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December 21, 2014

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After lawmaker criticism, PTA says it did not ask April Mastroluca to resign

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April Mastroluca

After finger-pointing from lawmakers that seemed to blame the National PTA for the sudden resignation of Assemblywoman April Mastroluca, the national education advocacy organization that employs Mastroluca said it did not ask her to give up her elected position.

But the group’s national spokesman said the organization requires employees to work during the business day.

“National PTA did not ask her to resign,” James Martinez, senior manager of media relations for the PTA, said in an email. “We do, however, require that National PTA employees devote working hours to our mission, and we do not provide months of leave with pay for nonmedical reasons.”

Mastroluca, a Democrat from Henderson, resigned Friday, just weeks after getting re-elected to her third term in Nevada’s Legislature. Mastroluca was seen as a possible chairwoman for the important Assembly Ways and Means Committee, which will dissect Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

Mastroluca cited “unanticipated family issues” as the reason for her resignation.

“I must put my family first," she said upon resignation.

She declined to comment for this story.

But tweets from lawmakers critical of the PTA and the organization’s response seems to suggest Mastroluca’s decision involved a hurdle faced by many of the state’s 63 part-time lawmakers: How do legislators find a “day job” that allows them to take a leave of absence, or do they work nights and weekends during a four-month stint crafting policy for the state?

Mastroluca is a national service representative for the southwest area of the National PTA. She’s worked for the PTA for about eight years, Martinez said.

On Friday, Mastroluca’s fellow lawmakers criticized the PTA on Twitter.

“I wouldn't want to be the PTA's lobbyist in the 2013 session,” Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, tweeted Friday.

Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, retweeted Segerblom’s tweet and added “maybe they play it smart and not send anyone SMH.” (SMH is Internet slang for “shaking my head.”)

The PTA doesn’t have a professional lobbying staff but has sent parent volunteers from the state affiliate to represent the organization during the legislative session in the past. Segerblom later Friday erased his original tweet and replaced it with: “Just kidding about PTA, we all love what it does and what it stands for."

In an interview Friday, Segerblom apologized.

“The tweet is deleted,” he said. “Nobody’s going to be punished. It’s an inappropriate comment I apologize for.”

Segerblom is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Atkinson is chairman of the Commerce Committee, two of the more powerful committees in the Legislature.

Segerblom said he had no firsthand knowledge of Mastroluca’s situation but said, “It’s a tragedy to lose someone of the caliber of April Mastroluca.”

The Legislature has recently lost institutional knowledge and experience because of term limits. Mastroluca, with two terms under her belt, was one of the more seasoned legislators.

Segerblom blamed the system of the part-time Legislature, which meets for 120 days every odd year.

Lawmakers get paid $8,777.40 in salary plus $18,240 in per diem — $27,000 for four months of work. They also get up to $10,000 for travel and living expenses.

But they don’t get health care. Starting in early February, they can buy into the state’s health insurance program, but it’s not subsidized by taxpayers. The full cost for state health insurance is more than $1,400 a month.

Mastroluca’s replacement will be chosen by the Clark County Commission.

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  1. The Legislature is adequately compensated for the work they do. We should be thankful for a part-time legislature that gets in, works hard and goes home; as opposed to what we see in Washington D.C.

  2. As a citizen of Henderson that once enjoyed having Assemblywoman Mastroluca as my representative, I echo the sentiments of legislators concerning her professionalism and institutional knowledge. She was veraciously curious and consummately deliberative on all matters, especially those relating to families and education.

  3. "Lawmakers get paid $8,777.40 in salary plus $18,240 in per diem -- $27,000 for four months of work. They also get up to $10,000 for travel and living expenses. But they don't get health care..."

    The last thing We the people need is a professional legislature. Their interests would then be with bloating government power against our interests. Leave it be.

    This "compensation" they grant themselves looks pretty good for what amounts to 4 months of actual work every two years.

    "I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically." -- Henry David Thoreau 1849 "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"

  4. It is beyond time for Nevada to move beyond this 19th century thinking and at least move to annual sessions with legislators that are compensated appropriately. No longer can you adequately budget for the entire state of Nevada for a two year cycle. And don't get me started on the Interim Finance Committee.

    The reality of a part-time legislature is that you need to representatives that either work jobs that allow them to take 4 months off without pay, are retired or are independently wealthy. Too often, lawmakers will need to abstain or recuse themselves if there is a conflict with their day job. That deprives those constituents of representation on those issues.

    I'd like to see this legislature pass a bill at least moving to annual sessions. The quote Thoreau is to take him out of context. The best government is the government closest to the people. Those are the bodies that decide more of what impacts us on a day to day basis. If we want to move into the 21st Century, maybe it's time to upgrade our legislature.