Guy W. Farmer: Two things for Legislature to dump
February 17, 2013
Along with other intrepid journalists, I’m keeping an eye on the Nevada Legislature, which is always good for a couple of columns and a few laughs. But the strange case of troubled Assemblyman Steven Brooks, a North Las Vegas Democrat, is no laughing matter.
Brooks was arrested last weekend on domestic battery charges for the second time in three weeks in Las Vegas, and was banned from the Legislative Building last week by a special bipartisan Assembly committee. And now his fellow lawmakers should expel Brooks from the Legislature.
He earned it.
Personally, I don’t see how they can seat someone who threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a fellow North Las Vegas Democrat, and engaged in a series of bizarre public incidents culminating in last weekend’s confrontation with Las Vegas police.
Police allege Brooks, 40, was “agitated” and refused to obey officers’ orders when they arrived at the scene of a domestic dispute last weekend. Brooks is accused of resisting arrest and grabbing for an officer’s weapon as they tried to arrest him.
In short, Brooks should be kept as far away from Carson City as possible. I certainly don’t want him sitting directly behind my friend, local Assemblyman Pete Livermore, in the Assembly Chamber.
And then there’s the case of Assemblyman Andrew Martin, a Las Vegas Democrat who apparently doesn’t live in the district he represents. Last November a Clark County judge ruled that Martin was ineligible for office because he didn’t live in his district, but he won his race and is sitting in the Legislature despite the legal ruling against him. This looks like a case of one set of rules for most of us, and a separate set of rules for our elected officials.
Now, let’s examine three controversial issues under discussion in the Legislature.
First, there’s the perennial issue of funding for public education, a high priority for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and state lawmakers. Democrats have vowed to raise taxes in order to finance public education, while Sandoval is sticking to a “no new taxes” pledge. Nevada needs an educated work force in order to attract new business and create jobs, but more money doesn’t necessarily mean better education. I like legislation that ties increased funding to higher student achievement scores and I question all-day kindergarten, which appears to be a “free” babysitting service for working moms at taxpayer expense.
Gov. Sandoval, a former Gaming Commission chairman, is also pushing a bill that would allow Nevada online poker companies to take bets from players in other states. He should know better because it’s virtually impossible to regulate online poker to the high standards required of Nevada gaming licensees. Let’s remember that the Justice Department has accused three online poker companies of conducting multimillion-dollar Internet Ponzi schemes. Online poker is a dubious proposition at best, and Nevada should be “all out” on this risky bet.
And finally, Nevada lawmakers are discussing additional gun-control legislation in the wake of the horrific Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre that killed 26 people, including 20 young children ages 5 to 7. On Thursday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard from law enforcement officers and mental health professionals, but new legislation is extremely unlikely here in Gun Country.
• Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.