Harry unplugged: On a Sandoval challenge, NV Energy, federal web poker failure and more

After his speech to the Legislature this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met briefly with reporters and made some interesting comments.

Some of them have been reported, but the full extent of his remarks are below in a transcript I have obtained and lightly edited.

My favorites:

----Classic Reid in exchange over the possibility Gov. Brian Sandoval may run against him:

Reporter: Do you think Governor Sandoval is going to run against you 2016?

Senator Harry Reid: Oh, I don’t know. You know, I started running in 1966 and I have had quite a list of people running against me. So, I don’t worry about that kind of stuff.

Reporter: Would he be a worthy contender?

Senator Harry Reid:  Oh sure, everybody’s worthy.

Reporter: Could you beat him?

Senator Harry Reid: I don’t involve in fights that I don’t have to.

Reporter: But you’re a boxer.

Senator Harry Reid: But I’m not stupid.

----His assault on NV Energy in his speech was mild compared to what he said at the presser; "Well, they don’t see a problem dumping 47 years of coal dust on an Indian tribe either. So, I like the Indians, so.  I am not a big fan of coal fired generation facilities and I have been able and one of the things I am happy I’ve been able to stop a number of those new ones from being built.  I think that when I say that NV Energy could go the next eight or ten years and not build a single renewable energy project and still meet the portfolio standard.  I think something is wrong and if the Legislature, I can’t change it.  I wish I could, but the Legislature should take a look at this.  You know what?  We have in Nevada what is called a “regulated monopoly”.  NV Energy is a monopoly.  They control all the electricity in the state and they should be as concerned about the health and welfare of the state as they do about how much money they make for their shareholders."

----On why a federal poker bill failed: "It could be the Republicans."

----On the governor, whom he praised in his speech, too: " I like Brian Sandoval. I think he is trying to do the right thing."

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Here's the transcript:

Reporter:  Senator, you were asking for the dissolving of term limits.  A lot of those folks in there got in there because of term limits.

Senator Harry Reid:  I believe that term limits is very un-American.  I quote my friend, Republican Senator from Oregon, Gordon Smith, wonderful man.  I served two terms with him.  He was president of the Oregon State Senate.  He said that was his number one project, term limits.  He said the biggest political mistake he ever made in his life.  Here are his words, “all it did was dumb down the legislature.”  I think that having term limits is wrong and I don’t think it helps the Legislature to lose Townsend and the Raggios of the word, such a mistake.

Reporter:  You didn’t mention NV Energy by name when you talked about closing the loophole, why?

Senator Harry Reid:  Who could I have been talking about?  I said, “The largest utility.”

Reporter:  So that is going to take changing state law, I mean.

Senator Harry Reid:  Right.

Reporter:  Senator, when you were talking about voter ID laws, you kind of mentioned voter ID/photo ID kind of broadly.

Senator Harry Reid:  I broadly said that the things that went on this last election cycle, where they did everything they could to keep people from voting.  States like Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin where you had these Republican Governors doing everything they could to cut back turn out. Shortening early voting, shortening the time people could vote and photo ID.  This is something to stop people who are poor.  They are minorities and old, from voting.

Reporter:  Is this a rejection of Secretary of State Ross Miller proposal?

Senator Harry Reid:  Well, I talked to Ross Miller earlier today and I told him how I felt.  He has got the plan and I told him to keep working on it.

Reporter:  Did you give the shout out to lessen the blow later on in the speech?

Senator Harry Reid:  No, I love the Millers.  Of course, I served with his father for many years.  Ross has done a good job, but I think that, you know, I am not making this up.  Eight election cycles and we have had ten cases of voter fraud in the country.  Where is the problem?

Reporter:  Senator, you said about term limits you were “dumbing down the legislature”?

Senator Harry Reid:  Gordon Smith said that, I didn’t.

Reporter:  Oh.

Reporter:  Senator Reid, on the stadium proposal in Southern Nevada, there are more than one.  Is there one in particular you favor, the city one or the university one?

Senator Harry Reid:  No. And I was very careful in saying that I don’t choose which one, but people have to get together.  Vegas needs one and they should have one.

Reporter:  Back to NV Energy, they just gave a statement saying they are continuing these renewable energy programs.  They stand by them.  From this statement, NV Energy doesn’t see a problem.  What do you say to that?

Senator Harry Reid:  Well, they don’t see a problem dumping 47 years of coal dust on an Indian tribe either. So, I like the Indians, so.  I am not a big fan of coal fired generation facilities and I have been able and one of the things I am happy I’ve been able to stop a number of those new ones from being built.  I think that when I say that NV Energy could go the next eight or ten years and not build a single renewable energy project and still meet the portfolio standard.  I think something is wrong and if the Legislature, I can’t change it.  I wish I could, but the Legislature should take a look at this.  You know what?  We have in Nevada what is called a “regulated monopoly”.  NV Energy is a monopoly.  They control all the electricity in the state and they should be as concerned about the health and welfare of the state as they do about how much money they make for their shareholders.

Reporter:  Senator, are you still not commenting on the Henderson land deal that fell apart because that involved a sports complex at one time?

Senator Harry Reid:  Yeah, no.  My son is involved in that.

Reporter:  Senator, when it comes to adequately funding education in Nevada the taxing online sales transactions would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state.  You that is a priority for you and the votes are there.  When is that going to happen?

Senator Harry Reid:  I’m going to do it as quickly as I can and we have a problem with, it is not only the Republicans on this one.  So I am working through that.  We have more than enough to pass it.  If I don’t get cooperation from a couple of senior members, I will do it without them.

Reporter:  Does it become part of the sequester deal?

Senator Harry Reid:  No.

Reporter:  Senator, regarding online poker deal.  Efforts kind of fell apart and fizzled in Congress.  Everybody was optimistic the feds could get it done and you couldn’t get it done.  Nevada is now trying to go it alone and pass legislation so they can set up their own compacts with other states.

Senator Harry Reid:  Well, Nevada doesn’t have a choice unless the federal government does something.  So I think that what Governor Sandoval has been working out with the Legislature, it is my understanding he is working on this with William Horne, I think that is right. And I think they have a tentative agreement on how to move forward, but I don’t know what that is. But I don’t blame him, I would do that too.  We should have done it on a federal level.  There are a lot of reasons we didn’t.  I met with the Nevada delegation last week and we are going to try to figure out a way forward.

Reporter:  Why did it collapse?

Senator Harry Reid:  I am not going to go through all of that again.  It just didn’t happen.  It could be the Republicans. You know, I’ve already said that.

Reporter:  Are you going to run for re-election in 2016?

Senator Harry Reid:  Sure, why not?

Reporter:  I was just asking.

Reporter: How do you think Governor Sandoval feels being praised twice in your speech?

Senator Harry Reid: I like Brian Sandoval. I think he is trying to do the right thing. It’s the two issues I mentioned that I think are important and I applaud what he is doing, trying to help the police in Clark County which is desperately what we need and to work out this Medicaid thing. He was one of the leaders in the country. He took a lot of brick bats out for doing, but it was the right thing.

Reporter: Any ideas where Nevada could find some more money for education?

Senator Harry Reid: No, the other states do it and there’s no reason we can’t also.

Reporter: What about the Sequestration deadline coming up?

Senator Harry Reid: It’s here.

Reporter: Are you going to be able to strike a deal?

Senator Harry Reid: Well, I have been trying. We have two votes next week. One a Republican put forward and I don’t know exactly what is. Ours would take down the Sequester for a year by having 50% tax revenue which would be the bucket plan for anyone making more than a million dollars a year would pay at least 30% in taxes and we would pay for the domestic non-defense cuts by getting rid of direct payments, which are so bad. You can be a rice farmer thirty years ago and now have a subdivision built upon your old rice plant acreage. They’ll get money for that. So, we are going to get rid of that. That’s why we put 28.5 billon dollars, that’s going to be ours then we slow down what happens in defense. I don’t know what Republicans are going to do.

Reporter: Senator, you talked about diversifying the US economy. What ways can we do that?

Senator Harry Reid: Well, I talked about some of them out there. I think what Tony Hsieh has done downstairs… I mean I’m not here all of the time. I study when I go to Downtown Las Vegas to see what one person has done. So, that is diversifying your economy. Renewable energy is a terrific step forward. But also understand, Nevada’s signature is tourism. We have to do everything we can to help. That’s why we talked about the stadium. We talked about a number of things, I think, would help them.

Reporter: Do you think Governor Sandoval is going to run against you 2016?

Senator Harry Reid: Oh, I don’t know. You know, I started running in 1966 and I have had quite a list of people running against me. So, I don’t worry about that kind of stuff.

Reporter: Would he be a worthy contender?

Senator Harry Reid:  Oh sure, everybody’s worthy.

Reporter: Could you beat him?

Senator Harry Reid: I don’t involve in fights that I don’t have to.

Reporter: But you’re a boxer.

Senator Harry Reid: But I’m not stupid.

(Laughs)

Reporter: So SJR 15…

Senator Harry Reid: I don’t know what that is.

Reporter: That would take mining tax out of the constitution. Would you support that? I mean mining tax has been in the constitution for a long time. You’re from Searchlight.

Senator Harry Reid: I think that is something for the legislation and mining people to work out at this time. If we have to do something at a federal level, I’ll step in but this is a state issue now.

Reporter: What about the Margins Tax from the teachers?

Senator Harry Reid: Margins Tax from the teachers? What does that do?

Reporter: It raises money for education.

Senator Harry Reid: How?

Reporter: From a Margins Tax on the business. It’s a new initiative.

Senator Harry Reid: I don’t know. You know, we have to find in the next few weeks in Washington we have to find about 600 billion dollars in new revenue. I’m going to focus on that and not what is happening in the state legislature. The people here are. I’ve stepped forward on something I fully understand. That’s why I’ve stepped forward on that. Sheriff of Clark County came to visit me and made really a lot of sense on moving a step forward. I know what the mining tax is. I know what teachers are doing, but I don’t understand that well. If I’m called upon to help in anyway, I’d be happy to do that. I’ve got to run to the airport now. One last question.                            

Reporter: You called the stadium a local issue in Clark County. What is the role in the legislature to help pay for that?

Senator Harry Reid: Well, that is to what they come up with in Clark County. As you know, it is not out of the question that the state legislature may be called upon to do something to help with the tax basis or something they can do on a federal level. That’s why I said the people of Clark County can work that out. If they need something up here, they got Sandoval. If they need something in Washington, they can talk to me.