TRPA withdrawal bill heads to governor |

TRPA withdrawal bill heads to governor

Adam Jensen

Lisa Woodstock / Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – At Lake Tahoe, sometimes it takes three to tango.

And, with the passage of a Nevada bill to withdrawal the state from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency one step from passing, it could soon be up to California and the federal government to decide if they want to dance.

The Nevada Assembly approved Senate Bill 271 by a 28-14 vote just minutes before the close of the legislature early Tuesday morning.

The measure by Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, threatens withdrawal from the Tahoe Regional Compact by 2015 unless California and the U.S. Congress agree to changes including ending the requirement that projects and other major decisions be approved by a majority of members from both states.

The bill also would require the agency’s governing board to pass a regional plan update and consider economic conditions in the Tahoe Basin when amending the plan.

The legislation is before Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who can sign or veto the bill. If he does nothing, the bill becomes law in ten days.

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A much delayed passage of the regional plan is scheduled for the end of 2012, said TRPA spokesman Jeff Cowen. The balance of the reforms requires changes to a bi-state compact, which was signed by the two sates and ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1980, Cowen said.

Past changes to the compact have required dedicated leadership from both states, Cowen said.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman and TRPA Governing Board Member Claire Fortier said she felt the Nevada bill has been effective at getting the attention of California legislators to reforming the planning agency.

The City Council should also act as a leader in bringing California lawmakers to the table, Fortier said.

She suggested the council form a committee to engage California legislators on the issues surrounding the TRPA prior to this year’s environmental summit, which typically takes place in mid-August.

In April, the California state senator representing the Lake Tahoe Basin, Ted Gaines, lauded the Nevada legislature for bringing SB 271 forward.

During a phone interview Tuesday, Gaines said he agreed with the bill “in spirit,” but wanted to take a closer look at the details of the legislation before pushing for further reforms to the TRPA. He noted the bill has undergone several amendments since its introduction.

Last month, a Gaines-sponsored bill requiring the Governing Board’s California members to comply with requirements of the Political Reform Act and file a statement of economic interests with the Fair Political Practices Commission passed the Senate.

Depending on his analysis of the Nevada bill, reforms to the TRPA compact could be part of the Senator’s next legislative package, Gaines said. He said he typically develops bills in January or February.

-Tribune Capitol Geoff Dornan contributed to this story