Ending in a few days, the 2015 legislative brought some of the best, and worst, that politics has to offer to Nevada.
State lawmakers worked to allow more guns on school campuses. They’ve sought to make picketing illegal and made efforts to restrict collective bargaining.
Then there were the personal attacks, mostly between Assembly Republicans. For state residents, it’s been a day-to-day soap opera.
Political columnist for the Reno Gazette-Journal and host of Ralston Live Jon Ralston reminded KNPR’s State of Nevada that while the close of the session is just days away, more change and controversy could be on the way.
“A lot can happen in the final few days there could be a special session what the final outcome will be has not been determined yet,” Ralston said.
And while many of the more outrageous shenanigans in Carson City made headlines over the last four months, Ralston said much of the sound and fury has really signified nothing.
“Michele Fiore is an embarrassing sideshow but nothing more than that. She has affected nothing so far except generate headlines and generally make a fool of herself,” Ralston said of the Republican Assesmblywoman from Las Vegas.
He called a segment of the Assembly the “caucus of the irrelevant” because they grabbed headlines but offered “bizarre” bills that went nowhere.
“The governor, so far, as gotten most of what he wanted we’ll find out in the next few days if he’ll get his broad revenue package passed, which would be historic,” Ralston added.
The long-time columnist said this session won’t be remembered for the personal attacks and bad bills, but for something else.
“It will be remembered as a Republican Legislature that passed the largest tax increase in history,” he said. “Think about that. That’s crazy!”
Political consultant Sig Rogich agrees that this session could be an historic one.
“I think it’s historical,” he said. “It’s interesting the irony of it that Republicans would be created with solving budgeting solutions here. If this comes to pass.”
Rogich, president of Rogich Communications Group, said the state’s incredible growth has created needs great needs in education. He added that it is not just about improving instruction; some schools are crumbling and unsafe.
“We are at a make it or break it stage in Nevada. We have to do something,” he said.
Rogich, who is currently consulting with Jeb Bush on his predicted run for president, said he thinks it really took Republicans to get the tax and revenue package moving in Carson City. He compared it to President Richard Nixon being the only one who could have visited China in the ‘70s.
“It may take a Republican here to put a sensible tax structure together,” Rogich added. “(It is) something that a Democrat probably could not have achieved.”
Both Ralston and Rogich credit Gov. Brian Sandoval’s political savvy for getting his budget, which calls for large tax increases to increase education funding, through the Legislature.
“This is a remarkably talented guy,” Ralston added. “He is maybe the most likable person who has ever ascended to that office.”
Said Rogich: “I applaud the governor. I think he’s shown a lot fortitude I think he shows a lot of character in what he’s trying to do here.”
Both agree that Sandoval has a strong future in politics at the federal level. Ralston thinks he’s being considered as a running mate in the 2016 presidential election.
“I think he will be considered,” he also said. “I think there are potential problems with a Brian Sandoval potential vice presidential candidacy.”
Ralston said Sandoval’s popularity, and the fact that he is Hispanic, helps his chances. What might hurt him, he added, is that he is also moderate and supports the right of a woman to choose an abortion.
“Sandoval, I have always believed, if he weren’t so moderate on social issues, could actually be a legitimate contender for president,” Ralston said.
Rogich agreed that Sandoval’s future is bright, as either a vice presidential candidate or a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I think Sandoval is extraordinary in terms of his articulation, his elegance, his charm,” said the long-time consultant.
The session is set to finish on June 1.
Sig Rogich, president, Rogich Communications Group; Jon Ralston, political columnist, Reno Gazette-Journal and host of Ralston Live; Michael Green, history professor, UNLV
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