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Victor Joecks: What I got right, wrong about 2017 legislative session

Making bold predictions about the Nevada Legislature is as risky as any casino wager — there are no, here’s a look back at the picks I got right and the predictions I’d rather have back.

Education Savings Accounts. ESAs were the defining issue of the legislative session — and were a mixed bag in terms of my prognosticating ability. After Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed just $60 million for ESAs in his State of the State speech, I wrote, “The proposed funding doesn’t bode well for Sandoval’s commitment to ESAs.”

I should have stuck with that.

But in early May, Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, said he thought Sandoval had legislative Republicans’ backs and would veto the state’s budget, if necessary, to get ESAs. Based on that, I predicted Nevada would get ESAs without a special session.

Nope. My initial distrust of Sandoval’s commitment to ESAs was wholly justified after he abandoned and embarrassed his legislative allies on the ESA issue.

Verdict: Right early. Wrong late.

Sanctuary state. Early in the session, Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, introduced SB223, which would have made Nevada a sanctuary state. It had 10 Democrat senators as primary or co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas. This should have made it a lock to at least get a hearing.

Instead, I predicted in mid-March that law enforcement opposition would kill the bill. Less than two weeks later, that opposition, combined with the efforts of Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, caused Ford to cancel a hearing on the bill before killing it entirely.

Verdict: Correct.

Minimum wage. On the second day of the 2017 session, I wrote that Democrats had two options on a minimum wage hike — try to get Sandoval to sign a comparatively smaller increase or propose a larger increase as a constitutional amendment that wouldn’t go into effect until 2021.

Constitutional amendments must receive approval in two consecutive legislative sessions and then receive voter approval.

After Sandoval made it obvious he would veto the $12-an-hour minimum wage increase contained in SB106, Democrats passed a $14-an-hour minimum wage constitutional amendment, SJR6, on the last day of session. Sandoval vetoed SB106.

Verdict: Correct

Veto predictions. In mid-May, I identified seven bills as being the “most likely to get a Sandoval veto.”

Three of the bills died in committee, and Sandoval vetoed the other four, including a bill to make some PERS records secret. Good riddance to all those proposals, although Democrats will bring many of them back in two years.

After the ESA deal fell apart, I predicted that Sandoval would issue a record number of vetoes. The total veto count isn’t out yet, so we’ll see if I made another mistake in trusting Sandoval to stand up for conservative priorities.

Verdict: Correct and TBD.

So do I get to keep my pundit card for another two years? Let me know your thoughts.

Victor Joecks is a columnist for the Las Vegas-Review-Journal. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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