Several media outlets recently published comments made by Assemblyman Marcus Conklin trying to excuse the lack of action by the Legislative Committee to Review Regulations, which he chairs.
Assemblyman Conklin said that the administration had a year to draft regulations enacting the Unemployment Insurance (UI) assessment rate and the new experience rating factors. At the same time, he has tried to justify his committee's lack of action by saying the public's ability to voice any concerns was being circumvented.
I must set the record straight. Here are the facts:
1. The Employment Security Division (ESD) cannot begin the UI tax regulation process until the Employment Security Council meets each October. The Council cannot meet earlier, as the tax rate recommendation is made considering the UI Trust Fund solvency measure calculated each year on Sept. 30 in accordance with Nevada law.
This year, the Employment Security Council meeting was conducted on Oct. 6, only three business days after the official solvency measurement date.
The draft UI tax regulation was submitted to the Legislative Council Bureau (LCB) immediately after the council meeting on Oct. 6. The ESD received notice on Nov. 5 that LCB had completed its review of the proposed regulation. This is consistent with the expected 30-day time frame for LCB review.
Only after receiving the review completion notice back from LCB may an agency proceed with next steps in the regulatory process.
The Notice of Intent to Adopt a Regulation was posted the next day, Nov. 6, establishing the date of the public regulation adoption hearing as Dec. 7. The Notice of Intent to Adopt a Regulation must be posted for at least 30 days prior to the hearing. The Dec. 7 hearing is scheduled for the very first available business day after the required 30-day posting period.
The assertion that "they had a year to draft these regs" is false and misleading. The record clearly shows there has been no slippage in the agency's efforts to quickly and efficiently move the regulation through the adoption process set out in Nevada law.
2. Assemblyman Conklin further asserted that asking for a "pre-approval of the regulation" in some way circumvented the public's voice being heard. The public's voice was heard during the hearing on Oct. 6, when several people testified that the UI insurance rate should not be raised. Further, public input was invited at a business workshop conducted on Oct. 12. Not a single person attended the workshop to provide testimony. Both meetings were properly noticed as required by statute.
Pre-approval of the regulation was requested because the Legislative Committee has no additional meetings scheduled in 2009 and this regulation must be in place by Dec. 20 in order to notify employers of any changes in their individual UI rates.
These dates and procedures clearly show that Assemblyman Conklin's explanation for the Legislature's lack of action is inaccurate at best. To suggest that ESD needed to pass this as an "emergency measure" to somehow right a wrong is simply trying to excuse the lack of responsibility shown by the legislative committee. ESD officials were present at the committee meeting last week and twice approached the dais to clarify that the regulation was processed as quickly as the law allows and that there had already been two public workshops, but they were not recognized and given the opportunity to speak. Rather, they were instructed to deal with the regulations using the emergency regulation process.
The committee failed to pre-approve two other sets of regulations at the same hearing. Both of those regulations must be in place by Jan. 1, 2010, to comply with state and federal law. My staff is working with the affected agencies to enact these regulations as emergency measures. The public paid the committee to meet in November 2009 and do nothing. By law, regulations enacted on an emergency basis must be submitted for approval by the Legislative Committee within 120 days.
Due to the committee's irresponsible action, the cost to the public of enacting these three regulations will be significantly higher because agency staff will have to go through two rule-making processes to get the same end result. Taxpayers will also pay the committee members for yet another meeting to do what they should have done last week.
Enough already. The people of Nevada need a government that works FOR them, not AGAINST them.
• Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons can be reached through his Web site gov.state