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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nevada politicians vie for reapportioned, redistricted Congressional seats

Nevada State Senator John J. Lee, D., District 1 and State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, District 4, will go head-to-head during the Democratic primary race for the 4th Congressional District, members of the Mesquite Democrat Club were told Tuesday, Oct. 18.

Currently, District 4 is held by Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who has announced that she is running for the U.S. Senate. This district covers much of North Las Vegas and the northern urbanized Clark County. It also covers half of the rural counties in the state.

However, every ten years, following the Federal Census, the Nevada State Legislature is responsible for reapportioning and redistricting Congressional districts in addition to other local, state, federal, and educational districts.

While it is certain that Nevada will gain a fourth seat in Congress, plans developed by the State legislature were rejected by the Governor during the last legislative session. The issue now awaits further action by the state or federal courts. Nonetheless, individuals are placing themselves in contention for the four congressional districts.

Lee told the members that he grew up in a working-class environment, and learned early about the value of education and hard-work. Lee said he worked in the potato fields and felt a kinship with the rural residents in Nevada.

Lee, 56, a Las Vegas businessman, has lived in North Las Vegas since he was 5. He served four years in the Assembly before winning his first of two terms in the state Senate in 2004.

Lee, who has served in the state legislature for 14-years, also said that, if elected to the Congressional seat, he would work to diversify the economy, create jobs, and work to resolve the foreclosure problems that have plagued Nevadans.

Lee joined other Democrats in backing Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposal to extend more than $600 million in taxes that were scheduled to expire.

Horsford, the current Senate Majority Leader, is a life-long resident of Las Vegas. In 2001, he went to work at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, a labor/management partnership between major Nevada employer and the unions that represent their workers. He was elected to the Nevada State Senate in 2004 and wrote and passed the "Clean Energy Jobs Initiative." He is an advocate of renewable energy technology, and authored legislation providing tax incentives to businesses that create higher paying jobs in Nevada.

Horsford, joined with Republican state senator Joe Hardy in passing SB-278 which streamlines contracting and rationalizes reporting between insurers and providers of health care.

Both Horsford and Lee, joined with other legislators to pass SB 440 which establishes a health insurance exchange. Both bills are necessary in order to enact the provisions of the nation's Affordable Care Act (ACA,) which will be phased in over time.

Horsford, told the group that although certain provisions of the ACA do not become effective immediately, some 26 provisions of the act are already law including the establishment of a high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing medical conditions. These pools end on January 1, 2014, when government-regulated insurance exchanges start operating. By then insurance companies will be unable to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Both Lee and Horsford, during the last session, voted to amend the states Clean Air Act to allow smoking in certain restaurants. Lee pointed out that he voted for the amendment out of concern for potential business loss if the ban was enforced.

In other legislative action, Lee opposed a tax increase proposal developed by Horsford and other Democrats. No vote was taken on that plan.

Democrats Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, and Sen. Ruben Kihuen have also announced their candidacies for a congressional seat. In addition, former Democratic Rep. Dina Titus is also vying for a seat. Among the Republicans, Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei will likely seek re-election for their seats.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Obamacare

State Senator Joe Hardy (R), who represents Mesquite in the State Legislature, was factually incorrect when he recently told a group of local citizens that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was interfering with job creation.
Hardy and other Republicans demagogue PPACA as Obamacare but, in fact, it was legislation passed by a 60 to 39 vote in the U.S. Senate and a 219 to 212 vote in the House of Representatives. If they wish to engage in polarizing propaganda then they should call the expansion of Medicare and Social Security in 1969 as Nixoncare.
According to press reports Hardy told local residents, during a September town hall meeting, that: "small businesses are waiting to hire people because they don’t know what’s happening to healthcare. Other businesses are letting their insurance programs go because they felt health care was being taken over by the federal government.” In fact, non-partisan experts have constantly predicted that the law will have little effect on employment.
Republicans constantly repeat the job reduction claim by pointing to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report which they say analysts projected job losses for the U.S. economy. In fact, CBO analysts did not predict a job loss. CBO authors actually said that the economy will use less labor primarily because many people will choose to work less, or retire early, as a result of the new law. What CBO projects is mostly a reduction in the supply of labor, which is not the same as a reduction in the supply of jobs.
CBO said one reason fewer people will choose to work is that many low-income people will have more money in their pockets as a result of the law expanding Medicaid and providing federal subsidies for many who buy insurance privately. "The expansion of Medicaid and the availability of subsidies through the exchanges will effectively increase beneficiaries’ financial resources," CBO said. "Those additional resources will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market."
Another reason that people might work less is that the new law requires insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, and also limits their ability to charge higher rates for older persons who buy policies for themselves.
Further, small businesses, those with 50 or fewer employees, are likely to benefit under the law. According to the Lewin Group, a subsidiary of United Health Group, small business activities actually could come out ahead since they don’t face the employee mandate and they get a tax credit for their health benefit programs. This gives them an advantage in the marketplace especially if they’re competing against larger firms.
According to the Web site FactCheck.org, the GOP also misrepresents a report by the National Federation of Independent Business, projecting a 1.6 million job loss from the Act. But the NFIB did not study the new law. Its report was based on a hypothetical employer mandate that bears little resemblance to what was actually passed — and it also projects a gain of hundreds of thousands of health care and insurance industry jobs.
FactCheck points out that the GOP report refers to the NFIB’s analysis as "independent," but it’s hardly a neutral source. The federation is currently backing repeal of the new law, and has historically been opposed to any requirement that businesses provide coverage for their workers. NFIB also co-sponsored with the Chamber of Commerce an ad criticizing health care legislation.
House Republicans also claim that the Act is a "budget-busting" piece of legislation. The CBO officially scored the new law as self-financing, projecting that it would actually reduce the deficit over the first 10 years — and beyond. Repealing the new law, as Republicans propose, would increase the deficit. CBO’s latest figures project that repealing the new law will increase the deficit by a total of $230 billion over the next 10 years (through fiscal year 2021). So keeping it in place would help the budget, not bust it.
Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available in the MesquiteCitizen Journal book store. Click here to see his blog

Market Oriented Mesquite, Nevada

Mesquite Citizen Journal:
The interim City Manager, the Recreation and Parks Director and the Economic Development Director want to sink an estimated $3.7 million into an indoor sports complex and cover it with a used 215' by 400' fabric covered, metal structure and potentially pump 150 tons of air conditioning into the unit to support uncertain sports events in the desert.
To pay for the complex, city administrators propose spending approximately $1 million generated from a land deal with Nevada Community Solutions (NCS).The additional money is projected to come from more land sales or by using Rural Development Authority (RDA) funds. At some future date, NCS would further develop 500 acres near the sports complex.
This issue goes back to 2004 when then-city officials entered into an agreement with NCS whereby NCS would develop land west of Mesquite. NCS gave the City a $6 million down payment. In March 2010, NCS offered to terminate the agreement if the $6 million was returned. City officials opted to look at new ways to spend the money.
The policy issue before the Mayor and city council remains essentially the same. Return the money to NCS or do something. It's the "do something" problem that eventually generated the desire to build the indoor sporting complex.
This project highlights the major problem with city economic planning and development. They approach these deals with a “build it and they will come,” philosophy. This philosophy is an economic fallacy. They also approach projects with a “sunk cost,” mentality. That is, we have invested time and money into this project and can't stand to see it go to waste. That is another economic fallacy.
Mayor Mark Weir and some members of the city council appear uncomfortable with the situation, as well they should. Weir and councilman Kraig Hafen come from the private sector and probably, and instinctively, feel uncomfortable with spending based upon economic fallacies. Councilman Allan Litman, comes from a government background, but is well aware of the need to conserve taxpayer money and avoid questionable spending.
Clearly, appointed city administrators have forgotten, if they ever knew, that markets exist in both the private and public sectors and even government economic planning must be built upon classic market strategies. The same laws of supply and demand that govern business success also work in the delivery of government services and projects. It's up to the elected Mayor and the city council to steer these appointed administrators in more thoughtful economic direction.
In this deal with NCS, if it should continue, the two parties should quantify the exact nature of the market for increasing recreational opportunities in a desert setting this close to the well-established opportunities in both St. George and Las Vegas. If none exists, engage in some “out-of-the-box,” thinking as alternatives. If nothing fits into a marketable strategy, return the funds and move on. Consider, for example, the market that exists for smoke free gaming as an alternative to the current gambling environments. Instead of indoor recreation, the city-NCS and gaming investors could potentially re-open the convention center or the Oasis and offer quality dining in addition to smoke-free gaming.
Elected officials, among other things, could offer substantial tax credits for the business venture and possibly set-aside a portion of the complex for artists, writers, and a history museum with artifacts that exemplify the western life.
In the future, elected officials should consider a smoke-free city ordinance, based upon the economic success of this investment, and existing research by Richard Roesler (2006) and Eriksenand F. Chaloupka (2007)which shows that the fear of losing business if smoking is banned in casinos, bars and restaurants, is unfounded.
In marketable terms, Mesquite's true assets are not its smoke-filled casinos, seasonal golf courses and sports fields. Its true value is it's atmosphere of individual freedom, opportunity and a sense of well-being that comes from healthy, peaceful, desert living.
Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon. Click here to see his blog
 
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