Nevada governor weighs special session for uncompleted business
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn said Tuesday he’s waiting until week’s end to decide when lawmakers will return to untangle the jumble left behind by the chaotic close of the regular session.
Some legislators were embarrassed, others angered, most frustrated after a frenzied marathon session that saw them violate legislative rules and bungle a legal deadline for completing their work, even after some creative timekeeping.
When it was over in the early morning hours of Tuesday, the Legislature had offered up an unbalanced budget, failed to finish the important task of reapportionment and lost track of which bills it had acted upon.
The Republican governor said he must determine the topics as well as the timing of a special session, and get a report from lawmakers on what bills were passed before the 2001 session ended just before 2 a.m. Tuesday.
”It was not our best ending,” said Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, blaming the Republican-controlled Senate for cutting floor sessions short while leaders huddled on reapportionment.
As time ran out, ”it was chaos. We were rushing to meet a deadline to pass as many good bills as possible,” Buckley said.
Lobbyists rushed onto the floors of the Assembly, violating the rules and prompting Assemblyman Roy Neighbors, D-Tonopah, to declare, ”This is bull.” He left but returned later after cooling off.
Jack Finn, Guinn’s press secretary, said the governor is still considering the idea of more than one brief special session because of the big differences in bills that must still be considered.
The most important is legislation reapportioning the Assembly and Senate, drawing new lines for two existing U.S. House seats and creating a new, third seat, and revising districts for state Board of Education members and university regents.
Reapportionment bogged down at the end of the regular session as Democrats and Republicans deadlocked on the makeup of the new congressional district.
So much time went into the closed-door negotiations on reapportionment that the legislators were unable to complete work on numerous other measures – including a $24 million tax recapture needed to balance the state budget.
Legislators even tried to pick up an extra hour by shifting from Pacific Daylight Time to Pacific Standard Time, gaining an extra hour for Monday, the 2001 session’s mandatory final day.
About three dozen bills were passed in that extra hour, but even that wasn’t enough. Finally, no matter what the time scheme, Monday was clearly gone when the Senate shut down at 1:52 a.m. Tuesday.
”We did our best effort,” said Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas. ”The Senate processing did not occur as fast. It’s been a problem all session.”
Nevada’s Legislature meets every other year and by law the sessions can only run 120 days.
”This is a good example of why the 120 days doesn’t work,” said Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas. ”When you extend the clock and hour and then you vote after the deadline, it makes a mockery of the process.”
”Is this any way to run a legislature?”
The lawmakers were scrambling so much that they didn’t get a major salary bill passed – a proposal that covered themselves as well as various state and local officials around Nevada.
Now they must decide whether to add the pay plan to a list of important measures that could be considered during a special session. Guinn has the power to set the agenda – but some lawmakers with long memories might prefer that their pay be left out.
The last special session was in 1989 – to cancel a 300 percent pension increase that legislators had voted themselves a few months earlier. The pension maneuver generated public outrage, and in the following 1990 elections 16 lawmakers were turned out of office.
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