- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Sen. Harry Reid said he’s willing to do everything he can to help Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $1.1 billion tax package survive a potential challenge at the ballot, even though he’s not actively involved in the fight now.

The Democratic U.S. Senate leader had high praise for the Republican governor during an interview Thursday in his Reno office.

“Sandoval and I don’t agree on stuff, but we agree on a lot, and I think what he was able to do with that Legislature was masterful,” Reid said. “I think it would be a real disservice to our state if the crazies were able to prevail.”

While the tax package garnered more than the necessary two-thirds vote in the Republican controlled Legislature this spring, conservative opponents say it was adopted against the will of voters who overwhelmingly rejected the margins tax on the 2014 ballot.

One group has filed a long-shot petition to repeal the entire three-part package, while another group is planning a campaign to repeal just one portion of it. Republican state Controller Ron Knecht, who’s involved in the latter effort, said organizers might file a petition as early as next week.

Petitioners would then have to gather about 55,000 signatures from throughout the state to put the measure up for a vote.

Reid touched on other issues in the wide-ranging interview:

- Reid said he’s in the middle of a “very personal” process of meeting with key people as he comes to a decision on the Iran nuclear deal. Some have criticized Reid for waiting to take a side on the accord, but he said he’s been too busy for those one-on-one meetings until recently, and is not planning to make a public statement on the deal until he’s done his “due diligence.”

- Reid said he hasn’t yet found a Democratic candidate for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, but “we’re getting very close. I had some good meetings last week in Vegas.” Four Republicans are vying for the seat, and one political newcomer has filed as a Democrat, but other high-profile Democrats have declined to run. Reid said it’s a good district for Democrats; asked to explain their hard losses in recent elections, he said “maybe we didn’t have very good candidates.”

- The senator said he hopes to endorse a candidate for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District before he returns to Washington D.C. after the Senate’s August recess. Four Democrats are seeking to unseat freshman Nevada Rep. Cresent Hardy, including state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, former Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, philanthropist Susie Lee and former Assembly Speaker John Oceguera.

- Reid said he’s against a plan to transfer some federally managed land to Nevada. State lawmakers passed a nonbinding resolution this spring urging Congress to make the move, but “I laughed about that when I got it,” Reid said. “We don’t want to turn these few places we have left that are so nice in Nevada over to rich people who would own it for everybody.”

- He said he’s siding with rooftop solar companies in their battle with utility company NV Energy over a cap on net metering - the process of consumers selling excess energy from their solar arrays back to the utility. Reid said he thinks the world of Warren Buffett, whose company now owns NV Energy.

“I like him. I think the company has improved since his operation came here. But I’ve said publicly that I think they’re wrong on this rooftop solar,” said Reid, who’s a vocal clean energy advocate.

The senator also argued that Sandoval should intervene in the dispute - something Sandoval has said he will not do because the Public Utilities Commission is a quasi-judicial, independent body.

“Why not?” Reid said. “I’m trying to intervene. If I had more power, I would.”

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