Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2015

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Letter to the readers:

Setting priorities

Dear reader: What should the Legislature do this year?

More resources

More resources

• You can read a story about Sandoval’s State of the State speech, along with the Democratic response, at http://tinyurl.com/NVgovspeech2013. There are links to both speeches there as well.

• Lawmakers, the governor and various agencies have also filed bill drafts. You can find those online at http://tinyrul.com/NVbills13.

• You can find the governor’s proposed budget at http://budget.nv.gov/. For information about state spending, go to http://open.nv.gov/.

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Dear reader,

The 2013 session of the state Legislature officially starts in a week, although lawmakers have already been busy reviewing Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget.

As the Legislature goes through its session, there will be no shortage of things to consider. In addition to the budget and all of the programs it covers, there will be proposed laws, committee hearings and debates. Also, lawmakers will weigh conflicting priorities and plans.

There isn’t much time to get it all done. The Nevada Constitution gives the Legislature 120 days every other year for a regular session. It goes by so quickly that the Legislature often finds itself called into a special session to finish work or deal with other business. (There have been 10 special sessions since 2000.)

So, the Legislature faces a significant amount of work in a short amount of time. Here’s a question for you: What should be the Legislature’s priorities?

We want to know your thoughts. What do you want to see the Legislature do this session? What would you tell lawmakers if you could?

Before you respond, here is a quick list of topics you might want to consider. It is by no means a full list, just something to get the discussion started, so feel free to let us know what we should add. (For other thoughts and ideas, see the box to the upper right labeled "More resources.")

Education (K-12): The Legislature is expected to consider a new funding formula, academic achievement, all-day kindergarten and various reform measures, including teacher evaluations.

Higher education: Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich has proposed a new funding formula, and that will come up this year. The university system’s role in the economy, including the community colleges, surely will be discussed. UNLV’s proposed mega-events center also will be on the agenda.

Public safety: Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie is asking the Legislature for a half-cent sales tax increase, which was previously approved by voters, to help boost police budgets. There also are several proposals to fight human trafficking.

Social services: Sandoval proposed boosting mental health care in Southern Nevada and increasing services for the disabled and senior citizens.

Health care: The governor has proposed expanding Medicaid. Other issues will include considering how Clark County’s public hospital, UMC, is governed.

Economic development: The state changed the way it approaches economic development last session, and the governor plans to add money to the Knowledge Fund, which would help spur research and development.

Transportation: There has been a push to develop Interstate 11, the newly designated route that leads from Las Vegas to Phoenix. Also expect other issues, including high-speed trains and light rail to be discussed.

Local governments: Cities and counties have clamored for more home rule, the ability to make decisions, for years and certainly will ask again. North Las Vegas’ financial situation is sure to be discussed.

Taxes: There is always discussion about taxes. The governor has proposed rolling back a business tax. There also has been discussion about implementing a service tax and reducing the sales tax.

Send us your thoughts: Via email (subject line “Priorities”) to letters@lasvegassun.com. Regular mail: Priorities c/o Editorial Page, Las Vegas Sun, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074. Fax: (702) 383-7264.

We’ll look forward to your thoughts and publish a sampling of them next weekend.

Best,

Matt

Matt Hufman is the editor of the Sun’s editorial and opinion pages.

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