A new sound fills Nevada Legislature – silence | NevadaAppeal.com

A new sound fills Nevada Legislature – silence

For the past five months, the Legislature has been like a Tokyo subway, packed to the ceilings with people: Some 500 staff, more than 800 lobbyists, hundreds of agency representatives plus numerous members of the public.

But Wednesday, the morning after the 2007 Legislature adjourned, the building was nearly vacant. That strange sound was silence.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” said one employee as she exited the elevator.

The lobbyists, lawmakers, public and agency heads were all gone, leaving the halls so vacant you could have safely used them as a bowling alley.

Temporary staff in the bill room, legislative and sergeants at arms offices were finishing up their last tasks. Today is their final day.

Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said he was there only to supervise the transmission of the enrolled bills to the governor’s office.

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“He’s going to get a huge chunk of them today, about 200,” he said. “I think we’ve got about three or four stragglers to get printed up and over to him.”

Counsel bureau staffers made several trips to get those bills to Gov. Jim Gibbons, who has 10 days to decide whether to sign them. Contrary to the federal system, anything he doesn’t sign automatically becomes law.

The only lawmaker seen during a tour of the building was Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, who returned to clean up her office and file away those things she wants to keep through the interim.

Malkiewich said many of the professionals in legal, research, fiscal and other divisions were off, recovering from the 18-20 hour days they put in to help finish legislative business and shut the session down.

They weren’t alone, however. Many state agencies were being run without top management, which also puts in long hours during the final weeks of the session. Many directors and their deputies were taking a day or two to recover before coming back to implement the programs funded by the Legislature. Most will begin the process of developing “work programs” to do just that Monday.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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