• URGENT ACTION NEEDED NOW: Ward Voting

    TakeAction

    Today is the last day of the legislative session. It is also the last day Senate Bill 457 has if it wants to survive. Governor Sandoval can veto the bill, or just let it sit on his desk and die.

    Senate Bill 457 would require cities to hold both their primary and general elections within their wards. This system already exists in Las Vegas, and as nonpartisan races candidates often win in the primary by gaining over 50 percent of the vote.

    In cities like Reno, Sparks, and Henderson, however, candidates run in their ward in the primary election, then citywide in a general. This can, and has, led to candidates who were favored substantially in the primary losing in the general, unable to raise the funds to compete citywide or not having the favor of the voters outside their neighborhood.

    SB457 would ensure that the residents of each ward have the control to pick their representatives, a principal we see reflected at all other levels of government.

    Click here and tell Governor Brian Sandoval: Don’t veto Senate Bill 457. Give Nevadans a chance to have representatives from their community.

    Or call the Governor’s office directly: 775-684-5670 or 702-486-2500

  • TAKE ACTION: Tell Governor Sandoval to sign SB373

    Senate Bill 373 helps Nevada workers deal with their debt and at the same time allows them to keep more of their wages to provide for their families while paying off creditors over time.

    Under current Nevada law 25% of a worker’s wages can be garnished to collect a debt.  SB373 reduces the garnishment amount to 15% of take home pay for those with gross annual earnings under $40,000.

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    Nevadans where hit hardest by the economic downtown, and our state’s high rate of foreclosures continues to drag us down. Reducing the amount of wage garnishment allows workers to pay at a rate which they can afford to avoid bankruptcy and/or default on their other obligations.

    The Governor needs to hear from you. Take action, contact him today and tell him to sign SB373 into law.

     

  • Take action: Tell Governor Sandoval to sign these bills into law to strengthen our elections

    Our Field Director Howard Watts III explains three bills that are headed to Governor Sandoval’s desk that will strengthen Nevada’s election process should he chose to sign them into law.Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 7.02.01 PM
    The Governor needs to hear from YOU. Making it easier for eligible voters in Nevada to participate in elections should be common sense; ask Governor Sandoval to do the right thing, sign these bills into law.
    TakeAction
    Senate Bill 457 would require cities to hold both their primary and general elections within their wards. This system already exists in Las Vegas, and as nonpartisan races candidates often win in the primary by gaining over 50 percent of the vote. In cities like Reno, Sparks, and Henderson, however, candidates run in their ward in the primary election, then citywide in a general. This can, and has, led to candidates who were favored substantially in the primary losing in the general, unable to raise the funds to compete citywide or not having the favor of the voters outside their neighborhood. SB457 would ensure that the residents of each ward have the control to pick their representatives, a principal we see reflected at all other levels of government.

     

    Assembly Bill 441 is a simple bill that would allow the Early Voting-style election centers we all know and love to exist on election day, in addition to precinct voting sites. The bill doesn’t require these sites to exist, so as counties find the resources, they could add these convenient locations where you can vote no matter where you’re registered, as long as you’re within your county. This bill is an important step in bringing an outdated Election Day administration into the 21st century, and will allow more voters to cast full, instead of provisional, ballots on election day.

    Assembly Bill 440 is also a simple bill, allowing people to register online or in person at an elections office up to the last day of early voting. Every election, people head to the polls only to find out they missed the registration deadline, or that their registration never made it to the rolls. This bill gives uses the technology available to give people more time to register and participate in our democracy. It also allows people to elect to receive a sample ballot through email, saving paper and making sure late registrants have all the information they need in time to vote.
  • Tell Governor Sandoval to support the immigration community with more than words


    Take Action: Tell the Governor to sign Senate Bills 169 and 303, and Assembly Bill 74


    Last week Governor Sandoval signed a resolution to support comprehensive immigration reform, and  in an interview expressed his support for the Senate’s “Gang of 8″ immigration reform bill.

    Governor can support Nevada’s immigrants with more than just words by signing three vital pieces of legislation.

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    Call the Governor’s office directly

    Senate Bill 169 changes the the mandatory sentencing of gross misdemeanors from 365 days to 364. If you’ve been sentenced to 365 days for anything, even if you didn’t serve time, you can not apply to become a United States Citizen. This bill could help many undocumented Nevadans, including those who only plead guilty because they didn’t not have proper representation, and didn’t understand the charges against them. You can be charged for a gross misdemeanor for misusing a hotel room key. Should that prevent someone from applying for citizenship? Tell Governor Sandoval to sign Senate Bill 169.

    Senate Bill 303 authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue Driver Authorization Cards to Nevadans, regardless of legal status. SB303 also guarantees that the DMV does not share immigration status of any applicant with Federal immigration authorities. SB303 will lower the cost of vehicle insurance in Nevada and make our roads safer. Tell Governor Sandoval to sign Senate Bill 303

    Assembly Bill 74 regulates Nevada’s ‘nortario’ and document preparation services. It is vital that we have regulations in place to protect our undocumented and immigrant communities. ‘Notario’ means different things in different countries, and many families have seen their hopes of becoming US citizens disappear because of shady notarios, and currently there is no recourse for their unscrupulous actions. Tell Governor Sandoval to sign Assembly Bill 74

    If Federal immigration reform passes, these bills will do a lot to help Nevadans hoping to become citizens. Please contact the Governor and ask him to sign these bills to keep families together.

  • It’s time for Nevada to stop criminalizing acts between consenting same sex couples

    Senate Bill 388 eliminates the “infamous crimes against nature” law. It passed out of both houses and now heads to the desk of Governor Brian Sandoval

    PLEASE CALL 775-684-5670 OR EMAIL the Governor today: http://gov.nv.gov/contact/

    TakeAction

    Nevada’s outdated “infamous crimes against nature” statute discriminates against same sex couples and violates their rights to equal protection under the law.

    Under current Nevada law, the age of consent is different for same sex and opposite sex couples. While the age of consent for opposite sex couples is 16, same sex couples effectively cannot consent to sex, or even communicate about sex, until age 18, due to the “infamous crimes  against nature” statute. Same sex couples can also be criminalized for their behavior, because this statute is law, Nevadans are being charged with this alleged crime.

     

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada has sued the state Nevada for prosecuting a gay teen who had consensual sex with his partner.

     

    SB388 does not eliminate ANY of the crimes currently on our books that protect children because other statutes protect against sexual contact between adults and children. Not only is the “infamous crimes” statute outdated and discriminatory, but also it has no real legal necessity, given that there are already crimes on the books under which individuals can be charged.

     

     

  • After 150 years, what changed?

    Our state director Bob Fulkerson on how SJR15 came to be.

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    SJR15 candies PLAN gave to legislators on Valentine’s Day

    We at PLAN have been asked several times about what changed between 2010 and now that turned the tide against mining’s stranglehold on Nevada. Here’s some thoughts:

    In 2009, PLAN tried to get some measly deductions removed from the industry but we were shut down handily. In 2010, we launched the Nevada Fair Mining Tax initiative that would have changed the constitutional cap from 5% net to 5% gross. But mining mounted a vigorous legal challenge, and ran out the clock before we could get enough signatures.

    Meanwhile, the state is in the midst of a devastating recession, cutting $1 billion from education alone over a 5-year period. People saw mining and the rurals doing incredibly well. They wondered why the Legislature wouldn’t enact a tax higher than the 1 percent mining tax it paid to the general fund. And the answer was because mining was protected in the Nevada constitution. This concerned people in Clark County, who knew that whether the Strip boomed or lost money, schools in Elko and other mining towns would be funded by their dollars. Yet when mining did well (this year, mineral production exceeded $10 billion in Nevada), Clark County didn’t see many mining dollars at all.

    In the 2011 session, Senate Revenue Chair Sheila Leslie  and Majority Leader Steven Horsford held hearings on mining taxation. What came to light was the laundry list of deductions, coupled with the fact that the mining companies had rarely, if ever, been audited by the state. The fall guy was the head of Nevada’s Department of Taxation, who had to resign. The mining lobbyists had gamed the Tax Commission (the lobbyist for Newmont was a former member) by writing in deductions on everything from the dues to the World Gold Council to double dipping health care costs. It took the press and other legislators aback, and mining’s been on its heels ever since.

    Finally, mining’s reaction to heightened scrutiny has been arrogant and ill conceived-which never makes you any friends. In 2011, they were neutral on SJR 15. In hearings on the Senate side this year, they were still testifying as neutral. (Although everyone knew this was BS.) But at the hearings in the Assembly, they came with both barrels blazing, threatening lawsuits and reduced funding for the budget. Hubris once again.

    People began seeing that mining had run Nevada like a colony since statehood, and became outraged. To show how far the tide had turned, even conservative Republicans who voted against SJR 15 in 2011 launched their own effort in 2013 to tax mining by another $600 million-contingent on passage of SJR 15.

    It’s no wonder mining offered a $50 million bribe to the Nevada Legislature to kill SJR 15, in the most outrageous and under-reported story of the session.
    We’re encouraged by the strength Legislative leaders have demonstrated under such immense pressure from mining. Next step is to pass this on the November 2014 ballot, then to enact a reasonable severance tax on mineral production to build infrastructure that will last long after the mines are gone.

     

  • Happy Mother’s Day, for all the mamas

    Astrid Silva, co-founder of DREAM Big Vegas, is an activist in Southern Nevada. She wrote this blog to share the undocumented perspective on Mother’s Day:

    Ever since I was young I remember dreading ‘El Dia de las Madres’ – in Mexico, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 10th of May every year no matter what the day falls on as opposed to the second Sunday as it is here. I could never pin point why I didn’t like the holiday or why I didn’t look forward to it, it wasn’t the having to buy two presents for my mom or that I didn’t love her in abundance.

    When I look back and think of my memories of ‘El Dia de las Madres’ they are filled with seeing my mom crying and playing songs for my Abuelita Chabela over the phone. They are memories of my Dad calling his siblings to make sure they received the money he had gathered to be able to send to my Abuelita Mica, then having to hope they would do what he specified with it. Sometimes we would call and get to talk to the Abuelas’ briefly because they were being whisked away to some celebration in their honor, with all the laughter of their grandchildren in the background. Meanwhile we were left with the empty feeling that I couldn’t describe until now.

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    Las Vegas DREAMers pose with their mothers before heading off to Immigrant Lobby Day in Carson City.

    I know that my only surviving grandparent, my Abuelita Chabela is 76 years old and that inevitably those calls will all together cease. This morning when my mom said, “I’m calling your Abuelita” I cringed. Every year it gets harder and harder to talk to her on the phone. I’ve been able to wiggle my way out to only talking to her on the major holidays and even then I find and excuse to end the conversation early. It isn’t that I don’t love the woman who gave my mother life, I don’t want to grow attached to someone I will likely never meet. Is it selfish – Yes. I have no excuse and I hurt my mom every time I turn down her excited pleads to talk to her Mama. I know that one day sooner than later there will be the call that I have already lived through 3 times, 3 painful earth shattering times. I know what it feels like to have the air sucked out of me and not know what to do.

    What makes my grandparents dying different than maybe yours? My parents left everything they knew, including their parents for MY future.  Their want and need to give me a better life and to give me the things that they knew would never be possible for me in Mexico. They never once hesitated to give me the ability to achieve all of my dreams. Their love for me made them leave their parents behind not knowing if they would ever see them again, which ultimately came true. My parents were a few years older than I am now when they left their homes, they haven’t returned more than 20 years later. I now realize that growing up the feeling of guilt became overwhelming, my young mind couldn’t comprehend what those feelings were.

    As an organizer I get to meet dozens of families that are in the exact same situation, my family is not the only one going through this. Our broken immigration system has trapped people here unable to comfort their sick mothers in foreign countries, unable to see their children walk at their graduations or give them medicine when they have a fever. The time is now, I can’t spend another ‘Dia de las Madres’ with my Abuelita on the phone.

     

    Astrid Silva

    DREAM Big Vegas

     

     

  • PLAN’s legislative priorities update

    During our legislative retreat earlier this year PLAN’s staff, executive board, and member group organizations chose five legislative priorities to focus on. With less than a month left in the session, we wanted to give you an update on how these bills are doing.

    Be sure to contact your Assembly and Senate representatives and ask them to support these pieces of legislation that will help create a more fair and just Nevada.

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    PLAN team members Bob, Stacey and Rosa hard at work during a recently hearing in Carson City

     


    Senate Joint Resolution 15 Removal of Mining Tax Protections
    Current Status: Passed the Senate 17-4. Assembly Taxation heard the bill on Monday, no action was taken. Click here to contact members of the committee and ask for a vote.

     


    Senate Joint Resolution 13 Marriage Equality
    Current Status: Passed the Senate 12-9. Assembly Legislative Operations committee hearing Thursday May 9th at 4:00pm. Contact your member of the Assembly!

     


    Senate Bill 321 Homeowner Bill of Rights
    Current Status: Passed the Senate 21-0. Heard before the Assembly Judiciary Committee, no action taken.  Contact your member of the Assembly

     


    Senate Bill 303 Driver Authorization Cards
    Current Status: Stalled in the Senate. Senate Committee on Finance hearing Wednesday May 8th time to be determined. Contact your member of the Senate!

     


    Assembly Bill 230 Comprehensive Sex Education
    Current Status: Passed the Assembly 26-15. Heard in Senate Education committee Monday May 6th; no action taken. Contact your member of the Senate!

     

     

     

    Thank you for all of your support this session. We’re looking forward to finishing this session strong!

     

    If you have questions or concerns, please contact our Lobbyist Stacey Shinn sshinn@planevada.org or our Racial Equity Report Card lead Michael Ginsburg mginsburg@planevada.org

     

    Of course, PLAN will lobby for and organize around dozens of pieces of legislation that will help to create a more fair and just Nevada.

     

    Laura

    Communications Director

    lmartin@planevada.org

     

  • Breaking Down Barriers, Building Up Communities

    This past weekend I took some time off to volunteer as a Co-Director for Camp Anytown. This camp’s curriculum was founded in 1957 and designed to educate, liberate, and empower high school aged participants, with a focus on diversity and leadership for social justice. Anytown’s motto is “Breaking Down Barriers, Building Up Communities,” which highlights the fact that a lot of the work done at camp is focused on not just tolerating, but respecting and celebrating each other’s differences and unify around our commonalities as members of the human race.

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    So many things draw me back to camp. One of the big factors is the staff. It was at Anytown that I had the pleasure of getting to know the late and great Shannon West, who really helped Clark County step up the quality and coordination of its homeless services. It was at camp that I met now-Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson. I’ve gotten to know and become close to a variety of community leaders, from the folks who are out on the front lines every day working jobs that address society’s problems, to the volunteers for whom this is their main or only cause, to the social work students putting their lessons into action, and of course the former delegates who are coming to give back to a camp that changed their life. Our head medic is also our head chef, and not only does he make delicious food, he inspires me by always coming up to camp, buying food, and keeping everyone healthy, all for free. Oh, and in between camps he’s a paramedic for the Fire Department!

     

    But what really amazes me are the student delegates. Some are starting organizations and running projects at 14. Others were in jail at 16 and are working to turn their lives around; still others are homeless. Some are separated from their families through our broken immigration system. In all, these delegates not only represent their schools and their generation, they also represent the ways that we as adults and we as a society are failing them. But on the positive side, they are all stories on the resilience of the human spirit and the possibilities and promise that this generation holds.  Over 3 days, most of these delegates really start to challenge their stereotypes and prejudices based on race, ethnicity, and gender. They connect with people they’d never talk to otherwise, and go outside of their comfort zones. They reflect upon and cherish this experience for the rest of their lives! Young people are not apathetic, they are smart, they are passionate, and they need our support. The problems we see with youth are just reflections of our own shortcomings, and it’s something we can fix by taking a little time to serve as mentors and having deeper, more open conversations with each other.

     

    I wish more people supported this program so it could reach even more Nevadans, but for now I’ll give what I can and wait for the next camp to come.

     

     

    Howard Watts III

    Field Director

    Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

     

  • Inocente

    PLAN organizer Christopher Preciado partnered with The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada to host a screening of the Academy Award winning documentary ‘Inocente’ and to discuss what its like to be an undocumented youth in Nevada, and what its like when that identity intersects with your queer identity.

     

    A question every organizer involved in the immigration reform battle has had to ask themselves is: “How are we going to get non-immigrants to care about immigrant related issues?”.

    The Center, serving the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, opened up their beautiful new building for a group of youth to screen the documentary ‘Inocente’. This Academy Award winning documentary provides a fresh perspective on the struggles faced by many undocumented youth living in the United States; a perspective that doesn’t focus on the usual political battles, but focuses purely on the life of an undocumented 15 year old named Inocente, who is trying her best to survive as she faces homelessness and deportation. Creating art is what she loves to do, and it keeps her sane in a world that has not been kind to her or her family. Inocente’s art manages to be quirky, beautiful, and emotional all at the same time. It is showcased throughout the film, which you can watch online by clicking here.

    UCNV Inocente Screening-5

    Youth at The Center listening intently as our panel of undocumented youth talk about their lives in Nevada.

    I am the lead organizer for PLAN’s Uniting Communities Nevada program. Uniting Communities is a project of the Western States Center that supports organizations like PLAN working in the racial justice and immigrant rights movements to proactively engage and include their members and constituencies who are LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) people of color. LGBTQ people of color have been leaders in movements for justice, from Bayard Rustin to Sylvia Rivera. Accepting, embracing and engaging LGBTQ people of color make racial justice groups stronger and represent their entire communities.

    Many of the youth who use the services of The Center are homeless, many are youth of color, some are undocumented, and of course most identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer, or a term that may be new to some “Undocuqueer”; an undocumented queer person. Undocuqueers often feel like they have to come out twice, once as LGBT or Q and then again as undocumented.

    After the Inocente screening we wanted to have a discussion about the film, but always move the conversation towards all the intersecting identities people of color and LGBTQs may or

    may not have and how that affects us in our daily lives. Our discussion was lead by Blanca, a 23 year old DREAMer from Sonora, Mexico; Rafael, a 24 year old DREAMer from Jalisco, Mexico; and Betzabe a 20 year old DREAMer from Guanajuato, Mexico. DREAMer refers to someone who is eligible for the DREAM Act; a bill that would allow undocumented youth not born in the United States, but brought here as young children, an opportunity to become citizens. All three of our panelists have lived in Southern Nevada for most of their lives.

    Betzabe talked about being an undocqueer, and how she had to come out twice; as undocumented and as a lesbian. She also talked about the racism and sexism she’s had to endure from people unaware of how she identifies, because her appearance, blonde hair and blue yes, she says she’s not your “typical looking Mexican.” Her story resonated with the entire room, the connection of having to “come out” as undocumented is something the entire room has, or for some, still is stru

    ggling with.

    Both Blanca and Rafael are well known DREAM activist who have been fighting not only for passage of the DREAM Act, but also for federal immigration reform so that their parents can remain in the United States. They both work for Hermandad Mexicana, a local non-profit organization that provides immigration services. They help DREAMers like themselves apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program President Obama announced last June that allows DREAMers to obtain a work permit and protects the

    m from deportation for up to two years.

    When asked why she feels American when she has no rights, and why she couldn’t just go back to her birth country, Blanca answered, “America is the only country I know. When I was growing up I pledged allegiance to the flag and have lived my life just like any other American kid. To say that you can just deport me and send me back to my country…that’s just not realistic.”

    Rafael who, like Betzabe identifies as Undocuqueer, provided great detailed background information on where we are currently in the federal immigration battle, as well as explaining in detail what DACA is, and what all members of the community can do to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together and is a benefit to all immigrations and undocumented Nevadans.

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    Blanca, Rafael and Betzabe

    The youth at The Center peppered the panel with questions. Many began to realize the many parallels between life of undocumented and LGBTQ youth. Eventually someone asked me for the number to their member of Congress. I was not expecting the room to want to become actively involved in the immigration reform battle so soon, but I gladly provided the information and am looking forward to many who attended the screening working with PLAN and our Keeping Families Together campaign for federal immigration reform.

    What was probably most touching out of the whole event was when one of the youth rose his hand and said he stopped saying the pledge of allegiance because there was never something in this country for him to be proud of – until he heard Blanca, Rafael, and Betzabe speak. They made him proud to be an American and he will now start saying the pledge of allegiance again. Outcomes like these keep me motivated to advancing the work that Uniting Communities Nevada provides. In order to accomplish something meaningful we must all work together and join forces – fighting the good fight.