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Group grades lawmakers, governor on racial equity

By Sandra Chereb

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 21 2011 4:20 p.m. MST

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada lawmakers as a whole showed progress toward closing the gap of racial disparities in areas of education, health, economics and civil rights during the 2011 legislative session, a liberal advocacy group said Monday, but Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval received a poor grade.

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada issued a report card rating lawmakers for their votes on 15 bills and legislation sponsorship. Sandoval, in the first year of his first term, was judged on whether he vetoed the measures or signed them into law.

The Senate and Assembly, both controlled by Democrats, approved the 15 bills. Sandoval vetoed seven.

Twenty-six of the 42 Assembly members received a score of 90 percent of higher, while 16 received 58 percent or lower.

In the Senate, 10 members scored 90 percent or higher, 10 scored below 48 percent, and one received 84 percent.

Sandoval received a grade of 53 percent.

"We need the governor to show a little more courage, a great deal more compassion in his decisions," PLAN executive director Bob Fulkerson said at a news conference.

Sandoval's office had no immediate comment on the report, but a senior adviser took exception to the group's criticism of his veto of AB137, which would have required some schools to have a breakfast program.

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to the governor, said the state already has a breakfast program for hungry children, and that the governor vetoed the bill because it would have mandated they receive meals in the classroom.

PLAN executives said the report was not intended to label anyone as a racist, but to point out how legislation affects minorities and the state's most vulnerable.

Jan Gilbert, a PLAN coordinator, said the overall report showed progress from 2009, when only 10 bills were evaluated.

"We have a long way to go but we feel there was improvement this session," she said.

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