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October 9, 2015

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J. Patrick Coolican

Story Archive

Heller feels pressure to take on Reid
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Sen. Harry Reid is up for reelection in 2010, and he has a fat target on his back. His poll numbers are weak, and national Republicans would love some payback for Reid’s years of hammering Republicans and stymieing their agenda when he was minority leader.
On home defect legislation, lobbyists went to the wire
Some say there’s reason to believe a compromise can be achieved in 2011
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The construction industry had just captured a huge victory, pushing legislation through the state Senate that would limit the ability of homeowners to win settlements against developers for construction defects. Builders needed only a victory in the Assembly to save themselves millions in settlements and legal fees. Their lobbyists, gathered in the hallway of the state’s 1970s-era concrete slab of a Legislative Building on April 16, were ecstatic over the Senate vote.
Thieves, drunks and lawyers are why your rates are so high
Nevadans have more accidents, file more lawsuits and have the ninth highest premiums in the U.S.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Nevadans are burdened with some of the highest auto insurance premiums in the country, according to a Sun analysis. The state’s residents spent a bit more than $1,000 per year, per vehicle, in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
Rory Reid hits duo of likely rivals with 1 stone
Commissioner sets table for governor’s race, citing a ‘leadership vacuum’
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The 2010 governor’s race began in earnest this week as Rory Reid offered an opening sally against both his Democratic and Republican opposition. Reid was most critical of Gov. Jim Gibbons, the first-term Republican.
Unanswered: Why he told
Ensign and his staff silent as more details — and more questions — emerge on his affair with a former staffer.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Neither the FBI nor Metro Police are investigating any claim that Sen. John Ensign’s former mistress or her husband tried to blackmail the senator, spokesmen for the agencies confirmed Wednesday.
Ensign's mistress saw salary double, son was paid $5,400
Ex-campaign aide to Ensign confirms affair
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The one-time mistress and campaign treasurer of Sen. John Ensign saw her salary double during the time of the affair, according to federal election documents. Her salary increased slightly in January 2008 but then doubled to nearly $2,800 per month in February 2008.
Ensign fallout could weaken GOP efforts to rebuild party at state, national levels
Analysis: Republican emphasis on faith could backfire when conduct fails to meet ideals
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Republican Party didn’t make a deal with the devil. It made a deal with God, or at least people who said they were God’s representatives — a certain class of very political and ideological preachers. But the deal carried a risk: Any behavior by Republican officeholders or public figures that seemed at odds with a certain kind of Old Testament morality.
Ensign's mea culpa tops bad day for GOP
Senator acknowledges infidelity, governor’s chief of staff quits, state senator resigns
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Nevada politics were thrown into turmoil, and the state’s Republican Party suffered another serious setback Tuesday as Sen. John Ensign acknowledged an extramarital affair with a staff member who was the wife of a top aide to the senator. The woman is believed to be Cynthia Hampton, then-treasurer of the senator’s campaign and political action committee. Her husband was a senior member of Ensign’s Senate staff.
Ensign acknowledges extramarital affair
'It is the worst thing I have done in my life,' Ensign says; couple identified
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sen. John Ensign today acknowledged an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff. The affair took place between December 2007 and August 2008 with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign's Senate office.
State Sen. Hardy resigning to cut costs at day job
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
State Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, is resigning his seat today. This ends back-and-forth speculation in Nevada political circles about whether Hardy would seek re-election in 2010.
2010 shaping up as election year to watch
All strong possibilities: Two Reids on ballot, surreal primary challenges, a war on mining
Thursday, June 11, 2009
2010 is shaping up as a rare, wild and wide-open election. “Anybody who would want to predict 2010 is crazy,” said Pete Ernaut, former chief of staff of Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn and now lobbyist for R&R Partners, the advertising and public affairs firm.
How we did: A look back at the session
Taxes and budget a big accomplishment, yet Legislature's great failure as well
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The legislative session was impossible. Lawmakers had no choice but to cut services and increase taxes, or see state services, especially education, all but shut down. The Las Vegas Sun reviews their actions on the budget, K-12 education, energy, health care, education policy, human rights, foreclosures, worker safety, F Street, the environment and public employees salaries and benefits. Legislators came in facing the largest deficit, as a proportion of the budget, in the nation.
Session evaluation: A winner, a loser, but mostly a wash
Sunday, June 7, 2009
When the boat has a gaping hole in it, no one on board is having much fun on the shuffleboard court. And so at the Nevada Legislature, which adjourned last week and suffered through the worst fiscal crisis in state history, there were few winners.
Looking back: Horsford earns praise for performance
Saturday, June 6, 2009
A bit more than a year ago, state Sen. Steven Horsford was just another first-term senator. A rising star, to be sure, but one whose promise was considered some years away.
Looking ahead: Buckley could be formidable candidate for governor
Saturday, June 6, 2009
She survived. Given the economic calamity and the state government’s fiscal crisis, that should offer comfort to Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, who is being forced from office by term limits.
Power, luck, finesse bring gay rights win
With help from foes, partnership measure’s sponsor did everything right to land key vote of a GOP senator
Friday, June 5, 2009
If you want to know how things get done at the Legislature, ask state Sen. Dennis Nolan. The Las Vegas Republican cast the deciding vote to override a veto of Gov. Jim Gibbons, giving a fairly stunning victory to a drive to extend domestic partnership rights for gay and straight unmarried couples.
Session’s savior in his own eyes
Gibbons wants credit for stamping tax hike down, but fellow Republicans refuse to go along
Friday, June 5, 2009
Gov. Jim Gibbons was roundly dismissed Thursday by fellow Republicans who say he played no role in their effort to limit the tax increase approved over his veto. Lawmakers say Gibbons was not an active participant in the Legislature, which adjourned this week. In an interview Thursday with the Las Vegas Sun, Gibbons referred to the Democratic-led tax increase as “a job-killing, economy-crushing insult to working families."
Buckley looks back on session at town hall
Assembly speaker thought to be considering run for governor
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The 2010 race for governor feels like it has begun during the past 24 hours. Although she declined to fully commit to running, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley sounded like a candidate as she extolled achievements during the recent legislative session and spoke of the need for a new governor. She spoke to about 75 activists at the Henderson Democratic Club Wednesday night just 48 hours after the session concluded Monday. Buckley received a warm reception in what could be the first of many town halls during the next 17 months as she considers a run to become the state's first woman governor.
State losing one-of-a-kind lawmaker
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Townsend represents a certain Republican mind-set that is dying off: Noblesse oblige — the belief that with privilege comes responsibility.
In their words, lawmakers leaving with pride, regrets
Term limits, approved by voters in 1996, will force from office 17 lawmakers
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The Las Vegas Sun asked the legislators who are possibly serving the final days of their final session to look back on their time in Carson City and share a memorable story, accomplishment or regret.
Jim Gibbons: Gov. Veto
He's set the state record for vetoes. Some were expected; others have Carson City surprised, even perplexed
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Vetopalooza. That is what punch-drunk legislators and lobbyists are calling the flurry of vetoes by Gov. Jim Gibbons as the legislative session nears its end. The vetoes have come in batches big and small —42 as of midday Saturday.
National GOP: Take note of Nevada
State Senate Republicans’ moderation, pragmatism could be model for success
Sunday, May 31, 2009
After the November election, state Sen. Warren Hardy took some heat for something he told my colleague: “Nevada has gone in the last two to four years from center-right to center-left and it’s not going back.”
The Jim Gibbons voters elected
Four days remain: an analysis
Friday, May 29, 2009
Nevadans should not have been surprised Thursday when Gov. Jim Gibbons vetoed legislators’ spending bills and the $780 million tax increase to pay for them.
He pounded down the veto stamp on eight bills in a made-for-TV-event that was like an unofficial 2010 reelection kickoff.

Gibbons’ veto of rights for gay couples appears safe
Domestic partnership bill’s diverse support might not win override
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Nevada has a long history of libertarianism. But that legacy appears threatened in the closing days of the legislative session, as Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto of a bill granting domestic partnership rights to straight and gay couples seems likely to be sustained.
How mining will escape Session ’09 unscathed
Backroom deals for votes helped prevent industry tax increase, for now
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The gold mining industry began the legislative session like some 19th-century prospector who got lucky: Everyone outside the mining camp jealously eyed his nuggets, and he slept with one eye open and a hand on a revolver.
Employee incentives in public, private sectors are poles apart
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The career track is often the same at America’s elite law and auditing firms, investment banking houses, technology start-ups and biotechnology companies. Young, talented newcomers are paid princely sums, but it’s understood that only the most innovative and hardworking will last more than a few years.
Republicans take the pot in final hand
Veteran Raggio uses all his leverage to extract concessions from majority
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Senate Republicans scored a resounding victory here Friday, winning a set of concessions from Democrats that they have been demanding for months in exchange for agreeing to a $780 million tax increase. Republicans in the state Senate were often the only legislators here openly acknowledging the need for new taxes, and all along they said they would agree to a tax package only under certain conditions.
Day jobs of lawmakers bring chaos to session
Two key Republicans were out of budget talks after anti-tax forces threaten ethics action
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It is not surprising that alleged conflicts of interest caused something of a meltdown at the Legislature here Wednesday. This Legislature, like so many before it, is rife with conflicts of interest, owing to being a citizen legislature wherein lawmakers make almost no money and must support themselves with day jobs.
Raggio back in vote as lawmakers stay late
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
CARSON CITY -- The Legislature is expected to meet late into Wednesday night, as questions still swirl over who will abstain from voting on a tax increase because of potential conflicts and legislative leaders continue to hammer out changes to public employee benefits. "There's a great deal of tension," said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.
Time not on state budget’s side
Standoff emerges after agreements between parties break down
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
With the clock ticking down to the final days of the 2009 Legislature, legislative leaders were at a standoff on several crucial elements of the budget late Tuesday night. Items in dispute include pay and benefits for public employees, with Democrats seeking to protect those loyal constituents. Democratic leaders argue that state workers have sacrificed enough with pay cuts to help the state balance its deficit-laden budget. The Legislature’s 120-day session ends June 1.
Some of Nevada's public workers sitting pretty
Afloat on overtime and generous retirement benefits, some state and local workers in Nevada belie the state’s reputation for government parsimony
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Nevada has fewer public employees than nearly every state in the union, but government workers here are among the nation’s most handsomely rewarded, according to a Sun analysis of census data. Nevada public employees make 16 percent above the national average, trailing only California, New York and a few other places where the cost of living is much higher than in Nevada.
Why winning Legislature got Democrats only so far
Republicans took steps to preserve influence beyond their tenure
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Democrats won a big victory last year, taking control of the state Senate and securing a veto-proof majority in the Assembly. So why does it feel like Republicans are running things?
Mining eyed for tax hike via voters
Group says industry pays too little, may launch effort to amend state constitution
Friday, May 15, 2009
A liberal interest group is threatening to go to voters in 2010 to amend the state constitution to increase the tax on mining operations. In a letter to the board of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Bob Fulkerson, the state director, said there are “ominous signs that legislators will refrain from closing mining tax loopholes in any significant way ...”
Think tank's Freedom Budget balances budget with deep cuts in education
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The state’s libertarians advocate curing Nevada’s budget crisis without a tax increase. For months all they’ve heard from Democrats and moderate Republicans is this: Well, what would you cut?
Home defect law divides Democrats
Bill to pare homeowner lawsuits hasn’t received Assembly green light
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Democrats are locked in an increasingly acrimonious battle over construction defect legislation, which has emerged as one of the most contentious issues this session.
Party in power’s tension heating up
Stress of budget talks brings strained relations of Buckley, Horsford to the surface
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Recent days have laid bare some tension between Barbara Buckley, the two-term Assembly speaker and veteran legislator from Las Vegas, and Steven Horsford, the new and youngest Senate majority leader in state history.
County, fire union break ice with heated words
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The rift between Clark County officials and the county firefighters union broke into open conflict Wednesday. The union’s leaders, stung by criticism that they have not offered to help close the $126 million county budget gap by offering concessions similar to those from police and other unions, claimed they had indeed told the county they would give up pay and benefits.
Judge takes step to air his views
UNLV fellow, Bush memo author seeks to meet Titus
Thursday, May 7, 2009
As criticism of federal appellate court Judge Jay Bybee mounts for authorizing harsh interrogation techniques as a Bush administration lawyer, the Nevada jurist has reached out to members of the state’s congressional delegation, apparently to tell his side of the story.
Rogers criticizes Buckley’s tax stance
A corporate income tax, he says, would be source of badly needed revenue
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The chancellor of Nevada’s university system said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley’s approach, which includes smaller increases of existing taxes combined with significant spending cuts, is being driven by politics.
Leader still wants broad tax
While others tinker to close gap, Horsford calls for levy on corporations
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he is still committed to broadening Nevada’s tax base this session, including a corporate income tax that would be passed this year but wouldn’t take effect until after the 2011 session. The need for fundamental tax reform was widely discussed by business and government leaders in the months leading up to the legislative session.
Ensign is front and center. Now what?
Conservative Nevada Sen. John Ensign’s rise in GOP prominence puts him at odds with increasingly blue Nevada electorate.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Note from Nevada to a longtime lover: “It’s not you, John. It’s me. I’ve changed.” That’s a message no one wants to get, certainly not a Nevada senator facing reelection. Republican Sen. John Ensign has emerged over the past two years as a leader of Senate conservatives, championing positions that public opinion polls show are well to the right of those of much of the Nevada and national electorates.
Firefighters want bigger piece of a smaller pie
Union leader, lobbyist unapologetic as he goes after more health benefits
Monday, May 4, 2009
This is the worst legislative session in memory. The fiscal crisis has made it nearly impossible to make progress on policy goals in areas such as education or health care. There is one interest group, however, for whom the salad days continue.
Pieces of budget puzzle falling in
Key lawmakers agree on outline of deal to close massive shortfall
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Legislators have not reached a final agreement on how to solve Nevada’s budget crisis as they face key deadlines this week to fund state spending, but the broad outlines of a deal have emerged.
Assembly speaker post up for grabs in 2011
Challenges abound for Buckley’s successor
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Spring is in the air and term limits are at hand, so it’s time for some fun speculation about who the next speaker of the Nevada Assembly will be.
A job you don’t want: Projecting the state's revenue now
Economic Forum looks ahead two years, sees more signs of trouble
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday's all-day session of the Economic Forum, which was formed to eliminate the uncertainty of the two-year budgeting process, illustrated two things: First, we’re broke. Second, we’re not even really sure how broke.
Construction defect legislation remains contentious
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
No issue will have been fought over more intensely, or more expensively this legislative session, than construction defect law.
Big issues must wait, so they take on tiny ones
Lacking revenue numbers, lawmakers fill time with symbolic gestures
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
There’s a sense of stasis here at the Legislature, as everyone waits with anguish and dread for May 1, when the Economic Forum tells lawmakers how much money they’ll have for the next two years.
Deadlines and dead ends
As the clock winds down on this year’s legislative session, some bills will emerge as law, and a few, just as worthy, will be lost. A look at both.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The state is broke, as everyone knows, and that’s having a punishing effect on the Legislature. A deadline passed last week for getting bills out of their houses of origin, giving Nevadans a clearer picture of what their Legislature will accomplish this year. Because advancing public policy — be it improving outcomes in education or health care, or building transit systems — usually takes money, the Legislature won’t be able to do much other than preserve the bare necessities.
Lawmakers’ huddle with business a step toward tax hike
Sunday, April 26, 2009
A meeting of legislative leaders of both parties and a few members of the business elite last week seemed to confirm, at least in part, the wisdom of the Democrats’ strategy for selling a plan a to fix the budget mess.
Senate, too, had bills that were nonstarters
Nay to pay for certain commissioners, actions on alternative medicine
Friday, April 24, 2009
As promised, here’s some of the more colorful legislation that didn’t beat the deadline to make it out of the state Senate.

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