Interview conducted March 20, 2014
The Republican: What prompted you to run for the office of Lt. Governor?
Senator Hutchison: Well I will you that I was prompted to run for…a position within state government because of my experience in challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare. I was appointed by two Republican governors to represent the State of Nevada, pro bono and the legal challenge and the constitutional challenge to President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now known as ObamaCare. I saw first-hand and up close what President Obama meant when he was running for president when he said he was going to, quote fundamentally transform our system of government, period, close-quote. This was the first piece of legislation that came out of his admini…major piece of legislation that came out of his administration and it fundamentally changed the relationship between citizens and the United States Government. Never before in our country’s history had the federal government required citizens to buy a product in order to maintain their good standing as citizens.
We eventually were joined with twenty-six other states; there were a total of twenty-seven that challenged the constitutionality of ObamaCare and I took on that responsibility, that assignment gladly; it’s been one of the great privileges of my life and was a great experience for me, but I did so pro bono because I felt so strongly that our constitutional right were being eroded and challenged by the Federal Government. And that was manifested by this, this terrible law that continues to plaque our country. I saw the Federal Government and how it has moved far beyond its intended purpose and tis intended powers within the Constitution. I saw that the three branches of government within the Federal Government were not working, I think as the founding fathers intended them to work as checks and balances and as ways to maintain our liberties and freedoms. And I walked away from that experience thinking the last line of defense in liberty for our country is going to be within the states, and so I came back from that experience, ran for the state senate and wanted to be part of the bulwark against our erosion of constitutional rights within state government. I spent a session as state senator and was involved in pushing back against attempts to erode, further erode our constitutional rights; not only our Second Amendment rights, but our First Amendment rights, our Tenth Amendment rights. And following this session, the 2013 session, I was approached to think about running for the position of lieutenant governor and I thought very hard about that and my question at the time was, “Well what does the governor think about that”, because to me the lieutenant governor is in partnership with the governor. So I spoke to the governor who was very encouraging, and…I was honored that he endorsed me and has supported me, but I know that I’ve got to earn every single vote of every single Nevadan. And the reason that I seek this office now is the same reason that I sought a statewide office before and that is to protect and defend Nevadans constitutional rights against an overreaching and encroaching Federal Government.
The Republican: As Lt. Governor, you are responsible for the promotion of tourism. What are your plans for further promoting tourism.
Senator Hutchison: Well, I think that tourism is and continues to be, er, I’m sorry, is and will continue to be one of the great industries of our state, one of the backbones of our economy and we’ve got to do all that we can to promote tourism within the State of Nevada. I think there are multiple levels of promoting tourism within Nevada. The first level is for our traditional approach where we are bringing in those from within the nation, those internationally who come to Nevada for gaming purposes, for convention purposes and we need to continue to build on that traditional approach to tourism. We specifically need to increase our international tourism; we need to take that from 15 or 16 percent where is about now to be up, you know, the low 20 percent range, I think, is where many people and those that I have spoken to think that we should be with international tourism…if we do that we will have a tremendous increase in our international tourism and in our tourism in general within the State of Nevada. So I think that with tourism we have to play to our strength and we need to continue to play to our traditional focus on tourism that comes with Las Vegas and Reno in particular. However, I think that there is a particular focus and a particular mission for the Commission on Tourism to promote rural tourism. And I think that we to do much more promotion if rural tourism. I think that we should increase our focus and our emphasis on rural tourism. Both Reno and Las Vegas have well established, you know, conventions and visitor authorities that really help with their tourism. And I think that the Commission on Tourism can play a prime role for rurals to focus on the great opportunities that we have throughout rural Nevada. And for each county and for each location across the State of Nevada really demonstrate the unique features and attributes of those locations and promote the rural tourism in a meaningful way. And I have had numerous meetings with commissioners on the…Commission on Tourism, I’ve met with former executive directors, I’ve been endorsed by the former director…the former executive director of the Commission on Tourism and I’m proud to have his support. And he’s underscored my own goals of increasing rural tourism.
The Republican: As Lt. Governor, you would be elevated to the office governor should that seat become vacant. The following questions are posed to you as if were on that seat.
The Republican: Over the years, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution has been diluted by the Federal Government with the doling out of money as a way to control behavior. What would you do as Governor to strengthen Nevada's right under the 10th Amendment to be free from undue influence by Washington?
Senator Hutchison: Well, I’m a big supporter and believer in the 10th Amendment. As a state senator I co-sponsored a bill that specifically made clear the Nevada is a sovereign and is not simply and appendage to Federal Government. And we need to start with that that attitude and that belief that Nevada is a sovereign and is just as much a sovereign as the United States of America. We have 51 sovereigns in this country; the United States of America and then the 50 states. We don’t have one sovereign and I believe that the great legal battle and the great political battle of the next decade is going to be whether or not we continue to exhibit features of our own sovereignty or whether or not we will become a ward of the federal government. And so I believe strongly in the 10th Amendment. I think one of the major responsibilities of an executive branch officer, under our Constitution, is to push back against an out-of-control, overreaching Federal Government. There are numerous examples of the government, the Federal Government has overreached. In addition to ObamaCare which is the obvious example, in the State of Nevada itself we have the Federal Government owns 85 percent of our public lands. It’s the most federal land ownership among the 50 states. We have a federal government that is about to list the Sage Grouse or the Sage Hen as an endangered species, or as a threatened species. We have a Federal Government that controls our water. We have a Federal Government that control our environmental policies. All of these have grave consequences on Nevada and its economy. If the Sage Grouse gets listed as either endangered or threatened, for example, rural Nevada is going to incredibly threatened because it will adversely impact mining, it will adversely impact agriculture, ranching, power transmission. And so we have to, as a sovereign state, push back against the Federal Government that’s going to have such negative…it’s going to take actions that will have such a negative impact on our state, so I believe that we do that din a very specific way. A lot of candidates will say that the Federal Government is out of control, a lot of candidates will say we’ve got to assert our sovereignty, but I have a specific approach to Nevada asserting its sovereignty and it is based on my experience representing the State of Nevada in the ObamaCare litigation where we challenged the constitutionality of that federal law. And that is to do what we did with ObamaCare…put together, excuse me…organize a coalition of like-minded states, many of them will certainly be in the west, but others can be from other parts of this country, and I think will be from other parts of the country, that believe that both state’s interests are at risk because of what the Federal Government is doing. And we them use that political clout, and that political muscle to push back against the Federal Government. We use our federal delegation to help us do that, but at the end of the day when we can’t find a political solution, then we have to assert our sovereignty legally. And…proceed in federal court and have the court rule that the State of Nevada is a sovereign and the Federal Government cannot intrude upon our sovereignty. I belong to an organization called the American Lands Council which purpose…which as a purpose of pushing back against the Federal Government on federal land issues, and asked this question: Why is it that for states east of the Rocky Mountains, the average federal land ownership is between three and five percent, but west of the Rocky Mountains it’s fifty, sixty, eighty-five percent, We don’t believe within the American Lands Council that situation can be justified legally or politically or constitutionally. And so, that organization is pushing back and bring together like-minded public officials and states to transfer land back to the states; it’s just like public lands that were transferred back to the states east of the Rock Mountains. I believe that that is going to be one of the great additional fights in the next decade. And it will be a great economic engine for the State of Nevada to get more of the federal lands that are currently controlled by the Federal Government transferred to the State.
The Republican: During the past session of the Legislature, there were many bills brought that related to the protection of 2nd Amendment rights. One of the most controversial of those, known as the Campus Carry, and it died in committee despite the testimony of rape survivor, Amanda Collins. If you were governor, would you sign or veto such a bill and why?
Senator Hutchison: Well, I’m a life member of the National Rifle Association. I was, or I am, a member of the American Eagle, excuse me, a member of the Golden Eagle Association. I’m a concealed carry weapons permit holder. And I’m somebody who is a ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. I was opposed to SB221 which would have created a gun registry within the State of Nevada. I gave speech about that on the Senate floor. And I believe strongly in our Second Amendment rights. I believe that Americans have the right to carry weapons as long as it consistent with both federal and state law. If there was a law that was presented for “campus carry” I would support that law.
The Republican: The two previous Nevada Legislatures extended the "Sunset" taxes, the 620 million dollars. If you were governor, would you sign that legislation or veto it and why?
Senator Hutchison: Well, the extension of the Sunsets came up during the last legislative session and was presented to Republican senators by the governor And he has said during the course of the session, I think even before that, that without the extension of the Sunsets there would be a 650 million dollar deficit and budget hole that could not be filled any other way. And so we were asked to support the extension of the Sunsets. When a Republican governor who is the head of our party, who says that without the extension without the extension of the Sunsets, our education system would be in grave jeopardy, asks, asked me for support in extending the Sunsets. I did so. I did so with the anticipation that we would sunset these taxes as soon as possible. I did so with the provision that we would increase the threshold for the payment of those taxes to a point where now seventy-four percent of businesses in Nevada do not pay the Modified Business Tax. And I would…I am a very strong supporter of education and I believe that education is to the state government what national defense is to the Federal Government, this is you gotta get it right. It’s just a way by which our citizens are gonna be upwardly mobile. And I think Nevada…and our public officials always have to be very careful that we ensure that our students receive the best education possible.
The Republican: Nevada's constitution is unique in that it was sent to Washington by way of telegraph; all 16,000 + words in 1864. It is also unique because it contains verbiage singling out one industry for what seems special consideration regarding taxation. A referendum will be on the 2014 ballot to remove this special consideration. Assuming you were at the ballot box today, how would you vote on this referendum?
Senator Hutchison: Well, I am a constitutional lawyer and I believe that the people of the State of Nevada should be able to decide what is in the constitution. And…as a result I supported the idea of having the people of the State of Nevada in this…election cycle decide whether or not the caps on net proceeds for mining should remain in the constitution or not. So I felt very strongly in the process by which the constitution or our state is amended or the constitution of our state is…approved by the citizens of the State of Nevada. So having said that, I supported the efforts to raise the question on the ballot and leave it to the people of the State of Nevada to make the decision for themselves. I will say this, mining is one of the most important industries on our state, it is absolutely essential that we keep mining strong. I’m a big proponent of mining and believe that before anybody does anything related to mining that they think very seriously about whether or not it’s going to hurt mining; whether we’re going to be able to keep mining strong and robust in this state and continue to see that industry be a very important part of our economy in the State of Nevada which I hope the citizens of the State of Nevada will…will fully support and will fully embrace, as one of the great and most important industries in the State of Nevada.
The Republican: When ratified, the Constitution provided that two senators be appoint by their state legislature. That changed in 1913 with the ratification of the seventeenth amendment and provided for those seats to be filled by popular election. Mark Levin, in his book, "The Liberty Amendments", suggests that we repeal the seventeenth amendment and return to appointment by the legislature. Would you support Levin's position, if not why not?
Senator Hutchison: Okay, I’m ready to…yeah. I think Mr. Levin has suggest repealing the 17th Amendment because he’s concerned about, really, the lack of…state’s rights at the federal level. And I think that gets to the heart of his feeling about the 17th Amendment. I know that historically the reason for the 17th Amendment was because there were many instances, at least perceived instances where state legislatures would appoint those who were less than qualified, perhaps, those who were engaged in influence with state legislators that wouldn’t be appropriate and so, as a result, the 17th Amendment came to pass which required the citizens of the s…the citizens of the United States to change amend the Constitution and they felt like they needed more popular representation with the senators at the United States federal level. I don’t know that I would be in support of a complete repeal of the 17th Amendment, you know, just by waving a magic wand. I would be supportive of allowing the states to, by the process permitted by the United States Constitution, to come together and to determine within their state legislators whether they would like to do that on a state by state basis. And if there is sufficient numbers, if there is three quarters that decide that they wanted to amend the Constitution back to the way it was, I’m all in favor of the people of the United States being able to make that decision. But again, you don’t do it by waving a magic the wand, you would go through the amendment process set forth in the United States Constitution. I will say that I am very sympathetic to the idea that state’s rights need to be asserted much more against the federal government. As I said before, the federal government is out of control. It is overreaching and the states need to assert their sovereignty. One way they could do that is to get a sufficient number of state legislators to pass a constitutional amendment taking away the popular vote by which a U.S. senator is elected and have the state legislators appoint those positions again. But that would be consistent with the process laid out the United States Constitution.
The Republican: The sitting president has issued over 923 executive orders in five and a half years, many of them severely restricting liberties and freedoms in case of an "emergency situation". If the president through yet another executive order, require that all guns should be turned in, would you as the governor carry out that order?
Senator Hutchison: Well, here’s, here’s what I think about that. One of the great criticisms of the current administration is that this administration will not execute the law. As the Executive Branch of government, its job is to execute and enforce the law as required in the United States Constitution. The…the President of the United States cannot legislate; it is unconstitutional for the president to legislate and in order for the President of the United States to enact some sort of restrictions on the 2nd Amendment, as is suggested by the question, I don’t believe would ever be found to be constitutional. So I don’t think it would be a constitutional act. If, in fact, there were attempts to limit the 2nd Amendment, it would have to be through legislative process, and even those attempts may be determined to be unconstitutional. So in summary, any efforts by the Executive Branch at the United States government level, to repeal or to seriously curb American’s 2nd Amendment rights would be unconstitutional and would not be valid.
The Republican: This is from the 2012 Nevada Republican State Platform: "We believe the residents of the State of Nevada are not under-taxed and that state government is not under-funded, and our current budget crisis is the result of years of overspending. We oppose raising taxes or fees of any kind to fund the current budget shortfall. We do not believe government can tax the state or the residents into prosperity."
Given that statement, should you become the Governor and the legislature passed a bill to extend the $620 million in taxes, would you sign it or veto it and why?
Senator Hutchison: Well, I’ve already expressed my feelings about, about the Sunsets, so I’ll just leave my…answer about the Sunsets and the extension of the Sunsets as is. Let me say this. I am a fiscal conservative and I believe that we need to be as efficient, as a government, as possible. I think there is a lot of waste and abuse within the governmental system that can be eliminated. I believe completely with the i[dea] with the concept that we cannot tax our way to prosperity. And so I would always look for opportunities to save the taxpayers money to be more efficient and to be more effective with which we deliver governmental services.
The Republican: The Nevada Republican Party is splintered right now with one side "going along to get along" and on the other, more conservative and are not willing to sacrifice core beliefs in order to achieve compromise. What can you do as Lt. Governor or Governor to bring the party back to a state of unity?
Senator Hutchison: I think the job of a lieutenant governor is to have a very broad statewide perspective and to bring together the people of the State of Nevada in a unified fashion. Likewise I believe that the role of lieutenant governor is to unify and bring together Republicans. Would follow the example of Ronald Reagan. I would try to, I would try to bring together and unify around this principle that if you and I agree on 80 percent issues, we’re friends; you are not a 20 percent enemy. And we ought to lock our arms and to beat the Democrats. I would, I would have a philosophy of inclusion. I would want to have people remember that political elections are won through unity and through addition and not through division and subtraction. And I would try to respect and be as kind as I can towards all Republicans because at the end of the day I believe we all share very core beliefs that are far superior what the Democrats offer.
Lt. Gov. Candidate Sue Lowden's Interview