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Ellison announces Assembly re-election bid

ELKO – Assemblyman John Ellison announced Thursday he will be running for re-election in Nevada’s 33rd Assembly District. Assemblyman Ellison was first elected in 2010 and has served four terms representing the district, which covers Elko, Eureka, Lincoln and White Pine counties.

In 2015, Ellison served as speaker pro tempore of the Nevada Assembly and served as the chairman of Government Affairs. During the 2017 legislative session, he served on the Government Affairs, Transportation and Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining committees as well as holding the position of Rural Whip.

Ellison was born in Elko and has been an active community leader and businessman throughout his lifetime. “John is a champion of veterans and public lands issues and will continue to be a conservative voice for the citizens of Assembly District 33,” stated a release from the Assembly Republican Caucus.

“I have had the privilege and honor to serve with Assemblyman Ellison for the past three sessions and have seen firsthand his strong commitment to improving our state’s economy,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler. “We look forward to having him return to Carson City as we continue to move Nevada forward.”

“Assemblyman John Ellison has been a strong supporter of rural issues since his arrival to the Nevada Legislature,” said Deputy Minority Leader James Oscarson. “He has fought to protect water rights, ensure access to quality healthcare and continues to fight to bring back jobs to our communities.”

Assemblyman Ellison will receive the endorsement of the Assembly Republican Caucus, according to the announcement.

The American Conservative Union has awarded Ellison with its top marks in each of his four sessions.

He has received an A+ grade from the NRA.

In 2013, Ellison received the Nevada Press Association’s first ever First Amendment Champions Award

In 2015 he received the Nevada Association of Counties Legislator of the Year Award, as well as special recognition from the Nevada League of Cities

And in 2017, Ellison received the Citizen’s Outreach Legislator of the Year Award.

Elko Mayor Chris Johnson, a fellow Republican, announced this week that he would also be seeking the District 33 seat.

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Laxalt calls governor's race the contest of a generation for Nevada

Republican gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Adam Laxalt underscored the high stakes of the Nevada governor’s race this week, saying the state is perilously close to becoming a Democratic state and acknowledging the prospect of a “blue wave” in the 2018 election.

Laxalt delivered remarks and took some audience questions at a standing-room-only Republican Men’s Club luncheon Tuesday at the Bali Hai Golf Club. He started his speech by recognizing it was the birthday of the late Ronald Reagan, whom he called “our greatest president,” and said the state was at a crossroads similar to the one the country was at when Reagan took office.

“Are we going to slide inevitably toward the California way — more taxes, more spending, more regulation, sanctuary states?” he asked. “This race is as important for that future as any in this generation.”

He argued that legislative Democrats, who have a good chance at retaining both chambers, have become less willing to work across the aisle in recent years and more willing to push a liberal agenda. The only thing sparing Nevada was Gov. Brian Sandoval’s 40-plus vetoes, Laxalt said.

“We could wake up in a few years and be trending to a deep blue state,” he said.

He urged attendees to volunteer for his campaign and leave the comfort zone of people they know well to “sell” conservatism to a wider audience when they left the luncheon.

Laxalt highlighted accomplishments from his time as attorney general, including creating a “federalism unit” that challenged “an all-out assault on our constitutional system” during the Obama administration, and the first conviction ever under the state’s sex trafficking statute. He also fielded several questions audience members had written on index cards, although his campaign declined to make him available for an interview after the event.

Asked about how he would fund Education Savings Accounts, a school choice program that’s on the books but hasn’t been funded, he said “I’m committed to pushing for funding” and called ESAs “an important tool in our arsenal.”

When an audience member asserted that proceeds from the Commerce Tax on large businesses were not making it to education, and asked what he would do to investigate that, Laxalt said he had no role in Commerce Tax implementation and declined to comment on any investigation.

While it’s not entirely clear what the audience member meant by the question, there was criticism at the meeting that the proceeds from the Commerce Tax flow into the state general fund, which supports education and other spending such as prisons, as opposed to being earmarked for education alone.

Sandoval’s $1.1 billion tax package in 2015 included extensions of “sunsetting” taxes and a higher payroll tax rate as well as the Commerce Tax. The amount of new spending lawmakers approved for education that year exceeds the net revenue that derives from the Commerce Tax, which is about $100 million each year.

Asked if he stood by his office’s legal opinion that Question 1, which called for expanded gun background checks, was unenforceable, Laxalt said the opinion “is now being used as a political battering ram against me.” He said he doesn’t implement ballot initiatives and blamed the issue on poorly written language in the measure. “If they’re upset, they should be upset with proponents,” he said.

Asked what he would do about voter fraud, Laxalt said such investigations are the role of the secretary of state and said he couldn’t comment further with her as a client. He added that he has “no independent authority to do anything about voter fraud.”

Asked about his vision for his first term, he said he wanted to see major progress in education, wants to try to harness more economic growth, and doesn’t want businesses that are fleeing California due to regulation to skip Nevada in favor of places such as Texas.

Asked what he would do to turn more federally managed land over to the state, he said “that’s a broad question. I probably don’t want to fish around on that.”

Asked about whether he had investigated the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation, which administers funds from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund and lost some $7 million in money as punishment for mismanagement, he said he couldn’t comment.

Asked to share a fact about himself that attendees might not know, he talked about his wife, Jaime. He said she was the first from her small New Mexico town to attend an Ivy League school — Princeton — and rose through the ranks at the Department of Defense without a “patron” to help guide her career. When he met her, Laxalt said, she was giving briefings to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “Pray for her,” he said. “The toughest part of this race is knowing she’ll have to go through a tough election.”

Treasurer Dan Schwartz, Laxalt’s Republican primary opponent and the perceived underdog in the race, attended the luncheon along with various other Republican candidates.

“First of all, the guy’s obviously got to eat his lunch instead of answering people’s questions,” he said in an interview after the speech, referring to when Laxalt told audience members he would only take two more questions and that he wanted to eat his lunch. “It’s your job as a public servant to answer people’s questions. If you have time for lunch, go for it. There’s an arrogance there.”

He also criticized what he said was a lack of specific policy proposals.

“It’s empty words,” Schwartz said. “Give me some ideas.”

Laxalt argued that legislative Democrats, who have a good chance at retaining both chambers, have become less willing to work across the aisle in recent years and more willing to push a liberal agenda.

Construction increases in Elko this January

ELKO – Valuations for building permits in January in Elko city limits show the new year is off to a good start, with construction valuations at more than $1.3 million, compared with nearly $347,677 in January of 2017.

“With the mild winter, we are seeing some projects starting sooner than they normally would in the construction season,” said Jeremy Draper, development manager for the city.

In January alone, the Elko Building Department issued 63 building permits, compared with 27 in January 2017, and permit fees totaled $44,176, up from $10,185 in the same month last year. Applications totaled 36 for January 2018, up from nine last year.

The city’s figures also show there were three single-family houses permitted in January of this year, while there were none in January 2017. The residential evaluations totaled $490,818 this January, while commercial construction valuation totaled $683,095, including for silo work at Ash Grove Cement.

All three houses are Bailey Homes, one on Autumn Hills and two on Snowy River streets.

Permits also went for electrical, mechanical and plumbing work, and tenant improvements, including at Dotty’s on Mountain City Highway, according to the building department.

Although January 2017 was much slower for the city than this January, figures for all of 2017 picked up in the latter part of the year to end with permit valuations totaling $29.78 million, up from $20.91 million in 2016.

The figures show permit fees for 2017 were $1.07 million, up from $863,794 for all of 2016, while the number of issued permits was lower at 792, compared with 909 in 2016. Applications also were higher in 2016, at 364, compared with 333 last year.

Hotel projects started in 2017 boosted valuation.

The number of single-family dwellings permitted in 2017 totaled 43, down from 51 the prior year, and the number of manufactured home foundations was lower in 2017, at five, compared with a dozen in 2016, according to the figures.

There were no duplexes and no multi-family projects in 2017, nor in 2016. There were 36 multi-family units built in 2015. The highest number of multi-family units built in recent years totaled 177 in 2012, followed by 172 in 2015 and 108 in 2013.

The highest number of new residences constructed in recent years was 98 in 2013, according to the building department charts.

Senate GOP leader coming to Elko with petition


ELKO — Senate Republican Leader and candidate for lieutenant governor Michael Roberson announced he is visiting Elko this Friday to celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President of the United States, by attending the annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

The annual dinner is put on by the Elko County Republican Party and taking place at 5:30 p.m. at the Elko Boys and Girls Club on 782 Country Club Drive.

While at the dinner, Roberson will be gathering signatures from Elko County voters for his Prevent Sanctuary Cities ballot initiative.

“The initiative, if qualified for the ballot and passed by the voters across the state, will prevent Nevada from becoming a Sanctuary State for criminal illegal immigrants,” stated the announcement.

Roberson was successful in defeating attempts by Senate Democrats to pass their Sanctuary State bill during last year’s legislative session.

Tthe Reno Gazette-Journal reported this week that “[the last legislative session] saw Roberson, now a candidate for Nevada Lieutenant Governor, vehemently oppose a bill that would have prevented state police agencies from carrying out immigration-related arrests and deportations. The Democrat-sponsored bill — which Roberson called ‘outrageous’ and ‘recklessly irresponsible’ — eventually foundered under a flood of opposition from Nevada law enforcement agencies.”

As leader of the Senate Republicans, Roberson introduced and passed a repeal of Nevada’s “blue card” gun registration laws, passed the first ever political gift ban in Nevada, helped pass meaningful taxpayer cost-saving reforms, and stopped Democrat-led efforts to raise property taxes, according to his campaign.

Roberson has served in the Nevada Senate since 2010 and was re-elected in 2014 with more than 60 percent of the vote in his district. He has been endorsed by Adam Laxalt in his bid for lieutenant governor.

Jeff Mullins