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Republican Senator Ira Hansen (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

On The Record With NV Senator Ira Hansen

Sen. Hansen: ‘If we are in the super minority after the next election, it isn’t going to matter who the Governor is’

By Megan Barth, April 19, 2023 5:28 pm

Republican State Senator Ira Hansen (SD-14) is not keen on doing interviews. He prefers to state his views on social media so they are not “taken out of context or misconstrued by the media.” Having served in the legislature since 2010, his skepticism may stem from some controversy over comments he made 20-plus years ago as a talk show radio host and opinion columnist for the Sparks Tribune.

At the time, in 2014, Hansen’s comments drew national attention. Hansen apologized saying that it was “unfortunate” that his comments had been “taken out of context” and “portrayed as intentionally hurtful and disrespectful”, saying that “these comments made nearly 20 years ago” as an opinion columnist were “meant to be purposely provocative in various political, cultural and religious views.”

He charged that “this has been a carefully orchestrated attack to remove a conservative Republican from a major leadership role in State government. The deliberate character assassination and the politics of personal destruction have totally distorted my views and record.”

His above statement could be due to that moderate Republicans, in the following legislative session, passed the largest tax increase in Nevada’s history to “reform education.” The bill was signed by Republican Governor Sandoval. Since that time, Republicans have lost seats, the legislature has lost balance, and education has gone from 35th in the nation to 49th.

The door to Senator Ira Hansen’s personal, legislative office (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

Although leery of the press, Senator Hanson obliged to speak on the record with The Globe and did so in an expectedly candid manner. He had just exited the Senate floor after delivering a speech in strong defense of the Second Amendment and expanding conceal carry. His office door quickly informs visitors to his political stance. Flanked by a plaque of Booker T. Washington and a John Lott book on his desk, I asked him about his tenure, experience and opinions on the current legislative session.

This is what he had say:

The biggest change I have seen, where traditionally there was an attempt to be fair to both sides–even when the Democrats were in the majority– you saw hearings where both sides got to prevent the pros and cons of a bill. That has shifted to where now, especially in the Assembly, you literally only get to hear the proponents side of the bill.

Here’s an example. We had a hearing on a gun control bill. John Lott had agreed to testify and the committee only gave him one minute. The guy is a nationally recognized expert and I know for a fact, in the past…even if you’re in the opposition, you at least got some level of fairness.

The legislature is like a jury. Granted, I am not impartial, but we are still a jury. So, the prosecutor and defense make their cases, and after hearing the arguments from both sides, then we, as legislators, are supposed to vote in an educated way on a bill. But, if you were in a courtroom and all you ever heard was the prosecution’s side–who had an over an hour to tell you why the defendant is a bad and evil person—and, then the defense only gets one minute, what do you think the jury verdict is going to be?

That is what the Democrats have been doing here on the more controversial bills by deliberately limiting what their opponents can say.

I have complained about it, but there is a high number of inexperienced legislators who are chairs of committees. Consequently, they may not know the process.

We are obviously in the minority in both houses. We are so close to being the super minority in both houses. If one Republican senator goes AWOL on us, we are done. The Governor’s veto can’t be sustained, 2/3 votes can’t be blocked and that is what the Democrats realize, recognize and what they set up. The only reason the Senate isn’t in super minority status is because of the staggered election.

What is going to happen next time is that we are very likely going to lose two Senate seats because the Democrats changed the districts around so they have a substantial number of voters above Republican voters in certain districts. From experience, those numbers matter significantly.

If we are in the super minority after the next election, it isn’t going to matter who the Governor is.

There is not veto power anymore and there is no way for him to do anything.

I see this coming and it’s going to get even more scary…

The Democrats are going to produce a bill which would require the Governor to seek Senate approval for State appointments. They can pass a straight majority vote and they can do that perfectly legally in order to further hamstring the executive branch.

The Globe asked if he has seen a bill to support his prediction. Senator Hanson said he had not.

Asking him about legislation he has heard this session that may be reintroduced if the Democrats secure a super majority in the Senate, Senator Hansen replied:

One thing about the Democrats this legislative session, is that they aren’t Nevada Democrats in the sense that they are looking out for Nevada. The agenda in both houses is being pushed by the DNC, just like the maps. When the maps were drawn in the 2021 special session, the Democrats did not see the maps until the day we voted on them. Just like us. How do I know that? Because a Democrat, who is a major player, told us that.

It’s a legislative responsibility to draw the maps. So, if they hadn’t seen them, who drew them? I will tell you exactly who drew the maps. The DNC have years and years of experience in drawing district maps in such a way that you guarantee a Democratic supermajorities and that is what they did.

As reported by the Globe at that time, “everyone hates the maps” and Dina Titus announced that she was f*cked by the legislature when they approved the maps. It should also be noted that those responsible for drawing the maps were not, nor have, been publicly revealed.

Gov. Lombardo’s Chief Of Staff Ben Kieckhefer chats with Senator Ira Hansen. (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

Sen. Hansen continued:

So, what the Democrats are going to do is they are going to ride out this session, give the Governor minimum opportunity to advance his agenda or block their bad bills, and next session he will be totally neutered. They can then get their entire agenda pushed through and they won’t even care what Republicans think or say, including the Governor. They will have that kind of power.

There was a time in the building when there was a great deal of cooperation. I caught the tail end of it. If you go back to the days to when Bill Raggio was majority leader, the parties worked together for the state as a whole. That is gone. That is absolutely gone. and I believe who poisoned that well was Harry Reid. The Reid machine still has major power in this building. That poisoned things clear down to this day in my opinion. I actually watched Democrat legislators buck the machine and they got primary’d.

The Globe asked Sen. Hansen about the possibility of Democrats introducing and passing a state income tax. Sen. Hansen believed they will:

Yes, the Democrats will have a state tax implemented.

The Democrats have been pushing for a state income tax behind the scenes, and they are going to come up with something in the not-too-distant future which will expand the amount of taxes that are paid in Nevada. They are going to have to come after the small business community, property owners, and the rank and file….the people who make a little money, but don’t have the kind of money to hire lobbyists to protect them like the gaming industry does.

Here is the other problem we got. We have at least $9 billion dollars of federal dollars we received. $9 billion dollars. And we spent it all. Where is that $9 billion dollars going to come from next session? That is basically one-shot money from the federal government and we put it into all of our budgetary processes, and all the bureaus across the state, with no revenue stream to back fill it. Where the hell is this money going to come from?

That is something to think about.  Where is the revenue stream going to come from next session? We spent money like drunken sailors this time.

The Democrats are going to hold the most controversial bills till the end of this session and even if the Governor vetos them they will bring them back around in the next session to see if we want to sustain the veto, but they will block the Governors veto and this will include tax laws.

However, if legislation isn’t being driven by the DNC, then there is some sort of flexibility.

For example, the medical malpractice bill was defeated in committee because there were several local Democrats who killed the bill.  The environmental bills, especially the ones that will devastate the mining industry, may also be the exception. They can’t afford to do it unless it is being driven by a national agenda.

Senator Ira Hansen stands in opposition to SJR 7 (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

This answer provided a perfect segway to the address to the legislature by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. As reported by the Globe, her speech was heavy on bipartisanship with a specific emphasis on mining and minerals for the green, EV revolution.

Senator Hanson told The Globe:

I didn’t see that speech coming. I sent a letter to her Chief of Staff saying it was a great speech as it was a pro-rural Nevada speech. It was a short, pro-mining address. If we are going to push the green energy agenda, we have to expand lithium production and mining. With people like her behind the scenes, trying to moderate the more extreme ones in the legislature, I think some of those environmental bills will die. If the DNC were pushing these bills, Masto wouldn’t have given a speech like that.

Do you think the supermajority is only possible because of the redrawn maps? What Senate Districts are in play?

Yes, without a doubt. Heidi Gansert’s and Carrie Buck’s were the most manipulated and saturated with Democrat voters. The Democrats took much of Gansert’s base and put it in mine, which didn’t need it. What should have been done is that they could have been fair and taken saturated Republican districts with a +20 advantage, like mine, and made things fairer. But, that isn’t their goal. Their goal was to create super Republican districts and gerrymander districts into a Democratic supermajority. You are supposed to have an equal right to representation in these halls, but that is not what was designed.

One party rule is a miserable experience as a legislator. It is a humiliating process to grovel to get a minor bill through and then they ignore your voting because your superfluous.

Yet, the Republican party did very well in the midterms. The party was very competitive in state districts and we got a Republican Governor, Lieutenant Governor and State Controller. We have the mandate in Nevada because there were a higher number of Republicans that voted in the Assembly and Senate Races, yet my wife sits in the super minority in the Assembly. The Republican party did a great job of getting out their voters, but the Democrats drew the maps.

To get it back to where it is fair, and the people are properly represented, is going to take a lawsuit.

What can also straighten this out is…the first thing we will get on the next ballot is election integrity. We will get a ballot initiative like Voter ID to drive and excite the Republican base. Our base will turn out in a disproportionate amount and turn out in the marginal races. I know there are big players who are supporting a ballot initiative for election integrity and that is going to happen.

The next ballot initiative could be a  bipartisan commission to draw the maps, an initiative from The League of Women Voters. There needs to be a fairer process for elections.

And with that, the bell rang signaling the Senate was called to resume their session and Senator Hansen, although in the minority, had likely much more to say to his colleagues across the aisle.

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