(Assemblyman Pat Hickey) – One week into the Legislature and already the Las Vegas Review Journal has dubbed the 76th gathering of Nevada lawmakers, “the tax or ax session.” Despite the good vibes that accompanied the pomp and circumstance of opening day ceremonies, a veteran observer has predicted the semi-annual gathering of Democrats and Republicans will end up looking more like a “mixed martial arts match.”
I for one, hope not.
The image of a forced submission by one opponent on top of the other getting the vanquished to tap-out is not something most of the Nevada electorate, want to see. Philosophical and partisan differences have already begun to surface, but if a martial-arts analogy is apropos, I would prefer to see the Bruce Lee style of “fighting without fighting” employed by couples who manage their marriages successfully.
In fact, the relationship between political parties is like the dynamic within a family. Fathers and mothers frequently have different points of view, especially with regard to the well-being of the children. However, most parents resolve their differences by finding ways to combine their strengths and compliment their weaknesses for the sake of the greater good—their family. It remains to be seen whether Republicans and Democrats can reconcile their legislative preferences or end up behaving like a dysfunctional family.
Big Labor and Democrat leaders came together this past week in support of a public works job bill. In it were provisions to insure companies employ at least 50% of Nevada workers as well as a requirement to purchase at least 25% of materials be manufactured in the Silver State. The cost to pay for the earmarked $1 billion dollar program would come from increases in sales and property taxes.
In the current down economy, any proposal to garner more jobs in Nevada is worthy of serious consideration. But it’s curious to me that no Nevada Democrat other than Secretary of State Ross Miller, has come out in favor of making sure (E-Verify) those Nevadans hired–are legal Nevada residents.
Given recent figures released by the Pew Hispanic Center finding that Nevada has the country’s largest share of illegal immigrants, the study also found we have the highest number of illegal workers in America–with that number having grown despite record unemployment.
The fact is, the 800-pound piñata in the middle of the room this Session is illegal immigration. The impact of illegal immigration on Nevada’s budget is $800 million annually. Federal and state lawmakers have stood by wearing blind folds, refusing to touch the public policy problem with a 10 ft. legislative stick.
These days, many formerly employed construction workers are trying to make a living working as “handymen.” The influx of them in the remodeling business has raised safety and legal concerns. Concerned contractors brought their case this past Friday to the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee on which I serve. Rather than simply eliminating the exemptions “handymen” currently enjoy, I have asked the State Contractors Board to look for some “middle ground” in trying to protect both the public and a profession that numerous Nevadans are turning to in these tough economic times.
Given the Governor’s “Priority and Performance Budget” that identified education as the state’s top priority, I asked and got an additional Bill Draft Request (BDR) from the Republican Assembly Caucus. My bill would “require additional monies identified by the Economic Forum in May be appropriated toward K-12 and Higher Education spending.”
(Mr. Hickey is a Republican representing the 26th District in Washoe County)