Nevada Legislature sees quiet session so far

CARSON CITY — When the Senate Transportation Committee met March 13 to discuss Sen. Don Gustavson’s bill to increase the speed limit to 85 mph, just a handful of Nevadans showed up in the hearing room. Testimony was given by five people, none of them private citizens who just like to drive fast.

A March 8 Senate Judiciary hearing on a bill to levy $25 fines against children under 18 who smoke cigarettes drew three speakers, none of them teens, while an Assembly Education Committee hearing on a bill to punish high school seniors who cheat on tests drew four speakers, but no actual students.

Has the public apathy about government grown so strong that Nevadans don’t even care about bills that would affect large numbers of people, including themselves?

Legislators say no. State Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said a group of students and teachers had wanted to attend his hearing on fining teens who smoke, but couldn’t take time off to attend on school days.

“I am getting twice as much email as last session,” Settelmeyer added.

State Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, chaired the poorly attended hearing on the higher speed limit.

While he had expected more people to attend, he speculated the attendance might have been low because the higher speeds would apply only in limited areas, on Interstate 15 between Craig Road and Mesquite and on most parts of Interstate 80 across Northern Nevada.

“I haven’t been to Mesquite in a decade,” he said. “People realized it would apply in limited areas. If it had been in Las Vegas or Boulder City, hundreds of people would have turned out.”

But Fred Lokken, a political science and Web college professor at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, has little doubt that the public attention on this year’s Legislature has dropped.


Lokken said Gov. Brian Sandoval’s anti-tax increase position has come through so loud and clear that residents realize legislators, unlike in 2011, won’t be raising taxes this year.

And no bill that requires additional spending can pass unless legislators increase taxes or take funds from an existing state agency budget.

The cost of changing signs to an 80 or 85 mph speed limit would be $750,000 on Interstate 80 alone.

Because the tax issues are what attract many people’s attention, and there might not be much tax debate until just before the session closes in June, Lokken figures citizens also are not paying much attention to nontax issues.

The general public might be listening or watching, but not actually attending or testifying at hearings on bills.

Use of the Legislature’s website that offers audio and visual broadcasts of hearings is up 50 percent — from 42,000 in 2011 to 63,000 in 2013) — but that is not a true comparison, according to legislative staff. That’s because there are nonbroadcast options available when you click on the broadcast link this year.

But there have been many other cases of poor attendance at hearings on bills of general interest.

Two witnesses showed up for a hearing on a bill to decide whether families can obtain the Facebook and email information of deceased relatives.

The list goes on and on. Legislation in the Assembly to require posting calories on fast-food restaurant menus and to outlaw texting while walking across a street. Both drew sparse attendance, and none of the witnesses were average citizens.

Hearings on texting bills were some of the most memorable two years ago. Dozens of people, including teenagers, showed up.

A check of the 1995 Senate Transportation Committee hearing on the bill that increased Nevada’s top-end speed limit to 75 mph shows that 20 people testified, including Chad Dornsife, of the Best Highways Practices Institute. He also testified on the 85 mph speed limit law.

“Twenty years ago the speed limit was a big deal,” Manendo said. “The speed limit was 55 mph and the higher speeds applied to a much broader area. This time (the 85 mph bill) people realized it really didn’t affect them much.”


In contrast to reports of sparse attendance on many bills, the Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on the bill to outlaw Nevada’s 2-year-old bear hunting season drew a crowd of 110, according to the sign-in sheet. And a hearing to outlaw horse tripping attracted 100 people.

Many people do not sign the attendance sheets, so the true attendance could have been double those numbers.

“The animal bills generate a lot of passion,” said Senate Natural Resources Chairman Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas. “You see hundreds of people show up.”

As chairman, Ford tries to encourage attendance by contacting known supporters and opponents and mentioning in other committees what’s on the agenda for his hearings.

But the way most people learn of controversial hearings is social media, he said. Someone goes on the Internet and uses Facebook, email or other media to hype a hearing that they believe should be attended.

Settelmeyer and Manendo agree. Manendo is an animal rights activist who goes out of his way to use social media and personal connections to draw interest to animal bills.

“The average person on the street doesn’t have time to track every bill,” he said. “But the social media has changed everything.”

Settelmeyer said it is clear to him that the horse tripping hearing attracted people through social media. He showed a reporter his recent email that included dozens of messages from people demanding the Legislature take action to stop the practice. Many of messages came from residents in other states and even foreign countries.

Whether Nevada even has a horse tripping problem is up for debate. Settelmeyer, a rancher, said he never has seen it in Nevada. Ford asked law enforcement officers if it was occurring and was told no.

Supporters, however, released a YouTube video of a Mexican rodeo in Winnemucca in 2011 that showed cowboys trying to lasso the feet of horses. But Hispanic cowboys testified that they were not trying to hurt the horses.

“Just because we don’t have evidence, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” Ford said.

That residents are passionate about animals is clear from the Legislature’s website: On the right side of the opening page is a link where people can express their views and cast a nonbinding “public vote” on any bill before the Legislature.

As of Friday morning, six of the 10 most popular bills, in terms of citizen votes, dealt with animal issues. Manendo’s Senate Bill 72, which would outlaw horse tripping, had drawn the most public votes, 1,524, with 940 in favor and 584 against.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson’s Senate Bill 245, which would prohibit residents from obtaining potentially dangerous animals, is the fourth most popular bill.

Drawn up after two incidents last year in Las Vegas when chimps escaped from a home, it has received 804 public votes — with only 21 for and 783 against.

“Imagine if there were a dog fighting bill,” Manendo said. “You would have the rooms packed. These aren’t just animal bills. Animals do attack people.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father recalls the night his 14-year-old son died jumping into moving traffic
From the Clark County Detention Center, Ezequiel Anorve Serrano talks about the night his 14-year-old son, Silas Anorve, died jumping into moving traffic on U.S. 95. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Palace Station unveils new sports book
Palace Station talks about the new sports book Thursday, August 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
Cybersecurity Professionals Flock to Las Vegas for Black Hat
Black Hat USA, the largest annual cybersecurity conference, is expecting a record 17,000 attendees during its six-day run at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this week. One thing attendees have in mind is making sure they don't get hacked while they're there. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police chase ends with suspects captured in east Las Vegas
An early Tuesday morning chase ended with a car crash in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. Police were pursuing the vehicle, which they say was involved in robberies in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, when the driver crashed at Owens and Statz Street. A man was taken into custody. A woman was ejected from a vehicle and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The intersection at Mojave Road and Owens Avenue was shut down while police officers searched for the suspect and investigated. The intersection will remain closed for most of the morning.
Record number participate in Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony
Three hundred sixty-five medical students received their white coats during the Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony at the M Resort in Henderson Monday. The ceremony was developed to honor students in osteopathic medicine, physician assistant studies, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy as they accept the professional responsibilities inherent in their relationship with patients. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stop for school buses, urges CCSD
Clark County School District Police Department hold a mock traffic stop at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Work Begins at Las Vegas Community Healing Garden
Crews moved the wooden Remembrance Wall at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden on South Casino Center Boulevard Monday. Construction on a permanent wall is set to begin within the week. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Man wounded outside Cottages apartment
Las Vegas police don't have a motive after a man was shot early Monday morning outside a northwest valley apartment. The man's mother called police to say her son had been shot. She called police around 1:15 a.m. Other people were inside the apartment but no one else was injured. Police are still looking for the shooter.
Michael Ramirez Joins The Review-Journal Team
Pulitzer prize winning political cartoonist Michael Ramirez talks about joining the Review-Journal and how he started his career.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Vice President Mike Pence visits Nellis Air Force Base
During his second visit to Nevada, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to airmen inside a Nellis Air Force Base hangar and spent the afternoon campaigning for GOP Sen. Dean Heller and gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt.
Nevada Politics Today: Karen Wayland
Nevada Politics Today: Asm. Jim Marchant
Asm. Marchant talks about education, voter integrity and running for leadership Nevada should increase funding for Career and Technical Education, but shouldn’t automatically register voters at the DMV. Assembly Republicans will also oppose tax increases next legislative session. That’s according to Assemblyman Jim Marchant.
Nevada Politics Today: Asm. Pickard talks about taking on LVCVA, taxes and Read by 3
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Rossi Ralenkotter shouldn’t get a “golden parachute.” Tax increases aren’t necessary, but if politicians want an increase they should send it to voters. Read by Three needs a chance to work, even if it holds back thousands of third graders. That’s according to Senate district 20 candidate and Assemblyman Keith Pickard.
The Right Take: Long-time, high-ranking employee sues CCSD
Start with who filed it. Goldman has worked for the district for 38 years, including 20 years as its chief negotiator. Next, move on to who he’s suing. That list includes the district, former-superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and two board members.
Nevada Politics Today: Nevada School Choice Coalition
Minority parents in Nevada strongly support school choice, and elected officials are taking notice. School choice is also a way to help modernize education. That’s according to Valeria Gurr, director of Nevada School Choice Coalition.
Nevada Politics Today: Jammal Lemy
The call by March for Our Lives to ban semi-automatic assault weapons is a conversation starter, not a defined policy proposal. The country needs to talk about finding ways to end gun violence, but the NRA has blood on its hands for opposing gun-control legislation. That’s according to March for Our Lives creative director Jammal Lemy.
The Right Take: Why is CCSD out of money?
Nevada’s education establishment hopes you’re bad at history. Otherwise, you’ll identify what’s missing in its push for more funding.
Nevada Politics Today: Thomas Jipping
Nevada Politics Today video host Victor Joecks talks with Senior legal fellow at Heritage Foundation, Thomas Jipping.
The Right Take: Clark County residents love illegal fireworks
If you were here last Wednesday, you saw, heard or felt some of the tens of thousands of illegal fireworks set off in the Vegas Valley.
Heller speaks during an interview with the RJ
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., speaks during an interview with the Las Vegas-Review-Journal
Nevada Politics Today: Hardeep “Dee” Sull
Nevada Politics Today video host Victor Joecks sits down with Hardeep Sull to discuss immigration and the border wall.
The Right Take: Teachers can leave union from July 1-15
Nevada is a right-to-work state so teachers don’t have to join the Clark County Education Association. If they do join, however, they can only leave by submitting written notice to the union between July 1 and 15. Support staffers and education employees throughout Nevada have the same opt-out window.
Donald Trump Speaks At The Nevada Republican Party State Convention
President Donald Trump speaks at the Nevada Republican Party State Convention at the Suncoast Station.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like