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Posts tagged ‘Nevada’

Kentucky to Hire Outside Counsel to Defend Gay-Marriage Ban.


Kentucky’s governor plans to hire an outside counsel to appeal a federal court ruling that the state recognize same-sex marriages from other states, after Kentucky’s attorney general refused to challenge the decision.

The move by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who like state Attorney General Jack Conway is a Democrat, follows a Feb. 27 federal court ruling. The judge who issued that ruling delayed its implementation by about three weeks to allow time for an appeal.

Conway told reporters in an emotional news conference on Tuesday the decision made last month by a federal judge was correct and a formal appeal by his office would be tantamount to defending discrimination.

Conway joined attorneys general from states such as Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia who have also said they will not defend gay marriage bans.

Beshear’s office said the outside counsel will ask for a further stay pending the appeal, which could keep the state from recognizing same-sex marriages until the appeals court makes its decision.

“Without a stay in place, the opportunity for legal chaos is real,” said Beshear.

Socially conservative politicians in Kentucky have been pushing for an appeal.

“It will be up to Governor Beshear and his outside counsel to determine how to move forward in the case,” said the attorney general’s spokeswoman Allison Martin.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled last month that Kentucky laws that deny the marriages of same-sex couples “violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable.”

The decision was part of a string of court victories for gay rights advocates, who are trying to overturn bans on same-sex marriage that are on the books in every state in the deep South.

Seventeen U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage. The trend has gained pace since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

States Buck Public Opinion, Offer Driver’s Licenses to Illegals.


Nevada has become the latest state to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license — even as public opinion polls show that the great majority of Americans oppose such measures.
A national poll conducted in October by Rasmussen Reports found that 68 percent of likely U.S. voters think illegal immigrants should not be allowed to obtain state driver’s licenses. Just 22 percent favor licenses for illegals in their state.
Critics say the laws encourage illegal immigration by legitimizing the status of those who come to the United States illegally.

“It is a kind of amnesty. It doesn’t given them any legal status, but by giving them a government-issued ID, it helps them imbed in society,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.,  said in an interview with Newsmax.

“This is a way of protecting illegals from coming to the attention of immigration authorities,” Krikorian said. “It’s a way of documenting the undocumented.”
In Nevada, Democratic-led lawmakers approved a driver’s license law in 2013. It was signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s first Hispanic governor, who considers it a public safety measure, and went into effect at the beginning of this month.

“Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s privilege card will increase the number of drivers on Nevada’s roads that are insured and aware of traffic rules and regulations,” Sandoval said in a statement after signing the bill.

When Nevada began issuing licenses on Jan. 2, long lines formed at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Las Vegas, waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the office. The Associated Press reported that “thousands of Nevada immigrants” sought to obtain licenses on the first day.

Those applying for the driving privilege cards must show some proof of their identity as well as evidence of Nevada residency and insurance. New drivers must pass a driving test, and pay to retake the test if they fail.

The information provided for the licenses, however, may not be used against them for purposes of enforcing immigration laws, a key provision in a state like Nevada where about a fourth of all residents are Latino.

Other states that have approved similar laws include Utah, Washington, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, California, New Mexico, and Illinois, along with the District of Columbia.
Said California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, in signing his state’s law last year: “No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the State of California.”

The climate of permissiveness licenses for illegals follows a crackdown period after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacksthat came in response to widespread fears of foreign-born terrorists entering the country.

“After 9-11, things were tightening up. Now those states that are mainly run by Democrats are backtracking,” said Krikorian, noting that Congress has given leeway through the REAL ID law to states to issue immigrant driver’s cards, but those cannot be used for federal identification purposes like boarding planes.
New Mexico, with the nation’s largest Hispanic population, is one state attempting to buck the trend. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is hoping to convince the Democratic-led state legislature to repeal the state’s current law, which offers licenses to illegals.She has tried before and failed, but vows to continue.
Polling shows that Martinez has support for her position, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., a New Mexico firm that has polled for the Albuquerque Journal twice on the issue.

“Both times, the polls that we did for the Journal showed approximately 70 percent of registered voters opposed granting licenses to undocumented workers,” Sanderoff told Newsmax.

“I think it’s a significant issue to the extent that the governor is once again latching onto it,” he said.

New Mexico differs from its heavily Hispanic neighbor Arizona, where its governor, Republican Jan Brewer, has taken an aggressive stance against illegals in her state. In New Mexico, most Hispanic residents are natives, tracing their lineage back to Spain, said Sanderoff.

“Most New Mexicans are Americans, born and raised here, more so than the average state,” he said, which likely explains why voters there oppose the law by a wide margin.

The trend could continue as Congress renews its debate on immigration reform this year and proponents continue to push for the measure in more states.

“The push for it is nationally coordinated,” Krikorian said. “There is a broader push by national groups to have more say in the issue. They see it in two ways. First, as a practical matter, it helps to imbed the illegal immigrants in the U.S., making it less likely they will leave. Also, it will be presented as evidence of nationwide momentum for immigration ‘reform.'”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Andrea Billups

Reid: Senate to Vote on Extending Jobless Benefits.


Image: Reid: Senate to Vote on Extending Jobless Benefits

The Senate will vote next Monday on temporarily extending federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Reid, D-Nev., told The Associated Press he’s hopeful a bill co-sponsored by Nevada‘s Republican Sen. Dean Heller will be approved by the upper chamber, but he offered no prediction on whether it will pass muster in the House of Representatives.

“I don’t predict anything in the House,” Reid said Monday, describing the Republican-controlled House as a “black hole of legislation.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he said.

But he praised Heller for the bipartisan bill he introduced with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island. The measure would continue the federal jobless program for three months while a compromise is sought.

“I hope we can get that done,” said Reid, who has often been at odds with the conservative Heller.

“I’m happy to see Dean has joined us,” Reid added. “He’s broken away from the tea party folks who don’t want to do anything.”

When he introduced the bill, Heller said, “Providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government. As Nevada’s unemployment rate continues to top the charts nationwide, many families and individuals back home do not know how they are going to meet their basic needs.”

A two-year budget deal reached earlier this month failed to include an extension of jobless benefits for people who have been unemployed longer than six months. About 17,000 Nevadans lost benefits when the program expired Saturday. Nationally, 1.3 million were cut off from receiving unemployment.

Nevada officials estimate 800 Nevadans will lose benefits each week as they exhaust their 26 weeks of state-paid unemployment insurance unless Congress extends the federal program that was enacted in 2008 at the height of the recession when unemployment soared. It allowed the long-term unemployed in hard hit states like Nevada to receive benefits for up to 99 weeks. The duration was cut to 73 weeks last year.

Looking ahead to 2014, Reid said one of his priorities will be addressing the wealth gap between the rich, poor and middle class.

“The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the middle class is getting squeezed and it’s just not fair,” said Reid, adding that raising the minimum wage would be another top priority, along with extending jobless benefits.

He said he’s scheduled to appear on a Sunday news show to outline his legislative goals in the midterm election year.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

GOP’s Heller Pushes Bill to Extend Jobless Benefits.


Image: GOP's Heller Pushes Bill to Extend Jobless Benefits

By Drew MacKenzie

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller has raised eyebrows among his Republican colleagues by putting his name to a bill to extend unemployment benefits to 1.3 million jobless Americans.

Co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the legislation fails to offset the costs of the welfare with any proposed cuts to the federal budget — so breaking GOP pledges to keep entitlements and government spending down.

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

The legislation, which could be introduced in the Senate in early January, has been hailed by President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but is likely to upset many Republicans, especially conservatives, says Rhode Island’s Providence Journal.

Republicans have argued that they will vote against extending benefits unless other cuts are put forward to counter the cost of the unemployment benefits.

The object of the emergency bill is to give the government time to come up with a comprehensive plan to make changes to the program and find ways to pay for it.

The benefits available to workers unemployed for 26 weeks or more are set to expire on Saturday.

Democrats had hoped to include a one-year extension to the benefits, at a cost of $25 billion, to the two-year federal budget, which was negotiated by the Senate and House finance committee chairs, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

But the extension was omitted from the legislation, which was signed into law Thursday by President Barack Obama during his Christmas vacation in Hawaii.

Heller and Reed have a particular interest in the unemployment problem because their two states have the highest jobless rates in the country. Extensions to unemployment benefits are given to jobless workers in states with the worst unemployment rates, with Nevadans eligible for the maximum 73 weeks, says the Las Vegas Sun.

On Reed’s official website, Heller said, “Providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government. As Nevada’s unemployment rate continues to top the charts nationwide, many families and individuals back home do not know how they are going to meet their basic needs.

“I am pleased to join Senator Reed on this legislation, which aims to help people across the nation who have fallen on hard times.”

Reed said he had introduced the “emergency spending” measure so that the unemployed aren’t “cut off, thrown off the cliff starting literally this week.” He suggested that a year-long extension of jobless benefits could be paid for by closing tax loopholes and reducing offshore tax breaks.

The legislation has already received the support of leading Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Reid said he was “pleased and proud of my colleague Sen. Dean Heller” for introducing “a good bill, and it deserves a vote.”

And White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett has declared that Obama’s administration “strongly support” the bill, adding, “We think it’s very important; we think they’ve made a very good case for it.” She also said the president would help “galvanize support for it.”

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Harry Reid in Hospital ‘As A Precaution’.


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went to a hospital today after feeling ill, his office said. Tests showed that “everything is normal” though he will remain in the hospital for observation, his office said.

“Senator Reid called me thing morning,” second-ranking Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor. “He sounded good, and we look forward to his speedy recovery.”

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement that the majority leader, 74, felt ill early this morning “and as a precaution decided to go to the hospital.”

“Tests have been conducted and everything is normal,” Jentleson said. “He is alert, resting and feeling better.”

Jentleson added, “Doctors have asked that he remain in the hospital for observation so he will not be working today.”

Durbin of Illinois said he will act in Reid’s place as the Senate conducts a number of votes today. Reid is a Nevada Democrat

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Harry Reid: I’d Like to Lead Senate for 8 More Years.


Image: Harry Reid: I'd Like to Lead Senate for 8 More Years

By Lisa Barron

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he plans on staying right where he is for as long as he possibly can.

The Nevada Democrat is up for re-election in 2014, and in an interview with Roll CallWednesday, he confirmed that he intends to run. “I don’t want to do it more than eight more years,” said the 74-year-old former boxer.

Asked if Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray’s front and center role in the recent budget negotiations means she could take over the leadership, Reid responded, “If I drop dead? I don’t know.”

“I mean, I will someday. It’s just a question of if I do it while I’m here,” he said.

As for whether Reid thinks his party can maintain its majority in next year’s elections in light of issues such as the disastrous Obamacare rollout, he was optimistic, saying, “We’re always very honed-in on the races. We feel pretty good about how things are going.”

He also said he has not ruled out taking further steps to curb the GOP’s ability to filibuster, as he did last month when he used the so-called nuclear option to eliminate filibusters on most nominations.

“I have no intention of changing the rules tomorrow or the next day or, you know, [in] the foreseeable future, but this is a two-way street. I think that we should start legislating and not [waste] all of our time on nominations. That’s all I’ve been wasting my time on for years here is nominations,” Reid stated.

“I’m not precluding anything. It’s just according to how we get along here.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Wash. Times: Reid Pressured Feds on Visa Applications.


Image: Wash. Times: Reid Pressured Feds on Visa Applications

By Drew MacKenzie

The Obama administration fast-tracked visa applications for two dozen foreign investors of a Las Vegas casino hotel after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his staff intervened, The Washington Times reported Wednesday.

The visas were approved despite Homeland Security officials initially denying the applications due to concerns about “suspicious financial activity” involving some of the Asian applicants.

The companies in the U.S. that will most benefit from the visa approvals have executives who are politically-connected and have been heavy Democratic donors in the past, says the Times.

According to the Times, Reid, a Nevada Democrat, personally put pressure on the top official at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Alejandro Mayorkas, who is President Barack Obama’s current nominee to be the No. 2 Homeland Security official. His appointment is due to be reviewed by the Senate on Wednesday.

The Asian investors behind a major renovation of the SLS Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, previously known as the historic Sahara Casino, are reportedly receiving the expedited EB-5 green card applications.

Although the Times reported that Reid’s staff was involved from the beginning of the applications, Homeland Security officials at first turned down requests by the SLS Hotel for the visas on the grounds that the building failed to meet the normal criteria for expedited review. The Homeland decision issued in December last year stated, “there is no appeal or reconsideration of this decision.”

According to the Times, the interference from Reid’s staff was so fierce that there was even an angry shouting match over the phone involving an immigration official.

“This one is going to be a major headache for us all because Mr. Reid’s office/staff is pushing hard and I just had a long yelling match on the phone,” USCIS Legislative Affairs official Miguel “Mike” Rodriguez warned in an email last year to Homeland Security Department officials.

The Times reported that Reid’s staff allegedly urged Homeland Security officials to change their minds on the applications, repeatedly saying that the hotel would lose its potential funding for its renovation if the USCIS didn’t expedite the visas.

Michael Vannozzi, a former top aide to Reid, wrote to Homeland Security, saying, “As you can imagine this project is pretty important to Southern Nevada. It will probably be the only ‘new’ property opening up on the Strip for some time, and if their $300 million senior lending facility from JP Morgan Chase expires because these visas aren’t processed expeditiously, it will be a huge setback for the project and the 8,600 jobs associated with it.”

The EB-5 visa gives permanent residency status, or green cards, to foreign nationals who invest $1 million, or $500,000 in high unemployment areas, creating at least 10 jobs.

The Times noted that Reid’s office and hotel officials did not respond to repeated requests from the newspaper for comment.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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