Analysis: Which legislators had the most (and fewest) bills passed in the 2021 session?

Democrats controlled both houses of the Legislature during the 2021 session, and hundreds of high-profile Democratic measures sailed through the Assembly and Senate while a vast majority of Republican-backed measures failed to make much headway in the legislative process.

Out of 605 bills introduced and sponsored by a lawmaker this session, Democratic legislators had 63 percent of their bills and resolutions pass out of the Legislature, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. Those in the majority party were able to pass priority measures, including bills establishing the “Right to Return,” a public health insurance option and permanent expanded mail voting, while many priorities for Republicans, such as a voter ID law, were killed without so much as a hearing.

Which lawmakers had the most success passing their bills? Which lawmakers were least successful? How did Assembly members fare compared to senators?

The Nevada Independent analyzed all bills and resolutions that were both introduced and primarily sponsored by a lawmaker and examined which of those bills passed out of the Legislature and which ones died. Of those 605 bills, 267 (44 percent) were approved by members of the Assembly and Senate, while the remaining 338 (56 percent) were left in the graveyard of the legislative session.

Those 605 measures make up only a portion of the 1,035 bills and resolutions introduced during the session — others were sponsored by committees, constitutional officers such as the secretary of state or governor, or helped implement the state budget. The 2021 session also saw fewer measures introduced than previous sessions, as the 2019 and 2017 sessions each saw closer to 1,200 bills and resolutions introduced.

State law limits the number of bills that can be introduced by any individual lawmaker — incumbent senators and Assembly members can request 20 and 10 bill draft requests, respectively, while newly-elected legislators are limited to six bills in the Assembly and 12 in the Senate. Legislative leadership for both the majority and minority parties are also allowed to introduce additional bills beyond the normal limits.

The analysis revealed that Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) and Sen. Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas) led their caucuses with the highest rate of bill passage, while Assembly members Jill Tolles (R-Reno) and P.K. O'Neill (R-Carson City) were the only Republicans who had more than half of their bills passed out of the Legislature. Eight Republican legislators ended the session with zero bills passed.

A previous analysis of votes during the 2021 session revealed that most bills passed with bipartisan support, as more than half of all votes included no opposition. But that trend was largely driven by Democrats in the majority passing their priorities while not advancing nearly as many Republican bills, with 175 more Democrat-backed measures passing out of the Legislature than measures introduced by Republicans.

The guide below explores the results of our analysis, examining the successes and failures of both parties and of individual lawmakers this session.

We’ve double-checked our work to make sure we’ve counted every vote and hearing, but if you spot something off or think a bill was missed or improperly noted, feel free to email sgolonka@thenvindy.com.

How did Democrat-sponsored legislation fare? Did any Republican lawmakers find success?

Though hundreds of the more than 1,000 bills and resolutions introduced during the session were sponsored by Democrat-controlled committees, there were only 350 measures specifically sponsored and introduced by a lawmaker from the majority party.

Many were headline-grabbing progressive bills that drew staunch Republican opposition, including expanding permanent mail-in voting (AB321) and setting up Nevada to become one of the first states to have a public health insurance option starting in 2026 (SB420).

Of the 350 bills from Democratic lawmakers, 221 (63.1 percent) passed out of both houses. However, Assembly Democrats fared slightly better than their Senate counterparts, with 65 percent of their bills passing compared with 60 percent for those in the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

The success rate of bills introduced by Republican lawmakers was dismal in comparison.

Members of the Assembly Republican caucus had 27 of their 126 introduced measures (21 percent) pass out of both houses, while Senate Republicans had 19 of their 129 (15 percent) pass out of the Legislature. The majority of Republican-backed measures were not even given a chance by the majority party, as 56 percent of 255 bills and resolutions introduced by Republican legislators never received an initial committee hearing.

Failed Republican-backed bills included an effort to create a bipartisan redistricting commission (SB462), a measure requiring voters to provide proof of identity (SB225) and a bill that aimed to limit the number of legislative actions allowed per session (AB98).

Among the 46 Republican-sponsored measures that passed out of the Legislature were a variety of health care-related bills, including legislation from Sen. Joe Hardy (R-Boulder City) that appropriated state funds to the Nevada Health Service Corps for encouraging certain medical and dental practitioners to practice in underserved areas (SB233). Lawmakers also approved a measure from Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus (R-Wellington) authorizing the Board of Regents to waive fees for family members of National Guard members who reenlist (AB156).

Senate Minority Leader James A. Settelmeyer, left, and Senator Joe Hardy on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

While Republicans fared far worse, Democratic lawmakers still had more than a third of their bills fall victim to the legislative process.

Some bills were overwhelmed by backlash, such as SB452, a bill that aimed to grant casino resorts greater authority to ban firearms on their premises but was opposed by a broad coalition of Republicans, gun right advocates and criminal justice reform organizations and failed to advance out of the Assembly. 

Other bills were watered down or axed after lawmakers deemed there was not enough time to consider the effects of a measure. Such was the case for AB161, a bill that started as a ban on the state’s “summary eviction” process, then was amended into a legislative study on the process but still never received a floor vote. Some measures fell just shy of the support they needed, including AB387, an attempt to license midwives that fell one vote shy of a two-thirds majority in the Senate on the final day of the session.

Which lawmakers were most prolific? Which lawmakers introduced the fewest bills?

Although Democratic lawmakers significantly outpaced Republican lawmakers in getting their bills passed out of both houses of the Legislature, the number of bills introduced by each legislator remained similar between the two parties.

On average, lawmakers from the majority party introduced 9.2 measures during the 2021 session, compared to 10.2 for lawmakers in the minority party. 

Those who led their parties in introductions were typically house leaders or more experienced lawmakers.

In the Assembly, Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas) topped the rest of his party with 18 bills introduced and sponsored, while Minority Floor Leader Titus had the most bills introduced and sponsored of anyone in the Assembly Republican caucus with 14.

Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus speaks to Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson inside the Legislature on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Minority Leader James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) introduced and sponsored 25 bills, which was the most of any legislator during the session.

Four other Senators also stood above the pack: Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas) led Democrats with 23 introductions, while Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) and two Republican senators, Hardy and Keith Pickard (R-Henderson), rounded out the top with 20 bills each.

Assemblywoman Tracy Brown-May (D-Las Vegas), who was appointed by the Clark County Commission on Feb. 2, 2021 to fill the seat of Democratic former Assemblyman Alex Assefa, who resigned amid an investigation into whether he met residency requirements, was the only lawmaker who did not introduce a single piece of legislation this session.

The others at the bottom of the list — Assembly members Elaine Marzola (D-Henderson), Maggie Carlton (D-Las Vegas) and Richard McArthur (R-Las Vegas), and Sens. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas) and Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) — introduced three bills each. Doñate was appointed to fill the seat of former Sen. Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas), and introduced three of her bill draft requests submitted prior to the start of the session.

Which legislators had the most success with their bills?

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) had more success getting her bills passed than any Nevada lawmaker during the 2021 session, as all eight bills that she introduced and sponsored passed out of both houses of the Legislature.

Jauregui had one bill that was passed only with the support of her own party members in both houses. AB286, which bans so-called “ghost guns” and other firearm assembly kits that don’t come equipped with serial numbers, passed through the Assembly and Senate along party lines. 

Other bills Jauregui introduced included measures focused on the environment and residential properties, as well as AB123, which increases fees on special Vegas Golden Knights license plates to help give more funds to charities.

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui arrives on the first day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Five other Assembly Democrats, all based out of Southern Nevada, had at least 80 percent of their measures pass out of both houses, including Assembly Speaker Frierson. Frierson, who saw 15 of his 18 sponsored measures pass, introduced several high-profile Democratic measures, including a pair of big election bills: AB126, which moves the state to a presidential primary system instead of a caucus-based system, and AB321, which permanently expands mail-in voting. 

Other bills introduced by the Assembly leader that passed out of the Legislature included a measure requiring a three-day grace period before landlords can charge late fees for overdue rent (AB308) and a bill allowing college athletes to profit off of their name and likeness (AB254). Frierson was also the primary sponsor of AB484, which authorizes the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) to use $54 million in federal funds to modernize the state’s outdated unemployment insurance system.

Frierson had only three bills that did not pass out of the Legislature, including a controversial measure that would have allowed for the Washoe and Clark County school boards to be partially appointed (AB255).

Other lawmakers to have at least 80 percent of their measures pass out of both houses were Assembly members Venicia Considine (D-Las Vegas), Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas), Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-North Las Vegas) and Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas).

Considine had five of her six introduced measures pass both houses with significant bipartisan support, including a measure that replaces the gendered language for crimes of sexual assault with gender-neutral language (AB214). 

Yeager saw eight of ten introduced bills pass, including AB341, which authorizes the licensing of cannabis consumption lounges, though he also presented several other, sometimes controversial, measures as chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. He presented AB400, a bill that removes “per se” limits on non-felony DUIs involving marijuana and that passed along party lines out of the Assembly. And he presented AB395, the death penalty bill that was scrapped by Democratic lawmakers in the Senate.

Though Monroe-Moreno had four of her five introduced bills pass out of both houses, including a measure that reduces the criminal penalties for minors found in possession of alcohol or small amounts of marijuana (AB158), she was also the sponsor of one of the few measures to fail to advance out of the Legislature because it failed to achieve a needed two-thirds majority. Her bill AB387, which would have established a midwifery licensure board, fell one vote shy of the two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Watts, a second-term assemblyman, sparked a variety of partisan disagreements throughout the session, as six of his ten introduced bills passed out of the Assembly with zero Republican support (Watts had eight bills pass out of both chambers). Those measures ranged broadly from a pair of environment-focused measures to a bill that bans offensive or racially discriminatory language and imagery, names, logos or mascots in Nevada schools (AB88).

In the Senate, only three legislators had more than two-thirds of their introduced measures pass out of both houses: Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas), Roberta Lange (D-Las Vegas) and Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas).

Sen. Chris Brooks on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Brooks was the most successful of the bunch, getting five of his six introduced bills passed, including SB448, an omnibus energy bill expanding the state’s transmission infrastructure that was passed out of the Assembly on the final day of the session. With a larger number of introductions (13), Lange had twice as many bills passed as Brooks (10), covering a wide range of topics from health care to employment to a bill permanently authorizing curbside pickup at dispensaries (SB168).

The majority leader also succeeded in passing a higher percentage of her bills than most of her Senate colleagues, as 12 different Cannizzaro-sponsored bills made their way to the governor’s office. Those measures were met with varying degrees of bipartisan support, as a bill requiring data brokers to allow consumers to make requests to not sell their information passed with no opposition (SB260), while a bill barring the suspension of driver’s licenses for the nonpayment of fees received mixed support from Republicans in both chambers (SB219). Another bill, SB420, which enacts a state-managed public health insurance option, passed along party lines in both the Senate and Assembly.

A few Assembly Republicans stood above the pack, as Assembly members Jill Tolles (R-Reno), P.K. O’Neill (R-Carson City), Lisa Krasner (R-Reno) and Tom Roberts (R-Las Vegas) were the only members of their party to have at least half of their bills pass out of both houses.

Tolles, who was more likely to side with Democrats on close votes during the session than any other Republican lawmaker, found the most success of the group, as four of the six bills she introduced and sponsored were sent to the governor. Those bills that passed were met with broad bipartisan support, such as AB374 — that measure, which establishes a statewide working group in the attorney general’s office aimed at preventing and reducing substance use, passed unanimously out of both houses. The third-term legislator did introduce some bills that were killed by Democrats, such as AB248, which sought to allow "partisan observers" to watch over elections at polling places.

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Four of O’Neill’s seven bills were sent to the governor. One allows the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum to designate certain buildings and grounds of the former boarding school for Native children for special events and authorizes the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at such events (AB270). O’Neill was the only Republican present at a bill signing event for Native-focused legislation, after many of those bills passed with bipartisan support.

Half of Krasner and Roberts’ bills passed out of the Legislature, with each lawmaker introducing and sponsoring eight measures during the session.   

Nearly all four of Krasner’s bills that made it out of both chambers attracted unanimous votes, including AB143, which creates a statewide human trafficking task force and a plan for resources and services delivered to victims. Another well-received bill, AB251, seals juvenile criminal records automatically at age 18 and allows offenders to petition the court for the expungement or destruction of their juvenile records for misdemeanors. Both AB143 and AB251 have been signed by the governor.

Roberts, who was among the Republicans most likely to cross party lines and vote contrary to the majority of his caucus, had several bills sent to the governor with strong bipartisan support, including AB319, which establishes a pilot program for high school students to take dual credit courses at the College of Southern Nevada. Another of his four successful bills was AB326, which is aimed at curbing the illicit cannabis market.

Success for Republican senators in passing bills was more rare.

Sen. Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) had one bill sent to the governor and two bills killed without a hearing, giving him a higher percentage of bills passed (33 percent) than any other member of his caucus. Hansen’s one successful measure, SB112, aligns Nevada law with federal law regarding the administration of certain products for livestock. One of Hansen’s failed bills included an attempt to prohibit police officers from using surveillance devices without a warrant, unless there were pressing circumstances that presented danger to someone’s safety (SB213).

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) was the second most successful member of his caucus in terms of getting bills passed, as three of the 14 measures (21 percent) he introduced passed out of both houses, including a measure establishing an esports advisory committee within the Gaming Control Board (SB165). But many of the measures introduced by Kieckhefer still failed, including a resolution to create an independent redistricting commission to conduct the reapportionment of districts (SJR9).

Only three other members of the Senate Republican caucus, including Minority Leader Settelmeyer, Hardy and Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka), had at least 20 percent of their introduced measures pass fully out of the Legislature.

Which legislators had the least success with their bills?

Despite Democrats controlling both legislative chambers, a handful of Democratic lawmakers still had less than half of their sponsored measures sent off to the governor’s office.

In the Assembly, five members of the Democratic caucus failed to have 50 percent of their bills advance out of both houses, including Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow (D-Las Vegas), who rounded out the bottom of the list as just one of her eight introduced bills passing out of the Legislature. Though that one successful bill — AB189, which establishes presumptive eligibility for pregnant women for Medicaid — garnered bipartisan support, many of Gorelow’s introduced measures failed to even receive an initial committee vote. Those failed bills included multiple more health care-focused measures, including an effort to require certain health plans to cover fertility preservation services (AB274).

The others in the caucus to have more than half of their bills fail were Assembly members Bea Duran (D-Las Vegas), David Orentlicher (D-Las Vegas), Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) and Cecelia Gonzalez (D-Las Vegas), who each had between 33 and 43 percent of their bills passed.

Duran found mixed success with her bills, getting three of her seven introduced measures passed, including a bill that requires all public middle schools, junior high schools and high schools to offer free menstrual products in bathrooms (AB224), but seeing four others fail, including one requiring public schools implement a survey about sexual misconduct (AB353).

One of Orentlicher’s five bills was among a small group that failed to advance at a mid-May deadline for second committee passage. The measure, AB243, would have required courts to consider whether a defendant is younger than 21 when deciding a sentence and failed to clear the deadline after previously passing out of the Assembly along party lines. Orentlicher introduced five bills, but only two passed out of both chambers.

While Flores introduced several measures that received broad unanimous support throughout the session, such as a measure that established a new, simpler Miranda warning for children (AB132), he also proposed several controversial measures that failed to advance out of the Assembly. One of those bills, AB351, would have allowed terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending medication, and another, AB131, would have required all uniformed police officers to wear body cameras when interacting with the public. Only four of Flores’s ten introduced bills passed out of both legislative chambers.

Assemblymen Edgar Flores, center, and Glen Leavitt, left, speak inside the Legislature on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Gonzalez, a freshman, had four of her six introduced bills die at different times over the course of the session. Two of her bills died without ever being heard. Another bill she introduced (AB151) was never voted on by the Assembly because a Cannizzaro-sponsored bill took almost the same approach in barring the suspension of driver’s licenses for the nonpayment of fees. 

Gonzalez even had one piece of legislation, AB201, fail in its second house. That bill, which would have required more tracking and reporting on use of criminal informants, failed to advance out of a Senate committee after passing out of the Assembly along party lines.

Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas) was the only member of his caucus to have more than half of his bills fail. Though seven of his sponsored measures passed out of the Legislature, eleven other bills and resolutions from Ohrenschall failed to advance. Those bills often focused on the criminal justice system, including a measure that aimed to eliminate the death penalty for people who are convicted of first degree murder (SB228), though some stretched beyond that scope, such as an attempt to make Nevada the first state with an opt-out organ donation system (SB134) that failed to be voted out of committee.

Across the Senate and Assembly, eight Republican lawmakers had zero bills pass out of the Legislature. Those eight were Assembly members Alexis Hansen (R-Sparks), Annie Black (R-Mesquite), Andy Matthews (R-Las Vegas), Jill Dickman (R-Sparks), Jim Wheeler (R-Minden) and Richard McArthur (R-Las Vegas) and Sens. Carrie Buck (R-Henderson) and Pickard.

All eight of those Republicans were also among the least likely in their party to break from the majority of their caucus and vote with Democrats on legislation.

State Senator Keith Pickard on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Those eight legislators introduced 70 measures combined, of which 58 died without ever receiving a committee hearing. Pickard was particularly unsuccessful, as he introduced 20 bills, and only one received a committee hearing before failing to advance past the first committee passage deadline in early April. The Henderson-based senator was previously derided by Democratic lawmakers, after backing out of a deal with Senate Democrats centered on a mining tax during one of the 2020 special sessions.

When were bills heard and when did they pass?

Throughout the session, lawmakers often waited until the latest possible days to complete the work needed for certain legislative deadlines.

In the week leading up to the first major deadline — bills and resolutions without an exemption were required to have passed out of their first committee by April 9 — lawmakers voted 336 bills out of committee. In the roughly nine weeks prior to that, only 236 bills were passed out of their first committee.

The other deadlines of the legislative session followed a similar pattern.

In the week leading up to and the week including the first house passage deadline (April 20), 340 bills received a vote in their first house, while just 71 bills were voted out of their first house in the 10 previous weeks.

The busiest week of the session was the week ending May 21, which included the second house passage deadline (May 20). During that week, 337 bills and resolutions were voted out of their second house, while a couple hundred more measures were acted on in some other way, including committee hearings, committee votes and first house votes.

The final shortened weekend of the session, stretching from May 29 through May 31, was also chock-full of legislative action, as lawmakers passed more than 150 bills out of their second house during those three final days.

Analysis: Which lawmakers were least likely to toe the party line?

From permanent expanded mail voting to the state public health option, the 2021 legislative session saw no shortage of headline-grabbing partisan disagreements — but a look at actual vote totals reveals that the vast majority of bills were passed with at least some bipartisan buy-in.

Out of nearly 1,200 votes on bills and resolutions during the 120-day session, 625 (53 percent) were passed with no lawmakers in opposition, and a small minority of 52 votes (4 percent) included just one “nay” vote. Meanwhile, roughly 100 votes (8 percent) happened strictly along party lines. 

But there was a fourth, significant group of votes: on more than 150 votes, a minority of Republican lawmakers broke with their caucus and voted with Democrats, helping to pass bills ranging from marijuana DUI reform to expanded environmental protections.

So which Republicans were the most likely to side with Democrats?

The Nevada Independent analyzed and tallied every bill that received a recorded vote in at least one house where less than half of Republican caucus members supported the measure — a tally that includes 49 votes in the Senate and 104 in the Assembly. The analysis included any bill that received four or fewer votes from the nine-member Senate Republican Caucus and any bill that received seven or fewer votes from the 16-member Assembly Republican Caucus.

Instead of looking more broadly at all votes taken during the legislative session, focusing the analysis on the roughly 150 votes where less than half of Republican caucus members voted in favor of a particular bill offers a better view of which individual Republican lawmakers were most likely to cross party lines. 

Because Democrats control both the Assembly and state Senate, no Republican-sponsored bills with even a whiff of partisanship made it to a full floor vote, though a handful of Democratic lawmakers proved willing to buck their party on a smaller number of votes.

The analysis reveals that Sens. Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) and Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) were the most likely to break with their caucus and vote with Democrats in the state Senate. On the Assembly side, Jill Tolles (R-Reno), Tom Roberts (R-Las Vegas) and Melissa Hardy (R-Henderson) most often broke with the rest of their caucus and sided with Democrats.

The guide below aims to take a look at what kinds of issues were at play when Republicans chose to break with the majority of their caucus on a particular issue — including high-profile votes on a new mining tax and a Democrat-backed effort to change Nevada to a presidential primary state.

We’ve double-checked our work to make sure we’ve counted every vote, but if you spot something off or think a vote wasn’t counted, feel free to email sgolonka@thenvindy.com.

SENATE

Ben Kieckhefer: 36

Heidi Seevers Gansert: 33

Kieckhefer and Seevers Gansert voted with Democrats and against the majority of the Republican caucus 30 times, including eight times as the only two Republicans joining Democrats in support of a measure. Kieckhefer is termed out after the 2021 session and cannot run for re-election, and Seevers Gansert will not face voters until 2024 after winning her re-election race last year.

Both lawmakers broke party lines to join all Democrats in favor of AB115, allowing multiple parents to adopt a child, and AB181, a bill aimed at improving mental health parity and reporting on cases of attempted suicide.

Kieckhefer and Seevers Gansert were also among four Republican senators who voted with Democrats in favor of AB495, a bill that creates a new excise tax on the gross revenues of gold and silver companies, estimated to bring in an extra $150 million to $170 million a biennium for education. As the measure passed in the waning days of the session, Kieckhefer said the benefits of the bill outweighed the drawbacks, and Seevers Gansert pointed to the enhanced education funding as reason for voting in favor. The bill required a two-thirds majority to pass, as it created a new tax.

Seevers Gansert and Kieckhefer rarely broke from each other when crossing party lines to vote with Democrats. In one instance, Seevers Gansert was the lone Republican who sided with Democrats on SB237, a bill aimed at giving more support to LGBTQ-owned businesses, while no other Republicans did so. Kieckhefer had no such votes.

State Senators Ben Kieckhefer and Heidi Seevers Gansert during the first day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Pete Goicoechea: 20

Goicoechea joined Democrats as the lone Republican in support of AB148, which revises the application requirements for obtaining a permit to engage in an exploration project or mining operation.

He joined Kieckhefer and Seevers Gansert as the only members of their caucus to vote in support of AB126, which eliminates Nevada’s presidential caucus and replaces it with a primary election, and also aims to make the state first in the presidential primary calendar — ahead of New Hampshire and Iowa.

Goicoechea also broke from the majority of the Republican caucus to vote with Democrats in support of a few environment-related measures, including AB146, which expands efforts to mitigate water pollution, and AB71, which makes rare plant and animal locations confidential. The Eureka Republican is in his final term of office after winning re-election in 2020, and cannot run again in 2024.

Joe Hardy: 17

Hardy, who is termed out after this session, voted as the lone Republican in support of bills in the Senate more often than any other member of his caucus.

The Boulder City-based lawmaker joined Democrats as the only Republican in favor of SB61, which creates the Nevada Committee of Vendors Who Are Blind, as well as three other Democrat-sponsored bills — including a measure backed by Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas), AB308, which requires a three-day grace period before landlords can charge late fees for overdue rent.

Hardy was one of three Republicans in the Senate who voted in favor of AB400, which removes “per se” limits on the amount of marijuana metabolite that can be in a person’s blood to trigger a DUI, though the limits remain when someone is facing a felony charge. He was also one of two Republicans in the caucus to back another marijuana-related bill, SB122, which requires occupational training for employees of cannabis establishments.

State Senator Joe Hardy on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Scott Hammond: 14

The northwest Las Vegas Valley lawmaker was one of four Republican senators who voted in support of a new tax on the mining industry. Hammond previously said he would vote in support of the bill, AB495, “for all of our state’s students.”

Hammond also joined Democrats in voting in favor of AB296, which allows victims of ‘doxing’ to bring a civil action to recover damages, and SB450, which allows school districts to use excess revenue from existing tax rates to fund “pay as you go” capital improvement projects, such as remodels and needed facility upgrades.

Keith Pickard: 6

Along with Kieckhefer, Seevers Gansert and Hammond, Pickard voted in favor of the new excise tax on the mining industry through AB495, also citing increased education funding as reason for his support.

Pickard was also one of three Republican senators who voted in favor of removing “per se” limits on non-felony DUIs involving marijuana (AB400), and the Henderson-based legislator joined Kieckhefer and Seevers Gansert in voting in favor of raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, in line with federal law (AB59).

Ira Hansen: 5

Hansen was one of two Republican senators (along with Hardy) to record votes as the sole GOP member siding with Democrats on multiple votes.

Hansen was the only Republican who voted in favor of protecting the Spring Valley population of Rocky Mountain junipers, known as “swamp cedars” (AB171). Prior to the vote, Hansen had angered some Native advocates when he rebutted the historical accuracy of testimony shared by tribal leaders and elders.

He also was also the only member of his caucus to support SB349, which would have allowed unpackaged produce to be sold in farmers markets, but the legislation failed to advance in the Assembly.

Carrie Buck: 3

The freshman legislator rarely broke from the majority of the Republican caucus, only doing so to support an extension on school use of excess revenue for facility upgrades (SB450), cage-free eggs (AB399) and a clarification on registration requirements for lobbyists (AB110).

James Settelmeyer: 2

The Senate minority leader broke from the majority of his party less than any other Republican senator, only joining Democrats in support of two measures.

Settelmeyer joined Hardy and Pickard in support of removing “per se” limits on non-felony DUIs involving marijuana (AB400) and voted with Kieckhefer, Pickard and Seevers Gansert in support of a measure revising the issuance of orders for protection against high-risk behavior (SB6).

ASSEMBLY

Jill Tolles: 92

Tom Roberts: 90

Among Assembly Republicans, Tolles and Roberts were the most likely to cross party lines and vote contrary to the majority of their caucus.

Out of the 104 votes in which a minority of the 16 Republican Assembly members joined Democrats in support, Tolles and Roberts voted together with Democrats 85 times, though only six of those votes featured no other Republicans in support.

Tolles and Roberts were the only two Republicans in the Assembly to vote in favor of the new mining tax (AB495) — giving the bill enough Republican votes to overcome the required two-thirds majority needed for a tax increase. Prior to the vote, both lawmakers spoke with The Nevada Independent about their rationale for the votes, stressing that they had gained concessions in exchange for their support and had an opportunity to improve education funding.

They were additionally the only members of their party to support other education-related measures, including an expansion of the core subjects contained within social studies in K-12 education (AB19) and a Democrat-sponsored bill to create the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct at Institutions of Higher Education (SB347).

Tolles and Roberts supported a wide range of Democrat-backed legislation, including measures focused on the economy, state government and criminal justice. The duo voted in support of a ban on race-based discrimination against certain hairstyles (SB327), a Frierson-backed effort to establish the Office of Small Business Advocacy (AB184) and a measure that doubles the fee on marriage licenses from $25 to $50 to better support sexual violence and domestic violence victim services in all counties (SB177).

Tolles has a history of voting more moderately than others in the Assembly Republican Caucus, and she was the only caucus member to join Democrats in support of legislation on multiple occasions. She was the only Assembly Republican to vote in favor of AB47, which gives the attorney general greater powers over mergers within the health care industry, and for AB382, an effort to license student loan servicers (that failed to receive a two-thirds majority). 

Though he was not joined by Tolles, Roberts (who has said he plans to run for Clark County sheriff in 2022) voted with several other Republicans in favor of bills authorizing the licensing of cannabis consumption lounges (AB341) and a resolution to remove the Board of Regents’ constitutional protection (SJR7).

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Melissa Hardy: 82

The Henderson-based assemblywoman was the lone member of the Republican caucus who voted in favor of AB85, which authorizes the State Quarantine Officer to declare any weed to be noxious by regulation.

Hardy also backed a wide range of Democrat-backed efforts, including a variety of bills sponsored by Frierson including a bill that eliminates Nevada’s presidential caucus and replaces it with a primary election (AB126).

In dissenting from the majority of the Assembly Republican Caucus, Hardy voted the same as both Tolles and Roberts 46 times, including when all three — along with Assemblyman Glen Leavitt (R-Boulder City) — joined Democrats in support of AB486, which is meant to ensure more tenants are connected with rental assistance as eviction protections expire.

Glen Leavitt: 55

Though Leavitt sided with Democrats more frequently than most other Assembly Republicans, he rarely did so without support from several other caucus members. There was only one instance in which Leavitt joined Democrats without at least three other Republicans in support of the measure.

In that case, just two other Republicans joined Leavitt and Assembly Democrats in favor of a bill allowing the State Board of Cosmetology to license a new group of people designated as “advanced estheticians” (SB291).

Additionally, Leavitt was among a minority group of seven Republicans who supported a pair of education measures from Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop (D-Las Vegas), including SB173, also referred to as the “Back on Track Act,” which calls on districts to create learning loss prevention plans and set up summer school programs, and SB151, which is aimed at improving teacher-to-student ratios.

Heidi Kasama: 52

The freshman assemblywoman from Las Vegas was the only Republican in either house who voted in support of a Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation-backed measure, SB75, that makes technical changes to the regular unemployment system, such as allowing more flexibility on when claimants are eligible for benefit extensions. Other Republicans voiced concerns that the bill did not go far enough in addressing issues with the system. 

Along with Hardy, Leavitt and Tolles, Kasama also voted with Democrats to pass AB356, which prohibits water-intensive decorative turf within medians, along roads and in business parks in Clark County.

Kasama and Hardy were also the only Republicans who voted in favor of banning the declawing of cats, though the measure, AB209, failed to advance through the Senate.

From left, Assemblywomen Cecelia González, Heidi Kasama and Melissa Hardy on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Lisa Krasner: 36

Krasner voted with a minority of her Republican colleagues on mostly Democrat-supported measures on three dozen occasions, including joining Tolles and Roberts in support of measures protecting swamp cedars in Spring Valley, AB171 and AJR4.

The Reno-based lawmaker also joined Tolles, Roberts, Hardy, Leavitt and Kasama in supporting SB448, an omnibus energy bill expanding the state’s transmission infrastructure that was passed out of the Assembly on the final day of the session.

Gregory Hafen: 30

The second-term legislator representing portions of Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties was one of only three Assembly Republicans who voted in favor of massively increasing fines for violating certain regulations from the Public Utilities Commission (SB18).

Hafen was also part of a limited group of Republicans who supported a change to the Live Entertainment Tax to exclude events held on behalf of a governmental entity (SB367) and a ban on race-based discrimination against certain hairstyles (SB327).

Alexis Hansen: 18

When Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen broke from her party majority and sided with Democrats, the Sparks-based lawmaker supported a wide range of measures, covering topics from health care to criminal justice to state government. Although she rarely joined fewer than four other party members in her dissent from the caucus, she was one of only two Republicans in the Assembly who voted to pass SB77, which exempts certain environmental impact reviews and discussions from the state’s open meeting law.

Robin Titus: 5

The minority floor leader rarely voted against the majority of her caucus, but Titus did join Democrats and several of her Republican colleagues in support of five bills, including a bill requiring state Medicaid plan coverage for doula services (AB256) and an appropriation of $5.4 million for upgrades to the Gaming Control Board’s IT systems (SB413).

Assembly members Robin Titus, Danielle Monroe Moreno and Steve Yeager return to the Assembly chamber after letting the Senate know they have adjourned sine die on the final day of the 81st session, Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Annie Black: 3

Though she was absent or not voting for more than 100 votes after being censured by other members of the Assembly for violating COVID-19 protocols, Black was one of the least likely to side with Democrats on a bill. She was, however, one of four Republicans in the Assembly who voted in favor of authorizing the licensing of cannabis consumption lounges (AB341).

The Nevada Legislative Freedom Caucus

At the beginning of the session, six Republican Assembly members announced the formation of the Nevada Legislative Freedom Caucus, a coalition of state legislators dedicated to the values of constitutional conservatism. Those six lawmakers — Jill Dickman, John Ellison, Andy Matthews, Richard McArthur, P.K. O’Neill and Jim Wheeler — rarely sided with Democrats.

P.K. O’Neill: 19

One member of the Freedom Caucus sided with Democrats significantly more often than any other, as O’Neill was one of just four Assembly Republicans who supported a measure requiring employers to allow people to use sick leave to care for ill family members (AB190).

The Carson City-based assemblyman also backed several Democrat-sponsored bills, including SB166, which clarifies that a crime does not need to be committed by someone with different characteristics than the victim to be considered a hate crime, and SB177, which doubles the fee on marriage licenses from $25 to $50 to better support sexual violence and domestic violence victim services in all the counties.

Jim Wheeler: 6

Jill Dickman: 6

Andy Matthews: 5

John Ellison: 3

Richard McArthur: 3

Almost every member of the Freedom Caucus was among the list of Republicans least likely to side with Democrats, though some threw support behind a few high-profile measures.

Dickman and Matthews were among four Assembly Republicans who voted in favor of authorizing the licensing of cannabis consumption lounges (AB341). McArthur supported a bill aimed at increasing the availability of peer support counseling for emergency response employees (AB96). Wheeler voted to pass a measure that increases fees on special Vegas Golden Knights license plates to help give more funds to charities (AB123).

Which Republicans broke up unanimous votes?

While votes throughout the legislative session were dominated by unanimous vote counts and instances of mixed support and opposition from Republicans, nearly 5 percent of all votes included just one lawmaker in opposition.

In the Senate, Hansen stood above the pack, providing the only “nay” vote 15 times out of 26 such votes in that chamber. Hansen was the lone opponent in the Senate against measures authorizing curbside pickup at dispensaries (SB168), banning race-based discrimination against certain hairstyles (SB327), decriminalizing traffic tickets (AB116) and requiring employees within the juvenile justice system to complete implicit bias training (SB108).

State Senator Ira Hansen inside the Legislature on Friday, May 14, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

The other Senate Republicans who provided the only vote against a bill were Buck, who did so six times, Pickard, who did so twice, and Kieckhefer, who did so once. Buck was the only member of the caucus to not support a bill authorizing the sealing of someone’s criminal record after an unconditional pardon (AB219), and Pickard was the only Senate Republican to vote against an appropriation of $25 million for the UNLV Medical School (SB434). 

In the Assembly, there were 26 votes that included a single “nay” vote. Ellison led the Republican caucus with 10, including votes against bills requiring the Board of Regents to waive tuition and fees for Native students attending Nevada public colleges and universities (AB262), prohibiting law enforcement agencies from having arrest or ticket quotas (AB186) and expanding the continuing education courses that law enforcement officers are required to take to include crisis intervention (AB304).

Other Assembly Republicans who stood alone in their opposition included Black, who provided the only “nay” vote on a bill five times, and McArthur, who did so twice. Hafen and Kasama were each the lone Assembly opponent to a bill once.

Which Democrats dissented from their party?

While disagreement among Republicans was far more common in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, a few Democrats in both houses were more likely to depart from the caucus consensus than their colleagues from the same party.

Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) was more likely to vote differently from the rest of the Senate Democrats than any other member of her party. Neal was the lone opposition vote to AB435, which expands a Commerce Tax exemption to include trade shows, and SB150, which requires local governments to authorize tiny houses in certain zoning districts. She previously expressed concerns that tiny homes might depreciate housing values or exacerbate zoning disparities.

Neal also dissented from the Senate Democratic Caucus to vote with her Republican colleagues at least three times, including voting against a bill that would have granted casino resorts greater authority to ban firearms on their premises (SB452).

Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) speaks with Assembly members Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas) and Rochelle Nguyen on the first day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Sens. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) and Mo Denis (D-Las Vegas) each disagreed with their fellow caucus members at least once. Spearman was the only Democrat who voted against a bill raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 (AB59), and Denis was the lone member of his party to not support an effort to license midwives (AB387). With Denis voting no, the bill fell one vote shy of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

In the Assembly, Brittney Miller (D-Las Vegas) was among the Democrats most likely to dissent from the majority position of the caucus. Miller was the lone opponent to a bill during two votes, including voting against SB172, which requires school districts and charter schools to develop programs for dual credits. Miller also joined a majority of Assembly Republicans in opposing a bill that prohibits homeowner associations from circumventing local ordinances when determining when construction can start in residential areas (AB249).

Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Maggie Carlton (D-Las Vegas) was the only Assembly member to oppose AB258, which clarifies existing law by requiring the trustees of the Clark County Library District to appoint an executive director, and AB477, which abolishes the DMV’s Revolving Account for the Assistance of the Department. She also joined the majority of the Assembly Republican Caucus in voting against SB190, which allows women to receive birth control through a pharmacy without a doctor’s visit.

Assembly Majority Floor Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D-Reno) additionally dissented from her caucus on more than one occasion, as she provided the lone “nay” vote to AB435, which expands a Commerce Tax exemption to include trade shows. She was also joined by Assemblywoman Selena Torres (D-Las Vegas) in voting with a majority of Assembly Republicans against SB287, which formally recognizes UNLV and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) as land-grant institutions alongside UNR.

Assembly votes to censure member Annie Black for not following COVID rules

Assemblywoman Annie Black standing with her right hand raised

Members of the Assembly took a rare step in voting on party lines Thursday to censure Assemblywoman Annie Black (R-Mesquite) for violating a requirement that people in the Legislature wear masks unless they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Assembly voted 26-16 to affirm that Black was in violation of a new policy announced the day earlier that generally allowed vaccinated people to be in the building maskless if they are vaccinated. Black has been vocal against the mask rule in place for almost the entirety of the session and claimed a win in an email newsletter for catalyzing for the policy change.

“No one knows if I’ve gotten the vaccine,” Black said in a recent newsletter. “And frankly, it’s nobody’s business but my own. It’s my body, my choice.”

According to adopted Assembly standing rules, lawmakers are required to cover their face and nose with a mask at nearly all times while in the legislative building, and to follow all CDC guidelines on social distancing. Any member found in violation of the rule “shall not vote or speak on the floor or committee except to explain and apologize for the breach, until the member has made satisfaction to the House for the breach.”

Black remained on the Assembly floor without a mask after the vote.

Assembly Majority Floor Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D-Reno) said the Legislative Counsel Bureau had been asking members to confirm their vaccination status. The LCB notified legislative leaders that three members had not circled back on the request.

“It's not that we know or not [whether the three members are vaccinated]. They haven't confirmed,” she said. 

Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Sparks) said in a brief interview on Thursday that a sergeant in arms asked her to leave the Assembly floor on Thursday if she would not wear a mask. Dickman participated remotely in the meeting.

“I am not sharing my personal medical information with anyone,” she said. “Apparently we have de facto vaccine passports in the Legislative Building.”

Reporters Riley Snyder and Tabitha Mueller contributed to this report.

Follow the Money: Tracking more than $330,000 in legislative campaign donations from the mining industry

Trucks at mine site.

As lawmakers pursued a historic increase to the mining industry’s tax burden, mining companies and industry PACs combined to contribute more than $330,000 to their campaigns over the course of the 2020 election cycle.

That sum represents a roughly 32 percent increase from the 2018 cycle, making mining one of the few industries to spend more money rather than less amid the pandemic-triggered economic downturn.

Industry spending vastly favored Republican lawmakers, who received almost three times as much money as their Democratic counterparts, a cumulative $243,000 to the Democrats’ $88,000. 

This spending came amid a backdrop of continued Democratic control of both legislative chambers — control that was weakened slightly by losses in a handful of competitive suburban districts. Republicans gained three seats in the 42-person Assembly and one in the 21-seat Senate, leaving the Democratic advantage at 26-16 and 12-9, respectively. 

In order to assess broad trends in campaign spending, The Nevada Independent categorized and analyzed more than 7,700 individual contributions of more than $200 made to sitting lawmakers in 2019 and 2020. 

The data in this story show only a slice of the campaign finance pie: 178 contributions from 18 unique donors fell under the umbrella of mining corporations, PACs or related individuals. 

However, two lawmakers are not included in this analysis: Sen. Fabian Donate (D-Las Vegas) and Assemblywoman Tracy Brown-May (D-Las Vegas). Both were appointed to fill legislative vacancies in February, after a freeze on legislative contributions had already begun ahead of the 2021 session. 

These numbers also do not include candidates who lost their race for the Legislature, and may not represent the total spent by a given donor in the last election, but rather only the amount they spent on winning candidates.  

As the cumulative totals might suggest, individual Republicans dominated the list of mining industry contributions. All but two of the top 15 mining recipients are Republicans, and of the 33 lawmakers who received just $5,000 or less in industry money, 26 were Democrats.  

Even so, with few mining donors spending money at all, the top mining recipients did not receive particularly large sums compared to other industries. The top fundraiser, Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno), raised $25,500 in mining contributions from five mining donors: Nevada Gold Mines ($10,000), the Nevada Mining Association ($5,500), Comstock Mining ($5,000), Kinross Gold USA ($3,000) and Coeur Mining ($2,000).  

Seevers Gansert was followed by Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) with $20,000; Sen. Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka) with $17,500; Sen. Carrie Buck (R-Las Vegas) with $16,500; and Assemblyman Tom Roberts (R-Las Vegas) with $15,500. 

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson followed close behind with $14,500 raised, making him the only Democrat in the industry’s top 10 recipients and the lone Democrat to receive more than $10,000 in combined contributions. 

Overall, there were few mining related donors in 2020. Just 18 gave any money at all, and almost all of it was contributed by the biggest donors. 

The top three — Nevada Gold Mines, the Nevada Mining Association and Cortez Gold Mine (owned by Nevada Gold Mines) — alone combined for almost 76 percent of the $331,780 total, while the top-five combined for almost 90 percent of all industry money contributed last cycle. 

A joint venture between mining giants Barrick and Newmont, Nevada Gold Mines led all industry donors last cycle with $92,250 contributed across just 15 legislators. 

Unlike most major industry-specific donors, nearly all of Nevada Gold Mines’ contributions went to Republicans, who received $85,000 to the Democrats’ $7,250. That gulf is so vast and Nevada Gold Mines gave to so few lawmakers that the average Republican received more money ($7,727) than all four Democratic recipients combined. 

Also relatively unique in Nevada Gold Mines’ spending habits is the number of maximum contributions from the company. Nevada law limits donors to $5,000 per election (primary and general), for a total maximum contribution of $10,000 per cycle. 

Such maximums are relatively rare, even among major donors, who frequently spend the maximum once or twice on party leaders or vulnerable candidates in swing districts before spreading out smaller contributions across a wider pool of candidates. 

But Nevada Gold Mines contributed $10,000 to six lawmakers, all Republicans and all but one (Roberts) from Northern Nevada: Seevers Gansert, Roberts, Goicoechea, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno), Sen. Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) and Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Sparks).  

Five other legislators — four Republicans and one Democrat — received $5,000, while the remaining three received $1,000 or less. 

Though formally the third-largest donor, contributions made by the Nevada Gold Mines-owned Cortez Gold Mine function as an extension of that joint-venture, and as a result, as an extension of Barrick and Newmont. The mine reported $74,500 in spending across 24 legislators, which, when combined with Nevada Gold Mines, raises the joint-spending by Barrick and Newmont last cycle to $166,750. 

That amount is slightly more than the $162,500 that Barrick and Newmont combined to spend on legislative elections in the 2018 midterms, before the creation of Nevada Gold Mines. 

Much like Nevada Gold Mines, most of the Cortez mine spending flowed to Republicans, who received $55,000 to the Democrats’ $19,500. With another handful of Republicans receiving the maximum from Cortez, the average split per party also vastly favored GOP lawmakers, who received an average of $5,500 to the Democrats’ $1,393. 

Those maximum contributions went to three Republicans — Hammond, Buck and Settelmeyer. Cortez otherwise gave $5,000 to five lawmakers (including two Democrats, Frierson and Assembly Ways and Means Chair Maggie Carlton (D-Las Vegas), while the remaining 16 recipients received $2,500 or less. 

An industry association backed financially by a number of the state’s largest mining companies, the Nevada Mining Association combined to spend $85,500 across 41 legislators, or enough to make it the second-largest mining donor last cycle. 

The sum is a sizable increase from the PAC’s spending in 2018, when it gave just $56,250 in the aggregate. 

As an industry PAC, most of the association’s money came from the same companies contributing as their own entities. That includes Nevada Gold Mines (which gave the association $50,000), Newmont (which gave $20,000) and Coeur Mining ($10,000). 

Unlike other industry donors, the Nevada Mining Association split its money almost down the middle of the two parties, spending $43,000 on Democrats and $42,500 on Republicans. On average, the split was still fairly close, with the average Democrat receiving $2,150 to the average Republican’s $2,023.

The two biggest beneficiaries of that spending were legislative leaders, with Cannizzaro receiving $9,000 and Frierson following with $6,500. The association’s spending was otherwise largely diffuse, with five lawmakers receiving between $5,500 and $3,500, and the remaining 34 receiving $2,500 or less. 


Tim Lenard, Riley Snyder and Sean Golonka contributed to this report.

As part of our Follow the Money series The Nevada Independent will be publishing deep dives over the coming weeks into the industries that dominated legislative campaign spending in the 2020 campaign cycle. To see previous installments, follow the links below: 

Lawmakers advance bill that could make Nevada first presidential nominating state, but many challenges remain

Nevada lawmakers have taken the first steps in processing legislation that would move the state to the top of the presidential nominating calendar in 2024 — though many hurdles outside the legislative realm remain.

Members of the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee voted along party-lines to approve AB126 on Thursday, the bill from Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to end Nevada’s presidential caucus and replace it with a primary election that would leapfrog other states to the front of the nominating calendar.

Frierson said during the hearing that Nevada has “consistently punched above our weight” on major national issues from racial justice to climate change, and that the state’s population better reflects the nation as a whole.

“Our voices are diverse and better reflect the rest of the country than the current nominating structure,” he said. “It's time for Nevada to take its rightful place, not just first in the West, but first in the nation.”

The bill lays out the form and function of how a presidential primary election would work in the state, and largely mirrors provisions that govern the state’s existing summer primary election structure. A proposed amendment to the bill sets the date of the presidential election to the first Tuesday in February in every presidential election year.

The measure would also require at least 10 days of early voting, extending through the Friday before the election. It also copies over provisions allowing same-day registration that currently exist in law to apply to presidential primary elections.

The proposed amendment also changes candidate filing schedules, moving the currently separate judicial and non-judicial candidate filing periods to the same, three-week window starting on the last Monday in February.

The measure was lauded by a broad array of progressive and Democrat-aligned groups including the Culinary Union, Battle Born Progress, ACLU of Nevada, Nevada State Education Association, Faith Organizing Alliance and Mi Familia Vota, among others. Many said they were frustrated by the experience of the caucus, and that a move to a primary would make it easier to participate in the nominating process.

“Everyday working Nevadans, which are the communities that we and our partners work with on a daily basis, may not be able to commit to several hours to attend their precinct caucus,” Silver State Voices Executive Director Emily Persaud-Zamora said during the hearing. “It is simply inaccessible to many Nevadans.”

But state lawmakers cannot simply legislate themselves into becoming the first presidential nominating state. 

That decision ultimately rests with the national political party organizations, which set the nominating calendar and can take punitive action against states that violate party rules, including cutting the allocated number of delegates to party conventions (a similar attempted maneuver happened in Florida in 2011).

And the other three early nominating states will likely not take the leapfrogging lying down. New Hampshire has even explicitly written into state law that its presidential primary must be held seven days or more before another state’s “similar election.”

Asked by Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Sparks) what Nevada could do if other early states reacted to the bill by moving ahead of the primary date set in AB126, Frierson largely demurred, saying the legislation was just the first step in state leaders “making the case” that it should go first.

“We are certainly not able to have a moving scale the way some states do, and so our job is to make our case, not just to the RNC and the DNC, but also to those other states that we are a better reflection,” he said.

The bill may get a warmer reception from the national Democratic Party, whose leaders have in recent weeks discussed moving South Carolina and Nevada to the front of the primary election schedule. It’s part of intense behind-the-scenes jockeying to shake up the nominating calendar after Iowa’s disastrous 2020 caucus and a desire to have more diverse states than Iowa or New Hampshire featured early in the calendar.

However, it could face a much colder reception from the Republican National Committee. The Des Moines Register reported in January that state Republican party chairs from the first four early states had met and agreed to work together to avoid any major changes to the current nominating process. Nevada Republican Party Chair Michael McDonald submitted a letter opposing the measure, saying that “trying to play chicken with primary dates is not a battle we will win.”

Jim DeGraffenreid, one of Nevada’s Republican National Committee members, said the bill would likely run afoul of current national political party rules on when nominating contests could be held, and said that the party didn’t think it was a “good use of state resources” to switch to a primary.

“Leaving us the choice of how to nominate our own candidates is far more fair than having the state dictate that we abandon a fair and inclusive process,” he said.

Republican members of the committee also balked at the potential cost of the measure — a fiscal note submitted by the secretary of state’s office estimated that the cost of holding a primary election to be around $5.2 million. Dickman said she was also concerned that the measure likely violated national political party rules and could lead to Nevada losing its early nominating spot, but Frierson said that wasn’t the case.

“I have not received any indication that this is jeopardizing our position in the West, let alone in the country,” he said.

Builders, affordable housing advocates clash over bills that could increase fees for developers

Against a backdrop of increasingly unaffordable housing options, two measures heard at the Legislature on Tuesday highlighted the deep divide between developers and affordable housing advocates.

Proponents of the bills said the proposed legislation would give local governments the ability to raise money to support affordable housing projects. Opponents held that it would increase fees for developers and further negatively affect the market.

AB334, sponsored by Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D-Las Vegas) and presented during an Assembly Government Affairs Committee meeting, would establish two options local jurisdictions could adopt to increase affordable housing stock. 

One option would allow local governments to require developers to follow inclusionary zoning policies, which would stipulate that a certain percentage of new construction has to be affordable for lower-income households — or pay a fee to avoid those requirements. The other would allow jurisdictions to adopt fees, known as linkage fees, ranging from $0.75 to $10 for each square foot of commercial or residential development.

Under the latter bill, the municipality or jurisdiction would have to create a local affordable housing policy or ordinance with other stakeholders before implementing the fees. The municipality would store money from both types of fees in an affordable housing trust fund that would fill financing gaps for developing and preserving affordable housing.

"[Affordable housing] is a critical issue within our state right now, and it cannot wait for more working groups," Summers-Armstrong said.

An amendment to the bill would reduce the maximum linkage fee that a local government could adopt on industrial development from $5 to $3, and exempt homes under 1,500 square feet, starter homes and small businesses. 

The amendment would also target 80 percent of revenue from linkage fees for affordable housing for people earning 60 percent of area median income (for a family of four that is about $47,200 in Clark County and roughly $50,100 in Washoe County) and prioritize at least 30 percent of the funds for revitalization efforts taking place at a neighborhood-level in lower-income census tracts. The allocations would not be mutually exclusive.

Summers-Armstrong said lack of investment and urban blight has led to abandoned homes in her district and other areas with large minority populations, such as Las Vegas' Historic Westside. The funding for revitalization efforts would allow community organizations to help move forward with preserving existing affordable housing and creating new affordable housing.

"We want affordable new housing, but not at the expense of decimating communities that are in existence," Summers-Armstrong said. "The preservation of a community is key to all of this because we want our children to live in our communities. I have sons, I want them to be nearby."

The other bill heard Tuesday, AB331, is sponsored by Assemblywoman Elaine Marzola (D-Henderson) and would allow local governments to incorporate the two options from AB334 (linkage fees or inclusionary zoning) into their affordable housing plans, while also asking counties and incorporated cities with populations greater than 100,000  (Washoe County, Clark County, Reno, Sparks, Mesquite and Boulder City) to establish five-year goals for preserving and producing affordable housing. The goals would be a non-punitive target for affordable housing units to be built or maintained during the five-year time frame. 

AB331 would also direct the Nevada Housing Division to consider the progress and tangible commitments to their housing goals made by those local governments when allocating funds from the division's Account for Affordable Housing and other sources of funding such as grants or the federal government. The affordable housing account is funded through a real estate transfer tax that generates anywhere from $8 to $10 million a year — but advocates say that amount barely makes a dent in the affordable housing market.

"Despite recent efforts of federal, state and local governments to address the issue, the problem has not improved. If anything, it has gotten worse," Marzola said during the hearing. "This bill provides clarity that local governments have the tools they need to advance affordable housing strategies that work for their community."

Christine Hess, the executive director of the Nevada Housing Coalition, said the five-year time span is designed to account for the time it takes to properly plan for and develop affordable housing that meets community needs. She added that fees need to be allowed to aggregate for three to five years to enable productive investments.

If passed, the two options in SB324 would join a dozen or so policies that local municipalities can already implement, and SB331 would require counties with populations greater than 100,000 to report on uses of inclusionary zoning and the fees. Current policies that local governments can adopt include subsidizing impact fees, selling land at 10 percent of the appraised value, donating land to a nonprofit, providing density bonuses or offering rental assistance. 

"These two [additional] tools balance out that toolbox by allowing local governments if they choose to, to enact additional fees to help put some more money in that pot to fill the gaps," said Nevada Housing Coalition lobbyist and one of the bill presenters, Sarah Adler.

Warren Hardy, a representative for the Urban Consortium (consisting of the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno and Sparks), testified in support of the two bills. As a general rule, he said, the consortium supports any legislation that gives local governments more options to address the need for affordable housing. 

"This legislation will give us the tools to reach out to the community, to reach out to the stakeholders, and to craft, at the local level, a solution to this problem," Hardy said. "We appreciate the sponsors for bringing this forward and particularly in a way that enables local governments to have a say and to make a decision about adopting these measures."

But the bills have attracted organized opposition from outside groups. Within the last week, Nevada Housing Now, a self-described "grassroots arm of the Nevada Home Builders Association," released two advertisements on YouTube against the bills, telling lawmakers, "Don't make housing even more expensive in Nevada'' and "oppose AB331 + AB334." 

"New home construction injects nearly $10.1 billion into the state's economy and accounts for $4.7 billion a year in total wages and salaries," text in one of the videos said. "Linkage Fees and Inclusionary Zoning act like a tax on housing."

Developers emphasized that the fee proposals would increase housing costs for buyers. The Legislature should consider bills that expand low-income housing tax credits and grants for rental assistance, not ones that burden developers, said David Goldwater, a lobbyist for the Nevada Home Builders Association.

"Linkage fees only add to the cost of housing," Goldwater said during the hearing. "Without control over how the money is spent, history suggests fewer affordable units built and more working families priced out of the market."

In response to the opposition, Adler said that inclusionary zoning has been authorized in Nevada statute since 1999, and the policies local governments would be required to write would stipulate how money is spent. None of the funds generated through the legislation would go toward a city’s general fund, she said.

"I totally respect the pickle that [developers] are in. They are already paying a variety of kinds of permit fees, licensing fees, impact fees, because that's how we pay for our community development is through growth," Adler said. 

Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Sparks) voiced fears that additional fees would discourage development. Assemblywoman Annie Black (R-Mesquite) advocated for a different solution.

"If we need teachers, we don't make it harder to become a teacher. If we need doctors, we don't make it harder to become a doctor, we make it easier," Black said. "The answer is to reduce fees, to reduce restrictions, reduce red tape and make it easier for them to build, not make it harder for them to build."

Summers-Armstrong countered that Nevada offers so many benefits to businesses that AB334 will not halt development or growth. She added that the bill would help create affordable housing for people working for companies such as Amazon or Walmart that do not pay wages high enough for employees to afford housing.

"This is not going to make our environment so hostile that businesses will not want to come here," Summers-Armstrong said. "We still have a burgeoning economy ... but I think that Nevada also has to recognize that she has citizens that need help, that these jobs have a consequence." 

Cities such as Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. have enacted similar legislation to AB331 and AB334, Summers-Armstrong added. Developers would not stop building with the addition of these fees, she said. 

The proposed fees are based on rigorous economic analysis, not every industry is subject to them and local governments must work with all stakeholders, Hess said.

"I'm a former economic developer, I love new business, I love new development, it's exciting when new projects come to town, but there is an impact," Hess said. "We can't just talk about affordable housing anymore. And as even our opposition has noted, there's not one tool, and in fact, we would consider these two tools pretty small pieces of our ultimate success strategy to tackling affordable housing."

Permanent expanded mail-in voting, straight ticket ballots draw partisan fire in Legislature

2020 was just the start.

The fight over how Nevada conducts elections may have subsided since last year’s election but roared back in full view on Thursday, as state lawmakers held hearings on two measures that drew partisan battle lines and could have a profound effect on election cycles in the state.

One measure, AB321, would make Nevada just the sixth state to send mail ballots to all active registered voters (while still requiring in-person voting options) after lawmakers expanded mail voting options for the 2020 election amid the COVID pandemic.

The other, SB292, may have attracted less attention than the expanded mail voting measure, but would still have a substantial effect on elections by raising the standards for minor political parties to make it onto the ballot and requiring straight-ticket voting options on all ballots.

Both measures were staunchly opposed by legislative Republicans and the state party, both of whom engaged in a multi-faceted media campaign to rally opposition against the measures leading up to Thursday’s hearing. 

Democrats — who control both chambers of the Legislature — said they were open to some suggestions on improvements to the bills, but indicated that partisan opposition wasn’t likely to slow their trajectory over the back half of the legislative session.

“The changes made to AB321 incorporate a proven system that is convenient for voters, that's run by dedicated state and local election officials who I know are the best in the country,” bill sponsor Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said. “I'm excited to make these changes that will continue to allow voters the freedom to choose how they want to vote in Nevada.”

Expanded mail voting

As written, AB321 would make permanent many of the provisions from AB4 from the 2020 special session — the bill that expanded mail-in voting during the pandemic or other declared state of emergencies.

It would require local election clerks to send all active registered voters a mail ballot before a primary or general election. Inactive voters, who are legally registered to vote but don’t have a current address on file with election officials, would not be sent a mail ballot.

The bill would allow voters to opt out of being mailed a ballot, by providing written notice to their local or county election clerk. A proposed amendment to the bill would set the deadline for opting out of a mail ballot at 60 days prior to the election.

But the bill isn’t a carbon copy of AB4 — it cuts down on some of the deadlines that were in place for that legislation and the 2020 election. Those changes affect:

  • Mail ballots postmarked by Election Day. Under AB4 and in the 2020 election, those ballots would be accepted if received up to seven days after Election Day. AB321 shortens that deadline to four days.
  • Signature cure (the process allowing voters to fix issues with their signature on their mail ballot). That would go from nine days after Election Day (under AB4) to six days under AB321.
  • Mail ballot processing. County election officials had up to nine days after Election Day to finish counting mail ballots under AB4, but that would be reduced to seven days after Election Day in AB321.

Frierson also presented an amendment that would set a minimum number of polling places for early and Election Day voting (including a requirement that ballot drop boxes be set up at every early vote and Election Day location), allow uninterrupted online voter registration through the early vote period and all the way to Election Day. 

It also would set deadlines on mail ballots for new voters — someone who registered more than 14 days before Election Day would automatically receive a mail ballot, and otherwise would have to vote in person.

But Republican members of the committee said they were still skeptical about the rationale behind the bill and whether it would address their concerns on the broad topic of election security. 

“I had countless constituents that have reached out to me since the election expressing your distrust and uneasiness with the process of the 2020 election,” Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Reno) said. “In fact, many have said that they're not going to vote again. Do you believe the provisions of this bill would restore the confidence that our constituents have since lost in our elections?”

Frierson sought to underline his efforts to compromise and address concerns about election security raised by Republican lawmakers — noting that a section of the bill requiring more frequent checking of voter records with those of the recently deceased, and that it requires annual training on signature verification for election officials and daily audits of signature-checking devices.

“Because as much as many voters may disagree, concerns about election security are real and should be taken seriously,” he said in response to Dickman. “No one should disregard it, and I don’t.”

Still, many Republican lawmakers took umbrage at the provisions in the bill copied over from AB4, including expanded ballot assistance (allowing individuals to help others fill out a ballot if they are unable to because of age or disability) and ballot collection (or “ballot harvesting) where people other than a voter can turn in a completed mail ballot.

The Assembly speaker said he was willing to have conversations on other parts of the bill, but indicated that some of the provisions were likely non-negotiable.

“I think that when it comes to something as important as elections, we may have to agree to disagree on that,” he said at one point.

The proposed legislation drew support from a wide swath of progressive and left-leaning organizations, including Battle Born Progress, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the Culinary Union, ACLU of Nevada, Faith in Action Nevada and others that touted the bill as a needed step to increase access to voting.

Anna Villatoro, a strategist with the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, testified that she voted for the first time in the 2020 election and that the process was “incredibly less intimidating” with the variety of in-person and mail voting options available.

“As the first-time voter, these options were critical for me to cast my vote as I also have limited transportation,” she said.

Many bill opponents, including officials of the Nevada Republican Party, said the legislation failed to adequately address alleged election security issues — with many repeating debunked or disproven allegations of massive voter fraud happening in the 2020 election.

“Mailing ballots for all registered voters including tens of thousands of bad addresses is a waste of taxpayer money,” Nevada Republican Party Vice-Chair Jim Hindle said. “It puts ballots out in circulation for bad actors to steal and submit. It's documented to have happened in 2020.”

Some county clerks raised concerns with the legislation; Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said it would be a “big leap” to implement the bill and that it would likely come with a substantial cost. 

Washoe County Registrar Deanna Spikula, who submitted a letter estimating the cost of the measure to run upwards of $2.5 million for facilities, staffing and mail costs, suggested the effective date of the bill be delayed until the 2024 election to give election officials more time to implement the change.

“We need adequate time and resources in order to locate, retrofit, and move our operations to accommodate all mail-in elections in this State and still support our in-person voting locations,” Spikula wrote in the letter.

Straight-ticket voting

Through SB292, which would add an option to cast a straight-ticket vote on Nevada's ballots, Sen. Roberta Lange (D-Las Vegas) hopes to simplify the voting process and help voters feel less intimidated.

Straight-ticket voting would allow voters to vote for candidates from one political party by marking that party's name at the top of a ballot. Under the proposed law, a voter could select a straight-ticket option but then also cast a vote for a candidate from a different party, which would supersede the straight-ticket selection in that particular race. Voters could also opt-out of straight-ticket voting altogether.

The bill stipulates that county election officials would incorporate information about straight-ticket information into their voter education programs and is designed to create a smoother voting experience, Lange said.

"The straight-ticket option is just that, an option," she said on Thursday during a hearing on the bill in the Senate’s Legislative Operations and Elections committee. "The goal ... is to help encourage voters to cast their vote in down ballot races, including our own legislative races, that are far too often skipped."

But Republican lawmakers criticized the straight-ticket system as encouraging hyper-partisanship, and said that it would detract from the state's efforts to promote civic engagement.

"In one breath, we're saying, teach civics to students, teach them to be free thinkers … yet, in the next breath, we're saying, auto populate your vote, all the way down, based on party and kind of groupthink," Sen. Carrie Buck (R-Henderson) said. "This bill does not assume confidence, I guess, in the electorate."

Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) pushed back against those critiques. She said that not everyone can research every candidate, and voting based on shared party values does not mean people are blindly throwing away their votes.

"I don't think saying that because somebody picks a particular slate of individuals that they want to give their voice to by way of voting for that individual that they haven't done the appropriate education," Cannizzaro said. "I think that sells our voters a little bit short." 

Along with straight-ticket voting, the bill would also:

  • Increase the signature requirements necessary for new third parties from 1 to 2 percent, equally divided among petition districts. The deadlines for those submissions would be June 1 or the Monday after that date if June 1 falls on a weekend. The deadline to file a challenge to a signature petition would also change from the fourth Friday to the second Monday in June.
  • Repeal state law governing the internal structure of political parties.

Lange said the third-party ballot access change would not affect the state's existing Independent American Party and Libertarian Party, which would continue to qualify and have ballot access with at least 1 percent of votes in Congressional races.

"When you look at third party races, they pay the same amount I do to file. They don't have to run a campaign," Lange told The Nevada Independent before the hearing. "This makes them have to be a little more legitimate."

That provision attracted some pushback from minor political parties. Jo Culver, a volunteer with the People’s Party, said she worried that the increase in signature requirements would decrease individual choice on the ballot.

“I am gender non-conforming, so I am a marginalized community. So what this does is further marginalize us who want and need representation that the two party system isn’t giving us,” Culver said.

Other callers said that the increased signature threshold could be cost prohibitive, thereby hindering the democratic process.

“A 2 percent threshold would be essentially unattainable,” said Gennady Stolyarov II, chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party and a Lead Actuary for property and casualty insurance with the state’s Division of Insurance. “Even more onerous is the requirements in section two, the petition signatures must be apportioned equally among the petition districts, which is essentially impossible to fulfill.”

The bill would also clarify and specify how the state fills vacancies for open seats by:

  • Requiring the governor to appoint a person from the same political party when filling a vacant U.S. Senate seat.
  • Requiring a candidate filling a vacancy that arises for a U.S. House member to be nominated at a special primary election before the special general election, and the governor to specify the date for the special primary election not less than 60 days before the special general election.
  • Removing a requirement for a special election to be conducted no more than 90 days after the governor issues a proclamation if a catastrophe causes a vacancy.
  • Allows the majority or minority leader of the Assembly or Senate to fill vacancies in either chamber, if the vacant seat was formerly represented by a member of their political party.

Lange said two amendments on the bill would be coming. One amendment from the clerks and election officials would align primary elections with existing election schedules, and the other would allow counties to go to the Legislative Commission and request any funds if an election were to be held.

In her closing remarks, Lange said that the bill has room for improvement but defended the concept of straight-ticket voting. 

“Straight-ticket voting is not the fact that if you circle Democrat or Republican at the top of the ticket that you can't make other informed choices,” Lange said. “This allows you to make informed choices down the ballot, should you choose to do that.”

Follow the Money: Breaking down $1.7 million in legislative campaign spending from PACs, political groups and politicians

The Legislature on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020 during the third day of the 32nd Special Session in Carson City.

Of more than $10.6 million spent on Nevada legislative races in the 2020 cycle, no single group of donors, corporate or otherwise, spent more money than candidates, politicians and political PACs, which combined for more than $1.7 million spread across 61 of the state’s 63 lawmakers.  

That represents an uptick compared to 2018, when the same group of donors gave less than $1.4 million in the aggregate. 

Of these donors, dozens of candidate campaign committees — i.e. the formal fundraising accounts for each individual campaign — combined to be by far the largest single chunk with more than $931,000 contributed. They were followed by political groups and related PACs ($556,000), candidate-linked PACs ($117,500) and loans from candidates to their own campaigns ($113,366).

Broadly speaking, these contributions came in smaller chunks, and no single donor spent more than five figures in combined contributions. And, though the sum of these contributions has increased overall, many individual donors — especially issue-related or politically affiliated PACs — contributed less money than they did in 2018. 

In order to assess broad trends in campaign spending, The Nevada Independent categorized and analyzed more than 7,700 individual contributions of more than $200 made to sitting lawmakers in 2019 and 2020. 

These contributions capture nearly all campaign spending through that period, and more broadly show to whom the largest contributions flowed and how much they were worth overall. 

The data in this story show only part of the broader whole: 978 contributions from 271 unique donors fell under the umbrella of candidate or political PAC contributions. 

There are, however, two legislators not captured in these numbers, both appointed to their seats after the election and after a freeze on legislative contributions. They are Sen. Fabian Donate (D-Las Vegas), who replaced former Sen. Yvanna Cancela following her appointment to a post in the federal Department of Health and Human Services; and Assemblywoman Tracy Brown-May (D-Las Vegas), who replaced former Assemblyman Alexander Assefa after he resigned amid a criminal probe into the misuse of campaign funds and a residency issue. 

No single lawmaker raised nearly as much as Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas), who brought in more than $215,000 from 45 contributors for her highly competitive re-election bid last year. 

Almost half of that money — an even $100,000 — came from just 10 donors giving Cannizzaro the maximum of $10,000 allowed by state campaign finance law. Four of those max-donors — Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas), Sen. Roberta Lange (D-Las Vegas), Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop (D-Las Vegas) and Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas) — were fellow legislative Democrats, while the rest came from former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and three more politician-related PACs. 

Those PACs include Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Sandstone PAC, Sen. Jacky Rosen’s Smart Solutions PAC and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s All for Our Country Leadership PAC.

Rounding out the list of top fundraisers are a number of other lawmakers who found themselves in extremely competitive — and consequently extremely expensive — elections. That includes Sen. Heidi Gansert (R-Reno), who raised $147,450; Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama, who raised $147,138, including roughly $119,000 in candidate loans; Sen. Carrie Buck, who raised $130,800; and Sen. Roberta Lange, who raised $113,650. 

All of those top fundraisers received a mix of PAC and campaign committee funds, though only one, Kasama, saw a massive fundraising boost from the addition of candidate loans made to her campaign. For the purposes of this analysis, those loans do not formally make Kasama a “contributor” like other major donors listed below, but still represent a massive influx of campaign cash relative to other campaign contributions. 

The near-$119,000 Kasama loaned her own campaign was so much that, if counted with other donors, it would make her the 10th largest legislative contributor in the entire election, sandwiched between the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association PAC ($119,000) and the public workers’ union AFSCME ($114,500). 

Unlike industry-related spending, contributions made from candidates, candidate PACs or political groups were largely diffuse, with no single donor giving more than five-figures (excluding Kasama’s candidate loans, which do not share the same fundraising role as other contributors listed here). 

Those top donors otherwise include a mix of politicians and issue-focused groups, including Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson with $68,000 contributed; the Humane Society-linked Humane Nevada PAC with $60,500; the Keystone Corporation, a Nevada-based conservative group, with $50,000; and the pro-Democratic Party, pro-abortion rights and pro-women candidates group EMILY’s List with $48,300. 

Below is a breakdown of spending from those top-donors. 

With generally little risk of an election loss in a deep blue district — Frierson has won each of his last three elections by between 16 and 20 percentage points — a non-trivial portion of the speaker’s sizable campaign warchest has, cycle by cycle, trickled down to a number of his fellow Democratic lawmakers. 

In 2020, that included contributions to 10 assembly colleagues and fellow legislative leader Cannizzaro, who received the maximum $10,000 from Frierson’s campaign. 

Other lawmakers receiving that maximum include incumbent Assemblywomen Michelle Gorelow (D-Las Vegas) and Lesley Cohen (D-Henderson), as well as legislative newcomer Elaine Marzola (D-Henderson), with the remaining recipients all receiving $5,000 or less.    

A pro-animal rights PAC linked to the Humane Society, Humane Nevada PAC was unique among top politically affiliated PACs in its contributions to members of both parties. The group gave $60,500 spread across 33 lawmakers last cycle, with $45,500 going to 21 Democrats, and the remaining $15,000 going to 12 Republicans.  

A new PAC to the 2020 cycle — it was created in 2018 but did not spend any money until last year — Humane Nevada’s contributions were also generally small, rarely exceeding a few thousand dollars. Among its recipients, no legislator received the maximum contribution amount and only two — Cannizzaro ($7,500) and Frierson ($5,000) received more than $3,500. 

A Nevada-based non-profit corporation organized in the 1990s around advocating for conservative policy, the Keystone Corporation has since served as a reliable donor for state Republicans. 

In 2020, that amounted to $50,000 spread across 20 Republican lawmakers, all but five members of the Legislature’s Republican caucus. And, as with a number of other major donors, Keystone’s biggest contributions flowed to some of the most competitive races. 

The two biggest recipients were Sen. Carrie Buck (R-Las Vegas) and Assemblyman Andy Matthews (R-Las Vegas), who each received the $10,000 maximum. Four Republicans — Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas), Assemblyman Richard McArthur (R-Las Vegas), Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Sparks) and Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) — received $5,000, while the remaining 14 received $2,000 or less.     

A national group prioritizing the election of Democratic, pro-abortion women candidates, EMILY’s List is routinely among the top politically affiliated PAC donors in each Nevada election cycle. In 2020, those donations — split across both EMILY’s List and the EMILY’s List NF Fund PAC — amounted to $48,300 across just 10 legislators, all women and all Democrats. 

The four biggest recipients were Cohen ($11,500), Marzola ($10,000), Cannizzaro ($9,900) and Gorelow ($9,900), with the remaining six receiving just $1,500 or less. 

Still, that amount is roughly 37 percent less than EMILY’s list spent in Nevada in 2018, when its $77,000 total made it the spendiest single political group of the entire cycle.   

As part of our Follow the Money series The Nevada Independent will be publishing deep dives over the coming weeks into the industries that dominated legislative campaign spending in the 2020 campaign cycle. To see previous installments, follow the links below: 

Tim Lenard, Riley Snyder and Sean Golonka contributed to this report.

Behind the Bar: Just how slow is the start of session? NV GOP alleges election fraud (again), unemployment updates and bills to watch for this week

Behind the Bar is The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive and accessible coverage of the 2021 Legislature. 

In this edition: Has this session started slower than others? Plus, the Nevada Republican Party turns in election complaints, unemployment updates and related GOP indignation, plus a look at upcoming major bill hearings.

Check this link to manage your newsletter subscriptions. The newsletter is published on Mondays and Thursdays.

I want to hear from you! Questions, comments, observations, jokes, what you think we should be covering or paying attention to. Email me at rsnyder@thenvindy.com.


It’s around this time of every legislative session, pandemic or no pandemic, that the whispers start.

“What’s taking drafting so long? Why are they going so slow? How are they going to meet the deadline?”

While there might not be lobbyists in the building just yet, I’ve started to hear the same whisperings this session.

The day this newsletter publishes, March 8, is the 36th day of the 120-day legislative session. The deadline for lawmaker bill introductions is a week away (March 15), and the deadline for most other remaining bill introductions is two weeks away (March 22).

Rather than just rely on a general sense that things are moving slowly this session, I wanted to take a look and compare this session’s quote-unquote productivity with recent sessions.

So far in 2021 (as of Friday, March 5), there have been 401 bill or resolution introductions, along with 349 committee actions (hearings, amendments, or bills mentioned) and 881 floor actions — which includes bill introductions, amendments, votes or generally any other action taken on the Senate or Assembly floor.

That’s behind the pace of the 2019 legislative session, which at this point had 539 bills or resolutions introduced, 432 committee actions and 1,103 floor actions. 

It’s even further behind the pace of the 2017 session — 574 bill or resolution introductions, 559 committee actions and 1,579 floor actions at this point.

So by those metrics, the pace so far is slower than the last two sessions. Some caveats: let me be the latest reporter to tell you that we’re in a pandemic; many of the normal practices and courses of the legislative session have been thrown off by COVID-related disruptions and delays.

And going by raw numbers of bills isn’t the best measure of productivity — not all bills are created equal, and many are destined for the legislative graveyard (see Richard McArthur’s bill eliminating scheduled minimum wage increases or any of the other red-meat Republican Party priorities).

That said, there isn’t too much of a public sense of urgency with nearly a third of the session completed. There’s only been one Friday floor session to date (last week in the Assembly) and many committees are still canceling meetings scheduled for Thursday evening or Friday, save for the budget committees. 

Circling back to the original point, I don’t think this is some unique failure of current legislative leadership — there’s always been a slow start to the session, with a frantic rush at the end to wrap everything up before Sine Die arrives.

If you think slow legislative starts are by any means a new phenomenon, check out this neat compilation of legislative history on the constitutional amendment that set the strict 120-day time limit for legislative sessions (passed in 1998, debated in 1995 and 1997. A special hat tip to lobbyist Lea Case for forwarding it). 

It’s a fun read — the back and forth between former Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio and then-Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus is feisty, and a certain large Las Vegas newspaper supported the change in an op-ed because “lawmakers operating under a hard-and-fast deadline will become more focused and less prone to mischief.” 

And in a weird twist, former Democratic Sen. Mike Schneider in a floor speech in 1997 appears to have sort of eerily predicted the future virtual session, warning that: “Maybe legislators, 50 years from now, will be with their lap top computers and be called from Carson City and hearings will be held instantaneously around the state.”

“Each session has different priorities and each session probably takes a different number of days to complete,” said Schneider, the only “no” vote against the resolution in 1997. “We do not know how long it will take to complete a session because of the types of bills that come in.”

— Riley Snyder


NV GOP’s voter fraud crusade continues

A full 121 days after Election Day 2020, Nevada Republican Party leadership and a crowd of about 40 supporters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol on Thursday to turn in boxes filled with what they said were more than 122,000 reports of election irregularities in the previous election.

Despite assurances from the Nevada secretary of state and election officials in major counties and state court decisions rejecting the notion that widespread voter fraud had occurred in the 2020 election, Republican Party leadership nonetheless continued to echo the unsupported rhetoric that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

The complaints submitted Thursday largely include instances of alleged fraud previously identified by the Trump campaign and state Republican Party in court — deceased voters (1,506), non-citizen voters (3,987) commercial or non-existent addresses (8,842 and 8,111) and alleged duplicate voters (42,284). 

Many of those categories were mentioned in data reports submitted as part of the Trump campaign’s lawsuit against the state, but were initially filed under seal (some later released on the party’s website) and did not publicly name which individuals it had accused of cheating the system.

On Thursday, speakers sought to walk a careful line between relitigating 2020 and various claims of fraud, while looking ahead to future elections and potential legislative changes to the state’s election process.

“We don’t agree on much these days, but at the end of the day, we have to come together and unite to fix this broken abortion of a bill,” state party Chairman Michael McDonald said in reference to AB4 of the 2020 special session, at one point adding that “this isn’t about the past election...if we do not have fair and open elections, this state is dead.”

Others, such as former Republican congressional candidate Jim Marchant, remained focused on 2020.

“I believe the race was stolen from me,” said Marchant, who lost by more than 16,000 votes in his bid against incumbent Democratic Rep. Steve Horsford. “I believe the race was stolen from Donald Trump.”

Marchant said he was “very passionate” about voter fraud issues and planned to run for Secretary of State in 2022.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state confirmed that the office had received the complaints and will “review them and investigate when warranted.”

— Riley Snyder


DETR by the numbers

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) presented its projected unemployment insurance budget for the upcoming two-year budget cycle to a joint budget committee on Thursday.  Here are some figures that stood out:

82,847: The number of unemployment insurance (UI) and pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) claims that DETR still has pending. Those are initial claims that the department still must process and administer funds for. UI and PUA claims each make up about half of the total pending claims.

306,632: The number of UI and PUA claims suspected to be fraudulent that are pending identity verification. More than 250,000 of those are PUA claims. Jeff Frischmann, an administrator at DETR, said that many of those claims came from a spike of around 100,000 claims filed in early January following the passage of the federal stimulus bill.

4: The projected number of years it will take DETR to modernize its UI computer system. A January report from the DETR Rapid Response Strike Force recommended that the department modernize its UI system, with upgrades projected to cost between $30 and $50 million. During the budget presentation, Marylin Delmont, the department’s IT administrator, said that it would take at least three and a half to four years to implement a new system after receiving a federal award for the upgrades. However, the funding request process can take as long as a year, and DETR has not yet identified a source for federal funding for system modernization.

$178 million: The state’s unemployment trust fund debt. That number, which continues to climb, represents nearly $200 million in loans that Nevada has received from the federal government in order to maintain the state’s unemployment trust fund. Those loans remain interest free through the middle of March, though the interest moratorium could potentially be extended by the next federal stimulus bill. 

155: The number of intermittent full-time employees that DETR hopes to maintain in the upcoming biennium to handle the increased number of pandemic-related claims. The 155 employees are a part of a proposed amendment to the department’s budget and have not yet been approved. Those employees would cover a variety of different roles, including 92 positions for call center support and 36 for fraud support. The estimated cost of the proposed amendment is a little more than $12 million for each fiscal year of the biennium.

— Sean Golonka


Republicans call DETR situation “shocking”

Republicans took to social media after the DETR budget presentation described in the previous item to call the numbers of claims held up over ID issues “shocking,” with Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Sparks) adding “it’s time for us to ask the tough questions of our unemployment compensation system.”

Dickman has requested a BDR that would take the following steps:

  • Allocate $48.5 million for the modernization of DETR’s system
  • Begin updating the system immediately upon allocation
  • Have the legislative auditor examine DETR’s processes for ensuring accurate data about claims during the pandemic, and evaluate the agency’s processes for detecting and preventing fraud. A report would be due at the end of 2022.

It’s also worth noting that Republican senators including Keith Pickard (R-Henderson) recently met with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants to try to develop an intervention into DETR problems.

Bill language has yet to come out, and with this expenditure not included in the governor’s budget, Republicans who have been vociferous about the unemployment problems under a Democratic administration still need to identify where the money for an immediate modernization would come from. Another big question: would any of these big-picture plans address the immediate pain of claimants who are stuck in the system right now, or are less-flashy tweaks the answer?

We’ll be watching this week for more specifics about these proposals, what happens when DETR’s capstone bill SB75 comes up for a work session on Monday, and how the COVID relief bill that’s on the brink of passage may change the entire calculus.

— Michelle Rindels


Upcoming Bills of Note

Requiring courthouses to have lactation rooms for members of the public, preventing schools from having racially insensitive mascots or logos, and creating an all-payer claims database related to health services are just some of the top issues scheduled for hearings this week.

Below, we’ve listed out the hearing times and short descriptions for those high-profile measures. They’re accurate as of Sunday afternoon, but are subject to change at any time (given that the Legislature is exempted from Open Meeting Law). For links and times to watch committee meetings, check out the Legislature’s website.

Here’s what to watch this week in the Legislature:

Monday, 9 a.m. - Assembly Judiciary reviewing AB64, a bill that increases penalties and makes other changes to laws on prostitution. It’s sponsored by the attorney general’s office.

Monday, 10 a.m. - Assembly Government Affairs reviews AB196, which generally requires courthouses in the state to provide a lactation room for a member of the public.

Monday, 3:30 p.m. - Senate Growth and Infrastructure plans to review SB196, a bill by Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas) that would make an “anatomical gift” (organ or other body part donation after death) an opt-out, rather than opt-in system.

Tuesday, 9 a.m. - Assembly Government Affairs reviews AB99, which would raise the prevailing wage minimum threshold for public works or construction projects undertaken by the Nevada System of Higher Education. It’s sponsored by Assemblyman John Ellison (R-Elko).

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. - Assembly Education to review AB88, a bill by Assemblyman Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas) prohibiting schools from using an “identifier” such as a name, logo, mascot, song or other identifier that is racially discriminatory or is associated with a person “with a racially discriminatory history.” It’d also authorize higher education governing bodies to adopt similar provisions, but require the state Board on Geographic Names to change any similar racially discriminatory names of places or geographic features. 

Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. - Senate Health and Human Services to review SB40, a bill by the state Patient Protection Commission that would create an all-payer claims database of information relating to health insurance claims resulting from medical, dental or pharmacy benefits provided in the state.

Wednesday, 8 a.m. - Assembly Judiciary to hear AB42, a bill that implements the Nevada Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Anderson v. Nevada requiring any person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime that would prohibit them from owning firearms have the right to a jury trial

Wednesday, 1 p.m. - Senate Judiciary will review SB140, a bill by Sen. Dina Neal (D-Las Vegas) that would require inmates working for the state to be paid the minimum wage.

Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. - Senate Growth and Infrastructure to hear SB162, which would allow drivers of low emission and energy-efficient vehicles to use the HOV or carpool lane regardless of the number of passengers.

What we’re reading

The first installment of Megan Messerly’s ‘What Happened Here’ COVID retrospective.

Tabitha Mueller takes a deep dive into issues of affordable housing and housing supply that could come up this session. Didn’t realize it, but the highly-touted $10 million in tax credits for affordable housing hasn’t really been used at all in the last two years. 

A 54 percent increase in contract buyouts among Nevada colleges and universities, via Jacob Solis.

Jannelle Calderon reports on fallout from a federal court loss for backers of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Has COVID killed off the famous Las Vegas buffets? (Reno Gazette-Journal)

Legislation aims to end racial disparities in youth possession of weed (Nevada Current).

“In a letter read into testimony, one inmate said because of the deductions, his mother ‘has to send $17.50 for me to buy a $2.50 deodorant’” (Nevada Current).

Assemblywoman makes case for treating pretrial house arrest as time served. (Nevada Current)

Attorney Sigal Chattah takes a break from suing the state to announce a run for attorney general (Associated Press).

The understaffed Department of Corrections wants a staffing study, but Assemblywoman Brittney Miller asks why we need a study for a problem we’ve already identified (Nevada Appeal).

In proceedings slightly less dramatic than the 1917 October Revolution, Judith Whitmer defeated Tick Segerblom to become the new head of the Nevada State Democratic Party (Las Vegas Review-Journal).

UPCOMING DEADLINES

Days to take action on Initiative Petitions before they go to the 2022 ballot: 4 (March 12, 2021)

Days Until Legislator Bill Introduction Deadline: 7 (March 15, 2021)

Days Until Sine Die: 84 (May 31, 2021)

Updated at 10:20 a.m. on Monday, March 8 to correct the number of filed bills or resolutions for the 2021, 2019, and 2017 session. The previous totals did not include the number of pre-filed bills.

Behind the Bar: COVID in the Legislature, pot for pets, cuts to tobacco prevention and revisiting welfare reform

Behind the Bar is The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive and accessible coverage of the 2021 Legislature. 

In this edition: A positive COVID test comes right as the mass vaccination campaign inside the building begins. Plus, details on the “pot for pets” bill, ending a 90s-era ban on people with drug charges from accessing state welfare programs, and concerns over cuts to tobacco prevention funding. And, the return of fan-favorite feature “Carson City Restaurant Spotlight.”

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I want to hear from you! Questions, comments, observations, jokes, what you think we should be covering or paying attention to. Email me at rsnyder@thenvindy.com.


I suppose it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 came (again) to the Legislature.

If you missed the news yesterday, a person inside the Legislative Building in Carson City tested positive for the virus earlier this week. Contact tracing is underway, and there wasn’t any additional identifying information in the email sent to Legislative Counsel Bureau staff on Wednesday morning.

Even with lobbyists and members of the public still not allowed in the building, there’s still somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 to 400 people between legislators, staff and the small press pool spending hours and hours inside the building. That’s a lot of people to keep track of, especially with many lawmakers flying back to Las Vegas on weekends.

I would be surprised if legislative operations are significantly affected by the positive test — committees are already held virtually, so someone who needs to quarantine could still theoretically participate in meetings. There’s also rapid COVID testing available in the legislative parking garage, with people in the building required to be tested as least once a week.

Lawmakers have also adopted rules allowing legislators to appear virtually during floor sessions, an option that relatively few have taken up so far this session (definitely noticed a trend of more people appearing virtually after a positive case was reported in the first 2020 special session).

The timing of the positive test also comes as mass vaccinations are finally happening, with first shots of the Moderna vaccine being administered this week. The timing isn’t uniform — some older staffers were vaccinated earlier this year —  and people who had COVID prior to the session and still have (presumably) some kind of antibody resistance.

All of these things are factors in the equation of when to open the building. Again, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson was adamant last week that an opening wouldn’t happen until the LCB staff were fully vaccinated and protected from the virus (the death of Assembly Sgt. at Arms Robin Bates from COVID still weighs heavily). 

I understand, and am sympathetic to the difficult decisions that legislative leadership has to make in regards to opening the building. Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro’s line on Wednesday during the Senate floor session, that “there is nothing quite like a global pandemic to put everyone in an impossible situation,” certainly appeared like an authentic expression that figuring out how to open safely is a really, really difficult task.

But this is why they’re elected — to figure out and try to address those really difficult problems. It’s hard, but someone needs to eventually make the call and give more clarity as to what to expect going forward.

— Riley Snyder

Maybe this time the pets will get their pot 

Licensed veterinarians are not allowed to use or recommend CBD or hemp products to pet owners to treat conditions, but experts say people do anyway without vet guidance.

Nevada lawmakers may soon change that. The Assembly Commerce and Labor committee heard a purr-posed “pot for pets” bill on Monday. 

AB101, presented by Assemblyman Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas), would change Nevada law to allow veterinarians to administer hemp or CBD products, containing no more than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive compound THC, to an animal, or recommend a pet owner to use such a product.

“We're not going to have a bunch of pets walking around stoned,” Yeager said. “It's more of the calming effect of CBD.”

The bill would relieve vet and pet owner anxieties around the use and discussion of CBD as a treatment option, according to Jennifer Pedigo, executive director of the Nevada Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. AB101 would prohibit the board from disciplining licensed veterinarians or facilities solely for administration or recommendation of the product.

“There is this desire on the part of vets to be able to look at this and to talk about it,” Yeager said. “But they just want to make sure that they're not going to get disciplined for doing so.”

In 2015, then-Sen. Tick Segerblom introduced SB372 that would have allowed the medical use of marijuana for animals, but the bill died without a hearing. 

Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Sparks) shared during the hearing her experience of asking the vet if CBD would help with her Yorkshire terrier’s pain during the dog’s last days, but she said the vet couldn’t guide her.  

“Not that I think it would have saved the dog, but I think her last days would have been far more comfortable if they had been able to guide me," Dickman said.

— Jannelle Calderon & Tabitha Mueller

Nixing a Clinton-era ban on welfare for people with drug convictions

One of the legacies of welfare reform in 1996 has been extremely small welfare rolls in Nevada, even while less-restrictive programs such as Medicaid enroll 40 times as many people and attest that the need for cash assistance is there. 

But another vestige of the Clinton-era policy is a ban on welfare and food stamp benefits for people who have felony drug convictions. That comes from the “Gramm Amendment” — sponsored by Republican former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas — that got two minutes of debate in the Senate before being adopted into the welfare reform bill President Bill Clinton signed into law.

While there are some ways for people with felony convictions in Nevada to get around the ban, such as proving they completed federally certified substance abuse training, critics say such programs are expensive and difficult to access. And what if the applicant loses the proof they completed such a program?

The Assembly Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday heard AB138, which seeks to wipe out such restrictions. Critics including Assemblywoman Annie Black (R-Mesquite), who disclosed she has a person in her life who is dealing with an opioid addiction, said she worried about removing a requirement that might be a “carrot” to nudge people into treatment.

But public commenters exclusively spoke in support of the bill, condemning a criminal justice system that disproportionately convicts people of color. They said the “War on Drugs”-era policy is a cruel way to encourage treatment and punishes a subset of formerly incarcerated people as well as their families. 

Commenter Nicole Williams perhaps summed up the bill support in its most basic essence.

“All humans, all Nevadans, with or without felony convictions, should have access to food,” she said. “It's basic human decency.”

— Michelle Rindels

Tobacco prevention funding zeroed out

A major concern for public health advocates for the upcoming biennium? Cuts to tobacco prevention funding. 

Through vaping tax bill SB263 in 2019, the state appropriated $2.5 million in both the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years for tobacco prevention. Instead, the state spent less than $2.3 million on SB263 tobacco prevention in the two years combined, and in the proposed budget for the upcoming biennium, there are no funds allocated for tobacco prevention efforts.

During a legislative hearing on Tuesday for the proposed budget for the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, several public health advocates sounded the alarm about youth anti-vaping programs potentially going away.

“Elimination of education along with the loss of funding to local health authorities to implement prevention activities in communities throughout the state will mean more Nevada youth using and becoming addicted to nicotine products,” Tom McCoy, policy committee chair for the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, wrote in a public comment.

Representatives from the health districts in Washoe and Clark counties called for restoring funding, pointing to the ongoing trends in youth vaping. Nearly half of Washoe County high school students and nearly a third of Washoe County middle school students reported having used electronic vapor products, according to Kevin Dick, district health officer for Washoe County.

— Sean Golonka

Carson City Restaurant Spotlight: Thai Thai

I’m not one to typically seek out a food court in a mall anchored by an urgent care and a salon called Get Nailed. But the Carson Mall has a few eateries of note, including one of the capital city’s two Thai restaurants.

Thai Thai is a bit pricier than what you might expect from similar restaurants in Vegas, but I also got out the door paying less than what I would at The Basil, which is the destination of choice if you’re into downtown people-watching and on the company tab.

My green curry and Pad Thai order was fast, piping hot and neatly presented, with a few unidentified, saucy bonus condiments thrown in perhaps for good measure and perhaps to achieve spice level 3. The curry could’ve been a bit more green, but like that Pad Thai, it hit the spot. And I’m probably doing this restaurant critic thing wrong by even bringing up the rice, but the rice was perfection.

In all, dinner for two (and leftovers for the next day) was about $32 including tip. Thai Thai is open until 9 p.m. most nights to accommodate committee hearings that run late, but not too late.

Make your takeout order at (775) 883-7905. Located at 1300 S Stewart Street in Carson City.

Have a restaurant suggestion for the Spotlight? Tell me at michelle@thenvindy.com. FYI: We’re not accepting free food in order to preserve the integrity of the reviews.

An order of Pad Thai and green-ish curry from Pad Thai in Carson City (Michelle Rindels/The Nevada Independent)

What we’re reading

The quest to add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution is forever pending, but getting it into the Nevada Constitution will probably be an easier lift. Jannelle Calderon reports.

Insurers charging you more because Fido is a pit bull? Sean Golonka on banning breed-specific rates.

Nothing brings the left and right together like committee chairs limiting public comment to 10 minutes. Riley reports.

Andy Matthews once went undercover to try out for the Red Sox, but said he was never much in danger of making the team. That and more on the new Republican Assembly member, via Riley.

For the third time in as many sessions, proposals are floating in the Legislature to appoint, rather than elect, as least some school board members. Jackie Valley reports that the proposal might have a better chance in 2021.

A new coalition wants the Legislature to raise taxes for public education, and is employing the classic lobbying tactic of buying billboard space between the Reno airport and the capital, Michelle reports.

Assemblywoman Selena Torres (D-Las Vegas) has introduced a bill that would ban summary evictions (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles (R-Reno) is introducing a bill that would promote information literacy in public schools (KUNR)

Public Employee Retirement System premiums for state workers are set to increase over the budget cycle (Nevada Appeal)

UPCOMING DEADLINES

Days to take action on Initiative Petitions before they go to the 2022 ballot: 15 (March 12, 2021)

Days Until Legislator Bill Introduction Deadline: 18 (March 15, 2021)

Days Until Sine Die: 95 (May 31, 2021)