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November 24, 2014

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OTHER VOICES - 2013 Legislature:

Crum: ‘A game of inches’

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Elizabeth Crum

Other views

The Sun's opinion page provides a wide range of opinion about the start of the 2013 Legislature.

From the Sun:

The Sun's editorial Break the status quo.

Brian Greenspun's "Where I Stand" column.

• • •

Elected officials

Gov. Brian Sandoval

Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey

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Political scientist

David Damore

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Political journalists

Anjeanette Damon

Ray Hagar

Jon Ralston

David McGrath Schwartz

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Have your own opinion?

Write a letter to the editor.

We asked five Nevada political journalists to answer five questions about this session of the Legislature. Here are the answers of TV host and blogger Elizabeth Crum.

Affiliation: KSNV/Channel 3, co-host of “The Agenda,” blogger

Contact: elizabethcrum.com, @elizcrum, [email protected]

1. What do you think are the top three issues for the Legislature?

1. Education and education funding.

2. Social services and Medicare.

3. Economic development and tax reform.

I doubt there will be any big headlines, but perhaps the gang of 63 will surprise me.

The Legislature will likely go along with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed small steps: expand full day kindergarten to some schools, spend some money on English language learners and support the Opportunity Scholarship Fund. Medicare expansion will pass along with a little more funding for social services that benefit children, the disabled and/or disabled children.

The margins tax initiative may motivate progressive Democrats (who like other kinds of taxes better) to make a pitch for putting a competing proposal on the 2014 ballot. Their colleagues will talk them out of it, but business lobbyists may try to pitch the teachers on dropping their initiative if lawmakers agree to pass some alternative type of tax.

However, any such measure must be approved by the governor, and he has said no way, no how to new taxes.

2. Any outlier issues or things people aren’t talking about now but could quickly demand attention?

Sen. Tick Segerblom’s proposal to allow a limited number of (possibly state-run) marijuana dispensaries may do better than some might think. Nevada probably isn’t ready (yet) for the legalization of recreational pot, but — because the use and possession of marijuana is already legal with a doctor’s approval — it makes no sense that state statutes do not allow dispensaries. In addition, a tax on marijuana sales would create revenue which may cause lawmakers to take a serious look.

3. What are the main political themes going into this session?

Collegiality and caution as exemplified by our congenially moderate governor and embraced (so far) by the four party leaders. We’ll see if both hold through the gavel at sine die.

4. What, if anything, do you think we’ll see regarding Nevada’s “geopolitics” (north vs. south) this year?

Claiming prescience here may be precarious, but I think there will soon exist a Bill Draft Request to change the education funding formula and that fireworks aren’t far behind.

The issue will create strange political bedfellows because the D or R after a lawmaker’s name will mean less than his/her county of residence. Legislators from Clark County will align against those from Washoe County and the rurals. The politics may also pit the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and other Southern Nevada interests vs. the Reno-Sparks Chamber and lobbyists from the north.

In the midst of it all will be Gov. Sandoval, who will have to weigh the value of pleasing his base in the rurals against the number of voters who reside in Southern Nevada.

5. How would you summarize this session to a neighbor not terribly familiar with Nevada politics?

Like golf, it will likely be a game of gaining inches rather than miles. Short, sure putts will be par for the course. Some long shots may be attempted but will probably end up sunk in the sand.

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