Ethics issues dying in Senate committee

Remember the whole Kathy Augustine ethics uproar and impeachment hearings last year?

Apparently the Nevada Legislature would just as soon we forget it.

At the time, there was much said about a lack of clarity in ethics laws for Nevada and a loophole that allowed state workers to fill out campaign-reporting forms on state time on behalf of their elected bosses.

This was the session the Legislature was going to do something about it. The trouble is, there's only a week to go and nothing has happened.

That's not exactly true. Assembly Bill 419, which is Democrat Richard Perkins' attempt to cure a number of ethical ills, was approved 42-0 by the Assembly in April and sent to the Senate, where it never came up for a vote.

Senate Bill 162, introduced by Sen. Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, specifically addressed the issue of using state workers on political campaigns or reports. It died in the same place, the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections.

Then there was Assembly Joint Resolution 9, the "three strikes and out" proposal to amend the state constitution. Three ethics violations and an official is removed from office. It passed the Assembly 41-1, but then died in committee. Which one?

If you guessed Legislative Operations and Elections, then you're beginning to see the pattern.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, is chairwoman of the committee. Members are Republicans Bill Raggio, Bob Beers and Warren Hardy, and Democrats Bernice Mathews, Valerie Wiener and Dina Titus.

Perhaps something will yet come out of this session, but don't bet on it. All that talk about tightening Nevada's ethics laws was only hot air, at least on the Senate side of the building.

And legislators wonder where the ideas for citizen initiative petitions come from.

It looks like the people of Nevada will have to take this one into their own hands.


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