Cheers and jeers: 2011 Nevada Legislature

That’s all, folks. The 76th Legislative session is headed for the history books. Here’s a list of the good and the not so good.


Gov. Brian Sandoval: During the last election cycle, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid never missed an opportunity to refer to Brian Sandoval as “Jim Gibbons in a better suit.” He was wrong. Sandoval has proven himself to be collected and reasonable. He surrounded himself with a fantastic staff, and they have served him well. He has risen to the task of actually leading, and whether it was his ability to counter Democratic plans with better ones of his own or his willingness to defy his caucus and sign bills like those that protect transgender Nevadans, Sandoval has grown into exactly what we want him to be—an accomplished executive.

Term limits and the freshman class: The histrionics coming from the old guard (on both sides) regarding term limits was borderline absurd. It was widely believed among the ruling class that Nevada was going to sink into a pit in the ground without the Barbara Buckleys of the state. This didn’t happen. People like freshman Assemblymembers Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, and Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, are proof that you don’t have to serve for a bazillion years in order to be able to hit the ground running. Don’t listen to the talking heads, you did just fine.

Our Northern legislators: I smirk when I think how Southern Nevadans grouse about the supposed preferential treatment the North receives during every legislative session. They have the population, the tax base, the voters, and much of the clout. It’s not our fault that we have several of the most effective legislators in the building up here. People like James Settelmeyer and Debbie Smith make sure we are still relevant. I don’t agree with all of your decisions, but overall, thanks.


Redistricting was a travesty: Legislators really only had two main goals to accomplish: 1) Craft a workable budget that wasn’t going to further harm a state fraught with unemployment and 2) redraw our legislative districts. We got the budget with just enough time to spare for the requisite photo ops, but redistricting is unfinished. Sandoval, who vetoed the two hyper-partisan atrocities the Democrats railroaded through, could either call a special session or leave it up to the courts to decide. Both options smelled to high heaven. Who knows if the Legislature could have even come up with a new plan during a special session? Regardless, the judiciary will have to handle the legislative branch’s responsibility.

Nevada needs an independent, bipartisan commission to redraw our districts. I yearn for the day when a legislator can actually show the testicular fortitude to stand up to the politics-as-usual crowd and propose legislation to this effect. Over and over if necessary. We need it.

Democratic leadership: Whether it be Johnny O’s $30,000 He-Man workout room that nobody uses, his 11th-hour attempt to weasel through the biggest tax increase in Nevada history, or the horrifically bad way they handled redistricting, Democratic leadership left much to be desired. I hope that as Sen. Horsford and Speaker Oceguera make their inevitable plays for higher office, the voters will hold them accountable for their obfuscation and poor decisions.

Public employees are not human shields: The Democrats try to convince us that public employees are canonized untouchables; people who glide intellectually through life trying not to succumb to the hoi polloi, and they do so for peanuts. They don’t. Public employees are shouldering much of the burden, and many are suffering as a result, but it’s disingenuous for the Democrats to accuse everyone who disagrees with them of hating teachers. Republicans opposed your tax increases because they are tax increases, not because they hate teachers.