Assembly Majority Leader William Horne said Wednesday he hopes the status of embattled Nevada Assemblyman Steven Brooks is resolved by mid-March before the legislative agenda heads into crunch time and bill deadlines loom.
Horne, D-Las Vegas, said he expects work to be completed in about two weeks by an independent counsel appointed to investigate whether Brooks is fit to serve in the Legislature.
Since January, Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, has been arrested twice, hospitalized for a mental evaluation, banished from the Legislature building and denied a gun purchase.
The Assembly Select Committee, a seven-member bipartisan panel who will recommend what action should be taken against Brooks, if any, named Las Vegas attorney Mark Ferrario as independent counsel Tuesday.
The Nevada Constitution gives the state Senate and Assembly jurisdiction over judging the qualifications of members. No Nevada lawmaker has ever been expelled.
Horne, who is chairman of the select committee, said Ferrario will hire an investigator with an FBI background to assist in the probe.
He does not expect the committee to meet until after Ferrario's investigation is complete. Until then, "there won't be anything to meet on," Horn said.
After Ferrario presents his findings, the committee will then recommend to the full Assembly any action to be taken against Brooks, including possible expulsion.
Democrats hold a 27-15 advantage in the Assembly - one member short of a two-thirds voting bloc needed to pass taxes and fees, or override a governor veto. With Brooks absent, Democrats would have to pick up two Republican votes on tax issues instead of one.
Brooks is on paid leave and has been banned from the Legislature building. He was arrested Jan. 19 in southern Nevada after allegedly making threats against Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a fellow North Las Vegas Democrat. Police reports said had a gun in his car and dozens of rounds of ammunition.
Days after posting bail, he was detained and hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation after a disturbance at his grandmother's house involving a sword.
On Feb. 10, he was arrested on suspicion of attacking his estranged wife in Las Vegas, then grabbing for an officer's gun while being taken into custody.
Both Kirkpatrick and Horne obtained restraining orders against Brooks.
Last week, Brooks tried to buy a rifle at a Sparks sporting goods store, but his purchase was delayed pending a background check. On Monday, the Nevada Department of Public Safety formally denied his purchase based on the background check forms he filled out.
Patrick Conmay, chief of the department's division of records and technology, said the denial was for a period of one year. Specifics of the denial were confidential, he said.
Article Topics: LegislatureLegislature