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April 16, 2014

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Nevada political roundup: Bank failure, energy agenda

WASHINGTON -- Early Liners: Lots of weekend wrapping up to do, so let’s get to it.

One of the eye-catching stories over the weekend was the announcement that federal regulators were taking over 1st National Bank of Nevada. The bank, which has 10 branches in Nevada, including five in Las Vegas, is open for business this morning.

As the nation endures the economic downturn, Nevada has been experiencing its own economic grief with rising unemployment and the nation's worst foreclosure rate.

The Associated Press reports the bank failure was the first for Nevada since Frontier Savings Association in Las Vegas closed in late 1990.

The AP quoted Bill Uffelman of the Nevada Bankers Association saying the federal action "is a reflection of the times for the banks. It's a poor economy." He described 1st National Bank of Nevada as being in the top half of banks in the state.

The closure is one of seven FDIC-insured bank closures around the country this year.

Other good reads if you didn’t pick up the papers this weekend:

-- In politics, there may be no such thing as a Black-Hispanic rivalry, says Timothy Pratt in today’s Sun. Multiple polls now show Hispanics prefer the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to the Republican John McCain almost 2-to-1.

-- Even Elko, the state’s Republican stronghold, is souring on the governor, writes the Sun’s J. Patrick Coolican.

-- How about a full-time Clark County Commission?

-- Republican Sen. John Ensign is taking his anti-union message to the bank. Ensign says the No. 1 fundraising issue as he makes the rounds in his job as chairman of the committee trying to elect Republicans to the Senate this fall is the prospect of unions being able organize via the card-check system rather than secret ballot. The Sun’s Michael Mishak has the story.

-- Ensign emerged as the only lawmaker in the Nevada delegation to vote against the housing rescue package now headed for President Bush’s signature. After voting Saturday during a rare weekend Senate session, he said the bill is “dumping the burden onto the taxpayer and bailing out a lot of irresponsible lenders.”

And from the out-of-towners:

The New York Times Magazine on Sunday offered a photo essay on the women and girls of a Fundamental Latter-day Saints group in Texas, whose compound was raided by federal authorities earlier this year. Sen. Harry Reid testified on the Hill last week that polygamous communities operate in many ways like organized crime syndicates and should be targeted by law enforcement accordingly.

To watch this week:

As economic worries worsen, the pain at the pump seems to be the only thing Republicans want to talk about in Washington.

Republicans are vowing to halt action on other bills and halt adjournment for the traditional August recess unless they get a chance to vote on their proposal, which includes drilling offshore. Democrats oppose opening the coastal and Gulf waters to more drilling than is already allowed.

Both parties have common goals for increasing renewable energy development and promoting conservation, but the political environment does not bode well for deal-making.

As the Washington Post reported Sunday, "Four-dollar-a-gallon gas has done something that few Republicans thought possible just a few months ago: given them hope ... think they have found their best political issue of the 2008 campaign."

Democrats are unconvinced Republicans have the upper hand on energy issues and are trying to take it on as their own.

This morning, State Sen. Dina Titus, who is challenging Republican Rep. Jon Porter for his 3rd District congressional seat, unveiled her energy agenda in Henderson.

In a twist, the Republican version of the House bill is packed with pro-nuclear provisions that Nevada's anti-Yucca Mountain lawmakers will need to assess.

Also, the Washington Post and others have featured the parliamentary showdown coming between Reid and conservative Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn.

Coburn, a physician known on the Hill as “Dr. No,” is blocking dozens of popular bills he sees as wasteful government spending. We wrote about his efforts to block a popular public lands bill earlier this year. The bills have already passed the House, and there appears to be ample support among Coburn's fellow Republicans to pass the bills. Reid has devised a maneuver to try to make it so.

As with any good showdown, we'll be watching to see who blinks.

There's the weekend wrap. Check back later today for updates.

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