Student Papers


Daniel Waqar: The End of the Road: The State of Urban Elevated Expressways in the United States

Abstract: "In a January 2016 meeting, the Clark County Commission heard a proposal from the County Public Works Department about a $200 million plan to build two urban elevated expressways constructed above existing roadways, potentially linking McCarran International Airport with the Las Vegas Strip’s resort corridor. Commissioners lauded the project with a “high degree of confidence” for funding sources and praised the “magnificent way of moving traffic” and “out of the box thinking” of these urban elevated expressways. Yet the positive feedback that County Commissioners showered on this proposal flies in the face of decades of history on urban elevated expressways. Cities and states have spent over $20 billion and nearly five decades locked in contentious battles to tear down these expressways. Such teardowns have reduced the social inequity associated with new freeway construction, and have shifted the discussion in urban planning from mere mobility of cars from point A to point B to increased multimodal access for pedestrians, bikes, cars, and light-rail transit. In light of this emerging public policy discussion, this white paper has been prepared for Brookings Mountain West as a primer on the state of urban elevated expressways in North America. For this white paper, a survey was conducted of the top 50 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States and only found one example of an urban elevated expressway project in Tampa—a project far different from the Southern Nevada expressway on many fronts. In fact, cities have been at the forefront of urban elevated expressway removal, through what has been unofficially referred to as the “freeway revolt” movement. Engagement with urban planning experts in person and on social media revealed a similar consensus on the historic trend against urban elevated expressways. This paper attempts to supplement local discussion on this topic with research on other cities’ experiences with these roads."

Dawn Matusz: Smarter food policies are needed to make significant progress towards eradicating food insecurity in America

Abstract: Speaking of malnutrition conjures images of starving African children as presented by the media and humanitarian organizations. We think about famine ridden lands, places where emaciated victims who have very little access to food. Malnutrition does not conjure images of obese youth and financially struggling families living amidst excessive consumption in America. Although an alarming paradox, malnutrition can and does exist in what some would call the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth, but yet it does exist.


David Serabian: Consumer Protection and Cybersecurity: The Consumer Education Gap

Abstract: Consumer cyber protection as it relates to the threat of cyber insecurity is an increasingly critical issue with cyberattacks on major businesses such as Target and Sony. Over 100 million Americans to date have had their financial information compromised, and in the ten-year history of Verizon’s Payment Card Industry investigations no companies were compliant with Payment Card Industry standards at the time of the attack. In March 2015, the FCC fined AT&T $25 million for failing to adequately provide cybersecurity that resulted in almost 300,000 people having their personal and financial information compromised. It was the largest in FCC history of this type.

According to Fujitsu, consumer trust has reached a 10-year low, and only nine percent consumers say they believe a company will adequately secure their data. A report in April 2014 by Radius Global Market Research indicated that consumers are more concerned about online security, online privacy, identity theft, and fraud than other social issues such as unemployment, obesity, health insurance, and gun control. Consumers do not have a means to know how good the cybersecurity is of companies that they give their financial information to. As a result, an asymmetric information problem is taking place and the result is inefficiency in the market. The President announced in January 2015 that cybersecurity for consumers is important enough to warrant new legislation. The Federal Trade Commission has established a new office dedicated to researching and educating consumers about the risks of new technologies. These indicate a clear shift in policy by the government to cybersecurity and consumer protection.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should take its mandate to educate and create a letter grade rating system to rate companies on their cybersecurity to support the Executive branch mission to help protect consumers as announced by the President. This report card on companies would educate and allow consumers to better decide which companies to trust with their financial future and information. This system can be based off the 12 factors in the already existing Payment Card Industry guidelines. With this information, consumers would be better able to decide what companies to use, and encourage companies through consumer choice to improve the cybersecurity of their customers’ information.

Alex Velto: Nevada Should Opt-in to Organ Policy Changes

Abstract:  Organ donation shortages are a problem in Nevada. A shift in policy towards an opt-out system could more than double the number of registered organ donors in Nevada. A Libertarian Paternalistic strategy would allow potential donors to express their preference for organ donations more accurately. Currently Nevada abides by an opt-in policy where people are only organ donors if they explicitly request to become donors. Under an opt-out policy, people would be presumed organ donors unless they requested not to be donors. Policy changes during the 2015 Legislative session were a good start but failed to fully utilize behavioral economics to resolve the shortage. This paper aggregates studies determining how and why people make decisions, explores potential organ donation strategies, examines opinion polls, and explains organ markets and kidney transplants more generally to suggest Nevada shift to an opt-out model for organ donations. Reform to statewide donor policy is needed; at stake are the lives of Nevada citizens currently on the waiting list and those who will be added in the coming years.


J.T. Creedon: Tax Reform in Nevada: Ideas for Creating a More Stable Revenue Structure

Abstract:  Recurring and fluctuating levels of economic activity known as the business cycle have a profound impact on state legislators trying to balance their finances. They result in higher unemployment, declines in revenues and a corresponding increase in the need for social welfare and public services. This makes state budgeting particularly complex during times of contraction when the state needs to do more with less. Nevada, with its limited tax base, biennial budget making, and overreliance on an industry that is highly volatile in response to economic fluctuations, experiences particularly dramatic upswings and shortfalls. Contractionary fiscal policies such as tax increases and spending cuts can slow economic recovery but are unavoidable in order to balance the budget during times of recession.

This policy brief will contend that Nevada needs to reform its revenue structure in order to better stabilize budgetary volatility in response to the business cycle and more effectively reflect the 21st-century economy. While tax reform is an issue that is revisited regularly by Nevada lawmakers with each legislative session and promises on the campaign trail, little actual progress is made because of Constitutional obstacles, special interests, lack of political will because the risk of reprimand at the ballot or poorly implemented political strategy. This brief will identify the historical and recurring barriers to tax reform in Nevada as well as list four recommendations for creating a broader, fairer and more stable tax structure including closing loopholes, diversifying and broadening the base, reflecting contemporary consumption habits, and tapping into Nevada’s unique opportunity to create a recession-proof revenue stream. Finally, it will provide a possible roadmap for how these policy changes can more effectively become a reality. The ideas discussed here are by no means comprehensive as there are a myriad of further reform possibilities, particular in regard to the relation of county and municipal taxes.

Robin Gonzales: English Language Learners in Nevada

Abstract: While leading the rest of the country in population growth, immigration, and increasing ethnic and linguistic diversity, Nevada’s mostly Latin American population experiences high poverty, low educational attainment, and high employment. As a result, Nevada has increasingly high numbers of English Language Learner students (ELLs) – students who speak a language other than English at home – and show low educational attainment compared to their English speaking counterparts. According to a 2013 report from the Lincy Institute of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, if the state wants to reverse its populations’ dismal educational attainment and poor national rankings in education; extra funding, resources, and educational supports are needed for Nevada’s ELL students.


Jennifer Liese: Solar Energy: A Media Analysis of Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, AZ

Abstract: In recent years, large government-funded solar energy projects across the nation have received increasing media attention—especially with government funded solar projects going bankrupt. This study examines the evolution of media coverage on solar energy issues, including an analysis of political differences and the role they play within two western cities that sit at the epicenter of solar energy resources in the United States, Las Vegas and Phoenix. These cities are poised to compete for and collaborate on projects for millions of dollars in federal research funds and economic development incentives dedicated to the development of solar energy. This study conducted a content analysis of national newspapers discussing solar energy within Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona. A content analysis was conducted using ProQuest Newspapers (National Newspapers Expanded). Articles from January 1, 2008, to March 25, 2013, were included in the research. A total of 205 articles were analyzed within the research, 99 for Phoenix and 106 for Las Vegas.This study found disparate media coverage on solar energy between Phoenix and Las Vegas. The Las Vegas newspaper coverage on solar projects was much more politically debated and included more negative rhetoric than the Phoenix coverage. Whereas the Phoenix articles within the study were more likely to be associated with community projects, public support, and political support for solar energy.


Hamedah Dhalai: Wind Power in Nevada

Abstract:  This bibliography compiles scholarly information and new reports on the topic of wind power in Nevada. As a senior at UNLV majoring in both Economics and French, I began this project in June 2010 in consultation with William E. Brown, Jr., director of planning and communications at Brookings Mountain West. This research topic interests me greatly, and I believe that expanded research and commercial development of alternative energy, including wind power, is essential to the growth and development of Nevada. My service as a Student Ambassador in the College of Business, a position that allows me to represent UNLV to the larger Las Vegas community, has confirmed this belief.