NPRI Report Card: Senators Parks and Kieckhefer earn top marks in transparency, while Assemblyman Yeager shines for criminal justice efforts

Senator David Parks (D) received top honors from the Nevada Policy Research Institute for his legislative efforts to improve transparency in government, as detailed in the Institute’s just-released 2019 Legislative Report Card.

Joining Parks as transparency champions were Sens. Ben Kieckhefer (R), Melanie Scheible (D), and Ira Hansen (R).

On the other end of the spectrum, Senator Julia Ratti (D) and Assemblyman Glen Leavitt (R) were singled out as those most hostile to transparency during the 2019 legislative session.

“Some of the most meaningful actions taken by legislators happen long before a vote is ever held,” NPRI Policy Director Robert Fellner explained. “And that’s why the NPRI Legislative Report Card now evaluates lawmakers based not only on an overall tally of the votes they cast, but also on their specific actions throughout the session.”

Areas of focus

In addition to an overall score, Nevada Policy broke this year’s legislative review and report card down by specific policy areas — recognizing certain lawmakers for their efforts to promote policies consistent with free markets and accountable, limited government.

Here are a few notable highlights from this year’s report card:

School Choice

The Institute highlighted Senator Heidi Gansert (R) and Assemblyman Gregory Hafen (R) for their extraordinary efforts to defend and expand school choice programs. Unfortunately, the two lawmakers most hostile to school choice, Senator Nicole Cannizzaro and Assemblyman Jason Frierson, succeeded in crippling a program that has helped thousands of low-income, mostly minority, children find educational options that work best for their unique needs.

“The gutting of the Opportunity Scholarship Program highlights the corrosive effect government unions have on the democratic process,” Fellner said.

“Despite being supported by 68 percent of Nevadans, Democrats killed the scholarship program in order to appease the politically powerful unions — long hostile to school choice programs — who help get them elected. Sadly, it is the parents and students who depend on these scholarships for their educational future who are the ones most harmed by these political games.”

Criminal Justice Reform

Democrat Assemblyman Steve Yeager received the Institute’s top award for his efforts to improve Nevada’s criminal justice system, via AB420, which would restore due process to Nevadans who have had their property seized by law enforcement. Despite receiving overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Assembly, the effort to protect Nevadans from this abusive law enforcement practice died without even receiving a vote in the Senate, thanks to Senator Nicole Cannizzaro (D) — the lawmaker most hostile to these efforts.

“Yeager’s reform was killed by lawmakers, like Cannizzaro, who work for government agencies directly benefiting from current law,” explained Fellner. “This kind of conflict of interest is a prime example of why the Nevada Constitution expressly prohibits government officials from serving in the Legislature.”

Nevada Policy also ranked lawmakers for their actions regarding the state’s business climate and collective bargaining laws, with Assemblymen Wheeler and Ellison, alongside Senator Settelmeyer, earning top marks in those areas.

“Republican leadership fought valiantly to protect ordinary Nevadans against higher taxes and policies that will make it harder to find good-paying jobs,” Fellner said, “with Assemblymen Wheeler and Ellison both producing a perfect voting record on tax bills.”

The full report can be viewed on the website here. In addition to assigning all lawmakers an overall score, the report also contains a narrative that explains in detail the legislative battles that took place on key policy issues.

“The best path towards higher wages, job creation and economic prosperity for all Nevadans is through market-friendly policies and a limited, accountable government,” Fellner said. “Our 2019 Legislative Report Card will allow Nevadans to assess how their representative voted on the specific issues most critical to making Nevada a more free and prosperous state.”

Printed copies are available upon request, subject to limitation. They will also be provided free of charge to all those who attend NPRI’s Anniversary Fundraising Dinner at the Venetian on September 17th.