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March 30, 2015

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5 Sandoval vetoes that reflect partisan divide

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

When Gov. Jim Gibbons took his veto stamp and blazed a scorched-earth path through the bills passed by the 2009 Legislature, he was written off as a politically isolated governor making a show of the only authority he had left.

In turn, lawmakers overrode a majority of his 48 vetoes, his veto stamp was interred in Nevada’s history museum and the episode was written off as a temper tantrum.

But in a move that surprised many Carson City veterans, Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, followed a similar path to Gibbons, vetoing 28 measures sent to him by a Legislature controlled by Democrats.

Sandoval’s staff says he weighed each bill on its individual merits, and not solely guided by any ideological position.

But the number of bills vetoed by Sandoval has many questioning whether Nevada has shifted from a state governed by pragmatic politicians to one run by leaders more deeply divided by partisanship.

It appears Sandoval acted as a backstop for GOP lawmakers who went to the mat for him in the budget fight. The majority of the bills Sandoval vetoed were passed out of the Senate in a 11-10 party-line vote.

In a key departure from the Gibbons episode, lawmakers didn’t attempt a single override vote of Sandoval’s vetoes — an indication they clearly didn’t have the two-thirds majority needed.

“I don’t see the pragmatics of politics anymore,” said Guy Rocha, a Nevada historian and retired state archivist. “Now it’s that idea of compromise as a sellout. Today it’s much more difficult to get people to move forward with a common agenda. They used to do that.”

Typically, governors veto between two and six bills. Gibbons set the record. The only other governor to approach his total was Henry Blasdel in 1865. He vetoed 38, according to Rocha.

Ideological differences are to be expected when one party controls the Legislature and the opposing party has the governorship. But in 1981, the last time that occurred in Nevada, Republican Gov. Bob List vetoed just 12 bills from the Democratic Legislature.

Sandoval sided with Republicans on a number of party-line votes, but also took Democrats’ side on a handful of measures. The majority of bills that made it out of the Legislature did so on a unanimous or near-unanimous vote.

Party-line bills on which Sandoval sided with Democrats included one prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender-identity or sexuality and another creating an office of parental involvement in the Education Department.

In the wake of a dramatic Nevada Supreme Court ruling that eviscerated his budget, Sandoval was able to craft a budget compromise that eventually melted the partisan standoff over state spending.

But that left a number of policy bills ripe for veto. Some attributed the deepening partisan divide to hard feelings over the budget.

“The budget problems over last two sessions have put people into more partisan positions than they may have been in the past,” said Josh Hicks, Gibbons’ former chief of staff. “With the Senate changing, you see a greater willingness to push out partisan legislation without a lot of compromise on it. That then sets the table for a veto.”

Although Sandoval, a former attorney general, wasn’t forced into a veto position on the budget bills, he took a conservative approach on sentencing and parole legislation, and business regulations.

“I was shocked, actually, by the number of vetoes and by the bills he vetoed,” said Jan Gilbert, a lobbyist for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, noting the liberal organization had difficulties moving its priority bills through the Senate because of the conservative bent of some in the Democratic majority.

“I think it was an astonishing number of bills to veto.”

Here’s a look at five Sandoval vetoes that reflect the partisan divide:

      Assembly Bill 137

      The bill would have required some schools to provide free breakfast to low-income students. Democrats decried the veto, saying the legislation would have brought more than $40 million in federal money to the state.

      Sandoval, however, said the decision about which schools should provide the nutrition program is better left to the school districts.


      Assembly: 28-13

      Senate: 12-9

      Senate Bill 418

      The bill would have allowed the Legislature to create a committee to oversee the implementation of the new federal health care law.

      But Sandoval backs a state lawsuit seeking to repeal the law and said the executive branch is doing just fine complying with the requirements to implement it. Creating a legislative study committee would be “unnecessary and duplicative,” he wrote in his veto message.


      Assembly: 26-16

      Senate: 11-10

      Assembly Bill 546

      The bill would have required additional early childhood education training for child care providers and imposed additional reporting requirements.

      Sandoval saw the legislation as too burdensome on small businesses. “Such a standard sets a new, overly high bar for small businesses in the child care industry,” he wrote.


      Assembly: 31-11

      Senate: 13-8

      Senate Bill 115

      The bill would have required hospitals to charge a lower, negotiated rate to out-of-network emergency patients. The legislation was one of Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford’s priorities and was one of the most heavily lobbied bills by the Culinary Union.

      But Sandoval, again, saw the bill as government “overreaching” in an attempt to interfere in contracts decided by private businesses.


      Assembly: 26-16

      Senate: 11-10

      Assembly Bill 301

      The bill would have automatically restored voting rights to felons who complete their sentences. Advocates for the bill argued it would streamline a cumbersome process that governs how felons are granted voting privileges.

      Sandoval disagreed that the process should be streamlined. “The right to vote is a privilege that should not be lightly restored to those few individuals who commit the most egregious crimes in our society,” he wrote.


      Assembly: 27-15

      Senate: 13-8

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    1. First off democrats were in the majority during the 09 legislative which explains why so many of Gibbons votes were overridden.......

      Democrats have since lost that majority in both houses during the last election cycle and deservedly so.... End result No more veto overrides

    2. The reality is the previous legislatures and the Federal government has moved much further left than the average American.

      The silent majority, which is much more conservative than what is represented in all levels of government, has found it's voice.

      Funny how vetos from a Republican Governor are framed as partisan and Democrat sponsored bills are not !!

    3. Point well made...

    4. I agree with all of these veto's and probably agree with the rest as well.

    5. Sandoval could care less about working people and the poor. We need more Dems in the Senate and Assembly to stop this Repub nonsense.its not Sandovals money, it belongs to hard working taxpaying families. And we want the government to serve us, not the other way around.

    6. Some good points, but I'm not convinced that everything is rosey and Governor Sandoval is the savior of all mankind in Nevada.

      I see nothing but PURELY partisan governing by this Governor. So far, everything he is doing is to make sure the middle class suffer more and more while his mining corporation buddies (and any other corporation that will line his pockets with campaign money) get more and more tax breaks.

      Besides the fact that Governor Sandoval, just like his horrible predecessor, has convinced everyone he absolutely HATES public workers. Especially teachers. His record confirms that as a fact.

      I don't mean to sound doom and gloom, but I don't trust that bastard. I guarantee you that he is watching what is happening in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Maine and he is trying to figure out how he can do the same thing to Nevada. (NOTE: We were already priviliged to see Governor Sandoval's true colors with a telephone conversation last year with Governor Walker of Wisconsin and his union busting.)

      But for the time being, he is just sitting back and acting like he's a moderate and that he is only in it for the people and wishes to serve faithfully.

      I don't buy it. Because so far, he has smacked teachers hard and the only thing he does to try to fix anything is go outside the Capital to "Sandoville" and hand out doughnuts and pizza to the unwashed masses out of sympathy for their plight. (NOTE: From valid sources, he only was there for FIVE minutes, clearly uncomfortable, but he got his damn picture and then quickly exited stage left.)

      If given a chance, he will do the rip Nevada apart at the seams. Because it's in a Republican's bones to not give a crap about anyone but themselves and their corporate masters.

      I predict that before Governor Sandoval gets through, Nevada will be so bad off with corporate welfare that it's gonna have to change it's name to the City State of Jones Vargas. (NOTE: I still say he works for THEM and the gold mining company they serve. Not us people here in Nevada.)

      To sum it up, we're watching you, Governor.

      It's guaranteed that if you make moves like all these other idiot Governors and wish to participate in The Great Republican Party Power Mad Over Reach Policy of 2011, put it in the books that we, the voters, will smack you. And we'll smack you hard. Where it hurts. At the voting booths.

      You've been warned.

    7. If the problem was "to provide free breakfast to low-income students", would that problem be solved if free breakfasts were also provided to high-income students AND their parents? Wouldn't that bring the family together?

      And don't forget to provide valet parking in the school yard for owners of cars over $40,000, as their time is so much more important. We want the important people to feel welcome too.