Douglas County lawmakers preview 2015 Legislature

MINDEN — What a difference a day made, especially when it was Election Day.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said before the election when he was talking to officials in the counties he represented, their sights were set much lower.

“In Storey County they were talking about legislation to let dogs come into bars,” he said at the Carson Valley Inn on Wednesday. “After the election, they called and asked if they could modify that bill to end collective bargaining.”

While acknowledging that wouldn’t be possible, Settelmeyer encouraged residents to contact him or Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, with ideas. They spoke at a joint Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Douglas County and Northern Nevada Development Authority meeting.

“No Republican has ever served in the majority,” Settelmeyer said of the upcoming 2015 session. “Only one Democrat has ever served in the minority. For the first time we’re chairs of committees. All ideas deserve a hearing. In the Legislature we had these neat little things called drawers. A chairman would put a bill in a drawer and it would never be heard from again. That to me is wrong. People’s viewpoints should be heard.”

Wheeler said apathy on the Democratic side was a big part of the Republican landslide in Nevada.

“It’s my opinion we need to write a thank-you letter to Reid and Obama for being so bad that only Republicans turned out.”

The Nov. 4 Republican victory was the first time since the 1929 Stock Market crash Republicans had a majority in both houses.

Wheeler said priorities for the new majority include parental choice, collective bargaining at the county level, social issues and business licensing fees.

“Education is the main focus of Nevada Legislature because it is 60 percent of the budget and will continue to be,” Settelmeyer said. “The one thing that needs to happen to increase test scores is parental involvement. How do you do that? One way is bringing up teachers to teach. Some teachers deserve more money and there are a few who categorically need to find a new job.”

Wheeler has introduced a bill to subject public employee negotiations at the county level to the Nevada open meeting law.

Settelmeyer said that while the state has an obligation to its employees, reforming the state pension system is going to have to focus on new hires.

“We have an obligation to our employees, and we’d probably be ordered by the court to do it, so we might as will do the right thing now,” he said. “For new hires we need to look at the system. We can’t support the current system.”

He felt an IRA for state employees would give them more flexibility to leave a state job.

“People are paying money into the system, and can’t get the money back,” Settelmeyer said. “The state takes that money to fund everybody else. I think that’s wrong.”


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