Las Vegas business leaders believe they got some results from broadening the approach to their annual lobbying trek to Washington last week.
While the dozen or so members of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce spent time with each member of Nevada’s congressional delegation, they also called on representatives from Arizona, Utah, Pennsylvania and West Virginia who sit on relevant committees or share regional interests.
Meetings with the Arizonans, for instance, focused on having an Interstate 11 built to connect Phoenix and Las Vegas and on concerns about drought and its impact on the Colorado River, which Arizona and Nevada share.
“We are facing a national natural disaster with the drought here. We have to figure out some regional approaches to solving that problem,” said Brian McAnallen, chamber vice president of government affairs.
He said the group gained agreement from Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona.
Likewise, the Las Vegans met with Rep. Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who is chairman of the House public lands subcommittee. The goal was to steer his attention to a bill designating fossil beds at Tule Springs north of the city as a federally recognized national monument.
Mission accomplished, according to Bishop, who hadn’t taken much notice of the bill proposed by Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., but now is open to holding a hearing on it.
“I was impressed,” Bishop said of the group’s presentation.
Kristen McMillan, chamber president and CEO, said she returned to Nevada believing the group’s messages got through.
“People are listening to what we have to say. They want to hear what business leaders think because we are on the ground in their districts,” McMillan said.
CHECK GLITCHES ON THE WANE
Glitches are being worked out with the state Employment Security Division’s new $38 million computer system so that most claimants do not have to call dozens of times to reach someone about their unemployment claims.
That’s the message of Frank Woodbeck, the director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. Woodbeck noted Tuesday that 448,000 calls had been successfully made with the agency since the new system was launched Sept. 4, or about 25,000 a day.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal received calls from readers who said they get nothing but busy signals though they called hundreds of times about the failure to receive their unemployment checks. The calls are being forwarded to the governor’s office and the Employment Security Division and at Woodbeck’s request to his email account. About 50,000 people a week receive unemployment checks in Nevada.
Woodbeck said that in each week that goes by, there are fewer problems for people in reaching employees to help them with unemployment problems. He said people who use automatic dialers should realize that these devices won’t work unless they completely disconnect before making another call.
The people experiencing the most problems probably are those who have some type of special problem with their claims that take extra work by the staff, he added.
He advises people to call at night and avoid delays. The computer system’s feature to let people call, leave a message and receive a call back that day was “overwhelmed” the first few days that the new system went into effect. The old system was closed down Aug. 26, and the new one started nine days later.
The cost of the computer system was paid entirely by the federal government. Initially the price was expected to be $30 million, but the government insisted on additional security features and other changes.
The Review-Journal’s Capital Bureau had received no complaints about the new computer system since Tuesday afternoon.
ARE YOU HAPPY, HARRY?
Kudos to longtime Reno television and print news reporter Dennis Meyers for asking U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the kind of questions that few reporters would think to ask.
Meyers caught Reid off-guard when he asked the always embattled 73-year-old if he were “happy.”
After thinking a bit, Reid said he doesn’t golf or go to ballgames, go out to dinners on weeknights, and has plenty of time for his family.
“I’m happy as a lark,” he added.
Reid said that he and his wife, Landra, are “very happy with each other.” She has had health problems but accompanied her husband last month to Lake Tahoe for a summit where former Vice President Al Gore was the chief speaker.
His hobbies are reading and spending time with “my little wife.” If the Democratic members of his caucus believe he isn’t doing a good job, then “they can get rid of me any time they want.” Reid has been majority leader since January 2007. The comments by Reid appeared in a short column in the Sept. 12-18 edition of the free distribution Reno News &Review.
That Reid doesn’t golf is a blessing in a world where too many politicians — and fathers — spend much of their free time on golf courses.
Meyers has had an up-and-down career in 40 years in the news business in Reno, once serving as the primary news and legislative reporter for TV stations He often carries a small camera, which he uses to snap photos of fellow reporters, politicians and others, later sending them as gifts.
HAMBRICK SEEKS RE-ELECTION
Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, announced Wednesday that he will seek a fourth term in the Assembly in 2014.
One of the more conservative members of the lower house, Hambrick has voted against tax increases, including extending existing taxes, during his three sessions in the Legislature. He also is probably the most outspoken legislator against sex trafficking, for punishing pimps, and in favor of looking for ways to help teenage prostitutes. He was one of the chief advocates of the new law that can put pimps who use children in prison for life.
Hambrick, 68, a retired federal law enforcement officer, had considered running for the state Senate but decided to remain in the Assembly where he has seniority.
He sought the Assembly minority leader post before the 2013 session.
He won re-election to the Assembly District 2 seat without opposition in 2012.
“In the 2013 legislative session, I fought against new taxes that would have undermined Nevada’s vulnerable recovery; I will continue to stand with Nevada families and businesses and advocate for common-sense policies that will foster Nevada’s economic recovery. It has been a true honor and privilege to serve my neighbors in AD2 and I look forward to representing you again in the Nevada State Assembly.”