ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 39 – JIM WHEELER
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Assembly District 39 includes all of Storey County, all of Douglas County and western Lyon County. There are two candidates in this Primary race, Robin Reedy and incumbent Jim Wheeler. Both responded to this interview.
1. Give a brief summation of your professional and political background.
• Incumbent Assemblyman, District 39.
• Former Executive Committee Member, Douglas County Republican Central Committee
• Citizen (unpaid) Lobbyist, 76th Legislative Session for the Republican Party and Nevada Legislative Action Committee.
• Co-Chair, Candidate Recruitment Committee, DCRCC
My professional experience is all in the private sector. I started working on the family ranch at a very young age and got my first paying, part time job at 14yrs old, working in a gas station. Realizing I wasn’t making enough money to reach my goal of buying a car, I got another part time job working in a veterinary hospital. I was able to buy that car at 15yrs old. I believe that work ethic has carried over into both my private end political life.
I joined the Air Force toward the end of the Vietnam Era and was assigned to the 443rd Military Airlift Wing.
I started a high performance auto parts manufacturing firm in 1990 and grew it rapidly. I was named CEO by the board of Directors in 1991 and held that position until the sale of the company in 2005. During and after that time, I also owned 2 small horse and cattle operations, one in Nevada and one in Texas.
2. Define your district – geographic boundaries, demographic makeup, and political balance.
District 39 encompasses all of Storey and Douglas Counties as well as a portion of Lyon County from the Carson City line to 6 Mile Canyon Road. This is a heavily Republican, Conservative District with a 19 point Republican advantage.
3. If this is your first time running for office (or this position), why are you running for this position? If you are an incumbent, what have been your top accomplishments as a legislator?
During the last session, my top priority was to represent the wishes of my constituents. Coming from what is arguably the most conservative district in Nevada, I believe I accomplished this goal. I was named the #1 conservative in Nevada by the American Conservative Union (a title I shared with Assemblyman Ellison from Elko) the #1 conservative in N. Nevada by the Nevada Policy Research Institute and the #1 conservative in N. Nevada by Citizens Outreach.
Each and every bill I sponsored either reduced the size of government or its scope of influence over our lives.
4. What makes you more qualified to serve in this position than your opponent?
My experience in the private sector gives me a viewpoint that my opponent cannot possibly have as a career government employee. Nevada still finds itself at the bottom of the list as a job creation state and at the top of the unemployment list. The policies that have been instituted by our state government have proven to be ineffective in drawing new business to Nevada and need to be changed.
5. There is a well-publicized, on-going philosophical split among many in the Republican Party. Describe your political philosophy in relation to this ‘moderate’ conservative versus ‘tea party’ conservative divide.
I am not one to label myself as a “moderate” or as a “Tea Party” Legislator. I firmly believe that an elected official should strive to represent the wants and wishes of his/her constituents. I am a staunch conservative from a very conservative district and will continue to represent my constituents in such a manner.
6. What do you see as the three most important issues related to your district?
Earlier in the campaign I released my “Contract With Nevada” that outlines my legislative priorities for this session:
Contract With Nevada
1. Create a better business climate in Nevada.
A. Ask the Governor to not renew the employee payroll tax (sunsets).
B. Repeal the Prevailing Wage.
C. Repeal the state business license fee.
2. Create a better healthcare system in Nevada.
A. Close down Nevada’s Obamacare exchange and open a competitive website (to the Federal Exchange that will take its place) based on free market principles.
B. Repeal the Medicaid expansion that was included in Obamacare.
C. Pass meaningful lawsuit‐abuse reform laws that will minimize frivolous lawsuits.
3. Work toward a better education system in Nevada.
A. Implement parental school choice through the use of vouchers.
B. Pass a clear and unambiguous parent trigger law that will allow underperforming schools to be converted to charter schools.
C. Opt out of the federal Common Core Standards.
7. As a legislator, you are allowed to present a specific number of bills during the legislative session. Do you have any specific bills in mind?
Please see the Contract With Nevada above.
8. What is your position in regards to the taxes imposed in 2009 that were to ‘sunset’ in 2011, but were re-approved by the 2011 and 2013 legislature?
I voted against the ‘sunset’ taxes and will do so again. I believe Nevada can live within its means by looking at the budget from a zero based perspective that will make each department head justify all expenditures. Also, as you can see in my Contract With Nevada, there are many places where the state can save money by getting rid of programs that have proven to be ineffective. I have also signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, guaranteeing I will not vote for any raise in taxes. My opponent has so far refused to do so.
9. How would you address improving the performance of Nevada’s public schools.
In my opinion, the best way to address the problem with our schools in Nevada is to return control to the local districts. It is the local school boards and parents who need to be in control of our children’s education. Not some government bureaucrat. We can accomplish this by adhering to section 3 of my Contract With Nevada, above.
10. To what degree should the State support Charter Schools and those students opting to attend a school outside their district? Do you support universal school vouchers, providing the money goes to the student/parent and not to any particular school?
As I said in my answer above, school choice is paramount to revamping our failing school system in Nevada.
11. The State Legislature has found innovative ways to circumvent the state law banning the passing down of unfunded mandates to local governing entities. What is your position in regards to using such actions to fund state needs?
Unfunded mandates are just another way to tax Nevada families and businesses. I have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that states I will vote against any and all new taxes. Unfunded mandates are, in my opinion, included in this pledge.
12. What is your position in regards to increasing Nevada’s minimum wage?
Minimum wage has traditionally applied to entry-level positions where the employee is learning the skills to advance in life. Nevada currently has a law in place that puts our minimum wage at $1 over the federal minimum wage. While this in not a living wage for someone trying to support a family, it was never intended to be. If we were to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10 per hour, I believe it would put an undue burden on Nevada families in the form of increased prices for goods and services.
13. Do you believe the gaming and mining industries pay ‘their fair share’ in contributing to the state’s economy? Explain.
Gaming and Mining are the two largest industries in Nevada. Both have ‘special’ tax rates within Nevada law and the Nevada Constitution. Most people are under the impression that these ‘special’ rates are protection for these industries, while nothing could be farther from the truth. Mining and Gaming pay a tax rate much higher than other industries in the state. These ‘special’ rates are there to protect the state’s revenue stream.
When gaming was made legal in Nevada, there was virtually no competition in the rest of the country for this industry. Now there is competition throughout the world. As with any other business, if it is more profitable to do business in another location, the owners of these establishments will invest in the most profitable location. More taxes on this industry will be counterproductive.
Mining also pays a higher tax rate than other industries in Nevada, as is guaranteed by our Constitution. Mining is the largest employer of high-paying jobs in Northern Nevada. To raise the tax on this industry would also be counterproductive. The argument has been made that Nevada is where the minerals are and therefore mining will not move out of state if there is a raise in taxes. In my opinion, this argument is false given the fact that only 4% of minable minerals are in Nevada. Common sense tells us that if it is more profitable to move an operation to a place where profits are higher, the mining industry will do so, devastating many local economies in Nevada.
14. With annual approval by Congress required, the Federal government pays state and local governments for the public lands (exempt from local taxation) within their jurisdiction (P.I.L.T.). Approximately 87-percent of Nevada is owned by Federal entities. Define your position in regards to states taking control of (Federal government relinquishing ownership to) all or a portion of these lands.
All Nevada lands that are currently under federal ‘ownership’ should be returned to Nevada. These lands can be better managed by the state thus increasing our state revenues. Lands that are currently managed by the BLM can be used for grazing, recreation, industry and other uses. These revenue streams would then flow to the state. The federal government should then be allowed to lease or purchase some of these lands such as where current military bases are located, replacing the P.L.I.T. revenues. Other lands should be set aside for some of the same purposes they now have, such as hunting, grazing, mining and other uses.
This is why I cosponsored the Nevada Lands Bill in the last session that urges Congress to return our lands to the rightful owner, the State of Nevada.
15. In 1979 Nevada passed a bill legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It was repealed eight years later (1987). What is your position in regards to Nevada once again legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes? Legalizing the sale of marijuana, period?
Until such a time as marijuana is removed from federal law as a schedule-one narcotic, I don’t believe that it should be legalized in the state. I voted against this bill in the last session. If a case can be made to the medical benefits of this drug, then it should be removed from the federal schedule-one narcotics list and sold through traditional outlets for prescription drugs such as pharmacies where dosages and prescriptions can be tightly controlled.
16. It appears that millions of acres of Nevada lands are destined to have the sage grouse (among other species) listed as a protected species. What is your position in regards to this issue? Explain.
If the sage grouse is listed as a protected species, it could be devastating to rural communities in Nevada. Studies have already shown that predator control will solve the problem of dwindling sage grouse populations. This is where we need to concentrate our efforts.
Currently, part of the fees for hunting licenses in Nevada goes to predator control. During the last session, there was a bill that would have diverted some of these fees to yet another study instead of predator control. I fought against this bill.
17. Define your position on fracking and other means of oil exploration in Nevada. Do you support coal fired plants?
Fracking is not a new technology as most people think. It has been used for decades in deep, hard to get to deposits. As of this time, there has not been even one proven example of fracking hurting the ground water tables by a reputable company, in as much as the fracking takes place below the water tables and regulations are extremely rigid.
There has been a recent discovery of oil and natural gas in Northeastern Nevada that could help relieve our dependence on foreign oil, create hundreds of high paying jobs, and add much needed revenue to the state general fund. While regulations must be kept stringent, these deposits need to be harvested.
18. In efforts to bring new businesses to Nevada, the Catalyst Fund was established. This is funded by state tax dollars. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development receives and then votes on applications from businesses and, through local governmental entities, subsidizes those selected. What is your position in regards to the Catalyst Fund? Do you have other ideas to encourage new businesses to locate in Nevada?
I don’t believe the state government should be in the business of picking winners and losers. When we give subsidies to certain businesses to come to Nevada, we are hurting current Nevada companies that are competing with these businesses and creating an unfair playing field.
What we should be doing, is creating a business friendly atmosphere throughout the entire state. This includes low taxes and fees for all businesses. Companies will come to states where their long-term cost of business is the lowest.
19. Do you support “campus carry” legislation allowing licensed CCW permit holders over the age of 21 to carry their weapons on Nevada college and university campuses? Would you extend the same right to secondary school campuses?
I do support campus carry. I was one of the co-sponsors of AB-143 in the last session that would have allowed this. It is reprehensible to me that law-abiding citizens are unable to protect themselves from criminals.
20. If there is any issue that you are concerned about that has not been addressed in this interview, this is your opportunity to address it: