THE SEVENTEENTH DAY
Carson City (Wednesday), February 21, 2001
Assembly called to order at 11:03 a.m.
Mr. Speaker presiding.
All present except Assemblywoman Ohrenschall, who was excused.
Prayer by the Chaplain, Reverend Albert Tilstra.
Almighty God, creator of all things, giver of every good and perfect gift, hear us this day as we seek Your blessing upon our goings on in this room and in this building. Hear us when we pray for Your servants gathered here today that their hope may be renewed and their vision made clear and challenged. Give to them the conviction that with Your help all things are possible—even the most difficult things that baffle us now. God forbid that any of us here should add to the problems of the hour, but rather resolve, by Your help, to become part of the answer. So help us God.
Pledge of allegiance to the Flag.
Assemblywoman Buckley moved that further reading of the Journal be dispensed with, and the Speaker and Chief Clerk be authorized to make the necessary corrections and additions.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
Your Committee on Transportation, to which was referred Assembly Bill No. 7, has had the same under consideration, and begs leave to report the same back with the recommendation: Do pass.
Vonne S. Chowning, Chairman
MOTIONS, RESOLUTIONS AND NOTICES
By the Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining:
Assembly Joint Resolution No. 4—Commending the State of California and the California Tahoe Conservancy for their efforts to secure money for and establish a coordinated team at the state level to carry out the Environmental Improvement Program in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Assemblyman de Braga moved that the resolution be referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining.
INTRODUCTION, FIRST READING AND REFERENCE
By Assemblymen Parnell, Leslie, Smith, Gibbons, Williams, Anderson, Arberry, Bache, Berman, Buckley, Chowning, Collins, de Braga, Dini, Freeman, Giunchigliani, Goldwater, Koivisto, Lee, Manendo, McClain, Neighbors, Parks and Perkins:
Assembly Bill No. 209—AN ACT making an appropriation to the Welfare Division of the Department of Human Resources to increase temporarily the population which is eligible to qualify for assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Assemblywoman Parnell moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
By the Committee on Transportation:
Assembly Bill No. 210—AN ACT relating to airports; increasing the authorized term for the lease of county property for use as an airport, airport facility or airport service; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Assemblywoman Chowning moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Transportation.
SECOND READING AND AMENDMENT
Assembly Bill No. 128.
Bill read second time and ordered to third reading.
general file and third reading
Assembly Bill No. 107.
Bill read third time.
Remarks by Assemblywoman McClain.
Roll call on Assembly Bill No. 107:
Assembly Bill No. 107 having received a constitutional majority, Mr. Speaker declared it passed.
Bill ordered transmitted to the Senate.
Assemblywoman Buckley moved that the Assembly recess until 5:00 p.m.
Assembly in recess at 11:23 a.m.
ASSEMBLY IN SESSION
At 5:05 p.m.
Mr. Speaker presiding.
MOTIONS, RESOLUTIONS AND NOTICES
Mr. Speaker appointed Assemblymen Giunchigliani and Brown as a committee to invite the Senate to meet in Joint Session with the Assembly to hear an address by United States Representative Jim Gibbons.
The members of the Senate appeared before the bar of the Assembly.
Mr. Speaker invited the members of the Senate to chairs in the Assembly.
IN JOINT SESSION
At 5:12 p.m.
President of the Senate presiding.
The Secretary of the Senate called the Senate roll.
All present except Senator Coffin, who was excused.
The Chief Clerk of the Assembly called the Assembly roll.
All present except for Assemblywoman Ohrenschall, who was excused.
The President of the Senate appointed a Committee on Escort consisting of Senator McGinness and Assemblywoman Gibbons to wait upon Representative Gibbons and escort him to the Assembly Chamber.
The Committee on Escort in company with The Honorable Jim Gibbons, United States Representative from Nevada, appeared before the bar of the Assembly.
The Committee on Escort escorted the Representative to the rostrum.
Mr. Speaker welcomed Representative Gibbons and invited him to deliver his message.
United States Representative Jim Gibbons delivered his message as follows:
Message To The Legislature Of Nevada
SeventY-First Session, 2001
Thank you very much. Governor Guinn, Speaker Perkins, Lieutenant Governor Hunt, Senate Leaders Raggio and Titus and Assembly Leaders Buckley and Hettrick and Speaker Emeritus Dini; and my good friend Bernie Anderson, of course. I get to call him Bernie because he and I grew up in Sparks together two blocks apart. Members of the Legislature, Supreme Court Justices, Constitutional Officers and my fellow Nevadans:
I’m truly honored to be here this evening to speak to you, especially since I know the hour is late and you have all had a very long day. I want to also thank you for arranging a vehicle and a driver for me, to ensure that I made it to the State Capitol today. I must say, the vehicle and driver arrived at my door very promptly, right on time. But we were a little delayed in getting here. You see, the gas tank was empty. And so was the wallet of the driver. Now, don’t get me wrong, please, I’m not talking about Bill Raggio, but the driver made a demand I pay the tab. I recall the words specifically, “It is either my way or the highway, Congressman.” So I paid promptly. And yes, I got the message. We do need to do something about those high fuel costs.
So, thank you, Dawn, for driving me to the Capitol today. It is always a momentous event. And I want to thank you also for leading me into the Chambers with my good friend Senator McGinness to make sure that I’m here to talk to your esteemed colleagues.
To all of you who serve our great state, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your commitment that you continue to show your constituents, that you show our state, you show your friends, and you show your families.
Having just entered my third term in the House of Representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to address what is on the national agenda and how it will affect Nevada. Let me also say that our bi-partisan delegation is firmly committed to finding new and creative ways to target the war on any nuclear waste legislation that targets Nevada. We are also fighting against federal efforts to regulate and ban portions of our gaming industry as well as protecting Nevada’s important mining industry from being regulated out of business, out of the state, and out of existence. Clearly, our small delegation has its work cut out for it, but as I look out on this chamber this evening, I cannot think of more dedicated individuals to work with than you in solving these issues. When it comes to the many, yet unseen, challenges that Nevada faces, working together is an extreme pleasure. Challenges we all face—challenges like reapportionment and redistricting that are necessary for all of us to give the citizens of this great state fair and responsive representation. Challenges of the ongoing energy crisis and finding solutions to protect the rate payers of this state from a crisis like that in California. I have every faith that you will do everything in your power to protect the residential customer and the utility industry.
Nationally, Congress has its own challenges on a broad basis and on a broad scale. Last year, Nevada implemented a program to offer affordable drug prescriptions to our seniors: Senior Rx. I know you will continue to improve upon it, but now Congress must follow Nevada’s lead and do it on a national basis. We must look at the future of our retirement programs, as well, ensuring for our working families that they have a viable retirement program. Today we have a workforce whose jobs are at stake because the downward national trends in our economy and who, as recent polls would indicate, are becoming less and less optimistic that a viable Social Security system will even be there for them when they retire. These are challenges. Challenges which neither you nor I can afford to ignore.
Our nation and indeed our state’s greatest challenge and highest priority is, and always will be, education. Friends, in my previous address to this body, I began by talking about education. This evening, I will continue that trend. I will continue to stress that education is first, last and always about our children and not about an organization.
As lawmakers, each new session presents us with a new list of priorities. During the 1999 Legislative Session, Governor Guinn and this body made great education success prioritizing education and passing and creating what is known as the Millennium Scholarship program. I congratulate you. Every child, regardless of economic income, should have the right to a quality education. I would also like to take a moment, at this time, to congratulate Assemblywoman Debbie Smith on her efforts in education. Her legislation which encourages parents to take a more active role in education of their children. Congratulations to you.
Assemblywoman Smith is correct. We need to increase the role of parents in the day to day education of their children. We need parents, teachers, and local school boards to make the decisions about what their children need. Yes, we must increase our investment in education. We need to get those dollars down into the classrooms and the Washington, D.C. mandates out. We must also increase our investment in special education and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
During the four years I have been in Congress, we have increased education spending by nearly ten percent each and every year. We will continue to do so. With that increased investment comes a call for accountability. Accountability that helps us plan and improve our education system and our schools. Now, please, this evening, join with me for a moment and envision an America where all children receive a world-class education; an opportunity to achieve their dreams in a safe school, in every community. Envision, if you will, an America where the best and brightest teach our children and every child can read by the third grade. Envision an America where every child graduates from high school and every high school graduate has access to a college or university and can go on to higher education. That vision, ladies and gentlemen, our vision, must become a reality for every child.
In order to fulfill that reality—a reality that offers hope and opportunity for every child—we must give schools and teachers greater flexibility to decide what the educational needs are of each child. Then give them the flexibility to apply local solutions to those needs. We must require that our schools offer a few, clear measurable goals—not thirty or forty—focused on basic skills and essential knowledge. It has been said that education is about results, not theories; it is about knowledge, not intentions; it is about children, not institutions. As the great Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, chances are you will end up someplace else.”
We need to know where we are going with the education of our children. Children must have teachers, schools and programs that not only demand but meet higher standards. For example, I applaud the Washoe County School Board’s recent decision to make the seventh grade honors level math class the norm for all seventh graders. That is a step in the right direction. Local decisions like that will help our children not only be prepared for a college education, but better prepared for the technological world of challenges in the 21st Century. We do not need Washington, D.C. based mandates placed on our local schools. Nevada simply has higher standards. I stand here tonight committed to working with each of you for that Nevada vision becoming a Nevada reality for every Nevada child.
I must applaud each and every one of you in this chamber. You remain actively involved in the education and the prosperity of our children. By working together, we will not let them down, nor will we allow or permit their hopes to fade.
As much as we owe our children the brightest possible future, we also owe our seniors the security of a bright tomorrow. All seniors have earned the right and deserve a secure retirement. Congress and the White House are working together on a plan to secure the retirement of every American by locking away the trust funds intended for Social Security and Medicare. My friends, what may seem like a very sensible idea has actually been an uphill struggle. An uphill fight that we are just now beginning to see major progress on. Factually, it is interesting to note that we have nearly 76 million “baby boomers.” This is one third of the United States population. Seventy six million “baby boomers” of my generation marching towards retirement, creating the greatest demographic challenge that this nation has ever faced. Our government is currently not prepared to meet their needs. If we let rhetoric get in the way, and just do nothing, Medicare could be insolvent in the near future. In just a few years, Social Security could be in the ”red.” Clearly, the implications are frightening.
Currently, many seniors rely on Social Security for nearly one-half of their income. Medicare provides a staggering amount of our elderly seniors with basic health insurance coverage. I do not believe either of those facts will change in the near future. The stability of that retirement system is critical to the future of all seniors. That is why this Congress has stopped the 30 year raid on the Social Security Trust Fund.
The concept we used to accomplish that is a “lockbox.” In essence, it is a safety deposit box to ensure no politician dips into our senior’s retirement security. The latest Congressional Budget Office estimate indicates your federal government will accrue a $5.6 trillion budget surplus over the next ten years. The “lockbox” bill, passed last week by the House of Representatives and sent to the United States Senate, essentially locks away $2.9 trillion of the surplus coming from Social Security and the Medicare trust funds.
Now Congress must always apply 100 percent of the Social Security and Medicare surpluses to only those retirement programs. The bill will prohibit all future Congresses from ever dipping into or borrowing from your retirement funds. Tampering with the retirement of people who have contributed and worked so hard is just simply unconscionable and unacceptable. I look forward to making the “lockbox” a standard practice in the retirement security of all taxpayers, guaranteeing the retirement of all taxpaying Americans.
While we are securing the future of our seniors, let us not forget to keep our promises that we made to our Veterans. Nevada has one of the fastest growing veteran populations in the nation. Let each of us take just a moment and pause to consider what we owe every son and daughter who ever served our nation. Consider whatever way they sacrificed to protect our freedoms. My friends, it is simply more than just a new Veteran’s home in Boulder City, or a new outpatient clinic in Douglas County. While we are clearly very proud of those wonderful accomplishments, our veterans deserve our greatest and deepest gratitude.
They deserve that gratitude not only on Veterans’ Day, but every day. During the last session of Congress, we increased Veterans’ health care funding by more than 3 billion dollars, which was the largest increase in veterans health care in recent history. In addition, Congress mandated long-term health care for disabled veterans. We created a pilot program to test “Medicare subvention,” where Medicare will reimburse the Veterans Administration for the cost of treating Medicare-eligible veterans. To make sure we could deliver this health care we gave nearly 35,000 VA nurses and other health care professionals a much needed pay raise. In a special out-reach program, Congress authorized 240 million dollars in assistance to our homeless veterans. Homeless veterans are a crime and a shame for this nation. No veteran should ever be homeless. I have included this information to show our veterans here in the audience tonight, like Senator Lawrence Jacobsen, that your country cares and appreciates what you have done and continue to do for us and our great nation, that the spirit that made this country great hasn’t been extinguished. We will continue to expand on our care of veterans, in keeping with the promises we made to them—for their sacrifice.
Ladies and gentlemen, we must also ensure our nation’s military is prepared and ready to meet the challenges ahead. Tonight, I would like to welcome a good friend to this chamber. Captain Dave Rogers, Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station at Fallon. Captain, we are happy to have you here. All of us appreciate the sacrifices you make every day in the protection of our nation. Over the last several years, our military budget has been dangerously cut. The result has been a lack of military readiness and a diminished ability to defend our national interests both at home and abroad. Our military has been overstretched, overcommitted and with more than 265,000 troops spread across 135 countries around the world you can understand how dangerously thin our military has been stretched. Already this year, our military services have identified a total of nearly 10 billion dollars in additional needs for critical, high priority programs such as personnel, readiness, and modernization. Ten billion dollars just to stop the further decline of our military.
Overarching our national military strength is the daunting fact that the ballistic missile threat to the United States is broader, more mature and evolving more rapidly than even our intelligence community had first thought. This has been highlighted by the recent missile flight tests in North Korea and Iran. Furthermore, recent terrorist attacks on our embassies in Africa, the USS Cole, and several civilian kidnappings show that both civilian and military personnel around the world, as well as our structures and our infrastructure are at a higher risk than ever before. As a nation, we must commit to training, rebuilding, re-equipping, modernizing, and expanding our investment in our training facilities—such as the Naval Air Station in Fallon and Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, the two Ph.D. schools where our military aviators learn to fly and learn to fight. We must continue developing, and eventually deploying, a national missile defense system. We must put the necessary resources into our intelligence community and agencies in order to ensure the safety and security of America, both at home and abroad.
As a corollary to all of this, the security of America rests as much with our ability to provide the mineral and metal resources to fuel our economy as it does with providing our metal and mineral resources in rebuilding and modernizing our military. Nevada’s contribution to our nation’s economic and military security has been threatened, threatened by extensive land withdrawals which prohibit mineral development and threatened by federal management policies and regulations that prevent exploration and development of existing mining operations. During the past several years, administrative decisions made 2,000 miles away in Washington D.C. have left Nevada’s number two industry unable to provide the needs of our growing economy. Rather than federal agencies working with our mining and other public land use interests to develop our national resources in a scientific, environmental, and common sense approach, we get—thousands upon thousands of pages of burdensome rules and regulations designed primarily to kick mining out of Nevada and to prevent any future public activity on our public lands. Indeed, our mining industry faces an uncertain future in Nevada and all across America. That is difficult news to accept as mining is a very important part of our economy.
The average person consumes 44,000 pounds of mined minerals and metals each year. The products of mining are everywhere in our lives, and are a critical part of every American’s quality of life. Even down to the little white filling in an Oreo cookie. The white in that Oreo cookie includes titanium. Without that mined mineral, we would not have Oreo cookies. You know the old saying, “If it isn’t grown, it has to be mined.” The most extensive federal regulations applicable to mining are known as the 3809 Regulations. Draconian changes to these regulations were promulgated in the 11th hour of the last administration. These, now punitive rules are expected to cost over 3,200 hard-working Nevadans their jobs and negatively impact the State of Nevada’s economy by approximately 300 million dollars. If mining in the United States is regulated to the point of extinction, making the United States dependent on foreign-mined minerals and metals, as we currently are dependant on oil and gas supplies, we will have an economic nightmare on our hands. A crisis that will seriously affect not only every person in this room and across America, but will affect our national security as well. I cannot say with more passion and conviction that we must do whatever we can, individually and collectively, to support not only our mining industry, but the mining employees and their families as well.
I know there are members of the legislature here tonight, like Assemblymen Lynn Hettrick, my good friend Roy Neighbors, John Carpenter, John Marvel, Assemblywoman Marcia de Braga, and Senators Dean Rhoads, and Mike McGinness, just to name a few, who know all too well and understand that “mining works for Nevada.” As the newly appointed vice-chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, I will continue to support this important industry, as well as the families who are such an important part of our great state. I will work with this administration to develop common sense reforms to this regulatory nightmare so that 3,200 Nevada families never have to bear the burden of a “pink slip.”
Folks, there is more to mining than just mining. One of my proudest accomplishments was passing legislation that will build a coalition of groups like the University of Nevada, the Corps of Engineers, private companies and individuals working together to help clean up Nevada’s abandoned mines. Proudly, this legislation was backed and supported by industry leaders as well as most environmental and land management groups. Once in place, it will help demonstrate that we can work with, and protect and preserve our environment without excluding the public from our public lands.
There are also concerns in our state about our water resources. Carson City, Fallon, and rural Nevada communities are facing the daunting task of reducing the high levels of dangerous minerals, like arsenic, in their water. I applaud the strong efforts of Assemblywoman Marcia de Braga for her leadership in investigating the tragic incidents in Fallon with childhood leukemia. We applaud you for your hard work. This is an area which I firmly believe the federal government must participate in and it must pony up its share of necessary resources to help our rural communities fund this effort.
This past year, we were finally able, I am proud to say, to deliver on the three year old promise to commit federal funds toward the clean-up and protection of Lake Tahoe. May I say it was about time! As General Lee Butler once said, “The worst mistake is to have the best ladder up against the wrong wall.” It was nice to see that after all the letter writing from our delegation, the efforts of the Nevada Legislature, and the contributions of the State of Nevada, the federal government is finally stepping up to help preserve and protect Lake Tahoe.
You know, after 2002, I am going to miss representing 99.8 percent of the State of Nevada. It will take some major adjustments on my part to go from 99.8 percent to—well—probably 89.8 percent. I will try my best to get through it, realizing that many ideas have been floated about as to how the congressional districts should be drawn. I remain adamant that this process must remain open and fair. We must do what is in the best interests of Nevada—and not the sole interest of an individual or individual politician. It has been my experience that representing both urban and rural issues in Nevada doesn’t weaken us as a delegation—it makes us stronger. Let me assure you, representing the farmer in Fallon requires the same diligence as obtaining vital and critical transportation funding for Las Vegas. It is the same passion required to help the miner in Eureka that is required to fight for the rancher in Amargosa Valley. The same enthusiasm is required to push for a new elementary school in Incline Village as is required to provide for a new airport in Clark County. I am also pleased to be joined tonight by Incline Elementary School Principal, Harry Haaser. Principal Haaser was a critical and key component in getting a new school for Incline Village, a school that required the process of congressional legislation. It was a struggle and principal Hasser was an incredible part of that moving force. We look forward to the opening of your new school in the near future; we will be there for that. It has been an honor and privilege for me to represent such a wide variety of interests over the past four years. Whether those interests have been urban or rural, we have put up a tough fight and we have done a lot of good on behalf of all Nevadans.
In closing my remarks this evening, I would like to dedicate this evening to a dear friend, and former colleague who is no longer with us—someone who many of us shared this very chamber with, and who we all came to admire, respect and love—our friend—Jan Evan. Jan Evans could envision an America where all children could receive a world-class education and an opportunity to achieve their dreams in a safe school in every community—an America where every child graduates from high school, and where every high school graduate has access to a college or university education. Jan Evans envisioned an America where all seniors enjoy a secure retirement, and where all seniors have access to affordable, high quality health care—including prescription drug benefits. Jan Evans envisioned a strong America where every person is at peace with themselves, at peace with their neighbors, and—at peace with their God. Jan—we miss you.
Thank you for allowing me to speak to you this evening, and may God bless each and every one of you. Good night.
Senator Townsend moved that the Senate and Assembly in Joint Session extend a vote of thanks to Representative Gibbons for his timely, able and constructive message.
Seconded by Assemblyman Manendo.
Motion carried unanimously.
The Committee on Escort escorted Representative Gibbons to the bar of the Assembly.
Senator Rhoads moved that the Joint Session be dissolved.
Seconded by Assemblyman de Braga.
Joint Session dissolved at 5:51 p.m.
ASSEMBLY IN SESSION
At 5:52 p.m.
Mr. Speaker presiding.
GUESTS EXTENDED PRIVILEGE OF ASSEMBLY FLOOR
On request of Assemblyman Anderson, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Bernard Brady, M.D.
On request of Assemblyman Beers, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Alan Kaercher, Susan Bithell and Shari Farkas.
On request of Assemblywoman Berman, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Steve Byrne and Jim Beasley.
On request of Assemblywoman de Braga, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to David C. Henley.
On request of Assemblywoman Cegavske, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Gayle M. Anderson.
On request of Assemblyman Collins, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Paul V. Carelli III.
On request of Assemblywoman Gibbons, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Jimmy Gibbons, Curtis Harvey, Amy Harvey, Betty Jo Vonderheide-Gerber, Shirley Lawson, Forrest Lawson, Gina Burnaugh, Janet Stokes, Tami Ledbetter, Jermaine Miller and Lia Roberts.
On request of Assemblyman Gustavson, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Rosemary Bartolo, Katheleen Sloan Chisari, Debbie Gant, Annett Price, Calbeth Alaribe, Amanda Alston, Timothy Atchley, Adam Brayton, Dynisha Buford, Misty Cox, Alexandria Fechter, Amber Frost, Brianne Gant, Amanda Johnson, Cory Jones, Jennifer Kenbok, John Kim, Neyva Martinez, Sandra Martinez, Ana Pailla, Autumn Palko, Kristopher Phay, Shawn Presley, Jessica Price, Samantha Rasberry, Vincent Renfrow, Kyle Riley, Corrine St. Clair, Jesus Torres, Joseph Towery, Mara Underwood, Justin Walker and Matt Winter.
On request of Assemblyman Lee, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Andres Yves Portal.
On request of Assemblywoman Leslie, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Linda Smith.
On request of Assemblyman Oceguera, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Peter. G. Jaramillo.
On request of Assemblywoman Von Tobel, the privilege of the floor of the Assembly Chamber for this day was extended to Alan Di Stefano.
Assemblywoman Buckley moved that the Assembly adjourn until Thursday, February 22, 2001 at 11:00 a.m.
Assembly adjourned at 5:53 p.m.
Approved:Richard D. Perkins
Attest: Jacqueline Sneddon