Ex-legislators will vote at finance meeting this month
November 13, 2008
Under an unusual provision in Nevada law, four former legislators will be voting members of the Interim Finance Committee when it meets Nov. 20.
The Supreme Court opinion ruled in July that lawmakers take office the day after the election. And that means the legislators they replace are out of office the day after election.
However, they can legally serve and vote at the finance meeting because, under the statute, the committee’s membership doesn’t change to the new Ways and Means and Senate Finance make-up until the next Legislature convenes. That won’t be until February.
Because of turnover in the Legislature this election cycle, four members of the committee are no longer members of the Legislature and a fifth moved from the Assembly to the Senate. Interim Finance Committee members who left office are Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, who was defeated and Sen. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, who won election to Congress, Assemblyman John Marvel, R-Battle Mountain, defeated in his primary, and Assemblywoman Valerie Weber, who ran for Clark County Commission.
Assemblyman David Parks, D-Las Vegas, ran for and won Titus’s Senate Seat. He was on Ways and Means but has not yet been named to the Senate Finance Committee.
According to Nevada statute, “The membership of any member who does not become a candidate for re-election or who is defeated for re-election continues until the next session of the Legislature is convened.”
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Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Lorne Malkiewich said that is because, until the next session, the committee is dealing with the budget approved by the members in office last session. He said the logic behind the rule is that the members who reviewed and approved the budget are the appropriate ones to review potential changes.
He said lawmakers structured the finance committee so that the old membership deals with the current budget while the new membership takes over the review of the budget going forward.
By contrast, he said, the Legislative Commission’s budget subcommittee, which begins reviewing the governor’s recommended budget after the State of the State message, doesn’t have that language in law. That subcommittee, he said, will be made up of legislators serving for the coming two years.
This year, that subcommittee has scheduled meetings in December before the State of the State address to begin looking at the state’s budget situation.
Malkiewich said a number of interim committees would also have vacancies because of legislative turnover. But he said it’s not an issue since most of those study committees have finished their business and won’t meet again this year.
One exception is the Interim Retirement and Benefits Committee, which has a vacancy because of the defeat of Beers.
– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.