(Nancy Dallas) – Orrin Johnson is a candidate for the Assembly District 25 seat (Reno), formerly held by Republican Heidi Gansert (who decided to not run for re-election). You may learn more about Orrin’s background and political views at www.orrinjohnson.com
• You have never run for elective office. Why do you feel you are qualified to run for the State Assembly?
It’s time for a new generation of principled, positive, and effective conservatives to step up and take responsibility for our state, our nation, and our futures. I represent that new generation in a way none of my opponents do. And, we are at a critical time in our history.
There are some who speak of “political experience” as if that’s necessarily a good thing, but the experience of politicians has done Nevada no favors. It’s time for a fresh voice and a fresh perspective. My background as a military officer and subsequent practice of Constitutional Law gives me the tools to be an effective leader for the voters of District 25.
• Why should the voters in your district elect you over your Primary opponents? Describe your political philosophy.
I am a conservative. I believe that we must never forget the ultimate mission of government – to preserve, protect, and promote the individual liberty if its citizens.
Some of my opponents have called for, or at least suggested, that we should raise taxes on Nevadans and the businesses that employ them. I, however, understand that it’s not too little taxing that is the problem, but too much spending. I’m the only candidate pushing for discussion and implementation of the SAGE Commission recommendations – ready made proposals which, if passed into law, would save hundreds of millions of dollars.
I know what it’s like to suffer poverty in a way that none of my opponents do. As a result, I also know that encouraging personal responsibility rather than government dependency is the answer to helping people escape it. When I graduated from high school, I lived in a small mobile home in a run down trailer park. Because of the values I was taught by my family, my teachers, and my friends, I was able to put myself through college and have been blessed with a successful and wonderful life.
I’m the only candidate in this race to have served in the military. I spent six years in the US Navy, deploying overseas three times. In addition to the discipline, planning, and mission oriented thinking the military provides, there is nothing like actually having been willing to fight for your country to make you ready to handle anything the political arena may throw at a person.
In my post-Navy life I chose a profession which allows me to study and put into practice Constitutional Law on a daily basis. While in law school, I was the president of my school’s Federalist Society chapter, a group of conservative law students committed to studying and promoting our founding governing principles.
It’s time for us to get back to basics – basics in spending, basics in free market principles, and basics in the proper role and limits of government. I’m the candidate that best can bring the shared principles of the Republican Party to Carson City, and to see them effectively turned from principles to policy.
• What are the demographics of your district? What are the greatest concerns of residents in District 25 and how do you intend to address them if elected?
25 is a heavily Republican district, but those Republicans come from all socio-economic backgrounds and all walks of life. But no matter whose house I knock on the door of, people are concerned about one issue more than anything else – runaway government spending. They realize we will not enjoy an economic recovery or see jobs come back to Nevada until we get spending under control.
• What do you see as the best means of providing sustainable, affordable energy to Nevada? Do you support nuclear energy? Elaborate on this position.
Nevada has such a wealth of energy resources from our sun, wind, and geology. We need to encourage businesses to come to Nevada and develop these technologies. We should free private industry to develop these resources. I do strongly support nuclear power. But like any economic sector, there is great strength in diversity.
• How would you propose to address the issue of Nevada’s growing budget crisis? Will you support the legislatively implemented sun-setting in 2011 of those taxes imposed by the 2009 legislature? Elaborate.
Yes, they absolutely should sunset. Opponents of those tax increases at the time pointed out that raising taxes on job-creators in the middle of a deep recession would only make our economic situation worse – and we now know they were right! Why would any reasonable person vote to compound this error? Extending those tax hikes will only make the problem worse far into the future. The solution isn’t more taxing, but less spending. Ending this ever-increasing government spending must be our first order of business. We have only to look at the disaster that California’s economy has become to know we can’t spend our way out of this crisis.
Again, it all comes down to the fact that we spend too much money, not that we don’t take enough in. To fix the problem, we need to stop. The 2009-11 legislatively approved state budget will spend 31.2 percent more on an inflation-adjusted, per-person basis than did the 2003-05 budget. (Remember this the next time you hear a politician talk about things “already being cut to the bone!”.) And things will only get worse in the future as unfunded liabilities in our state employee retirement program and federal spending mandates push us further off the economic cliff. Rolling spending back to 2005 levels and then implementing the SAGE commission recommendations will go a long way to putting us back on solid financial footing.
• Does the state need to revise its property tax guidelines? Explain.
I’m open to looking at better, more fair, and more stable methods to collect revenue. But most of the time, such suggestions are nothing more than thinly veiled tax hike proposals, which I find unacceptable.
• What are your views in regards to the federally mandated Real ID program?
One of the geniuses of the American Constitution is the freedom it protects to travel freely from state to state. This freedom of movement is part of what has made us the most productive and innovative economy in the history of mankind. Inexpensive and widely accessible air travel has made this an even more important economic driver than the Framers could have possibly imagined.
Unfortunately, the reality of the post 9-11 world is that this freedom of movement is threatened by terrorists who have shown preferences for air travel attacks in particular. In order to keep us safe, reasonable security measures are in order. Having a single set of standards for ID integrity makes authenticating those cards far more efficient and effective, and I think falls correctly within the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce.
However, I don’t believe in a uniform, federally issued ID card (beyond a passport, of course). States must still retain their sovereignty, and the ability to control who is licensed to drive on their roads is part of that. I also oppose RFID chips – new technology allows such chips to be scanned and “read” at a distance. Requiring RFID in our driver’s licenses would be an invitation to have a massive identity theft problem – not to mention the vulnerability to our privacy.
• What is your view in regards to Initiative Petitions? Should the process be more strictly governed, or not? Should those petitions advocating a measure that would cause a tax or fee increase be required to pass under stricter guidelines than a simple majority?
I believe the initiative process is an important check on the power of government by the people and would not support making it more difficult to exercise. I would support maintaining the current guidelines once the initiative is on the ballot.
• Do you believe the Nevada legislature should address the illegal immigration problem in the same manner as Arizona recently did? Elaborate.
The brilliance of Federalism is that states aren’t bound by one-size-fits-all solutions to problems which affect them differently. I strongly support Arizona’s new law, along with their efforts to curb illegal immigration. But not being a border state, the same solution may not be the most cost effective way for Nevada to deal with our own illegal immigrant population.
In any event, illegal immigration costs Nevadans millions of dollars every year, and I strongly support measures to stop this. If the Federal government continues to abandon their responsibility to Nevada, we may have to take more serious action.
• How would you propose determining and rewarding outstanding educators?
The same way private sector employees are recognized – by examining their product. I believe in standardized testing, and believe that teachers should be held accountable for their students’ performance. While anyone who has ever been in a classroom will tell you that some years you get a tougher class than others, consistent performance (or lack of it) over several years will always be very telling. And while measuring teacher performance consistently and accurately will never be easy, that’s no excuse for not attempting it at all.
• How would you address improving the performance of Nevada’s public school students? To what degree should the state support those students attending Charter schools and schools of choice? Do you support these programs?
I support school vouchers that give parents more choice and control over their child’s education. We need to further explore the concept of empowerment schools that give principals and communities more control over how their education dollars are spent. I support public/private partnerships that make our education dollars go further, and legislation that makes it easier to get bad teachers out of our schools.
We also need to embrace building reform that lets us build more schools for our tax dollars and ensures that we keep our schools in good working order. And we need to reduce the extraneous layers of bureaucracy that bog down our education system. Not one dime should be spent by the State on education until the question is asked, “How does this actually benefit the student in the classroom – and would we get more benefit if we spent it another way or didn’t spend it at all?”
The education issue is very personal to me. My wife and I have a daughter who will be going to school here in Washoe County when she gets a little older, and I want her and all our children to have the best education possible. But there is nothing worse we could do for our schools or our children than to break the back of our economy by spending money we simply don’t have.
• Do you support Nevada’s Right-to-Work law? Should Nevada State employees be allowed to unionize?
I absolutely support our Right-to-Work law and Nevadan’s right to choice in whether or not to belong to a union. I believe that public employee unions are one of our biggest threats to economic recovery right now, and have recently written about exactly that. No one should ever be coerced or forced into joining a union, and I will fight “card check” style legislation strongly. I wouldn’t outlaw public unions, but public employee negotiations should be subject to Nevada’s Open Meeting Law. I further believe that public employee benefits packages are unsustainable over time, and we need to follow the SAGE Commission recommendations to bring those packages in line with what the private sector is doing.
• Do you support ‘prevailing wage laws’ for state and local government construction projects? Elaborate.
I’m not opposed to an annually set average rate for construction to be used as a guideline, especially in public work. I am very much opposed to the current system where rates are more often than not set by the union collective bargaining agreements and not the true reflection of our market and economy. The most conservative estimates show that taxpayers are paying 10% more – other estimates rage 40% and higher – for public construction than comparable private projects. This is simply unacceptable when we don’t have enough schools, and of the ones we do, most are due for expansion and retrofits.
• State tuition support of in-state students at Nevada’s two universities ranks far above the national average. Would you support reducing the amount of this support in an effort to reduce budget deficits? Elaborate.
I attended college on a Navy ROTC scholarship. While it has become accepted that taxpayers now subsidize college educations, that should never fully remove the student from responsibility. In fact, education is devalued when the individual receiving it isn’t significantly helping to pay for it.
Over the long term we will simply have no choice but to reduce the amount of subsidization for higher education in Nevada, but we cannot make dramatic reductions in the short term that would make it more difficult for our students to graduate from college. If we make these cuts too quickly, we risk losing Nevada’s best and brightest and making it more difficult for thousands of current students to graduate.
• There have been legislative efforts in Nevada and other states to allow voter registration up to the day prior to or on voting day. What is you position in regards to this issue.
Unfortunately, I think there is such a thing as too much convenience with regard to voting. Same day registration, coupled with early voting gaining in popularity all over the country, makes it too easy to engage in voter fraud. After seeing groups like ACORN already engaging in potential election fraud crimes here in Nevada, we shouldn’t further risk the integrity of our system of elections for a mere convenience.
• The Missouri Plan for electing/appointing judges will be presented to Nevada voters in November 2010. Do you support the Missouri Plan? Elaborate.
The Modified Missouri Plan on our ballot is a very flawed one. But electing judges has its own serious problems. A judge may be hard pressed to make an unpopular but legally correct ruling for fear of upsetting voters – or their political donors, who often are the attorneys who practice in front of them. And because of judicial election rules which keep judicial candidates largely silent on many issues that ordinarily help voters make up their mind, it is difficult to knowledgably choose the best judge.
The Framers of the Constitution understood this, and that’s the reason federal judges are appointed. Judges should be protected from potentially fleeting public moods so they are free to rule on the law as it is, as opposed to what interpretation would make it more politically palatable. And with this plan, the voters still ultimately have the power to get rid of bad judges.
There are serious problems either way, but on balance, I think the Modified Missouri Plan is better than the status quo.
• Is there an issue you would like to elaborate on that I have failed to address? Go for it….
Anger about ObamaCare is overwhelming in my district and emblematic of the understanding that government on all levels is spending far too much of our money. Although it is a federal issue, there is action Nevada can and should take to help ensure its Constitutional challenge and/or repeal. Several weeks ago, I wrote in detail on why it’s critical for Nevada to join the fight against this unconstitutional and unaffordable government takeover of our everyday lives. If elected, I will fight to ensure we do exactly that.