When Helen Stewart arrived in Las Vegas in 1882, she had no desire to live so far from civilization on the ranch her husband Archibald had acquired. Today, she is considered the First Lady of Las Vegas, and a new plaque was installed at the former site of her ranch home on Nevada Day, Oct. 31, by several chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, 500 E. Washington Ave.
Above is a picture of the Daughters of the American Revolution marker for the Helen J. Stewart house site at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park. Dr. Miller is pictured with Rick Clout, the stonemason. The marker was given on behalf of the Southern Chapters DAR to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the DAR. Rep. Dina Titus spoke at the event. Descendants of Helen Stewart are pictured with Dr. Miller around the statue of Helen J. Stewart.
The State Convention of the League of Women Voters of Nevada was held on June 21, 2015 at Boulder Station, in Las Vegas. Officers and delegates attended from Northern Nevada, Pahrump Valley and Las Vegas Valley. Also attending was Karen Nicholson, LWVUS board liaison. Ms. Nicholson presented LWVLVV president Sondra Cosgrove with a certificate acknowledging 51% growth in membership over the past year.
At the Convention, LWVNV recognized the Chair of the Assembly Taxation Committee, Assemblyman Derek Armstrong and Assembly Minority Leader, Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick for their efforts this session. Assemblyman Armstrong was present to receive a certificate of appreciation. For additional photos, click here.
Legislators accept certificates
Left to right, Outgoing LWVNV President Don Rust, Assemblyman Derek Armstrong, LWVLVV President Sondra Cosgrove and Incoming LWVNV President Jan Browne
LWVLVV President Sondra Cosgrove presents certificate to Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick
League members march in Nevada Day Sesquicentennial Parade
League launches new study on responsible government
The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan advocate for civic engagement since 1920, vigorously promotes the public good and is a champion of responsible government. In this spirit, the League of Women Voters Las Vegas Valley will celebrate Nevada’s 150thAnniversary with a report on “Good Government in Twenty-First Century Nevada.”
As we begin a new century struggling to emerge from an intractable economic downturn, many see accumulating evidence that our systems of local government may be unable to adequately address this crisis. Now, therefore, is a good time to ask: Could we do things differently to get better outcomes? To answer this question we will be gathering recommendations on how to make state, county, and city government more democratic, transparent, efficient, and responsive to all our needs.
All Nevadans are encouraged to send recommendations under the following guidelines:
Recommendations must align with League of Women Voters principles and positions which are located on the following webpage: http://www.lwv.org/content/impact-issues-online-edition. Broadly, this includes making political and civic participation as open as possible; supporting transparency and accountability in campaign financing, elections, and lobbying; protecting constitutional rights; and respecting the established rule of law, including the US Constitution, the Nevada Constitution, all court rulings under those documents, Nevada Revised Statues, and all county and city regulations. Further, all data, references, and other factual information must meet academic standards for reliability.
The Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters Las Vegas Valley as well as the presidents of the other Nevada Leagues will receive all recommendations and make final decisions over what the report will include. Only officially recognized League leaders will speak for the League in this and all associated activities. This report will not create new League positions, but merely give voice to Nevadans in evaluating how to govern ourselves more effectively as we move into a new century.
Meet Our New President
Sondra Cosgrove has been a Nevada resident since 1986. She worked for the Clark County School District while attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to earn a B.A. in American History, with a Minor in Anthropology, and a Ph.D. in American History with an emphasis in the U.S. West, Native American, and Latin American History.
Sondra has been a Professor of History at the College of Southern Nevada since 2003.Sondra enjoys teaching Nevada History and has been actively involved in Nevada politics for many years.
Her League membership dates to 2008 and she's been Chair of the Voter Services Committee for the past year. Sondra has always been a fan of the League of Women Voters and strongly believes League is one institution that can help us overcome the grave issues we face as a nation. Sondra believes collective grassroots advocacy has always been a part of the American political system and is still the best remedy for many of the dysfunctions causing gridlock both nationally and in the several states.
When not working, you'll find Sondra enjoying hiking and camping and all of the great outdoor activities we in Nevada can enjoy.
Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall Addresses League
League President Sondra Cosgrove introduced our speaker, Kate Marshall, Nevada State Treasurer. Ms. Marshall commented that Albert Einstein once said that "the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest." She then went on to explain the financial fitness website which her office has created. Information can be accessed at nevadatreasurer.gov.
As State Treasurer, she is the administrator of the College Savings Plans of Nevada. Since education is a passion of hers, encouraging youth to excel academically in grades K-12 and helping to make the dream of a college education come true are extremely important to her.
In Nevada, we do not have a college culture. She's hoping that the Upromise 529 Plan scholarship accounts available to students will help change this. Children do not understand finance. Parents teach their children about money. If they misuse it, that's what the kids are going to learn. The Savings Plan changes the fundamentals of understanding finance and also changes the psychological view of money. We need to change the fact that many people don't believe their children can go to college.
To that end, she has created a pilot program that will seed $50 into every single kindergarten child's account. The pilot program is starting in a few schools, but Ms. Marshall wants to do it statewide. Funding is coming from grants; Charles Schwab has given $20,000 and she is working on getting $50,000 from another source. Knowing they have a college fund started will help children believe they can accomplish the goal of a college education.
Parents, grandparents and friends are able to contribute to these savings accounts. Currently, the money in the funds is earning 15-17% per year. More information is available on the Upromise 529 Plan, the Ugift program and other programs on the State Treasurer's website.
Ms. Marshall then participated in a question-and-answer session with the meeting attendees.
Past President Sandy Metcalf, President Sondra Cosgrove and Speaker Elizabeth Crum at April 20 League Meeting
Elizabeth Crum addresses League
Guest speaker at the League’s April 20th General Meeting was Elizabeth Crum, co-host of “The Agenda,” which airs on KSNV-TV News 3 Monday through Friday at 12:30 p.m. Ms. Crum has also been a Political Analyst at KTNV and a 2010 Elections Blogger at National Review. She is a lifelong political junkie, fan of good, old-fashioned journalism, a policy wonk, a Tweetaholic, an avid reader and an enthusiastic traveler. She was educated at St. Clair County Community College and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Ms. Crum spoke about the current Legislative Session and how, because of term limits, we have many freshman legislators this session. She has been very impressed with several of the new legislators, whom she referred to as "rising stars."
Going into the session, there were obvious issues to watch, including the budget, underfunded education, both K-12 and higher education, social services. The expansion of Medicaid, which Governor Sandoval supports, is an issue to watch. She was not optimistic about tax reform. If SJR 15 passes, changing the taxing structure for mining will go before the voters.A possible tax on services is being looked at. There are five or six Republican Senators who are willing to talk revenue. The Assembly needs only one Republic vote to pass, and Ms. Crum thinks there are two or three who would go along with a tax increase. The margin tax initiative is being largely ignored.
The lawmakers have voted to pay themselves on time this year, but without any increase. Ms. Crum commented on the Youth Legislature which gives young people a chance to learn about the law-making process. In general, Conservatives are in favor of funding education. How can we expect people to be self-reliant, productive, etc., if we don't give them the tools to do it?
There is a need for increased social services in schools to identify at-risk children. We need fixes to the system and have to spend money to get the fix. Per capita, we spend very little; most states spend more. Ms. Crum commented that Conservatives have to be honest. There is nothing left to cut in our State budget.
A list of bills of interest that are still alive include: SJR 15; SJR 13 which repeals the limitation on marriage. A vote by the public would put it in the Constitution and we would be the first state to do so. She anticipated that it would probably pass and go to the voters.
SB377 would impose a 2-cent per gallon tax on gas - per year. In 2023, this would amount to a 40-cent increase, but it would support some good projects. The medical marijuana dispensary law would generate income. At some point the legislature will pass it.
SB56 would increase transparency in government by showing revenue and expenditures line by line. We should all know what money is being spent. We need to support law enforcement, and need more officers.
AB230 would require a policy on sex education. It is a tricky issue, but there is a opt-out for parents who disagree with the policy. AB155 requires that every professional person in a capacity to report child abuse or neglect must do so. One way to judge a community is how we care for our children.
SJR8 would provide for annual sessions; SB277 would change existing law, which bans anyone who is adjudicated to be mentally ill or has been committed to a mental health facility, to include anyone who has been the subject of a petition filed for commitment. This could be a slippery slope. SB191 increases the maximum speed limit in the state to 85 mph.
Ms. Crum then answered questions from the audience.
League Member Dr. Linda K. Miller publishes book on Early Las Vegas
Before there was Sheriff Ralph Lamb of Las Vegas brought back to life by the recent television program, Vegas, there was an equally colorful character in the early days of Las Vegas, Deputy Sheriff and later Sheriff Sam Gay. He felt that the jail was too hot so he handcuffed the prisoners to trees at the Old Fort. He is just one of the pioneers captured in the new book, Early Las Vegas. The collection of historic photographs recounts the beginning of Las Vegas from the time of the Mormon settlement in 1855 to the first Helldorado Parade in 1935. This was an attempt to bring the old western town culture back for a few days.
The Mormon settlers left in 1857 abandoning the Old Las Vegas Fort that they built. Several years later miner O.D. Gass built a ranch house on the property. Unable to pay the back taxes on his ranch, he defaulted on a loan to Pioche rancher Archibald Stewart. Thus Las Vegas began on a foreclosure. In 1882 Archibald and his wife Helen and their three children attempted making a living on the old ranch. They sold vegetables to miners in El Dorado Canyon and offered food and a stop- over to weary travelers. Unfortunately Archibald was murdered in 1884 at the Kiel Ranch. This left Helen with four children and another one on the way, to run the ranch.
This pioneer woman once told her children that “One day civilization will come to this isolated place.” She helped build the town by acting as the first postmaster, bringing education, being the first woman elected in Clark County and starting civic groups. She sold her land to Senator Clark of railroad. With the coming of the railroad, civilization came at a faster pace.
This book gives a unique inside look at the lives of the people who built the early town. With the land auction in 1905 many young and aspiring people came to seek their fortune in the new town in the desert. This included the Von Tobels, the Squires, the Griffiths and others that would leave an impact on the town. The support for the Women’s Suffrage movement is also described.
The new town struggled at first due to floods, railroad strikes, fires and a lack of modern conveniences. But with mining in the nearby hills and beyond and artesian wells, it quickly became the place to be. New buildings replaced the tent hotels. This included new courthouses, jails, libraries and hotels. New clubs emerged such as the Mesquite Club which was a woman’s service organization. They planted trees and built libraries. During World War I they offered their service to the Red Cross.
In 1935 to commemorate the land auction of 1905, town leaders decided to hold a “Helldorado Parade” to bring back the days of the Old West. This is depicted on the front cover of the book.
Talk started in the late 1920’s about building a dam across the Colorado River. That finally came into being in 1935. Those early leaders are also described in the book.
Thanks to the continuation of the Helldorado Parade and other volunteer groups, the history of early Las Vegas is kept alive. Read the book to find out how this early town came into being thanks to the help of many pioneers.
The book should be available locally after April 1 at the Nevada State Museum Las Vegas and Carson City and the Clark County Museum.
Senator Richard Bryan speaks at League meeting
Senator Richard Bryan addressed the January meeting of the League. A former Deputy District Attorney and Public Defender, Senator Bryan was first elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1968 and to the State Senate in 1972. He proceeded to serve two terms as Governor, and in 1988 was elected to the first of two terms in the US Senate. He is currently a shareholder at Lionel Sawyer & Collins.
Senator Bryan spoke about the 77th Session of the Nevada Legislature which is about to begin. It seems to him, so far, to be civil. The effects of term limits have now taken hold, and the leadership includes many new chairs of committees. There is a lack of experience, and the jury is still out on how this will work out.
Governor Sandoval is very popular. In the Senator's opinion, there is not a Democrat today who could beat him when he runs for re-election. He has governed from the political center. Therefore, he usually gets what he wants. He won't be supporting a tax increase and has taken heat from the far right for extending the sunsets.
As it looks now, there will not be enough money for the proposed budget, and there will be a battle as to how to allocate funds. The final budget, however, will not be substantially different from what the Governor presented.
When Senator Bryan started in politics, in 1969, there were no caucuses, no orientation. He and Senator Harry Reid had been newly elected to the legislature and had no clue what to do. At that time, there were strong north-south sectional issues which weighed more than party affiliation. He found he had more in common with the Republicans from Washoe County, who were moderates.
At the Federal level, the government is more and more dysfunctional. Years ago, we looked at third world countries as having dysfunctional governments and now it is the other way around. There is an inability to make decisions. Reform is needed; at this time entitlement programs are not sustainable. The tone at the Federal level is not encouraging. The nation is polarized as a society, believing compromise is equal to surrender. The problems in DC reflect the fact that our society is contentious.
Barbara Buckley addresses League's November meeting
Barbara Buckley, Executive Director of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to providing free community legal services to those in need, spoke at the League meeting in November. The Center has been providing free legal aid to Clark County’s low-income residents since 1958.
Ms. Buckley commented that she started her career by reading files of history. She gave examples of some of the cases they’ve handled. The Center has 11 lawyers on staff and 200 volunteer attorneys and she was proud to say that they change lives every day. Ms. Buckley has spent her entire legal career with Legal Aid Center, and during her time in the State Legislature served as the first woman in the state’s history as Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly. She was first elected in 1994 and served until 2010.
The Legal Aid Center is the voice of children. It also represents low-income families and children with disabilities in the school district. Their Pro Bono program, which involves the volunteer legal services of local attorneys, handles 60 cases a month.
Every law student at the William S. Boyd School of Law must volunteer at the Center. The students, under the guidance of staff lawyers, teach classes on the law. Manuals are available on the Center’s website and some classes are available on YouTube.
Projects include Consumer Rights, Domestic Violence, Children’s Attorneys and Senior Citizens. For most of the services, income guidelines apply. The Civil Law Self-Help Center is free to anyone and is staffed by five paralegals. For more information, see the Center’s website at www.lacsn.org.
Volunteer opportunities exist at the Center, both for attorneys in the Pro Bono program and for non-attorneys. The Center is funded through contracts with the County as well as grants and philanthropy.
DHHS Regional Director Herb Schultz addresses League
At the October meeting, Herb Schultz, Regional Director for Region X of the Department of Health and Human Services spoke to League members. Region X includes Nevada. In this role, he serves as DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ key representative in the Region, ensuring that close contact is maintained by the federal government with state, local, tribal, and territorial governmental officials on a wide range of health and social service issues. Additionally, he also works extensively with external, non-governmental individuals and organizations.
Mr. Schultz commented that he appreciates League and what we do, and that he would give a brief talk and then take questions from the floor. He stated that the DHHS is a 24/7 resource for matters concerning the Affordable Health Care Act and a great source of information.
His intention this morning was to cover three things: Assuring Access to Health Care, Consumer Protection and Using Medicare to Drive the Private Market.
Regarding Assuring Access to Health Care, the intent is to guarantee that all US citizens and documented individuals can get coverage. The Silver State Exchange in Nevada has been formed to create a pool for small businesses and individuals. Currently, many policies do not cover mental health and substance abuse, well care and prevention. The Exchange will help make coverage more affordable, particularly for those with incomes of $30,000 to $90,000 for a family of four, or $15,000 to $45,000 for individuals. The Act also covers tax credits for small business.
There is provision for an expansion of Medicaid to cover childless adults who do not automatically qualify. This expansion is left to the states. If coverage is expanded, adults earning less than $15,000 per year would be eligible for coverage.
On Consumer Protection. Currently many policies do not cover pre-existing conditions – people are either denied or made to pay more. “Woman” is often considered a pre-existing condition for women of childbearing age.
As of 2011, 33,000 young adults from 19-25 are on their parents’ policies because of health care reform. Preventive services will be provided with no co-pay and no deductible. People will not be able to be charged for life-saving preventive care and an annual wellness visit. 230,000 Medicare recipients have used at least one free service.
Everyone has heard of the “donut hole” in Medicare prescription insurance. Currently people with this coverage pay 100% of costs for annual expenses between $2700 and $5100. This is on the way to being closed.
By 1/1/014 all US citizens and documented individuals will get coverage. Nobody can be denied or charged more. There will be no lifetime cap.
Third, insurance companies will have to abide by the 80/20 rule. Currently, 60-70% of premiums goes to care and 30-40% to administration. There will be a maximum of 20% for administrative expenses and rebates will be sent out if insurers don’t live up to this.
On 1/1/2013, there will be increasing reimbursement for Medicaid doctors. They will get the Medicare rate. Providers will be given a 10% bonus for screening. There will be quality-driven, wrap-around care. In the very recent past, we have seen the smallest increases in Medicare premiums as a result of the beginning of the implementation of health care reform.
A Window Into the Process
By Kathleen Dickinson
The Supreme Court Summer InstituteHealth Care, Arizona’s Immigration Law, and Life without Parole for Juveniles were all front page stories in June 2012 as we participated in the Street Law Inc. Supreme Court Summer Institute.The 2012 Street Law Inc. Supreme Court Summer Institute in Washington, D.C. was a wonderful experience. It is well organized, weaving in teaching tools with visits to the Supreme Court, visits to Washington, D.C. monuments and museums, and observance of the Supreme Court decision making processes. Please visit www.streetlaw.org for more information.
Once you are accepted to attend the Summer Institute you are provided with a list of books from which to choose one or two to read prior to arriving at the Institute. I listened to the CD readings of “The Modern Scholar: Law of the Land: A History of the Supreme Court” by Kermit Halland “Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View” byJustice Stephen Breyer. Both books were interesting and informative and they encouraged me to learn more.
We sat in the Supreme Court on Monday as the Justices handed down their decisions on cases we had reviewed. The Supreme Court Historical Society hosted a reception that evening where we were graciously welcomed and given historical perspectives. We then read the newspapers the following day to determine which of the newspapers accurately covered the decisions. Which decisions were covered, which were not covered? What importance was given to the various decisions? Were the Justices labeled as ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’, and was the word ‘fractured’ used?
We met with Supreme Court clerks who gave us insight into the inner workings of the court and the Justices. We learned about the certiorari process and how 80 cases are chosen out of the 8,000 submitted each year. Excellent resource people came and talked to us about the cases they worked on. We learned about the different briefs and the cover colors that indicate what they represent.
We presented information on some of the cases we looked into, to our different groups. We also participated in creating a Moot Court. The resource people and the Street Law staff were open to our questions and very candid with their answers.
Everything was conveniently located to the Georgetown Law Center where we met each day. The Street Law staff kept everything on time and coordinated everything very well. We were within walking distance of Union Station and the Smithsonian. As a result of attending the Supreme Court Summer Institute I am now reading articles about their decisions with more interest, knowledge and understanding. I also have a better understanding of how cases from Marbury v. Madison to the Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida impact the evolution of the United States historically and culturally.
Representative Berkley Commemorates Settlement Day at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort
Representative Shelley Berkley presented a congressional proclamation to State Park Supervisor Scott Egy and Helen J. Stewart interpreter, Dr. Linda Miller Saturday June 9, to commemorate the 157th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent non-native settlement at the Fort on June 15, 1855. One hundred fifty seven people marked the anniversary at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, 500 E. Washington Avenue Saturday morning. Several children enjoyed pioneer games including learning how to wash clothes on a washboard.
A hardy pioneer breakfast was served.Dr. Linda Miller, Helen J. Stewart interpreter, recounted pioneer Helen J. Stewart’s days on the ranch. Soldiers of the Fort and the Daughters of the Utah pioneers provided activities. State Senator John Lee and judicial candidate Adrianna Escobar were among other notables attending.
For upcoming activities contact the Fort at 486-3511.
Larry Lomax, Registrar of Voters, addresses League
The May speaker at the monthly League meeting was Larry Lomax, Registrar of Voters for Clark County. Mr. Lomax informed attendees of several facts related to the Registrar’s Office. As a result of the 2000 Census, the Justice Department requires Clark County to provide bilingual English-Spanish ballots and voting. Now, as a result of the 2010 Census, we must also provide the service in Tagalog, a dialog of Pilipino. According to the law, if 5% of the population, or 10,000 people, say that their primary language is a certain language, we must provide the capability to vote in that language. Our own Election Dept. has no choice in the matter.
Another issue with impact on voting is the situation in Florida a few years back, with the “hanging chads.” Consequently, there is an erosion of faith in the election process. Voters don’t trust the process any more. The electronic ballots are actually more secure than paper ballots. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 gave Federal oversight to the process, which created more bureaucracy and new regulations. For example, any disabled voter must be able to vote at any site without assistance. This is very costly. Nevada received $3 billion to comply with these regulations. The Secretary of State decided how to spend the money and he decided that he would take most of it for new machines for all counties except Clark. Clark County had to provide the funds for the new machines itself. Now there is a paper trail for every vote that is cast.
Regarding early voting, in 1998 17% voted early. In 2008, 60% voted early. It has become enormously popular to vote at a convenient time and place. In Nevada, we have a no-fault absentee ballot. Anyone can use this method, without needing a reason.Much information is online. If you have a driver’s license, you can change your registration, address, etc. When you first register your information, it is cross-checked and if it matches you are never asked for ID.
Voter services are provided to our military. According to Federal Law, ballots for overseas voters must be in the mail 45 days before the election. This creates a longer time between the primary and the general election. Also, overseas voters can e-mail their vote.
So far, there is little visibility about the upcoming primary election. Early voting starts May 26 and runs through June 8. Election day is June 12. Mr. Lomax urged attendees to spread the word and get people out to vote. In 2008 there was a 14.76% turnout in the primary election. This year, interest levels seem to be lower.
Mr. Lomax also discussed the fact that the voting machines are not networked and therefore cannot be hacked into. The results are fed physically into the computers which are located in a secure room and are not networked with any outside computers. On election night, the results are updated every 20-30 minutes, downloaded onto a CD and carried to another room to post the results on a separate computer which is online.
Every election a few citizens attempt to vote twice. This is always caught and followed up on. Usually it turns out that the person was confused and unaware he/she had already voted. The system protects against fraud.
A question-and-answer period followed.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman speaks to League members
The speaker at the April meeting was Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who succeeded her husband, Oscar Goodman, as Mayor of Las Vegas. Mayor Goodman, addressing an audience of about 60 League members and guests, commented that she and her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, had lived in Las Vegas since 1964.
As a resident, she had become appalled by the political process and by the fact that the media often distorts the truth. As League members we have a responsibility to speak out to make sure young people know the truth and not just what they learn from the media. Sensationalism sells newspapers and magazines and brings in money. In her opinion, the League’s role in educating people is to get the truth out there.
When she and her husband moved here in 1964, they were Republicans. At the request of Senator Richard Bryan, they changed their affiliation to Democrat. However, they had always voted for people and issues and, when Oscar decided to run for Mayor, they changed their affiliation to non-partisan, as they felt that the office of Mayor is not a partisan position. When term limits prevented Oscar Goodman from running again, Carolyn Goodman decided to run in order to continue the momentum of what he had achieved in his 12 years on the job.
She commented on the fact that Las Vegas is a vibrant, alive city. There is a lot of development downtown, a lot of excitement, and things are returning to private ownership. This means jobs for residents. She cited the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Neon Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, the State Museum which has moved from Lorenzi Park to the Springs Preserve and the National History Museum. People won’t come to Las Vegas for fine art museums, but they will travel here for the Mob Museum. It has already exceeded its expected visitor count. Las Vegas is unique and our cultural environment needs to be unique.
In 1998, at the first First Friday in the Arts District downtown, 200 people attended. Last month there were 25,000. The new City Hall has opened, and is saving $400,000 annually in operating costs. The old City Hall has been purchased for small business development. Tivoli Village in Summerlin is expanding and is debt free. There is lots of development going on. The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is bringing in medical research and medical tourism. But, in order for our city to continue to be successful, we must fix education. When she arrived here in 1964, we were No. 2 nationally in education. We must vote for people who are committed to education. A question and answer session followed.
Update on Health Care and the Affordable Care Act
In March, Marilyn G. Wills, the Governor’s Consumer Health Advocate, spoke at the League Meeting. Ms. Wills discussed the role of the Office of Consumer Health Assistance which assists consumers with researching and resolving concerns with their health plans. The office provides resources to Nevadans seeking access to healthcare, insurance coverage and prescription drug assistance, and helps them through the appeals process if needed. Staff will also help with hospitals and providers.
Although the Governor is personally opposed to the Affordable Care Act as enacted and Nevada is taking part in the lawsuit against the Act, the State must prepare for the provisions to go into effect in 2014. To that end, Nevada began implementation in 2010 and created the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. The Act is so complicated that no one person will ever have the entire knowledge base. Therefore, Ms. Wills is focusing on the consumer portion.
Some important things to be aware of include the fact that parents with children can keep young adults on their health care plans until the age of 26 with no restrictions. Read more at www.HealthCare.gov. This rule has already taken effect.
Another important provision provides for a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) in Nevada. To qualify for coverage, you must be a citizen or national of the United States, you must have been uninsured for at least six months before applying, and you must have a pre-existing condition or have been denied coverage because of your health condition. The premiums are pretty affordable. It is estimated that 19,000 people in Nevada could apply, but the plan is not well known and only 600 people are on it at this time. It will go away in 2014 when the main provisions of the Act take effect. After 2014, there will be no pre-existing conditions.
Regarding the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, Nevada is designing its own system. Information on meetings, agendas, etc. can be found at www.exchange.nv.gov.
In 2014, one component of the Act will be an expansion of Medicaid to people at 138% of poverty. Those from 139-400% of poverty will be eligible for subsidies to help pay for premiums. There are currently 550,000 uninsured in Nevada. The problem with opening up Medicaid to more people is that it is very difficult to find a provider now.
Ms. Wills discussed the individual mandate which is being tested. Historically, males 19-34 don’t want insurance and don’t want to pay for it. We need a balance of healthy people to pay into the system in order to make it work.
Ms. Wills encouraged League members to become knowledgeable about the Exchange and follow some of the meetings, especially those concerning essential benefits. She expects that all changes to Medicare will be positive ones and there will be a focus on chronic disease self-management.
Even if the Affordable Health Care Act goes away, Nevada would push forward with the Exchange if feasible. A question-and-answer period followed.
Danny L. Thompson addresses League
The speaker at the February meeting was Danny L. Thompson, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Nevada State AFL-CIO. Mr. Thompson served in the State Assembly from approximately 1980 to 1990. Since then, he has been the chief lobbyist for the AFL-CIO, which makes this his 30th year at the Legislature. With term limits now in effect, he has been there for longer than any of the current legislators.
He discussed the economy in Nevada and the tax situation. He commented that by statute Nevada puts Education first, and it accounts for 50% of the budget. People comment that you should “throw money at a problem,” but Nevada has never thrown money at education – we have never funded it to the national average. An educated population is critical for success.
In spite of the published numbers on unemployment, in Nevada 90% of ironworkers have been unemployed for a year, as well as 80% of bricklayers and tile workers. In the construction area, 60% is about the lowest percentage. These figures have never been this high.
Nevada has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. In past years, we overbuilt residential and commercial property. Retraining is not the issue. We have trained people, we need work.
Taxes rely heavily on gaming, tourism and mining. Today, gambling is everywhere; we no longer have a monopoly. Casinos in the Far East are much more profitable to their owners than casinos here. The recession hit discretionary income. Raising taxes on gambling would cause companies to go elsewhere. With respect to mining, if costs go up, mining will stop. This is the problem with single-industry tax.
We need to fix education. We cannot do it with the tax structure we have. The solution to fixing the tax system is that everyone should pay something. Tax changes would involve changing the constitution, and that takes 2 popular votes in two separate elections. There is a legislative method. There is a plan to circulate a petition for a profits margin tax to dedicate the money to education. Every business will have to pay; currently, 75% are not. The petition will require 73,000 signatures to create a legislative initiative and bring the issue before the Legislature. If it is ignored, it will then go to the next general election ballot.
Mr. Thompson answered questions from those attending the meeting.
A Trip to Gold Butte
By Kathleen Bienenstein and Bonnie Swadling
It was an easy choice bidding on the Day Trip to Gold Butte at the League of Women Voter’s annual fundraiser. The item was a four-wheel day trip to Gold Butte guided by Terri Robertson. We had never spent time getting to know Terri, nor had we been to Gold Butte. It was a perfect match for those who have a sense of adventure and want to explore this great State of ours. This past month we collected on the prize. We met Terri at a truck stop just off northbound I-15. As soon as she pulled up in her four-wheel vehicle to pick us up, we knew we were in for a terrific adventure. Her license plate said it all: “Grannies Rocker.” It bore all the signs of a well-travelled off road vehicle; missing side chrome, numerous dents and an array of lines customized by various limbs and rocks running from front to back. “This one has held up pretty good,” she explains, “I rolled my other truck three times a few years ago at Gold Butte.” There was no turning back from this adventure as we sped north on I-15. Like her vehicle, Terry’s face is lined with years of smiles. She is a fourth generation Nevadan who is passionate about protecting the natural treasures of our state for future generations. After helping to preserve Red Rock Canyon, she now has her sights set on protecting Gold Butte.
As we pulled off the I-15 onto an exit marked Gold Butte, south of Mesquite, she continued to talk about the State and government officials she has taken on the tour we would be having that day. Gold Butte is currently under the BLM. She speaks excitedly about this finally being the year that a bill she helped write will be presented to Congress to make Gold Butte and its 467,000 acres a National Park. Driving down the road into Gold Butte, we were struck by the wide and varied desert palette of colors that adorned the numerous outcroppings of rock formations and mountains. Terri tells us that Gold Butte is Red Rock Canyon on steroids. She was right. The raw beauty of this area is what Terri is attempting to preserve. In wording the bill, Terri wants to protect the numerous sacred Native American petroglyphs and artifacts while remaining user friendly for other recreational activities. We spent the day in the presence of an ancient sage sharing her love and passion for the sacredness of this corner ofNevada. Terri showed us all her favorite spots and where she rolled her last truck. During the day we would meet other travelers and explorers at different trailheads, some were local, others from other states and other countries, but they all knew Terri or had read her articles about the area, or just plain heard the legend of the Granny that travels in her Rocking Chair four-wheeler on the back roads of Gold Butte day and night. She never met a stranger the entire day. The jewel, my dear Nevadans, is Gold Butte, and it needs to be protected. We saw signs of damage already taking place and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. After returning to our vehicle at dusk, we weren’t sure if the prize was being at Gold Butte for the day or being with Terri Robertson. Take a ride north on I-15, exit at Gold Butte and get ready to rock and roll to the music of the desert colors! Oh, and watch out for “Granny,” another jewel we have in the desert.
Helen Stewart Statue Dedicated at Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park
On December 3, 2011 on a cold blustery day, over 300 government officials, civic leaders, friends, and descendants gathered to honor, Helen J. Stewart, often called, “The First Lady of Las Vegas. The statue was dedicated to her near her former home, now the grounds of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park at the southeast corner of Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard.
Dr. Linda Miller with newly unveiled statute of Helen J. Stewart
Dr. Linda Miller, Helen Stewart interpreter, coordinated the speakers. Speakers were selected who reflected the various organizations Helen Stewart represented. Friends of the Fort President Don Hotchkiss and Nevada State Parks Administrator David Morrow led the list of speakers.
Descendants of Helen J. Stewart expressed their appreciation. There were about fifteen family members coming from several states. They gathered for a family reunion afterwards.
Benjamin Victor, sculptor, unveiled the statue of Helen J. Stewart. Gwendolyn Clancy discussed the documentary chronicling her life. Participants were then invited to view the video in the Fort’s theater while enjoying refreshments.
Helen Jane Wiser Stewart (1854-1926) moved to Las Vegas with her husband in 1882. Two years later her husband Archibald Stewart was killed at the Kiel ranch, and Helen took over running the “Los Vegas Ranch”. In later years, Helen and her father Hiram Wiser began buying land in response to rumors of the railroad going through the Las Vegas Valley.In 1902 Helen sold over 1800 acres to Senator Clark of Montana, who had ties to the railroad. In May, 1905, a land sale occurred, and the City of Las Vegas developed.
This work is a culmination of events that began in September 2008 when various community groups such as the Southern Nevada Women’s History Project, League of Women Voters,Daughters of the American Revolution, Nevada Council for History Education,Mesquite Club and Christ Church Episcopal Ladies Guildmembers joined with the Friends of the Fort to kick off fund raising for the statue at the Old Fort. Unfortunately, the down turn in the economy stalled fund raising efforts.
The Friends of the Fort, a non-profit organization that works with the Old Las Vegas MormonFortState Historic Park, applied for and was awarded $99,000 by the Las Vegas Centennial Commission on July 26, 2010, to fund the statue of Helen Stewart. Dr. Linda Miller as Helen J. Stewart and Phyllis Weaver as Delphine Squires, made the presentation. Sculptor Benjamin Victor was chosen to design and create the statue. He also sculpted the Sarah Winnemucca statue in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol.
For more information contact the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park at 486-3511 or Dr. Linda Miller at 492-7742
The League of Women Voters of Nevada observed the constitutional process of redistricting during the 2011 Legislative Session. The League submitted legal briefs during the process through League Member Denise Pifer, Esq.
The League was the first group to submit recommendations. League Members Dwayne and Carol Chesnut and Forrest Darby worked on the League's recommendations together with First Vice President/Legislative Advocate Sam King. The Legislature failed to pass a reapportionment bill acceptable to all and the issue ended up with the courts to make a decision.
Below are links to the last versions submitted to the District Court. They have been approved by the District Court. The Supreme Court has cancelled its hearing, so these should be final.
State Senate Districts 1234 State Assembly Districts 123 4 Congressional Districts 123
Metro Vice Detective Chris Baughman spoke to our November meeting on the subject of Human Trafficking. Detective Baughman started with a brief video presentation that focused on the riches accumulated by pimps and the physical injuries suffered by the women who are forced to work for them.
He gave League members an overview of how young girls are recruited, often from cities far away from where they are taken. The pimp makes sure he knows all the details about a girl’s family, and uses this information as a threat. He uses various means to make sure that once a girl enters the life, it becomes almost impossible to get out.
After four years in Vice, arresting pimps and rescuing the women caught up in the life, he had become aware of the lack of information circulating on this subject and decided to do something about it. To that end, he wrote a book entitled “Off The Street: Prostitution Is Not A Victimless Crime.” It is his story of fighting to protect a class of women who are too easily forgotten and too readily dismissed.
There is no true hotline for people in need, but they can call Metro’s number 828-3111 and ask for Vice. A question-and-answer period followed his presentation.
Wanted: Gold Butte National Conservation Area with Wilderness National Conservation Areas are designed by Congress to conserve, protect, enhance, and manage public land areas for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. NCAs feature exceptional natural, recreational, cultural, wildlife, aquatic, archeological, paleontological, historical, educational or scientific resources. LWVLVV has a long history of supporting federal legislation that gives permanent land designations. Beginning in the late 60’s LWVLVV worked on efforts to set aside Red Rock. Back in those days the only title for BLM permanent land designation was a National Recreation Area. Our community now reaps the benefits from the preservation of Red Rock.Red Rock has since received the appropriate title of Red Rock National Conservation Area.
Today we support a Gold Butte National Conservation Area. Gold Butte holds the wonderment of long ago artisans who left thousands of petroglyphs for us to view on beautiful red sandstone. Native American history can be traced back to 8,000 years ago. An archaeological study found that the main sustenance for those early people was the tortoise. So for thousands of years the tortoise provided a food source for human beings and now Gold Butte provides a refuge as an area of critical environmental concern for the endangered desert tortoise. Humans depended on the tortoise for survival and now the tortoise depends on us for their survival.We have come full circle.
The Spanish came through in the late 1700’s. They have left evidence of their stay in hand dug mining shafts and tunnels and arrastras. White settlers who came into the area more than 150 years ago have left their trace as well. One of the most interesting is a rock piled fence that snakes for about half a mile up a hill above an old ranch site. The fence is about 3 feet wide and 3.5 feet tall.
Gold Butte has within its 345,000 acres natural beauty that surprises the senses,not only because of the close up view of nature, but also the vistas that literally seem to go on forever.
Gold Butte has within its 345,000 acres natural beauty that surprises the senses,not only because of the close up view of nature, but also the vistas that literally seem to go on forever.
The quality of life in Clark County will be greatly enhanced by the creation of the Gold Butte National Conservation Area with Wilderness. We are hoping that our community will stand strong with the LWVLVV as we work toward this federal legislation.
Please call the members of our federal delegation.They need to hear your support.
Terri Robertson, Environment Chair
Senator Harry Reid (D) http://reid.senate.gov/
Ph: (702) 388-5020
Senator Dean Heller (R) http://heller.senate.gov/ 702-388-6605
The League of Women Voters is currently working on two studies. The first is underway and the second will follow. These studies are carried out by Leagues around the country and the results from the various Leagues will be used to compile a national position.
The Education Study: The Role of the Federal Government in Public Education
The LWVLVV has completed its portion of this study, wholeheartedly endorsing the notion that quality public education is vital to perpetuate a strong and viable democracy. A literate citizenry, capable of critical thinking and problem solving, is paramount to continue to build a nation of opportunity and freedom. We believe that it is the responsibility of every legislator, elected official, educator, business and institution, parent, and adult citizen to work together to promote quality education for all children. This social mandate falls heaviest on the state and local government and populations to promote quality education and to meet the special needs of all children.
With consensus, the LWVLVV believes that the principal role of the federal government in education is to ensure the equity and adequacy of the public education afforded to every child, pre-K through 12th grade, by providing oversight of state programs. We agree that decisions about education are best made at the school, district, and state levels by those closest to the children in our classrooms and most acutely familiar with their needs.
For a copy of the report that was sent to the US League of Women Voters from Nevada, click here.
Jane Newton, Chair, Education Study.
The Privatization Study
The purpose of this study is to identify those parameters and policy issues to be considered in connection with proposals to transfer federal, state or local government services, assets and/or functions to the private sector. It will review the stated goals and the community impact of such transfers, and identify strategies to ensure transparency, accountability and preservation of the common good.
Check back for more information on Las Vegas Valley's timeframe for this study. If you would like to be involved, please contact us at email@example.com.