Archive for April 2011

The award for the most succinct statement by a politician goes to — State Senator Greg Brower, who says “yes” to CD2

April 23, 2011

A text at lunchtime Friday from Vegas PBS producer Stacy: “Hey… just checking to see if brower is in the cd2 race???”  Followed by: “Just checking cause the rj and gazette just flashed he announced he’s running.”

The reliability of recent information about the race to replace Congressman Dean Heller has been mixed. With no formal announcement in the mailbox,  direct confirmation was in order.

In the hallway outside the Senate chamber, the question was asked, and the answer was, in a word, “yes.”

Asked to expand on his one-word statement, Brower said, “I think I’ll leave it at that,” and breezed right past.

Is Greg Brower the Gary Cooper of Nevada politics? Is there more to Brower’s decision to try to leave the state senate seat he just filled? Is it, in the age of texts and Twitter, a brazen act to put a microphone in the face of a politician and request actual confirmation? The answers to these and other questions are — not all that important, apparently.

That is all.

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The customer is always right… but generally left out of the lawmaking loop

April 15, 2011

Joe and Jane Voter rarely show up at the legislature to speak for themselves. Folklore from sessions gone by says there were  lawmakers who adamantly did not want to see or hear from Joe and Jane, and held power like a hammer over the heads of lobbyists who might have considered packing a hearing room with citizens.

This week, in a rarely-exercised act of self-determination, Joe and Jane got a chance  to kill a bill, without setting foot in  Carson City.

Senate Bill 203 would have changed the status of over-the-counter cold and sinus medicine, requiring  a prescription for drugs like Sudafed.

The objective: keep the drug away from folks who would use it to manufacture methamphetamines. Law enforcement estimates between one and two percent of the drug store purchases end up in the meth lab.

Joe and Jane Voter apparently didn’t care for the proposal, which would require them to drag their allergic brood to the doctor’s office on a school day, and shell out the requisite co-payments in order to then proceed to the grocery store and get a box of decongestant.  That was the scenario painted in a radio spot that ran with relentless frequency over the last couple of weeks.  The spot was paid for by an alliance of drug makers who were fighting the bill. It urged a phone call to legislators protesting Senate Bill 203.

Word to the business lobby: What took you so long to realize that the consumer is your natural ally?  It doesn’t take thousands of dollars worth of media to call the consumer to action. A simple op-ed piece or talk show appearance is sufficient to notify the people who really have something at stake. It’s a head scratcher, but rarely are Joe and Jane Voter actively brought into the loop on issues that affect them in the marketplace.

The radio campaign was executed by a national organization, not by any Nevada group, although the Retail Association got the credit for stirring opposition too strong to overcome.

Ironically, the people who killed this bill – Joe and Jane Voter — are largely unaware that they averted an equally undesirable alternative. The drug industry is also paying for a cloud-based decongestant user database — linked in a growing number of states — that logs purchases, along with personally identifying information of every stuffy-nosed citizen who buys a box.  Law enforcement has complete access, any time. Had SB 203 gone forward, this would have been the inevitable compromise.

By the way, Sudafed and its sister drugs are already tightly controlled at the retail level, having been placed out of reach of the runny-nosed customer in 2006. Currently it’s necessary to sign a log and provide identification in order to get sinus relief, but the information stays in the store.

Supporters say prevailing wage overhaul lowers costs, levels playing field; unions come out blasting

April 11, 2011

A proposed overhaul of the state’s prevailing wage law drew protest on Monday from union representatives who said it will place Nevada’s construction workers in a “race to the bottom,” depriving them of a suitable living. But supporters claim the bill corrects rules that drive up building costs and put non-union contractors at a disadvantage. Story at Nevada Newschannel

Budget back-and-forth: Horsford serves, Sandoval returns, Horsford smashes back…

April 2, 2011

Senate Democrats are engaged in an informational ping-pong match with Governor Brian Sandoval, both sides struggling to sell philosophies with numbers. Only an accountant could truly enjoy the numerical details, but as political spectator sport, it’s riveting. Charts, graphs, political role-playing and promises of tax discussions in the coming weeks. Read more at Nevada News Channel.