Chairman says TRPA bill must work out by end of weekend | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Chairman says TRPA bill must work out by end of weekend

Geoff Dornan
Tribune News Service

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-Las Vegas, said Thursday the bill to withdraw Nevada from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency goes nowhere unless the parties work with her to find a compromise.

“If it’s not done Saturday or Sunday morning, I’m not doing it,” she said. “I’m not going to ram and jam.”

Kirkpatrick said she wants to take Senate Bill 271 to a work session to try and figure out what to do with the legislation but that that will require those for and those against to work together.

“At least direct them to bring all the children into the play room,” she said.

Kirkpatrick said she will try one more time to get a bill that meets the needs of both sides.

She has now held two lengthy hearings on SB271, which would demand California agree to changes in the compact eliminating the rule requiring a majority of both states’ members back a project to approve it and requiring the agency consider economic conditions in the basin in rewriting its regional plan.

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Supporters of the legislation, including Secretary of State and TRPA Board Member Ross Miller, say the bill is necessary to get California’s attention. Opponents say the bill seeks to weaken environmental standards at Tahoe to benefit developers and businesses. Miller said under current rules, it takes forever to get anything done.

“Things move so slowly it’s almost like watching a soap opera,” he said. “You can miss a couple of meetings and nothing’s changed.”

An amendment to the bill, offered by Miller, would change TRPA voting requirements to nine members total to approve regulations, and nine for projects with at least four members from the affected state.

California and Nevada each have seven members, and approvals require at least four members from each state to pass rules, regulations and regional plans. Development projects require nine votes – five from members in the state the project is located.

On Wednesday, supporters of the bill argued they don’t really want to withdraw, but need the legislation to get California’s attention to how it deals with development proposals at Lake Tahoe.

Bill sponsor Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, said obstructionists on the California portion of the governing board have made it difficult to do anything at the lake, even preventing homeowners from cutting down a dead tree on their property.

Kirkpatrick said she can understand the frustrations of bill supporters: “It’s ridiculous they don’t want to adopt a regional plan.”

But, she added, “I don’t think anybody wants to get rid of the compact.”

Kyle Davis of the Nevada Conservation League said threatening to pull out of the bistate compact is “irresponsible,” adding the goals of the bill could be achieved through improved communication between the states.

“If we’re not going to withdraw from the compact, then let’s take the threat off the table,” he said.

After more then two hours of discussion Wednesday, Kirkpatrick agreed to take up the bill Thursday morning to see if there is “a different hammer so that California knows we’re serious.”

But after two more hours of discussion, another “hammer” was not agreed upon.

Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said the “hammer” needed to solve some of Nevada concerns lies with the state’s Governing Board members.

The TRPA’s Nevada board members have a responsibility to put pressure on TRPA staff to move the agency’s regional plan update forward, Nason said.

Shortly before the committee adjourned, committee member Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, said she wanted more information on how California legislators viewed SB 271 before proceeding.

“I’d like to know what California is saying and I’d like to know by June 5,” Neal said.

SB 271 needs approval from the Nevada Assembly and Governor Brian Sandoval to pass. The Nevada Legislature’s 2011 session is set to conclude Monday.

–┬áTribune Staff Writer Adam Jensen and The Associated Press contributed to this report