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Conservative think tank praises 20 Nevada legislators

A conservative think tank grading Nevada lawmakers on their performance on behalf of taxpayers in the 2015 legislative session found only 20 of 63 who achieved favorable voting records.

The 2015 edition of a biennial Nevada Legislative Session Review & Report Card, released last week by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, scored lawmakers on more than 80 floor votes to determine the rankings.

The report-card rankings are calculated by the same system that the National Taxpayers Union uses to rate members of Congress. Based on a scale of zero through 100, the rankings at the high end of the scale indicate a greater commitment to low taxes, limited, accountable government and implementation of reforms. Legislators who score 50 or above are generally considered allies of economic liberty.

Only 20 of the 63 members of the Legislature earned scores at or above 50 percent. A quartet of Republican assemblywomen, however, earned scores above 90 percent — better than any lawmaker scored during the 2013 session.

Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Wellington, topped all lawmakers with score of 93.17 percent and earned the distinction of the "taxpayer's best friend."

Assemblywomen Shelly Shelton, R-Las Vegas, with a score of 92.86 percent; Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, 92.78 percent; and Jill Dickman, R-Sparks, 90.68 percent, also represented taxpayers extremely well, the group said.

Men scoring highest in the Assembly included Brent Jones, R-Las Vegas, 89.75 percent, and John Ellison, R-Elko, 89.42 percent. In the Senate, Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, at 86.2 percent, had the highest score.

At the other end, Assemblywomen Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, earned just a 11.8 percent — the lowest score of any politician.

Based on his decision to sign the largest tax increase in state history and what the Las Vegas-based think tank called bloated spending bills, Gov. Brian Sandoval earned a score of 43.48 percent. Sandoval and other lawmakers received credit for reform bills such as Senate Bill 302, creating education savings accounts, and Assembly bill 125, changing Nevada's construction defects law.

"These grades make clear who voted on behalf of taxpayers and who decided to please the special-interest lobbyists that swarmed Carson City," NPRI Executive Vice President Victor Joecks said. "When talking with voters, Republican candidates pledged their support for lower taxes and less government. Unfortunately, many of those same politicians went back on their commitments and voted for the largest tax increase in Nevada history."

The full report card can be found at npri.org/docLib/201510281_The2015LegislativeSessionReviewandReportCard.pdf

— Sean Whaley

Reid's charm offensive

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid had kind words for three Republicans when he spoke on the Senate floor Thursday.

First, for departing House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio:

"John Boehner is a good and decent man. His word was always good. And I will miss him."

Next, for incoming House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin:

"I respect Paul Ryan. … He is a smart and dedicated leader who is deeply committed to his country and his family. Those qualities will serve him well as speaker of the House."

And, then he went all in for Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval after crediting him — and his courage to stand up to Republican antipathy for President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act — with a spike in the number of Nevada children with health care insurance coverage.

"I am an admirer of Governor Sandoval, and this is saying a lot. His opponent in the last election was my son. But I have to say this in spite of the fact that my son came in second, Brian Sandoval has done an outstanding job as governor, and I admire him."

— Peter Urban

Sanders goes low budget

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, is getting his no-frills operation set up in Nevada. The independentU.S. senator from Vermont faces an uphill battle against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who consistently leads the polls.

Sanders now has a Nevada campaign headquarters office at 815 S. Rainbow Blvd. in Las Vegas. A message sent Thursday to supporters reflected the Sanders campaign's low-budget approach.

The note asked for volunteers and "super supporters" willing to train and become precinct captains during the February caucuses. The campaign also said it could use some office furniture, noting it doesn't have the backing of a super PAC, and "anything you can contribute will go a long way."

Sanders campaign organizers won't be staying in ritzy Vegas hotels, either.

"While we are hiring mostly from within Nevada, we have organizers coming in from all over the country to help Bernie win, and they need a place to sleep," the note said. "We're looking for people willing to host one of our out-of-state organizers until the caucus."

— Ben Botkin

— Contact Peter Urban at purban@reviewjournal.com or at 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @PUrbanDC. Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801. Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.


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