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Lawmakers, students brave freezing temps for taxes

By Deb Weinstein

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 16 2011 6:01 p.m. MDT

Protesters J.T. Creedon, left, and Tyler Egeland set up a tent Monday, May 16, 2011, at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. About 60 people are expected to participate in a three-day event organized by advocates who support a Democratic tax package.

Cathleen Allison, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Lawmakers, lobbyists and students claimed camping spots feet from the Legislature's doors Monday as they prepared for an overnight campaign to show support for a Democratic tax package they say would raise $1.2 billion and stabilize Nevada's tax structure.

The three-day event, which includes two overnights and face-to-face meetings with lawmakers, was drawing members of Progress Now Nevada, the Nevada Women's Lobby, students and public sector union members.

At least five lawmakers committed to spending a night outdoors.

Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, staked out a spot under a tree Monday after being told the Wi-Fi reception was solid. He loaned a winter sleeping bag to another camper Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, and fellow Democratic Sens. Moe Denis and Reuben Kihuen of Las Vegas were among the roster of lawmakers who committed to roughing it for a night.

Laura Martin, organizer of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said the state needs a tax plan to support education and infrastructure.

"Cuts need to be made, yes, but we're from Vegas and there are parts that look like bombed-out Afghanistan," she said.

"Governing is not just staking out a position and saying no," she said of Gov. Brian Sandoval's no tax stance. "It's about compromise."

Standing behind a makeshift kitchen that included a tea kettle and a power strip connected to a generator, Martin said churches and unions donated provisions that included granola bars and cases of water.

"We have to be able to tweet," she said, explaining the power strip that was charging two phones.

Leliana DeLeon, 22, said she is camping to protect her education as well as that of her 2-year-old daughter.

"Education is what puts us on the map. It shouldn't even be a question of priorities," she said. DeLeon, who is studying radiology and biology, said she is fasting as part of her protest because "education is what we are hungry for."

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