The data regarding graduation rates and literacy, however, tell another story. Maybe that’s why Mayor Muriel Bowser, also a Democrat, has broken ranks from the party by strongly supporting the program. (Read more)
Following the example of MGM and Wynn casinos, Caesars Entertainment Corp. has decided to leave Nevada Power Co. — which is owned by NV Energy. As part of the agreement, Caesars will be forced to pay $44 million dollars as an “exit fee.” Like Wynn and MGM, Caesar’s willingness to pay such a large fee for leaving demonstrates just how much the state’s utility monopoly has artificially inflated prices. (Read more)
NPRI’s annual Freedom Scholarship opportunity:
The Nevada Policy Research Institute is once again offering a $2,500 Professor R.S. Nigam & NPRI Freedom Scholarship to a graduating high school student in Clark County. The scholarship is open to all graduating high school students in Clark County — whether they attend a public, private, online or home school — who plan to attend college in the fall of 2017. This year, applicants are asked to write a 2 page essay considering the impact a minimum wage increase would have on Nevada youth. More details, including the essay topic and scholarship details, can be found at NPRI.org. (Read more)
Separation of powers:
When the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s legal arm, the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, filed suit against Republican state senator Heidi Gansert for violating Nevada’s separation of powers clause, we expected the move would turn a few heads. Well, it did. And the reason why is simple: This is a reoccurring problem in Nevada. More importantly, as columnist Thomas Mitchell points out, the violation has a direct impact on the lives of taxpayers. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, the concentration of government power is “precisely the definition of despotic government.” (Read more)
Teamsters Local 707, in New York, is slashing retirement benefits after declaring it would soon be insolvent. Payouts are being cut by more than 60 percent — and if something isn’t done soon, even that might not be enough to keep the fund afloat for much longer. The system’s defined benefit structure, the dwindling number of new members in recent decades and the 2008 financial downturn have all been blamed as factors leading to the pension’s current financial woes. With such a bleak outlook, some members argue it should be up to the federal government to bailout the system — with one member saying “they helped the automobile industry, why not us?” (Read more)
Contrary to what minimum-wage advocates profess when pushing for $15 per hour, it is a well-documented fact that increasing the minimum wage results in more joblessness among “disadvantaged” workers — primarily minority and low-income workers. What’s interesting, however, is that at one time, this was actually the declared intent of such wage laws. Certainly the motivations behind minimum wage laws have changed since the early 20th century — but the effects have not. (Read more)
Established industries routinely use occupational licensing laws as a way to discourage competition, and amass more control over the economy and political system. One recent example can be found in Tennessee, where the Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is threatening one woman with jail time and fines for practicing massage therapy on horses without a veterinarian license. The charge is made even more absurd by the fact that the government-mandated training requirements for the license wouldn’t even teach the very techniques used in massage therapy. (Read more)
Illinois State University is now offering a “bystander training program on microaggressions.” The program is part of the University’s dedication to political correctness, and will “help to define what microaggressions are and provide strategies for people who encounter them in social, classroom, or professional settings.” (Read more)
Total Records: 2045
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