Crunch time

All Nevadans can breathe a sigh of relief as the most heinous of the anti-immigration bills died after not making the April 15 deadline to get out of committee. In coming weeks, particularly before the deadline—on or before April 26—in which bills must pass out of their house of origin, legislators will have to renew their commitment to making good laws for the state of Nevada.

The first, Assembly Bill No. 252, would have required a contractor or subcontractor on a public work to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the employment eligibility of all workers on the public work. This bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, and co-sponsored by a number of other legislators.

The second, Assembly Bill No. 430, sponsored by Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, would have saddled Nevada with the sort of anti-American, racist law that has a large percentage of the country boycotting Arizona. On the list of things the Nevada Legislature needs to do, putting another nail in the coffin of tourism is way down low.

There is no doubt that there’s an exploding number of Latinos in Nevada. Their numbers and percentages in comparison to other ethnicities will continue to grow. Recent numbers from the U.S. Census show that, in just the last 10 years, Hispanics accounted for more than 50 percent of the increase in the U.S population. In Nevada they are now more than a fourth of the population. But one common misconception is that the future Latino population will come in waves of legal (and illegal) immigration. That’s not true. The greatest numbers of new Latinos in the United States have and will come through new births to young Latinos.

In coming weeks, the Legislature will have to further focus on more important issues, like the budgets for both K-12 and higher education. And, unfortunately, legislators and students of higher education in Nevada lost one of the most eloquent spokesman for the importance of higher education in the state when University of Nevada, Reno president Milton Glick, died of a stroke April 16.

In many cases, bills like the discriminatory efforts against Latinos and the one-two punches against the state’s institutes of higher education seem to be ideological attacks of opportunity. Nevada is reeling under the effects of the highest foreclosure rate in the nation and some of the highest underemployment rates. Certain lawmakers appear to want to use the fear and general uncertainty in our state’s populace to undermine hard-won advances in our social fabric.

It’s rubber-to-the-road time for Nevada legislators. Our state’s elected officials must focus on making the right choices for the long-term future of our state, and it’s time to put ideology aside to ensure that our youth, our minorities, our disenfranchised and our aged have hope for a future and a more stable economy not based on sales taxes and tourism. Barring special sessions, the 120-day legislative session is scheduled to end June 6.