Barely a week remains in this legislative session. Join Marcos Lopez and lobbyists from around the state as they discuss:
- The details of the five budgets presented this week, and what Gov. Lombardo’s reaction was to them;
- The proposed A’s stadium deal and what the majority of economists have to say about similar deals;
- The current outlook for AB400 and expansion of Opportunity Scholarships;
- The rent control bills this legislative session and why they’ve been so difficult to defeat;
- The best and worst bills that were presented, and their potential repercussions; and
- The details of the Sony Pictures deal, as well as other movie tax credits.
To keep updated throughout the week on what is happening in Carson City, visit Nevada Policy’s bill tracker at nevadapolicy.org/bill-tracker
Read the Transcript
Marcos Lopez: Welcome to Under the Dome, presented by Nevada Policy. I am your host, Marcos Lopez, your outreach and coalition’s director. Happy second house passage deadline. We have 11 days till sine die, and special session is looming all over it.
Today on the program we’ll hear from Valeria Gurr, Senior Fellow at the American Federation for Children, Robin Lee, Executive Director at the Nevada State Apartment Association, Janine Hansen, Executive Director at the Nevada Families for Freedoms, and Jim DeGraffenreid, State Committeeman of Nevada GOP.
But first, let’s recap this past week. As you know, today is a second house passage deadline. All the legislators are going to be busy on the floor moving in and out all day as they try to meet their deadline here at the end of the day.
On today’s show, we’re going to focus on a quick recap on the budget bills, the Oakland A’s stadium deal, and which bills died last second committee passage deadline.
Starting with the most pressing issues, the state budgets were introduced early. The five budget bills, which allocate funding for the next bi- annual starting July 1st, are ahead of schedule.
The Democrats are no doubt taking Lombardo’s veto threat seriously, and this is why we’re seeing this ahead of schedule. In a recent tweet, he listed out that if his day one priorities are not included, he will veto the budget, and this would immediately start a timeline to reach that sine die June 5th. Failure to get a budget passed by then will trigger an emergency special session as the budget will run out on June 30th.
Some of the items that he mentioned that he wants to see in the budget are a fiscally responsible budget, school safety, school choice and accountability, government efficiency and crime reduction.
The five budget bills are totaling a record breaking 53 billion for the next two years, comprising of allocations from the state’s general fund, agency fees, and federal dollars.
The first one by law that has to pass is the K to 12 budgets. That is SB 503, which passed the Senate on a party line. In it, we see $5.5 billion allocated in 2024 for education, K to 12, and $5.8 billion in 2025. That includes a $2 billion in new funding.
It’s important to note that there is nothing in there nor anywhere else when it comes to Opportunity Scholarships expansion, Read by Three being reinstated and a lot of other measures that the governor has put forward in his Assembly Bill 400.
We’re urging everyone to continue contact your representatives to make sure that we are able to pass this piece of legislation. This is probably the most important bill this legislative session when it comes to changing education in our state.
The second bill is the Appropriations Act, AB 520, also known as general fund spending. The top line items in there include Medicaid, which is reaching $2.41 billion, and funding for UNLV and UNR totaling $700 million, and the third one to round out the top three is $250 million for mental health services in both the north and south. In total, we are spending $11.6 billion if this were to pass in terms of general appropriations.
The third one deals with paying our state employees. AB 522 includes a $500 bonus to all State employees, COLA adjustments, or cost of living adjustments, for all employees, as well as raises for all employees ranging from 8% to 10%.
The fourth budget bill is the capital improvement projects, in other words, addressing building and infrastructure needs for the state, totaling a total of $1.2 billion. The three largest projects include $213 billion to replace the Grant Sawyer Building down south in Las Vegas, $158 million for new office buildings in Carson, and $105 million for a new DMV in Silverado Ranch.
It’s important to note that a lot of these price tags are inflated. We are not getting the best bang for our buck due to prevailing wages, something that has been pushed to be expanded unfortunately this session. A lot of the costs that we’re facing as taxpayers and the government is incurring for infrastructure and constructions are inflated upwards of 40 to 60%.
That means that almost half of the budget that we’re spending on infrastructure spending could be used to build more items or redirected elsewhere. So, this is a very important bill to keep in track for those of us that care about fiscal responsibility.
And lastly, we have the authorization budget, which basically just authorizes the spending of federal dollars that are brought down from either the US federal government or matching funds for other programs.
The four largest budget items are all in the billions. The first one is $10.79 billion for Nevada Medicaid. This is a record high amount. When we total that with the $2.8 million, that’s already included in the other budget, we’re talking about almost $12 billion from Medicaid to run the program here in the state.
This is the number one budget item. This is probably the largest budget item in almost every single state in the United States. And all of this has to do with the expansion of Obamacare that occurred under Brian Sandoval, and really the push that came forward to include more individuals in this program.
Any efforts to tamp down on long-term growth and runaway spending needs to target Medicaid, and we need to have those frank discussions. If not, spending will continue to run away on this, and this budget item will continue to crowd out other investments and spending opportunities for our state.
Moving on from there, the other three top items on here are all related to Covid-19 funds still, $2.2 billion are being allocated for relief programs in the governor’s office, including a pot of money that comes from the federal relief funds in the American Rescue Plan, $1.1 billion for PERS, which provides insurance for state workers, and just over $1 billion from Covid to fund the Department of Education in the state.
The other big topic that we’re going to turn our attention to now is the Oakland A’s stadium deal. Although there is not a bill yet, this morning around 8:30 AM we finally got the first draft of what this might look like. So, with 11 days left, the proposed $1.5 billion stadium could potentially cost taxpayers up to $380 million.
One important caveat is that this bill does not call for any new revenue. So, this means that the Gibbons two-thirds rule will not apply to this piece of legislation, and instead it’s relying on a combination of tax credits from the state and county bonds. It’s proposed to be paid off through tax increment financing, and a 30-year property tax exemption that will be completely separate from that public financing.
Now either way, economic research is pretty unambiguous when it comes to this issue. Stadium funded by taxpayer dollars is a bad deal. This is something that has been found by both the left and right economists. In fact, somewhere in the range of 60% of the top economists when they’ve been surveyed about publicly funding stadiums agree that it is a bad investments for legislative bodies to incur.
Why? Because that is money that the tradeoff could be used to supply other things in terms of infrastructure, investments or education spending that have greater effects on productivity and actually creates new wealth for an area. And this is something that is repeatedly found in all those studies.
What happens is not that these stadiums create new economic activity, but rather we see a shift of where entertainment spending would normally be done. So rather than increase of productivity, if you’re a household that’s already has allocated each month to spend maybe $200 to $300 on entertainment, rather than going to a local show on the strip or maybe going to a different event, now you have a new option.
And rather than new wealth being created, you’re just transferring where that money would go to. So we see that it’s not any new economic activity that’s being created.
One of the things that I found interesting is who has been so far in concern or opposition about this. Clark County officials have been very concerned about the movement of this piece of legislation, mainly because they’re concerned about what it means in debt payments for the county.
When we look back into what happened during the Covid years when a lot of the strip was being shut down, there were no games for the Raiders to play. That means that there was no money coming in from the tax sales of the Raider’s stadium to pay the existing debt that had been and created. They had to dip into their special reserve fund in cases of emergency twice during that time period. And I feel like that’s something that’s been a little bit under reported when it comes to stadium financing.
So, we will be keeping an eye on this, see where it kind of moves on forward. But there are 11 days left and we only have draft language, not actual legislative bill being introduced yet.
Looking back into our second committee passage deadline, we’ll do a quick update before we get to our guests. The biggest surprise of bills that died during second committee passage deadline tends to be in the realm of interstate compacts.
We saw two of them die, SB 97, which deals with physical therapists, and SB 270, which deals with massage therapists. These are two bills that we were in support of and did pass the Senate unanimously with 21-0 votes in both chambers. It’s failure and death in the Assembly is a bit surprising and something that we will after session go back and try to figure out what happened.
Other bills that died that we have discussed frequently in here has been Senate Bill 394, which limited the tax abatements from Goed, SB 333, which regulated virtual currencies. SB 352, which was a housekeeping bill and over the counter birth control, and AB 182, which would’ve required a bachelor’s degree to pursue an alternative route for teaching licensing.
Out of all the bills that died, I think it’s safe to say that AB 182 was probably one of the best ones to have died, mainly because it would’ve been such a restrictive new measure for people trying to enter the teaching field. So, we are very happy to see that one pass away.
But before we wrap up, I do want to say I’m encouraging everyone to please write to your representative about Assembly Bill 400. We have to pass this expansion to Opportunity Scholarships, and we have to pass these new accountability measures on government schools in our state. For too long, we’ve been trying the same failed process over and over again. This is a real chance to enact some meaningful change.
And I think that’s a good segue to get into our first guest of the day, who is Valeria Gurr, the Senior Fellow at the American Federation for Children. She is definitely one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the state, if not in the country, when it comes to tax credit scholarship programs. Valeria, how are you doing today?
Valeria Gurr: Hi, Marcos.
Marcos Lopez: Hello. How are you doing?
Valeria Gurr: Good. Good seeing you.
Marcos Lopez: Oh, it’s great to have you back on. I know you were one of our first guests when we launched this new segment that we’ve been doing weekly as both a briefing call and at the end of the month in these live webinars. A lot has occurred since we last spoke.
So currently, where is Assembly Bill 400? I know between us, we’ve probably had of over a hundred meeting with legislators and a lot of those meetings have been on Opportunity Scholarships and the passage of this. So where are we today on Assembly Bill 400?
Valeria Gurr: Well, the bills exempt. And there hasn’t been another hearing for the bill, so I anticipate this is still going to be part of negotiations. But it probably is not going to get another hearing, at least not as AB 400. That’s what I believe. I don’t have all the details. But we have waited for a while for a hearing, and that just simply hasn’t happened.
Marcos Lopez: So, I know your organization is not sitting back and just letting this go down without a fight. You guys recently announced that a quarter million ad buy targeting key legislators here in Nevada who are standing in the way of this piece of legislation moving forward. Can you tell me a little bit about that ad buy, kind of the message that’s being delivered and who you’re targeting?
Valeria Gurr: So, we are targeting Hispanics. I believe the school choice is for everyone, but particularly the children that have been the one that has less options are Hispanics and African Americans. And you see that across all the reports essentially, you know. They’re not performing at grade level and fallen behind.
But the reality is that my community often doesn’t know who votes against a school choice. And often they don’t see this as an issue that has to be political. So, what I hear every single day is our kids are being bullied, chased by gangs, and we have seen more often shooting threats.
So, we know that violence has gotten out of hand in this county school district and our kids are not safe. So, the message was exactly that, that kids, instead of having to worry about improving their grades, they have to be worrying about the balance and being scared every single day.
And it’s something that I’m very, you know, close to because I work with this community and this community comes to me, searching for options. And unfortunately, most of the time there’s not for them because the Opportunity Scholarship is currently only serving 1400 students. There are no more scholarships available. And charter schools in low-income areas have long waiting list, as long as two years.
So that’s what the ad is doing, targeting Telemundo and Univision and done in Spanish and is targeting all Democrats throughout.
And we are also not just doing that as you mentioned, we are also spending $50,000 on digital ads and text alerts and geotargeting the state capital. So, it is going everywhere.
And we are going to keep up the fight because we’re feel like for a very long time, we have been defending this program, trying the nicest way to explain that this program is not defunding public education. Perhaps it less than half than 1% of the money that it spent is not even coming from the education budget. And we have explained that on over, and over and over.
You see the demographics of who this program is serving, and simply it has become a political issue. They don’t listen to us, and they don’t listen to the pain that our community has to go through every single day when they have to see their kids falling behind and not being happy at their school that they’re attending.
Marcos Lopez: I think this is such an important message to get out there, and this is one of the things that I almost find so frustrating having to talk to some of these Democrats. Their own constituents support these programs when you sit down and you explain to Hispanic families what the opportunity is here, what this means to change the trajectory of their child’s life.
Education is the great equalizer. Nothing sets you up as for success in the long run more than receiving a good education. How do they sit there and oppose these programs that benefit their own main constituents? Unfortunately, sometimes, but I think this is a game changer to change the dialogue and engage more with Hispanic families.
I know across the country we’ve been seeing a lot of successes actually on school choice. And your organization has played a cru a crucial role. What are some states that are leading to charge, that are already moving for us in different directions that are enacting these school choice programs across the country today?
Valeria Gurr: Yeah, so just this week we had Nebraska pass another version of an opportunity scholarship for a hundred million dollars for our kids. So, they just passed this just this week. So, I was with my team, and it was bittersweet. You know, we’re all crying, so excited because it’s more than a job for most of us; it’s about helping kids. And Oklahoma fought for 20 some years and they finally got it done for every single child.
So, in Nevada it’s been a long time, right? And I’m just very proud to have a governor that is showing to be the governor of every single family here in this state. And he’s fighting fiercely for us too, because as you and I well know, Marcos, we have been in defense trying to protect this program science for a very long time.
The only experience I have is defending this program. And I never had one house that has somebody that’s going to be so strong extending for us as the governor has been. I am still hopeful that we’re not going to end up in a political game at the end, and that we’re all going to be able to come together. Because the reality is that, you know, the governor’s also proposing billions of dollars for public education, and I think he’s proposing a proposal that makes sense and its common sense, that it will serve all Nevadans.
I’m going to be traveling, you know, this weekend with my kid because he’s on summer break just to keep up this fight. But it’s super, super tiring to have to be defending a program that is this small.
The governor is proposing to increase this program to 5,000 students in the next biennium and 10,000 the following. So, I don’t know what the Democrats are afraid of. I don’t know if they’re just playing this to just essentially take away more scholarships and give us the bare minimum, which is what they usually do.
But I don’t know what that’s so scary. It’s a tax credit program that doesn’t come from the education budget. It’s not going to defund public schools. It’s going to give opportunities to kids that don’t have them. And the reality is that this state is completely failing all students.
But for the first time, we are engaged in the Hispanic community in a very aggressive way and putting all our money so our communities know the ones that want to have better access, know who is failing them, holding them accountable.
Marcos Lopez: I love that. I have to ask, worst case scenario, this doesn’t move forward. Do you think we will be seeing a veto from the governor over opportunity scholarships? And then secondly, what would it mean not to have this program no longer in Nevada?
Valeria Gurr: It would be devastating not to have this program in Nevada. This program got cut off by half under Governor Sisolak. This was the first thing that was in the chopping block. So, I think that, you know, the program eventually will continue to decrease. If you look at the statistics, they were 1600 before, but now it’s 1400. And before that there were 2300. So, it’s going to continue on a decline unless we put more funding so the organizations that have to fundraise the tax credit can continue.
I do believe that the governor has proven to do what he says. And he said that this was one of his priorities and it makes sense. And he tried to work with the Democrats, and Democrats are not working with him right now. But I found hard to believe that we’re all just going to walk away. So, I’m going to let them do their fighting and I am hopeful that we’re going to be able to find bipartisan support to do what is the right things for Nevada kids, because we all know post pandemic, the things had only gotten worse. The violence has increased. And we’re seeing all that across our scores and rankings are just going down and continue going down. So, we are in a decline trend, and the safety piece is particularly important. And I believe the school choice is part of that conversation, too. So, what he proposed was incredible, and I hope that there will listen.
I can’t predict what is going to happen. I’m not in that control. But I have a lot of trust. I have a lot of trust.
Marcos Lopez: So last question. Again, there are 11 days to go. Every single day counts. They are going to be meeting through the weekend. There’s meetings already set for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
What is the most impactful thing that someone who’s listening to this right now, either the live broadcast or the recording that gets released later, to help get this piece of legislation passed?
Valeria Gurr: Don’t be afraid to call your legislators. I am a first generation American, and I used to think that government was so far away from me.
So, call your legislator. Make that phone call. Send them an email. Send them a letter. Don’t threaten them. Just try to tell them why you care about school choice and why we have to fix education. Try to have a conversation with them. I do believe that through this conversation is how we’re able to change hearts and we’ve been trying to do that for the longest time.
But I think that that our listeners and people that are in the communities that are leaving their district can actually make a difference with them.
Marcos Lopez: And with that, thank you so much, Valeria. I will see you up there next week and let’s get this done.
Valeria Gurr: Thank you.
Marcos Lopez: Next up we welcome Robin Lee, the Executive Director of Nevada State Apartment Association, the voice of multi-family housing industry in Nevada. She has more than 12 years of experience in multi-family and residential real estate sectors. And before joining the Nevada State Apartment Association, she was Executive Director of the Big Bear Association of Realtors in Big Bear Lake, California. Welcome to the program. How are you doing?
Robin Lee: I am doing as good as one could expect to be on another deadline day.
Marcos Lopez: Yes, yes. We’re 11 days to go. I will support a veto from the governor if that’s what it comes down to, but if I can stop finding gray hairs in my head, I would be very happy. So, tell us a little bit about the Nevada State Apartment Association, the size of your organization, the objective as you guys set out at the beginning of the session, and how is it going so far.
Robin Lee: Well, first I just want to say thanks for inviting me. I respect the work that you guys do, and I’m happy to be here. The Nevada State Department Association is rental housing providers of Nevada. We represent about 180,000 rental units throughout the state. And that equates to about 63% of the rental housing inventory in Nevada.
We focus on advocacy, education, and community outreach. You know, we pretty much knew that rent control would be on the menu this session. So, we established early on that we are always going to be opposed to any form of rent control. Any acceptance of rent control policies is an admission that it’s a good policy and we all know that’s not the truth.
We wanted to find and support any bills that would incentivize development, especially affordable housing. And we were also pretty certain that eviction reform bills would come. So, we decided early on that we just wanted to engage in that conversation and make sure that our voice was heard, and we could help craft some reasonable language there.
Marcos Lopez: I think you guys have so far done a pretty good job. I mean, a lot of these bills have been tampered down from their original intent. Some of them have a very broad, in particular SB 426, which really sought to really enact a commanded control entity on all rental prices here in Nevada.
We’re completely ignoring the real issue, which I think is so great that you mentioned, which is the lack of production of housing here in the state, the lack of supply. We’ve seen a massive decline in the last couple decades, and people can be upset that, you know, Black Rock is coming in and buying all these different properties. But if you look at the reports that they publish out of why they believe these are good investments, the number one reason that they list is the lack of supply. It is simple supply and demand that is going on here.
How have these discussions been with legislators? Are they receptive to you? Do you have some to just like ignore completely basic economic logic when you speak to them?
Robin Lee: Unfortunately, yes, the latter is happening. I think it’s important to point out that landlord is almost like a bad word, right? Landlord is perceived as the big bad enemy, especially the corporate landlord. But what you just pointed out is so true. If we’re not buying, developing, or managing these properties, where’s the housing going to come from?
And I’ll get to your question in a second, but even like SB 426 with it would affect even the smallest of landlords. So, it’s not just an attack on corporate landlords, it’s an attack on housing in the economy all around.
So how are the conversations going? It’s difficult. You know, the majority are pretty much on the side of bill of policies like rent control. So, we definitely try to state our case.
Most feel the frustration and the pressure of “We must do something. Their rent is too damn high.” We’ve heard that, right? And then some point to things in the bill, such as the new construction exemption, and that fixes it all for them. So, it makes it makes it palatable for them.
Marcos Lopez: I think another thing that would kind of have working against us is also the linguistics behind it, right? I mean, the landlord is this outdated term back from the serfdom days. There are no real landlords in that way today.
If anything, what we are seeing is a lot of people who are buying up properties as an investment and a vehicle to kind of grow their wealth. And I think we also have a challenge of trying to change that personification sometimes people have in their minds of what a landlord is, when in reality it’s average everyday Americans just like all of us. The only difference is, you know, they have a housing that they’re renting out and providing more supply.
If people want to help out in this fight against rent control and just bringing basic economics and common sense back into the discussion, what would you encourage them to do?
Robin Lee: I mean, point to the studies. I don’t even know how many, I want to say thousands probably out there that show that it’s a failed policy, specifically if we’re talking about rent control. And definitely converse with your legislator. Make sure they understand that it’s not the picture they paint it to be. When people hear the term rent control, they think, oh yeah, I would love for my rent to be cheaper. That’s just not the case and we need to educate everybody.
But really, I think the most important thing that all of us need to remember and do is cultivate good candidates. We need to be looking at who our next legislators are going to be. We’re almost through with this session, and we need to just really get out there and educate people and make sure that our candidates are the people that will be focused on increasing the supply, incentivizing developers, and also trying to effectuate the release of public lands. That’s a huge thing that we need to remember.
Marcos Lopez: I’m very glad that you mentioned all those things. These are things that we will be active in at Nevada Policy. One of the visions of what I have of things to do in the interim is candidate trainings where we invite people in on an educational purpose to talk about these policies and talk about the messaging. Those are programs that we will be putting out in the interim. And we would love to partner with your organization and anyone else that wants to kind of engage in this.
We do also have a new video that I want to push to our listeners. Feel free to share it on social media. Basically, it’s the economics of rent control and why they fail. It’s brand new up on our Nevadapolicy.org. I encourage everyone to go. Check that out on social media.
Well, thank you so much. Do you have any last words or thoughts that you want to leave listeners with?
Robin Lee: I do. I want to say it’s not an us against them argument. The best thing that we could all do is come together, like you just mentioned to cultivate these programs and talk to each other, educate each other and make sure that we’re just doing the job that we’re set out to do.
Marcos Lopez: Well, thank you so much, Robin. I hope this is not the last time that you come onto the program.
Next up we will go to Janine Hansen, the Executive Director of Nevada Families for Freedom.
Nevada Families for Freedom has been enabling constitution minded, conservative and pro-family, men and women to participate in the process of self-government and public policy since 1971. Their flagship publication is the Nevada Family’s Voter Guide, which they have put it out every general election since 1988.
Welcome, Janine. How are you doing? I just want to start off by saying that you are one of the hardest working citizen lobbyists in that building and have great respect for your service that you do for Nevada, because you really are in there day in and day out and you pay close attention to a lot of legislation. So, thank you for everything.
Janine Hansen: You’re very welcome. It’s a blessing to be able to be doing something you feel that makes a difference.
Marcos Lopez: So, tell us a little bit about your organization. What objectives did you guys set out when you guys were looking at this legislative session? Tell us a little bit about your scope and reach.
Janine Hansen: Well, we are Nevada Families for Freedom, but we are affiliated nationally with National Legal Forum. Many of you may remember Phyllis Schlafly. So, I’m the state president.
And we have a very broad reach of issues that we’re interested in. I would say we’re interested in election issues, second Amendment issues, life issues, family issues, and liberty issues and tax issues. So, we cover many, many, many issues.
I’ve been a full-time lobbyist here as a citizen lobbyist since 1991, and I’ve been to every session since I was 19. So, I have a big background in those things.
You can sign up to get our alerts. I send out usually several alerts every week, many of your listeners did before. You can go to my website at nevadafamilies.org and sign up to receive those. They will tell you how to get engaged, who to contact, what to say, what the purpose of the bills are, et cetera. They’re just the easiest that anybody can use.
We have had many objectives. One of them is to just survive this time. It has been the most difficult session I have ever been involved in. There have been more woke bills and more extremely leftist Democrat bills than I have ever seen in my entire career. So, it’s been madness to try to respond to all of these.
And I’ll just go over some of the most recent ones. The first thing we want to say is hooray for the governor that he vetoed the three anti Second Amendment bills. Those were SB 171, AB 354, and AB 355. We just sent out an alert to tell everybody to thank him on that.
We covered a lot of bad election bills this time. I think the message to the governor has to be, which we sent out an alert on, veto all the Democrat bills unless they hear your bill. The governor’s election Bill 405 is an excellent bill. It has most of the things we need to regain election integrity and theirs are just worse.
I’ll give you a couple of examples. For instance, I testified the other day against SB 404. It allows them to start counting ballots on the first day of early voting, which opens it up I’m concerned with lots of fraud for the election. And SB 443, which reduces the requirements for voter ID. Just one example of that is that it allows them to use for voter ID, driver’s licenses from other states, like California that allows illegal aliens to have a driver’s license. So, it opens that up. So, we’re very concerned about those, and we want the governor to veto them. They have passed the Assembly and that one is still in Senate Finance.
There’s a lot of family bills we cover. One of the most alarming one was a bill that actually gave parents a better opportunity for the open meeting law in school board meetings. They added on the Senate floor without any hearing, without any notice, a bill that would prohibit local school boards from having a policy which protected girls by not allowing transgenders in the bathroom, on sports teams, and in the showers.
That was on the agenda this whole week. It has not been voted on yet, and it should be up today in the Senate. We’re very concerned about that. The Assembly committee chairman said she would not approve that, but we’ll see what happens. That’s a directly aimed at Douglas County that’s trying to pass a policy to protect girls.
Assisted suicide, which we’re very concerned about, passed but had bipartisan opposition to that. It was 11 to 10 in the Senate. It was 19 to 23 in the Assembly. Our great concern is that in California and Oregon, where these have passed, insurance companies and the government are encouraging people, instead of giving them lifesaving care, in order to save money to use assisted suicide. So, it’s very scary when the government and insurance companies are determining whether or not you can have lifesaving medicine or whatever it is you need.
Another huge one we’re interested in that has passed the Senate and the Assembly is SB 172, which expands what family resource centers can do. Many of those are right in the schools, including some elementary schools. It eliminates parental consent for anything like contraceptives or preventative drugs for vaccines, like for HPV, which has been had terrible consequences to some children, even death. So, we’re very concerned about that one.
Another one is SB 302, which is gender affirming care. It essentially ties the hands of the governor and law enforcement and invites all gender affirming care doctors into our state without any adequate supervision of what they’re doing. It essentially says, come to Nevada for gender affirming care. Sex change operations is what that really means.
Another one we’ve been very considered about is SB 163, which makes it so we have to pay taxpayer money for Medicaid and insurance companies to pay for gender affirming care, including sex chain surgery. So, taxpayers are going to be paying for that now.
SB 149 was heard yesterday in Senate Finance. It will be a price tag of $20 million. It gives healthcare to illegal aliens. That’s the whole purpose of it. And it also sets up a framework of coordination for electronic health records so that your records will be electronically available throughout the state and the nation. And what they’re linking to is the World Health Organization.
So, we’re very concerned about health privacy in your electronic records, and particularly about taxpayers paying for all these health benefits for illegal aliens, when Nevadans can’t even get in to see a doctor. I live in a rural county. I have to come clear to Reno from Elko to see a doctor. You know, we ought to be taking care of our own first.
SB 439 is a Senate sex education bill. It mirrors the Assembly sex education bill. And what it does essentially is change the whole framework. We’ve had local committees, sex education advisory committees, which can determine what they’re going to do in their own county. This puts it to a state level. And so, the committee will be unaccountable and unavailable.
Just have a few more I want to mention. They’re all in Ways and Means. AB7 is an electronic health record bill. AB 117 is a domestic terrorism bill. We’re very concerned about that because we know who’s going to be domestic terrorists and it isn’t somebody else. It’s going to be us. So, we’re very concerned about that one.
They have another bill, AB 237, which is school-based health clinics, which they’re going to have more healthcare in the schools without parental knowledge or parental consent. And that’s a huge issue.
And I mentioned the Assembly sex education one that’s just a little different than the Senate one. Right now, you have to opt in as a parent. That takes away that and makes you opt out. So, they’re taking away parental rights again and parental involvement.
And then there’s one more that’s come up recently. It’s AB 383. It is aimed particularly at a place like Windover, where they’re trying to build a Planned Parenthood clinic for abortions to get the out-of-state business.
It really says that a local community cannot interfere with where a reproductive healthcare center, an abortion clinic, would go. So, this is, in my opinion, a Planned Parenthood profit spent to ensure that local communities and local government cannot use zoning to stop these kinds of abortion clinics.
So, I’ve sent out alerts on almost all of these. You can see my last report, which talks about what died on the previous deadline, and that’s on my website at nevadafamilies.org. Or if you’d like to receive our alerts, you’re welcome to do that. We’re going to be putting out a lot more in the next little time that’s left, asking the governor to veto or doing some things in particular committees. There are a lot of things still in Assembly Ways and Means and in Senate Finance.
I want to just say the people that have participated this time have been more than ever before, calling in to testify, showing up to testify, and sending emails. I’ve just been so blessed and thankful for that, and all the people that are involved in so many issues that I can’t do everything. I’ve told you a lot about the issues I do, but we’re very thankful for those that have participated.
And thank you, Marcos, for this opportunity to share.
Marcos Lopez: And I just wanted to tell everyone, you do an excellent job of sending out alerts. Since you guys cover such a wide range of issues, some issues that we do not cover at Nevada Policy, it does help create a complete picture of everything that’s going on at the legislative session. Because I think between both of us, we cover a lot of different issues that the other organization doesn’t always cover. So, it is a wonderful, wonderful service that you offer.
Just real fast before we go on to our last guest, how do you feel about this divided government? You said you’ve been in in government, at the legislature since 1991. How does this divided government dynamic compare to some previous ones?
Janine Hansen: Well, there’s been some wild ones in the past, but I think this is probably the worst I’ve ever seen. And I’m so proud of the Republicans in the Assembly and the Senate that are standing strong with the governor and the budget, like with, as I said, the veto of those horrible anti Second Amendment bills.
And so, I do believe they’ll probably end up in a special session for the budget. And hallelujah. If the Republicans don’t stand up, there’s nobody to protect us. And often in the past, they’ve caved in. They’ve passed the largest tax increase twice under Republican governors and with Republicans being complicit.
So, I went in this morning and gave them a pep talk and said, “We love you. We thank you. Keep standing up to caucus in the Assembly, all the young men that work in there.” And so, we just have to stand strong. Pray for the governor, and pray for him every day, his staff and all the people that are here.
We can have tremendous victories if we don’t cave in. The problem is they cave in and so we want them to stand strong for the people of Nevada. There’s a huge difference between the budget that the governor has proposed and the budget that the Democrats have proposed. The governor’s right, and we need to acknowledge that and support him in that.
Marcos Lopez: Thank you so much. Perfect. Thank you so much, Janine.
Next up we have Jim DeGraffenreid, the executive committeeman for the Nevada GOP. As you heard Janine mention, we are facing a looming potential when it comes to special session and the governor vetoing this budget. I will once again encourage you all to go into Nevadapolicy.org. Our action center is on the top right. We have just released a brand-new letter directed to legislators saying that we stand with the governor’s veto.
If he were to veto the budget and trigger a special session, it’s important that we show support, so they know that the community is with the governor on this one.
So next up, Jim. Jim, how are you doing today?
Jim DeGraffenreid: Hi Marcos. Thanks for having me on today.
Marcos Lopez: Well, it is great to have you here. Tell me a little about yourself. I know you’re on the executive committee for the Nevada GOP, but this is the first time we’ve conversed.
Jim DeGraffenreid: Well, I have been a registered Republican since my first election back in 1980. I voted for President Reagan back then but didn’t really get heavily involved in politics until 2007 when we lived here in Nevada.
I joined the local county central committee, then the state central committee. I’ve been the secretary of the state party, vice chairman of the state party, and now I’m the Nevada National Committeeman representing us on the Republican National Committee.
We work very heavily with obviously Jeanine Hansen, maybe the hardest working woman in the Nevada legislature. We really appreciate the opportunity to work side by side with her as we go through these 120 days of just sheer terror every two years and waiting to see what they have in store for us.
Marcos Lopez: Well, I’ve definitely seen that compared to my previous legislative sessions. This is probably my fourth one already. The Nevada GOP has been a lot more active in giving testimony and providing insight on different pieces of legislation. What has been the motivation for that? And you know, what has been your political philosophy that has led you to where you are today?
Jim DeGraffenreid: Well look, we’re primarily small government. And me personally, I’m a small government fiscal conservative. I’d like to see the government doing the least amount possible to get the job done that only they can do. I tend to be a little more libertarian in my views than maybe some Republicans.
But the bottom line is that we have been ever since 2015, in the wilderness in the legislative sessions. And so, we’ve needed to be there to support the legislators that we, doing the right thing to make sure that our platform and our fiscal small government philosophy is enacted.
And so, I’ve been involved in going to the legislature since back around 2010. But we have gotten more and more involved with it every session as we’ve just seen that we need to defend our platform and we need to defend the Nevada way of life.
Marcos Lopez: Which brings us, I think, to what sparked inviting you on has been this webinar, the weird political bedfellow situation that occurred during the hearing for Senate Bill 496.
For those of you don’t remember, that is the Sony Pictures deal that was brought forward, which would inflate our film tax credits to over $4 billion in the next 20 years. The opposition to it was Battleborn Progress, Progressive Leadership Alliance, Nevada Policy, and the Nevada GOP. How did we get there?
Jim DeGraffenreid: It was pretty interesting to be sitting on the same side of the table with all of those groups, I have to say. But you know, I think that what all of us share is commitment to the budget. And we all have some idea that any money that’s going to go out to these film credits is going to take away from other budget priorities.
And maybe Battle Born Progress and Progressive Leadership Alliance have different budget priorities than we do. I think in many cases they’re probably similar, but they definitely have some different ideas. But all of us are concerned about the fact that we’re going to take subsidy money out of the budget and give it to these film companies.
As we mentioned in our testimony, it’s just shown by any legitimate studies that are done that are not biased in favor of the film industry, that those subsidies are not investments that are going to pay back. The only really good detailed independent study was done in Massachusetts, and they found that there was very little return relative to the amount of money that went back out. So, I think we were all just all concerned if Nevada’s budget money going in the right place.
Marcos Lopez: Yes. And I think that is one thing, when you look at things from an economist kind of perspective, an economic analysis, opportunity cost. It’s a simple concept, right? If you invest money here, then you don’t have the money to invest elsewhere.
So what alternatives are you putting up there as the cost for the opportunity of taking that investment? And when it comes to film subsidies or stadium deals, whatever it might be, the opportunity cost is so great when we can be investing in infrastructure or education, things that we know come back in greater economic output, because we’re increasing productivity and we’re increasing the standard living of all citizens.
As you mentioned, I just want to throw this in real fast, The Tax Foundation, which is probably the best tax foundation in the entire country, noted that every single independent study of film tax incentives has found that they do not pay for themselves in economic growth, jobs, or boosted tax receipts.
And that is incredible to think that we would give away $4 billion over 20 years to build a new Sony Picture studio here in Southern Nevada.
Jim DeGraffenreid: Especially when we look at what is the likelihood of those things happening anyway. We are very proximal to Los Angeles already, especially in Las Vegas. Nevada has very greatly varied terrain. We’ve got mountains, we’ve got deserts, we’ve got cities, we’ve got rural landscapes. There’s every reason for people to come and do these things anyway.
But if we give this money and we build this sound studio for Sony, then what happens down the road when another state comes in with more tax credits? Sony pulls out and goes there because that’s where the money is better. Why on earth will we do that? And what are we going to do with those sound stages after they’re empty and some other state has offered more money? So, it just doesn’t make any sense all the way around.
Marcos Lopez: How do we change this mentality right there? There is a mentality sometimes that’s understandable, right? Economic development is a good thing, and everyone loves economic development as a great talking point when you’re on the campaign trail. But how do we change the mentality that market decisions should be left to the market that picking winners and losers through the government leads to more folly than anything else?
Jim DeGraffenreid: You know, if you’ve got any ideas on how to change that mentality, Marcos, I would be more than happy to hear them. I think when you’re an elected legislator, and you get into that building and you’ve got lobbyists in front of you all day, every day talking about this as an investment and this is a way that you can bring more money into the state, I think it’s very easy to maybe get disconnected from what you may know are the realities.
And I think the only thing we can do is just keep giving them the facts, showing them these studies, and letting them know what the truth of the investment is actually. Because you’re right, who doesn’t want economic growth? Right now, we give $10 million a year in film tax credits. Why wouldn’t you want to give that if you thought you could triple or quadruple that investment? But the numbers just show that’s not going to happen. And so, I think it’s just a matter of education and continually bringing the proper facts to the table.
Marcos Lopez: Well, thank you so much, Jim, for taking the time to come speak with us today. I hope you have a great rest of your day and a good weekend.
Jim DeGraffenreid: Thanks. You too, Marcos. Have a good one.
Marcos Lopez: As we wrap up, I want to encourage everyone to check out Free to Offend. Episode 79 was just released with our guest, Mark Iverson, and it’s titled, How Well Do We Understand Our Rights? Essentially it is a great discussion on the notion of rights, where rights come from, and how things such as the 14th Amendment have changed how rights are legally applied over time.
And if you are a fan of the show and a fan of our work here at Nevada Policy, I encourage you to attend the Spirit of Nevada Northern Nevada Benefit Dinner. It is coming up on Thursday, June 1st (that’s next Thursday), or donating email@example.com. Ideally, you will do both to help us continue to put content out and do the research that makes a difference.
Thank you all for listening this Friday. Please visit Nevadapolicy.org for our bill tracker and our action center where you will hopefully support AB400.
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Under the Dome: This Week in Carson City
An in-depth analysis of what is going on in Nevada’s government.
Produced by Nevada Policy,
featuring Nevada Policy’s Marcos Lopez.