Assembly Ways and Means approves AG positions, still has questions
April 30, 2015
The Assembly Ways and Means agreed on Wednesday to add five major positions in the Attorney General's office including a deputy Solicitor General.
But they balked on AG Adam Laxalt's request for a veterans services coordinator who would try to connect veterans with free legal help in civil matters such as rental lease or car payment problems.
In addition, Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said she has serious questions about the deputy solicitor general's post because there are already a dozen people in the staff to handle appellate matters that post is intended to focus on.
Nick Trutanich, Laxalt's chief of staff, said most of the existing appellate deputies focus primarily on the load of inmate lawsuits that are handled in federal court, not on coordinating the nearly 300 appeals a year deputies throughout the state file in a variety of cases.
He said the new post would "make sure the work product going to the 9th Circuit Court, the Nevada Supreme Court and even the Supreme Court" is consistent with state goals and policies on different issues.
Kirkpatrick said one problem is the AG's budget and the significant changes Laxalt made to it after being elected "came in helter skelter." She said she needs to see some performance measures to ensure the new positions — especially the deputy solicitor general — are improving performance by the office.
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The veterans services position, according to Trutanich, would get commitments from private lawyers to provide services to veterans at no cost and connect them either with one of those attorneys or the legal aid offices in the state.
Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said the description sounded more like something a clerk should handle than a senior deputy.
They had similar questions about the proposed manager for the Neighborhood Protection Bureau proposal which Laxalt spokesmen said was something local law enforcement was interested in. That position would help local officials track and deal with a variety of issues including human trafficking, drug dealers and the like.
But there were questions raised about how the post would be funded since, traditionally, those types of services have been billed to the counties who Kirkpatrick said, in the past, have been unable to pay assessments for AG legal services.
She and several others including Chairman Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, said they would like more data on what the different positions will do and the performance measures to measure how well they will be doing.
But the panel approved creation of four top level "bureau chiefs" to divide up the work of the different parts of the AG's office.
Laxalt spokesmen also pointed out by eliminating a half dozen other positions and reorganizing, they have actually reduced the attorney general's reliance on General Fund money.