Carson City sitting on a gold mine

Now we're talking.

These special sessions of the Legislature are finally starting to pay off for Carson City. All it took was for tax protesters to bring in busloads of angry demonstrators to help boost the local economy.

We're talking a whole new brand of commerce here. Legislative tourism.

Carson City pretty much takes for granted the boon it gets from the Legislature being in session every two years. Lawmakers rent apartments or rooms, they frequent the restaurants downtown and apparently spend a lot of time golfing or bowling or something until the final two weeks, when all the work is supposed to get done.

Obviously, this year they mistimed the crucial final seconds of the regular session and failed to slip through a tax increase while nobody was looking.

It's kind of like a basketball coach who finds himself down three points with no timeouts at the end of the game. Except the Legislature was down 860 million points.

So now the traditional one session every two years has become three sessions every two years. I guess that'll teach us gol'darn Nevada voters to try to limit their biannual clambake to 120 days.

It's the new math. (Oh, yes, and lowering the passing grade for the high-school proficiency exam didn't dumb down the test, either.)

But while most of the taxpayers around Nevada are in a tizzy over the Legislature's extended stay, we're ecstatic here in Carson City.

You see, we're getting our butts kicked by Douglas County in the area of retail development. So we've got to do something. And right now, that looks like legislative tourism.

So when George Harris loaded up the tax rebels in Las Vegas to bring them to town for Wednesday's protest, all that was missing were the complimentary roll of nickels and the coupon book for 50 percent off at the casino buffet.

We should have been greeting them as they stepped off the bus with stay-two-nights-get-a-third-night-free offers. Who had the "Ax the Taxes" T-shirt concession? Was anybody offering a discount on a dozen protest signs? Somebody should have been hawking souvenir Kenny Guinn effigies.

Then there was the pro-tax protest group, which by most accounts seemed to be of the Starbucks and mini-van variety. I don't think they had a demonstration daddy to bus them in, so a lot of them were regional legislative tourists.

We can't overlook the market close to home, because those are the people who can drive in every week for regular protests. They should get punch cards, so for every nine protests the 10th one is free.

Carson City could become the protest capital. Heaven knows there are plenty of things to get upset about.

But we can't leave these things to chance. They have to be scheduled and organized, so we don't fail to maximize the revenue potential.

There could be Death Penalty Day. There could be Abortion Week. We could have Second Amendment Sundays. Why not some Prayer in School Potlucks? More-tax Mondays. No-tax Tuesdays. Every Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 could be Higher Taxes on Gaming Happy Hour.

One flaw with this plan is that it does cost Nevada taxpayers a lot of money to keep the Legislature in session.

And we all know that any time the Legislature is in session, it is in danger of passing more laws. We wouldn't want the whole state to suffer simply to sustain Carson City's economy.

I've got the solution to that, too. Legislator body-doubles.

People who protest don't need to speak to real legislators. In fact, it only confuses many people in the Legislature when their constituents talk issues. For one thing, there's that whole "common sense" angle that has nothing to do with politics, which is usually the primary consideration when it comes to actually voting.

Anyway, a lot of the people who work temporarily during the legislative session as clerks and security guards could do a bang-up job of filling the roles of legislator body-doubles. After all, they've heard all the harangues and could do great impersonations, if they need to.

We'd hire them by the hour to sit in the Senate and Assembly and debate inconsequential matters, nod off from time to time and play solitaire on their laptops.

That way when protester/tourists do come in from out of town, there will be a show going on all the time in the Legislative Building. It would be kind of like those fake gunfights in the street, only the faux legislators wouldn't be armed.

And who would know the difference? Aside from a few people who get their pictures in the newspaper all the time, how many Assembly and Senate members would the average Nevadan even recognize? For the prominent roles, maybe we can get MacAvoy Layne to dress up as Bill Raggio and Max Baer Jr. could do Richard Perkins.

I know what you're thinking. The cost of hiring 63 extras year-round to play the Legislature could get pretty expensive. Maybe we should work up a return-on-investment sheet to see how it pencils out.

On the other hand, I'm willing to bet it's better than what we're getting now.


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