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Titus discloses earmark requests early

WASHINGTON — Rep. Dina Titus on Friday became the first Nevada lawmaker to disclose ahead of time what local projects she will try to earmark into federal spending bills this year.

A list posted to the Las Vegas Democrat’s Web site contains descriptions of 40 Southern Nevada projects totaling close to $100 million.

As debate has intensified over how members of Congress direct federal spending back to their districts through earmarks in bills, the House and Senate appropriations committees in January issued new guidelines for House members and senators seeking special funding.

They include requiring lawmakers to post information on their Web sites detailing all their requests at the time they are submitted to the committee. Further, the disclosure “must include the purpose of the earmark and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds.”

The deadline for submitting earmark requests falls over the weekend, noted Titus spokesman Andrew Stoddard. Titus posted to her Web site what she said was her entire wish list “in order to increase transparency and openness in the funding process.”

Titus further said she is only requesting earmarks for public institutions and nonprofits in Southern Nevada, no private companies.

Previously, earmarks were largely secret until the Appropriations Committee decided which ones to include in spending bills it would write over the summer. In that way, individual House members could announce the local projects that were funded, but it was rarely disclosed which projects were turned away.

Titus was said to be traveling to Nevada on Friday evening and could not be reached for comment.

The earmark list for Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., will be posted before the deadline, a spokesman said.

Aides to Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., could not be reached Friday.

The deadline for senators to forward their requests to the Senate Appropriations Committee is at the end of April, according to a spokesman for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. Neither Ensign’s office nor the office of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., had earmark lists available yet.

Among the earmarks Titus said she is seeking:

• $9.1 million in homeland security funds for the 92nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team in Las Vegas.

• $2.5 million to install a photovoltaic solar system at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy.

• $1 million to help Boulder City upgrade the Hemenway Valley wastewater treatment plant.

• $5 million for bus lanes on Boulder Highway.

• $4.25 million to continue the Nevada National Guard Counterdrug Program, and another $1.62 million to buy four “mobile command systems” for the Guard.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@ stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.

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