Scorecard Rates Nevada Lawmakers on Environment

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Leaders of the Nevada Conservation League issued a scorecard Wednesday that they say will help voters decide which state legislators to support based on their environmental records.

"Unfortunately, today in Nevada there are legislators who are not paying attention to the environmental concerns of voters," said Grace Potorti, executive director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan league.

"You now have a way to find out if your legislators are in step with your conservation values or if they represent special interests that seek to thwart sound natural resource policy," she said.

Potorti singled out a pair of Republicans from Washoe County for having two of the worst voting records on a variety of environmental issues, including water resources, wildlife protection and regulation of hazardous materials.

Assemblywoman Sharron Angle of Reno scored 17 percent and Assemblyman Don Gustavson of Sparks 29 percent, she said.

Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley of Las Vegas was among the six lawmakers - all Democrats - who received perfect 100 percent ratings, along with Chris Giunchigiliani of Las Vegas, Sheila Leslie of Reno, Mark Manendo of Las Vegas, Harry Mortenson of Las Vegas and Sen. Maggie Carlton of Las Vegas.

The scorecard, a first at the state level in Nevada, resembles one the national League of Conservation Voters issues annually for members of Congress based on their voting records.

U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., who received a 9 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters for 2002, said the state group is "simply a stepchild" of the national group.

Potorti said the state group formed in 2001 has no formal affiliation with the League of Conservation Voters, but "we certainly do work with them." Ratings of Nevada lawmakers by the national League of Conservation Voters are included on the state group's Web site along with the new state scorecard.

Gibbons said the national group backs Democrats almost exclusively.

"I find it hard to believe a group could be affiliated with the League of Conservation Voters, which is a radical left-wing organization, and still have the chutzpah to call themselves nonpartisan," he said from Washington D.C.

"I was elected to Congress to represent the views and concerns of Nevada's 2nd District. I do not subject myself to the whims of a scorecard," he told The Associated Press.

State Senate Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, scored 57 percent in the new state report but was among those who were honored for "distinguished deeds" during the past legislative session.

Two other Republicans, Assemblyman Jason Geddes of Reno and Sen. Warren Hardy of Las Vegas, also were on that list along with Sen. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas.

"There's a great deal of concern about the environment in Nevada," said Frankie Sue Del Papa, former state attorney general who appeared at a news conference to announce the scorecard.

Tim Hay, Nevada's state consumer advocate who serves on the league's board, said legislative decisions about taxes and budgets "come and go."

"Decisions legislators make to protect our lands and air and water affect our generation and all the generations after us," he said.

Potorti said Gustavson's poor showing is significant because he lives in Sparks.

"It is a growing community with concerns about water resources and air quality. I think he's just out of tune with the people," she said.

Angle is out of step with an "environmentally-minded" district that includes part of Lake Tahoe's shore at Incline Village, Potorti said.

"Sharron Angle is clearly about big business, money and development," she said.

Gustavson did not immediately reply to a phone message left at his home. There was no answer at the only number Angle provides to the Legislature. Neither immediately responded to e-mail requests for comment.

Among other legislative leaders, House Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Las Vegas, scored 86 percent and Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, had 50 percent.


On the Net:

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