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John Locher 

Nevada is highlighting its statewide tourism industry -- not only the world-famous attractions of Las Vegas -- before business representatives from around the globe. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on Tuesday addressed the dozens of tourism industry representatives gathered in Las Vegas for the 2017 Governor's Global Tourism Summit. He told attendees of the two-day conference that the state's tourism industry in 2016 was on pace with pre-recession rates, with increases in spending, employment and travel-generated tax revenue. He says direct travel spending increased by 2.2 percent last year. Tourism is the backbone of Nevada's economy. It accounts for almost one-third of the state's general fund tax revenue.


Almanac

Thursday, Dec. 7

Today is the 341st day of 2017 and the 77th day of autumn.

TODAY’S HISTORY: In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing 2,403 American soldiers and civilians.

In 1999, the Recording Industry Association of America filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the online file-sharing service Napster.

In 2002, Iraq denied that it had weapons of mass destruction in a United Nations declaration.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS: Willa Cather (1873-1947), author; Eli Wallach (1915-2014), actor; Ted Knight (1923-1986), actor; Ellen Burstyn (1932- ), actress; Harry Chapin (1942-1981), singer-songwriter; Johnny Bench (1947- ), baseball player; Tom Waits (1949- ), singer-songwriter; Larry Bird (1956- ), basketball player; Jeffrey Wright (1965- ), actor; Patrice O’Neal (1969-2011), actor/comedian; Sara Bareilles (1979- ), singer-songwriter; Emily Browning (1988- ), actress; Nicholas Hoult (1989- ), actor.

TODAY’S FACT: Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Senate voted for a war resolution 82-0. The House of Representatives approved the resolution 388-1.

TODAY’S SPORTS: In 2007, home-run record holder Barry Bonds pleaded not guilty to lying to investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “The great fact was the land itself, which seemed to overwhelm the little beginnings of human society that struggled in its sombre wastes.” — Willa Cather, “O Pioneers!”


State-and-regional
Nevada waived legislator conflict rule for Raiders vote

RENO (AP) — Luring the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas was a big deal in Nevada — so big that the state Legislature took an unprecedented step when it convened in emergency session last year.

The decision to approve a $750 million tax increase to build a stadium was deemed so crucial that the Senate and Assembly waived the self-reporting requirements for lawmakers to reveal potential conflicts of interest. The resolution was approved on a voice vote with no opportunity for public comment.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the action was warranted because the legislation was of “immense public importance” and would “have significant impacts on the general welfare and prosperity” of the state.

“The resolution explains that the Senate’s ethics rules do not require any member to make disclosures or abstain from voting on the bills because each members’ interest are not greater than the interest of the entire class of persons affected,” Roberson said Oct. 11, 2016.

That meant no lawmakers recused themselves, including Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno. Kieckhefer served as vice chairman of the joint session that approved the spending bill rules even though he works as director of client relations for a major law and lobbying firm whose clients included the Oakland Raiders.

Kieckhefer defended his vote. Even without the waiver, he said he didn’t believe he had a potential conflict because he has no involvement in the lobbying wing of the firm.

“I work for the law firm. The lobbying shop is a separate legal entity,” said Kieckhefer, who once worked as a reporter for The Associated Press. “There’s a wall that was put up between them before I even started there.”

Critics of Nevada’s part-time, citizen Legislature say the extraordinary move was a prime example of why the state should elect full-time legislators not dependent on outside jobs.

Bob Fulkerson, state director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, a coalition of mostly labor, minority and social justice advocates, said he would have objected at the time if he had the opportunity.

“The Nevada Legislature openly flaunts the absolute lack of rules governing their conflict between serving the public or serving their employers,” he said.