Amendment would make sessions yearly
February 19, 2013
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, introduced a proposed constitutional amendment Monday that would order annual legislative sessions, raise legislative pay and allow lawmakers to move those sessions out of Carson City.
He said Senate Joint Resolution 8 recognizes that, despite what many think, the job of being a Nevada legislator is no longer as part time as it once was.
“We spend a tremendous number of hours being here,” Segerblom said.
The amendment would change the current 120-day regular session to 90 legislative days in odd-numbered years. It also would add a 30-day regular session in a maximum period of 45 calendar days.
It would allow lawmakers by a majority vote to hold all or part of those sessions somewhere other than Carson City.
In addition, the proposed amendment would raise legislative pay to at least $2,000 a month during lawmakers’ terms, plus the existing per diem. Under existing rules, lawmakers are paid for only 60 days of the regular session and 20 days of any special session.
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Under the changes, lawmakers within a two-year time frame would receive at least $42,000 in salary. They also would be entitled to per diem for when they are in session. The net compensation would amount to about $66,000 for two years.
Finally, Segerblom said, the proposal would give the state Senate a say in gubernatorial appointments. He said not only the U.S. Congress but a number of states provide “advise and consent” powers to lawmakers on executive branch major appointments.
The proposed amendment is a compilation of the best ideas from states around Nevada, Segerblom said.
To become part of the Nevada Constitution, the measure would have to be passed by both houses of the legislature in two consecutive regular sessions, then approved by a majority of the state’s voters in a general election.
Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, opposes the measure. Prospects for its passage are unlikely.
The last push to implement annual sessions died in a Senate committee as the 2009 session ended. Segerblom was behind that effort as well. Critics at the time said the resolution could cause the state to lose its citizen Legislature and lead to a full-time body of career politicians.
Every-other-year sessions have been the rule in Nevada since 1867 except for 1960, after voters approved annual sessions. But annual sessions were short-lived, and biennial sessions were soon voted back in.
SJR8 was referred to the Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.