Despite perception in building, Legislature not behind
March 31, 2013
Despite the perception of many in the building, the 2013 Legislature is pretty much on track with previous sessions in terms of getting the job done.
With the halfway point in the 120-day session near, many in the building, including lobbyists, have complained that the Legislature is lagging behind in processing bills. They blame not only the distractions surrounding the Steven Brooks situation but the high number of freshmen elected in the wake of the arrival of term limits.
But a review of the status of bills in the current session compared with the 2009 and 2011 sessions indicates the perception is misguided.
As of Friday, only four bills had reached the desk of Gov. Brian Sandoval, including Senate Bill 1, which funds the operation of the Legislature.
Thirty-four Senate bills had passed out of that house and been forwarded to the Assembly, and 17 Assembly measures had moved to the Senate.
Those totals were remarkably similar at the same point in the 2011 session, when 32 Senate bills had reached the Assembly and 18 Assembly bills had made it out of that house to the Senate.
There were, however, more bills on the governor's desk two years ago — 11.
The 2009 session also was heavily affected by term limits, so that might not be the best comparison. But a search of the legislative website showed not that dramatic a difference in 2009, when 21 Senate had bills made it to the Assembly by this point in session, 18 Assembly bills were in Senate committees and five measures were at the governor's desk.
Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said leadership has been monitoring progress this session and is satisfied neither end of the building is lagging.
Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said leadership in both parties has been getting a weekly update on progress and that as far as he can see, there isn't a problem.
The number of pre-filed bills decreased this session, but that seems to be a result of Sandoval's yearlong moratorium on new regulations. When that moratorium expired June 30, the legislative legal division was hit with a flood of regulations to review and draft, which delayed getting to some of the bill draft requests until late fall.
"They were drafting regulations into early fall," said LCB Director Rick Combs.
He said that's not intended as a criticism of the administration. It's just a consequence of the moratorium, Combs said.
"I do not believe we're behind right now," he said. "Not on anything."
The deadlines for introduction of both individual lawmaker and committee bills have passed.
The legal division is pretty much caught up, and 582 bills have been introduced in the Assembly along with 506 in the Senate — pretty much on track with previous sessions.
The next deadline comes this week: the money committees start closing budgets Tuesday.