THE FIFTH DAY
Carson City(Friday), February 09, 2001
Senate called to order at 10:47 a.m.
President Hunt presiding.
Prayer by the Chaplain, Pastor Albert Tilstra.
Almighty God, we know deep down in our hearts that without Your guidance, we can do nothing, but with You, we can accomplish all things. Let us not be frightened by the problems that confront us, but rather give You thanks that You have matched us with this hour. May we resolve, God helping us, to be part of the answer and not part of the problem. We ask this in Your Name.
Pledge of allegiance to the Flag.
Senator Raggio moved that further reading of the Journal be dispensed with, and the President and Secretary be authorized to make the necessary corrections and additions.
MOTIONS, RESOLUTIONS AND NOTICES
Senator Raggio moved that the following persons be accepted as accredited press representatives, and that they be assigned space at the press table and allowed the use of appropriate media facilities: CARSON CITY NEWS: David D. Morgan; COVER EDGE: Michele Kane and Kevin Ross; FOX 5: Don Lyle; LAS VEGAS SUN: Aaron Mayes; NEVADA APPEAL: Bob Thomas and RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL: Bill O'Donnell.
By Senator O'Connell (by request):
Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 3—Directing the Legislative Commission to appoint an interim committee to investigate the problem of suicide in this state and to study the feasibility of developing and carrying out a statewide strategy for the prevention of suicide.
Senator O'Connell moved that the resolution be referred to the Committee on Legislative Affairs and Operations.
INTRODUCTION, FIRST READING AND REFERENCE
By Senator O'Donnell:
Senate Bill No. 92—AN ACT relating to the business tax; authorizing a credit against the tax on the privilege of conducting business in Nevada for businesses that employ at least one disabled person; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Senator O'Donnell moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Taxation.
By Senator O'Donnell:
Senate Bill No. 93—AN ACT relating to liens; providing that a notice of mechanic’s lien must include a reference to any previously recorded lien involving the same labor or materials for the same property; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Senator O'Donnell moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
By Senator O'Donnell:
Senate Bill No. 94—AN ACT relating to public works; prohibiting the state contractors’ board from issuing a certificate of preference in bidding on public works to persons not licensed as a general contractor; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Senator O'Donnell moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Government Affairs.
By Senator Titus:
Senate Bill No. 95—AN ACT relating to state personnel; revising the provisions authorizing state employees to obtain additional retirement credit as payment for unused sick leave; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Senator Titus moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Government Affairs.
By the Committee on Commerce and Labor:
Senate Bill No. 96—AN ACT relating to state government; authorizing certain state officers and employees to file a complaint with a hearing officer of the department of personnel if another state officer or employee uses or attempts to use official authority or influence to interfere with or prevent the disclosure of improper governmental action; requiring the hearing officer to conduct a hearing to determine whether the officer or employee has used official authority or influence for such purpose; requiring the hearing officer to file his decision with certain persons; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Senator Townsend moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Government Affairs.
By Senator Rhoads; Assemblymen Carpenter and Marvel:
Senate Bill No. 97—AN ACT making an appropriation to the State Public Works Board for the construction of residence facilities at the Great Basin College, Elko campus; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Senator Rhoads moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Finance.
Madam President announced that if there were no objections, the Senate would recess subject to the call of the Chair.
Senate in recess at 10:57 a.m.
SENATE IN SESSION
At 11:13 a.m.
President Hunt presiding.
MOTIONS, RESOLUTIONS AND NOTICES
The Sergeant at Arms announced that Assemblyman Lee and Assemblywoman Parnell were at the bar of the Senate. Assemblyman Lee invited the Senate to meet in Joint Session with the Assembly to hear an address by Senator Harry Reid.
The President announced that if there were no objections, the Senate would recess subject to the call of the Chair.
Senate in recess at 11:14
IN JOINT SESSION
At 11:30 a.m.
President Hunt presiding.
The Secretary of the Senate called the Senate roll.
The Chief Clerk of the Assembly called the Assembly roll.
All present except Assemblywomen Ohrenschall and Tiffany, who were excused.
Madam President appointed a Committee on Escort consisting of Senator Wiener and Assemblywoman Koivisto to wait upon the Honorable Senator Harry Reid and escort him to the Assembly Chamber.
Senator Reid delivered his message.
Message to the Legislature of Nevada
Seventy-First Session, 2001
Lieutenant Governor Hunt, Speaker Perkins, Majority Leader Raggio, members of the Legislature and guests:
Every time I come to the Nevada State Legislature waves of nostalgia fill my soul. It was here my legislative career started. I think of the many accomplishments of many different legislators over the years, those who I served with and those who have served in the past. Would you join me today in recognizing one of the great legislators in the history of the State of Nevada with a moment of silence, Jan Evans. My legislative career started here. The first time I served, I had the good fortune of meeting in the Capitol. What has happened in Nevada since 1864 has revolved around what takes place in these legislative halls.
Last Monday night, I went to Senator Kennedy’s home to celebrate the release of a new book containing the letters of his father. Landra and I got there a bit early, and Ted asked us to go upstairs and look around. It is like a little museum, with all kinds of things on the walls, letters from Jackie Kennedy, his dad and his brothers. One thing that struck me was the framed notes his brother John had written prior to addressing the Nevada State Legislature in 1960. I went downstairs and asked Senator Kennedy if he remembered that.
Important things happen every time this Legislature meets. A president won’t address the Legislature this session, but the destiny of our State will be determined by what happens in these halls over the next 115 days. A century ago, my birthplace, Searchlight, was the fastest growing community in Nevada. Gold had been discovered, miners and others came, the future looked bright. Searchlight was one of the first modern towns of western America. It had electricity, telephones and telegraph, even a modern water system. Only a few years later, the gold became scarce—the mines slowed down—miners and others began to leave. Those few who stayed faced hard times and social upheaval. Those who remained did so because Searchlight was their home. Though I was born in Searchlight, today, I spend much of my time three thousand miles from Searchlight in Washington, D.C.; but Nevada is my home. And like any home, I want it to be the cleanest, safest, most prosperous place it can be—a place to rest one’s head, raise one’s children, a refuge for the spirit, a place to return when the day is done. All of us share this dream—because Nevada is our home.
We in government ought to make decisions that affect the State in the same way families make decisions that affect their own home. There is no higher calling than public service. I thank each of you for your service to the people of the Silver State.
We share in our accomplishments and our failures—when a road is built, it’s our road—when a lake is polluted, it’s our lake—when a community is in distress, it’s our community—when deadly nuclear waste threatens to be transported, it affects each and every one of us—because Nevada is our home.
We have our own interests and ideals, our separate lives, but when times of trouble and turmoil arise, we all come together. We come together as one—not as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, not as federal or state officials—but as Nevadans. Because our challenges are not exclusively federal, state or local, therefore, neither can our solutions be.
We have in the past worked together. For example, we did it with the Truckee-Carson Water Settlement. We did it again with the Lake Tahoe Summit, working to restore, as Mark Twain said, “the fairest place in all the earth.” This historic agreement brought together federal, state and local governments, as well as residents, businesses, environmentalists and community leaders. This can be used to set a model for what can be achieved when we work as one. We did it with the school in Schurz; we did it when we cleaned up the Helms Pit, which is now the Sparks Marina. These are a few examples of the many times we have worked together.
From the past, we learn that together we must meet the challenges of Nevada’s tomorrows.
Nevadans’ health must be our priority. Some communities are afraid. Eleven new leukemia cases have been discovered in Fallon, which is more than forty times the national average. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has experienced a five-fold increase in cancer cases, possibly resulting from the Sierra Army Depot’s open munitions burning. These and other health questions must have answers—because Nevada is our home.
We have women in our State who are frequently diagnosed with breast cancer. It is estimated that 1,200 Nevada women will be diagnosed for the first time, and 200 women will die from this dread disease this year. Why? We don’t know. These women are our mothers, our wives, our sisters and our daughters. Last year, I obtained nearly two million dollars in federal funding for the UNLV Cancer Research Center to expand its research efforts. Your support here has been essential. I am now working to establish national breast cancer research centers to focus on eradicating this disease.
Some of us need assistance in our golden years but can’t afford it. Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley has proposed a unique pilot project funded by private donations and state funding, with land from the federal government to create affordable assisted living facilities for low-income Nevadans. Together, we can do this.
Some among us have been prescribed drugs by their physicians but cannot afford to buy them because Medicare does not cover them or other health plans. Here is a letter that I received from Barbara Keefer of Sun Valley.
I am 60 years old and on Social Security Disability. I get $585 a month and have osteoporosis. I have many broken bones and need medication for this, along with a variety of other prescriptions. The medications that I have to take cost more than $100 a month, and it is a hardship to get them every month. I really hope you will fight to help people like me.
I say to Barbara Keefer that we must reply “yes.” We will fight to help her. Congress and this Legislature, the Nevada Legislature, must strengthen our legislative partnership because they are our parents and because Nevada is our home.
Nevada’s children must be educated. In Nevada, we have one of the highest dropout rates in the nation. We have the fifth worst student-to-teacher ratio in the entire country. Our schools need 300 million dollars in repair and renovation. A few months ago, I received a letter jointly signed by seven parents who had first graders at Dayton Elementary School. They said, among other things, that their children go to school every day in classrooms that are overcrowded and where teachers are overworked. They wrote, “Mr. Reid, we look to you, to give us the direction we need to ensure that all of our children receive the best education available.” I say to these parents that we in Congress can do better. You, in this Legislature, can do better. We need to give young Nevadans a better education, because these are our children and because Nevada is our home.
Nevadans must have economic security. Not every Nevadan has shared in the boom of these last seven years. Unemployment rates are at record lows, but those numbers don’t tell us the difficulty of living on minimum wage with few or no benefits. All Nevadans must share in our prosperity—from the young father who works two jobs at two different casinos, to the single mother who leaves for work before her children get up in the morning and returns home after they’ve gone to bed—because they are our neighbors, and because Nevada is our home.
We need to open the democratic process to more—to all. Too many Nevadans don’t vote because they don’t believe the system will help them. They, in effect, have been turned off. We need to make it easier for them to register and easier for them to vote. Secretary of State Dean Heller has become a national leader in reforming the electoral process. He has done this in the State of Nevada and nationally as well. We need to listen, in Washington, D.C. and Carson City, to his advice and counsel.
Our State must remain clean and livable. We have natural resources that are polluted and energy sources which are being pressed to their limits. A few days ago, among other restrictions, California ordered a 50 percent reduction in the use of power for outdoor lighting. Nevada is the neon capital of the world. Bright lights are what we’re known for the world over. We need to make sure that we have enough affordable power to keep our State growing and our neon glowing.
Ron Feldstein of Carson City wrote,
I was horrified to read that Southwest Gas was increasing our gas bills 35 percent. Last month, my Southwest gas bill was over $100. The only way a senior can afford such a huge increase means they have to give up something, or in other words, lower their standard of living. That usually means giving up a certain prescription or lowering their food bill.
To Mr. Feldstein, I say that you should not have to choose between being able to afford electricity and being able to afford food and prescription drugs. To Congress and this Legislature, I say, we need to explore alternative energy sources. The Nevada Test Site Development Corporation, with the help of the federal government, has recently let a contract to do work at the Nevada Test Site. They will create up to 265 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply electricity to 250,000 homes. This is one example of what we can do when we work together.
Earlier this week, I introduced a bill in Congress to renew the federal wind power production tax and expand it to cover all renewable technologies. This will help states and businesses develop solutions. This Legislature also needs to review deregulation legislation and the actions of the Public Utilities Commission to determine what needs to be done, and with your suggestions, what I can do on a national level to help.
We need to improve our transportation system all over the State of Nevada. Ten years ago, I held my first transportation summits here in Nevada. These summits were successful for many reasons—not the least of which was—because this Legislature provided counties with ways to raise revenue to build the infrastructure to sustain the growth of the last ten years. Today, a decade later, we see we need to do more.
This summer, I will have a new summit to explore ways that government in Nevada, in conjunction with Congress and Nevada business leaders, can accommodate the 75,000 to 85,000 new people who arrive every year with a system of transportation that will preserve our unique beauty and protect our air, our water, our neighborhoods and our sense of community. Good fortune has put me in a position in the Senate—as ranking member of the Public Works Committee, the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, and my role as assistant leader—to help address Nevada’s problems at the federal level. I accept this obligation, and I ask you to help me have a successful term.
Our challenge, today, is to ensure that all parts of Nevada—from Ely to Elko, from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe, from Sparks to Searchlight, from Reno to Rhyolite—remain the kind of places that engage not only our minds and bodies but touch our hearts and souls. We need to ensure that Nevada remains the kind of place where people come not only to visit but to live, work and raise their families because Nevada is our home.
I began, today, speaking about Searchlight because it is like so many towns and cities in Nevada and America—one can see and feel significant change. We must plan for the future for change will come. Las Vegas will change. Reno will change. Winnemucca will change. Fallon, Yerington, Ely and Elko—all will evolve. I call Searchlight home. I call Nevada home.
We all care, or we wouldn’t be here. Let’s work together. Let’s plan together. Let’s legislate together. Because, Nevada is our home.
Senator Titus moved that the Senate and Assembly in Joint Session extend a vote of thanks to Senator Reid for his inspirational and informative message as he certainly personifies the notion that “Home Means Nevada to me.”
The Committee on Escort escorted Senator Reid to the bar of the Assembly.
Senator Washington moved that the Joint Session be dissolved.
Joint Session dissolved at 11:41 a.m.
SENATE IN SESSION
At 11:45 a.m.
President Hunt presiding.
GUESTS EXTENDED PRIVILEGE OF SENATE FLOOR
On request of Senator McGinness, the privilege of the floor of the Senate Chamber for this day was extended to Sarah Parks.
Senator Raggio moved that the Senate adjourn until Monday, February 12, 2001 at 11 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 11:46 a.m.
Approved:Lorraine T. Hunt
President of the Senate
Attest: Claire J. Clift
Secretary of the Senate