Legislative Briefly 4/15

Assembly seeks annual sessions

The Assembly voted 29-12 Tuesday to propose annual legislative sessions to Nevada voters.

AJR6 would retain the current 120 day session in odd-numbered years and add a 60-day session in even years to fine tune the budget and take care of other problems that come up.

"We all know in our hearts you cannot do this work every other year," said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

He added that all but Nevada and three other states now meet annually.

But Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, argued annual sessions would "move us farther and farther away from the citizen legislature."

"It would make it much harder for individuals to be able to leave their profession and come down here and serve," he said.

Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said he agrees with Cobb.

"But what I have found in my years here is the financial situation makes it almost impossible," he said. "We have to forecast our budget two years in advance."

He said the result has been numerous special sessions to finish or adjust the budget and handle crises.

If senators approve, the resolution will be presented to the 2011 Legislature, then to the voters in 2012.

Lawmakers vote to call special sessions

The Assembly Tuesday voted for a resolution that would allow lawmakers to convene a special session of the Legislature.

Under the existing constitution, only the governor can call a special session. He also has the power to restrict the topics lawmakers can deal with in special session.

AJR5 would allow lawmakers to call themselves into special session using a petition signed by at least two-thirds of each house and to set their own agenda for that special session.

Assemblyman Harry Mortenson, D-Las Vegas, said the recent case of Illinois Gov. Rod  Blagojevich is a good reason for making the change.

"If we had a governor who tried to sell a Senate seat as happened in Illinois, we could not impeach that governor. He would not call a special session to impeach himself," he said.

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, led the Republican opposition to the proposed amendment, saying he would support a change if it was limited to just cases addressing impeachment but that allowing lawmakers to call a session any time is too broad.

AJR5 passed the Assembly 28-13. If it passes the Senate, it must again go through the legislative process in 2011 before being submitted to the voters for their approval.

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