Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 | 2:01 a.m.
The Sun's opinion page provides a wide range of opinion about the start of the 2013 Legislature.
From the Sun:
The Sun's editorial Break the status quo.
Brian Greenspun's "Where I Stand" column.
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We asked five Nevada political journalists to answer five questions about this session of the Legislature. Here are the answers of Reno Gazette-Journal political reporter Ray Hagar.
Affiliation: Reno Gazette-Journal
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org • @rgjrayhagar
1. What do you think are the top three issues for the Legislature?
Education, as always, will be the top issue.
The big push with K-12 education seems to be early education. Gov. Brian Sandoval wants $14 million to fund programs for English-language learners and another $20 million to expand full-day kindergarten. Sandoval has been convinced that if a kid can’t read by third grade, that student will most likely get lost in Nevada’s educational system.
Taxes: With the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the teachers union’s margins-tax initiative, the Legislature will have to take it up and it could end up on the 2014 general election ballot. The Washoe County School District is asking for a tax hike to help with school construction and maintenance. And then Sandoval wants to cut about 2,700 small businesses out of paying the modified business tax. That could cost the state $24 million. Some Democrats have said that’s $24 million that could be spent on education.
Economic development: This won’t be as dominating an issue as it was in 2011, but it will still be crucial with Nevada’s economy still staggering.
2. Any outlier issues or things people aren’t talking about now but could quickly demand attention?
The DNA testing bill, which would allow law enforcement to take DNA samples on all arrested for felonies plus those arrested for misdemeanor sex crimes. It was stopped in 2011.
Secretary of State Ross Miller’s voter photo ID bill should gain support once people look at it. Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, has a bill that would bar employers from getting the social media passwords of job applicants.
3. What are the main political themes going into this session?
No new taxes: Sandoval will absolutely stand firm on “no new taxes” unless someone can talk him out of it.
Boss Sandoval: He’s proven to be a strong governor who isn’t afraid to use his veto stamp. He’ll continue to be the elephant in the room.
Less experience: So this is what term limits have given us. Constant turnover has put inexperienced lawmakers into positions of influence, perhaps before they are ready.
4. What do you think we’ll see regarding Nevada’s “geopolitics” (north vs. south) this year?
The north will lose any legislative battle with the south, so the strategy from this part of the state is to avoid such confrontations. The Washoe County School District will complain, however, that the Clark County School District gets room taxes and real-estate transfer tax money to fix and build schools, but Washoe doesn’t. So Washoe could complain about an inequity in funding sources for school construction and maintenance.
Also, rural community colleges will do their best to boost mitigation funding they need as a bridge, as the new higher ed funding formula has dollars flowing from the north to the south.
5. How would you summarize this session to a neighbor not terribly familiar with Nevada politics?
I’d tell him (or her), “Fugetaboutit. You don’t want to know.”