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Newsfeed issue series to launch with legislative preview

The big names set to decide Nevada’s biggest issues will sit down next month for a legislative panel discussion co-hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, Assembly Speaker-designate John Hambrick and Assembly Minority Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick all plan to attend the Jan. 12 discussion, the first in a series of breakfast Newsfeed panels co-sponsored by the newspaper and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

Next month’s panel, moderated by Review-Journal Senior Editorial Writer Glenn Cook, will focus on the big-ticket items facing state legislators in February, including tax reform, K-12 education, a UNLV medical school and the changing Nevada economy.

The discussion, billed as a “preview of what promises to be the most consequential legislative session in more than a decade,” comes against the backdrop of a red wave election that saw voters flip both state house chambers to Republicans.

It also comes hot on the heels of a Republican leadership clash over who should serve as Assembly Speaker.

Sparks Assemblyman Ira Hansen, the Assembly Republicans’ first choice for the job, was ousted from the post amid an uproar over “racist, bigoted and homophobic” comments in columns he wrote for the Sparks Tribune in the 1990s.

Hambrick was named his replacement on Dec. 2.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was re-elected by a landslide in November, has made education his top priority for the upcoming legislative session. He has also hinted that an overhaul of the state’s tax structure is needed.

Republican leaders have said they might look into at collective bargaining reforms and a statewide voter identification law — initiatives that are almost certain to rankle Democrats such as Kirkpatrick.

The former assembly speaker and her colleagues have expressed concern that Nevada’s new-look Assembly — which includes more than a half-dozen conservative Republicans who signed pledges not to raise taxes — could make it difficult for the state to find new revenue.

Nevada lawmakers face an estimated $162 million budget shortfall next year. Members of the Economic Forum, a panel of fiscal experts tasked with crafting Nevada’s budget projections, estimate state lawmakers will have $400 million fewer dollars to spend next year than they did in 2013.

State leaders from both parties are set to hash out those and other issues at 7:30 a.m., Jan. 12 at the Four Seasons, 3960 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

Tickets for the panel start at $40. For additional information, contact the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce at www.LVChamber.com or call 702-641-5822.

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