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April 26, 2015

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Legislators are uniting to make Nevada better

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From the beginning of Nevada’s 77th legislative session, we said things were going to be different.  Instead of kicking the can down the road and letting partisanship serve as a roadblock to progress, we’re working hard and having discussions about how we can build a better Nevada.

We are already seeing the results of this. Last month, the Legislature unanimously passed a bill to revise the Consolidated Tax Structure, which will more fairly allocate revenue among municipalities. This is an important sign of how different this session is from previous ones. The Legislature also moved quickly to unanimously pass, in both chambers, online gaming legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval. This legislation will create Nevada jobs while ensuring Nevada remains the gold standard in gaming.

In the Assembly, we’ve always ensured that lawmakers stick to deadlines on bill introductions. So far this session, 413 bills have been introduced. 64 other drafts have met the end of their road due to failure to meet bill introduction deadlines.

As part of ensuring we have an open and honest discussion about how to move Nevada forward, we need to make sure lawmakers have time to thoroughly read bills they are voting on. Sometimes, we learn about “unintended consequences” of bills passed by the Legislature months or even years after they become law. This is why deadlines matter.

Most importantly, unlike previous sessions, we have been discussing Nevada’s revenue structure and how to broaden the tax base from Day 1. Every parent, teacher and student in our state knows that our schools are woefully underfunded. Our children cannot learn or get the amount of individual attention study after study shows they need if they are stuffed into overcrowded classrooms with 40 or more kids. It’s easy to understand: More revenue equals smaller class sizes, more teachers and better programming.

This is why we began big discussions on the first day of this session. We are open to considering any idea that adequately funds our schools today and helps turn Nevada’s economy around. This session is a marathon, not a sprint. I am excited about how far we’ve come this session in making the process more transparent, more productive and less partisan. We in the Assembly Democratic Caucus look forward to working with our colleagues in both houses and parties and making sure this session we all work together to build a better Nevada.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, is the speaker of the state Assembly.

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  1. Can the first effect of the shift of power, from Northern Nevada to Clark County, actually be getting the people's business done? Looks like it.

  2. Future: Online learning already exists. It has been in existence for well over a decade now here in Nevada. I learned about it back in 1998 in White Pine County(Ely), Nevada. Students and parents always have the option to use what you term "e-schools", or online education that is integrated with face time, home education, choice school via ZONE variances, or pay for private schooling of their choice.

    Let me say that online education works much better with the more mature, self-motivated, self-directed students. Online education is not a great fit for Pre-K through grade 3, because these children require foundational learning which sets them up for independent learning. Most schools in the district are insuring students have daily interventions on computers either in the classroom or computer lab. Go visit a Title 1 School, a place that makes heavy use of computer technology, and observe for yourself, that use of computers is not the end-all. There are students who are disengaged, tilting in chairs with headsets off their ears, not attending to their "e-schooling" program. By the way, the resigning Supt.Jones, did not fund many of these programs SUSTAINABLY, so quite a few will be CUT for next year. That is a upper management issue and not a teacher issue.

    Which leads me to "Uniting to Make Nevada Better" and sustainably funding Nevada's infrastructure. Folks will have to put their patience on, as some changes, as to the Nevada State Constitution, require 4 to 8 years to vote through. Considering the problem is over a century old, that wait, although bad, is well worth it. There is no doubt that changes must be made to the way MINING and other industries in Nevada pay their FAIR SHARE.

    I am reserving my judgement of this 77th Nevada State Legislative Session, because it hints of "kicking the political can down the road." We see more cooperation amongst Lawmakers, but actions speak louder than words. We will see.

    Because of the new educational laws from last session, we are discovering that school districts have failed to do the steps that lead to next steps, as the mandate for school districts to design a pay for performance guideline. You could understand why: teachers will "shop" for schools with the best offerings, leaving positions for the best place. But NO one knows what the "best" is yet. This law is yet one that Lawmakers did not think it through, and as a result, has "unintended consequences". Ha.

    Crafting the new teacher evaluations has been a real circus. Typically, administrators visit a classroom during a set time period to evaluate that teacher on a form the teacher has never seen before, then that document reaches the teacher's box to be read, an appointment to discuss, and document signed. One has the feeling of being blindsided when things are changed and there was no explaining the form beforehand. Awkward, to say the least.

    Blessings and Peace,

  3. The two biggest Houses in the Nevada Legislature are Gaming and Mining. No one moves without their OK.

  4. K-12 is already funded with more than adequate amounts. The real issue is what they're doing with our money. With 14,500 licensed teachers versus 330,000 students in CCSD, that's about 22.75 students per teacher. A whole lot of hype in those "alarming" class sizes allegedly up to 38 students. Many, many of us went through K-12 with a MINIMUM of 33 student class mates. So the smaller class sizes via CSR are HURTING the learning process??? Oh sure, some of those licensed teachers are administrators and reading specialists who work with very small groups--that they're not referring to as "classes" since that would show class size as too small. So when they lump in BAND with 70 kids as a single class despite two or three teachers.... Enough lack of candor out of the SD's. Cost effective or shut it down. More vouchers each and every biennium is the only way to go. Arizona (with more ELL than here) gets high school GRADUATES who can read and write for $1,000 LESS PER STUDENT PER YEAR. So what's up with that? Why can't CCSD do best practices? Wonder why Mr. Jones left?

  5. What about PRIORITIES. Wouldn't things essential to survival be funded BEFORE K-12? Things like senior services, mental health dormitories, job training / adult ed? Has the Legislature found a solution to OVERCOMPENSATION of employees in Nevada cities, counties, school districts? Have they REVISED PERS contributions so employees ALWAYS pay at least half? Have they addressed fixing the actuarial rates by contribution more to PERS and/or accruing retirement benefits at lower rates of high salary?