Committee seeks to eliminate speaker’s secretary | NevadaAppeal.com

Committee seeks to eliminate speaker’s secretary

The Senate Finance Committee tossed a small wrench into the works Friday, voting to eliminate Speaker Richard Perkins’ interim secretary from the Legislative Commission budget.

The motion was made by Sen. Bernice Mathews, D-Sparks, who said no Nevada legislator has ever had a state-paid secretary when the Legislature isn’t in session.

She said no one spelled it out two years ago when Perkins, D-Henderson, included the position in the counsel bureau budget. She has complained about the position before, charging it was sneaked into the budget.

Mathews said it sets a bad precedent for a part-time Legislature to start providing members with full-time secretarial help and moved to remove the position from the budget. Somewhat to her surprise, the committee approved the motion 5-2.

Committee Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, voted to keep the position, saying it was a poor issue to hold up completion of the state budget this late in the session. He was joined by Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora.

LCB Director Lorne Malkiewich said the positions were offered to both Perkins and Raggio because legislative staff, other members and state officials need to keep in touch with leadership throughout the interim as well as during session.

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He said leadership duties are much heavier in the interim than those of other lawmakers, and the secretary, Kathy Alden, provided a contact point for everyone with Perkins and helped him manage legislative business.

He said Raggio declined because he has a private secretary as a partner in a Reno law firm who performs those functions.

Malkiewich said until the issue is resolved, it throws the state budget out of balance between the Assembly and Senate by just under $140,000 over the biennium. But he said it can be solved at the last minute if necessary.

Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said afterward he is on the Legislative Commission and was surprised to find the post had been created two years ago.

Asked about the committee action, Perkins said “I’m not talking about it right now,” and walked into his office. Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said it was a bad reason to hold up the budget at the end of session.

But at the end of the day, there was no movement on the issue. As one senator pointed out, Raggio has little incentive to try to change the action because it’s Perkins who would most likely suffer in the public’s eye if the issue becomes a battle.

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

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