Clarification on ESAs

What we know now about the new program

Dear Friend,

For the past month, there has been much information released regarding Nevada’s education savings account program. As new updates come out, following changes to previously released information can be confusing. I hope this email will bring some clarity on the current status of the ESA program.


The Treasurer has implemented an early application period, which started August 3rd and will continue through November 30, 2015. The applications are here. Please make sure you sign, date, fill in all boxes and include all paperwork.

There are a few things you should know before sending in your early applications.

First, the 100 consecutive days of public school enrollment criteria must be met before submitting your application. Submitting an application prior to fulfilling 100 days in a public school will not serve as a place holder.

Next, once the Treasurer’s Office stamps your fully completed application “received,” the office will count backwards 100 consecutive school days, including school days in the 2014-15 school year. There will not be a one-time exception allowing attendance at any time during the 2014-15 school year. You must have been enrolled in a public school for the 100 consecutive school days immediately preceding the application.

The Treasurer has advised that if your child attends one day in a private school before this application is received by the office, he or she would no longer have 100 consecutive school days immediately preceding the date of the application. Thus, per SB302, your child would no longer be eligible to use any previous school days from the 2014-2015 school year.

 As of this week, the Treasurer’s Office reports that it is taking two weeks to complete an application intake. Remember, you must be enrolled in your public school seat when the count begins — the application “received” date!

Additionally, the Treasurer asks that you include all paperwork with your application, including income verification when applicable and evidence for any 15 day absence waiver.

The 15 day absence rule resets the 100 day clock if a student has 15 consecutive school days absent during the 100 school days prior to application. If extenuating circumstances exist, like an illness, an accident, a death in family or disability issues, the Treasurer will review on a case-by-case basis. The absences may or may not be waived, depending on individual circumstances. Be sure to submit evidence of extenuating circumstances with the application.

At this time, the treasurer’s office expects funding will be distributed during the first week of April 2016. If funding begins sooner, parents will be notified at the email address they placed on the application. Don’t forget to put a valid email on each application.

Here is the schedule for next year’s open enrollment and corresponding funding dates:

Open Enrollment Periods for 2016               Estimated Account Funding Dates

January 4 – February 29, 2016                       First week of April 2016

April 1 – May 31, 2016                                    First week of July 2016

July 1 – August 31, 2016                                First week of October 2016

October 1 – November 30, 2016                    First week of January 2017

Kindergarten and students under age 7 years

As of yet, there has been no official direction on eligibility for Kindergarteners or children under age 7. This is a question to be clarified through the regulatory process.

Some camps interpret SB302, the bill creating ESAs, to mean kindergartners are automatically eligible and do not need to meet the 100 day rule. Others interpret the bill to say no children under age 7 are eligible for ESAs. Still others interpret SB302 as saying kindergartners and other children under age 7 are eligible but must meet the 100 day enrollment criteria first.

Without clear direction, the Treasurer’s office has recommended parents submit an early application in any case. The applications will be placed into a pending status until the regulatory process has concluded. At which time, the applications will proceed according to final regulation. The safest thing to do is to make sure your child has 100 consecutive days in public schools, including charter and virtual public schools.

Online charter schools

Last week, the Treasurer’s Office released a notice from the Nevada Department of Education advising, “a private school or home school student may not participate in a program of distance education or online class to satisfy the 100 school day requirement.” Previously, the Treasurer stated that partial enrollment, one class or more, in an online school could be used to meet the 100 day rule. This inconsistency has many parents seeking clarification.

Current Nevada law doesn’t allow a private school or home schooled student to enroll part-time in an online school, so that will not an option to meet the 100 school-day enrollment requirement. However, partial enrollment, meaning taking one class or more, in a traditional or brick-and-mortar district or charter school will count towards the 100 day enrollment requirement.

Full-time enrollment in an online district or charter school will also satisfy the 100 day enrollment requirement.

It is important to note that eligibility through partial enrollment will result in a pro-rated funding allotment. For how long and at what rate is yet to be determined.

Regulatory Process

As evidenced by the Department of Education notice, it is important for families to understand Nevada’s ESA program is in a state of flux as it advances through the regulatory process. While the Treasurer is committed to proposing regulations, proposed regulations are online here, which are expansive and reflect legislative intent, things are subject to change until regulations have been adopted in final form by the Legislative Commission.

This is why it is important to have your voice heard at the upcoming August 21 Regulations Workshop at 9 a.m.:

Legislative Building               Grant Sawyer State Office Building

Suite 4100                               Suite 4401

401 S. Carson Street               555 E. Washington Avenue

Carson City, NV                     Las Vegas, NV

I hope this email helps bring some clarity and please let me know if you have any additional questions.



Online classes no longer a path to ESA eligibility for private and home school families

Late last week, the Treasurer's office issued the statement below changing its guidance on how families with students in private school or who are homeschooling can become eligible for ESAs.

Current private school and home school students are no longer able to satisfy the 100-day requirement by taking one online class. That is because state law doesn't allow current private school and home school parents to enroll in online public schools. Students are able to gain full eligibility by enrolling full-time in a public school, including charter and virtual schools.

The full statement is below, but the situation is still fluid. We will keep you up to date. If you have any questions, please contact me at

State Treasurer’s Office Clarifies ESA Eligibility

(Carson City, NV) – The Treasurer's Office has been notified by the Nevada Department of Education that pursuant to NRS 388.850, a private school or “home school” student may not participate in a program of distance education (online class) to satisfy the 100 school day requirement. Nevada Revised Statute 388.850 prevents a private school or “home school” student from enrolling in a program of distance education (online class).

However, a private school or “home school” student may qualify for an ESA by taking one or more classes in a public or charter school, pursuant to NRS 386.580(5) and 392.070(3).

“This is not the outcome we had proposed,” said Grant Hewitt, Treasurer’s Chief of Staff. “With school starting in just a few days, we want to ensure that parents had clarity on the issue. We hope that the Legislature addresses this issue in an upcoming legislative session so students can qualify for an ESA though a program of distance education while still attending their primary education choice,” Hewitt said.

In an online note, State Treasurer Dan Schwartz added, "We're still pleased that prospective ESA account holders may satisfy the 100 school day requirement by enrolling in one (or more) courses at a public or charter school. And, of course, Nevadans are still encouraged to voice their opinions at our upcoming August 21 Workshop."


Debate watching

Every week, NPRI President Sharon Rossie writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

Like millions of other Americans, last night I tuned into Fox News and watched the first of many 2016 presidential debates.

Assuming you follow politics and know some of the history between the candidates, there was plenty of clash and one-liners to keep it entertaining. I’m already looking forward to the second debate, but you and I know that selecting the next president of the United States isn’t just about who can deliver a good speech (see Obama, Barack). 

Here are some of the issues that I’ll be watching for in both the Republican and Democratic debates.

1.  Entitlement reform. It only got a passing mention in the last night’s debate, but the math is obvious. Spending on entitlements is bankrupting our country. Who is willing to acknowledge that and then do something about it? 

2. Federalism. One of the things that historically made our country great is that states have been free to pursue their own plans in many areas, like education and health care. Sometimes states even have policies that contradict each other.

 This isn’t a flaw in our system; it’s a feature! States were meant to make numerous policy decisions based on the desires of the state’s citizens. One benefit of this is that state policymakers can see what’s working and what isn’t, instead of being given mandates from Washington D.C.

The presidential field includes a number of governors with impressive track records. What’s important to see is candidates acknowledge that the role of president is different than being a governor. For instance, you and I know that universal school choice is an amazing school reform, but that doesn’t mean the federal government should impose school choice on the states. The federal government should get out of K-12 education entirely.

3. Federal lands. One of the reasons that farm subsidies still persist today is that candidates go to Iowa, which holds the first presidential caucus and pledge their support for farm subsidies in order to increase their popularity with Iowans.

With Nevada’s presidential primary caucus being the fourth in the country, Nevada is being inundated with presidential candidates seeking your vote. Instead of asking for a special handout, we encourage you to ask candidates from both parties for their position on federal land issues.

As you may know, the federal government owns over 85 percent of Nevada’s land and 30 to 57 percent of the land in each state that includes or is West of the Rocky Mountains.

The federal government should put Nevada on an equal footing with the rest of the country and give our state back our land.

In just under eighteen months, one of those candidates visiting Nevada today will have the ability to do just that. Let’s get them all on the record now.

What issues are you watching for? I’d love to know. Please shoot me an email, and I’ll publish some of the responses next week.

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President


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ESA regulations released: Make your voice heard

It's an exciting time for Nevada's education saving account program! Things are just moving along.  Last week, the Treasurer released an early application and today, the much anticipated proposed regulations have been posted on the Treasurer's website! The Treasurer has also announced another workshop.  Public input regarding the newly posted proposed regulations will take place on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 9:00 A.M.  


Please visit here for a copy of the regulations. 


The Treasurer’s office encourages you to provide your suggestions in writing by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. All written comments will be placed in the official record. Written and oral communications will also be accepted at the time of the meeting.  Written comments can be submitted to


July's ESA workshop was very well attended. And, I will say, in my 20+ years attending public meetings, it was the best meeting I've ever witnessed.  Public participation was through the roof and the meeting ran smoothly with everyone being heard!


Therefore, I would again suggest submitting lengthy comments in writing prior to the meeting, followed by a brief 2-3 minute oral summation at the August 21st meeting.


The Friday, August 21, 2015 at 9 A.M. workshop will be conducted via video conference:


Legislative Building                                      Grant Sawyer State Office Building

Suite 4100                                                      Suite 4401

410 S. Carson Street                                      555 E. Washington Avenue

Carson City, Nevada                                      Las Vegas, Nevada


As word of the ESA program spreads, our database of interested parents and community members grows.  Welcome to our new list members!  To ensure everyone is up to date, here is a brief recap of important updates on the ESA program.


Last week, the Treasurer released an early application form for ESAs here.

There are a couple of important things to note. First, even though the application is available now, the funding for the ESAs will not be available until 2016. Currently, the accounts will not be funded until April 2016.

Second, the eligibility requirements have not changed. Students must have been enrolled in Nevada public schools, which includes charter schools, for 100 consecutive school days before they are eligible.  Your child must meet this requirement before submitting an application.

Additionally, the Treasurer's office has asked that parents please include an email contact on the application. 


In addition to the current early application period, Nevada’s ESA program will have quarterly open enrollment and funding periods. This allows parents to make decisions at any time during the year on the best educational opportunity for their child. The chart below outlines when parents can enroll their child in Nevada’s ESA program and the corresponding funding date for those accounts:


Open Enrollment Periods for 2016             Estimated Account Funding Dates

January 4 – February 29, 2016                    First week of April 2016

April 1 – May 31, 2016                               First week of July 2016

July 1 – August 31, 2016                             First week of October 2016

October 1 – November 30, 2016                 First week of January 2017


Freedom and happiness

Every week, NPRI President Sharon Rossie writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

A new study released this week confirms something many of you — if not all of you — already know:

Freedom makes people happy.

In fact, freedom is more important to a person’s happiness than that person’s age, income or even employment status, according to the study by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank. Using data from the World Values Survey, European Values Studies and the think tank’s own Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report, researchers found that the world’s most economically free countries are also its happiest.

Besides the inherent value of living in a country that is economically free, the researchers found that individuals who believe they have more control over their own lives — something that accompanies economic freedom — are more satisfied.

This study validates what we at NPRI, and all of you who are friends of the Institute, work so hard for on a daily basis. Whether through keeping the public informed of how government is spending money through; studying the impact of collective bargaining on government budgets; analyzing the health of Nevada’s public employee pension system; or sharing the value of parental choice in education, we believe the more freedom people have to live their lives as they wish, the happier and more prosperous they will be.

Earlier this month, Nevada students and businesses gained more freedom as scholarship organizations began participating in the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship program. As explained by NPRI’s Executive Vice President, Victor Joecks, this new school choice and business tax-credit program — though somewhat overshadowed by Nevada ESAs — is sure to make Nevada students, families, business owners and communities happier.

Under the new program, created by AB165, businesses are now able to receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits for funding scholarships that will assist qualifying low-income students in attending private schools that will help nurture them into the educated, capable leaders Nevada needs to have a more successful tomorrow.

Announced this week is that early applications for Nevada’s ESA program — which will allow any student who has been in public school at least 100 days immediately prior to applying for an ESA to receive at least $5,100 a year for non-public school education — are now available. The early applications, according to the Nevada Treasurer, will allow students who spent last year in public school to move into private or other non-public classrooms at the beginning of the upcoming school year and still be eligible to receive ESA monies in 2016.

The United States, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, ranks number 12 when it comes to economic freedom. What really disturbs me is that Canada, the country I was born and raised in, has surpassed the United States for several years.

One of the reasons I’m most excited to be back at NPRI is to help change that, and Nevada’s school choice programs are key in those efforts.

As Nevada families begin to use these new choice programs and other states witness our successes, I know we can continue to push the needle forward and make the U.S. a freer and happier place to live.

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President

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Every week, NPRI President Sharon Rossie writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

Back in 2011, during my first tenure as NPRI president, I remember going to San Francisco for a conference intended to spark interest in the school choice movement.

I remember thinking then about how, if just given the chance to go to an exceptional school, children in low-income communities could grow up to be entrepreneurs and leaders and break the cycle of poverty in their family. I thought about the students with disabilities who could benefit from a variety of services offered outside the public school system, if only their family had the ability to choose those support services. And I thought about the high-achieving students who could reach their full potential if given the opportunity to be challenged in the classroom rather than stuck.

Bringing true school choice to Nevada families has been one of NPRI’s top priorities for much of its 24-year-long history and has long been a personal passion of mine. Like many of you, I closely followed NPRI’s efforts to expand school choice in Nevada closely this past Legislative Session, and I celebrated when I read Gov. Sandoval signed into law SB302 to create the nation’s first near-universal Education Savings Accounts program.

So, when I was approached by NPRI about returning to the Institute, I couldn’t think of a more exciting time to come back. While the challenges presented by a burgeoning government, constant demands to raise taxes, and unsustainable pension and collective bargaining systems are immense, the opportunities for those of us who believe in the value and promise of freedom have never been greater.

I was reminded of that this week when I met some of NPRI’s supporters for the first time and reconnected with old friends in northern Nevada. It was encouraging to see the excitement over the fact that Nevada is leading the nation when it comes to school choice, but I think we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of the impact this program will have on turning people into lovers and defenders of freedom.

We got a taste of that last week, when hundreds of parents showed up to testify at a hearing regarding the regulations of Nevada’s new Education Savings Accounts program. NPRI’s Managing Vice President Steven Miller, who has been covering Nevada politics for two decades, said he’d never seen parents line up along the walls and spill into multiple overflow rooms at a regulatory meeting.

And on Saturday, we saw something similar when over 300 people attended the first of what will be many public events NPRI will hold to share information about how Nevada students are now eligible to receive at least $5,100 a year to be used to fund private school tuition, home-based education, online schooling, tutoring and more.

Parents are tired of having no say in their child’s education and they’re jumping at the chance to have a real choice and a real chance to put their child in an environment in which they can thrive.

In January, my predecessor, Andy Matthews, announced NPRI’s top priority for 2015 was providing solutions to help Nevada students finally get the education they deserve so they can achieve success for a lifetime. The Institute spent much of the Legislative Session advocating for the method we know will accomplish this —Education Savings Accounts — and fortunately for Nevada students, lawmakers agreed.

Now that we have ESAs, the real (and fun) work begins! I’m happy to assure you that furthering educational freedom will continue to be NPRI’s top priority for the foreseeable future because we know that the first step to creating a prosperous Nevada is to give parents the freedom to choose the educational environment that best suits their child.

We’ll soon be announcing new ways we plan to connect with and inform the public, and our citizen engagement coordinator, Karen Gray, is talking to parents and community groups daily about how they can exercise their new choice.

Next Friday — on what would have been the 103rd birthday Milton Friedman, father of the school choice movement — NPRI will host its next public event to provide information on the ESA program. If you’re in Las Vegas, I encourage you to come by our office and learn a little more about what SB302 means for your family and friends. I’d love to meet you for the first time or see you again.

For those of you reading this letter from outside Las Vegas, stay tuned for events in your area, and please feel free to introduce yourself by phone or email. I look forward to meeting new friends though NPRI, reconnecting with old ones, and working with you all to make Nevada a freer and more prosperous state.

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President

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A new chapter

I still remember when I wrote my first letter to you as NPRI’s president back in October 2011.

I was stepping into a new role, assuming new responsibilities, and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the challenge of leading what was already a highly successful organization.

But I also remember the energy I felt, as I looked around at the problems facing our state and saw how NPRI could play a crucial role in solving them. And I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to be a leader in that fight.

Today, as I look back at how far we’ve come in the past four years, I’ll admit to feeling a sense of pride. Nevada continues to face its share of problems. No one can deny that. But I also see the enormous impact this Institute has had in advancing freedom and opportunity in our great state.

We’ve helped stop a number of destructive tax increases. We’ve helped thousands of educators free themselves from their teacher unions. And we led the intellectual effort in establishing Nevada as the national leader in the school choice movement. You and I did this together, and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans are better off as a result of our efforts.

Today, I still have every bit as much energy, passion and commitment to our cause as ever. But it’s time for me to fight for our shared principles in a new way.

You may have seen the news in the Las Vegas Review-Journal this morning. If you didn’t, then I’ll share it with you now. I’ve made the very difficult decision to step down as president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute and to run for the United States Congress.

Without question, this is the hardest professional decision I’ve ever made in my life. The four years I’ve served as NPRI’s president, and the eight I’ve been with the Institute in all, have been more enjoyable and rewarding than I could possibly put into words. But I’ve always said that I will do whatever I can to best serve our cause, and I firmly believe that this is the right decision for me to make.

Tomorrow, NPRI will officially announce its transition plan, and while I’m not going to spoil it, I think you’ll be extremely pleased with what we’ll share with you. And I will promise you this: NPRI, under the direction of our outstanding Board of Directors and our talented staff, will continue to be the greatest force for freedom in the Silver State, and will reach even greater heights in the years ahead.

I want to tell you that it has been a true pleasure to get to know so many of you personally over the past few years, and I consider myself blessed to have made so many close friends during my time here. I sincerely hope you’ll stay in touch, and I encourage you to email me at my personal address,

And now, all that’s left to say is good-bye, and thank you. None of our successes, none of our victories, none of what we have achieved for free markets and individual liberty, would have been possible without your generous support. You are what makes the Nevada Policy Research Institute so strong, so effective, and so special.

And you are the reason why I believe so firmly that our great state has an exceedingly bright future.

Take care, and God bless.

Warmest regards,

Andy Matthews

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Week in review: spreading the word

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

With the establishment of Nevada’s new Education Savings Accounts program, it’s quite possible that Silver State students are the freest in the country.

Once the program goes into effect in January, any student who has been in public school for 100 days will have the opportunity to attend private school, receive a home-based education, be tutored, or experience any number of other individualized education environments using a portion of the money the state already spends to educate him or her.

For the first time ever, parents have a true say in how and where their children are educated, and all children have the opportunity to succeed. 

But that freedom doesn’t mean much if parents don’t know they have it.

That’s why, even though Nevada has approved universal ESAs, our work at NPRI is far from over. We have committed ourselves to going beyond making policy recommendations, to making sure parents know the ESA program exists and have all the information they need to use one of the $5,100-plus-per-year grants, if they decide that is the best option for their child.

Over the past few months, one of our long-time staff members, Karen Gray, took on a new role as our citizen engagement coordinator to help us spread the word at a grassroots level and meet parents one-on-one.

Today, she is standing with parents at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas to help walk them through the process of offering comment to the Nevada Treasurer, who is holding a public meeting to gather input on how the new ESA program should operate.

And tomorrow, we will hold our first informational meeting for parents to let them know about the opportunities created by this program that’s so new to Nevada. Karen will be joined by administrators at Mountain View Christian Schools — the co-host of tomorrow’s event and a Las Vegas private school that is able to accommodate 1,000 new students immediately — and the lawmaker responsible for introducing ESAs to Nevada, Sen. Scott Hammond.

Since announcing tomorrow’s event, we’ve had numerous inquiries into other informational meetings that will be held in Las Vegas, Reno and other parts of our state. While we don’t have those dates yet, we are actively working with schools and community groups to set up more of these meetings, so that every parent who wants to learn about how ESAs can help their child will be able to do so.

As I’ve explained before, ESAs will fundamentally transform the lives of students and the quality of education in our state. These grants are children’s tickets out of failing schools and into exceptional ones that prepare them for a successful life.

It never made sense to me that we’d take students with unique talents and abilities and stick them into a one-size-fits-all classroom and just hope they do well. For decades, Nevada schools have struggled to graduate students with basic English and math skills, yet for decades, defenders of the status quo have given us nothing but the same educational approach that has failed countless students.

Now that we finally have something different — a solution we at NPRI have long advocated for — let’s get out and spread the word so as many students as possible can start receiving the education they deserve.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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Courage and cowardice

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

This week, we saw two very opposite sides of government: the side that values individual rights above the power of the state, and the side that thinks government power trumps any freedoms the people ostensibly have.

It started out on a good note. On Monday, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt held a press conference to announce his office had filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of our lawsuit on behalf of Victor Fuentes and his church, Ministerio Roca Solida (Solid Rock Church). 

The attorney general noted the irony of Pastor Fuentes swimming from Santiago, Cuba, to Guantanamo Bay to escape oppression by an unaccountable government, only to come to Nevada to have the federal government take his vested water rights utilizing a diversion dam to reroute a stream off his land — a stream which has traversed that property since as early as 1881.  Adding insult to injury, months after the diversion, the very water taken from the church was returned by way of floodwater when a Christmas eve rainfall caused the water rerouted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife to jump its newly and negligently constructed channel, resulting in significant damage to the church camp’s buildings.

Specifically, Laxalt is supporting our effort to have the Supreme Court overrule a lower court decision that, relying on some statutory oddities, found that Victor cannot seek remedy for the multiple rights violations he has endured. Instead, he must choose among them ─ which would of course prevent him from truly being made whole.

But Laxalt also spoke more broadly, and quite passionately, about some of the principles we value most at NPRI: individual liberty, property rights and the freedom to pursue the American Dream.

What happened to Victor is heartbreaking and infuriating. But it was encouraging to see the attorney general take a principled stand in behalf of individual rights.

Unfortunately, the very next day brought something quite different.

In U.S. District Court on Tuesday, U.S. attorneys representing the United States Fish and Wildlife Service argued that the government has complete discretion to flood a person’s property without any legal recourse in negligence.

Yes, you read that right.

Despite having caused nearly $90,000 worth of damage to private property by building a waterway that ­─ by the government’s own admission ─ could only sustain spring flow (and no rainwater flow), the federal government is actually trying to convince a judge that because it allegedly had discretion to reroute the waterway off private property in the first place, it cannot be held liable for any negligent acts it commits in carrying out that action.

In other words, the government believes that so long as it has the discretion to do X, it can’t be held responsible for how it does X ─ even if how it does X results in massive damage and destruction to neighboring private property.

It would follow, then, that if the judge sides with the federal government, agencies would be allowed to haphazardly conduct business with free rein to completely disregard the effects their negligent actions might have on the people they’re supposed to serve.

Really makes you eager to drive over a government-constructed bridge, doesn’t it?

The contrast between what Adam Laxalt said on Monday and what the federal government tried to pull on Tuesday could not be starker.

And it served as a useful reminder. There are indeed good and honorable people in public life who are willing to do the right thing. But there will always be those who will try to avoid accountability, and who will need to be confronted by liberty-loving citizens like you and me.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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Week in review: It’s that time

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

I’ve had unions on the brain quite a bit lately, and understandably so.

For starters, Wednesday marked the beginning of the teacher union opt-out period for most of Nevada’s counties. From July 1-15, public school teachers belonging to Nevada State Education Association affiliates can choose to save hundreds of dollars a year (currently taken from them in the form of union dues) by walking away from their union.

As you’re probably aware, for the past several years we at NPRI have been working to let teachers know that they have this right. Many make the mistake of assuming that they have to belong to the union in order to teach in Nevada. The truth is that Nevada is a right-to-work state, which means no such requirement exists. And we’re making sure teachers know it.

In recent days, we started reaching out to teachers to alert them that the opt-out window is upon us. Most of the response, as usual, has been positive. But there are of course those few union fans who aren’t quite as grateful to hear from us.

In previous years, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing from some of the latter, who haven’t been shy about directing their fury toward my email inbox. Thankfully, this year it’s NPRI’s Chantal Lovell who’s bearing the brunt of the anger, though she’s shared a few of her favorite responses with me ─ most of which are not suitable for print in this space. But this one pretty much summed it up (and yes, the ALL CAPS were in the original):


What’s interesting, of course, is that those who are lashing out at us for informing teachers of their rights are, in a sense, proving our point. They personally like the union, and they’re exercising their choice to remain in it. No one, not even NPRI, is trying to stop them. And they are perfectly free to ignore our message.

But what about their colleagues who don’t share their affinity for union membership? Shouldn’t they be trusted to make their own decision as well? We certainly think so, and it’s telling that these union backers, who are perfectly within their right to remain in the union, are afraid of letting their co-workers know they have that choice.

There was some other interesting union-related news this week, from outside of Nevada’s borders. We Nevadans are fortunate to live in a right-to-work state, but not everyone can say the same, and that includes the neighboring state of California.

But the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to take up a case, which originated in the Golden State, that could deal a serious blow to the coercive powers that public-sector unions still enjoy in many places. The L.A. Times reports that:

At issue is the court’s 1977 precedent in Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, which today allows government worker unions in California and 20 other states to collect “fair share” fees to cover the costs of collective bargaining, even from employees who do not join or support the union.

Though the high court has said workers cannot be required to pay for a union’s political activities, it has concluded that they should contribute something toward a union’s cost of negotiating better wages and benefits for everyone.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Rebecca Friedrichs, a teacher in Orange County who along with a group of her colleagues is challenging the assessment of union fees against non-union members. Should she prevail, it would mark a huge victory for worker freedom that will be felt from coast to coast.

We’ll be watching this story closely, naturally, and here’s hoping that the day will soon arrive when workers nationwide are able to exercise the same rights as here in Nevada.

And in the meantime, we’ll continue to make sure that those who are in Nevada and want to leave their union have the information they need to do exactly that.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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